Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(4) November 2021

Book Review

Marriage & Divorce in the Liberal Imagination
by Colin Hart Published Family Education Trust Reviewed

by Dr Pravin Thavasathan

Book CoverThis proved to be a very helpful and important read. Those of us who have dealings with mental health issues in young people will recognise so much that is stated here: there is a clear correla­tion between mental ill-health and family dysfunction. Young people who have experienced family breakdown are more likely to develop emotional and behavioural problems. Marriage is therefore not a private matter: the stability that marriage is meant to provide is in the public interest. When he talks about marriage, the author is referring to a union of one man and one woman.

Unfortunately, we have become emotivists. Marriage is seen as a celebration of love. If this is so, then it goes without saying that three or more people who love each other can also enter into an arrangement known as "marriage." And when love dies, the marriage dies with it. The author notes that it is not the role of governments to monitor love. But it is very much in the interest of governments to promote stable marriages.

Colin HartThe author notes that the former Soviet Union was extremely hostile towards marriage and the family. A spirit of free love was encouraged. Eventually, the political leaders had to put an end to this "anarchist view of marriage." It was proving too costly. We in the West have not learned from the Soviet experience: Sir James Munby, former President of the Family Division of the High Court, apparently welcomes the end of the nuclear family. As the author puts it, it "sounds as though Sir James would have liked to live in Soviet Russia!"

The author examines the three myths about marriage: you are better off after divorce, the law does not influence behaviour and the law cannot be used to restrict divorce. In each case, the author puts forward a strong case to argue otherwise.

This superb booklet makes it very clear that we should not put our trust in princes. At least, not in Sir James Munby and his kind. It is up to us to promote a true understanding of marriage. And we can do this by supporting organisations like the Family Education Trust.