By Dave Armstrong (12-20-07)
Just when you think you've discovered all the weirdest things about Luther that could possibly be found, ol' Martin springs another goofy, wacko idea on ya!:
. . . God commanded in the law [Deut. 22:22-24] that adulterers be stoned . . . The temporal sword and government should therefore still put adulterers to death . . . Where the government is negligent and lax, however, and fails to inflict the death penalty, the adulterer may betake himself to a far country and there remarry if he is unable to remain continent. But it would be better to put him to death, lest a bad example be set . . .
The blame rests with the government. Why do they not put adulterers to death? Then I would not need to give such advice. Between two evils one is always the lesser, in this case allowing the adulterer to remarry in a distant land in order to avoid fornication . . .
Where the government fails to inflict the death penalty and the one spouse wishes to retain the other, the guilty one should still in Christian fashion be publicly rebuked and caused to make amends according to the gospel . . .
Here you should be guided by the words of St. Paul, I Corinthians 7 [:4–5], “The husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does; likewise the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does. Do not deprive each other, except by agreement,” etc. Notice that St. Paul forbids either party to deprive the other, for by the marriage vow each submits his body to the other in conjugal duty. When one resists the other and refuses the conjugal duty she is robbing the other of the body she had bestowed upon him. This is really contrary to marriage, and dissolves the marriage. For this reason the civil government must compel the wife, or put her to death. If the government fails to act, the husband must reason that his wife has been stolen away and slain by robbers; he must seek another. We would certainly have to accept it if someone’s life were taken from him. Why then should we not also accept it if a wife steals herself away from her husband, or is stolen away by others?
(The Estate of Marriage, 1522, translated by Walther I. Brandt, from Luther's Works, Vol. 45, pp. 32-34)
This is marvelous reform of the morals concerning sexuality that the Catholic Church had cultivated for 1500 years, isn't it? The state puts adulterers to death. Frigid women should also be done away with by the state. If the state doesn't execute adulterers, they ought to run away to another country and get remarried (!!!). Isn't life in a Protestant world wonderful? It's just like trying to exercise discipline with denominationalism: the person being reprimanded for some sin simply departs for another sect, which puts a big Band-Aid on the situation, counsels the person to do better next time, and sanctions another "marriage" of an adulterer (even lets them be pastors and deacons!). I witnessed this myself when I was a Protestant (one man in particular who was an elder at our non-denom church).
It's like the ethical tomfoolery we examined in my last paper, on "Reformer" Zwingli's sexcapades: where we saw Zwingli argue, in effect: "the vow of celibacy in the priesthood is too tough to uphold; everybody's violating it, so I may as well do it, too, and if I am called on it, I'll appeal to the fact that it's impossible to be celibate and everyone is out there having fun, so why shouldn't I do so too! And besides, the evil, wicked woman seduced me!, and I didn't seduce any virgins, nuns, or married women! So give me a pass, huh? The problem isn't my virility, it is the Catholic rule of celibacy."
Spit on and despise marriage and clerical vows alike . . . This is the sublime uplifting of sexual morality and treatment of women, as a result of the Protestant "Reformation" (so-called).
Luther doesn't say whether an impotent man should likewise be put away by the wife or put to death by authorities (the "ED police"?). I suspect he would not take such a position. No, only women who aren't fulfilling their sexual duties (men always do, no doubt) are subjected to such drastic measures, and the adulterous man can flee to another country, where Luther in his wisdom recommends another "marriage" as the "lesser" of "two evils." We can see how the "Reformation" truly liberated women from chauvinistic medieval serfdom, can't we?