Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daily Gospel Devotional 2013: Deceitful divorce

Mark 10:10-12 / Luke 16:18…

After what Jesus had said about possible exceptions in divorce (Matthew 19:9 / cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10-15), what are we to make of these texts (cf. Romans 7:2-3)?

Jesus had tossed the question of the Pharisees (Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?) right back to them. Jesus was in fact limiting their use of Moses’ teaching, correcting their desire to use Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as justification for divorce. In doing this, Jesus is saying that no one has the moral right to dissolve the covenant simply because they want to. 

The disciples wanted further clarification. Jesus summarizes the point of the teaching, the problem of treachery. When the covenant is broken by an action such as “fornication,” the divorce does not sever the bond, the action itself has. But if there is no such severing prior to it, then the legal divorce is itself the severing act, and then it is a treachery, and it is adultery.

The statements in Mark and Luke, when considered out of their context, do seem to prohibit all divorce and remarriage. But when seen in their contexts, they prohibit only divorces that are ill grounded. It is improper to say that all divorces that end in remarriage are adulterous. Rather, all divorces not grounded in the scriptural exceptions that end in remarriage are adulterous.

Jesus was not saying that divorce or remarriage is never allowed. The references to John (Luke 16:16-17) and the loyalty of Jesus to the Old Testament steer us against the interpretation of these verses as a proscription of all remarriages. The absolute prohibition of remarriage has no support in the Old Testament, the very thing that Jesus and John sought to uphold. It all depends on how that second marriage was predicated.

Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage is essentially the same as that of the Old Testament. To unjustly divorce a spouse in order to marry another person is adulterous. If you have broken your vows by an ill grounded divorce you still have repentance open to you. Confess it to God as the sin it was, and determine to take your present covenant seriously, to protect it and prevent any future break. There may, as in all sin, be some consequences that will be difficult to bear but there is complete forgiveness.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

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