#24 The Minister’s Personal Qualifications: A Married Man?

The pope condemns the marriage of bishops or priests; that is now plain enough. … St. Paul says (they say) in Ephesians 4 [5:31–32] that husband and wife are a great sacrament. I say, “Yes, in Christ and the church.” My dear man, can you gather from these words of St. Paul that marriage is the kind of a sacrament of which they speak? He says that husband and wife are one body, which is a great sacrament. Then he interprets himself, saying, “I speak of Christ and the church, not of husband and wife.” But they say that he is speaking of husband and wife. Paul envisages Christ and the church as a great sacrament or “mystery”; so they say that husband and wife are a great sacrament. Why then do they regard it as virtually the least of the sacraments, indeed, as sheer impurity and sin, in which one cannot serve God?…

Therefore do not worry (as was said) about the papists’ talk concerning the personal qualifications for an ecclesiastical office, for these asses do not understand St. Paul’s words, nor do they know what St. Paul’s language calls a sacrament. He says [Eph. 5:31–32] that Christ and the church are a sacrament, that is, Christ and the church are one body, as husband and wife are, and that this is a great mystery, to be apprehended by faith. It is not visible or tangible; therefore it is a sacrament, that is, something secret, a mystery, invisible, hidden. … Now wherever you find these offices or officers, you may be assured that the holy Christian people are there; for the church cannot be without these bishops, pastors, preachers, priests; and conversely, they cannot be without the church. Both must be together.  (Luther’s Works, v.41, p.156, 158-159, 163-164)

Picture: The Anchor

Posted in 2020 Church.