Monday, September 14, 2009

Martin Luther Lays the Groundwork for Cohabitation and Premarital Sex That is Not "Fornication"

http://mp3.aomin.org/images/jpeg/Indiana_luther4.jpg

Laxity in moral matters is always brought about by a sliding scale and the redefining of terms. Examples of this are legion. What once was widely considered to be sinful or wrong, even in secular society (abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, cohabitation and fornication, masturbation, sodomy), all of a sudden becomes a "heartrending choice permissible in carefully defined difficult circumstances," then "a possible option, in consultation with a respected guide from one's faith tradition," then "strictly a matter of individual conscience, gravely considered and reflected upon," then "a lifestyle choice," and finally indistinguishable from any morally neutral choice in life, such as choice of ice cream flavor or a favorite color to design one's living room.

We have seen this slide; the "slippery slope" -- in our own time, especially regarding sexual matters (particularly in the last 50 years). It's so patently obvious that I need not even provide specific examples. If a reader is unaware of them, from a Christian (especially Catholic) perspective, then my point will be lost on them, anyway. I am presupposing a certain adherence to traditional Christian morality.

The great "dissent" now (one of many) among self-professed "Christians" is cohabitation, or premarital sex. It is considered fine and dandy and no sin at all, as long as the couples are (here is the obligatory huge loophole) "committed" to each other. Have you heard this rhetoric before? It is casually assumed today, even among allegedly committed, traditional Christians of all stripes who claim to be upholding Christian teaching in their lives. Polls on the matter (see a related paper of mine) are quite alarming.

Lo and behold, if we are to find a justification for premarital sex, in the sense of the small loophole (the one that unscrupulous folks will turn into a gaping hole big enough for a truck to drive through), we need go no further than Martin Luther: the founder of Protestantism. Luther's case is quite to the point, because it illustrates how societal morals start to degenerate: slowly and step-by-step.

Luther opposed fornication and adultery in general. He was not an advocate of promiscuity and licentiousness and "sowing wild oats." I want to make that clear from the outset. People who think that is what he taught are being foolish and rather stupid. For an overview of his position, see Luther on Women: a Sourcebook (translated by Susan C. Karant-Nunn and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks), New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

It's much, much more subtle than that (which is precisely my point). I'm happy to freely grant Luther his good and honorable intentions with regard to what I will cite from his writing (I always have been at all times). Like many of his errors, he truly thought he was on the side of the angels; had the very best of intentions. No one need deny that. I've always thought this about almost all of the errors and heresies of the so-called Protestant "reformers."

We can extend the charity of the benefit of the doubt, and take men at their own word, even if we strongly disagree with them on principle, and decry the eventual bitter fruit of these errors in the long run. I've urged my readers to be very careful in interpreting Luther's statements about sexuality and marriage. I was even praised at the time for it, by Lutheran pastor Paul T. McCain: a prominent online presence, and normally quite hostile to my writings.

The harm in the long run comes from the slippery slope. Some principle has been compromised; its integrity is no longer upheld in toto. From there, folks with far less of a conscience and Christian intention and piety than Martin Luther will then exploit it, till it becomes bigger and bigger. The sea change starts with a trickle of water through the dike. The thousand-mile journey starts with one step. Without the trickle or the step (that seems small and inconsequential at the time), the larger events or degeneration of what once was, are not possible. I touched upon this in a 1997 radio interview with my friend Al Kresta (his words in green):

It's interesting, too, how in 1930, it was the Anglicans, in their conference that year, that changed it [i.e., the previously universal Christian prohibition of contraception] and they talked about "hard cases," just like we've heard in our time.

Sure.

So it's the same kind of mentality: "it's only in hard cases, and we won't expand it any further than that." But obviously it has been [expanded].

Yeah. We've got three instances that come to mind here: the contraception case, which was argued [on the basis of] hard cases, "so let's permit it here"; then you have Roe v. Wade; "hard cases, well let's permit it here"; and of course the case before us today has to do with assisted suicide: "well, we need it for hard cases." But if the hard case argument has any historical meaning, then we know that what was once the hard case becomes the normal case.

Yeah, that's right.

