Book Review

Conjugal Union
What Marriage is and Why it Matters

Patrick Lee and Robert P. George
Cambridge University Press
ISBN 978-1-107-67055-6

Book CoverThis is an important and timely work. It is firmly rooted in the natural law tradition or, to be more precise, in the new natural law tradition. Accordingly, an understanding of marriage may be arrived at without recourse to divine revelation. The moral goodness of acts must be in accordance with certain basic human goods including life, health, understanding, skill and harmony with others.

It is argued that marriage promotes these basic human goods. By marriage is understood a life-long union of one man and one woman. From this it follows that non-marital sexual relations cannot be morally good. Promoters of "same sex marriage" often have recourse to the sterility argument. To say that sterile married couples are open to procreation, they say, is like saying that an unloaded gun is suitable for shooting. But there is in fact a moral difference between holding a gun, loaded or not, and holding some other object like a banana. A person may defend himself from a man holding a gun, loaded or not,  in a way that he cannot if he knows that the man is holding a banana. The authors argue that while we are called to respect same sex attracted people, we cannot respect homosexual acts because they do not promote the human good.

The last section of this excellent book deals with the legal aspects of marriage. It argues firmly against no-fault divorce.

Is there an elephant in the room? An increasing number of people on both sides of the argument accept that once the procreative and unitive goods of the marriage act are severed, it is difficult to argue against "same sex marriage".

The authors have given us good reasons against the re-definition of marriage.