Category Archives: Marriage & Family

“God is smiling” by Martin Luther

“Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason, takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.’

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

It says, ‘O God, because I am certain that Thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with Thy perfect pleasure. I confess to Thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.’

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool—though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith—my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all His angels and creatures, is smiling—not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”

–Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 45; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 39–40.

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“The devil’s great enemy” by Martin Luther

“It is a great and special blessing when people in a marriage endure well. They are the devil’s great enemy.”

–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 1794, p. 43.

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“Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. ‘Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 15:7). In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” Letters & Papers From Prison (New York: Touchstone, 1953/1997), 46.

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“A burden from God which they must carry” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Since men live on earth, God has given them a lasting reminder that this earth stands under the curse of sin and is not itself the ultimate reality. Over the destiny of woman and of man lies the dark shadow of a word of God’s wrath, a burden from God, which they must carry. The woman must bear her children in pain, and in providing for his family the man must reap many thorns and thistles, and labor in the sweat of his brow.

This burden should cause both man and wife to call on God, and should remind them of their eternal destiny in His kingdom. Earthly society is only the beginning of the heavenly society, the earthly home an image of the heavenly home, the earthly family a symbol of the fatherhood of God.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” Letters & Papers From Prison (New York: Touchstone, 1953/1997), 46.

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