Thus he instructs matrons to be good teachers and to train younger women to love their husbands and children. I have said what it means to love one’s husband, namely, not merely to cohabit with him but to respect one’s husband, to regard him as lord, to submit to him in all things, not to be domineering. This is a rare quality in a woman, for the female sex inclines naturally toward what is forbidden to it; it wants to reign, to rule, and to judge. From this there come marital discord, blows, and beatings. To love children means not only to educate them for the world but to see to it that they are provided for in body and in soul. For such love the rod and discipline are required, as Prov. 3:11 and 23:13 say; and Ecclesiasticus says (Ecclus. 30:1): “He will whip him often,” because there is foolishness in the heart. Such love is also rare. People love their children for the sake of the pomp of the world. They adorn and save their possessions for them. They do not enrich their souls with the arts, with study, with sound literature. (Luther’s Works, v. 29, p. 54 on Titus 2:8)
Here belongs Molech, that is, a king. For these people make great lords, doctors, and masters who are skilled in ruling others. We can see before our very eyes how no one can become a preacher or a pastor unless he is a master or doctor, or has at least attended the university. One must first crown the donkey; then he goes forth and rules. And the parents do not see, or if they see they pay no attention to the fact, that nowhere is youth more grossly corrupted and misled, since no one prevents it. That they fall into fornication, gluttony, and other open wickedness is the least of their corruption; but that they are instructed in false, heathenish art and ungodly, human doctrine is the fire of Molech. No one can bemoan that enough, for through it the most devout and clever lads are miserably ruined in the universities. So great is the wrath of God over this valley of Topheth and Hinnom [II Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31] that those who learn most and best and live in chastity are ruined more miserably than those who learn nothing and live in fornication. For the latter learn nothing which ought to be unlearned again; they are well aware that they are doing wrong. The former, however, absorb poisons of which they can never rid themselves; they hold evil to be good and teach this also to their pupils. All this is what accounts for the fact that the sun of the gospel is darkened and obscured by human teaching. (Luther’s Works, v. 36 p.224
There are various reasons why parents neglect this duty. In the first place, there are some who lack the goodness and decency to do it, even if they had the ability. Instead, like the ostrich [Job 39:14–16], they deal cruelly with their young. They are content to have laid the eggs and brought children into the world; beyond this they will do nothing more. But these children are supposed to live among us and with us in the community. How then can reason, and especially Christian charity, allow that they grow up uneducated, to poison and pollute the other children until at last the whole city is ruined, as happened in Sodom and Gomorrah [Gen. 19:1–25], and Gibeah [Judges 19–20], and a number of other cities?
In the second place, the great majority of parents unfortunately are wholly unfitted for this task. They do not know how children should be brought up and taught, for they themselves have learned nothing but how to care for their bellies. It takes extraordinary people to bring children up right and teach them well.
In the third place, even if parents had the ability and desire to do it themselves, they have neither the time nor the opportunity for it, what with their other duties and the care of the household. Necessity compels us, therefore, to engage public schoolteachers for the children—unless each one were willing to engage his own private tutor. But that would be too heavy a burden for the common man, and many a promising boy would again be neglected on account of poverty. Besides, many parents die, leaving orphans, and if we do not know from experience how they are cared for by their guardians it should be quite clear from the fact that God calls himself Father of the fatherless [Ps 68:5], of those who are neglected by everyone else. Then too there are others who have no children of their own, and therefore take no interest in the training of children. (Luther’s Works, v. 45 p. 354-355).
When I was a lad they had this maxim in school: “Non minus est negligere scholarem quam corrumpere virginem”; “It is just as bad to neglect a pupil as to despoil a virgin.” The purpose of this maxim was to keep the schoolmasters on their toes, for in those days no greater sin was known that that of despoiling a virgin. But, dear Lord God, how light a sin it is to despoil virgins or wives (which, being a bodily and recognized sin, may be atoned for) in comparison with this sin of neglecting and despoiling precious souls, for the latter sin is not even recognized or acknowledged and is never atoned for. O woe unto the world for ever and ever! Children are born every day and grow up in our midst, but, alas! there is no one to take charge of the youngsters and direct them. We just let matters take their own course. The monasteries and foundations should have seen to it; therefore, they are the very ones of whom Christ says, “Woe unto the world because of offenses! Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened round his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:7, 6). They are nothing but devourers and destroyers of children.
Ah, you say, but all that is spoken to the parents; what business is it of councilmen and the authorities? Yes, that is true; but what if the parents fail to do their duty? Who then is to do it? Is it for this reason to be left undone, and the children neglected? How will the authorities and council then justify their position, that such matters are not their responsibility? (Luther’s Works, v. 45 p. 353-354).
