"I Now Take Thee" Weddings in Calvin’s Geneva

Wedding 2

Here is another post on Kingdon and Witte’s book on marriage in Geneva. 

Eloping or getting married without a public wedding ceremony has become a trend of late. As the value of our wedding vows have diminished through divorce and fornication so too have wedding themselves become passe. Weddings are still big business, but many couples are choosing to avoid ceremonies all together.  In Geneva there was no eloping.

In Geneva “Marriages without weddings were invalid.”  You could not be married without a public ceremony presided over by the pastor and witnessed by the congregation. “Marriages that had been secretly contracted or improperly celebrated elsewhere had to be announced and celebrated anew in a church wedding in Geneva.” The couple, the church, and the magistrate all had to consent to the marriage before the wedding was performed. Here was the process: Continue reading

A Husband Must Maintain His Authority

Family 1

In my last post from William Gouge I quoted him on how a husband’s love for his wife is the foundation for all his duties. We are not surprised to find this emphasis in Gouge. Modern evangelical husbands are frequently exhorted to love their wives, which of course is good and right. However, Gouge’s next section might come as a bit of a surprise. If you remember the title of this chapter is, “A Husband’s Affectionate Authority over His Wife.” The affection part we get. The authority over part we have a harder time with. But for Gouge love is expressed through a husband’s authority. A husband cannot properly love his wife if he is not maintaining and exercising authority.

All the branches which grow out of this root of love as they cover the husband’s duties, may be drawn to two heads

  1. A wise maintaining of his authority.
  2. A right managing of the same.

That these two are branches of a husband’s love, is evident by the place in which God has set him, which is a place of authority; for the best good that any can do, are those which are done in his own proper  position, and by virtue of it.  If then a husband relinquishes his authority, he takes away his ability to do that good, and show those fruits of love which he otherwise might. If he abuses his authority, he turns the edge and point of his sword in the wrong direction. Instead of holding it over his wife for her protection, he stabs her body to her destruction, and so show by it more hatred than love.

We all get Gouge’s last two sentences. We frequently hear about how husbands are not to use their authority to abuse their wives. This was a problem in Gouge’s day as well and he rebukes it soundly throughout the book.  Continue reading

Book Review: Adam & Eve After the Pill

Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual RevolutionAdam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution by Mary Eberstadt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent book that covers the consequences of the sexual revolution and in particular the connection to birth control and pornography. She explains how the sexual revolution has harmed women, men, and society as a whole. As another friend commented, her chapter on food and sex was an eye opening chapter. She writes about how we now treat food like we used to treat sex and sex how we used to treat food. She is surprisingly optimistic about the ability to combat the sexual revolution. She believes that as studies continue to accumulate the sexual revolution will start to die, though the consequences have been and will continue to be heartbreaking.

The chapter on pedophilia feels dated even though the book is only 5 years old. She notes that prior to the priest-pedophilia scandal, sex with children was gaining steam. The scandal slowed that train considerably. But now, here in 2017, the objections to sex with children continue to erode.

One does not need to condemn birth control in all circumstances to see that easy, cheap contraceptives have dramatically altered our sex lives, including most importantly our approach to marriage and children, and not for the better. Thus we have a culture where the basic building block of society, a biological man and woman married and having children, is not the norm. She noted the upsurge of Protestant evangelicals who are questioning the rampant use of birth control. Since 2012 I have noticed an increase in pastors and leaders having 5, 6, 7 children and in writing more on birth control. This is encouraging and I hope it continues.

All in all, a book I would recommend though those who are conversant with more recent literature will have heard much of this before.

View all my reviews

Sex, Procreation, and Historical Context

BedIn a  previous post I said this:

If you could not physically have sex you could not get married. There was no marriage of the heart only. If you could not have sex the Lord had made you a eunuch (Matthew 19:12). If you went to battle and lost your man parts, you could not marry. But if something happened physically after marriage the vows still held.

Geneva refused marriage to those who could not have sex. One question that arose from this comment was, “Did they do this because they felt marriage was for procreation?” The answer to this is yes, but it helps to put the laws in their historical context. What I am about to say is brief and there are exceptions, but in general it is true. Continue reading

No Prohibition Found

From Abraham onwards, for a period of twenty centuries, children were expressly received into the Church from the time of their birth if they were born of Jewish parents or as minors if they belonged to families of which the father had been converted to Judaism. Through twenty centuries not only tradition and ritual, but religious and theological thought fashioned by the promises and prescriptions of the covenant of grace, which is the foundation doctrine of the Old Testament, confirmed in all points in the New, owed their organic character to this covenant. Has the force and vigor of this conception according to which children ought to receive the sacrament of the covenant been truly represented? In reality, the silence of the New Testament regarding the baptism of children militates in favor of rather than against this practice [infant baptism]. To overthrow completely notions so vital, impressed for more than two thousand years on the soul of the people, to withdraw from children the sacrament of admission into the covenant, the Apostolic Church ought to have received from the Lord an explicit prohibition, so revolutionary in itself that a record of it would have been preserved in the New Testament. Not only, however, does the eternal covenant remain intact in the New Testament, but in Jesus Christ it reaches supreme fulfillment. Had our Lord wished the reception of children into this ever valid covenant to be discontinued He would have said so in order that no one might be any doubt. (Pierre Marcel in The Doctrine of Infant Baptism)

How Does Scripture Treat Children of Believers?

The legitimacy of infant baptism depends entirely on the question of the manner in which Scripture regards the children of believers and wishes us, consequently, to regard them. If Scripture speaks of these children in the same way as of adult believers, and if the promises which are made to them and the benefits of grace received by them are the same, then the legitimacy and, still more, the duty of infant baptism are securely established; we cannot withhold from children that which is granted to adults. (Pierre Marcel, Doctrine of Infant Baptism)

A Different Kind of Hard

human-development

One of the lies we tell ourselves is that the stage of parenting we are at is the hardest stage.  If our kids are little we think that is the hardest stage. If we have middle-schoolers stuck somewhere between 6 and 16 that is the hardest stage. No one has it as hard as parents of high-schoolers say parents of high-schoolers. Even parents whose children have left home claim they have it harder than anyone else.

The truth is that no stage of parenting is harder or easier than any other stage. Each stage brings its own difficulties. Changing diapers is hard. But so is teaching your teenager to drive, teaching your six year old to read, marrying off your 23 year old daughter, and teaching your 13 year old how to manage his computer time.   Continue reading