It used to be that when you asked someone what was important in his life, he would say something like, “God, family, country; in that order.” I am not entirely certain many would still say this today; nonetheless, it is possible to see those priorities in an older formulation known as the three estates.
Martin Luther, for example, viewed the world through the lens of three estates: the church, the family and the state. In the church, God makes Christians through water and the Word. In this estate, God governs and directs His people through the proclamation of the Word. Second, He gave the family as the fundamental unit of human existence. Husbands and wives live together in unity and, with God’s blessing, are given the fruit of a one-flesh union, namely children. They rear their children in His stead and a His representatives. Third, God gives the state or government to protect and govern. It also operates by and with His authority.
The three estates frame our lives together. We live out our new lives in Christ in these three estates. We gather in church to receive new life, and then we live out this new life in the vocations God has given us, vocations within the estates of family and the state.
The death and resurrection of Jesus undergirds our lives in these three estates. We live new lives because we receive them in Christ. This issue of The Lutheran Witness seeks to answer this question: “How does the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ affect and change our lives in the three estates?”
We cannot fully address every aspect of our lives in the three estates, so we asked our writers this month to pick one particular topic to discuss. Molly Lackey shares how the death and resurrection of Jesus informs the married life of a man and woman. Sean Daenzer offers a meditation on the services of Holy Week and how walking through the death and resurrection of Jesus directs our life in the church. Finally, Andrew Packer takes up one small part of our life together in the state: how the death and resurrection of Jesus speaks to the debate over transgenderism.
One last note: Adam Francisco is writing a series of articles on wokeism. This month his first article appears in print; the remaining five articles will be posted online at witness.lcms.org this month and next.
Roy S. Askins
Managing Editor, The Lutheran Witness