Between Sacrament and Contract: Marriage as a Covenant in John Calvin's Geneva
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 32, pp. 9-75, 1998
This article focuses only on John Calvin’s reformation of marriage in sixteenth-century Geneva. Calvin’s early efforts in the 1530s and 1540s were focused on the law of marital formation, maintenance, and dissolution. Particularly his 1545 Marriage Ordinance was famous for requiring parental consent, church consecration, and publicly attested marital contracts for valid marital formation, and for allowing both husbands and wives to divorce on grounds of adultery and desertion. When Calvin’s legal views were challenged, he both defended and refined them with a new theology of marriage as a covenant, modeled on the covenant between God and his elect. This theology emphasized both the spiritual and contractual qualities of marriage, its dependence on the moral law of God, and the participation of God through parents, peers, pastors, and political officials who each hold divine authority.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 67
Keywords: John, Calvin, Marriage, Geneva, Divorce, Theology, Religion, Sacrament, Contract, Covenant
Date posted: February 11, 2011