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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 38

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1 Corinthians 7:35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We could provide examples of godly consciences that were distressed over the legitimacy of marriage. This evil sprang from the superstitious opinions of monks praising celibacy. Nevertheless, we do not find fault with temperance or continence, having stated above that discipline and mortification of the body are necessary. Yet we deny that confidence should be placed in certain observances, as if they made one righteous. Epiphanius has elegantly said that these observances should be commended “for restraining the body or for public morals,” just as certain rites were introduced for instructing the ignorant, but not as services that justify.

Pulling It Together: Marriage should never be considered an obstacle to salvation, nor as a life filled with sin. Quite the opposite is true. The Apostle Paul praises the married life for its unique ability to keep one from sin (1 Cor 7:1-7). Because of the overwhelming temptation for most people to sin sexually, Paul encourages marriage. He also recommends self-control, even for those who are married. Self-discipline in the face of this strong temptation is good for the soul and a general advantage to the public. Consider the benefit to our society if people would control themselves. There is no better way to do so than through a godly marriage. Nonetheless, even such self-control does not save. Faith in Christ is what saves, and this faith is the gracious gift of God, not something that we perform or earn. This was the continuing focus of the Reformers; how could they have possibly supported celibacy as a means of justification?

Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus, to control myself. Amen.

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