Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Jesus Commanded, Part 7: Sex, Marriage, & Family

Sex, Marriage, & Family

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

"For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery . . ." Mark 7:21-22

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘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.” Matthew 19:4-6

“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” Matthew 19:9-12

“But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32 

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:11-12 (cf. Luke 16-18)

[To a woman caught in adultery] “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:11

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37-38

“And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:49-50

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

“You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this." Mark 7:913

Some comments:

Jesus expects people to keep their familial commitments. But, he does not seem particularly focused on the family. Rather, he relativizes family allegiances and refocuses that allegiance on himself and on the new community – the Church  he forms around himself. this does not mean we should abandon our families. And Jesus probably does not mean that be should literally "hate" our families. that would be contrary to his teaching elsewhere.But, it might mean that fundamentally a Christian is more related to other baptized members of the Church than to unbelieving blood relatives. And by extension more related to other Christians around the world than to people related through other allegiances, e.g., nation, race, ethnicity, political ideology.

Even Jesus' disciples found his teaching on divorce difficult as we see in Matthew 19:10. Is everyone who is divorced (except for unchastity) and remarried living in sin? The plain sense of what Jesus commands is clear. It is possible to repent of a divorce; harder to repent of being remarried. If remarriage after divorce is not sin, why not? What rules of interpretation do we use to come to a different conclusion? Have we discerned that there are things about the cultural and historical context that need to be taken into account? Is it that we have decided that what Jesus teaches about divorce needs to be balanced against what he teaches elsewhere concerning mercy? 

Next: What Jesus Commanded, Part 8: Money & Possessions

Previous: What Jesus Commanded, Part 6: Evangelism

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