To a large extent, modern marriagenlaw has reflected the decline of religion’snrole in the formation and dissolutionnof marriages. In pre-ReformationnEurope the state had little tonsay about most marriages and families.nSuch matters were handled either bynthe Church or by customs, whichnthough informal were often quite strict.nThe charivari in France and then”rough music” in England, forms ofnpublic humiliation for those who failednto live by community standards in thenconduct of married life, could be bothnintrusive and harsh. As religion’s controlnof society diminished, an alternatensource of social control became necessary.nAs Glendon puts it: “marriagenlaw, cut loose from its religious mooringsnin the established medieval order,nincreasingly began to be affected by thentrends of the times, by humanism andnindividualism, as well as by the practicalnconcerns and interests of the secularnstate and the influential groupsnwithin it.”nOne of the greatest ironies of ournday is that, with the death of secularnmarriage, the institution may oncenagain become primarily religious. Asnmarriage loses its social significancenand becomes indistinguishable fromncohabitation and the single life, onlynreligious people, for whom marriagenhas a transcendental meaning, willnbother to get married. This possibilitynhas already had some interesting effects.nIn an apparent change-of-heart,none of France’s foremost legal reformers,nthe scholar Jean Carbonnier, hasnrecently demanded that a sharp distinctionnbe maintained between legalnmarriage and cohabitation. Glendon,nhowever, suggests a peculiar explanationnfor this “switch.” In France, marriagenis a civil, secular ceremony.nChurch weddings have no legal significance;nto cohabit and raise childrennafter a merely religious ceremony is tonlive in civil sin. But if the state were tonFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnSUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715nILLINOIS RESIDENTSn1-800-892-0753n38/CHRONICLESnrecognize the legal validity of religiousnunions, then modern French marriagenlaw, which is premised on the exclusionnof the church, would be back tonsquare one. It would present the bizarrenspectacle of religion snaking backninto civil law through the back door ofnfornication.nFor the most part, Glendon’s argumentnis dry, judicious and academic,nabounding in the somewhat stiltednlanguage of sociology and law; thus,nafter a divorce, the reader encountersnthat unisex duo, the “custodial parent”nand the “former provider” once knownnas Mom and Dad. Although the subjectnmatter lends itself to sensationalism,nGlendon provides few and rather desiccatednanecdotes to illustrate her points,nand, because she handles her four (andnsometimes, with Sweden, five) countriesnserially, it takes elephantine feats ofnmemory to grasp relatively simplenpoints of comparison.nHere and there Glendon betrays anperspective refreshingly at odds with thenone suggested by her tone of judiciousnneutrality: “the ideology of tolerance,nthe belief system of an influential elite,nhas become the leitmotif of Americannfamily law”; or, commenting on thenway the law has been influenced bynfashionable moral ideas, “Such ideasninclude the problematic notions thatncourts and legislatures should not attemptnto impose values (except fornequality, individual liberty, and tolerance);nand that values (except for equality,nindividual liberty, and tolerance) arena matter of subjective taste or preference”—nradical notions that call intonquestion almost all of modern marriagenlaw in the West.nIt is not, however, until the lastnchapter that it becomes clear thatnGlendon has indeed been holding back.nSuddenly, she drops the professorialntone and begins to speak in what Inassume is her own very engage voice,nrevealing passion, humor, and a morenlively philosophical mind than the previousnthree hundred pages suggested.nThe burden of the argument in thisnsection is in favor of “intermediaryngroups” (the family is the principle,nthough by no means the only, examplento mediate between the individual andnthe government). Getting married maynadd little to the intimacy of modernncouples, but “in crossing the threshold,nnnhowever, they may encounter an unexpectednintimacy with the state.” Thesenintimacies often take the shape ofn”pragmatic” responses to social problems.nSupposedly utilitarian and ideologicallynneutral, they convey crucialnmessages about family life. For instance,nseveral states (Georgia, Hawaii,nMaryland, Kentucky, South Carolina,nNew Hampshire) already require birthncontrol and genetic disease informationn(with an implicit suggestion ofneugenic abortion) to be provided to allnapplicants for a marriage license.nGlendon obliquely (via remarks bynClaude Levi-Strauss) entertains thennotion that these “intermediaryngroups,” which may well produce thenbest democrats, need not be democraticnthemselves; that the family home,nfor instance, is not and ought not to bena democratic institution. She worriesnthat the day is approaching when thencitizen will stand in direct relation tonthe state, without intermediaries, and anslogan of the French revolution willnhave become a reality: “no rights exceptnthose of individuals and the state.”nWe are replacing traditional intermediariesnlike neighbors, parishes, localnschools, and professional guilds withn”distant bureaucratic entities,” like giganticnschool systems, social welfarenagencies, pension plans, workman’sncompensation, etc. The anonymousnstate is becoming the family.nPraising Christopher Lasch’s critiquenof individualism, Glendon feelsnthat a healthy social “ecology” mustnnurture intermediary groups. In theninterests of privacy it would behooventhe state to foster strong families, fornthey require less care from the state.nThe intrusion of the state into thenfamily has often been a result rathernthan the cause of the breakdown of thenfamily; the collapse of a family innmodern society is always an invitationnfor the state to step in.nGlendon closes with a boldly mysticalnevocation of the “love that invites anresponse from all men and women ofngood will” as the chief source of hopenfor society’s future. One naturally suspectsnthat this last section was the mostnrecently written, the product of a morenassured mind than the one responsiblenfor the cautious recital of data in thenpreceding chapters. If only the rest ofnthe book were written like the lastnchapter. <^n