Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Sep 27, 2012 | Comments (0)

Pentecost XIX Bottom Line Spirituality:Worldly and Godly Thinking

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for Pentecost 19

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

It is essential to know the difference between Worldly and Godly thinking. Worldly thinking thinks this is about divorce. Godly understanding sees that this is about equality of women.

Mark 10:2-16. "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law."

The question to Jesus is from some Pharisees who came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The scripture the story was referring to is Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Jesus response to them was that Moses was wrong. “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” Jesus was not condoning divorce. He is not for it, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put apart”

Worldly thinking reads this and assumes that the Law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is to be broken. Godly understanding is not limited. Any law that hardens one’s heart is to be broken. Our Commandment is to do the loving thing in all cases.

Later the Disciples asked him about this issue of divorce. Jesus told them, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Worldly thinking says, therefore, if you remarry, you commit adultery.

This was the teaching of the church when I first came into the ministry. I took a young couple to the Diocese to get permission to marry them. The man had been divorced once. The Star Chamber decided against them. She was heart broken. “How can a church that says they love me break my heart?!” There were others, even clergy who had passed the litmus test. Later, the Church realized it was not the thing to do and the Star Chamber no longer exists.

Everything is not always what looks like. These scriptures are not about divorce and marriage. They are about equality.

Godly understanding knows the meaning before reading the scripture. Did you get it? It has nothing to do with divorce or adultery. It has to do with women’s equality under the Law. Women, in those days, were not part of the Covenant. When a child was born into a Jewish family, they were not a part of the Covenant. It was only when the circumcised, thirteen year old boy became a son of the Covenant (Bar Mitzvah, literally, son of the divine law) that he received the full rights of the Law.

One response might be, “We would love to have women in the Covenant but God says you have to be circumcised to be part of it.” A woman married to a Jew was property and did not have human rights. In the Tenth Commandment women were considered property. It reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor's” (property).

Adultery was punished by stoning. Joseph, before the Angel visited him, would have put Mary away to prevent exposure to stoning. In John, the woman was caught in the act but they did not bring both of them to Jesus. Their attitude was that it was the woman who made him do it.

Jesus responded “those who are without sin let them cast the first stone.” There was not a single man present who had not committed adultery, including all the religious figures in the crowd.

The only excuse for divorce was adultery and it meant the offending marriage partner would be stoned. Jesus’ new Commandment is if you have committed adultery against your wife she can have you stoned. If you were a man you could now get stoned so why not just stay together?

Things have changed today. Stoning is out, but women in some countries, under their law, still have few of the rights available to men. The Law Jesus introduced to replace all the Law and the Prophets is to “do the loving thing”. If it is something that has not been done, it is time to start now, beginning with those who know the Word of Jesus.

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