When we Latter-day Saints speak of indebtedness to reformers such as Martin Luther, we often forget what may be his greatest contribution: a Reformation of Marriage. Of true marriage, there are many times and tides, and all manner of Christian homes. Yet there's still something subtly but inescapably touching--a touch of sanctity--hovering about that Bible-translating university professor, once hid up, outlaw, in a castle, and that coy woman who came to freedom by hiding in a barrel. They fixed the pattern for all generations that followed.
A half-millennium of Protestant Marriage in Christendom traces back to the novel vows exchanged by monk and nun. Luther would wake startled to see a pair of pigtails lying on the pillow. Katie would arise betimes "the Morning Star of Wittenberg." And we muse upon their rapport, their parenting, and their unspoiled manner of happiness, and wish it for ourselves. (The book to read is Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.)
Tyndale's Testament, lit at the hearth of Luther's Bible, gives us words to invoke, as though long dormant, the Word of Life. Luther's stance at Worms teaches us how all tyranny must fall--one man alone against Court and Tradition. Even Luther's errors point us to other souls fired with yet brighter light and truth. But it is the marriage of Free Christian man and Free Christian woman that most reformed, that most graced, all Christendom. That revolutionary but never-changing pattern, the very essence of what the Reformation played out in the hearts and minds of everyday believers, we, as Latter-day Saints, both gratefully acknowledge and evermore hold up to all the world. Hier stehen Wir und kann nicht anders.