15 May 2009

Martin Luther On Polygamy

Somehow, the really interesting bits of the history of the religous denomination I grew up in were left out of my religious education.

Periodically, Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone (sola scriptura) have at least temporarily accepted polygamy as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ),[24] Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication,"[25] a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret however, to avoid public scandal.[26] Some fifteen years earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.")[27]

24 Letter to Philip of Hesse, December 10, 1539, De Wette-Seidemann, 6:238–244
25 The Life of Luther Written by Himself, p.251 [1]
26 James Bowling Mozley Essays, Historical and Theological. 1:403–404 Excerpts from Der Beichtrat.[2]
27 Letter to the Chancellor Gregor Brück,[3] January 13, 1524, De Wette 2:459.

From Wikipedia.


Dave Barnes said...


How is your first wife reacting to your thoughts about a second wife?


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

As a mere ex-Lutheran, I'm no longer eligible, I guess. She's not worried.

I ended up where I did, looking at the families of historical non-European monarchs. The Denver Post also had a brief story on Saturday, about quasi-polyandry as a way to conserve costs in the economic crisis.