Bloody Luther

It can be a strange thing to read Martin Luther’s works. The constant polemic against the papists and anabaptists in his Galatians commentary was a hoot to read. Then there are the more unsavory remarks (to say the least) to be found throughout his works, such as his infamous treatise On the Jews and their Lies. But that isn’t the only example. His writings seem to be sporadically peppered with peculiar tidbits. Take, for instance, this snippet from a treatise of Luther’s entitled The Estate of Marriage:

You can neither escape nor restrain yourself from being fruitful and multiplying; it is God’s ordinance and takes its course. Physicians are not amiss when they say: If this natural function is forcibly restrained it necessarily strikes into the flesh and blood and becomes a poison, whence the body becomes unhealthy, enervated, sweaty, and foul-smelling. That which should have issued in fruitfulness and propagation has to be absorbed within the body itself. Unless there is terrific hunger or immense labor or the supreme grace, the body cannot take it; it necessarily becomes unhealthy and sickly. Hence, we see how weak and sickly barren women are. Those who are fruitful, however, are healthier, cleanlier, and happier. And even if they bear themselves weary [i.e. through childbearing] —or ultimately bear themselves out [to death]—that does not hurt. Let them bear themselves out. This is the purpose for which they exist. It is better to have a brief life with good health than a long life in ill health.

There are, nevertheless, many nice gems to be found throughout his books, like the following quote from The Babylonian Captivity of the Church:

God never has dealt, and never does deal, with mankind at any time otherwise than by the word of promise. Neither can we, on our part, ever have to do with God otherwise than through faith in His word and promise.

What can you say about Luther? When he’s right, he’s bloody right! But when he’s wrong, dear Lord in heaven is he wrong!

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