Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marriage and Family - First Things

I posted a longer essay on the Public Square blog, the front window of the First Things site. Marriage, I contend is not a “right,” but a condition, an “estate,” as the Book of Common Prayer says it is: a human mating pair attains the condition of marriage by entering a holy congregation as bridge and groom, uniting the reproductive activity of man and woman with the eschatological hope for eternal life of the faith community. We fight off death in two ways: by raising children, and by expectation of salvation. Marriage unites both of these into a single condition. It uniquely fulfills our human nature, our need for eternal life. Without holy matrimony the human race will die, as portions of it already are dying in countries whence faith has been banished.

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This may be the first time in Western history in which the sacred foundation of society, whose irreducible fundamental unit is the family, faces explicit opposition. If militant secularism succeeds in banishing the sacred from social life, we will lose heart and perish, as the tragic victims of communism are perishing. There is nothing to be done for the infertile, aging peoples of the former Soviet empire. The best thing one can do for them is not to be like them. Secular Western Europe already has one foot in the demographic grave. If we lose the sacred in the United States, we will follow them into Sheol. We might as well make a stand now over the sacred character of marriage, because there is nowhere to fall back from here.

- David P. Goldman is associate editor of First Things.

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