Martin Luther and Marriage

The year 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Christian Activities originally ran this article on Martin Luther and Marriage then to celebrate the Reformation and life of Luther.

Martin Luther is best known for his key role in the Protestant Reformation, but he also helped change the way Christians looked at marriage. a former monk, Luther eventually married a former nun. They were able to show the world what he had previously only written about in theory – God’s design for marriage.
Luther had not planned on marriage and was convinced he would die a martyr’s death, but in the 1520s, when he was about 40 years old, he helped rescue several nuns (who were basically imprisoned in their convents), and one of them later made it known she would consider Martin Luther as a husband. So on June 13, 1523, he proposed to his Katherine and they were wed that very same day. If that sounds terribly romantic, bear in mind, on his wedding day Luther wrote to a friend, “I feel neither passionate love nor burning for my spouse, but I cherish her.”
However, the two strong-minded Luthers, neither of whom was trained or prepared for marriage, came to have a noteworthy marriage.
Much can be learned about the amazing testimony of Martin Luther’s marriage from the book, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther In his biography of Luther’s life, author Roland Bainton spends quite some time on Luther’s marriage to his runaway-nun bride Katherine Von Bora, This excerpt shows the humor and totally modern issues men and women still face with patience and communicating:
Luther exclaimed at one point, “Good God, what a lot of trouble there is in marriage! Adam has made a mess of our nature. Think of all the squabbles Adam and Eve must have had in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, ‘You ate the apple,’ and Adam would retort, ‘You gave it to me.’”
Katie’s patience ran dry as well. She snapped at Luther one time, “Doctor, why don’t you stop talking and eat?” Luther snapped back, “I wish that women would repeat the Lord’s Prayer before opening their mouths.” But Bainton explains why their patience with one another, and especially with their many children, may have run out at times:
Part of the difficulty was that the rhythm of work and rest did not coincide for Luther and his wife. After a day with children, animals, and servants, she wanted to talk with an equal; and he, after preaching four times, lecturing and conversing with students at meals, wanted to drop into a chair and sink into a book.
Bainton states that after a year of marriage Luther wrote to a friend, “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.” At one point he worried over his devotion: “I give more credit to Katherine than to Christ, who has done so much more for me.”
This Focus on the Family article shares three lessons lessons today’s couples can learn from Martin and Katherine Luther:
1. Love is a choice.
2. Married life isn’t easy – but it is the source of blessing.
3. A little kindness goes a long way.

In Love and Marriage: Luther Style, the author shares four important details about The Luthers’ Legacy of Love and Marriage:
1. Martin and Katie didn’t put their hope in marriage; they put their hope in God
2. Martin and Katie didn’t marry each other because they were infatuated with each other; instead they grew to love each other because they were married
3. Martin and Katie viewed marriage as a school for growing in godliness.
4. Martin and Katie enjoyed the God-given gifts of life and marriage unto the glory of God.

The lessons from the marriage of a former monk and a runaway nun who lived over 500 years ago still ring true today. Life was so different back then and yet the dynamic of laying down each other’s livea and submitting to each other out of love and commitment remains the same.

This article on marriage is from our archives, October 19, 2017

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