Founder of the German State Religion
ON CHILD TRAINING 1
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Luther—”From the Fourth Commandment, it is obvious that God attaches great importance to obedience to parents. And where it is not found, there can be neither good morals nor good government. For where obedience is lacking in the family, no city or principality or kingdom can be well governed.
Family government is the basis of all other government; and where the root is bad, the trunk and fruit can not be good…
Luther—”When, therefore, the families are badly controlled, how can the province be well governed? Where the father and mother rule badly, and let the children have their own way, there neither city, town, village, district, principality, kingdom, nor empire can be well and peacefully governed.” (Pages 114-115, Luther on Education, F. V. N. Painter (Philadelphia, Lutheran Publication Society, 1889)
False Love: Luther and Proverbs 13:24
Luther—”A false love blinds parents so that they regard the body of their child more than his soul. Hence the wise man says, ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes’ (Pro 13:24)… Hence it is highly necessary that all parents regard the soul of their child more than his body, and look upon him as a precious, eternal treasure, which God entrusted to them for preservation, so that the world, the flesh, and the devil do not destroy him. For at death and in the judgment they will have to render a strict account of their stewardship.” (Luther on Education, p. 124.)
Parents: Next to God Himself
Luther—”The parental estate God has especially honored above all estates that are beneath Him, so that He not only commands us to love our parents, but also to honor them.
With respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general, He commands nothing higher than that we love them; so that He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, and places them next to Himself.
Luther—”For to honor is far higher than love, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as though to a majesty there hidden…” (From Luther’s Large Catechism, quoted in Luther on Education, p. 115-116.)
Luther—”Married people should know that they can perform no better and no more useful work for God, Christianity, the world, themselves, and their children, than by bringing up their children well…It is the peculiar work of parents, and when they do not attend to it, there is a perversion of nature, as when fire does not burn or water moisten.”
On the other hand, hell can not be more easily deserved, and no more hurtful work can be done, than by neglecting children, letting them swear, learn shameful words and songs, and do as they please.
(From Luther on Education, p. 117-118.)
Luther—”“Those parents that knowingly neglect their children and let them grow up without proper instruction, bring about their ruin; and though they do not set a bad example, yet they spoil their children by undue indulgence… Such people as thus fondle and indulge their children must bear the sins of their children as if committed by themselves. There are others who ruin their children by setting them a bad example in word and deed…For when a child is accustomed to hear shameful words and oaths from its parents, what else can it learn but shameful words and oaths?”
Luther on Education, p. 125.
Luther and the Three Hierarchies
Painter—“Luther had a clear conception of the constitution of society. He recognized the existence of the family, the State, and the Church, which he calls “three hierarchies established of God;” and the functions pertaining to these separate spheres, taken together, constitute the sum of human duty. The basis of both the State and the Church is found in the family, in which the young are to be trained for civil life and the Kingdom of God.”
Luther on Education, p. 114.
See also, “Martin Luther, Reformer: On Child Training 2.”