God’s Champions: Katharine Luther, Wife of the Reformation

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.

Katharine von Bora Luther, wife of the famous theologian and reformer Martin Luther, did not die for her faith. That was not her legacy. Her legacy, at least for me, was that of her marriage, her motherhood, her industriousness, her integrity, her undivided heart.

If you want to find a good description of the kind of woman she appears to have been, check out Proverbs 31:10-31. It has amazed me, in my reading, to see Katy reflected in so much of the famed passage.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

While Katy and Martin’s marriage was not troubled, it also certainly was not idyllic. Martin was a horrifically busy man. He was pressed on all sides with issues of theology and, inevitably, politics. He mentored hundreds of students and spent hours in daily prayer and study. On more than one occasion, the couple exchanged flippant, snappish remarks at the table in front of guests.

And yet, he wrote to a friend, “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.”

She seeks wool and flax
and works with willing hands.

And, oh, the work she did at the Luther household. She kept house, brewed beer, gardened, cooked, cared for the ill, and bore six children (two of whom died).

Martin called her the “Boss of Zulsdorf” (since she oversaw the operation of the family farm which was named so) and “The Morning Star of Wittenberg” (for her habit of rising at 4 a.m. to prepare the household for the day).

She opens her hands to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

Martin and Katy lived in the Black Cloister, a wedding gift from the Elector John Frederick of Saxony. Martin and Katy were next to destitute, but the Cloister was spacious, and they took in many; friends, family, needy, ill, displaced.

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I’m a wife and mother now, too. I may not have a household that often reaches twenty-five (!) to care for, but I understand at least what kind of work Katy faced, and I know that I often buckle under the pressure. When I’m having a day like that (“Another dirty diaper? The kitchen is dirty again?”) I can easily feel belittled and downtrodden, but it strengthens me to know that Katy Luther (and so many women like her) walked this road with her head high and her  heart pure. I thank God she walked before me, so I could look to her.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.


Leave a comment

Filed under God's Champions

Whatcha thinkin'?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s