Home

Directory Index

 

  Martin Luther

 

To Several Nuns

by Martin Luther

From Wittenberg

6 August 1524

Translated from

Briefe aus dem Jahre 1524 No. 733 -756

(Letters of the Year 1524 Nos. 733 - 756)

Weimarer Ausgabe

translated by

Erika Bullmann Flores

To the free nuns, my dear sisters in Christ, written with a

friendly disposition:

Mercy and peace in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior!

Dear sisters, I have received both of your letters and am aware

of your concerns. I would have answered you sooner if there had

been messengers available, and I also have been very busy.

You are correct that there are two reasons for which life at the

convent and vows may be forsaken: The one is where men's laws

and life within the order are being forced, where there is no

free choice, where it is put upon the conscience as a burden.

In such cases it is time to run away, leaving the convent and

all it entails behind. If this is your situation, where you are

not freely choosing the cloister, where your conscience is being

forced, then call your friends. Let them help you escape and,

if the law allows, take care of you or provide for you. If

friends and parents are unwilling to help, obtain help from

other goodly people, regardless of whether your parents become

angry, die or recover. For the soul's well-being and God's will

are above all, as Christ says (Matth. 10:37): "Anyone who loves

father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me."

However, if the sisters do allow you to leave, or at least let

you freely read and hear the Word of God, then you must remain

within and join them in their works, such as spinning cooking

and the such, even though you have no confidence in it.

The second reason is the flesh: Though womenfolk are ashamed to

admit to this, nevertheless Scripture and experience show that

among many thousands there is not a one to whom God has given to

remain in pure chastity. A woman has no control over herself.

God has made her body to be with man, to bear children and to

raise them as the words of Genesis 1:1 clearly state, as is

evident by the members of the body ordered by God Himself.

Therefore food and drink, sleep and wakefulness have all been

created by God. Thus He has also ordered man and woman to be in

marital union. Suffice it to say that no one needs to be ashamed

over how God has made and created him, not having been given the

high, rare mercy to do otherwise. All this you will amply learn

and read and hear proper sermons about when you come out. I have

abundantly dealt with these issues in the book about monastic

vows, item) avoiding men's teachings, item) sermons about

married life, item) in the Postil proven and established as

true. If you read these, you will find enough instruction about

various things, be it confession or whatever.

It is too much to write about here and not al all necessary,

because I am convinced that you will leave the cloister, if one

or both of these reasons pertain to you as you have written.

Once there is freedom in choosing to join an order, anyone who

is so inclined can join. Just so the Counsel of Bern in

Switzerland has opened the most famous Cloister Kînigfelden, and

any maiden can freely leave, remain or move in, and they allow

her to take with her whatever she has brought in. May the Lord

bless you, and pray for me.

Written in Wittenberg,

the day of Sixti Martyris

(Aug. 6) 1524.

Martinus Luther