If you’re reading this week’s Bible passage from Mark 10:2-16, you can’t miss it. Jesus stepped into the whole divorce thing.
This is one of those oft-abused bits in the Bible. Why are folks so giddy about using the Bible to cut people down?
It looks as if Jesus took the Pharisees' bait. It looks as if he even took things further. Could it be that Jesus kicked someone hurting from the pain of divorce when they were down?
I hope not.
In Palestine at the time Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, Jewish men held all the cards. When it came to divorce, they made the rules. The Pharisees debated the rules and under what circumstances divorce was legal, but the men still were the ones who did the divorcing. Women had no power in the situation. The Pharisees brought Jesus a question that was a trap. He couldn't answer it without angering some.
So Jesus did “the Jesus thing:” He asked them what the law of Moses said. Then he answered a different question -- without dealing with the legality of things. Jesus talked about love and unity in marriage. He talked about it in equal terms with men and women.
Yes. Equal terms even though the rules showed that things were anything but equal. Jesus talked about marriage and divorce with men and women on equal terms!
And he didn’t stop there. He spoke about men and women in equal terms – and he talked the same way about children! Jesus said that children were valuable.
Jesus took the trap and showed the Pharisees and the disciples that marriage was intended to build up both of the people in the marriage. He showed the Pharisees and the disciples that their rules caused trouble when they sought to use them to grasp power and cut down someone else.
I don't think Jesus ever intended us to take this Bible reading and shun or chastise people who have suffered through abuse or who have lived through divorce after failed marriages. I don’t think that the Bible should ever be used to shun or exploit or cut down or in any way make a person feel less than. I do think that Jesus wanted married couples to take their vows seriously and to live their lives loving each other and living at peace with one another.
Jesus considers everyone worthwhile. No one is unimportant. Everyone is valuable. No one is better than another -- and everyone, deserves to be treated with equal respect and love.