For Sunday, October 4, 2015
Year B, Proper 22
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2).
When is divorce okay? That was the question on everyone’s mind then as it still is today. Jesus’ response is that it’s the wrong question. The question we should be asking is “What is marriage supposed to be?” In this passage Jesus gives us three answers to this question.
Jesus’ first answer is that marriage is supposed to be a reflection of the image of God (v. 6). “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’ (v. 6)“. God designed us so that when a man and woman come together physically, relationally, and spiritually, they reflect the image of God in a way that an individual person can’t. Just as God manifests himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, so does the image of God manifest itself as male and female together.
Jesus’ second answer is that marriage is supposed to be an experience of profound intimacy (vv. 7-8). “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” My wife Heather and I have been married for 27 years now. Our relationship is far from perfect and we work hard at it, but I truly do love her more every day. The joy of knowing and being known is something God wants for each of us.
Jesus third answer is that marriage is supposed to be a permanent bond (v. 9). Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (vv. 7-9). Yes, there is an exception for sexual immorality (albeit not mentioned in this passage) but this is not to be the rule.
What our culture says marriage is supposed to be is of course quite different. From the culture’s perspective marriage is merely two (and soon maybe more?) loving people having the ability to share property and medical benefits for as long as is mutually agreeable.
As Christians our calling is to show our culture that marriage is meant to be much more than that. The best lever we have is nothing less than our own marriages. Let’s therefore make our own marriages a priority, so that we can enjoy the flourishing that good marriages bring while at the same time being a powerful witness to the world regarding what marriage is supposed to be.