New Testament Eucharistic Readings for Proper 22: Year B
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
How do we know what (or who), God has joined together? Marriage is such a touchy issue in the Church. In the early Hebrew Testament men just took women to be their wives and didn’t necessarily stop at one. We have many stories where certain men had two wives for example Elkanah, “He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children:” (1st Samuel 1:1 and 2). He was the father of Samuel the Prophet. There are others also to include Moses himself. These persons did not divorce, but rather added to their marriage. It seems that with the New, or Christian Testament, the influence of the Greeks and Romans persuaded the Christian Jews and the Church to adhere to the one man and one woman marriage. Remember, I’m just pondering here.
There are more questions around marriage and divorce that must be resolved by our God given reason rather than the ambiguous and often contradictory writings of scripture. Remember, the sixteenth century priest Richard Hooker who said that we have the three legged stool of scripture, tradition and reason. In our Anglican and Episcopal Church, the three legs are equal in support of our faith. However reason, with prayer, must be applied when necessary.
There are also questions of same sex marriages, there are questions of whether the Church should be doing what was considered a civil matter until about 800 years ago when the Church became aware of its possible control of the institution of marriage. Also, should Roman Catholic Priests be allowed to marry?
Divorce then brings the subject back to being a civil matter again. Should couples stay in a toxic and unloving, often abusive marriage? I think not but as far as I know, no Church has an “un-marriage” ceremony.
So, who is God joining together? Does sexuality, or race, or the Church, or Ordination limit who God joins together?
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John