Honor Thy Father (and Thy Mother): Child Marriage and Parental Consent in Calvin's Geneva
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
Symposium on Religion and Children, Journal of Religion, University of Chicago, 2005
Parental consent to engagement and marriage was a major reform that the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation introduced to stamp out the late medieval Catholic toleration of clandestine marriages. John Calvin introduced the doctrine of parental consent to Protestant Geneva both in statutes that he drafted and in cases that he adjudicated as a member of the Consistory court. Calvin and his fellow reformers insisted on the priority of the father's consent over the mother's consent, but also insisted that even the father could not override his child's own consent to an engagement or marriage contract. Parents and guardians who neglected their duties or abused their authority at this fateful stage of their child's lives were severely punished and often forfeited their right to have their child's secret marriage annulled.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: John Calvin, marriage, honor, consentAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 14, 2005
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