The Philosophy Behind the Conjugal View of Marriage

I want to begin with a general set of thoughts about why it is important to have a serious intellectual discussion about marriage, in particular in an environment where we share a common faith or a common set of assumptions and understandings about moral and political theory. It is very easy for people to think,“I know what I know by the scriptures or by my faith tradition or by my community, and I can just stop there.” There are several reasons for us not to stop there, however, as important and critical as those sources of knowledge are.  The first reason is maybe the most obvious: not everyone is Christian. This is the most obvious point because we are all pressed day in and day out to give an account—a “reason for our hope,” as Saint Peter says—of the views that we hold in terms that other people can understand and appreciate whether or not they share a particular faith tradition. That is on full display today in the moral and political and legal battles that we are facing as a culture. But it does not stop there, and if we did stop there we might be thinking too strategically. There are several internal reasons, reasons rooted in the flourishing of our own communities and our own faith life, to think about the non-faith-based arguments for these moral and political views. Understanding the reasons, the rationale, the human goods at stake in these debates—whether you approach these issues from philosophy or from social science or from other disciplines or with all of them converging—gives you a deeper appreciation of something that we might all assent to at some intellectual level, but not yet really feel in our bones. It helps us appreciate, namely, that this is not just an arbitrary set of constraints; this is not just a test that God imposed, when He could have given any other, and we are just here to eke out an existence of barely obeying or not. This is a law of love, a correspondence to the truth about who we are and how we are made
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