500 Years of Protestantism: Luther and Calvin Destroy Marriage

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s we move beyond the five hundred year anniversary of the Protestant reformulation on October 31, 2017, I have been piecing together narratives to examine how that all worked for them. I am examining the fruit of the Tree of Protestation, so to speak. In the last installment I looked at ‘The Culmination of it All . . .‘; how the Protestant doctrine has led to a complete ignorance of what religion actually is and why it is important. And in the first installment I offered a compilation entitled, ‘The 38 Most Ridiculous Things Martin Luther Ever Wrote‘.

For this installment, we are going to return to Martin Luther and pick up John Calvin along to way to create a narrative about something very timely. Marriage is being redefined in many parts of the world by legislatures and judges. Where did this notion come from that the state can define or redefine what belongs to God? We can actually trace this ideology back to the sixteenth-century protesters.

The Catholic Church has always understood Holy Matrimony to be a Sacrament, ever since it was instituted by Christ (Cf. Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-9; Jn. 2:1-12). Outside of sacred Scripture, Matrimony as a Sacrament was carefully articulated by Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to Polycarp around the year 110 A.D., and again, even more clearly by Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, in 411 A.D in his Marriage and Concupiscence:

    “Certainly it is not fecundity only, the fruit of which is in offspring, not chastity only, the bond of which is in fidelity, but a certain sacramental bond of marriage that is recommended to the faithful who are married, when the Apostle says: “Men, love your wives, as also Christ loved the Church” (Eph. 5:25).

    Undoubtedly the substance of the Sacrament is of this bond, so that when man and woman have been joined in marriage they must continue inseparably as long as they live, nor is it allowed for one spouse to be separated from the other except for the cause of fornication (Cf. Mt. 5:32). For this is preserved in the case of Christ and the Church, so that, as a living one with a living one, there is no divorce, no separation forever. So perfect is the observance of this bond . . . in the Church of Christ by all married believers, who are undoubtedly members of Christ, that, although women marry and men take wives for the purpose of procreating children, one is never permitted to put away even an unfruitful wife for the purpose of getting another to bear children. If anyone does this, in the law of the gospel he is guilty of adultery, just as a woman is if she marries another. But this is not the case in the law of this world, wherein even without crime a divorce is granted whenever the parties want to join in marriage with others, a concession which, the Lord bears witness, even the holy Moses granted to the Israelites only because of the hardness of their hearts . . . . (Cf. Mt. 19:8-9).

    Thus, between the living spouses there remains a certain conjugal bond, which neither separation nor union with another can take away. It remains, however, for the injury of crime, and not for the bond of covenant. So it is with the soul of an apostate. Even though its faith is cast aside in withdrawing, as it were, from its marriage with Christ, it does not lose the Sacrament of its faith, which it received in the bath of regeneration. . . . The apostate retains the Sacrament even after his apostasy; but now it is for the aggravation of his punishment and not for his meriting a reward.”

For the Catholic Church, a Sacrament is an action of the Church, through which Christ continues to minister among His people. We believe that there are seven Sacraments that were instituted by Christ Jesus for the salvation His people; namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

Now when Martin Luther and, later, John Calvin began teaching that Sacraments are just signs (i.e. containing no inner working/transformative grace), and of those signs there are only two (i.e. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and that Holy Matrimony is not a Sacrament, it instantly opened the door to their next finding; that the institution of marriage is under the purview of the state government, rather than the Church.

Now with God having been taken out of marriage, and it being placed in the hands of the state government, the government was then able to do with marriage whatsoever it so desired. In the hands of government marriage soon became dissoluble. No-fault divorce and remarriage became the law of the land. Then with marriage no longer being a permanent union, children became disposable objects, which opened up the door to the redefinition of the procreative act in marriage. Contraception and abortion became legal. The sexual revolution was in full swing. Then once children and conjugal acts between man and woman were no longer thought as being connected to marriage, marriage was then redefined as something other than one man and one woman.

There is no end in sight to the continuing redefinition of marriage and family. Indeed, it was always a Pandora’s Box that could only eventually lead to human annihilation. Even the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church have recently fallen into this Protestant heresy and have begun allowing divorce and remarriage. And now that they are in the business of redefining marriage, the allowance for birth control and homosexual marriage will logically follow next.

We are making excuses for sin as a reason to allow it. We are a weak people, who seem to have forgotten that holiness is something to fight for. We have become spiritually lazy and are more inclined to capitulate to temptation, rather than to embrace the fact that holy suffering, noble struggle and sufficient grace only comes by the way of resisting sin and temptation.

When the world gave up on marriage as being a Sacrament of God, they gave up on life and on God, and for this, we have the Protestant Reformulators to thank for paving the way.

Martin Luther:
Marriage is Not a Sacrament – Marriage is a Civic Matter

  • “Marriage is a civic matter. It is really not, together with all its circumstances, the business of the church.” It is so only when a matter of conscience is involved.” (source: What Luther Says Vol. II, Concordia Publishing House, 1959)
  • “No one can deny that marriage is an external, worldly, matter, like clothing and food, house and property, subject to temporal authority, as the many imperial laws enacted on the subject prove.” (source: What Luther Says Vol. 46, Concordia Publishing House, 1959)
  • “I feel that judgments about marriages belong to the jurists. Since they make judgments concerning fathers, mothers, children, and servants, why shouldn’t they also make decisions about the life of married people? When the papists oppose the imperial law concerning divorce, I reply that this doesn’t follow from what is written, ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder.” (source: Luther’s Works Vol. 54)
  • “Neither is there any need to make sacraments out of marriage and the office of the priesthood.” (source: Luther’s Works Vol. 37)
  • “Not only is marriage regarded as a sacrament without the least warrant of Scripture, but the very ordinances which extol it as a sacrament have turned it into a farce. Let us look into this a little.

    We have said that in every sacrament there is a word of divine promise, to be believed by whoever receives the sign, and that the sign alone cannot be a sacrament. Nowhere do we read that the man who marries a wife receives any grace of God. There is not even a divinely instituted sign in marriage, nor do we read anywhere that marriage was instituted by God to be a sign of anything. To be sure, whatever takes place in a visible manner can be understood as a figure or allegory of something invisible. But figures or allegories are not sacraments, in the sense in which we use the term.” (source: Luther’s Works Vol. 36; Babylonian Captivity of the Church)

John Calvin:
Marriage is Not a Sacrament – No More than Shoe-Making is

  • “The last of all is marriage, which, while all admit it to be an institution of God, no man ever saw to be a sacrament, until the time of Gregory. And would it ever have occurred to the mind of any sober man? It is a good and holy ordinance of God. And agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, and shaving, are lawful ordinances of God; but they are not sacraments. For in a sacrament, the thing required is not only that it be a work of God, but that it be an external ceremony appointed by God to confirm a promise. That there is nothing of the kind in marriage, even children can judge.” (source: Institutes of Religion, Chapter 19, no. 34).

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SERIES ON THE ‘500 YEARS OF PROTESTANTISM’:

  1. The 38 Most Ridiculous Things Martin Luther Ever Wrote
  2. Luther and Calvin Destroy Marriage
  3. The Cycle of Insanity
  4. The Failure of Protestant Emotionalism
  5. The Ferguson Riots

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David Gray, March 6, 2014

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