Joseph Malone, Contributing Writer
How do we define “marriage”? This question drew many University of Dallas students and visitors to Lynch Auditorium this past Thursday. A panel of four speakers, local and national, expressed different viewpoints on the question of marriage.
The event was hosted by several UD student organizations, including Student Government, and was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the UD politics department. Dr. Susan Hanssen, professor of history at UD, gave the opening remarks and began by saying that they were there to “spur on questions” in regard to the marriage debate.
Ryan Anderson, a writer on marriage and religious liberty at the Heritage Foundation, gave a general overview of the topic. He said that the question “What is [marriage] and why does it matter?” must come before questions of justice and law. He also said that if the government redefines marriage, there is “no reason that the redefinition will stop here.” Anderson explained the terms “wedlease,” “throuple” and “monogamish” (in place of wedlock, couple and monogamous) to illustrate the decline of traditional marriage values.
“Marriage is a personal relationship that serves a public purpose, a common good,” said Anderson – namely, the preservation of mankind through procreation.
Dr. Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, discussed how marriage will change in a place in which same-sex marriage is a reality. He said that a problem with such unions is that the rights of individuals and adults are held over the rights of the family.
Dr. Christopher Malloy, professor of theology at UD, discussed the theological dimension of the issue. He noted that the Church says that the “primary end of the marital act is procreation and the education of offspring.” He mentioned several popes who emphasized that the laws of marriage are from God, not man. Malloy also dealt with the role of sin: “Any use of the sexual act outside of marriage is gravely sinful … [and] truly evil for the beloved,” he said. Dr. Matthew Walz, professor of philosophy at UD, gave a philosophical reflection on the topic. “How do I relate to my body?” he asked. He then explained problems with the materialist and reductionist views of the body as a means of pleasure and with the view that marriage is “nothing more than a collusion, or collision, of two bodies.”
At the end of the presentations, the panelists responded to questions from the audience. The nature of the questions betrayed a diversity of thought in the audience.
One UD alumnus, Jon Zischkau, praised UD for providing the means to nurture core beliefs.
“This event is a resounding affirmation of UD’s dedication to equipping its students as independent thinkers with constructive materials and arguments to consider,” he said.
Others expressed concern with the similarity of the panelists’ thoughts on the topic.
“It was an excellent panel, but it lacked diversity of thought. We would have learned more if we had heard an opposing opinion,” said sophomore Katherine Schweers.
The second part of the “Reflections on Marriage and the Contemporary Situation” panel will be held on Dec. 11 and will feature Russell Hittinger, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Tulsa.