'It Takes a Society to Raise a Family': The Multidimensional Family Sphere

John Witte, Jr., et al., eds., The Impact of the Family on Character Formation, Ethical Education, and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt GmbH, 2022), 13-39

23 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2022

Date Written: 2022

Abstract

This chapter reconstructs traditional teachings on sex, marriage, and family life, and connects them with modern family law and family theory. It presents the marital family as a sphere, or a globe. At the bottom is (1) a natural pole that anchors the natural goods of marriage and natural human inclinations, appetites, and capacities for sex, marriage, and family life. Radiating up from this natural pole are: (2) a social dimension that articulates the public goods of the marital family, and the important supportive role of social institutions and professions, not least church and state; (3) an economic dimension that reflects the union of properties, labor, and rights in marriage and the family, and the channeling, expressive, and signaling functions of modern family law; (4) a communicative dimension expressed in public liturgies, celebrations, and symbols on important family days, as well as the vital private daily communications among spouses, parents, and children; and (5) a contractual dimension, expressed in the complex formal promises that form a marital household and define ongoing family rights, duties, and expectations. At the top of the sphere is (6) a spiritual pole that helps integrate these dimensions around sacramental, covenantal, or other transcendent ideals for family life.

Keywords: marital family sphere, natural pole, spiritual pole, social dimension, economic dimension, communicative dimension, contractual dimension

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, 'It Takes a Society to Raise a Family': The Multidimensional Family Sphere (2022). John Witte, Jr., et al., eds., The Impact of the Family on Character Formation, Ethical Education, and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt GmbH, 2022), 13-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4133866 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4133866

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

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