Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Something from ... Luther, and A Pastoral Concern regarding marriage

          



          This comment from Luther has also spawned into a pastoral concern about marriage vs. cohabitation and refusing to get married.

          The following is from Martin Luther (1483-1546), written in 1530.  It is regarding men who will not marry.

          "For God has created women to be held in honor and as helpers for man and for this reason he does not wish to have such love forbidden and despised.  The flesh and the devil teach men to use women only for dishonor so that one after another is put to shame, as your new, highly lauded marriageless (I nearly said honorless) state has done up to now and still does.  That is not to love women, but to love and seek unchastity and shame in women, treating and regarding them not as women but as harlots, so that henceforth no one wants to love or respect them.  But God wills that they be valued and esteemed as women and that this be done gladly and with love.  That is to say, one should take them in marriage and remain with them in conjugal love.  That pleases God, but it requires skill and grace." (Martin Luther, Exhortation to All Clergy Assembled at Augsburg, Luther's Works: American Edition, Vol. 34, pp 41-42)

          These words were originally written against the Roman Catholic Church which forbid their priests to marry and commanded their celibacy (although many had mistresses).  The problems that resulted in Luther's day are similar to the problems which are reported against many priests today.  There is nothing new under the sun.

          What struck me about this passage, however, is a different way to apply it today.  Many people are forsaking marriage.  They do not, however, remain chaste until they are married.  Refusing to marry, couples share a house, a bed, often children, and other matters that pertain to married couples.  They usurp all the rights and privileges of marriage, and yet flaunt that they will not marry, even insisting that fornicating and cohabiting are honorable.  Men refuse to be honorable, committed, loving husbands; and women concede that this is a preferred arrangement.

          An honest question for those who are cohabiting: If you are so committed to one another, why don't you actually get married?  Alternatively, if you are not that committed to each other, why are you so eager to live as if you are married?

          Re-read the above quote from Luther.  This time, do not consider the context of priests who are ordered to remain celibate.  Rather, think of men who refuse to marry the women they live with.  And if you are among those who are treating your lover so shamefully, repent and marry that woman.  Honor her and God's gift of marriage as they deserve to be.

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