Following on from Lutheran Pastor Joshua Scheer’s defence of marriage as a God-given institution, one of his readers included excerpts of a sermon from Martin Luther on the subject.
Excerpts follow from The Marriage Ring: Three Sermons on Marriage, translated by J. Sheatsley. Luther preached this sermon on Ephesians 5 at the Palace of Eilenburg in 1536.
In ‘Marriage an Emblem of Christ and His Church’, Luther warned us not be taken in by Satan’s attempts to get us to loathe our spouse (emphases mine):
Here St. Paul has combined and woven together into one both the marriage estate and the resurrection, together with the entire kingdom of Christ in Christendom. And he sets before the married, both husband and wife, this one example, that Christ is the head of the Church even as a husband is the head of the wife, and that Christendom is His bride or wife. We then, and all men, who wish to live in Christian marriage and do better than the heathen, are hereby taught to keep in view this image of Christ and His Church, which God has placed before our eyes, in order that in marriage they may keep to it, and may praise and thank God that they are permitted to dwell in these two divine estates, namely, the one, the high spiritual marriage with the Lord jesus Christ, and the other, the low bodily marriage in the world or in the flesh.
Of a certainty the devil will approach you on every side and deluge you with temptations. First, he will create displeasure and disgust, in order that you and your spouse may not live together long in happy agreement, and so your pleasure and delight will doubtless soon give way to dislike. For he cannot endure the sight of married people living together in friendliness and unity. … So much does the devil hate the estate; … he constantly opposes and interrupts God’s Word and work, and often succeeds in making man and wife sullen and afterwards impatient and bitter toward each other, so that their pleasure is turned into displeasure and their joy into anger and pain.
Man and wife may get to be at variance with no one more easily than with each other. By a single word, casually or jestingly uttered, one may so displease the other as to pierce his very heart, so that it can never be forgotten, and that afterwards, on this account, mutual poison and gall fill their hearts. The reason is this that the devil finds no pleasure in the existence of peace, concord and the like. … Therefore one should be prepared for the devil who is an enemy of this estate and who begrudges any peace and unity therein.
Such is one of the ways in which the devil seeks to stir up all manner of dislike and variance in marriage, so that one gets to be as angry as a spider at the other. In this way wedlock becomes a very hell and work of the devil who laughs … over his success. For do not think by any means that the devil and the world find joy and pleasure where love and concord rule. God and the Holy Spirit, however, are well pleased; He laughs and is happy over it.
It’s not just the devil who hates marital bliss. It’s the world. Unhappily married couples do not like being with happily married ones. They make disparaging comments; my better half and I have experienced this. That said, how many good marriages do we see portrayed in the media? Very few. Then again, a good example rarely sells television shows or popular fiction.
Marrying one’s best friend of the opposite sex* is a blessing from God. Enjoy it, cherish it and give thanks to Him, the Creator of all good things.
I hope that all my married readers celebrating St Valentine’s Day as a long weekend this year enjoy themselves.
*It beggars belief that we now have to clarify this!