Luther on Celibacy, Women and Shirts


The Catholic Church was a thousand years old before it took a real stand in favour of celibacy in the twelfth century at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139, when a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry. But it wasn’t until the Council of Trent in 1563, when it definitively adopted the tradition of celibacy.

Protestants took exception to celibacy early on, arguing that it promoted masturbation, homosexuality and illicit fornication. Martin Luther singled out masturbation as one of the gravest offences likely to be committed by those who were celibate.”Nature never lets up,” Luther warned, “we are all driven to the secret sin. To say it crudely but honestly, if it doesn’t go into a woman, it goes into your shirt.”

“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.” ― Lily Tomlin

American Protestants in the 17th century, fearful of radical religious sects like the Shakers that celebrated celibacy, came out foursquare against the practice.

– Courtesy of historynewsnetwork.org

Antisemitism of Martin Luther


‘They are our public enemies. They do not stop blaspheming our Lord Christ, calling the Virgin Mary a whore, Christ, a bastard, and us changelings or abortions. If they could kill us all, they would gladly do it. They do it often, especially those who pose as physicians—though sometimes they help—for the devil helps to finish it in the end. They can also practice medicine as in French Switzerland. They administer poison to someone from which he could die in an hour, a month, a year, ten or twenty years. They are able to practice this art.’

– Walch. J.G. (1883) Dr. Martin Luthers Sämmtliche Schriften [The Collected Works of Martin Luther] St. Louis, United States: Concordia, Volume 12, p. 1264-1267

‘[Luther’s] opposition to the Jews, which ultimately was regarded as irreconcilable, was in its nucleus of a religious and theological nature that had to do with belief in Christ and justification, and it was associated with the understanding of the people of God and the interpretation of the Old Testament. Economic and social motives played only a subordinate role. Luther’s animosity toward the Jews cannot be interpreted either in a psychological way as a pathological hatred or in a political way as an extension of the anti-Judaism of the territorial princes. But he certainly demanded that measures provided in the laws against heretics be employed to expel the Jews—similarly to their use against the Anabaptists—because, in view of the Jewish polemics against Christ, he saw no possibilities for religious coexistence. In advising the use of force, he advocated means that were essentially incompatible with his faith in Christ. In addition, his criticism of the rabbinic interpretation of the Scriptures in part violated his own exegetical principles. Therefore, his attitude toward the Jews can appropriately be criticized both for his methods and also from the center of his theology.’

– Brecht. M. (1993) Martin Luther – The Preservation of the Church 1532-1546 Minneapolis, United States: Fortress Press, Volume 3, p. 350-351

Poenitentiam Agite


A Latin term that is perhaps best-known for being used in the first of the Ninety-Five Theses of Martin Luther. It is often translated into English as ‘repent’ or ‘do penance’.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

Luther was not the first person to use this term; according to the 4th century Vulgate translation of the Bible by St. Jerome, the term was used by John the Baptist and repeated by Jesus of Nazareth: “Repent: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

See other: Hall of Fame Posts