So contraception has become well accepted under not just hard circumstances, but in almost all circumstances - same thing with abortion. And my guess is, you'll have the same thing with assisted suicide. Hard cases make bad law . . . So at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church goes ahead and permits contraception in tough cases; the first time any Christian Church has permitted the use of contraception.


Besides the slippery slope and the fateful ethical loophole, another key to the whole process of the decline of societal morals and norms is the redefinition of terms. Abortion becomes "choice," etc. Again, I feel no need to even provide further examples, as most of my readers will know exactly what I am talking about. The abortion debate is notorious for self-serving semantics and word-games. That was crucial to the success of the anti-life forces from the outset. The same process occurs in theology, as people of a liberal, so-called "progressive" bent start redefining traditional terms and reshaping what is considered "orthodox" and what is not.

Luther elsewhere sanctioned, for example, bigamy. He was quite willing to allow exceptions to his usual disapproval of adultery, in the case of kings and princes. He expressed goofy views on polygamy and concubinage as well. Here are some examples of Luther's extraordinary laxity and compromise in (the proverbial) "hard cases," from the latter paper of mine (I was presenting the writing of Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar, with Luther's own words in blue):

In exceptional cases Luther permitted those bound to clerical celibacy, on account of "the great distress of conscience," to contract "secret marriages"; he even expressly recommended them to do so. 1 These unions, according to both Canon and Civil law, amounted to mere concubinage. Luther admits that he had advised" certain parish priests, living under the jurisdiction of Duke George or the bishops," to "marry their cook secretly." 2

At the same time, in this same letter written in 1540, he explains that he is not prepared to "defend all he had said or done years ago, particularly at the commencement." Everything, however, remained in print and was made use of not only by those to whom it was actually addressed, but by many others also; for instance, his outrageous letter to the Knights of the Teutonic Order who were bound by vow to the celibate state. Any of them who had a secret, illicit connection, and "whoever found it impossible to live chastely," he there says, "was not to despair in his weakness and sin, nor wait for any Conciliar permission, for I would rather overlook it, and commit to the mercy of God the man who all his life has kept a pair of prostitutes, than the man who takes a wife in compliance with the decrees of such Councils." "How much less a sinner do you think him to be, and nearer to the grace of God, who keeps a prostitute, than the man who takes a wife in that way?" 3

[1 Letter to the Elector of Saxony, 1540, reprinted by Seidemann in
Lauterbach, " Tagebuch," p. 198.

2 Ibid.

3 Letter of December, 1523, " Werke," Weim. ed., 12, p. 237 f. ;
Erl. ed., 29, p. 16 (" Brief wechsel," 4, p. 266). For the letters, to the
Teutonic Order and concerning the Abbots, cp. our vol. ii., p. 120.]

Of the Prince-Abbots, who, on account of the position they occupied in the Empire, were unable to marry so long as they remained in the monastery, he likewise wrote: "I would prefer to advise such a one to take a wife secretly and to continue as stated above [i.e. remain in office], seeing that among the Papists it is neither shameful nor wrong to keep women, until God the Lord shall send other wise as He will shortly do, for it is impossible for things to remain much longer as they are. In this wise the Abbe would be safe and provided for."

Ben M., who more or less started this post by first citing the Luther quote from Plass in a combox, provides yet another example of Luther's propensity towards compromise of Christian sexual morality (his bolding):

Cases of Conscience Pertaining to Marriage.

December, 1532. No. 414

“Cases for the consolation of consciences belong in confession and not in books. A certain man took a wife, and after bearing several children she contracted syphilis 229 and was unable to fulfill her marital obligation. Thereupon the husband, troubled by the flesh, denied himself beyond his ability to sustain the burden of chastity.

“It is asked, Ought he to be allowed a second wife? I reply that one or the other of two things must happen: either he commits adultery or he takes a second wife. IT IS MY ADVICE THAT HE TAKE A SECOND WIFE; however, he should not abandon his first wife but should provided for her sufficiently to enable to her to support her life….

“In such cases in which the conscience was troubled I HAVE OFTEN offered counsel not according to the pope but according to my office, according to the gospel. Nevertheless, I warned the persons involved not to make this judgment of mine public.

“I said to them, “Keep this to yourselves. If you can’t keep it secret, take the consequences.”

Note 229. Latin: morbum Gallicum, “French disease.”

