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Church, State, and Family
Reconciling Traditional Teachings and Modern Liberties


Part of Law and Christianity

  • Date Published: April 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107184756

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About the Authors
  • This book defends the fundamental place of the marital family in modern liberal societies. While applauding modern sexual freedoms, John Witte, Jr also defends the traditional Western teaching that the marital family is an essential cradle of conscience, chrysalis of care, and cornerstone of ordered liberty. He thus urges churches, states, and other social institutions to protect and promote the marital family. He encourages reticent churches to embrace the rights of women and children, as Christians have long taught, and encourages modern states to promote responsible sexual freedom and family relations, as liberals have long said. He counsels modern churches and states to share in family law governance, and to resist recent efforts to privatize, abolish, or radically expand the marital family sphere. Witte also invites fellow citizens to end their bitter battles over same-sex marriage and tend to the vast family field that urgently needs concerted attention and action.

    • Distills and illustrates the rich family law teachings of the Western tradition
    • Encourages the integration of sex, marriage, and family life
    • Offers a theory of the multidimensional family sphere
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'It is hard to imagine a better researched, better balanced, more clearly argued - but also more charitable - defense of what John Witte, Jr calls the traditional 'marital family'. Witte a legal scholar of unique historical insight, here spells out clearly why a culture of 'stable monogamous marriages' harmonizes contractual, spiritual, natural, social, communicative, and economic realities - while offering special protection for women, children, and the poor of whatever gender, race, or class. It is a compelling book of landmark dimensions.' Mark A. Noll, McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

    'The context of this engrossing, learned and far-ranging text is the way much of traditional family law has been elbowed aside in favor of new cultural and constitutional norms of sexual freedom, privacy and autonomy. For his encyclopedic knowledge and incisiveness, John Witte, Jr has no equal, and this is a fair-minded and wise attempt at the re-integration of state and faith-based institutions. I commend it unreservedly.' Iain R. Torrance, President Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary

    'Over many years, John Witte, Jr has made a profound contribution to global scholarship and debate on law and religion. He continues to do so, with great energy and insight, in this superb book. Written in the highest academic traditions of argument and counter-argument, this book justly deserves to become an enduring stimulus for debate on the importance of the marital family in human life.' Norman Doe, Cardiff University

    'Vintage Witte! Drawing on his deep wells of scholarship, and writing with characteristic clarity and charity, he offers church, state, and society a reasoned account and constructive model of the marital family as a continuing private and public good, worthy of voluntary commitment and legal support.' William Storrar, Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey

    'I am convinced that John Witte, Jr's circumspect research, careful evaluations and well-balanced arguments will not only provoke lively and fruitful discussions, but will also encourage the support and development of good and joy-generating practices in religious and secular communities.' Michael Welker, University of Heidelberg

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107184756
    • length: 454 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 29 mm
    • weight: 0.76kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The first integrative Christian theories of family life: John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo
    2. Marriage as an office of nature and a sacrament of the church: Thomas Aquinas and Francisco Vitoria
    3. The marital family as social estate and covenant community: Martin Luther and John Calvin
    4. The domestic market: the family as matrix of modern economics
    5. The nature of family in seventeenth-century Christian thought: Hugo Grotius and John Selde
    6. The surprising liberal defense of the traditional marital family by enlightenment liberals
    7. The multidimensional family sphere: reconstructing traditional family teachings for modern liberal societies
    8. Why suffer the children? Overcoming the modern church's opposition to children's rights
    9. Why same-sex marriage should not lead to polygamy
    10. By the power vested in whom? What place for faith-based family laws in a liberal democracy?
    11. The dangers of private ordering
    Concluding reflections.

  • Author

    John Witte, Jr., Emory University, Atlanta
    John Witte, Jr is Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor of Religion, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, Atlanta. He edits the Cambridge Law and Christianity Series and the Journal of Law and Religion. He has published 260 articles and 32 books, including the following titles: Law and Protestantism (Cambridge, 2002); The Reformation of Rights (Cambridge, 2008); Christianity and Law (Cambridge, 2008); The Sins of the Fathers (Cambridge, 2009); Christianity and Human Rights (Cambridge, 2010); To Have and to Hold (Cambridge, 2007); The Western Case for the Monogamy Over Polygamy (Cambridge, 2015); and Christianity and Family Law (Cambridge, 2017).

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