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What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense Paperback – December 11, 2012
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-- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
"This book brilliantly explains why the definition of marriage is so critical and why the strengthening of marriages is absolutely essential to our freedom and our future."
-- Dr. Rick Warren, Author of The Purpose Driven Life and Pastor of Saddleback Church
"A lot more is at stake in the marriage debate than the definition of a word, and this book reveals just how much. Its defense of marriage is philosophical and sociological, not theological, but people of all faiths will find it illuminating and edifying."
-- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College
"What Is Marriage? is the most insightful, eloquent, and influential defense of marriage as it has been historically and rightly understood. People of all traditions--and everyone who cares about the future of this central and sacred social institution--owe Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George an extraordinary debt."
-- Meir Soloveichik, Associate Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University
"With many countries on the verge of redefining a basic social institution, What Is Marriage? issues an urgent call for full deliberation of what is at stake. The authors make a compelling secular case for marriage as a partnership between a man and a woman, whose special status is based on society's interest in the nurture and education of children."
-- Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University
"What a joy to see this book by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, which presents the most philosophically astute and historically accurate defense of traditional marriage to date. It exposes the incoherence of attempts to radically redefine marriage by showing the inherent wisdom in what is our oldest social institution."
-- David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair in Jewish Studies, University of Toronto
About the Author
Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the editor of Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute. A Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University, he is a Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He has worked as assistant editor of First Things and was a Journalism Fellow of the Phillips Foundation. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, First Things, the Weekly Standard, National Review, the New Atlantis, and the Claremont Review of Books.
Robert P. George is a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and previously served on the President's Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. He is a recipient of the United States Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland.
Top Customer Reviews
First, I should say a bit about my own background. I graduated from Princeton University in June 2012. During my senior year at Princeton, I took both of Professor Robert George's (one of the book's co-authors) courses, "Constitutional Interpretation" and "Civil Liberties." Before I took these classes, I was a pro-life libertarian, similar to Ron Paul. I was definitely in favor of gay marriage: I actually wrote my "Christian Ethics" midterm paper on how the Bible's stance on homosexuality had been widely misinterpreted. But during my senior fall, I was assigned the article version of "What is Marriage?" and I found its arguments quite convincing. Over the course of the next few months, I became a traditional marriage advocate and eventually became a social conservative.
Second, I thought I would offer a little perspective on how Professor George is seen by his fellow faculty and by his students. As you might imagine, the average student and the average professor at Princeton is quite liberal (the school newspaper published a survey in 2008 that showed that 80% of the student body and 95% of the faculty had voted for Obama). However, Professor George is widely respected on campus, even by those who vehemently disagree with him, because he takes care to have a strong rational principles for his beliefs, because he takes care to address the criticisms of the other side, and because of his personal warmth.
This balanced and rigorous approach to the material was borne out in our course readings, where Professor George always assigned the best arguments on both sides of the issue--he told us to let him know if we thought a particular position wasn't well-defended and that he would replace the reading with one we thought was better.Read more ›
The authors are careful not to make arguments based on religion. There is also no anti-gay animus (unless you think that supporting marriage as it has been traditionally known is per se anti-gay). Frankly, the book is not about gays or gay marriage. It is about marriage and what distinguishes it from all other relationships.
I think defenders of traditional marriage (or what the authors call conjugal marriage) have frequently had a difficult time articulating their arguments because it's like arguing why a table must have a horizontal surface. It seems so obvious and has been defined thusly for so long that few serious scholars have thought about defending that definition. I am grateful that these authors have done such a good job articulating this defense.
Regardless of how you feel about the issue, it appears that it is one on which like minds can differ, and the authors are respectful and logical in the way they set out their arguments. For that, it's a well written and well researched book.
It disturbs me that many of the negative reviews I've read about this book accuse the authors of imposing their religious views on others - when in fact, a careful review of the book shows that there is no religious element to the arguments. I believe that when reviewing a book, a reviewer should give an honest assessment of the quality of the writing, and should not review a book negatively merely because he or she disagrees politically with its message. I started reading it with no preconceived notions or agenda, and after I was done I thought about it for several days afterward. To me, a book like that deserves a good review. Simply put - the authors are highly intelligent people who put a lot of thought into it, and it's worth reading and considering even if you disagree with them.
While Tricky Nicky seems to think that the authors are simply clinging (perhaps Tricky Nicky would add "bitterly"?) to the definition of marriage because of its historical rooting - a history that Tricky Nicky then goes on to undermine - the authors in fact distinguish their argument from history or religious tradition. As the authors say, "from a thousand facts about how marriage has been, one can deduce nothing about how it should be." History is only employed here to the extent the history of marriage has a constant, which is that "the conjugal view of marriage is not uniquely Jewish or Christian; something quite similar to it was developed apart from these traditions." Nor is the common critique that the definition marriage has something to do with hatred to homosexuals relevant here. As the authors note, also at the outset, "the philosophical and legal principle that only coitus could consummate a marriage arose centuries before the concept of a gay identity . . . and even in cultures very favorable to homoerotic relationships (as in ancient Greece), something akin to the conjugal view [of marriage] has prevailed - and nothing like same-sex marriage was even imagined.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book contains very good arguments base on reason and great academic background to defense the historical & natural meaning of marriage.Published 20 days ago by Alberto Gutierrez Posas
In a time when most people have little understanding about marriage and probably don't care much about it's meaning and importance to society as well as to husband, mother and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anthony Bosnick
This book is a philosophical defense of marriage. It is extremely well researched and packed with good information. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jordan Davis