Thursday, February 2, 2012

Matthew 19

Teaching About Divorce

The Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, is it ever ok? Jesus says that when you marry you become one flesh, and man should not separate what God has joined together. Then they say Moses allowed divorce, and Jesus replied it is only ok in the event of adultery.

I like the idea of discouraging divorce. But having such a hard and fast rule is a bit of a problem to me. Things change, people change, and sometimes divorce is the best thing for everyone. Plus, there is no mention of abuse. What if the man is beating his wife, should this not also be grounds for divorce?

Having adultery be the only rule allowing divorce reminds me of a story from This American Life (I'm almost positive that is where I heard it). They were talking to a private investigator who said a lot of his work was following people trying to see if they are cheating. He said sometimes a couple wanted to get divorced in the church (I don't recall which denomination) and it required infidelity, so the couple decided which of them would have an affair and hired the PI themselves so they would have evidence to bring to the church. Just a funny story, but this is the kind of thing that can happen when the rules are defined in too narrow a manner.

Let the Children Come to Me

People wanted to bring children to Jesus so he could "lay hands on them". The disciples try to stop it, but Jesus said to let the children in

What does "lay hand on" mean here? My first thought was it is a healing thing, but usually when he heals they just say it outright. Does this just mean he is praying for them?

The Rich Young Man

A rich young man asks Jesus how he could get to heaven, Jesus says to keep the commandments, specifically don't murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie and you should honor your father and mother. He asks what else he should do and Jesus said to sell all of his stuff and give the money to the poor. Jesus says "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God"

Two comments, why does Jesus specify a few commandments that must be kept, is he just giving examples or is he implicitly saying other commandments are unimportant. Second, if rich people can't get to heaven, what is up with megachurches and televangelists and stuff?


  1. I have a lot of notes on this chapter.

    Marriage and divorce. Another place to look on marriage is 1 Corinthians 7, particularly verses 1, 7, and 8. Jesus seems to be saying that marriage is bad, but sets guidelines if you are to be married. When it comes to divorce, the bible says a few different things. In Matthew 5:32, it says that divorce is only okay if the WIIFE is unfaithful. I don't see anything about the man. I also think that its an unfair standard. What if the man cheats on his wife? Should he not be labeled an adulterer and the wife be allowed to remarry? I think that that goes along with what is read here in verse 9. In 1 Corinthians 7 (verse 15) says its okay when the unbeliever leaves since the believe is not bound to such circumstances. In Deuteronomy 24:1-2 it sounds like it is okay for the husband to leave if his wife displeases him, but no mention of the other way around.

    Verse 12. Is Jesus promoting castration? There was "one of the most distiguished writers of the early church" (wiki) named Origen. One of the things he was famous for was taking this verse literally and actually castrated himself.
    Someone once told me that this could be saying that homosexuals are better castrating themselves to prevent sinning and being able to get to heaven.

    The rich young man. In verse 18 I have a note that says where it says "thou shall not commit murder" the word here is [phonemo or phoneno, my handwriting sucks) for murder. However, the other 11 times it appears in the bible its translated as "to kill." I didn't write down where I got that from, so I wouldn't quote me on that. When asked which commandments should be kept, Jesus only lists six of the ten commandments, and the last one isn't even one of the original commandments. Does this mean that the others aren't important, or that he doesn't remember them?
    I agree with you on the megachurches and the televangelists thing. However, there are some biblical passages that the rich Christians use to justify their wealth as a sign from God. They are:
    Psalms 37:25 " I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."
    Psalms 112:1,3 "Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! ... Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever."
    Proverbs 13:22 "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous."
    Proverbs 15:6 " In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked."

    I'm also not really big on the "abandon your wife and children and follow Christ and he will reward you for doing so."

    I do like the last verse though, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. :)

  2. "In Matthew 5:32, it says that divorce is only okay if the WIFE is unfaithful."

    I know this was a while ago, but I was just looking at this as it came up again in Mark, and I'm not sure I agree with your analysis here. I guess you may have a point as it is the man doing the divorcing, however, I think this could be reasonably interpreted as being just because the man holds the contract. If the man was unfaithful and then it led to him divorcing her (for example, maybe she asked him to give her a divorce and he did it), that seems like it would be consistent with the verse.

  3. I still think with the language, it doesn't really give women much say, or so it sounds to me. Then again, it seems until relatively recently, literature always referred to the "he" or "him." However, you do have a really good point about the contract. It still gives me the impression that the man has the final say.


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