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Oct 07, 2018

Marriage, Divorce and God's Love

Marriage, Divorce and God's Love

Passage: Mark 10:2-6

Speaker: Father Will Lowry

Series: All

Category: All

If our relationships are made in the image of what God intends, we have to see how God has treated us and do the same to/for each other.

In today’s Gospel we have two fragments placed into one setting. The first part, verses 2-12, and the second part, verses 13-16.

Certainly, the first section (2-12) about divorce and marriage is difficult considering the reality of our lives lived in communion with each other. And the second seems oddly placed if nothing else.

So I found myself asking the question, “What is the Good News from today’s reading?” How are we to reconcile what Jesus seems to be saying about marriage and divorce and the actuality of our relationships here and now?

And in order to look honestly at Jesus’ words we first need to break the text down a little further and get some context about what is happening.

The first thing to notice is that the Pharisees have come to test Jesus about what is lawful. This was not something new. The Pharisees and others (according to Mark’s account) seem to be continually trying to test, trick, or trap Jesus. And he regularly is able to pass the test, see through the trick, or avoid the trap - indeed sometimes even reversing the trap.

So it is important that we see the conversation for what it is. It is a conversation about law and order. The “Test” is for Jesus - not for us.

The second thing to notice is that Jesus’ answer is also a specific answer to a specific question - not a blanketed answer for every question that has to do with divorce (or marriage for that matter).

The Pharisees’ question deals specifically with the right of a man to divorce his wife. And then we have Jesus’ words, for that question and that time.

We are now several thousand years removed from this conversation and we continue to struggle with relationships and marriage and divorce.

So I suppose we are still asking similar questions of Jesus. As my fellow clergy Evan Garner asked in his blog post on Thursday, “What would Jesus say about marriage? What would Jesus say about divorce?” in the 21st Century?

To be really honest with you, I don’t know what Jesus would say. Part of me believes he would say exactly the same thing. Part of me believes he might do it more pastorally. But the truth is, I don’t know.

But I do know what is written in scripture, and I know that it has been and continues to be a painful subject.

I also know, as many of you do, that we can rightly justify reasons of divorce and reasons for remarriage. Whether it be fractured relationship, abuse, toxicity, or something else that has made the marriage no longer an image of God’s love for the world. We all know reasons for the ending of marriages.

What I believe we have to do is to look closely at Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees and perhaps pull out “The Why” of Jesus’ such strong words about divorce and remarriage.

Jesus’ answer has to do specifically with His purpose - which is the coming reign of God. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that the laws and order which they seek are of little consequence when it comes to the Kingdom of God. What is important is the deep and profound relationship and how it relates to God’s Kingdom.

Jesus says that the relationship is a mutual relationship. In the Kingdom of God there should be mutual respect and concern for each other just as in any other relationship - and more so in marriage.

Rather than the test question from the pharisees being about what was lawful - Jesus says it’s not about what the law says, it’s how we treat each other - “the unfolding kingdom” is about peace, love, and how we treat each other. That is the image that God has for all relationships.

So, no, I don’t have all the answers about the conflicts that arise with Jesus’ statement.    

But, what I can tell you is that if our relationships are made in the image of what God intends we have to see how God has treated us and do the same to/for each other.

A relationship with God is one of love, one of reconciliation, one of forgiveness, one of justice, one of compassion, one of safety, one that removes hurt, one that is life giving.

A relationship that does not include those things does not seem to be in line with what we know about God’s relationship with us.

When those things are not present in our human relationships we should be compelled to seek them as long as they will not cause us to be put in danger.

This is the premise of God’s relationship with us and Jesus puts this in front of us when He recalls the Creation story in Genesis. Just as the man and woman in the Genesis story are joined as one, so has the world been joined to Jesus. As we are reminded in our Catechism - the Mission of the Church - The Body of Christ - is to “Restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

I told you earlier that I asked myself the questions, “What is the Good News from today’s reading?” How are we to reconcile what Jesus seems to be saying about marriage and divorce and the actuality of our relationships here and now?

I hope you have heard the “Good News” today; that God loves each of us - no matter how hurt or hurtful we are. God wants us to be in love with each other - and sometimes our capacity to love and have compassion for each other is broken - but God’s capacity to do so is not.

When there is brokenness God seeks to heal us with love - with forgiveness - with security - with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. And, as hard as it is sometimes to live through and to admit our roles in the brokenness of our lives lived together - we must seek those same healing qualities in each other because our love is rooted in the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Please open your Prayer Books to page 815. There you will find the prayer For the Human Family. I’d like us to say this prayer together, for each other and ourselves and the whole world - for all of the relationships that are in need of God’s grace.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts ; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work thorough our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Misunderstanding Jesus on Divorce by Evan Garner

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash