Food for thought on adoption and family

‘But Christians, at any rate, are called to recognize as kin, as their own flesh and blood, those with whom they do not share traceable genetic material. A history of relationship, commitment sustained over time, is what forms and sustains the bond of father and mother with their children.’

Gilbert C. Meilaender, Not by Nature but by Grace: Forming Families Through Adoption, p 11

What does it mean to be made “one flesh” in marriage?

“These words [one flesh] are not to be understood to mean that [husband and wife] only physically become one flesh and blood, but they pertain to everything that belongs to outward physical life. The written word flesh means one’s outward life in the flesh. It should transpire that everything belongs to both of them and that they accept everything together and that each one brings to the other body, goods, honor, shame, poverty, illness, and whatever else there is.”

Sermons on Genesis, 1527, [WA XXIV], quoted in Susan C. Karant-Nunn and Merry E. Wiesner, Luther on Women: A Sourcebook, [New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003], 18.)

On marriage and raising children (changing nappies is holy work)

“Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.”

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”

A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works. . .”

Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” (1522)