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The Future of Marriage Hardcover – March 14, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; annotated edition edition (March 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594030812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594030819
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Blankenhorn is president of the Institute for American Values, a non-partisan organisation devoted to research and publication on family and civil society issues. He is the author of Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. He lives in New York City with his wife and their three children.

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Customer Reviews

One of the biggest debates concerning marriage today is whether we should expand the concept to include same-sex unions.
Amazon Customer
The chapters are far from boring - they read almost like the script of a National Geographic special, and are very engaging.
Veronica Singh
An honest engagement with the arguments of this book reveals sophisticated and compelling arguments in favor of marriage.
Jennifer Morse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Morse on April 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
David Blankenhorn's important new book, The Future of Marriage makes clear that the social issue of our time is not whether marriage will be "expanded" to include same sex couples. The real issue is whether marriage as an institution will be so emptied of meaning that it becomes a gender neutral institution, rather than the premier gender-based institution of society. This isn't fundamentally about gay people. The issue is marriage: what marriage is, and what it does for society. Blankenhorn argues convincingly that gender-neutral marriage, (which is what same sex marriage will create) can not perform the social functions that marriage universally performs: marriage attaches children with their fathers and mothers and fathers to each other.

Even in societies that tolerate pre-marital sex, permit polygamy, or take a relaxed approach to divorce, the basic idea of marriage across time and cultures does not change: for every child, a mother and a father. Human societies strive to have children affiliated with both their biological parents. The mother and child unit has universally been considered incomplete, and the sociological position of the father considered indispensable. Universally, that is, up until the last generation in modern western societies.

The public opinion-making elites of this country have pretty much decided that same sex marriage is a moral imperative.That is why you have heard so little about David Blankenhorn's new book, The Future of Marriage. Even the human interest story in USA Today was about David, and not his ideas. Blankenhorn makes a reasoned case, independent of any religious belief, for marriage as intrinsically a union between opposite sex couples.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Blankenhorn is a world authority on the institution of marriage. One of the biggest debates concerning marriage today is whether we should expand the concept to include same-sex unions. Blankenhorn thinks not, and in these 300 pages he sets out to make the `no' case for homosexual marriage. But he does so, pre-eminently, by making the `yes' case for the institution of heterosexual marriage.

He first seeks to get a handle on what marriage is, and then show how it has been experienced over the centuries. The first half of the book is about what marriage is, and how it has developed. The second half deals with the challenge of same-sex marriage.

Blankenhorn recognises that a definition of marriage is a slippery affair, but after a close examination of the issue and how others have thought about it, he comes up with this helpful conceptualisation:

"In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from the union are - and are understood by society to be - emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents."

In his overview of the history of marriage, he demonstrates what has been the universal belief about marriage: It reflects the fundamental belief that "for every child, a mother and a father". Thus marriage is primarily about two things: the socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, and the protection and nurturing of the fruit of that relationship. Both are vital components of marriage, and must not be separated from it or from each other.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Hicks on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While the book didn't feel quite as solid or scholarly in some parts as other authors on the subject, Blankenhorn does a good job of discussing the anthropological evolution underlying human sexuality and family structure. Those looking for a hard prediction of marriage's future or the effects of one marriage definition over another on a society will be disappointed. Those, however, looking to understand why (anthropologically) humans desire marriage and how marriage is implemented across cultures will find this a very valuable resource. Additionally one will be left with a clear understanding of concrete ways in which human evolution produced long-term "pair-bonding," i.e. marriage. The book effectively torpedoes the idea that marriage is an arbitrary construct of modern male domination and leaves those opposed to marriage in the same anti-evolutionary boat as the creationists they likely abhor. It also attempts to show the basis for a childs need of two parents, though it is not the most effective resource on this topic. Overall it was a worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and author of Fatherless America, has produced a fascinating and unique new book. The author seems to be politically liberal on most issues and nevertheless, following in the footsteps of other liberal yet anti-gay-marriage commentators such as Margaret Somerville and David Shackleton, has written a book-length study of marriage throughout the world designed to buttress his opposition to broadening the definition of matrimony to include homosexuals.

Now is a timely moment for this book to appear, given that--as Blankenhorn notes-- the level of marriage breakdown among whites now roughly parallels the level of marriage disintegration among African-Americans forty years ago: "a level that was viewed at the time by the federal government as a national emergency and the main reason for a significant antipoverty mobilization!" Marriage may have deep historic foundations, but ultimately, the author reminds us, it is a fragile, precarious social construction.

Blankenhorn's book is sprinkled with generous helpings of the common sense that, as Voltaire noted so many years ago, is all too uncommon. The author includes fascinating glimpses of several obscure cultures and their matrimonial customs, and connects the dots to show the universality of a few basic principles: 1. "For every child, a mother and a father." Illegitimate children are disfavored. Almost always, a child derives some elements of status from or through Dad, and other elements of status from or through Mom. 2. Marriage is associated with sex. (It's amazing, the author notes, how often this element is omitted, making marriage sound similar to a business partnership.
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