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To Spite the Devil: Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora’s Wedding as Reform and Resistance

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA, 94704, USA
Religions 2020, 11(3), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030116
Received: 4 January 2020 / Revised: 16 February 2020 / Accepted: 21 February 2020 / Published: 9 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Luther’s theology and Feminism)
The basis of Martin Luther’s decision to marry Katharina von Bora on 13 June 1525, stemmed from his public, theological position that unless one were a particular exception, all men and women should marry. However, Luther’s decision to marry when he did was controversial because the Peasants’ Revolt raged, and it was surprising because up until November of 1524 Luther had stated that he was in his mind averse to marriage (for himself). Yet in May of 1525 Luther stated that he intended to take “his Katie” to wife, and in June, he did so. Why did Luther change his mind, and marry precisely when he did? I argue that the timing of his decision was influenced by Luther’s apocalyptic sensibility that he was living in the last days, the immediate political context of the Peasants’ Revolt, and the death of Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony, Luther’s patron and protector. The reason for his choice of Katharina von Bora as his wife included the need to secure for her financial support, but no less, her exercise of her own agency in choosing him as a husband. Can we say that Luther also personally warmed to the idea of marriage, drawn to the companionship of bed and table that it provided? There is certainly support for answering “yes.” Luther’s decision to marry was a theological, confessional, and political act, and yet these do not preclude the very human, personal, and relational factors in his decision. View Full-Text
Keywords: Martin Luther; Katharina von Bora; Reformation; reform; Wittenberg; marriage; wedding; Spalatin; Frederick; Peasant’s Revolt; letters Martin Luther; Katharina von Bora; Reformation; reform; Wittenberg; marriage; wedding; Spalatin; Frederick; Peasant’s Revolt; letters
MDPI and ACS Style

Bowers, D.V. To Spite the Devil: Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora’s Wedding as Reform and Resistance. Religions 2020, 11, 116.

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