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Marriage and Family


George Bernard Shaw on Lifelong Passion


When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part. And though of course nobody expects them to do anything so impossible and so unwholesome, yet the law that regulates their relations, and the public opinion that regulates that law, is actually founded on the assumption that the marriage vow is not only feasible but beautiful and holy, and that if they are false to it, they deserve no sympathy and no relief.

Ryan T. Anderson on the Conjugal View of Marriage


The conjugal view of marriage, we argued, has long informed the law — along with the literature, art, philosophy, religion, and social practice — of our civilization. So understood, marriage is a comprehensive union. It unites spouses at all levels of their being: hearts, minds, and bodies, where man and woman form a two-in-one-flesh union. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary, on the biological fact that reproduction requires a man and a woman, and on the sociological reality that children benefit from having a mother and a father. As the act that unites spouses can also create new life, marriage is especially apt for procreation and family life. Uniting spouses in these all-encompassing ways, marriage calls for all-encompassing commitment: permanent and exclusive.

Conscience and Its Enemies


Showcasing the talents that have made him one of America’s most acclaimed and influential thinkers, Robert P. George explodes the myth that the secular elite represents the voice of reason. In fact, George shows, it is on the elite side of the cultural divide where the prevailing views frequently are nothing but articles of faith. Conscience and Its Enemies reveals the bankruptcy of these too often smugly held orthodoxies while presenting powerfully reasoned arguments for classical virtues. In defending what James Madison called the “sacred rights of conscience” — rights for which government shows frightening contempt — George grapples with today’s most controversial issues: abortion and infanticide, same-sex marriage, genetic manipulation, euthanasia and assisted suicide, religion in politics, judicial activism, and more. His brilliantly argued essays rely not on theological claims or religious authority but on established scientific facts and a philosophical tradition that extends back to Plato and Aristotle. Conscience and Its Enemies elevates our national debates. It sets forth powerful arguments that secular liberals are unaccustomed to hearing — and that embattled defenders of traditional morality so often fail to marshal. It also lays out the principles and arguments for rebuilding a moral order.

Love & Economics


In Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, economist Jennifer Roback Morse explains how the economy, which appears to a series of impersonal exchanges, is actually based upon love. Morse also shows how the political order — Hillary Clinton’s “village” — depends upon the prior existence of loving families. Drawing on the experience of neglected orphans, Morse argues that mothers create the basic attachments that lay the groundwork for the development of conscience. Furthermore, only the family can socialize children to use their freedom responsibly. No social program can take the place of mothers and fathers working together as a team. Unfortunately, stay-at-home mothers are often denigrated by feminists and always squeezed by the economy. Love and Economics defends the economic value of motherhood and outlines a better economic way forward.

Barack Obama on the Importance of Fathers


Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it. ¶ But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing – missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible


To many, the New Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage seems to be both impractical and unfair. The "plain" meaning of the texts allows for divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion, and it does not permit remarriage until the death of one’s former spouse. But are these proscriptions the final word for Christians today? Are we correctly reading the scriptures that address these issues? By looking closely at the biblical texts on divorce and remarriage in light of the first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman world, this book shows that the original audience of the New Testament heard these teachings differently. Through a careful exploration of the background literature of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and especially ancient Judaism, David Instone-Brewer constructs a biblical view of divorce and remarriage that is wider in scope than present-day readings. Among the important findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect or abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce. Instone-Brewer shows that these principles are not only different from the traditional church interpretation of the New Testament but also directly relevant to modern relationships. Enhanced with pastoral advice on how to apply the biblical teaching in today’s context, this volume will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking serious answers about married life. ~ Publisher’s Description

M. Faraday on Family Values in Cuba


Another woman on the block, a ranking government official, told me, “You know, the one thing we really have to thank … [here she tugged at an imaginary beard; those less kindly disposed toward El Jefe of the Long Wind massage imaginary horns but similarly do not speak his name] … for is that he relieved us of the Catholic curse, and so we have fewer sexual hang-ups than anyone in the Latin world. We use birth control like happy whores and we can divorce with the drop of a jockstrap.” Some 82 percent of married Cuban women 15 to 49 regularly use birth control, compared with 70 percent in the U.S.. Abortions are free of stigma and charge, and they are readily available and volubly defended by government officials. Divorce, my neighbor tells me, is so common in Cuba that the joke is that the child who actually lives at home with both biological parents will surely require psychotherapy.

