Marriage Study Resources
DVD series available:
"What's the Big Deal about Marriage?
Marriage is up for grabs in our society today. Is it just any "two people who love each other," or is there something more to marriage than just feelings of affection? Why just "two people"? Television shows now cast a favorable light on polygamy, and a number of states have redefined marriage to include same-sex couples. Some people are asking, "Why bother with marriage at all? Isn't it just a piece of paper? Maybe marriage is obsolete."
Such doubts arise even within the church. And they are having an effect on behavior. Fewer people marry today. More people divorce. increasing numbers of people move through a series of relationships without ever forming a lasting marriage. How should the church respond to these trends?
Alan Wisdom takes us back to the basic question, "What does God our Creator mean for marriage to be? In this seminar Wisdom reclaims the rich biblical heritage of teaching on marriage.
Outline of Sessions
Back to Creation: Matthew 19, Genesis 1-2
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What is Marriage? by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, Ryan T. Anderson. Girgis is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Princeton University. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. Anderson is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. This article is adapted with permission from the Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, Winter 2010, pp 247-287. May/Jun 2012 Theology Matters, Footnotes to Article
The authors posit two competing views of marriage: the conjugal view and the revisionist view. In the conjugal view, "marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts--acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it."
In the revisionist view, "Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear."
The authors write their critique of the two positions from a secular perspective. They don't appeal to biblical authority. Instead they observe, "marriage is the type of social practice whose basic contours can be discerned by our common human reason, whatever our religious background."
With a lawyer's exacting arguments and clear thinking the authors address topics of:
Two Views of Marriage by Alan F. H. Wisdom is a study guide helping readers compare the Report of the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage with the Minority Report of the Committee. Both reports were received by the 2010 General Assembly and sent to the presbyteries to study. The committee report represents a liberal, progressive view of marriage while the Minority Report of the committee presents a biblical view of marriage. Mar/Apr 2012 Theology Matters,
The progressive committee report presents “biblical passages mainly as reflecting the opinions of the human authors or the prevailing practices of their cultures,” writes Wisdom. The minority report rests on the foundation of Scripture saying, “In matters of faith and practice, the church turns to Scripture to hear the testimony of the Holy Spirit, so that we might follow the Word of God incarnate in our changing world.” This article is an important guide to use in understanding the two positions that are being argued in the church.
Wisdom contrasts the two reports on:
Each section guides readers through a comparison of the two reports and then has discussion questions for further reflection. Mar/Apr 2012 Theology Matters, p. 1
Marriage on Trial by Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier. The article is an excerpt from their book by the same name. Presbyterians Stanton and Maier use question and answer format to respond to the most frequently heard arguments of same-sex marriage advocates. This quick reference format will help General Assembly commissioners and other church leaders respond biblically to these often-heard arguments of same-sex marriage advocates. Mar/Apr 2012 Theology Matters,, p. 8
Is Marriage Worth Defending? Part II by Alan F. H. Wisdom, vice president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD). The full paper is available on the IRD web site www.theird.org. Reprinted with permission from IRD.
Is Marriage Worth Defending? Part 1 by Alan Wisdom, vice president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD). The full paper is available on the IRD web site: www.theird.org. Reprinted with permission from IRD.
Wisdom continues: "The Bible teaches that God brought together man and woman in marriage for the good of all human kind. The love between husband and wife is a temporal image of the eternal bond between God and his people...it unites the two sexes as ‘one flesh,’ provides the appropriate setting for childbearing and childrearing, offers a legitimate channel for sexual desire, and fosters faithful lifelong companionship between husband and wife."
Wisdom covers topics: Marriage in the Bible, The Church Changes the Culture, What Scripture does not say in Galatians 3:28, Arguments from Nature, and What's the Harm in Same-Sex Marriage. The second part of this article will appear in the Mar/Apr issue of Theology Matters. Jan/Feb 2010 Theology Matters p. 1
Is Marriage Worth Defending? by Alan Wisdom, PCUSA elder and fellow with PFFM. This one hour video parallels Wisdom's article that appeared in the Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr 2010 issues of Theology Matters. Discussion questions are provided. Contact us to receive a free copy.
Is Marriage Worth Defending? by Alan Wisdom, is now also available in a longer set of 5 one hour segments. Contact us to receive a free copy.
Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles Endnotes Signatories This article is reprinted with permission from the Witherspoon Institute, 2006. It is the result of scholarly discussions that began in December, 2004 at a meeting in Princeton, NJ sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute. This conference brought together scholars from History, Economics, Psychiatry, Law, Sociology and Philosophy to share with each other the findings of their research on why marriage, understood as a permanent union of husband and wife, is in the public interest. A consensus developed for sharing the fruit of their collaboration more widely. The Witherspoon Institute is an independent research center located in Princeton, NJ. The web site for Witherspoon Institute is www.inst.org. May/Jun 2009 Theology Matters, p. 1