Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Don't push these children away...

Once again in Mark 10:2-16, the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce "to test" him and once again they misunderstand or misuse the scripture to justify their agenda. They hope their question will expose Jesus as dangerous to families, in light of his scandalous comments in prior encounters.

Jesus turns the conversation with the Pharisees away from the legal foundation for divorce to God's design for marriage. That is, he dismisses the law which permits a man to divorce his wife if he "finds something objectionable about her," (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) and cites Genesis 1:27; 2:24, that describes marriage as a unifying bond between two people. Of course, the Pharisees neglect to mention a key piece of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which requires a husband to give the certificate of divorce to his ex-wife. Such a document might provide a divorced woman with a defense against rumor and slander. For a majority of women in that culture, survival depended upon being a member of a household. A woman, perhaps with children, without a husband and without a means of explaining why she was unmarried, could be exposed to great risk. (Commentary by Matt Skinner)
In our day and time and certainly in industrialized cultures, marriage is less about economics and more about people seeking mutual fulfillment. And while divorce still often leads people (especially women) into financial hardship, divorced women today do not always find themselves doomed to the same state that their ancient counterparts did. However, these points do not render this passage irrelevant; rather, they cast light on how Jesus' teaching might protect women (and men) from those who would use divorce to punish, imperil and victimize the "other."

Once again Jesus is unequivocal in citing the “power” of the child as he reminds us that they are often the innocent victims of the hurt and brokenness that come, even when a divorce appears to be the best among all available options.


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