You are here:Home-Resources-Counsel of Chalcedon Magazine-1989 Issue 7-Killing the Family

Killing the Family

In the early history of this country, the courts, especially the United States Supreme Court, upheld traditional family autonomy. These early cases rested upon a Christian understanding of the marriage relationship. The United States Supreme Court's 1888 opinion in Maynard v. Hill is illustrative of this long line of precedent:

Whilst marriage is often termed by text writers and in decisions of courts a civil contract ... it is something more than a mere contract. The consent of the parties is of course essential to its existence, but when the contract to marry is executed by the marriage, a relation between the parties is created which they cannot change. Other contracts may be modified, restricted, or enlarged, or entirely released upon the consent of the parties. Not so with marriage. The relation once formed, the law steps in and holds the parties to various obligations and liabilities. It is an institution, the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.