(Luther's Works, Volume 54: Table Talk (Tischreden), Theodore G. Tappert, ed., Helmut T. Lehmann, ed., Fortress Press, Philadelphia, ISBN 0800603540, pp. 65-66)


The present issue concerns couples secretly engaged, who are having sexual relations. Luther is on record as opposing the secret betrothal (except for exceptional cases such as those recounted above, and Henry VIII and Philip of Hesse). He wanted marriages to be open and sanctioned by the believing community (except, of course, for exceptional cases; e.g., Henry VIII and Philip of Hesse and red-blooded princes in monasteries, etc., and especially in light of the fact that some "papists" had shamefully sinned in the same way).

Unfortunately, however, his general principle (with many exceptions, according to expedience and relative situation) didn't prevent him from espousing a fatal loophole, by redefining the sexual relations of engaged couples as not fornication. If fornication is sex outside of marriage, and an engaged couple is not married, and has sex, then are they not engaging in fornication, or unlawful, immoral sexual practices? It would seem so. But Luther wants to draw the fine, fatal distinction. And so he wrote:
Secret intercourse of those who are engaged to each other can certainly not be considered fornication; for it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage, a desire, intention, or name which fornication does not have. Thus there is a great difference indeed between fornication and secret intercourse after the promise of marriage.

(Von Ehesachen [Concerning Matrimonial Matters], A. D. 1530; from What Luther Says, Ewald M. Plass, Concordia Publishing House, 1959, 3 volumes [1994, 3 volumes-in-one], #2796, p. 896)
Lutheran editor Plass provides his own summary of this:
To avoid offense, the betrothed should not yet live as married people. But any premature sexual intimacy between them, although reprehensible, should not be called fornication.
The question itself (the device used to present Luther's teaching) was put in this way: "What About the Intercourse of the Betrothed?"

The 55-volume set of Luther's Works translates a bit differently ("whoredom" is different from the much broader category of fornication):
But that other poor girl now is left with nothing, and the punishment does not restore her honor, and a woman who has lost her honor is quite worthless because we do not regard the fruit of the womb as highly as the Jews. Yet this lying together in secret in anticipation of betrothal cannot be reckoned as whoredom, for it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage, which spirit, intention, or name whoredom does not have. Therefore there is a great difference between whoredom and lying together in secret with the intention of betrothed marriage. Indeed, no Christian or honest man would do otherwise if he had gone so far that he would make the mistake of lying secretly with a girl on the promise of betrothal, if he thought that he would have to keep her and disavow all public betrothals subsequently entered upon.

(Vol. 46, p. 292)
Can you see the self-contradiction in this? They are not married ("intention of marriage"; "promise of marriage"; "in the name . . . of marriage," etc.), yet in effect they are. Luther wants to have it both ways. Again, it is clear that they are not married; yet in order for what he suggests to have moral legitimacy, he has to make the situation as closely aligned to marriage as it can be. And the way he does that is to adopt the good old liberal "progressive", subjective, postmodernist mentality of the "good intention." The intention trumps objective morality. The morality is wholly subsumed by the fact of supposed "good intentions." We sure have heard that a lot in modern times, haven't we? Almost any imaginable sin can be rationalized away in this fashion. Even the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod: a traditional Lutheran denomination, understands full well the moral distinction under consideration:

CSC: WELS Topical Q&A: Dating/Engagement/Wedding Marital Bed During Engagement

Q: I have looked over the Q&A site and have not found the answer to my question. Recently I became engaged. My fiancĂ©e was, at one time, an atheist but has converted to Christianity. He was on this path before I met him, but by knowing me decided to become a WELS Lutheran because of our strict adherence to the Bible. I want to preface my question with saying my fiancee’s faith is amazing. He knows that the Bible is infallible, looks to it unquestioningly, and bases his faith on it. However, living as an atheist for so many years, he is starting with very different beliefs than I am (WELS Lutheran since birth). In particular, we are divided on sex before marriage. I, of course, am opposed to premarital sex. He also is opposed to premarital sex when it comes to one-night stands, dating w/o intent to marry, etc. However, his “argument” for us is that by becoming engaged we are married. Because I have a ring on my finger I am his wife. So, we would not make the marriage bed impure (Hebrews 13:4). We would not be committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). He feels that, in his heart, having sex before a state recognized wedding is not wrong and cannot find where in the Bible he is contradicted. In fact, he argues that in Leviticus it says that an engagement is marriage. I’m conflicted because any passage I look up with him is not clear about this line between marriage, engagement and sex. Both of us have the desire to do God’s will. Both of us want to grow in faith by living obedient lives in Christ. Please direct us to passages to read together about this issue. Thank you!

