Calvin on Brangelina

I was reading Calvin’s treatise Against the Libertines and came across this powerful section on the necessity of the marriage covenant.  The Libertines were a small and strange sect in Calvin’s day, but their worldview is now widespread in our time.  Most people would not agree with their belief that there is no such thing as right and wrong, but most seem to agree with their position that we should do whatever we feel like doing. 

In chapter 20 Calvin describes how this “freedom” destroys marriage, and then everything else.

“From this source the most villainous debauchery which anyone has ever heard mentioned in the world has gone out.  For they permit a man and a woman to unite with each other in whatever form seems good to them.  They call it a ‘spiritual marriage’ when anyone is content with the other.  Hence if a man takes no pleasure in his wife, in their view he may provide for himself elsewhere to solve his problem.  At the same time, lest the woman remain destitute, they also grant her permission to meet her need and to accept it wherever it is offered to her.”

“If anyone asks, ‘What, then, will become of marriages that are held indissoluable, if it is lawful to retract them at will?’  They reply that a marriage that has been contracted and solemnized before men is carnal, unless it contains a spirit of mutual compatibility.  For that reason the Christian man is not bound by it unless both are content with each other, which alone ought to be [the norm] held among Christians.”

“…Now let everyone consider whether anything in the world will remain safe any longer.  What order, loyalty, integrity, or assurance will remain if marriage, which is the holiest covenant and the one which ought to be the most faithfully kept, can be thus repudiated?”

2 Comments

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  1. Jonathan Shelley December 1, 2010 — 1:09 pm

    Mike,

    This goes back to the earlier discussions we’ve had on this blog about gay marriage – how do you define marriage if you do not base it on God’s Word? Without God, marriage is just a social arrangement, and why not end it when one or both parties is no longer happy with the arrangement? It seems odd to me to think that belief in God has practical implications and is not just an abstract, philosophical questions, but there it is.

  2. On November 18, the NBC Nightly News did a report on a survey that found that 39% of Americans now view marriage as obsolete. This was the lead story for that night.

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