On this Reformation Day, celebrating Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, I found this word on marriage and parenting from the great Reformer. Please notice two things in these two paragraphs: the arguments from ‘natural reason’ that Luther is addressing on suffering and pleasure are exactly the ones we hear today; and, he is writing about (and to) fathers!
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.”
What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “0 God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”
Some of us are called to deal with soiled diapers for a few years – and some for a lifetime. Some are called to care for a child for 18 years – and some for a lifetime. Martin Luther was right in this respect: we men are not worthy. Nor are we smart enough or strong enough or righteous enough to be given this responsibility.
Except for God who gives us strength!
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
O, what a happy reality of life in Jesus! Happy Reformation Day!