Luther: Marriage is Hard Work

Reading Martin Luther’s biography today, I came across this (pp. 275-76):

“There is no estate to which the Devil is so opposed as to marriage. The clergy have not wanted to be bothered with work and worry. They have been afraid of a nagging wife, disobedient children, difficult relatives, or the dying of a pig or cow. They want to lie abed until the sun shines through the window. Our ancestors knew this and would say, “Dear child, be a priest or a nun and have a good time.” I have heard married people say to monks, “You have it easy, but when we get up we do not know where to find our bread.” Marriage is a heavy cross because so many couples quarrel. It is the grace of God when they agree. The Holy Spirit declares there are three wonders: when brothers agree, when neighbors love each another, and when a man and a wife are at one. When I see a pair like that, I am as glad as if I were in a garden of roses. It is rare.”

Having been deeply involved in counseling a couple that is struggling badly with marriage, this quote rings all to true. Any time we get along, it is nothing less than the grace of God. Our sinful hearts are otherwise so badly inclined toward quarreling, due to selfishness and sin.

Marriage is hard work, but the rewards for the effort are sweeter than anything on earth. There’s nothing like being happy with one’s spouse and enjoying the fulfillment of a unified spirit. By the grace of God, may love abound in our hearts.


On a related point:

Luther makes a good polemic against the mentality that possesses many young men and women today. They delay marriage into their late 20’s or even late 30’s. Why is this? One prominent reason is simply selfishness. They want to either perpetuate the lazy dependence on parents for as long as possible, so instead of having the normal drives of ambition to do something productive with their lives and get a job, they’d rather piddle the hours away playing Halo 3 in their parent’s basement, while running up their mom and dad’s cable, phone and gasoline bills.

Or, others want to work and build a career and spend their money on toys and fun without the financial drain that having a spouse can create. This is a selfish motive which Luther scolds.

Marriage is a gift from God and young people need to get it together and start a family sooner rather than later. Delaying it is often merely a perpetuation of adolescence.

Granted, not all marriage delays are due to selfishness or overly high expectations for a mate, but unless God has called them to singleness, young adults should live with an expectant eye for a potential mate.

I pray my daughters don’t have to wait into their late 20’s to marry because there are too few young men who have grown up enough to take adulthood and husbanding seriously. I’m praying for those boys even now.


4 Responses to Luther: Marriage is Hard Work

  1. Seth says:

    Overly simplistic. And it doesn’t help that the church has mixed messages on this. I’ve been around plenty of churches that say to just follow God and wait till God brings someone into your life. And being expectant for a potential mate doesn’t mean a relationship will just happen between two people. Further, when people get married is largely cultural, and even though many people are delaying marriage, the expectation is still to be married younger than older. Some Christians, like Guy Kawasaki, actually go against the grain and recommend waiting. Anyway, while you do have a point, I disagree with your analysis.

  2. Scott W. Kay says:


    Agreed that the church has mixed messages on this. I would agree that one should wait on the Lord, but these days that’s becoming a cover-up for expectations that are simply to high for what one requires of a mate, thus extending the “wait” longer than necessary. I’m certainly not pushing for a hasty wedding to the most available person in one’s life, nor of eliminating reasonable expectations or biblical standards, only of re-evaluating priorities and engaging in some self-examination to see if the delay is of one’s own making.

  3. B. Carlisle says:

    Your response to Seth sums it up. Have a Merry Christmas to you both!

  4. Matthew Leroe says:

    I agree with Luther. Satan wants men single, so that they battle more with their lusts than with raising a godly family — the battle worth fighting.

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