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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'I do, I do'

We all know the words that begin a marriage. But do we know what matrimony has meant through the ages?

Traditional marriage. Just what does thatreally mean? Other than “family values,” no term sparks more debate in American popular culture and in our churches than “traditionalmarriage.”

Lutherans have no corner on consensus, certainly, but we are continuing to ask the question and grapple with answers that may not be obvious.

Recently there have been numerous informal and formal discussions within the ELCA on this topic, including a conference titled “What Does Marriage Really Mean?” held this spring at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks.

Much of this discussion has been spurred because of the August Churchwide Assembly, at which the recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality will be debated. While it would be helpful if we could find a clear and consistent stance on marriage within Christian practice, it simply doesn’t exist. It has fluctuated there even as it has within secular society, and each has greatly influenced the other.

Luther’s impact

The most significant marriage in the history of Christianity was the 1525 union of Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, said R. Guy Erwin, professor of Lutheran confessional theology at CLU, who spoke at the conference.

“Martin Luther had a larger impact on the modern Western understanding of marriage than any other person in the last 500 years,” Erwin said.


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April issue

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Faith traditions

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