When I think of Martin Luther, the great sixteenth century Protestant Reformer from Germany, I don't usually think of him as a romantic. In fact, I never do. What usually comes to mind is his firery rhetoric and uncompromising stand for biblical orthodoxy.
Courageous, yes. Lover, no.
Don't tell this to Michael Haykin. The professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written a new book called The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers (Reformation Trust). In it he features Martin Luther as an example of a Christian lover. Here's an example of one of Luther's letters to his wife Katharina:
Martin Luther to my kind and dear Katie Luther, a brewer and a judge at the pig market at Wittenberg.
Grace and Peace in the Lord! Dear Katie! Today at eight we drove away from Halle, yet did not get to Eisleben, but returned to Halle by again by nine. For a huge female Anabaptist met us with waves of water and great floating pieces of ice; she threatened to baptize us again, and has covered the [whole] countryside. But we are also unable to return because of the Mulde [River] at Bitterfeld, and are forced to stay captive here at Halle between the waters--not that we are thirsty to drink of them. Instead we take good beer from Torgau and good wine from the Rhine, with which we refresh and comfort ourselves in the meantime, hoping that the rage of the Saale [River] may wear itself out today. For since the ferryman and the people themselves were of little courage [to try to cross], we did not want to go into the water and tempt God. For the devil is angry at us, and he lives in the water. Foresight is better than hindsight, and there is no need for us to prepare a fool's delight for the pope and his hangers-on. I did not think the Saale could create such a flood and rumble over the stones and everything in such a way.
No more for now. You people pray for us, and be good. I am sure that, if you were here, you too would have advised us to proceed in this way; [so,] you see, at least once we are following your advice. With this I commend you to God. Amen...
--Martin Luther. Doctor
While I have no doubt Martin Luther loved his "dear Katie" deeply, this letter doesn't exactly exhibit the prose of a man weak-at-the-knees at the thought of his wife. At least in this letter what appears to have Luther's greatest affection is the "beer from Torgau" and the "good wine from the Rhine."
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About Mike Pohlman
Mike serves as the senior pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Bellingham, Washington. Mike is a former church planter in the Pacific Northwest, and served for three years as the executive producer of The Albert Mohler Program, a nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to Christianity and culture. Mike has a PhD in American church history from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike is husband to Julia and father to four wonderful children: Samuel (12), Anna (10), John (9) and Michael (4). When not pastoring, Mike loves sports, music, and hanging out with his family.
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