Rough Notes on the Foundation of Marriage

If you’re responsible for the existence of something that deserves to be maintained and preserved, then you’re responsible for seeing to its maintenance and preservation. Instrumental causes can play a role in the execution of this principle, as can delegation of authority, but these are understood in relation to the principle itself.

But the union of one man and one woman is responsible for the existence of human life, and human life deserves to be preserved. This makes a man and woman, as a union, responsible for seeing to its preservation. Here again, delegation can play a role, but it needs to be understood in light of the original responsibility for preservation. We can also understand various conditions that make union impossible, but these conditions need to be understood as essentially irresponsible and privations of due order.   

Marriage takes its foundation from the responsibility that a man and a woman have for the raising of a childas a union. This union cannot be haphazard or uncertain or clandestine or fleeting, if for no other reason than such unions are undependable and therefore irresponsible. The union of the man an the woman stands to their offspring in a relation of justice that involves both duties and obligations, but it is not fundamentally a justice belonging to human law but to the natural order of things.

Since the foundation of marriage is properly the union of the man and the woman, marriages are possible when either the man or woman is infertile. We recognize unions according to their order toward an end, not their success at achieving it. A business can be recognized as a business even if it doesn’t make money. There is also secondary practical consideration that the union of the man and woman should be made before we know that most infertile coples are in fact infertile.   

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