CONCERNING MARRIAGE

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Reference: Matthew 19:3-9 )

This is a touchy delicate one, beloved. It touches on both divorce/remarriage and same-sex marriage. I am unsure whether I want to tackle commenting on this one. I am more inclined to see what was said last year. Or to make use of the historic Anabaptist quote for this day.

Yes, the historic Anabaptist took a very conservative perspective on this. And in our modern day some Anabaptists/Mennonites continue in that very conservative tradition while others embrace and espouse an opinion that follows very different lines and understandings. Five years ago I wrote a commentary that made very clear where my opinions lie. My opinions have not changed, beloved. But if you want to read what I said, you are going to have look for it. There is too much controversy currently for me to put any kindling or excelerant on those flames.

What I will say and commit to is a slight paraphrase of the paragraph I concluded my post with five years ago.

There is a lot of controversy, both within the church and outside of the church about who the partners/participants in marriages should be, what constitutes a marriage, and what the issues/reasons are for ending a marriage. There are many who appeal to the Bible, but use the Bible version that has the translation that fits their own perspective. My encouragement is, with grace and humbleness, to read the Bible with the words and understandings that were present at the time of its writing. Then we can have a discussion of how best to apply the texts that contribute to the divisiveness on these issues. And how we could and should work together despite the opposing positions. Until then I remain on the sidelines granting grace and acceptance for all of those who find themselves caught in controversy because of where their own human nature and instincts have lead them.”

Five years ago I could write with impunity because the issues of marriage had not hit the Anabaptist/Mennonite fan. That is, there was not any situations that tested the spectrum of positions that individuals held. Discussion, yes. But nothing that had raised a divisive edge. Now there is one. And people of Anabaptist/Mennonite faith on all sides are getting caught up in it.

But as I said beloved, I know where I stand and what my opinion is. There is a short span of days where this is the theme. I will try to pick my way through them carefully, sharing the general perspective of historic Anabaptists and modern Anabaptists/Mennonites. It is my hope we can touch lightly on these issues, trying to see all sides with grace and compassion. Selah!

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