Summary: Exposition of Mark 10:1-12 regarding Jesus’ statements on marriage and divorce
Text: Mark 10:1-12, Title: Going Through the Big “D,” Date/Place: NRBC, 2/24/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: Preview with pastoral warning and assurance of care and openness to hearing differing viewpoints, Snapshot of marriage in America, from Covenant Marriage by Fred Lowry, p. 18, Why is it that Christians have a similar divorce rate as non-Christians? States will the highest populations of Christians have some of the highest divorce rates. Baptists take the prize within Christian denominations of highest divorce rate. 60% of American children will see their parents divorce by the time they are 18, and half of them will see a second divorce by 18. Studies show that for 18 months after a divorce children show similar signs of trauma to victims of natural disasters
B. Background to passage: Jesus is now heading down the home stretch of his ministry on his way to Jerusalem to endure the cross. He has left Galilee and some fruitful ministry there. And he crosses the Jordan river heading eastward to minister to the Jews and Pereans on the other side of the river, then heads south to Jericho and up to Jerusalem from there. The first incident in the Perean ministry is this incident with the Pharisees regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The text states that it is a trap, so it probably has something to do the marriage of Antipater and Herodias that got John the Baptist killed. Note the textual difficulties and the origin of this gospel and Matthew.
C. Main thought: from the text, and others, discern some truths about marriage and divorce.
A. Insights on how we approach scripture (v. 2-4)
1. This interesting and controversial text gives us some warnings about how the Pharisees and evangelicals deal with scripture. First it cautions against proof-text theology. When someone does this they find a scripture that can be or does say what they want, and they champion it with blanket importance at the expense of other texts on the same subject. Jesus in his answer teaches that sometimes we must return to the goal of discerning God’s will that underlies a particular description. Jesus goes back to Gen 1 & 2 instead of Deut. Second, we should guard against preconception in our search for truth. Realize that we have the ability to be wrong and biased about it. The Pharisees treated women as property here, and it influenced how they viewed marriage and divorce. Jesus however elevated the status of women through his remarks here about their equality from creation and their ability to divorce, and their accountability. Third, Jesus warns against the “looking for loopholes” mentality. They wanted to see what they could get away with, not how close to God they could get. They wanted to inch up to the edge of the cliff and walk right down the edge.
2. Illustration: one writer said the Pharisees reminded him of someone who took a loan from the bank on Monday, and on Tuesday returned to calculate the terms on which he could default on the loan. Joshua Harris’ example of the Christian dating ethic seeing how far they can go,
3. Make sure that your position takes into account the breadth of the scriptural counsel on any given subject. And do the work of thinking about the text as you wrestle, not simply taking what others say, or refusing to examine other texts. We are all raised differently, and therefore have certain things about scripture already decided in our minds, and we have the tendency to bend other texts to fit our preconceived notion. And it is probably not that any of us will achieve total objectivity, but we should be willing to be corrected or embrace other positions if we decide that the text teaches them. Know that you are a southern, American, Western Christian, and you will see things through that lens. Don’t get in the habit of looking at scripture to see what you can still do and be a Christian. Look to it as a guide to see how close to Jesus you can get.
B. Insights on Marriage (v. 5-9)
1. As mentioned earlier when Jesus was asked about divorce, his answer was marriage. He said that they were asking the wrong question. The Pharisees understood what he was implying, as well as the disciples. After they asked him about Deut 24, which deals with remarriage after a divorce, he talks about Genesis. He goes back to the original intent of marriage by the designer and speaks of marriage’s permanence. He states that permanence was God’s desire, and His design, and if that wasn’t clear, he commands it clearly in verse nine. And he gives the reason behind the Deut passage: the hardness of heart. So I believe that we can gain from this that all divorce is sinful and the result of sin. We must wrestle with the fact that neither Mark nor Luke includes the “exception clause” for fornication.