URC Daily Devotion 26 February 2024

St Mark 10: 1-12

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’  He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’  They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’  But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”  “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. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her;  and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’

Reflection

This is one of those challenging bits of the Bible. It’s been used for centuries as a measure of whether you are in or out. Sinner or saint. Accepted or outcast.

In answering the pharisees, Jesus reflects a binary understanding of both marriage and creation that we might challenge these days, but perhaps ruminating on the ability of Jewish men to divorce their wives at will, he redirects the pharisees away from the concept of marriage as a lawful state and points right back to God. Marriage is about relationship, not law. He reminds us that from the very beginning of creation God’s desire for us was for relationship and community, both with God and with each other.

In this sense marriage is no longer a question of social conformity and acceptability, but essentially a three way relationship between the two who are married and God.

We can be sure that God cradles each marriage in the palm of God’s hand; God who is Love, an ever present witness and active member of the relationship. God knows each joy and hurt, is present in each mundane or exceptional day. God knows.

God knows that not all marriages are equal. God knows the misery and horror that some marriages contain. God stands with and holds close, all those who suffer as part of a marriage. Only God and those inside a marriage know if there is ‘one flesh’ joined together by God.

Jesus reminds us that when we talk about marriage as a lawful state or a social convention of acceptability and righteousness, we can forget that marriage is a journey of relationship with each other and God, not a fixed entity that is created or demolished with a certificate from a lawyer. But it is also important to remember that a divorce certificate does have significance; it can wound, but it can also liberate and heal. In each circumstance, God knows in which manner it has been wielded.

Prayer

God of relationship,
we seek your blessing on all who are, or have been married,
happy ones and broken hearted ones,
thriving ones and barely hanging on ones,
those working at it and those who have come to the end of the line,
those who have done the hurting and those who need to heal,
may the Father be a constant presence,
the Son a guiding light,
and the Holy Spirit a comforter and challenger.  Amen

 

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