- “Whether we consult the soundest deductions of reason, or resort to the best information conveyed to us by history, or listen to the undoubted intelligence communicated in holy writ, we shall find, that to the institution of marriage the true origin of society must be traced. By that institution the felicity of Paradise was consummated; and since the unhappy expulsion from thence, to that institution, more than to any other, have mankind been indebted for the share of peace and harmony which has been distributed among them. ["The first bond of society is marriage,"] says Cicero in his book of offices; a work which does honour to the human understanding and the human heart.”
- “Legislators have, with great propriety, carried their views still farther; they have provided, as far as municipal laws can provide, against the violation of rights, indispensably essential to the purity and harmony of the matrimonial union. Treachery, upon any occasion, is sufficient to stain a page in the annals of life; but perfidy against the solemn engagements of marriage obliterates the impression of happiness from every subsequent part of the conjugal history.”
- “The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become, in law, only one person: the legal existence of the wife is consolidated into that of the husband. Upon this principle of union, almost all the other legal consequences of marriage depend. This principle, sublime and refined, deserves to be viewed and examined on every side. Among human institutions, it seems to be peculiar to the common law. Peculiar as it is, however, among human institutions, it seems not uncongenial to the spirit of a declaration from a source higher than human—’They twain shall be one flesh.’”
- “Whenever urgent emergencies arise; whenever any outrage is threatened or committed against the peace or safety of society, as well as against the refined rules of the conjugal union; the law will interpose its authority, and, though it will not order, because it cannot enforce its orders for observing the latter, it will order, because it can enforce its orders for preserving the former.”
And in addition to these, Wilson also left a word of great encouragement for those who would fight in defense of marriage in the future. You see, our current battle over marriage is just one battle in a war that has been waged over the course of several millennia. In the past, there have been times when the fate of marriage has looked very bleak, but Wilson noted in his Lectures that:
“By the precepts of christianity, and the practice of the christians, the dignity of marriage was, however, restored.”
It is my prayer that our children will one day be able to say the same thing about us.