The Mother of All Earthly Laws: The Lutheran Reformation of Marriage

Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Review 15:2 (2013): 26-43

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-385

15 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Martin Luther and his colleagues transformed the theology and law of marriage and family life in sixteenth-century Germany and Scandinavia. They replaced the medieval Catholic views of marriage as a sacrament and celibacy as a superior institution, with a new view of marriage as a natural and necessary institution for all fit adults, clergy and alike, that brought private goods to the couple and their children and public goods to the community. These new theological teachings placed marriage and family life under secular rule, and introduced legal reforms that simplified the rules of marital formation and introduced divorce for cause and remarriage at least for the innocent party.

Keywords: Martin Luther; Johann Apel; Protestant Reformation; Marriage; Social Theory; Marriage as Sacrament; The Goods of Marriage; Celibacy; Monasticism; Divorce; Remarriage; Church-State Relations; Family law

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, The Mother of All Earthly Laws: The Lutheran Reformation of Marriage (2013). Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Review 15:2 (2013): 26-43, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-385, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2705606

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