And Your Daughters: Luther’s Defender

Here’s an inspiring story of one of Martin Luther’s best co-laborers in the Gospel…

One of Luther’s most outspoken defenders is Argula von Stauffer (1492 – 1563). But in the eyes of Catholic opposition, she is an “insolent daughter of Eve.” Born into landed nobility in Bavaria, she marries a nobleman with whom she bears a daughter and three sons. For more than four decades she risks her life and the wellbeing of her family for the cause of the Reformation. She refuses to be silenced, and in a letter to Catholic authorities, she demands, “What have Luther and Melanchthon taught save the Word of God?” She taunts them for condemning him but not refuting him. In 1523, as a young mother, she boldly defends her views in a debate before the Diet of Nurnberg. The German princes, however, pay her little heed. “I am distressed,” she laments, “that our princes take the Word of God no more seriously than a cow does a game of chess.”

Persecuted not only by state officials but also by her husband, whose political career and very livelihood are in jeopardy because of her activities, she is aware of the risk: “I understand that my husband will be deposed from his office. I can’t help it. God will feed my children as he feeds the birds and will clothe them as the lilies of the field.” Martin Luther, writing to a friend, clearly recognizes her sacrifice, calling her “a singular instrument of Christ.”

Her heroes are Old Testament women like Deborah and Esther, but she does not dismiss apparent New Testament constraints: “I am not unacquainted with the word of Paul that women should be silent in church,” she concedes, “but, when no man will or can speak, I am driven by the word of the Lord when he said, ‘He who confesses me on earth, him will I confess and he who denies me, him will I deny.’ ” She breaks civil law by repeatedly conducting religious meetings in her home and officiating at clandestine funerals. She faithfully carries on Luther’s reform, outliving him by nearly two decades. The “old Staufferin,” as the Duke cynically describes her, is twice imprisoned, the last time shortly before her death at age seventy.

(From Ruth Tucker’s Parade of Faith)

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to And Your Daughters: Luther’s Defender

  1. Marcia says:

    Oh that I should be so brave! What a wonderfully strong and devoted woman that calls us to stand for our Lord and Savior when so many stand for status quo, business sense and survival!
    I give thanks to Our God who places these beautiful women in history reminding us in the present to stand firm and faithful in Him, and Him alone! Thanks be to God for those who DARE to be faithful and speak out in the midst of complacency.

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