Sherif Girgis, a student at Yale Law School and a Princeton alumnus, said Monday at Haggar Dining Room that the Catholic Church’s view of marriage is correct not only because the Church teaches it, but because it agrees with philosophical truth.
In the SPUD lecture, “The Case Against Same-Sex Civil Marriage,” Girgis argued that the conjugal union between man and woman differs from every other form of human relationship in that it is comprehensive. It includes union of minds and wills, as well as bodies.
“Roommates who commit to playing chess only with each other until death do they part, are thereby not married,” Girgis said to the audience.
Girgis co-authored with Princeton Professor Robert George and Princeton alumnus Ryan Anderson the article
“What is Marriage?” published in “The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy” last winter.
Girgis also said that the bodily union between man and woman, which “consummates” their union of mind and will, enables a married couple to become “one flesh.”
“Intercourse between a man and woman allows for something quite remarkable – a bodily union of two people so great that it mirrors the unity within a single body,” he said.
Girgis then stated that the conjugal union between man and woman allows for the procreation of children in at atmosphere of “permanent” and “exclusive” self-giving and love.
“As the sort of bodily union that completes marriage is procreative in type, it is unsurprising that the norms of marriage should create the stable and harmonious context that children require – where they can know the secure and undivided love of mother and father for each other and themselves,” Girgis said.
He emphasized that the conjugal view of marriage is not the “Church’s idiosyncratic practice,” but rather has prevailed in the “common-law tradition that we inherited from England” and in the “2,400 year-old philosophical tradition, traceable to Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics.”
After describing the conjugal view of marriage, Girgis said that it is in the state’s best interest to protect marriage as a permanent and exclusive union between a man and a woman.
He then proceeded to say that recognizing other types of unions or relationships – such as homosexual partnerships – as “marriage” disrupts the public conception of what marriage is and reduces its reality to “emotions and shared experience in a household.”
“The revisionist view [of marriage] makes it impossible to explain why the state should get involved at all in what basically amounts to the legal regulation of tenderness, whatever shape that tenderness might take,” he said.