Marriage in the beginning

Sunday 27 in the Season of the Year (B) | Mark 10:2-16

One thing that I have discovered, is that usually when a particular moral question is put to me by someone, almost inevitably there is a context – a back-story if you like. If I simply answer the question in the abstract, without attending to the particular situation that provoked the question, then equally inevitably, I will more than likely get the answer wrong. When Jesus is asked this question in the Gospel today, his hearers would have known what that background story was; but we can miss it, especially when we don’t read verse 1 of Mark 10. There we read that Jesus and his disciples have just travelled to Judea, to the region beyond the Jordan River. If we think of the Jordan, than we should immediately think of the prophet who ministered around the Jordan – John the Baptist. Back in Mark 6 John had been arrested and then executed because he had challenged King Herod about marrying his brother Philip’s wife Herodius.

So we see that the test that the Pharisees put to Jesus is really a question of whether Jesus will stick his own neck out and make the same treasonous declaration about Herod’s marriage which had got John killed. In answering the question, Jesus gives the injunction to return to the beginnings – to see what the Lord had said about marriage in the account of creation. So, like Jesus, we need to turn back to those first chapters of Genesis to see what God’s original plan had been all about regarding the marriage covenant.

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