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Revisiting Marriage and Capitalism

July 23rd, 2010 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Should we put capitalism and traditional views of marriage back on the table?

That’s the claim that James Davison Hunter made in the question and answer period.  It was obviously a direct reply to my remarks, even though he didn’t say so.   In fact, he said it as though he expected me to disagree.

I don’t.

Of course we should question capitalism and how the structure of traditional marriage.  And while we’re at it, let’s question the reliability of Scripture, the possibility of God’s goodness existing along with horrendous evils in this world, and whether the Heat are going to win 70 games next year.

As far as I’m concerned, we oughta question it all, if only because it’s the only possible way to dignify the ideas and ourselves.  And those ideas that are the closest to the center of our understanding of the world are the ideas that demand the hardest questions.

Which is to say, we ought to think.  And to the extent that we do that, we need to be open to revising our opinions on capitalism, the family, and God in light of what we discover.

Look, social conservatives have found themselves in the difficult position have having almost all the right conclusions (I think), but without decent reasons for those conclusions.  That’s certainly true of “normal” social conservatives.  But I sometimes wonder how much the leadership even thinks about the philosophical and theological issues that undergird their political action.  It’s tempting to get caught up in strategy all the time, a temptation I’m told pro-lifers in Congress succumb tooften.  If that’s accurate–and I don’t much care either way–a dose of solid questioning would do them a world of good.

I’m no skeptic, nor do I think “question everything” is much of a slogan to live by.  But we ought to occasionally pull the assumptions of our personal and political action up from beneath the surfaces of our lives and consider whether they are true, lest we waste our time chasing leprechauns.

I think that’s what we do here at Mere-O.  That’s what we want to do.  And if we fail at that, I trust you’ll let us know.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.