Tuesday, March 30, 2010
We have all heard and read about the great preachers of old. Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, William Booth. But have we ever consider their wives? I've been looking over several of them and was suprised to find that some of them did not stand behind their husband's ministries. Yet, others married wives that were totally opposite yet they built off of each other. One of my favorites is Katie Luther. Martin Luther was not a simple man. Early in his life he went to law school to please his father. One night as he was returning to law school a bolt of lightening rent the sky and the 21 year old law student begged God to spare him~ vowing that he would enter a monastery if He would. Two weeks later he dismissed his parents wishes, he shocked his friends as he enter a monastery. The vows he took were obedience, poverty, and chastity, which of course ruled out marriage. Most of you know the story of how when Martin Luther was 33 years of age he had grasped the meaning of "The just shall live by faith." In 1517 he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the Wittenberg door, seeking a scholarly debate. He never got that debate, he got a Reformation instead. After this his Authority was not the church nor the Pope; his authority instead was the Bible itself, the Word of God. His statement was: "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me." We know the trials and test he went through, so we will skip over that part as I want to to talk about his wife. Katherin von Bora! Katie was nearly sixteen yrs. younger than Martin. She had been placed in a nunnery when she was about nine or ten yrs. old. During this time nuns and monks were leaving to follow Martin Luther. Secretly Katie and 11 other nuns were interested in leaving the and send word to Martin Luther to see if he could help them. Two days later they were hidden in a barrell under a canvas and delivered to Martin. Three returned home. Martin Luther's job was to get husbands for them. This was not an easy job. As German girls married at fifteen or sixteen, most of them were considered past their prime. Eventfully Luther was able to find husbands for all of the nuns but one. It was Katie von Bora. Luther still tried to find a husband for her. After Luther visiting his parents and of course they wanted someone to carry on the family name, he came to the conclusion that he must marry. He was now 41 years of age. The courship with Katie was anything but romatic. "I am not madly in love but I cherish her," he said. So once he made up his mind, Luther didn't waste any time. The first year of their marriage many adjustments had to be made. Luther had not made his bed in in a year. That was changed. Katie even got him a pillow. Luther's biggest adjustment dealt with the family's purse strings. Luther had never learned how to save money. He once said, "God divided the hand into fingers so that money could slip through it." He gave away anything that was not absolutely necessary. Katie took over as business manager. Sometimes she had to hide money to keep Luther from giving it away. While there were tensions in this area, he came to understand that he lacked the ability and Katie was strong in that area. Luther once wrote thinking of Katie, " I am blessed to have a wife to whom I can trust my affairs. Katie wasn't content to be a Martha, working in the kitchen or garden. But Luther didn't always want to be bothered by a Mary. One time Luther locked himself in his study for three days until Katie had the door removed. They had six children -Martin wanted to with draw into himself - while Katie wanted to share his world. Luthers remarks were "All my life I have had to be patient. I had to be patient with the Pope, I have to be patient with the heretics, I have to be patient with my family and I even have to be patient with Katie. But Katie had to be even more patient with her genious husband. He was a man of many moods, melancholy was often induced by poor health, and sometimes the other way around. He had a shopping list of ailments including gout, insomia, hemorrhoids, gallstones, dizziness and ringing in his ears. Katie would have to nurse him back to health. Katie was far more than chief cook, nurse, and bottle washer. He had to be a remarkable woman to manage the Luther house hold. Besides there six children, Luther would bring home orphans and nieces and nephews that neded a home. Katie had to hire help with the house hold. Besides the children, there were tutors and student boarders, and of course because of Luthers fame they had many guest to drop in unexpectedly from England. When Katie became frustrated with a project she would strike her side and burst forth with "Ave Maria." Luther's response was, "Why don't you ask Christ to help you?" Marriage's appreciation of marriage deepened during his twenty years with Katie. Marriage is a school for character and both he and Katie learned much in that school. He wrote that nothing is more sweet than harmony in marriage, and nothing more distressing than dissension. Martin may have been the key figure in the Protestant Reformation, but Martin and katie together revolutionized the commom concept of marriage that was held in that day. There is a saying that Martin loved to quote: "let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to leave." The success of any marriage depends on two people who aren't afraid to grow and change as Martin and Katie.