Matt. 19:1-14 – Divorce & Marriage & Selfishness
The Pharisees are continuing to pursue Jesus and look for ways to trip him up on his interpretation of the Law. Jesus, true to form, goes back to the scriptures to answer their questions. It is not an easy answer. Jesus goes back to God’s original intention for marriage and the gigantic gap between that intention and how it translates into our lives. There is a sober seriousness about marriage and divorce that is lost in our times. The model of God’s love for his bride, the church, is all but forgotten.
But as I have noted before, we miss so much because we interpret and read the words as fallen and sinful individuals when one thing that has contributed to the failure of marriage in our times is that there is no functional balanced “we” in our lives. What I mean, and what I’ve seen greatly in these last few years (though I’m sure this process has been going on for a very long time) is that there is no person to person, friend to friend, brother to brother, support of one another in our marriages. We go in ignorant with high expectations and no cultural support and when our selfishness gets in the way it all too easily comes undone. We have indeed become a society where divorce for any reason is permitted and more or less the norm.
But I have to say that divorce is not the issue, but our relationships with one another and our often superficial expressions of community. We have freedoms like no other generation but we’re selfishly pissing it away because we have no community structure to build upon.
Jesus’ comments scared his own disciples into wondering that if there is no divorce then it would be better to remain unmarried. In context, it should be remembered that Jesus equating divorce with adultery would make divorce a “death sentence” offence. Jesus that there are those who have chosen to be unmarried for a number of reason including to serve God. And if that’s ones calling than one should pursue it, but clearly this is not meant to be the norm.
But before one can get all wrapped in the sacrifice of remaining unmarried, etc., the next scene reminds us that there is a universally important reason for all of us to not become eunuchs for the Kingdom of God. Jesus prays for and blesses the little children who were brought to him. In a way, these last two verses should remind us that remaining unmarried maybe just as selfish as getting married because in the end the real blessing that may come into ones lives are of the small gifts of life given to us as a result of our selfish need to be married or a part of another’s life. We lose all of that if we cast off our marriages too easily. JBB 7/11/2005