Did Martin Luther break his vow of Celibacy?

Before the Reformation, Luther was a Catholic monk. He had taken a vow of celibacy. After the Reformation he got married. Did he break his vow. Was there an ulterior motive here?

Unless Luther, in one of his writings or in a speech recorded on paper, claimed that one of his reasons to ‘break’ from the Roman Catholic Church was to ‘break’ his vow of celibacy, we’d only be speculating.

True but I was really wondering what a Protestant thought of this. Weather you believe in celibacy of priests or not, Martin Luther did make a vow to God, which he did break.

I think Martin Luther could be seen as having broken several vows … but don’t we all in larger and/or smaller ways? More or less spectacular, but I know I have my good and bad days …

Vow of obedience … to the faith, the church, his superiors, etc …

Vow of celebacy …

Alas, these are ost probably a result of sin, lack of humility, act of pride … All of the same sins we all fall prey to and seek reconcilliation for …

I pray that Martin Luther was reconciled to our Lord upon his death :slight_smile:

Just as I hope I will be … :shrug: Like St. Paul I am still working out my salvation with fear and trembling … I can only pray for Luther and not worry too much about the specifics of his immortal soul … I have to stay focused on my own :o

I would imagine he spent a fair amount of time in Purgatory, however I think he was in general a God-fearing man.

I hope he is not still there when I arrive :rolleyes: or I may be there a really … really long time myself :o

Thank God we have a forgiving Lord :thumbsup: and a Church that helps keep us on track, reminding us of our Christian calling …

Yes I agree.

Did Fr. Luther break his vows?

If you are sola scriptura kind of Christian, yes. Num. 30:2; Dt. 23:21-23; Eccl. 5:4-6; cf. Acts 5:1-12 to cite a few passages. There is nowhere in the OT where a person is given the right to withdraw or annul his vow, once given. Take a look at happened to Jephthah at Judges 11:29-40 to see how important vows were treated in the OT. This theme is carried through to even mere promises as we see in Acts where Peter cursed Annas and Saphira for not keeping their promise. We see Jesus playing the part of Pharisee and doing some Torah fencing at Mt. 5:33-37 by telling the people not only should they not make vows they are not going to keep, but they should not swear at all because Satan would tempt the vower to break the vow or not fully keep it. See also, Mt. 23:16-22; Jas. 5:12.

The only place where recourse to annulment of vows is even indicated anywhere in the Bible is at Mt. 15:1-9 and Mk. 7:1-13. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees from a particular school (the text doesn’t say which school, Bet Hillel or Bet Shammai or another one) for not allowing a person to withdraw their vow when the keeping of such would harm his parents. There, Jesus overrode the plain law set forth in Scripture in favor of a higher law of love.

Noone forced Fr. Luther to take a vow of celibacy and become a monk. This was his choice. And while there are tales about how he did this after life-threatening experience, he could have left the monastery and the Augustinian Order at any time up to his final vows. Once he made his final vow, he had an obligation to keep it.

It is interesting that one of the first things that Luther and the reformers did was to pass laws abnegating the vows of the religious to cause thousands of monks and nuns to break their vows. Luther, himself, married a former nun, Catherine Bora.

—um - deleting everything I could possibly say, lest I be horribly uncharitable. :rolleyes:


LOL. I think Luther (Cosmic Creaminess and Joy and Pancakes Be Upon His Head) has more to worry about than that.

Luther had no intention of marrying at the time of the 95 theses, and afterwards. It was 5 years after his excommunication, itself 3 years after that, that he married, to the suprise of his closest associates, though many looked at it as the seal on approval of clerical marriage.

As Luther rejected vows as “works,” it is pretty much a dead letter for him. On Rome’s side they have more substantial problems with him.

God doesn’t make us keep vows to do evil, we can repent of them. Sadly, in Luther’s mind, his vow was like that.

For what it’s worth, Luther was released from his Augustinian vows by Johann von Staupitz.

Angainor, That is interesting information. While Staupitz may have had the authority to release Luther from his monastic vows, was Martin Luther ever released from his vow as a priest as well?

This question is one that has lead many Catholics to claim that Luther only left because he wanted to marry at best, have lots of sex at worse. The timeline does not support this thought.

Even if you set aside the reasons for the vows, he freely made the vows to God. Just because he left the Church would not make the vows invalid.

I don’t actually know. I wasn’t sure if priestly vows were different than Augustinian vows. I understand there might also be a question if Staupitz even had authority to release Luther from his vows so the release might be considered invalid in some circles even though Staupitz remained in good standing with Rome.

I just thought I’d throw that out there. It doesn’t really matter to me. For all I know it is an instance of Luther sinning boldly by ignoring his vows.Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:1–5

As far as I know, Staupitz’ release was considered valid, as the head of the order may release as he sees fit.

Of course, Luther’s priestly vows would’ve been null and void at his excommunication in 1521. I could be wrong about that, but it would seem that priestly vows are no longer binding if Rome no longer thinks you’re a priest.

Depends on what you mean by priestly vows. He would have had no faculties to say mass or perform any sacraments, with the possible exception of last rights in an emergency (we would neeed to check that). He would have still been held to the vow of obedience and celebacy, as those do not require him to be a preist to perform. The vow of poverty is gone when he left the Augustinians.

But since he was no longer a priest, would he still have been held to celibacy laws?

Anyone can take a vow of celibacy. When you think about it, everyone is under a order of chastity: only sex with their properly married spouse. When you marry, the “forsaking all others” is a part of a vow of Chastity, a special version of Chastity that allows for one and only one sexual partner. The vow of celibacy adds to it a promise to God never to marry. Now, as far as I know, and I am not an expert on the exact words used, this vow is not tied specifically to the priesthood (i.e. so long as I am a priest). Therefore, he would have been held to that vow.

In the Catholic faith, a deacon can be married before he becomes a deacon. However, should his wife die, he can not remarry. His vow of Castity becomes one of celibacy.

It is my understanding that in the EO and other Churches that allow married priests, that same rule applies.

Generally, when a Catholic priest leaves the preisthood, they feel that they are released from all vows. In reality, and in Church Theology, all that leaving the preisthood does is have you leave your vocation. Any oaths made to God are still in effect. Priests are told that before they go.

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