When I read Kai Austin’s article Argument Against Marriage, I realized that I had found my new trench. See, I am Catholic, and Catholics have gotten quite adept at falling short in societal debates about marriage and sex. In the last sixty years alone we have been the losing interlocutors regarding contraception, divorce, pre-marital sex, and abortion. Now, as we rapidly lose ground on same-sex marriage, I needed a new trench, a new line to hold, and Kai gave it to me: I am not yet ready to give up on the value of marriage.
Before I explain myself, though, I should make my relative bias clear: not only am I Catholic, I am training to be a Catholic priest. Among other things, this means that I will never get married. Priests are asked to forego personal marriage in order to give themselves in complete service to the Church. Some may think that my swearing off of marriage disqualifies me from defending marriage, but I think of it as a scientific bonus – I am an outside observer who can comment on the system without reducing it to my own experience. And what are my observations? That marriage is ultimately a life of love-as-service and that society has an important interest in promoting and protecting such an institution.