1. Is What
Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense
a must read?
Yes. This is the
primer for common sense arguments supporting
2. For whom is it written? It is written by very intelligent men
of good will primarily for other intelligent men of good will who appreciate a
well-honed argument. The philosophical arguments slice and dice, so some
background in philosophy is helpful.
In keeping track of points as they unfold paragraph by paragraph, one
needs a working short-term memory.
I know this firsthand.
3. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has
struck down the legal standing of Prop 8 proponents and dissolved that half of
DOMA having to do with the federal definition of marriage, is this book
moot? In the short term,
probably. In the long-term,
definitely not. The arguments used
in the book will never age, and the kind of sociological/psychological data the
authors had access to will only get better.
4. Are these the only arguments that
work? No. Can one use theological arguments to
good advantage? Good
question. The answer, of course,
depends on the audience.
front, I am for all sound arguments for
traditional marriage, from wherever and at whatever level. My classes and audiences are mostly
Catholic, so I go straight to the thought of John Paul II without using filters
of any kindThomistic, Marian, Westian, etc. Save for Michael Waldstein’s excellent introduction to Man
and Woman He Created Them, the class
material is primary stuff.
my students and participants there is, inevitably, the weeping and gnashing of
teeth, and the rending of garments.
But those who persevere know, without a doubt, why there is no such
thing as “same-sex marriage.” They
learn that there is an ontological foundation to the gift of self that comes
directly from the internal life of the Trinity. That foundation is complementary, and inherently love-giving
said, a class of adults and I have just completed a 6-hour course using only
the text, What Is Marriage? I wanted them to know, up close, what
was available and valuable at the
natural law level. The majority of
their conversations about the marriage controversy will be in the work place
where common sense, not theology, is more apropos. (See also William B. May’s Getting the Marriage
Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue.)
of the precepts of teaching is sheer: do not waste the student’s time. I pick works that I know can make a
Is Marriage? is one of those works; it will
not fade away, like an old soldier.
On the contrary (and with apologies for slipping back into
Marine-speak), it will gain stature as we go back and forth across no-man’s
land in the battles to come, trusting that someday we shall retake and hold onto
the real meaning of marriageour modern day Belleau Wood.
Related on CWR: "What Price Marriage?": John S. Hamlon's review of What Is Marriage? (June 26, 2013)