EDITORIAL: Church must recognise the change in times
SADLY FOR MANY, it seems that the institution of marriage is no longer held as sacred as it was in our society. Some may well have been shocked by the figures revealed in last SUNDAY SUN showing that there was almost a 50 per cent decline in marriages in just over ten years.
The figures from the Registration Department showed that marriages dropped from 3 676 in 1996 to 1 925 last year.
Some church leaders have already sounded off on this issue, giving a myriad of reasons. Some believe individuals are not as interested in making long-term commitments, while others argue that the number of failed marriages have had the adverse effect of making people reluctant to walk down the aisle.
Both arguments are valid, but the reality is that these days, there are some who no longer view marriage as a necessary step to seal relationships and commitments.
Over the years in Barbados, common law unions have been very much the norm. The laws of Barbados have also legitimised and further cemented these relationships whereby individuals in these unions, after five years, are entitled to the same rights and privileges extended to married couples.
While many may argue that tying the knot is the right thing to do in the eyes of God, there are those who are comfortable in their common law relationships as they are entitled to the same benefits as if they had a ring on their finger.
That said, church leaders and counsellors must also accept some responsibility in the failing of our society to see the importance of the institution of marriage and the concept of “for better or worse”. In fact, some may argue that the preachings about the values of holy matrimony as being a sacred union are needed now more than ever in our society when infidelity seems rampant.
Still, the church must understand the changing times, recognising that while many before depended on these unions to be financially stable, this is no longer the case.
In addition, marriage no longer defines an individual as some may argue it once did. And, though not dismissing the importance of the institution, some individuals who may have flirted with the idea of getting married may not be inclined to take the step believing that it could end in divorce like so many unions.
Times are changing and couples’ as well as individuals’ wants and desires are changing.
People are charting their own courses and this does not always include a steady partner until much later in life, if at all.
The importance, the prestige, the virtues and values that marriage once held seem to be fading. This has therefore led to what is now a reality in our society – fewer are saying “I do”.