1669) Martin Luther on Marriage

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A compiliation of quotes by Martin Luther, published in Christian History (Issue #26, 1990), posted athttp://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org


     I have been very happy in marriage, thank God.  I have a faithful wife, as Solomon says: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her” (Proverbs 31:11).  She spoils nothing for me.  Ah, dear Lord God, marriage is not something natural, but it is a gift of God.

     This is a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman, in the hope of having children, or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God.

     Note that when natural reason (whom the heathen have followed when they wanted to be very wise), looks at married life, it turns up its nose and says: “Ah, should I rock the baby, wash diapers, make the bed, smell foul odors, watch through the night, wait upon the bawling youngster and heal its infected sores; then take care of the wife, support her by working, tend to this, tend to that, do this, do that, suffer this, suffer that, and put up with whatever additional displeasure and trouble married life brings?  Why should I be so imprisoned?”

     But I would not want to exchange my Kate for France nor for Venice to boot; to begin with (1) because God has given her to me and me to her; (2) because I often find out that there are more shortcomings in other women than in my Kate; and although she, of course, has some too, these are nonetheless offset by far greater virtues; (3) because she keeps faith and honor in our marriage relation.

     Marriage is most suitable between equals.  An old man and a young girl do not fit well together.  But, of course, in such a case riches can do something.  A certain old man who had become engaged boastfully showed all his wealth to his fiancee.  An agreeable servant always remarked: “My dear young lady, he has much more of this.”  Finally, when a coughing spell plagued the old man, the servant also said: “He has much more of this. . . . ”

     Whoever intends to enter married life should do so in faith and in God’s name.  He should pray God that it may prosper according to his will and that marriage may not be treated as a matter of fun and folly.  It is a hazardous matter and as serious as anything on earth can be.  Therefore we should not rush into it as the world does, in keeping with its frivolousness and wantonness and in pursuit of its pleasure; but before taking this step we should consult God, so that we may lead our married life to his glory.

     It is no small gift from God to find a wife who is pious and easy to get along with.

     It is the highest grace of God when love continues to flourish in married life.  The first love is ardent, is an intoxicating love, so that we are blinded and are drawn to marriage.  After we have slept off our intoxication, sincere love remains in the married life of the godly; but the godless are sorry they ever married.

      Married folk are not to act as they now usually do.  The men are almost lions in their homes, hard toward their wives and servants.  The women, too, everywhere want to domineer and have their husbands as servants.  It is foolish for a man to want to demonstrate his masculine power and heroic strength by ruling over his wife.  On the other hand, the ambition of wives to dominate the home is also intolerable.

     It is impossible to keep peace between man and woman in family life if they do not condone and overlook each other’s faults, but watch everything to the smallest point.  For who does not at times offend?  Thus many things must be overlooked; very many things must be ignored that a peaceful relation may exist.

     The love toward one’s spouse burns like a fire and seeks nothing but the person of the spouse.  It says: I do not desire what is yours; I desire neither silver nor gold, neither this nor that; I desire you yourself.  All other love seeks something else than the person of the loved one.


“One learns more of Christ in being married and rearing children than in several lifetimes spent in study in a monastery.” ― Martin Luther


Mark 10:6-9  —  (Jesus said),  “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Hebrews 13:4-5  —  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

I Corinthians 13:4-7  —  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.



O God, out of all the world you let us find one another and learn together the meaning of love.  Let us never fail to hold love precious.  Let the flame of it never waver or grow dim, but burn in our hearts as an unwavering devotion, and shine through our eyes in gentleness and understanding.  Teach us to remember the little courtesies, to be swift to speak the grateful and happy word, to believe rejoicingly in each other’s best, and to face all life bravely because we face it with a united heart.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Walter Russel Bowie  (1882-1969), Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, New York City