The World of Lu

Creating a digital heritage while engaging in some quality musings!

Friday Review: What Is Marriage?

What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense


I’ve been looking for a book that promotes man-woman marriage from a non-religious perspective.  I wondered if there was such a publication. 

Though I am totally supportive of heterosexual marriage on a religious basis I did not see how the government could not offer the rights and privileges of the marriage contract to homosexual couples.  In my mind the government had no basis for defining the word marriage.  The only basis they would have would have to come from history, culture or science. 

But since the government had forgotten why they began licensing marriages and why they began to encourage marriage with tax breaks and benefits I saw little hope of recovering an original societal view of marriage. So my thinking moved to removing marriage from the discussion and promoting “civil unions” so that the concept of marriage was outside government control.

But then I came upon this book by what seemed like happenstance, it was a nice serendipitous discovery.

On Amazon the book description reads:

Until yesterday, no society had seen marriage as anything other than a conjugal partnership: a male-female union. What Is Marriage? identifies and defends the reasons for this historic consensus and shows why redefining civil marriage is unnecessary, unreasonable, and contrary to the common good.

Originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, this book’s core argument quickly became the year’s most widely read essay on the most prominent scholarly network in the social sciences. Since then, it has been cited and debated by scholars and activists throughout the world as the most formidable defense of the tradition ever written. Now revamped, expanded, and vastly improved, What Is Marriage? stands poised to meet its moment as few books of this generation have.

Rhodes Scholar Sherif Girgis, Heritage Foundation Fellow Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George offer a devastating critique of the idea that equality requires redefining marriage. They show why both sides must first answer the question of what marriage really is. 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.

I encourage the interested reader to check out a very fascinating commentary by a former Princeton University student John G. Burford IV about Robert P George.  He took some courses that George taught and was profoundly affected.  He notes how George is not a pushy, petty, axe to grind conservative professor but that he seeks to respond clearly and honestly to disagreement without trying to villianize the opposition.

As for the book, it is a thoughtful and thought-provoking treatise. It repeatedly reminds the reader that this is not a focus on homosexual rights or denial thereof or on religious justifications. Rather it is a look at what marriage is and what it has been and what its purpose is.

Will gay rights advocates minds be changed?  The staunch hardcore activist would be considered a marriage revisionist by the authors.  The revisionist feels it is time to redefine marriage in terms of caring and committment.   The authors would say that marriage should not be revised and redefined and give a number of good reasons why not.

I doubt that anyone who is gung-ho to make sure gays get every right that has been previously denied them will change their minds but it’s possible.  Unfortunately for many the very definition of marriage presented by the book would be seen as the result of the oppression that has been put on homosexuals for eons.

I do recommend the book if you seek to better understand how marriage came to be, why it is viewed the way it has been prior to recent attempts to revise it. It’s worth the time and worth having some calm and civilized discussions afterward.


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