Morning Joe | November 18, 2011
>> us now the pastor from redeemer presbyterian church in new york city . reverend tim keller , who is the author of a new book "the meaning of marriage" facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of god. i love it. thank very much for coming back in. nice to see you.
>> great to be here.
>> tell me why first of all, do you feel there is a need for this book?
>> yeah. any marriage happy or unhappy is infinitely more interesting than any romance however passionate because marriage is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will. and our culture has it exactly the opposite right now. romance is the ideal and marriage is boring or stifling and so the book is trying to get across his point.
>> and the challenge you face within a relationship, is that something you feel people should embrace more?
>> are they running from it?
>> what is your worry?
>> i mean, i think the older idea of marriage was you put your needs below the needs of the other person and the marriage. today the idea is marriage is for the fulfillment of the individual, which means you're looking for a perfect soulmate, low maintenance, unselfish, unflawed, and if you -- you feel like if you have the perfect soulmate there won't be all the conflict. first of all, people are afraid to get married because you can't find anybody out there like that. secondly, once you do get married you walk faster because you're afraid -- well, i didn't get the right person. basically the older, more realistic idea that marriage is filled with conflict because two people have to fight it out and they stick together because of their vows is actually serving you better in the long run than the newer view of marriage as an easily terminated sexual contract for the fulfillment of the individuals.
>> i'm struck by the title of the book. "the meaning of marriage" because there's ban lot of conversation over the last decade or so over what marriage means. some, the gentleman who was just here, governor huntsman, believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. it's been redefined of late. how do you define marriage?
>> well, like i said, first of all, the idea of marriage is not i don't think, it shouldn't be just for the fulfillment of the individual so it's a public trust for a building of community. i do think the best way to do that is between a man and a woman because what you're doing is you're bringing the complementary genders together. and i do think that creates more stability. on the other hand the book is actually just a, more of an exposition of the traditional view of christian marriage.
>> but is there any evidence that it's more stable between a man and a woman or is there actually some evidence to the contrary?
>> well, christian marriage says -- the genders both bring something to the table that completes the other gender, so in the long run, what christians say marriage should do can't be done between two people of the same gender. so i wasn't saying that the only reason it's important to bring the two genders together is just because it makes marriage more stable. it actually is more of an interlock that happens. on the one -- the genders clash and mesh. that is they knock the rough edges off of each other in a way that makes them grow in character but they also mesh because they bring some complementary differences together. so basically the christian idea of marriage is something that goes beyond what the modern view is right now, which is really just simply i want to be fulfilled.
>> how much of a threat do you view as our cultural impatience today to the institution of marriage in which, you know, for eons of time it was till death do us part and now it seems uniquely in this country it's till death do us part or until i see something better later this afternoon.
>> auden said it's the creation of time and will. if you get into the marriage and almost immediately say this isn't the right person because it shouldn't be this hard, you're not giving it time. you're not giving it any will. yeah. i agree it's -- we're not seeing marriage as that anymore and so we are losing it.
>> what are the leading cultural forces that are undermining the conception of marriage as you'd like to see it?
>> individualism, period, the idea, the need of my individual need is more important --
>> does that come from schools? popular culture ?
>> oh, i think culture, you know, culture is really complex. you can go back to the enlightenment and say, western -- the western enlightenment creates an individualism that nonwestern countries don't have but you can also look at modern technology. look at the internet. it creates -- it is very difficult to get people to sit still for a concert anymore because we're used to choosing the movements we want to hear and leaving for the movements we don't want to hear. so everything from technology to intellectual trends create this individualism and that doesn't fit with marriage very well. the very idea of it.
>> your introduction says -- this is a book for married people . then there is a section in the secret of marriage chapter one, making men truly masculine. what is that going to be telling me?
>> well, the old idea of masculinity was self-mastery. i quote an op-ed piece in the "new york times" not too long ago that came against the narrative that really manly men don't fit with marriage because, you know, they, you know, don't want to settle down. the article said that traditionally a man was a person who could master himself. so he can't control his sexual urges, he really isn't a man. so part of becoming more masculine is willing to make a vow to a woman and stay with her long term. that's very masculine.
>> all right. the book is the meaning of marriage. i really appreciate it. tim keller , thanks very much. good to have you back on the