The same applies to you, the mother of a family, if you train your daughter or your maid badly. It is a commandment which is laid upon you, not something which is merely given to you. For if you are able to rear your daughter well and do not do so, you are the one who has ruined her. Conditions are such in Christendom that unfortunately no estate [Stand] knows what it is any more. It is no small thing when a young woman is well reared and becomes a good mother, who is then able to bring up her children in piety. Therefore you parents should learn that you are not excluded from this fourth commandment. There is no lack of learned men now, for at the present time you have learned men, such as the world has never seen before. (Luther’s Works, v. 51 p. 151)
Remember and help to raise up good people, that you, father, may raise up a devout son, you, mother, a devout daughter, who in turn will raise up their children in piety. Thus the servants will also be well trained. A prince and the cities need good people. The prince needs councilors, the cities need pastors and learned men.
Therefore, do not say, as some people are saying these days: Priestcraft doesn’t count any more. If you note that your child can become an able boy, send him to school. If you do not do this, you will have to give an account, and you are a rogue who is against the prince and the city and disobedient to your God. Hitherto scholars have been educated in order to become canons. Now we must devote far more care to educating the children in order that we may find people who are capable of serving a country in its secular government and the cities in spiritual government as preachers and lectors. You see what murderous harm you do to the sovereign prince and the fatherland when you keep gifted boys away from study. (Luther’s Works, v. 51 p. 151)
You parents, on the other hand, must remember to show yourselves to be parents toward your children! For the fourth commandment calls you fathers and mothers, not tyrants, rascals, and scoundrels. Therefore, if you are a father or a mother, this commandment means you. If you are a burgomaster, or anyone who bears the name of father, see to it that you carry out your paternal office. You father, instruct your son, that he may fear God; you master, your servants; you burgomaster, your townsmen; you prince, your subjects. You too have been commanded. Your maids do not exist merely to wash the pots for you. Listen! this Commandment is for you. If you are not diligently concerned that your children and servants learn piety, then it serves you right if your children are disobedient and your servants unfaithful. For God does not give you your children to play with, nor does he give you servants for you to use them like asses for work. As you learn from me, so children and servants should learn from you parents and masters. (Luther’s Works, v. 51 p. 150-151)
The head of a household must punish and should not tolerate evil. But he must not be hateful and vengeful, lest in this way he corrupt the other person. A father does not punish his son in order to make him spiteful and ruin him in body and soul, but rather to ward off his vice; he wants to purify him and wipe away his faults. He hates, not the person, but the vice. This is a wrathful love which is kind and good toward the person; hence it cannot tolerate the nastiness in him. So, too, a woman cannot bear it when there is dirt on her child’s nose, but must wipe it away; she does not do this in order to hurt the child. Magistrates, teachers, and parents must chastise, but this chastisement is fatherly and kindly.
Solomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” [Prov. 27:6]. When an enemy speaks kindly to you, this is not affection, but rather the devil, who is out to destroy you in your sins. Ah, he says, you’re doing fine; go ahead! But a friend will be willing to hurt you. This is a rod, but it comes from the heart of a friend.”
Up to this point he has been speaking of being patient and bearing with our neighbor. He now goes on to speak of whoever receives a gift. [“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Pet. 4:10)]. If you speak, do so as one who speaks the Word of God. If you have an office, perform it as one who knows that it is of God.
(Luther’s Works, v. 51 , p.298).
Isaiah 4:1. And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day.
…Only let us be called, that is, be named. Only permit us to be called your wives and to have refuge with you. Here there was also an end to the law (Deut. 25:5) concerning the brother who was under obligation to raise up seed, etc. Here to call means to name. It is a Hebraism just as in Genesis. I want Ephraim and Manasseh to be called by the name of the fathers, to be called sons of Jacob and of Abraham (cf. Gen. 48:16). “Thus there your name was also given to us, that is, let us be called by your name.”…
- … Beautiful and glorious. Splendid, excellent, glorious, something superb. The kingdom of the Jews was glorious in a physical way, but the kingdom of Christ is now glorious in the spirit. He says, however, that Christ should be extolled with great majesty.
Glory, which comes from importance in such a way that where there is glow, there something else is close by. But he calls Christ One who comes from the fruit of the land because He was born great from the earth, and it is His greatness that He can prevail over all His enemies and protect all His own; and this is a description of Christ as He defends us. Such a One, he says, Christ will be, but for those who will be from among those who have been snatched out of Jerusalem, as he also says. And here he sets forth the fruit of their riches which He will distribute, because Christ will be such a One not only for Himself but will distribute His benefits to the rest. Thus because of Him and through Him they will be called saints, that is, people set aside for divine purposes, people in whom God dwells and who belong to the employment and service of God” (Luther’s Works, v. 16, p. 50-51).
And let no one think himself too wise for such child’s play. Christ, to train men, had to become man himself. If we wish to train children, we must become children with them. Would to God such child’s play were widely practiced. In a short time we would have a wealth of Christian people whose souls would be so enriched in Scripture and in the knowledge of God that of their own accord they would add more pockets, just as the Loci Communes, and comprehend all Scripture in them. Otherwise, people can go to church daily and come away the same as they went. For they think they need only listen at the time, without any thought of learning or remembering anything. Many a man listens to sermons for three or four years and does not retain enough to give a single answer concerning his faith–as I experience daily. Enough has been written in books, yes; but it has not been driven home to the hearts. (Luther’s Works, v. 53, p.64-67).