(This is a continuation of a post from yesterday; it will make most sense in that context.)

When Maggie Gallagher answers John Corvino’s individualist argument for “gay marriage” (in Debating Same-Sex Marriage ), she relies mainly on a good and important argument for man-woman marriage based upon universal human and social necessities: “Marriage is a word for the way in which societies throughout history have sought to celebrate and idealize these truths: sex makes babies, society needs babies, and those babies need and long for a mom and a dad . . . .This is what an institution—and a norm—does; it replaces the process of individuals thinking on their own about what is best for them, in the service of creating a common good. Institutions arise to answer problems that are social.”  Only in a rhetorical crescendo near the end does she allude to another kind of argument that bridges necessity and transcendence, biology and divinity.  Echoing themes of her much earlier Enemies of Eros (a great and beautiful book), Gallagher evokes “the sense of participating in the great chain of being itself, rooted in a natural call that is larger than any one person’s desire.”

In his essay, “Meaningful Marriage,” the great Roger Scruton eloquently evokes a justification of marriage that transcends the socially functional and is truly communal because it truly addresses personal satisfaction at the deepest level:

“ . . . our beliefs about the blindingness of erotic love and the existential change that it inflicts on us [a change institutionalized in marriage] are objective, based in a true apprehension of what is at stake in our sexual adventures, and what is needed for our fulfillment.”

“To spell out the justification may be hard . . . ” . . . Scruton goes on to explain, and such a justification may be draw as much upon art and literature as upon  philosophy (though, I say, we would-be philosophers must give what help we can).

“Nevertheless,” Scruton continues, “it is true of erotic feelings as it is of moral values, that their functionality does not undermine the vision that they impart, and that this vision is also a validation.”

(to be continued, returning to the question of Locek & Conservatism)

Articles by Ralph Hancock

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