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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments – part 9

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Matthew 19:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

Marriage was not initially instituted in the New Testament, but in the beginning, immediately upon the creation of the human race. Moreover, it has God’s command and also promises, yet not, strictly speaking, pertaining to the New Testament, but rather to the physical life. If anyone should wish to call it a sacrament, it should be distinguished from those preceding sacraments which are characteristic signs of the New Testament, and testimonies of grace and the forgiveness of sins. Yet if marriage gets the title of sacrament because it has God’s command, other states or offices that also have God’s command may be called sacraments—government, for example.

Pulling It Together: God has joined together those who marry. So, we do not quarrel over whether marriage is instituted by God. Still, it is not commanded that all marry but only that there is faithfulness among those who do marry. There is also blessing in marriage, yet grace is not promised to those who wed. By definition, marriage is not a sacrament. A sacrament is a rite that has been commanded by God, and to which he has attached the promise of his grace. 

Prayer: Lord, keep couples faithful to each other and to you. Amen. 

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