The authority of reason in defense of marriage, pt 4 Print
Heroes for Life
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Heroes for Life by Lillian Quinones

Conclusion of a four-part series offered as a primer for Catholics on the authority of reason in the defense of marriage. The series is based on author Lillian Quinones’ interviews with Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University.

Author’s note: The need for knowledgeable and articulate Catholics to defend the family as the foundation of society is dire. I am honored to feature Robert P. George, who is hailed by the New York Times as the “country’s most influential Christian thinker.” His clear and concise arguments motivate us to defend traditional marriage courageously and confidently for, as he demonstrates in this article, reason is our strongest weapon.

— Lillian Quinones is a 2013 graduate of St. Ambrose Academy in Madison. She is a freshman at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich.

Robert P. George
Robert P. George
Meet Professor Robert P. George
A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, he also received a master’s degree in theology from Harvard and a doctorate in philosophy of law from Oxford University. He is the author of Conscience and Its Enemies, In Defense of Natural Law, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality, and The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis, and is the co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, and What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. His scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in many journals. Professor George is a drafter of the “Manhattan Declaration,” a manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical believers that “promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research, or same-sex marriage.” Professor Robert P. George, a devout Catholic, holds Princeton University’s celebrated McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence and is the chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is the founding director of the James Madison Program at Princeton and has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award.

What can we do to defend traditional marriage, Professor George?


First, there is no excuse for failing to educate yourselves. My book, Conscience and Its Enemies, is just one example of a resource material out there for people.

It’s not just up to bishops and priests; there’s no shirking that responsibility and pushing it off on somebody else. Young people need to arm themselves with understanding and arguments so that they can engage their peers in a winning and compelling way.

We are told by the media that the younger generation has gone completely over to the side of believing in same-sex marriage and “if it feels good, do it.” Well, I don’t believe that our young people have all gone for that impoverished understanding of morality and the human good. Nor do I think that those who have are permanently stuck there.

It’s terribly important that young people be in the vanguard of fighting for everything that’s good and showing the media — showing the world — that there are young people in large numbers who are brave and who are smart and who know how to make the case in the public square.


For believers, there is prayer. No one is excused from the responsibility to pray for marriage and for the rebuilding of a vibrant marriage culture.

We need to pray for each other, we need to pray for our country, and we need to pray for the politicians and judges who are making such important decisions affecting the future of marriage.

Political activism

We all have a responsibility to be active as citizens in the public square, upholding marriage and other human goods. Very important, of course, is the sanctity of human life. So we need to be voting for candidates for public office who uphold marriage and human life, and protect religious liberty and other important values.

We need to be out there actively opposing politicians who are on the wrong side of these issues. If they are office-holders now, then we need to remove them from office at the ballot box.

Some people say, “Gee, I don’t like politics, I don’t want to be involved in politics.” Some say, “The Church shouldn’t be allowed in politics.”’

It wasn’t our side that politicized marriage, or tried to change its definition. Political means were chosen to do that, and we have no choice but to enter the political arena in order to defend marriage and the sanctity of human life and other essential values and, as citizens, we have a responsibility to do that.

In a democracy the people rule, and we are the people. With that right comes the responsibility to exercise it and to uphold the dignity of the human being in all its dimension, which means fighting for marriage, fighting for the sanctity of human life, and fighting for religious liberty and other important values. Young people need to be in the forefront here.

We must always set a good example for others. That’s just critically important. We can’t live one way and talk another way. Our words will have power only if they are backed up by actions.

We must exemplify in our lives the principles and values and moral norms that we’re upholding in our public proclamations. We need to show others that lives of virtue are lives of joy, that lives of virtue are lives flourishing.

We need to show that you don’t give something of value up when you live virtuously; you gain something very, very precious.