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date: 24 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys historic Christian teaching on marriage both within the early church and subsequently in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. Coinciding changes in Western legal and political thought are also surveyed, in which marriage, using John Witte’s scheme, is gradually transformed from sacrament to contract. Although certain changes in practices and regulation of marriage have changed over time within the Christian tradition, there have been enduring normative strands or themes regarding its sacramentality (broadly construed), foundational role for the family, relation to singleness, and the ordering of the household to the broader civil community. These enduring strands or themes are used to briefly examine and assess some contemporary and contentious issues within both church and society.

Keywords: marriage, family, sacrament, contract, church, society, church and state, singleness

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