Monday, September 22, 2014
If You Love Each Other You Should Be Able to Marry
1. If you love each other, you should be able to marry.
Really? I should be able to marry my sons or daughters?
2. If you are adults and love each other, you should be able to marry.
Can I marry my uncle or mother? What about an estranged brother and sister who meet and are sterile? Will you exclude them from holy matrimony (or at least matrimony)?
3. If you are adults and non-family members and love each other, you should be able to marry.
So then, are polygamy, polygyny, and polyandrous relationships more generally acceptable? Aside from acceptability let's talk metaphysics: Could everyone in the U.S. be united as one big happy family if Obama declared it so and if Americans all loved one another as Christ loved the Church? Is it possible, even if not practical?
And what is this business about love anyway? Surely two people being in love (in the dating sense) isn't necessary for them to be married. People in arranged marriages may not be in love in the dating sense, but if the marriage is a good one they will be in love or at least they will grow to love one another in certain ways.
Some lessons from the short exercise:
1. It is not possible to reasonably criticize someone's view of marriage without having some standard by which to criticize the view. This is a species of a more general truth: it is not possible to reasonably criticize someone else's view without having some standard by which to criticize the view. Thus, inevitably, reasonable criticism of another's view of marriage will result in excluding some views of marriage in favor of others.
2. Our inclusive attitude towards marriage these days has not so much "made marriage stronger" (as revisionists about marriage would deceive you into believing) as it has rendered the notion of what marriage is entirely obscure or meaningless.
3. The notion of love in the context of the marriage debate is surely something that is central. But there are many types of love; or at least love takes on many forms. The love between girlfriend and boyfriend is not the same love as that between a father and daughter. Moreover, the love between a girlfriend and boyfriend ought to take some forms but not others. A coherent view of marriage which leaves out all talk of normativity in favor merely of feelings will be doomed to irrelevance if not incoherence.