Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Galatians 5:19–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Gerson also testifies that there have been many good men who tried to conquer the flesh, yet with little progress. So, Ambrose is right in saying, “Virginity is a thing that may only be recommended, not commanded; it is voluntary, not obligatory.” If any one would raise the objection that Christ praises those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:12), consider also that he is praising those who have that unusual gift of self-control. For he adds, “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (ibid.). Impure restraint does not please Christ. We also praise true continence. But now we are disputing about law and those who do not have the gift of continence. This ought to be a matter of liberty, not a rule that sets a snare for the weak.

Pulling It Together

There are those who are able to truly and consistently practice control of the flesh. But if they are not able, if they have not been empowered with restraint by God, then they should marry. This is God’s plan for us—with good reason. Those who hold to a pattern of fleshly behavior will not inherit the kingdom. So we should not require persons, even ministers of the gospel—indeed, especially ministers of the gospel—to be celibate when God has given them the good gift of marriage. Coercing them into celibacy or commanding them to stay celibate when they are not suited for that lifestyle is counter-productive to God’s plan for us—temporally and eternally.

Prayer: Lead me by your Spirit, Lord, that I may daily crucify the flesh. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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1 Corinthians 10:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

If self-discipline were possible for everyone, it would not require a peculiar gift. Christ shows that is does require a peculiar gift; therefore continence is not possible for everyone. God wants the rest to use the common law of nature which he has instituted, for God does not want us to despise his ordinances, his creation. He wants people to be chaste by using the remedy he has provided, just as he wishes to nourish our life by the use of food and drink. 

Pulling It Together

Do you imagine that you are able to be virtuous in your own strength? Of course, we must rely on God’s strength, not our own. Yet we are not to rely upon his strength alone. We must also depend upon his plan. So one must consider, should a program of celibacy be undertaken when it ignores God’s plan? The Apostle Paul wished everyone could be as disciplined as himself (1 Cor 7:7); but we are not. To impose a program of celibacy upon people ignores God’s “way of escape” from a temptation that is all too “common to man.” Fasting, prayer, and other methods for overcoming this temptation will fail unless a person is particularly gifted by God. Those who think they are able to stand against this temptation of the flesh will very likely fall unless they avail themselves of God’s remedy. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, in all things to rely upon you. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. 

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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James 1:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

So, they command people to pray to God for self-control, and to weaken the body through labors and fasting. Why do they not proclaim these magnificent commandments to themselves? As we have already said, our opponents are only playing; they are not serious.

Pulling It Together

God has already provided the answer; and it is a splendid solution. So, if anything, people should pray for common sense. God has blessed men and women with the sweet fellowship of marriage and the comfort and peace of the marriage bed. Some religious folks would deprive them of these good gifts. When they cannot abide such deprivation, the command comes to deprive themselves of still more of God’s bounty. Then is the time they should pray for sense.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for all your wondrous gifts. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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1 Corinthians 7:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Nor can any human authority, any law, any vows remove this declaration: “It is better to marry than to burn,” because they cannot remove the nature or concupiscence. Therefore all who burn, retain the right to marry. Paul’s command to avoid fornication by every man having his own wife binds all those who do not truly control themselves. The conscience of each person must decide.

Pulling It Together

Paul does not say here that he wishes all were celibate. Rather, he speaks of his gifting from God’s Spirit to keep himself under control. He would prefer that all were like himself, self-controlled in matters of sexual appetite. But because all are not able to be so disciplined, he commands them to marry. All must decide for themselves whether they have this gift from God.

Prayer: Spirit of the living God, empower me to control myself. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings.

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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1 Corinthians 7:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Does not Paul command here that those who do not have the gift of self-control should marry? After all, he interprets himself a little later when he says, “For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” (1 Cor 7:9). Christ has also clearly stated, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given” (Matt 19:11). Ever since sin entered the world, natural desire and the lust that inflames it have combined. So, there is more need of marriage now than when in a pure nature. Accordingly, Paul speaks of marriage as a remedy, and commands us to marry because of these passions.

Pulling It Together

Since the fall of Adam, the temptation to sin in general has been difficult (Rom 7:19) but the struggle with lust may be at the top of the list. Self-control is a hard habit to master. Consider sins that involve food, drink, anger, pride, and others too numerous to name in this short space. If we have serious trouble with these, imagine our difficulty with sexual appetite. There are some who are able to say “no” but this seems to be a special gift from God (1 Cor 7:7b). If one finds himself or herself in such a predicament, it is better to marry than to burn—physically or eternally (1 Cor 7:9). Paul makes no distinction; his commanding advice is for priests and pastors, as well as the laity.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the good gifts you have given. Amen.

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Ambidextrous Christianity is a nine-session Bible Study that explores nine key questions of faith and life, letting our Lord direct us in navigating the narrow path of faith. In studying God's Word with other believers, we seek to grow in our ability to move forward in our journey together, no matter what the road presents.

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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1 Corinthians 7:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Thirdly, Paul says to avoid fornication by letting every man have his own wife. This is an explicit command pertaining to all who are not fit for celibacy (1 Cor 7:6-7). Our adversaries demand that we show them a command that commands priests to marry—as though priests are not men! We maintain that whatever pertains to human nature in general also is to be applied to priests.

Pulling It Together

Evidently, the notion of celibacy had been raised with Paul by the Corinthians (see quotation marks in verse one). The apostle gives a conditional response. There are some who have received special graces from God, so that they may be celibate. However, it does not follow that this grace applies to priests. The fact is, that imposing celibacy upon the priesthood has had scandalous results—in our own time and in previous ages. In order to avoid this the apostle urges each man and woman to be married unless especially gifted by God.

