This Monday, the Intercollegiate Review kicked off its latest online symposium, titled "Sex and the Polis: Perspectives on Marriage, Family, and Sexual Ethics" with Ryan T. Anderson's "The Social Costs of Abandoning the Meaning of Marriage."
Especially given that I will be contributing to this symposium—my essay on the havoc pornography wreaks on individuals, relationships and society will appear on December 2—I find myself asking what the value of such a symposium is right now.
After all, one may fairly point out that—factoring recent votes in Hawaii—16 states and the District of Columbia will, as of December 2, grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and that nothing embodies the polis's perspective on the family and sexual ethics if not this onslaught of legislation.
The arguments that will be put forth in support of marriage, the family and sexual ethics during this symposium may strike some (on any side of the issue) as exhausted and exhausting. But that's a temptation to which one cannot succumb, particularly right now, when the number of Americans who live in states in which marriage licenses are granted to same-sex couples has climbed over 33%.
The questions being raised in this symposium are by no means fresh questions. Neither are their answers novel. Much of what will be said has been said before, or at least said before in very nearly the same manner.
And that's just fine. The right meaning of sex and the right understanding of sexuality are inexhaustible topics. Symposia such as this one can serve as reminders that the only realities not worth continually discussing and, if needed, defending are those realities that are never worth discussing or defending.
Why now should we reflect upon and discuss these topics?
Why are these topics worthy of perpetual reflection and discussion?
Why are they worthy of reflection and discussion at all?
Three different questions; they share the same answer.
The Intercollegiate Review is committed to providing a forum in which these questions, and answers gleaned from both the patrimony of classical ethics and contemporary data, can be debated. This symposium is just one of many efforts wanting to be made to combat the atomization of family life, the anonymity of contemporary relationship and our culture's deep disillusionment with the mystery of sex.
St. Paul's words from his second letter to the Thessalonians, which practitioners of the Liturgy of the Hours recently encountered, serve as a constant inspiration. May we always take notice: