Should priests and nuns get married?  Martin Luther could see no reason why not.  Since he believed the home to be a much better training ground for the Christian life than the monastery, he felt that the Roman Church was wrong in forbidding priests, monks, and nuns to marry.  Luther saw that many people wrongly looked upon celibacy (remaining unmarried) as another “good work” by which they tried to please God.  Quite a few churchmen broke their vows- and the Sixth Commandment- by living with women without being married to them.  Electorthis church rule where so strong that many monks and nuns left their monasteries and married.  On October 9th, 1524, Luther himself renounced his monastic vows, including the vow of celibacy.

Luther himself had no desire to be married.  “They will never force a wife upon me,” he had said at Wittenberg in 1521.  His reason was simple; as a heretic and an outlaw, his life was in constant danger.  Several things happened to change his mind, however.  In April 1523 a group of 12 nuns escaped, with Luther’s help, from a cloister in Marienthron.  He asked Leonhard Koppe, a Torgau businessman, to take the nuns out of the convent in a covered wagon that was used to deliver supplies there, including herring in barrels.  Evidently Koppe snuck the nuns out of the cloister in his covered wagon on Easter Eve.  Three of the nuns returned to their homes, but nine had no place to go, so they were brought to Wittenberg.  Luther felt it his duty to find homes, husbands, or jobs for them.

After two years, only Katharina von Bora remained unmarried.  Katie was a sensible, hard-working young woman.

By 1525 she was 26 years old and almost past the marrying age for those times.  Two attempts to find a husband for her had failed.  She had fallen in love with Jerome Baumgaertner, the son of a distinguished family from Nuremberg, but his family objected to him marrying a runaway nun.  After Luther tried to make several other matches for Katie, she said, “I will marry no one but Dr. Amsdorf or Dr. Luther himself.”  Luther laughed when he heard this.  Yet, as he thought about it more, there were good reasons for him to marry Katie.  If he did so, it would strengthen his teaching that marriage is pleasing to God, even for priests.  It would certainly please his father, who wanted a grandson to carry on the Luther name, and it would help him too, for he needed someone to look after his everyday needs.  So on June 13, 1525, Martin Luther married Katharine von Bora.  Although they weren’t “in love” their love for each other grew during the nearly 21 years God gave them together as husband and wife.  Sometimes Luther would affectionately refer to her as “Katie my rib.”

Martin and Katie Luther made their home in the Black Cloister, which Elector John had given them in 1532.  Katie soon showed that she was a good partner. She saw to it that her husband ate and slept regularly and had clean clothes to wear.  She ran the house on his small salary.  Katie was a conscientious housekeeper, and a manager of farms and gardens.  The Luthers’ maintained four gardens.  With the money she had saved, she bought her family’s farm near Zulsdorf from her brother.  Katie managed the care of cows, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, doves, and the family dog, Tolpel.  She even learned to brew beer.

God blessed them with six children: Johannes, nicknamed Hans after his grandfather; Elizabeth; Magdalena; Martin; Paul; and Margaret.  Luther greatly enjoyed being with them and watching them play.  He never returned from a rip without bringing something along for his children.  Sometimes there was sorrow.  Their first daughter, Elizabeth, died before she was a year old.  The second daughter, Magdalena, became very sick when she was 13.  As death came near, Luther prayed, “Lord, I love her so, but Your will be done.”  Kneeling at her bedside, he said to his daughter, “Magdalena, my little girl, you would like to stay with your father here, but are you also willing to go to your Father in heaven?”  Smiling weakly, she answered, “Yes, dear father, as God wills.”  Magdalene died in her father’s arms.  When they buried her, Luther wept: “My dear little Lena, how happy you are!  You will rise again and shine as the stars, yes, as the sun…It is very strange- to know that she is in peace and well off and yet to be so sad!”

Martin Luther led his family and any guests who happened to be with them in daily devotions.  And there was always music in the house.  Luther could play the lute and fife, and he had a fine tenor singing voice.  He liked to play chess, work in his garden, or work at his lathe.  He even mended his own pants.  The doors of the Luther home were open to all.  At times, as many as 25 people stayed there.  By his nature Luther could not refuse help to persons in need.  He gave what little money he had to poor students or friends.  One by one he gave away the gold and silver dishes he and Katie had received as wedding gifts.  Katie scolded him, “are you going to give everything away?”  He replied, “God is rich.  He will give us more.”