Calvin's Battle for Marriage

Studying Geneva's sexual reformation has lessons for today.
2006This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

At a time when ambiguity surrounds marriage, gender, and sexuality, this exceedingly useful volume from a leading historian (Kingdon) and one of the great legal scholars of our generation (Witte) is a real gift. Their detailed book is a boon for historians. It offers carefully edited documents illustrating the top-to-bottom reformation of family life that John Calvin undertook in Geneva.

But it is much more than just history. Calvin lived during an age of sexual chaos almost as disorderly as our own. In response, he sought to ground consideration of family and sexuality on theological foundations, especially the rich biblical view of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman in which the covenant-keeping God is always a third party. To this foundation he added considerations of natural law, a surprising quantity of humane sentiment, and a hard head for utilitarian effects. The result was a profoundly Christian orientation toward family life that became influential in many lands.

With their excellent work the authors also offer hope to others who, in altered circumstances, would cash out the riches of Scripture in the marketplace of contemporary culture.



Related Elsewhere:

Sex, Marriage, and Family Life in John Calvin's Geneva, Volume I is available from Christianbook.com and other book retailers.

More information is available from Eerdmans.

More articles on domestic issues is available from our Family page.

For book lovers, our 2005 CT book awards are available online, along with our book awards for 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997, as well as our Books of the Twentieth Century. For other coverage or reviews, see our Books archive and ...

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