Response to Reviewers of John Witte, Jr., Church, State, and Family: Reconciling Traditional Teachings and Modern Liberties
Journal of Law and Religion 34 (2019): 520-528
12 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020 Last revised: 9 Nov 2021
Date Written: 2019
This article responds to Mark Jordan, Brian Bix, Michael Broyde, Robin Fretwell Wilson and Jonathan Chaplin who offered learned reviews of my volume, Church, State, and Family: Reconciling Traditional Teachings and Modern Liberties (Cambridge University Press, 2019). This volume marshals historical, philosophical, jurisprudential, theological, and social science arguments to defend the fundamental place of the marital family in modern liberal societies. While applauding modern sexual freedoms as a welcome relief from traditional forms of patriarchy, paternalism, and plain prudishness, it also defends the traditional Western teaching that the marital family is an essential cradle of conscience, chrysalis of care, and cornerstone of ordered liberty. The volume thus urges churches, states, and other social institutions to protect and promote the monogamous marital family, including same-sex families. It encourages reticent churches to embrace the rights of women and children, as earlier Christian writers taught. It encourages modern states to promote responsible sexual freedom and stable family relations, as classical liberals in Europe and North America repeatedly said. It counsels modern churches and states to share somewhat in family law governance, and to resist recent efforts to privatize, abolish, flatten, or radically expand the marital family sphere. And the volume invites fellow citizens to get over their bitter battles concerning same-sex marriage and tend to the vast family field that urgently needs concerted attention and action. The five reviewers generously condone the main argument of the book, while offering interesting caveats and elaborations.
Keywords: Law, Religion,Law and Religion, Marriage, family, children, natural law, natural rights, children's rights, religious arbitration, private ordering, political theory, church-state relations
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