A: We share your joy about what you describe as a spiritual birth and growth on the part of your fiancee. Our prayer is that his faith and yours will continue to flourish as you focus on your Savior and his revealed Word in Scripture. And the crossroad at which you now find yourselves, namely in defining and making adequate distinctions between engagement and marriage, will likely play a key role in the way you approach Scripture as a couple in the future.

If you have already searched the archives of this website, you know that we find no Bible basis for making the custom of modern engagement tantamount or equivalent to marriage. Since sexual activity in the Bible is intimately linked only to marriage, and since sexual activity outside of marriage is always immorality, we believe and teach that premarital sex is sin -- even when people have deceived themselves into thinking it is okay.

One of the reasons why some have erred in thinking engagement is equal to marriage is that they think that the practice that prevailed in Bible times, namely betrothal, is the same as modern engagement. Betrothal, however, was in almost all respects comparable to modern weddings and marriage, not engagement. It was a formal arrangement publicly carried out, witnessed to satisfy all legal and social requirements, and gave the couple the status of husband and wife to the families and community and society. The only difference to modern marriage is that betrothal did not give the couple the right to live together or enjoy sexual activity -- until a stipulated period of time passed. This was done for a number of reasons, among them to fulfill the requirement that the couple had a place to live and the husband had a life's vocation and ability to support a family.

Modern engagement is not at all understood this way, is not treated this way in our legal or court system, and in the Christian community (with rare exceptions due to wrong understandings as noted above) does not grant the freedom to be sexually active. Feeling otherwise in one's heart does not change the Bible evidence and position, however.

You and your fiancee appear to be willing to submit to what the Bible says, but you seem to be tempted to see premarital abstinence as a custom or ecclesiastical tradition rather a Bible issue. If that is so, do not fall pray to this subtle but real temptation. The Bible always and only links God-pleasing sexual activity to the marriage bond. The burden of proof would be on you or anyone else to show that this is not so. And to think that engagement is the same as betrothal would be also wrong -- and not helpful since permission to be sexually active was not even given with betrothal. I am not sure what passage in Leviticus is supposed to show engagement is equal to marriage, but I assure you there is no such passage that does so. And, in fact, the modern custom known as engagement was unknown to that culture. Aside from that, Levitical laws pertained to the Old Testament nation of Israel and do not apply to anyone after Jesus Christ came and carried out our atonement.

I can only point you to the same passages that you are likely quite familiar with to show how sexual activity is linked to marriage. Genesis 2 and Hebrews 13:4 are fine examples. The passages condemning sex outside of marriage may be found by using your concordance and looking up adultery, sexual immorality, or fornication). I might also invite you to read Ephesians 5 from the start for tone and overall emphasis on how important our attitude is. And I am sure your pastor will appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about such things.

John Calvin concurs:

Hence, it is evident, that any mode of cohabitation different from marriage is cursed in his sight, and that the conjugal relation was ordained as a necessary means of preventing us from giving way to unbridled lust. Let us beware, therefore, of yielding to indulgence, seeing we are assured that the curse of God lies on every man and woman cohabiting without marriage.

(Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book II, Chapter VIII, section 41)

Let's take what Luther said (in opposition to the Bible, Catholicism, WELS, and John Calvin) and apply the same reasoning to your typical young couple today, who see nothing whatsoever wrong in living together and engaging in sexual intercourse. Why could they not reason the same way? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the couple stating the following has pledged to get married; say after they get out of college in three years. It's a "long engagement":
"The sexual relations we are having can certainly not be considered fornication; for they take place in the name and with the intention of marriage, a desire, intention, or name which fornication does not have. Thus there is a great difference indeed between fornication and our loving sexual relations after our promise of commitment to each other and eventual marriage, when the time is right."
How is this reasoning (i.e., applied in their case, by analogy) a whit different from Luther's? The crucial loophole has been opened; now all kinds of sin is capable of being rationalized. "We're committed to each other." "We're monogamous; we have no other partners, because of this commitment." "We are pledged to each other forever, and our physical relationship is a seal and sign of that commitment to each other." "It's different because we love each other." Do not all lovers naturally say this (often within a week or two of meeting; even sooner in some cases of "love at first sight")?