Prayer: Lord, be glorified in the marriages of your Church. Amen.

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In the Luther Household is a six-session Bible study on the Lutheran understanding of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, who were not only husband and wife, but the parents of several children. It includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Genesis 1:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

As we said before, we are not speaking of concupiscence or sinful lust, but about that desire called physical love. Concupiscence has not removed this from human nature, but inflames it, so that there is now a greater need of a remedy. Marriage is necessary not only for the sake of procreation, but also as this remedy. These things are so clear and well established that they are undeniable.

Pulling It Together

Natural love existed between men and women even when their nature was still pure. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), which of course, happens in but one manner. But the fall of humanity due to their sin, only increased the desire of one sex for the other. The requirement foisted upon some people to forgo this drive is unnecessary, for God’s law contains no such command. On the contrary, as mentioned already, his command is not to be fruitless but to to multiply by being fruitful. Faithful, sexual union, is what God commands, not the opposite. This proper desire of one for another is the result of a divine ordinance.

Prayer: Be with all Christian marriages, Lord, granting them grace and fruitfulness. Amen.

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Este pequeño manual, conocido como El Catecismo Menor de Martín Lutero, ha sido utilizado por los Luteranos durante siglos como una herramienta de enseñanza, especialmente en la instrucción de la confirmación. El pequeño manual pretende dar a los lectores un breve resumen de las enseñanzas de la Biblia, viendo algunos ejemplos de versos bien conocidos por los cristianos, oraciones y elementos de adoración.

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Genesis 5:1-2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Therefore, let us keep in mind what both Scripture teaches and the jurist wisely says: namely, that the union of male and female is a natural right. Furthermore, a natural right is actually a divine right, because it is a rule divinely imprinted on nature. Since this right cannot be changed without an extraordinary work of God, the right to contract marriage necessarily remains. Because the natural desire of one sex for the other is a rule of God in nature, it is a right. Why else would both sexes have been created?

Pulling It Together

In the wisdom of God, there are both male and female, the one for the other. He formed man from “the dust of the ground,” then breathing into him “the breath of life” (Heb 2:7). He formed the woman from the man’s side. They are, by divine design, to be each others companions, helpers, and lovers. In marriage, they become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), meant to be so singular that even at creation, both male and female are named adam or man. This precious gift of God is a natural right because it is a birthright impressed by God upon human nature.

Prayer: As you draw us into oneness with another, draw your Church into unity with you. Amen.

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Mark your calendars for the Sola Education Festival to be held on June 9th-10th at Abounding Joy Lutheran (LCMC/NALC), in St. Cloud Minnesota (6000 County Rd 120, St Cloud, MN 56303, 320-217-8784). The event is for pastors, lay leaders, teachers, and any people who work in education ministry.

This event will feature keynote presentations from two of Sola Publishing’s editors, Rev. Mark Ryman and Rev. Steve King, along with a number of workshops led by regional pastors and ministry leaders. There will be product sales tables from Sola Publishing and well as Concordia Publishing House, along with displays from other educational ministries. 

• Click for brochure.   • Registration

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Matthew 24:36-39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Therefore it is ridiculous for our opponents to prattle on about marriage being commanded in the beginning but not now. This is the same as saying that formerly, people were born with a sex but now they are not. Or, formerly, they were born with a natural right but now they do not have that right. No craftsman could fabricate anything more devious than these absurdities, which were devised to circumvent a right of nature.

Pulling It Together

Eating, drinking, marrying, and other such natural privileges and rights are good; God has blessed these things for our use. Yet a problem occurs when we enjoy (or over-enjoy) these rights without thanks to God. For then, these good things obscure our vision of God; we enjoy them to the extent that we no longer enjoy God. Nevertheless, God has given us these things so that we may be grateful to him and enjoy life. Marriage is a good gift of God and the natural right of all people. No one should rob another of this blessed prerogative, for it is a gift of God.

Prayer: As we await that blessed day, O Lord, give us thankful hearts. Amen.

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This six-session Bible study focuses on the Godly vocations of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, husband and wife, and also the parents of several children. The Luther Household includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Ephesians 5:25-33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Secondly, because this founding or divine ordinance in humanity is a natural right, jurists have wisely and correctly stated that the union of men and women is a natural right. Since natural right is immutable, the right to contract marriage must always continue. Where nature is changeless, that ordinance which God has constructed in nature must not not change, and cannot be removed by human laws.

Pulling It Together

God has built into nature—indeed, into our natures—the union of men and women (Gen 2:24). But this built-in right points to the glory of the regenerated nature that we have in Christ. This new nature’s union with God, or the divine marriage, is found throughout both Testaments. In the New Testament, the marriage of the Bridegroom to his Bride is picked up by the gospel evangelists as well as the writers of the letters. Marriage, that thing which is so natural and common to us, is proclaimed in Scripture as that rarest and most extraordinary relationship. It is not much of a stretch to imagine that the desire for marriage is built into us so that we might yearn for union with God, and so that we may begin to understand the mystery of union with the divine.

Prayer: Strengthen marriages in your Church, Lord, that your Church might ache for you. Amen.

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Getting to Know Martin Luther is a five-lesson Conformation workbook about Martin Luther's life that will help confirmands get a better glimpse into what faith means for their own lives by searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what they believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.