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The Small Catechism - Book of Concord
Martin Luther. Johanne Chrysostomo edition. Luther Monument , Washington D. Luther Monument , Worms. Namespaces Article Talk.
#303: Luther’s Small Catechism
Title page of Luther's Small Catechism , originally published in Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1, 9. Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine.
For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and the laborer is worthy of his reward. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. Concerning Civil Government. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For the power which exists anywhere is ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For he heareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
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Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, etc. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor.
I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, etc.
Titus 3, 1. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him, etc. For Husbands. And be not bitter against them. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. Herein are comprehended all the commandments. Since marriage and the marriage state is a worldly business, it behooves us pastors or ministers of the Church not to attempt to order or govern anything connected with it, but to permit every city and land to continue its own use and custom in this connection.
Some lead the bride to the church twice, both evening and morning.
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Some only once. Some announce it formally and publish the banns from the pulpit two or three weeks in advance.
All such things and the like I leave to the lords and the council to order and arrange as they see fit: it does not concern me. But should any one desire us to bless them before the church or in the church, to pray over them, or also to marry them, we are in duty bound to do this. For this reason I have desired to offer this advice and form to those who do not know anything better, in case some should desire to follow our custom in this matter. The others who know all about it, that is, who do not know anything about it but permit themselves to think that they do know all about it,-well, they do not need this service of mine — except that they may be overwise and conceited about it and should guard themselves very zealously lest perchance they do something that somebody else does!
Luther’s Small Catechism
Otherwise one might think that they might learn something from somebody else, and that certainly would be a great pity. Since it has been customary up to the present to surround the consecration of monks and nuns with such great ceremonial display, even though their estate and organization are an ungodly and purely human invention which does not have any foundation in the Scriptures, how much the more should we honor this Divine estate and in a much more magnificent way bless, pray, and adorn it? Therefore, too, it should be accounted more spiritual than the estate of the cloisterettes — yea, a hundred times more so — which in truth should be considered the most worldly and fleshly of all, because it was fabricated and instituted out of flesh and blood and is above all the invention of worldly cleverness and wisdom.
Those who at the first instituted the practice that one should lead the bride and bridegroom to church, truly did not regard it as a joke but as a very earnest matter; for there is no doubt but that they were seeking the blessing of God thereby and the common prayers, and were not making a ridiculous burlesque out of it or a bit of heathenish monkey business.
Thus, too, the act in itself reveals its earnestness. For whoever desires prayer and blessing from the pastor or bishop shows thereby indeed — even if he does not express it in so many words — into what peril and need he is entering and how greatly he stands in need of the Divine blessing and common prayer for the estate which he is undertaking. And this serious situation can be seen daily in the misfortunes caused by the devil in the marriage estate with adultery, unfaithfulness, discord, and all manner of ill. Therefore, we will deal in the following way with the bridegroom and bride — if they desire and ask it.
And should any one have anything to say against it, let him speak in time or hereafter keep silence. God grant them His blessing. Before the church marry them with words such as these: Hans, dost thou desire Greta to thy wedded wife? He says: Yes. Greta, dost thou desire Hans to thy wedded husband? She answers: Yes. Then the pastor lets them give each other the weddingring and joins their right hands together, and says: What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
Thereupon he speaks in the presence of all:. Since Hans N. Genesis, the second chapter: And God the Lord said: It is not good that man should be alone: I will make a helpmeet for him who can be with him. Then the Lord God let a deep sleep fall on the man, and he went to sleep; and he took one of his ribs and closed the place with flesh. And God the Lord fashioned a wife out of the rib, which he took from the man, and brought her to him.