Today, not only heterosexual couples, but sexually active homosexual couples use this same exact reasoning. In fact, a person of that mind and inclination made his case repeatedly in very similar fashion, in a combox on this very blog, not long ago (ironically, in response to the decision of the ELCA: the largest Lutheran denomination in America, to accept practicing homosexual clergy). Once one defines a limited application; a "hard case" of a sin as not sin, then the door opens wide for any and every exploitation of the compromise, by those far less conscientious and scrupulous than the one who foolishly, naively introduced it. Fornication is what it is. Whoever is not married, and is engaging in sexual relations, is sinning, no matter how fancy Luther or theological liberals today can get with their subtle, sophisticated, nuanced, supposedly progressive and enlightened "moral logic."

Perhaps someone who accepts Luther's dubious moral reasoning in this regard can explain to me how it is essentially any different from the run-of-the-mill sanctioning of premarital sex and cohabitation today by many millions of young couples, and (sadly) millions of evangelical and committed Catholic and Orthodox Christians as well. If it ain't fornication simply because it is well-intentioned, and the couples are engaged or otherwise committed, what is it, pray tell?

Is it a sin at all? What is the name of the sin if it isn't fornication? Lust? That could hardly be, since Jesus made it clear that even lust was the equivalent of adultery; hence it could never be sanctioned. So what in the world is it? It's either right or wrong. If it's right, there should be no ambiguity about it whatsoever (and even Luther showed great ambiguity in this instance), and the young tradition-free "liberated" couple of today is free to do as they please. But if it is wrong, then there is no place for these satanic fine, relativist or pragmatic-type ethical distinctions (initially from invariably well-intentioned folks) that have been the ruin not only of individuals but of entire societies and civilizations in the long run.

8 comments:

Martin said...

Very nice post. A priest told me years ago that my pre-marital relations were not serious because I was "in love" with the woman. Even then I thought his remark silly.

Ben M said...

Excellent post Dave!

I hope James Swan is listening (but then, when is he not?) ;)

Now here's something from Fr. Grisar I found interesting (from the chapter on Luther's marriage):

“Indeed, the assumption that Luther had unlawful intercourse with Catherine von Bora before his marriage is founded solely and entirely on certain reports already discussed, viz. his intimacy with the escaped nuns generally.”

Luther, Hartmann Grisar, vol. 2, p. 188.

So intercourse before marriage was indeed considered unlawful in Luther’s day!

And this from noted theologian John Piper (nothing ever changes!):

3. Marriage Is a Dam Against the Flood of Fornication and Adultery.

"This is a clear prohibition of premarital sexual intercourse. There are evangelicals today who argue that the New Testament word for "immorality" (porneia) refers only to promiscuity but not to premarital sexual intercourse for engaged couples. But this is an example of defining a word with very little sensitivity to the moral and theological context in which it is used.

"Paul most definitely had in mind premarital sex between engaged couples when he prohibited immorality in this chapter. Look, for example, at 1 Corinthians 7:36-37. "If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed (the word is literally "virgin"), if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed (i.e., to keep her a virgin), he will do well." Which takes us back to the point of verse 1, "It is well not to touch a woman."

"Now, let's be honest. Is it not clear what Paul teaches about premarital sex for engaged couples? He teaches that singleness is to be preferred (as we saw earlier), but that if sexual desire is strong . . . what? Go ahead and sleep together since you are committed to each other and have enjoyed every other form of intimacy? No! He says, if the desire is that strong, get married. Premarital sexual intercourse for engaged couples is not a Christian option. And I recommend an article by a Christian counselor in this month's Standard for an excellent statement of some of the reasons behind this divine standard of chastity ("The Eroding Effect of Premarital Sex" by P. Roger Hillerstrom)."

Satan Uses Sexual Desire, December 9, 1984

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent again, Ben, and utterly relevant to the discussion. But of course we're a couple of lying, dishonest scumbags, right?

