The Catholic Church is faced with the challenge of theologically interpreting families that have experienced divorce, remarriage, and children outside of wedlock. The anthropology of conjugal self-gift, though valuable as an analogy to the Trinitarian communion, makes the nuclear family into an ideal. Since fewer than half of children in the U.S. live in the “traditional family,” it remains a problematic ideal. I suggest that familial and marital situations outside of the norm—often seen as problems illustrative of the breakdown of marriage in contemporary society—may be regarded in another light. A more adequate anthropology must consider how diverse marital and family forms can contribute to a theology of marriage.


Author's note: This is an expanded version of the paper I gave at “The Theological Enterprise in Light of the New Evangelization,”a Multi-Society Workshop for Theologians and Bishops, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 13, 2015, Washington D.C. Representing the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, I responded to the prompt, “What anthropology is essential to a proper understanding of marriage?”

Editor's note: In 2023, all issues of the Journal of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium became available electronically on this site with the permission of the original publisher, Fortuity Press/Hamilton Publishing. All articles now carry the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives License (CC-BY-NC-ND).