• The Meanings of Marriage

    Author(s):
    John Witte, Jr. (see profile)
    Date:
    2002
    Subject(s):
    Law, Religion, History, Christianity, Families
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Divorce, Annulment, Covenant, Sacrament, Marriage, Family
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/976r-nc36
    Abstract:
    Modern American marriage law was born of both Christian and Enlightenment teachings. Christians have long regarded marriage as a natural, contractual, social, and spiritual institution that depends ultimately on church, state, and society alike to be effective and enduring. Enlightenment liberals, however, have slowly reduced marriage to a terminal sexual contract with freedom to enter, exercise, and exit as the private parties see fit. While these liberal reforms were designed to bring greater equality to the marital home and greater protection to women and children, some of the more radical private contractarian views of marriage and divorce that now dominate American law have actually hurt women and children more than helped them. This Article thus calls for the reconstruction of a multi-dimensional understanding of exclusive and enduring marriage that recognizes both the private and public goods of marriage and that strikes new balances among churches, states, and other social institutions that support marriage. It also calls for legal reforms that rebalance the rigor of the rules governing marital formation and dissolution, that encourage longer intervals between formal engagements and weddings, and that offers a clearer separation of the procedures and consequences of annulment and divorce.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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