Patrick Henry College
Dr. Allan Carlson
In keeping with PHC’s tradition of joining students and faculty together to discuss the ways in which faith and reason intersect, the spring semester’s Faith and Reason lecture was held Friday, February 21. Dr. Allan Carlson, founder and International Secretary of The World Congress of Families, presented a lecture he entitled, “The Marriage Crisis in America: Historical Roots.”
After Carlson’s lecture, students and faculty engaged in a robust evaluation, discussion, and debate, bringing a diversity of perspectives to the table. During lunch and discussion groups, students wrestled with ideas and asked probing questions, seeking to foster challenging academic discourse. Dr. Carlson then had the opportunity to dialogue with students and faculty during an afternoon question-and-answer session.
Dr. Carlson is President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois, and founder and International Secretary of The World Congress of Families. He has also served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Political Science and History at Hillsdale College and Visiting Professor at The John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America. He holds his Ph.D. in Modern European History from The Ohio University. His ten books explore the political implications of the family and decentralist thought. He is currently writing a book on how Evangelical Protestants responded to the issue of birth control between 1873-1973.
As always, opinions expressed in a Faith & Reason Lecture are those of the individual expressing them and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Patrick Henry College.
The summary of his lecture is as follows:
Marriage rates in the United States are tumbling toward historic lows (particularly among young adults), while same-sex marriage advocates press with mounting success for basic legal and cultural redefinitions of the marital bond. However, such challenges are not simply the product of recent decades nor of the Sexual Revolution associated with the 1960s. Rather, as Allan Carlson will argue, the deconstruction of marriage in America began over a century ago. In this lecture, he will describe the nature of marriage in America from the colonial era through the late 19th Century, emphasizing the close bond between “the Christian consensus” on marriage, family, and sexual questions and public policy. He will then focus on two episodes: (1) the adoption of “easy divorce” in Nevada and several other states in the 1880s, which provoked the original “marriage crisis” in American history and sparked the first major effort to add a Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (led by the Rev. Samuel Dike and his National Divorce Reform League); and (2) the challenge to Federal and state anti-contraception laws after 1914 by Margaret Sanger and her American Birth Control League, the success of which profoundly altered the legal meaning of marriage, with major consequences into our time. The lecture will analyze the reasons for the failure of Rev. Dike’s campaign compared to the success of Mrs. Sanger’s, and it will clarify the challenges—and opportunities—lying ahead for those who seek to rebuild a viable Culture of Marriage in America.
Photos from the Faith and Reason lecture:
Gallery of movie night