Dr. Christopher Kaczor, author of The Seven Big Myths about Marriage: What Science, Faith and Philosophy Teach Us about Love and Happiness, was recently interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, author of National Review Online:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Does anyone really believe “love is simple” — your first myth?
CHRISTOPHER KACZOR: Unfortunately, I believed this first myth until fairly recently! I suppose there are at least some other people who believe something like I did. I used to think that love was just a matter of good will. If I choose to do what helps another person, then I love that person. Once I learned more about the nature of love, I learned that love includes not only good will for the one you love but also appreciation for and seeking unity with the beloved. All forms of love (agape) involve all three aspects, and the forms of love are distinguished primarily in terms of the third characteristic, the diverse ways in which unity is sought.
LOPEZ: British prime minister David Cameron recently said that “love is love,” in welcoming same-sex marriage this month. How might you respond to such an assertion?
KACZOR: I’d say that marriage and love are related but that more than love alone is needed for a marriage. You could certainly have one man who loves four different women, but presumably this does not mean that a man should have a legal right to polygamy. Love can and does exist without legal recognition as marriage. ...
LOPEZ: You write, “Like any word, ‘marriage’ must be defined because, if marriage means anything and everything, then marriage means nothing.” What does marriage mean in America today?
KACZOR: We are in a great societal conversation today in the United States about the question, “What Is Marriage?” Some people hold that marriage is the comprehensive union of a man and a woman who have vowed unconditional love to each other for as long as they both shall live. Other people think of marriage as a partial union between two people (of whatever sex) that can be dissolved whenever either party wishes. Still other people — advocates for polygamy — think that marriage can be a union of more than two persons. Nevertheless, I think people of all three of these views can agree that there must be some kinds of relationships that are recognized as marriages and other kinds of relationships that should not be recognized as marriages. Everyone “draws the line” somewhere between what is marriage and what is not marriage.
LOPEZ: What is the most widespread myth about marriage?
KACZOR: The most widespread myth about marriage is probably that “cohabitation is just like marriage.” I cannot tell you how many of my students think this, and how many of them believe that living together prior to marriage will lower their likelihood of divorce. In the book, I point out that many studies indicate that cohabitation actually increases the likelihood of divorce, and that the longer a couple cohabits the more likely it is that they will divorce.
Read the entire interview on the National Review website.