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Summary: If you want a marriage to be endearing and enduring, friendship has to be the core basis of it.

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Introduction: I sent you out last weekend with the assignment to ask significant relationships in your life, “What can I do to serve you?” I’ve heard some great stories… One guy told me he asked his boss and got assigned overtime and was not too happy about it. The best one…

Dear Pastor Ryan, After hearing JD's message yesterday, I went home and prepared to sheer my two Babydoll Sheep. My wife saw what I was doing and asked "How may I serve you?". Not to deter her from a deeper walk in faith, I asked if she would help me sheer the sheep.

She began sheering the under side of my male sheep. To all of our horror she nearly sheered off his sheep--‐hood with one pass of the sheers. I guess proper instruction was not given prior to allowing her to serve me and the sheep is VERY disappointed in the results. And obviously she was unaware of the placement of the sheep's anatomy.

Two hours and $336.00 later an emergency vet arrived and sewed back on the sheep's body part. We are hoping he will live. We were instructed during the service to continue serving each other for a week. One afternoon of applying J.D.’s sermon cost us $336.00. Is there a total that we are aiming for? Marty

But the vast majority were positive…

We are on week 3 of our series on relationships, First Love. Each week we are looking at the classic biblical passage on relationships, Ephesians 5:21–32. (turn there if you will)

I want to start off today by telling you about one of the most important marriages in history, though probably one you’ve never heard of. It is the marriage Martin Luther to Katherine von Bora. (Mark Driscoll talks about it in his book Real Marriage.)

Martin Luther and Katie von Bora

(The context): Luther, as you know, is famous for starting the Reformation. The core of the Reformation was that the Bible, not the teaching of the church, should be our authority for life.

o Well, one of the areas he took issue with was the teaching that all clergy be celibate. He said, “That’s nowhere in the Bible,” and he was, of course, correct. He wrote a book called On Monastic Vows in which he proved that forced celibacy on priests was an invention of man. And he ended the book by encouraging monks and nuns to throw off their vows and get married for the glory of God.

(The heist): Well, a group of nuns read his book, found his reasoning compelling, and threw off their values. But the Roman Catholic Church would not let them leave the convent. So Luther helped arrange this big heist—12 women were smuggled out of a convent in 12 empty fish barrels. Luther was like the original George Clooney. “Luther’s 12.”

The wedding: They found husbands for all of them but 1, Katharine von Bora, turned out pretty tough to get a husband for.

o She was brash, proud, and fairly unattractive. Eventually she came up to Luther and said (essentially), “You got me into this mess. You owe me a husband. If you don’t find me one, then you’ll have to marry me.”

o Luther, who was 40 years old and a virgin (the original 40--‐year--‐old virgin) and quite content in his singleness, didn’t want to marry her. But she wore him down and they finally got married. This is all true

o When asked why he married her, Luther responded, “To spite the devil.” (Which has to be the least romantic reason for a wedding in the history of mankind.)

So, the marriage did not exactly start off like a fairy tale, but they ended up having on the most incredible marriages in history.

o We know most about their marriage through their letters. They are awesome. Truly hilarious. She was really smart, pretty fiery, and quick--‐witted. But they were passionately in love.

¡± His favorite title for her was, “Lord Katie,” but other pet names included “Dear Rib, my Empress, my true love, my Sweetheart, dear gift of God.”

In Luther’s earliest writings on marriage, he treated marriage as something primarily functional—something God designed to propagate the human race and something we should enter into to stave off sexual temptation.

o But toward the end his life he would call Katie von Bora “the greatest (earthly) gift of grace a man could have.”1

(1 Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage, 23. Quoting from Lazareth, Luther on the Christian Home, 32.)

o She was more than his lover; she was his confidant, his companion, his best friend. Friendship is one of the most forgotten elements of marriage. Many of you probably realize your spouse is supposed to be your friend, but you really see attraction and passion and romance as the core of marriage.

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