Thoughts for the Day

Friday, 24th May 2024: Jesus' teachings continued

Marriage Divorce Jesus Mark 10

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 10


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.’

(Lectionary, new Revised Standard Version)


There are some passages of scriptures that preachers like to avoid and this is one of them! But let's put this into context. The whole subject of marriage and divorce was of concern at the time. The Law proclaimed that a man and a woman married for life, but to cater for our frailty the law later allowed for divorce if the man found something 'objectionable' about the woman (Deuteronomy 24.1). In reality at the time of Jesus a man could divorce his wife for pretty much any reason, and the wife her husband only for one or two heinous crimes. Wives had no legal rights, and slowly the custom of divorce continued. It was also an issue at the time because Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great) had divorced his first wife to marry his brother's wife Herodias (and for his criticism, John the Baptist was imprisoned and subsequently killed).

Today divorce is very normal, and personally I'm not against it, especially if there is a real reason. But after conducting hundreds of marriages, and having been married for over 50 years myself (and it wasn't always perfect), the following occurs to me. Too many couples enter into marriage without looking ahead - they marry in a haze of rose petals, thinking only of the wedding day, and not about the rest of their life together, when their partner might become sick, or make a life-changing decision without involving them, or is made redundant. Some couples also decide to marry years after having children, when they feel things are a bit rocky. In my experience this frequently doesn't work.

On a practical level divorce makes both partners poorer, and even with the most caring and careful parents, often causes chaos for children as they try to live in two places. On a practical level good marriage preparation courses (secular or christian) might help, as well as ongoing prayer for all the married couples we know. The ideal that Jesus proclaims "What God has joined together let no-one separate" is the best way, if possible!


Lord Jesus Christ,
You put forward the ideal scenario
for living with another person,
but all too often our selfishness
gets in the way.
We pray today for all married couples,
especially those who are struggling
with their relationship.
We pray also for couples who have divorced,
and who find parenting difficult.
We pray for all children who are troubled
because their parents have divorced,
and we ask Your blessing upon them all.

Follow Up Thoughts

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