Sex and the family here and abroad: lessons from the home and the pulpit – by Edward Leigh MP

portrait-edwardleigh9Fellow Cornerstone MP Philip Davies secured a fascinating debate on Sex Education last Wednesday. Faced with the well-worn argument that as Holland has the sixth lowest rate in the world of teenage pregnancies and as Dutch children get told all about sex in primary school, so if we want to get our rate – the world’s second highest – down we should follow the Dutch example, he came up with some telling counter-arguments.

The strongest was perhaps the fact that Italy, which has an even lower rate of teenage pregnancies than Holland, has “almost no sex education in its schools”. But, as Philip also pointed out, Italy and Holland do have some important things in common: the family unit is stronger and divorce is much less frequent than here. Children in Holland are five times less likely to live with a single parent than here.

UNICEF says the UK is now the worst place for a child to grow up; and of course, as Philip reminded us, our welfare system, with its fast-tracking of housing applications for teenage mothers, positively encourages many to see pregnancy as an escape-route from an unhappy home.

So we in the UK could learn much from the Dutch and Italian attitude to the family.

But could we also learn something from America – not from their rate of teenage pregnancies, which at the top of the world league, exceeds even our own – but from a certain clergyman?

‘From the pulpit, evangelist sends out call for more sex.’

That was the recent headline in my International Herald Tribune:

And on the seventh day there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Reverend Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was – keep it going …

“This is not a gimmick or publicity stunt”, Young said. “Just look at the sensuality of the Song of Solomon, or Genesis. ‘Two shall become one flesh’ Or Corinthians: ‘Do not deprive each other of sexual relations.’ ”

After mature consideration, Cornerstone’s steering group has decided not to advise David Cameron to make the Rev. Young’s suggestion a central plank of Conservative Party philosophy!

But now that recession and depression is upon us, perhaps our lives will become less work-focused and hectic. Undoubtedly, married couples in England work harder, stay longer at work and have less time for each other than they should.

Cornerstone believes that economics, indeed politics itself is not the answer to everything.

I am amused that often the most ambitious politicians, when asked what was the happiest moment of their life answer “The birth of my first child” – a simple joy available to the poorest and least powerful in society.

Cornerstone believes that, ultimately, home life, community and shared tradition are much more important than any of the economic theories swirling around the Pre-Budget Statement.

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