Emory Law Journal


This Article shows that many Enlightenment liberals defended traditional family values and warned against the dangers of sexual libertinism and marital breakdown. While they rejected many traditional teachings in their construction of modern liberalism, Enlightenment liberals held firmly to classical and Christian teachings that exclusive and enduring monogamous marriages are the best way to ensure paternal certainty and joint parental investment in children who are born vulnerable and dependent on their parents¿ mutual care. Stable marital households, furthermore, are the best way to ensure that men and women are treated with equal dignity and respect, and that husbands and wives, and parents and children, provide each other with mutual support, protection, and edification throughout their lifetimes. The positive law of the state must not only support the marital family but also outlaw polygamy, fornication, adultery, and ¿light divorce¿ that violate the other spouse¿s natural rights as well as desertion, abuse, neglect, and disinheritance that violate their children¿s natural rights to support, protection, and education from their parents.