Golden wedding rings. Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy via CC BY SA 2.0

Golden wedding rings. Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy via CC BY SA 2.0

As a panel of 9 justices in D.C. considers whether to redefine marriage as it has always been understood, academics from diverse political backgrounds are united in questioning the wisdom of tampering with the most basic of social institutions.

Princeton Professor Robert P. George, joined by scholars Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis, recently released a book on the nature of marriage.

The book’s argument is effectively summed up in this passage from an article that the trio wrote a few years prior:


(T)hose who would redefine civil marriage, to eliminate sexual complementarity as an essential element, can give no principled account of why marriage should be (1) a sexual partnership as opposed to a partnership distinguished by exclusivity with respect to other activities (including non-sexual relationships, as between cohabiting adult brothers); or (2) an exclusive union of only two persons (rather than three or more in a polyamorous arrangement). Nor can they give robust reasons for making marriage (3) a legally recognized and regulated relationship in the first place (since, after all, we don’t legally recognize or closely regulate most other forms of friendships).

A separate set of concerns – although still tied to the nature of marriage – was voiced yesterday by Michael Sean Winters, who writes for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter:

I have a native suspicion of government interference in such deep strata of our culture, a suspicion born from Orwell’s observations about the danger of empowering a government to be able to change the meaning of words. There are things in a culture that precede politics and politics should be leery of messing around with those things.