Luther and Reformatory Ideas: Family and Upbringing

Monasteries were abolished after the Reformation. Withdrawing from the world no longer made anyone more devout or pious. Instead, the family and everyday life became the arenas where the individual was to live in accordance with the will of God.

The family became the ideal for community. The master of the house was responsible for the members of the household, i.e. both blood relatives and servants. He also had the role of household pastor. He was responsible for children and servants being raised in the true faith and learning to fulfil their purpose in life. Everyone was to know their vocation and station in life.

In his reading of the fourth commandment – ‘Honour your father and mother’ – Luther showed how family life should be. Children and subordinates should understand their place in life as given by God. It was important that children and servants in particular understood that there was a difference between those who were to obey and those with authority and responsibility. This difference was to be respected – even if it seemed unreasonable at times – because according to Luther the alternative was chaos. Luther believed that with mutual respect and a hierarchy life could unfold for the benefit of high and low alike.