Marriage and the Common Good

The Marriage of the Virgin, Philippe de Champaigne

Dr. Scott Hahn has often talked on why the topic of marriage is so important in our culture today. Thanks to his book The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order, the conversation on the importance of sacramental marriages has gained popularity. Recently, Dr. Hahn spoke with Our Sunday Visitor about The First Society and the ideas he presents in it. Below is an excerpt of that interview:

Our Sunday Visitor: Why did you approach the topic as hope-filled rather than optimistic?

Scott Hahn: If we don’t live this out at home, politicians can’t clean up the mess. We should really focus on what it is we can do to allow God to change our hearts, our homes, our lives and the world around us. [We need to] shift the center of gravity from politics to faith, and not just to faith in the abstract sense of theology but faith in the concrete, practical, lived experience of people struggling to be faithful and loving and humble and forgiving in their marriages.

OSV: How do we get the common good back?

Hahn: In this case the phrase “common good” is not primarily a political principle. It describes what we are as human beings in relationships. There is no tug-of-war between an individual pursuing what is best for himself and the culture looking for its best.

I am a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a husband or wife, a father or mother, and I am also a citizen. The Church’s notion of a common good is rooted in natural moral philosophy and is the single thing that we need to understand better than anything else.

Once we do understand it, we’re going to recognize that religion and politics have to conspire to protect marriages and families. That is what is in everybody’s best interests, whether they’re single or married, divorced or widowed, hetero or same-sex attraction. The culture will flourish to the extent that marriages and families flourish.

We really only achieve true freedom to the extent that we understand what is true and do the good. This is the truth of the common good.

Read the rest on OSV Newsweekly.


Dr. Scott Hahn is president of the St. Paul Center and author of over forty books on theology and biblical studies. His book The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order explores how reclaiming marriage as the fundamental unit of society can reorder culture to truth and goodness.