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Sunday, January 2, 2005

'As long as we both shall love'?

Two new resources for Unitarian Universalists and other liberals thinking about marriage:

  • "Time To Commit": William J. Doherty, who heads the University of Minnesota's marriage and family therapy program, writes in the current issue of UU World:

    I am at once proud of and bemused by our current denominational work on behalf of same-sex marriage. Given our collective silence on the value of marriage until recently, I wonder sometimes if we believe in marriage or just in the right to get married. Does it matter to us what happens to newlyweds of any gender after someone signs their license? With marriage now so prominently on our agenda, I hope we can ask ourselves why marriage matters in the first place and whether we want to help UU married couples achieve the audacious goal of a loving, lifelong union in the bosom of a community of faith and practice.

    Doherty offers a critique of a broadly "liberal" acquiescence to what he calls "consumer marriage" — the notion captured by a UU minister in the 1970s with the vow "as long as we both shall love" — and offers a few starting points for a revived Unitarian Universalist theology of marriage.

  • "The Future of Marriage": In the November/December cover story of Harvard Magazine, Harbour Fraser Hodder examines marriage in contemporary America by interviewing a half-dozen Harvard scholars. One of them, Nancy Cott — author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation — observes:

    "It's ironic and interesting that same-sex marriage advocates and conservatives of the 'family-values' school . . . have both contributed to a re-evaluation of marriage in the last 20 to 25 years." In the 1970s, marriage was at its lowest ebb in public approbation, she adds, "but by the late '90s there's a resurgence of appreciation of marriage, seen in the leveling off of the divorce rate." Although the claims for the value of marriage by conservatives and gay-rights proponents "were from two ends of the spectrum, they came together — at least at the rhetorical level — for what marriage . . . accomplishes and how crucial it is as a social institution."

    Other scholars profiled in the excellent Harvard article include Peter Gomes, Claudia Goldin, Martin Whyte, Elizabeth Bartholet, Janet Halley, and Dudley Rose.

For a few other Philocrites recommendations for marriage-minded liberals, see this entry from last summer.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 2 January 2005 at 4:23 PM

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January 12, 2005 10:17 AM | Permalink for this comment

Phil Lund provides some excellent and thought-provoking feedback to Bill Doherty's essay. In addition to the useful resources he points to, I want to highlight one that I have found especially illuminating: Mary Shanley's "Just Marriage" in the summer 2003 issue of the Boston Review.

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