Article: “On the Nature and Purpose of Marriage”

An article I wrote on marriage was recently published in a small journal (and with only a few glaring mistakes! All of which were my fault, of course). It’s an attempt to think both with the Christian tradition and for the public square. Here’s a link to it:

“On the Nature and Purpose of Marriage,” Encounter 76.2 (2016): 9-32.


In discussing this article with a friend, he pushed me on the question of justification. This is a particularly interesting question given this piece was a bit of an experiment in character and form.

This article offered a pragmatic case, and as such the character of the argument was suggestive rather than imperative. That is to say, its success is to be measured by how well it helps people to adjust to their context, both theologically and culturally. As I see it and try to say in the piece, marriage is one of those social institutions we work to interpret in fidelity to our commitments and traditions. Therefore, I see an argument for reinterpreting the nature of marriage to be one tested by how well it works for communities. I’m not trying to punt on the point of justification, and I could have been more clear on this point in the text, but this is its implicit justification: it compellingly holds together the important elements of tradition with the insights of culture and science.

Again, that means its force is not in the strength of its logical argumentation, although I certainly hope it is strong. Rather, it offers a way to hold together what I see to be the most important commitments in re-casting an understanding of the nature of marriage.

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