Luther: The 40-Year-Old Virgin?

Martin Luther never thought he’d get married. He lived in a big bachelor pad, a former monastery, with a cool name—the Black Cloister. Luther didn’t do much to attract himself to the ladies. He wrote, “Before I was married the bed was not made for a whole year and became foul with sweat.” Luther also had some serious digestive issues. He bragged, “If I break wind in Wittenberg they smell it in Rome.” He even thought his flatulence was a tool of spiritual warfare that could ward off the devil from his attacks!
Now before you think that Luther himself was an example of frat-boy “delayed adolescence,” just remember that God used him to change the church forever, start the Reformation, and each week his writing equaled about the length of one New Testament. He can be excused for having a stinky bed!

Heroic Reformer—and Still Human
Luther was a heroic reformer—a larger-than-life figure from church history. But he was also human. He wrote to his buddy Spalatin that he wasn’t immune to sexual desires, and in a sermon on Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah at age forty, he remarked—presumably from firsthand knowledge—that “to bear and to overcome [sexual desires] until the age of forty is truly a grievous and great burden.”
Luther may have been the original 40-year-old virgin.

A Bachelor Preaching About Marriage
So why didn’t he want to get married? He certainly urged others to do so. But when Luther got up each morning, he literally didn’t know if it would be his last day on earth. Pursuing a wife would likely mean creating a widow.
Even though he was a bachelor, Luther wrote and preached a lot about marriage. He accused the monasteries of being worse than brothels because of the sin he saw in forcing people to take vows of singleness and celibacy in a legalistic way.
The nuns inside the convents started secretly reading Luther on the importance of marriage. He was urging family and friends to help break them out—an act that could be punishable by death.

An Escape Plan

The nuns at Marienthron wrote a secret letter to Luther, asking for his help. They gave it to Leonhard Koppe, a 59-year-old merchant who delivered barrels of fish to the convent each night. When Luther got the letter, he came up with a plan.
In the early morning hours of Easter 1523, Koppe’s team of horses pulled a covered wagon filled with fish barrels through the gate of the convent and he made his delivery. But as his covered wagon pulled away from the convent, no one knew that the apparently empty fish barrels were carrying twelve runaway nuns!
One of them would become Luther’s wife.

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