David Kirkpatick’s fine profile of Princeton’s Robert George, intellectual guru to the Conservative Catholic Bishops of America, shows a man as captivated by the potential of Reason to move the world as any Enlightenment philosophe. No doubt some will cavil at his elaborate argument for why only a one-man/one-woman, vaginal-intercourse-performing couple meets the Natural Law standard for marriage. As for me, I’m prepared to believe that somewhere Prof. George has an equally persuasive demonstration of why Reason frowns on positions other than the missionary.
George does allow as how he worries that his carefully constructed rationales may, in the real world, be ambushed by “what Christians describe as original sin and what secular pessimists call history.” Or, perhaps, by “Nature,” which has a pesky habit of resisting the Rule of Reason. What if biologists succeed in isolating a gene for homosexuality? Not to worry. In the Georgian philosophy, Nature will always be trumped by Natural Law.
But you do wonder how George’s mystical union theory of marriage really strikes the celibate leaders of a church that has always valued celibacy higher than the conjugal bond. A little push, and you could see it turning into an argument for a married clergy. And then where would they be?