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Our scripture readings in ELCA Sunday service often provoke my thoughts. My thoughts are never aligned with the Pastor's sermon, for sermons are typically generalized and oriented toward a certain orthodoxy. The last Pastor who made sermons a challenge to our lives was the late, great Bill Christman (a Presbyterian).

Proceed past the typographical florish for an unorthodox commentary on divorce and abortion.

Today's First Reading, Genesis 2:18-24, included:

Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Today's Gospel, Mark 10:2-16, included:
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.’
Those who identify as 'Pro-Life' assert that a fertilized ovum - the zygote - is a person, fully equivalent*. Their justifications for tying this assertion to a "right" to life are invariably shallow, effectively being 'It just is, that's all'. I have never seen or heard of a Pro-Lifer using Genesis 2 and Mark 10 as an authority for this assertion. It seems obviously applicable: in what way does a couple literally "become one flesh", except via conception? If God demands that the couple not be separated, surely He intends that the very "one flesh" also not be separated.

*Except when it isn't - some Pro-Life advocates defer personhood until implantation of the zygote. And even those notable Conservative Protestants, the Southern Baptists, have previously sanctioned some abortions.

This Mark 10 justification of the Pro-life agenda would better adhere to scripture than the typical citations. Will Pro-Lifers embrace this justification? It is unlikely that any will ever notice my comments in a tiny blog. If they independently make this association, they will risk an accusation of hypocrisy, or worse, for the scriptures do not instruct us of an isolated facet of our relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Son of God, brought a New Covenant between God and man. Jesus was overt in his violations of many Jewish laws. He affirmed a fairly small portion of the Old Covenant, for while He said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil." - Matthew 5:17, that left a large body of legalities to be voided. His statements in Mark 10 were remarkable for specifically citing Law that was to remain unaltered, without allowance for obliquely fulfilling the spirit of the Law. Jesus established finally, as explicitly as we ever see in scripture, a linkage between conception and marriage.

There are Christian denominations which ban divorce, such as the Catholic Church, the LDS-Mormon Church, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Conservative Protestant such as Southern Baptists. Every one includes exceptions.

Exceptions are something which Jesus did not often offer. He certainly did not instruct us that conversion to Islam, or adultery, or other exceptions apply to divorce. Yet such exceptions are normative in even the most conservative denominations.

Is this why Pro-Lifers do not cite Jesus' authority from Mark 10? Do they attempt to conceal their hypocrisy which is already well-known?

If they are sincere in claiming that their attitudes about reproduction are guided by Sacred Text, let them permit themselves to be guided by the only words of Jesus regarding the "one flesh". Let them embrace the same hatred and violence at the most-closely related offense to the Law of God - divorce - that they exhibit toward those who make, and even to those who merely advocate, reproductive choices.

Originally posted to MoGemStone on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, CherryTheTart, DJ Rix, hlsmlane

    -bent tube, one arm of which was the size of a pipe-stem and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. -discussion equalizes fools and wise men in the same way, and the fools know it. OW Holmes

    by MoGemStone on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:28:23 PM PDT

  •  Matthew 19:9 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix

    "Exceptions are something which Jesus did not often offer. He certainly did not instruct us that conversion to Islam, or adultery, or other exceptions apply to divorce. Yet such exceptions are normative in even the most conservative denominations."

    Matthew 19:9

    And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery.

    Authorized Version, aka "King James version" (emphasis added.)

    So, yes, Jesus allows divorce in at least one circumstance.I would advise you not to lecture Southern Baptists on scripture. All you had to do was finish reading that very book of the Bible.

    There may be more Evangelicals on this site than you realize. ;)

    I hope you had a good World Communion Sunday.

    your brother in Christ,
    Jim

    •  Yes, Sir (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DJ Rix, tle

      Jim, I was raised as a Southern Baptist, too, so I can confirm that a goodly number of them know their Bible. I am totally ok with Matthew 19, for my argument is not with the Bible or Jesus' teachings (He does not need my approval to make an exception!). I am illustrating the fallacy that I see too many make: selective quotation and justification by rationalization. Mark 10 provides Pro-Lifers with the best tool I have found. It is a risky tool, for if used as they might use it, it condemns many of them. Peace be with you.

      -bent tube, one arm of which was the size of a pipe-stem and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. -discussion equalizes fools and wise men in the same way, and the fools know it. OW Holmes

      by MoGemStone on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:36:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to Street Prophets. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix
  •  "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (0+ / 0-)

    Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  is still quoted directly or closely paraphrased in  the "pronouncement" part of conservative Christian wedding liturgy. I've heard this so many times I've come to think of it an ironic statement &, to be blunt, usually the most  bullsh*t. words you might  hear during a wedding ceremony.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 10:23:43 PM PDT

    •  Not just the wedding liturgy - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DJ Rix

      The teaching in Matthew 19, "It was because of your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives", is not emphasized in my Southern Baptist (and Presbyterian and Lutheran) experience. Conservative denominations find ways to excuse what they must officially regard as errancy - and not only regarding divorce.

      -bent tube, one arm of which was the size of a pipe-stem and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. -discussion equalizes fools and wise men in the same way, and the fools know it. OW Holmes

      by MoGemStone on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's more than a bit of a reach to use the anti (0+ / 0-)

    divorce story in Matthew, tied to one, but not both of the Genesis stories,  to try to make it seem as if Our Lord spoke against abortion, when even the subject He was asked of concerned marriage and subsequent divorce. This is made specific where he asks about what the Old Covenant said on the subject in question, and the bill of divorce, not the provisions concerning miscarriage and abortion, are the response. And in the commentaries in existence at the time of Our Lord contained provisions concerning abortion, particularly when the mother would die without one, or the point at which abortion could not thereafter occur.

    •  Exactly so - (0+ / 0-)

      Mark 10 is the closest Biblical reference that Pro-Lifers might cite. Selective quotation has never been attentive to context.

      -bent tube, one arm of which was the size of a pipe-stem and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. -discussion equalizes fools and wise men in the same way, and the fools know it. OW Holmes

      by MoGemStone on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 10:23:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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