Saturday, December 08, 2012

What is Marriage?

Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

I just picked up What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, by Harvard law professor Robert George, Yale Rhodes Scholar Sherif Gergis, and Notre Dame political philosopher (Ph.D candidate) Ryan Anderson. This is the book to read on the side of, legally, defending traditional marriage.

This is timely because of this orning's headline: "Supreme Court to Hear Two Challenges to Gay Marriage."

From, a summary:

"They defend the principle that marriage, as a comprehensive union of mind and body ordered to family life, unites a man and a woman as husband and wife, and they document the social value of applying this principle in law.

Most compellingly, they show that those who embrace same-sex civil marriage leave no firm ground—none—for not recognizing every relationship describable in polite English, including polyamorous sexual unions, and that enshrining their view would further erode the norms of marriage, and hence the common good.

Finally, What Is Marriage? decisively answers common objections: that the historic view is rooted in bigotry, like laws forbidding interracial marriage; that it is callous to people’s needs; that it can’t show the harm of recognizing same-sex couplings, or the point of recognizing infertile ones; and that it treats a mere “social construct” as if it were natural, or an unreasoned religious view as if it were rational.

If the marriage debate in America is decided soon, it will be with this book’s help or despite its powerful arguments."

Book reviews include:

"What Is Marriage? There is the question. Thanks to these three eloquent authors for so cogently reminding us of that, and for showing us how reflective reason answers it."
-- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

"This book brilliantly explains why the definition of marriage is so critical and why the strengthening of marriages is absolutely essential to our freedom and our future."
-- Dr. Rick Warren, Author of The Purpose Driven Life and Pastor of Saddleback Church

"A lot more is at stake in the marriage debate than the definition of a word, and this book reveals just how much. Its defense of marriage is philosophical and sociological, not theological, but people of all faiths will find it illuminating and edifying."
-- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College

"What Is Marriage? is the most insightful, eloquent, and influential defense of marriage as it has been historically and rightly understood. People of all traditions--and everyone who cares about the future of this central and sacred social institution--owe Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George an extraordinary debt."
-- Meir Soloveichik, Associate Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University

"With many countries on the verge of redefining a basic social institution, What Is Marriage? issues an urgent call for full deliberation of what is at stake. The authors make a compelling secular case for marriage as a partnership between a man and a woman, whose special status is based on society's interest in the nurture and education of children."
-- Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

"What a joy to see this book by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, which presents the most philosophically astute and historically accurate defense of traditional marriage to date. It exposes the incoherence of attempts to radically redefine marriage by showing the inherent wisdom in what is our oldest social institution."
-- David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair in Jewish Studies, University of Toronto