Tim MD said...

Hi Ben,

I agree, James has a rather “extensive network” established to protect the “good name” of St. Marty. In fact, my daughter wrote a paper on Luther, turned it in, and that very night her teacher got a call from James, who of course wanted to “correct the record”. Apparently, taking things out of “context”, using poor (or no) logic, misconstruing, and general stupidity runs in my family. Oh well.

My position is that Luther “taught a lot of stupid things about “X”. In this case “X” is Marriage. Or “X” equals sex and lust.

“In one of his early lectures, Luther goes into considerable detail about the voluntary methods by which “solitary emissions” can be effected...” Erikson, Young Man Luther, pg 160

The Protestant “position” on this would go like this: “God used Martin as His Mouthpiece, so God MUST have wanted Martin to teach a class on masturbation.”

“Blessed and twice blessed are you when you recognize such a gift of grace and therefore serve your invalid wife for God’s sake.

But you may say: I am unable to remain continent. That is a lie.” Luther (Thanks James)

Here we see that it is possible to remain chaste when your wife is an invalid and “YOU LIE YOU DOG YOU”, if you disagree.

Luther admits that he had advised " certain
parish priests, living under the jurisdiction of Duke George
or the bishops," to " marry their cook secretly." Grisar III, pg 262

Sanctioned bigamy, but only for those who were protecting Him. "I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture." (Martin Luther, De Wette II, 459).

An impotent man should “at the very least allow his wife to have sexual intercourse with somebody else” Marius pg 260

Luther, speaking for God (of course) had a TON of seemingly “weird” things to say about marriage and sex. Thankfully, we have James to explain how he really didn’t say what he so clearly said.

Luther, who didn't marry until he was 45, claimed that it was IMPOSSIBLE for men to "resist" women. Erfurt had a public brothel. What does that tell us?

God Bless You Ben, Tim

Paul McCain said...

I had not looked in at this site for a very long time, but there was no surprise when I did recently.

Armstrong is still spouting his nonsense that is an embarassment to any good Roman Catholic with only a modicum of a decent education in Reformation history.

I suppose its only to be expected though that the Roman Catholic Church have its share of amateur "apologists" who bring shame on it much as we have ours as well.

If this wasn't such a tragedy, it would be, truly, laughable.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Pr. McCain,

Thanks for stopping by and God bless you in your ministry.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Hi Dave,

We Lutherans are a church of the Book, and not of the man. There are a number of things Luther said, wrote and did which do not reflect Lutheran doctrine, and I would not feel the need to defend every word Luther uttered, even on religious matters.

However, in this instance I think you've been unfair to Luther in singling out his views on "pre-marital sex" as unique and contributing to the present-day malaise in this area. You've neglected to mention the context in which Luther spoke on these matters. Prior to 1546 (and probably in practice for some time after, too) marriage was much less tightly controlled by canon law than it is now, and was more of a family-customary institution. A couple could contract a valid marriage with only their parent's consent, and also without a priest, who might only later bless the nuptials in church. They could also elope and declare themselves married, and their marriage be recognised civilly. Such common-law marriages were only outlawed in England c. the mid 1700s. Further, betrothal or engagement was also regarded by many as tantamount to marriage, and therefore sexual intercourse was not regarded as sinful in such a state of life. All of this can be researched in books on early Western and medieval marriage. The point is these things were a lot more grey prior to the churches - both the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches, establishing greater control over marriage in partnership with the state. Luther's comments need to be read in light of that context, and not that which pertained after his death, when significant changes were made in both church and civil law, which Luther, with his high respect for the sovereignty of the state in such matters, would doubtless have respected.

The present-day lamentable decline of chastity outside of marriage surely stems from the legacy of the sexual revolution of the 1960s rather than poor Martin Luther, who extolled the virtues of marriage at every opportunity.

A blessed Lent!

Dave Armstrong said...

Pastor Henderson,

Thanks for your cordial reply. I think you make some good and valid points. I don't think it overthrows my entire post and what I was trying to argue there, but it is helpful additional information.

I agree that the sexual revolution is the primary culprit, of course. I think, however, that we can look back in retrospect at certain historical developments that also play a role in terms of more remote and historical causation, among many causes.

A blessed Lent to you as well.