Today at work, we started reading “The Cost of Discipleship” written by Bonhoeffer. I was so excited when I found out we were going to read it because he is one of my favorite Christian celebrities if I may call him such. He was a single man that never married. He was imprisoned by Hitler after conspiring in a plot to kill the evil ruler. His life ended in April of 1943 at a the young age of 39.
Although he never married, he did leave behind a fiance. His deep spiritual insight and commitment to God allowed him to write such profound statements on marriage as the ones you will read below. And as mentioned by many, most of these writings were done while he was captive in prison awaiting his promotion to heaven. I pray you are blessed and moved by one mans insight on the sanctity, the structure and the reason for marriage as he bases it on Gods Holy Word (Logos). Mariana
Marriage is more than your love for each other
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27.
Marriage is for God’s glory
“‘Welcome one another . . . for the glory of God.’ That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be ‘for the praise of his glory.’” Letters and Papers from Prison, 32.
Marriage is from above
“As you gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27–28
The effects of the fall on marriage
“Over the destiny of woman and of man lies the dark shadow of a word of God’s wrath, a burden from God, which they must carry. The woman must bear her children in pain, and in providing for his family the man must reap many thorns and thistles, and labor in the sweat of his brow. This burden should cause both man and wife to call on God, and should remind them of their eternal destiny in his kingdom. Earthly society is only the beginning of the heavenly society, the earthly home an image of the heavenly home, the earthly family a symbol of the fatherhood of God.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31
Forgiveness in marriage
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31
“God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. ‘Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Rom. 15:7). . . . Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31–32
Husband as head
“Now when the husband is called ‘the head of the wife,’ and it goes on to say ‘as Christ is the head of the church’ (Eph. 5:23), something of the divine splendor is reflected in our earthly relationships, and this reflection we should recognize and honor. The dignity that is here ascribed to the man lies, not in any capacities or qualities of his work but in the office conferred on him by his marriage. The wife should see her husband clothed in this dignity. But for him it is supreme responsibility.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 30
The rule of marriage: love and submission
“God establishes a rule of life by which you can live together in wedlock: ‘Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives’ (Col. 3:18, 19). With your marriage you are founding a home. That needs a rule of life, and this rule of life is so important that God establishes it himself, because without it everything would be out of joint. You may order your home as you like, except in one thing: the wife is to be subject to her husband and the husband is to love his wife.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28
Marriage is part of God’s greater plan
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27
Joining together in marriage is God’s act
God makes your marriage indissoluble. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matt 19:6). God joins you together in marriage; it is his act, not yours.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28
God sustains marriage
“God makes your marriage indissoluble, and protects it from every danger that may threaten it from within and without; he will be the guarantor of its indissolubility. It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together; indeed, anyone who knows that may say confidently: What God has joined together, can no man put asunder. Free from all the anxiety that is always a characteristic of love, you can now say to each other with complete and confident assurance: We can never lose each other now; by the will of God we belong to each other till death.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York:Macmillan, 1967)