'Shopping around for happiness has seeped into the arena of personal relationships, imposing major strains on family life,' Dr Carey told the Central Council of the Mothers' Union.
'Modern society has separated sex from marriage, and the pleasure of sex is assiduously marketed as an end in itself . . . Our society has got it wrong, and Christians must insist that sexual activity is legitimate and good only when it is an expression of deep long-term commitment . . . We cannot accept qualified, provisional, or temporary relationships as the desirable context in which to bring up children.
''I believe strongly that to grow up without a loving father, and without two parents who model a faithful, loving, and stable relationship, is a deprivation.'
Dr Carey said there were now 1.3 million lone-parent families containing 2.2 million children, but he warned: 'We should note the complexities behind the statistics. Strip away the label and we find an infinite variety of causes.'