Law and marriage Print
By Francis Cardinal George   
Thursday, 15 July 2010
What the philosopher Joseph Raz says of monogamy applies more broadly to all of the constitutive features of marriage (e.g., sexual exclusivity, heterosexuality, permanence of commitment), and even to courtship patterns: "Monogamy, assuming that it is the only valuable form of marriage, cannot be practiced by an individual. It requires a culture which recognizes it, and which supports it through the public's attitude and through its formal instituions." The upshot of Professor Raz's observation is that large numbers of people are not effectively free to enter into mongamous (and, I would say, permanent) marriages unless the culture makes the institution of marriage constituted as monogamous (and permanent) available to people. And the further implication is that the law has an essential, though subsidiary, role to play in establishing and maintaining a healthy culture of courtship and marriage.  

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