The Excommunicated Martin Luther Gets Married
Luther saw marriage, not celibacy vows, as the preferred option for most clergy
As Martin Luther’s ordeal wore on, he eventually left the castle where he was hiding. He returned to Wittenberg, some five years after he posted his ninety-five theses. Though still a wanted man, some powerful people offered him a degree of protection, so he no longer lived under constant threats. Even so, he needed to watch for traps and guard where he went. Because of this, he often opted to remain in seclusion. With care, he resumed his teaching and preaching.
Aside from the abuse of indulgences, Luther went on to find no biblical support for the celibacy vows of priests and nuns. He saw marriage as the biblical preference. Excommunicated and therefore no longer bound by his pledge to the Church, he married Katherine von Bora, a former nun, on June 13, 1525, in a small private ceremony. She was 26 and Martin, 41. He called her Katie.
A suitable complement to Martin, Katie was both strong and intelligent. Her outspoken nature matched her husband’s. Though they often lacked money, their union stood as a happy and successful example of ministerial marriage. Over the years they had six children—three boys and three girls—and raised several orphans.
Now ousted from the Roman Catholic Church, in 1526 Martin set about to organize a new church based on biblical principles. This isn’t what he wanted, but the Church left him with no other options to pursue his faith in community. In doing this he sought to avoid excessive change, lest he confuse or upset people.Once excommunicated, Martin Luther was no longer bound by his celibacy vows. Click To Tweet
In addition to establishing a reformed church structure, Luther wrote catechisms, a German liturgy, and a German Mass—though he intended it to supplement, and not replace, the Latin Mass. He established his famous doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and authored the Augsburg Confession to clarify essential beliefs and practices. The Augsburg Confession continues as a formal expression of Lutheran teachings today. Having a lifetime of writing to his credit, his voluminous output could fill a hundred books.
With his lifelong love of singing, Martin emerged as a prolific songwriter, too, authoring many hymns. Having completed his New Testament translation of the Bible into German earlier in 1522, he (with the help of others under his direction) finished his Old Testament translation in 1534. However, he continued to refine it throughout his life. The principles he used to guide his translation work would later influence other Bible translators.
Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book 95 Tweets: Celebrating Martin Luther in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.