Brian Miller on Family


Today, with hectic, work-centered lives, busy social calendars, and precious little free time, people feel obligated yet resentful while gathering with kin during the holidays. Granted, a nice seder or Christmas dinner isn’t in itself so unpleasant. If one could just arrive, shovel down the food as quickly as possible, then bolt for the door, such occasions would be tolerable. The problem is that for all denominations these feasts have been institutionalized in American culture; they’re compulsory, a sign of good citizenship and family values. This enforced proximity with blood relations naturally builds to a breaking point. There’s only so much you can hear about your batty aunt’s goiter. There are only so many times you can coo over the new baby or suffer small children poking action figures into your eyes. And don’t let’s start with your mother about when you’re finally going to get married! As breakfast drags on to brunch drags on to dinner, surrounded by family members, there’s this mounting revulsion that you share their same receding hairlines, their same tendency toward cellulite, their same horsy, nasal laughs, their very same DNA. That’s usually the trigger that sets you fleeing in fear and disgust.

Dallas Willard on Adultery


Intimacy is the mutual mingling of souls who are taking each other into themselves to ever increasing depths. The truly erotic is the mingling of souls. Because we are free beings, intimacy cannot be passive or forced. And because we are extremely finite, it must be exclusive. This is the metaphysical and spiritual reality that underlies the bitter violation of self experienced by the betrayed mate. It also makes clear the scarred and shallow condition of those who betray. ¶ One of the most telling things about contemporary human beings is that they cannot find a reason for not committing adultery. Yet intimacy is a spiritual hunger of the human soul, and we cannot escape it. This has always been true and remains true today. We now keep hammering the sex button in the hope that a little intimacy might finally dribble out. In vain.

David James Duncan on Sex and Making Babies


One of the first things I ever said to you was that I’m old-fashioned where romance is concerned. "A dinosaur I think I called myself. Being a dinosaur, I made a huge exception to my own laws of survival when I started living with you. But I didn’t start living with you because I’d changed. I did it because I couldn’t help it. There’s a big difference. I never really thought we were living "in sin” (I’m not that Paleolithic.) But we were living with dangerously little definition by my standards, which standards are based, by the way, on my belief that romance isn’t just romance, that it naturally leads to love-making, which naturally leads to babies, who are naturally helpless creatures in a naturally beautiful but lethal world, so they naturally need as many pieces of the ancient Father-Mother-Shaman-Tribe-Home-hearth Paradigm as we are able to gracefully give them.

Emma Goldman on Love and Marriage


The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute dependent. It incapacitates her for life’s struggle, annihilates her social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its gracious protection, which is in reality a snare, a travesty on human character. Love, the strongest and deepest element in all lives, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?

Vincent van Gogh on Marrying To Protect


Last winter I met a pregnant woman [Sien], deserted by the man whose child she carried. A pregnant woman who had to walk the streets in winter, had to earn her bread, you understand how. I took this woman for a model, and have worked with her all winter. I could not pay her the full wages of a model, but that did not prevent my paying her rent, and thank God, so far I have been able to protect her and her child from hunger and cold by sharing my own bread with her. It seems to me that every man worth a straw would have done the same in such a case. What I did was so simple and natural that I thought I could keep it to myself. Posing was very difficult for her, but she has learned; I have made progress in my drawing because I had a good model. The woman is now attached to me like a tame dove. For my part, I can only marry once, and how can I do better than marry her? It is the only way to help her; otherwise misery would force her back into her old ways which end in a precipice.