13 November 2014

ARTICLE: "Sex and Marriage in the Protestant Tradition: 1500-1900", by J. Witte (2014)

J. Witte, Emory University School of Law, on Sex and Marriage in the Protestant Tradition: 1500-1900Forthcoming  in Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-311 

full text here


This Article analyzes the mainline Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican models of sex, marriage, and family and their gradual liberalization by Enlightenment liberalism. The theological differences between these models can be traced to their grounding in Lutheran two kingdoms doctrines, Calvinist covenantal theology, Anglican commonwealth theory, and Enlightenment contractarian logic. Lutherans consigned primary marital jurisdiction to the territorial prince or urban council. Calvinists assigned interlocking marital roles to local consistories and city councils. Anglicans left marital jurisdiction to church courts, subject to state oversight and legislation. The early Enlightenment philosophers, many of them Protestants, pressed for a sharper separation of church and state in the governance of marriage, and for stronger protections of the rights and equality of women and children within and beyond the marital household. But they maintained traditional Protestant prohibitions extramarital sex and no-fault divorce in an effort to protect especially women and children from exploitation.

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