Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action)

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Get Your Hands Dirty

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Refer to eBay Return policy for more details. You are covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee if you receive an item that is not as described in the listing. Today is the seventieth anniversary of the execution of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From the very beginning, Bonhoeffer was a staunch critic of Hitler and the Nazis. The Leader was the expression of the individual will par excellence , and in his person vicariously represented the fulfillment of the masses. In this way, the mass individualism manifested itself in a kind of collectivism, with the Leader acting as lord over the masses.

As he continued to oppose the Nazis and their policies of centralization, Bonhoeffer was one of the leading voices in the Confessing Church movement. The Confessing movement opposed the Nazification of the church through reorganization and imposition of various policies, including racial requirements for officeholders that would bar Jews from the pastorate. In this context, Bonhoeffer worked to defend both the freedom of the church and the dignity of all people.

With his friend Franz Hildebrandt, whose Jewish ancestry would have closed the pastorate to him under these new laws, Bonhoeffer opposed the German Christian party in church elections. Ahead of the pivotal church elections of , Hildebrandt drafted a pamphlet that juxtaposed slogans of the German Christians with texts of Scripture.

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Bonhoeffer echoed these sentiments in his arguments against the imposition of Aryan requirements on the church. But such situations are rare, and these exceptional circumstances tend to reinforce rather than undermine the validity of such orders. One of these laws of the created order that Bonhoeffer recognized and affirmed was the institution of marriage.

The changes in the social order and the upheaval of war and industrialization had placed marriage and family in a precarious position. Marriage, like the church and the realm of productive labor, places limits on and sets the framework for responsible political action. As Bonhoeffer put it:.

Marriage and work exist from the beginning under an appointed divine mandate that must be performed in faithful obedience to God. For this reason marriage and work have their own origin in God that is not established by government but is to be acknowledged by it. Only an idolatrous view of political authority would imbue such earthly powers with the right of defining and redefining a God-given institution like marriage.

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For the sake of Jesus Christ a special right preserves marriage and with it the family and preserves work and with it economic life, culture, science, and art. Marriage is contracted not by government but before government. This conception of marriage was not some abstract or otherworldly ideal.