Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 12, “Marriage and the Ministry in Protestant Churches”pp. 381-396.
Martin Luther desired reform in ministry, government, and marriage. Ozment comments, “No institutional change brought about by the Reformation was more visible, responsive to late medieval pleas for reform, and conducive to new social attitudes than the marriage of Protestant clergy. Nor was there another point in the Protestant program where theology and practice corresponded more successfully” (Ozment 1980, 381). Within the company of the Reformers the ideal of monastic celibacy was replaced by the ideal of life within the family. In 1521 Karlstadt wrote a text about the desirability of marriage. “To Karlstadt’s mind, papal and episcopal desire to increase the wealth of the church and control the clergy lay at the root of celibacy” (Ozment 1980, 383). Rather, Karlstadt advocated marriage and bearing children, possibly being celibate in old age. By late 1521 and 1522 Luther was also writing about marriage, arguing that Jesus discouraged celibacy and that people were free to marry. Monastic vows, he argued, hindered the freedom of the Christian to live for Christ (Ozment 1980, 386). In Zurich the practice of priests having secret marriages was well known. The marriages were made legal there (Ozment 1980, 388). Marriage quickly spread through the Anglican and Calvinist worlds as well. It was accepted as the way God ordained to insure continence and avoid fornication. Not only that, but Ozment quotes Luther on p. 392 describing the commitment involved in living in community. Despite the wide acceptance of married clergy, many priests found their parishes did not support them adequately for wife and children. This began turning around by the 1540s (Ozment 1980, 393). Lay acceptance of married clergy was slow to grow (Ozment 1980, 395). Yet the marriages and children of those marriages were gradually accepted.