HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies

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Marriage in the theology of Martin Luther – worldly yet sacred: An option between secularism and clericalism

Johan Buitendag


Marriage, according to Martin Luther, is an institution both secular and sacred. It is secular because it is an order of this earthly life. But its institution goes back to the beginning of the human race and that makes marriage sacred, a divine and holy order. It does not – like the sacraments – nourish and strengthen faith or prepare people for the life to come; but it is a secular order in which people can prove faith and love, even though they are apt to fail without the help of the Word and the sacrament. The author applies this view of Luther in terms of two unacceptable extremes: the creation ordinances of Brunner and the analogy of relation of Barth. The dialectic of Law and Gospel should never be dispensed.

Marriage is necessary as a remedy for lust, and through marriage God permits sexual intercourse. Similar is the allegory which Paul employs: that Adam and Eve, or marriage itself, is a type of Christ and the church.

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