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Martin Luther was not preparing for, nor anticipating, marriage, but in 1525 he was engaged to Katharina von Bora and, on June 13, married. Luther wrote, “Suddenly, and while I was occupied with far different thought, the Lord has plunged me into marriage.” Luther’s household eventually included Katharina and six children, several of Katharina’s relatives and, after 1529, six of Luther’s sister’s children.

Later, as Luther experienced marriage, he wrote a great deal about it:

Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman … living to the glory of God … to obey God.

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.

The Christian is supposed to love his neighbor and since his wife is his nearest neighbor she should be his deepest love.

The union of flesh does nothing. There must also be a union of the manners and mind.

Martin quickly learned that marriage meant sacrifice: looking out not only for his own needs, but also those of his wife and family. “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage,” he wrote. “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.”

Luther advocated several important changes, including: that divorce is valid only if it meets biblical principles; the denouncing of celibacy (he blamed it for encouraging lust, and therefore encouraged priests to marry); the restoration of marriage and family life to that of spirituality and respectability in society.

Our Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the divine institution of marriage during his earthly ministry (see Matthew 19:5). Out of faithful belief in the scriptures, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches that God instituted marriage and sanctioned it that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The great blessing of marriage from God is designed for husbands and wives to love, honor and serve each other, to bring forth children and to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

The LCMS also teaches that divorce is contrary to God’s original design and intention for marriage. Divorce is justified scripturally in situations of adultery or desertion. It is always preferable for couples to forgive and work toward healing and strengthening their marriage. The LCMS affirms that same sex marriage is sinful behavior: “on the basis of Scripture, marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.” Today’s cultural trends convey messages that are totally contrary to our Lord’s Word and His will for Christian marriage.

As former Synodical President Dr. Barry said, “May God bless our families richly with His loving mercy, strengthening them as they seek to love one another and serve their Lord and Savior.”

This year, 2017, is a year precious to all Lutherans: the 500th anniversary of Luther’s blessed discovery of the Gospel and his rebellion related to the beliefs and celebrations of the Roman Catholic Church. This article is part of a monthly series covering topics and historical events leading up to October 31, 1517, the date of the posting of the 95 Theses on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. It is republished, with permission, from the Rocky Mountain District, LCMS.