It Takes Two to Tango

Bathsheba bathing Woodcut from Luther's "Enchiridion"
Bathsheba bathing
Woodcut from Luther’s “Enchiridion”

Daily Reform, Day 79

Galatians 2:6 & 2 Samuel 11

From the Reformer

There must be people in high office, of course. But we are not to deify them. The governor, the mayor, the preacher, the teacher, the scholar, father, mother, are persons whom we are to love and revere, but not to the extent that we forget God. Lest we attach too much importance to the person, God leaves with important persons offenses and sins, sometimes astounding shortcomings, to show us that there is a lot of difference between any person and God. David was a good king. But when the people began to think too well of him, down he fell into horrible sins, adultery and murder. Peter, excellent apostle that he was, denied Christ. Such examples of which the Scriptures are full, ought to warn us not to repose our trust in men. In the papacy appearance counts for everything. Indeed, the whole papacy amounts to nothing more than a mere kowtowing of persons and outward mummery. But God alone is to be feared and honored.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The preacher, respected in the community and much loved by his flock, had helped the congregation build a new building and was faithful to his pastorate. One day a member became so ill that she was hospitalized at a research hospital several cities from the church. He went faithfully to visit her each day. Soon he was spending entire days on those visits with her. When she came home, the lengthy visitations continued in her home. Fast forward a bit; the beloved preacher and his wife divorced and he resigned from his pastorate.

The story is ancient. It predates David and will continue until the Parousia. Fast forward three more decades and a later pastor found some of the flock idolizing the aforementioned preacher to the point that his ex-wife had become a substantial part of the problem. After all, “It takes two to tango.” Or in some cases, three.

Where is the Word of God in this scenario? Absent. Not considered. Where is man in this scenario? Absolved by opinion. Elevated to demigod — a mythological amalgam of fond memories and the desire for them to not be sullied.

People may be forgiven by the Lord but never deified by man — at least that’s what the Word of God says.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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