Tales From the Land of Marriage

Book Pick: Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity


Twelve Arguments for Sanity

By Anthony Esolen

St. Benedict Press, 2014

186 pages, $14.95

To order: benedictpress.com



This is the best book on marriage I have ever read, and the author, Anthony Esolen, is certainly one of the best Catholic writers in our country.

In his book, Esolen addresses all of the current hot-button issues regarding the state of marriage in America. He explains marriage’s roots in age-old religious, cultural and natural laws, why “gay marriage is a metaphysical impossibility, how the state becomes a religion when it attempts to elevate gay marriage, and as such enshrines a civil right to all consensual sex, and how today’s culture has impoverished and emptied love of its true meaning.”

In his sixth and last argument for marriage, Esolen waxes poetic, as befits a scholar of Dante and Shakespeare — he has written several other books, including a modern translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and is a professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island.

“The Beauty of the Country of Marriage” contrasts the Land of (Traditional) Marriage with the Land of Divisia, that is, the image of marriage as it is increasingly seen today:

“In the Land of Marriage, you know your neighbors, because there are neighbors to know. That’s because men and women marry, and stay married, and raise families; and before you know it, you are like a star in a great constellation or a leaf upon a bough of leaves. In the Land of Marriage, fidelity and not restlessness is the rule, and so you not only know your neighbors, you know their cousins, too. In Divisia, people strive with all their might to make a name for themselves, because no one knows who they are. In the Land of Marriage, you don’t have to make a name for yourself. You have three or four of them already: what your mother calls you, what your brothers and sisters and cousins and friends call you, what your children call you and what your wife calls you.

“In Divisia, people take it as an affront that the human race is divided into two sexes and that these two have certain reliable features. They deny more than Adam. They deny the Adam’s apple. In the Land of Marriage, the division is all the sweeter for the union that it promises. Men do more than love women: They like women, and women like men. What in Divisia is scorned as ‘stereotype’ in the Land of Marriage is a source of delight. … Boys and girls in the Land of Marriage learn about their sexes just as they learn to talk and how to use their arms and legs.”

I wish I had more space to continue to quote from the book. This book should be read by any couple considering marriage as part of their future — and everyone else, too.

Some civilizations have flourished for many centuries and then disappeared. Unless we get marriage right, as explained in this marvelous book, the West as we have known it will disappear.

Defending Marriage is a call to action.


Father C.J. McCloskey is a Church historian

and research fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington.