There is a new website out there called the The Good Right. It seeks to rejuvenate conservatism and is a most welcome development. One of the ‘The Foundational Beliefs of the Good Right’ concerns the family. It states: ‘No social power counts for more than the love of parents for their children.’
The webpage states that the story of the Prodigal Son teaches us the power of loving families.
This caught my eye. The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favourites, so much so that it was the gospel reading at our wedding. I always found it challenging and had great sympathy for the hard-working son who stayed and served his father, unlike the good-for-nothing son who squandered his share of his inheritance.
The story teaches us about God’s unconditional love for us. We may stray but if we repent and accept God’s love we can be “found” once again.
The GoodRight website features a modern retelling of the story. What the webpage does not mention is marriage. This is a disappointment. The research shows that it is a family based on marriage that, to borrow from William Hague also quoted on the page, “lowers the crime rate, increases people’s risk of finding work, is very successful at socialising young males, seems to reduce reported rates of mental illness, and contributes to well-being.”
The parable of the Prodigal Son is an interesting choice because at its heart is message of unconditional love. This is what should be at the heart of all marriages. When a couple exchange vows it is to love one another, ‘until death do us part.’
Marriage is under attack these days, in the tax system and in popular culture so it is a mistake, I believe, for the GoodRight not to discuss its importance. In fact it is fashionable now to complain about bridezillas and glitzy weddings. Witness this piece in The Times, where Deborah Ross states nothing would make her happier than to be uninvited to a wedding.
When was the last time you read a piece saying, “I went to a wedding and I found it really moving”? Exactly. Never.
Whenever I read these tales of wedding or bridezilla woe I am always left wondering, why do they bother? If you are invited to a wedding you do not wish attend the solution is simple – send your regrets. It seems I am in a minority in that I relish being invited to a wedding.
I always get excited about it – the invitation dropping through the door and the thought that I will witness my good friend marry the love of her life. I have received only hospitality and warmth at every wedding I have attended – there was never a bridezilla in sight. I always enjoy the anticipation of witnessing the bride walk down the aisle and when the first chords of Ave Maria strike up (and it is usually Ave Maria) I feel a surge of joy.
The fact is that marriage remains for some a huge commitment and life transition. It is something to celebrate. The couple are entering a state of grace – a union of unconditional love. It is a civil institution difficult to build and maintain but easy to destroy. It should remain the bedrock of conservatism.