WHAT IS THE FAMILY?
RELIGIOUS AND ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES
Professor M. Christian Green
Harvard Divinity School
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00-11:30
Andover Hall, Room B
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES
Recent calls for the public and legal recognition of gay marriage, on the one hand, and for government promotion of traditional marriage, on the other, are prompting new questions about the nature, form, function of the family in contemporary culture. This course will survey the writings of thinkers influential on Western religious, political, and cultural understandings of the family to see what norms they offer for sex, marriage, and family and what light these may shed on contemporary family issues. Having completed this hermeneutical retrieval of historical marriage and family norms, we will assess several contemporary arguments about the family in law, culture, religious ethics, and the social sciences. Our practical theological task throughout the course will be to understand how classical understandings of the family inform contemporary family debates and to envision and evaluate various possible responses of church, state, and society to family change and social transformation.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS
September 21 Introduction to the Course; Video: “Marriage—Just a Piece of Paper?”
September 23 Video: “Marriage—Just a Piece of Paper?” (continued)
Week 2—ARISTOTLE OR PLATO?
September 28 Plato
- Symposium, pp. 526-74.
- Republic, Bk. 5, 449a-468c, pp. 127-48.
- Laws, §11, “Marriage and Related Topics,” pp. 246-56,261-270.
September 30 Aristotle
- Nichomachean Ethics, Bks. 8-9 “Friendship,” pp. 471-518.
- Politics Bk. 1, 1260b 9-26 and Bk. 2 1260b 27-1265b 17.
Week 3—STOICS, CYNICS, EPICUREANS, AND THE BIBLICAL FAMILY
October 5 Stoics, Cynics, and Epicureans
- Musonius Rufus, “On Sexual Indulgence,” pp. 152-153.
- Epictetus, “On the Calling of a Cynic,” pp.153-157.
October 7 Biblical Perspectives on the Family
- Meyers, “The Family in Early Israel,” pp. 1-47.
- Browning et al., Ch. 5 “Honor, Shame, and Equality in Early Christian Families,” pp. 129-54.
- Genesis 1-3
- Deuteronomy 24-25
- Matthew 5: 27-31. 19: 1-12
- Luke 14: 26, 18: 29-30
- 1 Corinthians 5: 9-13, 6:12-7:39, 11:2-16
- Ephesians 5:21-6:9
- 1 Timothy 5:3-16
- 1 Peter 3:1-7
Optional Reading: Browning, Marriage and Modernization, Ch. 3
Week 4—AUGUSTINE & AQUINAS: NATURE AND GOODS OF MARRIAGE
October 12 Augustine on the Goods of Marriage
- Augustine, “On the Good of Marriage,” pp.399-413.
October 14 Aquinas on Sex, Lust, and Marriage
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, “The Parts of Lust,” Q. 154, a.1-12.
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 122-126.
Optional Reading: Browning, Marriage and Modernization, Ch. 4.
Week 5—LUTHER, CALVIN, AND THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
October 19 Luther and Calvin on Marriage and Family
- Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage (1522),” pp. 12-49.
- John Calvin, “Sermon on Deuteronomy 5:18,” pp. 167-183.
Optional Reading: Browning, Marriage and Modernization, Ch. 4.
October 21 Implications of the Reformation for Church, State, and Family
- John Witte, “The Reformation of Marriage Law in Martin Luther’s Germany: Its Significance Then and Now,” 4 Journal of Law and Religion: 293-351.
Week 6—GENDER AND EQUALITY IN THE EARLY LIBERAL FAMILY
October 26 Locke’s Argument Against Patriarchy
- John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 6 (whole) and Ch. 7 (§77-86), pp. 303-23.
October 28 Rousseau on Nature, Culture, and Sexual Difference
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, in Kass and Kass, Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar, pp. 167-74, 268-79, 421-53, 579-85.
Week 7—WOLLSTONECRAFT, MILL, AND THE RISE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM
November 2 Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of Women’s Equality
- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Ch. 5, §1, pp. 175-94 and Ch. 2, pp. 100-23.
November 4 John Stuart Mill’s Critique of Women’s Subordination
- John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, Ch. 1, pp. 471-501 (Optional Reading: Ch. 2, pp. 502-23)
Week 8—MARXIST CRITIQUES OF THE CAPITALIST FAMILY
November 9 Engels on the Origins of Family, State, and Property
- Friedrich Engels, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,” pp. 734-51.
November 11 Pope Leo XIII on Work and Family and the Subsequent Papal Encyclical Tradition
- Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of the Working Classes) (1891)
Week 9—CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT PERSPECTIVES
November 16 The Vatican on Gender, Marriage, Family, and “De Facto” Unions
- Pontifical Council for the Family, “Family, Marriage, and ‘De Facto’ Unions” (2000).
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World” (2004).
November 18— Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Report on “Transforming Families”
- Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., “Transforming Families” (2004).
Week 10—THE CASE FOR MARRIAGE
November 23 From Is to Ought in Marriage and Family: Social Science Data and Ethical Norms
- Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, esp. Ch. 1-3, 9-10, 12-14.
November 25 THANKSGIVING BREAK
Week 11—MARRIAGE AND MODERNIZATION
November 30 Global Trends in and Perspectives on Marriage and Family
- Browning, Marriage and Modernization, Ch. 1-2 and Ch. 7 (pp. 166-85).
December 2 The Ethical Implications of Modernization and Globalization for Family Life Around the World
- Browning, Marriage and Modernization, Ch. 8-9.
Week 12—THE AUTONOMY MYTH
December 7 A Feminist Critique of Family Equality, Autonomy, Privacy, and Marriage
- Read Fineman, The Autonomy Myth, Ch. 1-3.
December 9 Family, State, and Theories of Dependency and Care
- Read Fineman, The Autonomy Myth, Ch. 4-5 and 8.
Week 13—GAY MARRIAGE
December 14 The Goods of Gay Marriage, Part 1
- Rauch, Gay Marriage, Ch. 1-5.
December 16 The Goods of Gay Marriage, Part 2
- Rauch, Gay Marriage, Ch. 6-11.
December 21 Forms, Functions, and Families: The Goods of Marriage and Family–Who Should Get Them, and Why?
READINGS AND RESERVES
Books to Purchase
Linda S. Waite and Maggie Gallagher. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (New York: Broadway Books, 2001).
Don S. Browning, Marriage and Modernization: How Globalization Threatens Marriage and What to Do About It (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).
Martha Albertson Fineman. The Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency (New York: New Press, 2004).
Jonathan Rauch. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America (New York: Times Books, 2004).
Books on Reserve
The titles above and other course readings are all on reserve under my name at Andover-Harvard Theological Library.