I Do? -- The Social, Legal and Cultural Definitions of Marriage
A Three-Part Forum on Feb. 18, 2005


What is marriage? Is it a holy union of two people consecrated by God? Is it a civic institution bound by legal obligations and conferring certain legal rights? Is it the ultimate form of public commitment two people make to join their lives together? Is it all of the above, some of the above, or none of the above?

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Religion and Society Committee, Mercer County Community College (MCCC), and The Times of Trenton are sponsoring three forums on Friday, Feb. 18 to explore these issues. The first forum, "I Do? -- The Social, Legal and Cultural Definitions of Marriage," takes place at the Conference Center on the MCCC campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Continental breakfast is included, followed by a roundtable discussion and audience questions.

A distinguished panel will include Professor Carol Sanger of Columbia Law School, who teaches and writes on issues such as contracts, family law, and feminist jurisprudence; Ashton Applewhite, board member of the Alternatives to Marriage Project and the Council on Contemporary Families and author of "Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well;" Rev. Mark Lewis and Rev. Dennis Winslow, a gay couple and plaintiffs in Lewis et.al. v. Harris et.al., a lawsuit filed by seven gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage equality in New Jersey; Hui Chen, Senior M. Div. student at Princeton Theological Seminary and former attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and Microsoft Corporation.

On the same date, Feb. 18, the discussion continues at two forums to take place at the Center of Continuing Education, Princeton Theological Seminary, 20 Library Place, Princeton.

Forum II, “Just Whose Business Is Marriage?”, held from 2 to 4:30 p.m., will be moderated by Larry Stratton, an attorney and a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary. Panelists include Dr. Russell Nieli, lecturer in the Department of Politics at Princeton University; Dr. Tom S. Palmer, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and director of Cato University; and Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Duff, associate professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary.

Forum III, “The Theology of Marriage,” also held at the Princeton Theological Seminary, takes place from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with dinner at 5:30 p.m. The panelists, who are all faculty members at the seminary, include Rev. Dr. Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger; Rev. Dr. Peter Paris; Professor Elmer G. Homrighausen; Rev. Dr. Dennis Olson; Rev. Dr. James F. Kay; and Professor Joe R. Engle. The moderator will be attorney and student Hui Chen.

The forums will raise issues such as the relationship between church and state as related to the institution of marriage, the theology of marriage as a Christian institution, the rights of individuals to choose their own structure for intimate relationships, and the public versus private natures of two individuals’ commitment to one another. Three forums, each with a panel of experts, will explore and debate the issues and provide opportunities for audience discussion and reflection.

Participants may register for one, two, or all three forums. The cost for all three Feb. 18 forums, including the continental breakfast and dinner, is $75. The cost for two forums is $45; and for one is $25. For more information please call The Center for Continuing Education, Princeton Theological Seminary, at 609-497-7990. Information and online registration is available at the Princeton Theological Seminary's website. Click on the Continuing Education link. To register for the morning forum only, call 609-586-4800 ext. 3856.

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