“When a man and woman turn to one another in a bond of faithfulness, God robes them in garments of light, and we come as close as we will ever get to God himself, bringing new life into being, turning the prose of biology into the poetry of the human spirit, redeeming the darkness of the world by the radiance of love.”
Rabbi Lord Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Yesterday, he gave an outstanding address to the International Inter-religious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman. You should definitely watch it!
You can read the full transcript of his speech here but a few of the quotable highlights include:
- “It’s now official. Sex was invented in Scotland.” (If that doesn’t get you intrigued, I don’t know what will!)
- “Polygamy is the ultimate expression of inequality because it means that many males never get the chance to have a wife and child. And sexual envy has been, throughout history, among animals as well as humans, a prime driver of violence.”
- “And there is a deep connection between monotheism and monogamy, just as there is, in the opposite direction, between idolatry and adultery. Monotheism and monogamy are about the all-embracing relationship between I and Thou, myself and one other, be it a human, or the divine, Other.”
- “From monogamy the rich and powerful lose and the poor and powerless gain. So the return of monogamy goes against the normal grain of social change and was a real triumph for the equal dignity of all. Every bride and every groom are royalty; every home a palace when furnished with love.“
- “Marriage and the family are where faith finds its home and where the Divine Presence lives in the love between husband and wife, parent and child.”
- “What made the traditional family remarkable, a work of high religious art, is what it brought together: sexual drive, physical desire, friendship, companionship, emotional kinship and love, the begetting of children and their protection and care, their early education and induction into an identity and a history.”
- “The collapse of marriage has created a new form of poverty concentrated among single parent families, and of these, the main burden is born by women, who in 2011 headed 92 per cent of single parent households. In Britain today more than a million children will grow up with no contact whatsoever with their fathers.”
- “It will go down in history as one of the tragic instances of what Friedrich Hayek called “the fatal conceit” that somehow we know better than the wisdom of the ages, and can defy the lessons of biology and history.”
- “No one surely wants to go back to the narrow prejudices of the past… But our compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanising institution in history.“
- “For any society, the family is the crucible of its future, and for the sake of our children’s future, we must be its defenders.”
And lastly, of course, that beautiful turn-of-phrase that through the complementarity of man and woman, God creates new life, “turning the prose of biology into the poetry of the human spirit, redeeming the darkness of the world by the radiance of love.”
If you’ve fallen in theological-love with Lord Sacks like I just have, you might want to check out his books The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning or Genesis: The Book of Beginnings.
Also, be sure to watch the other addresses at the colloquium at Humanum’s YouTube page.