By Pastor Erik Reed
The great reformer of the 16th century, Martin Luther, was instrumental through the providence of God in brining a reformation to the Christian world. For those of you not very familiar with this man, he is a key figure in church history for understanding how the Church came to be Catholic and Protestant in affiliation. Luther was a Catholic monk. He was nearly driven mad by the recognition of his sin and the insufficiency of the Catholic sacraments in bringing him restoration to God. Finally, as he taught as a professor at Wittenberg University, through a series of lectures on the book of Romans, light began to shine onto his heart and he was awakened to the truth of the gospel. This, indeed, was an awakening that would shake the world as we know it. Luther began to see the Scriptures with completely new lenses. He also started recognizing the flaw and the fallacies of the Catholic Church, and its leader, the Pope. In 1517, Luther called for a public debate over the issue of indulgences and prepared what is known as his 95 Theses. Instead of a debate, the theses spread, across Germany, a call to reform, and the central issue that was raised was the authority of the Catholic Church and the Pope.
There is much that could be written, and has, about the events that would transpire, which eventually brought a separation between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers. One of the distinctions between the two was the belief in marriage for the clergy. The Reformers believed that clergy could marry. Indeed, Luther argued, they should marry. Luther fought against the idea, one that Catholics promoted, which was that the most genuine spirituality was one detached from the life of marriage and family, and that one should be devoted exclusively to the church as a priest, or in a monastery.
I read a sermon of Luther’s, this past Monday, about the wedding in Cana from the Gospel of John 2:1-11. I was amazed at how he used the text to demonstrate to his congregation the value and importance of marriage and family. I read, as Luther critiqued those against marriage, and exalted marriage and family as a God-ordained institution, which the godly do well to honor.
Below I have some of the best quotes from that sermon, and I challenge you to let a sermon preached in 1533 to be used, of God, to encourage you how to think about marriage and family:
“Let us learn how greatly our Lord God esteems the fourth commandment. For where people are married, there a household is constituted with father and mother, wife and children, hired hands and maidservants, cattle and fields, all laboring for daily bread. The Lord wants to teach us that this is a holy and blessed life, that we should not disdain marriage but esteem it very highly as created and ordained by God, even as Christ did.”
“For a father who rules his home in the fear of God, who rears his children and servants in the fear and knowledge of God, has a good, blessed, and godly life. Likewise, a woman who provides her children with food and drink, and washes and bathes them, need not aspire to a holier and more godly vocation.”
“If you are a father or a mother, continue in your position and know that God is very pleased when you do what your station requires of you.”
“This is what experience teaches. When husband and wife live together as Christians, our Lord God sustains them so richly that they receive more than they ever imagined or believed possible.”
“If we would but open our eyes, we would be forced to say, Lord, it is by your will that our household is provided for; when we establish it, we do so in service to you; you have honored it and continue still to honor it with your blessing.”
“For it will never be otherwise: married people have to face many difficulties in order to sustain the family. But if a person invites Christ to the marriage and is God-fearing, blessing and help will be near.”
To the truths in these quotes, and to the God who brought them forth by His Word, through Martin Luther, I say, “Amen!”