October 7th: Trinity 19: Proper 22
Genesis 2: 18-24. The second human creation story (The first is in chapter 1) which both tell us different things. In this one, verse 24 is the important one when on marrying they both transfer their allegiances and affections from their parents to each other.
Hebrews 1: 1-4; 2:5-12. Two sections of Hebrews grafted together. One asserting the divinity of Jesus reminiscent of John's famous prologue and the second asserting the importance of the humanity of Jesus for our salvation
Mark 10: 2-16. In the arguments about divorce Jesus asserts that God's will is as stated in the beginning and he quotes Genesis 2:24, and later rules were a concession to our weakness and innate sinfulness. Jesus as I preached last week is inaugurating nothing less than a return to Eden.
Last Sunday I preached that the perfect unsullied relationship between God and humanity is the one that existed in the Garden of Eden before the fall and that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to deal with sin and re-establish that relationship.
That is essential to remember that when we look at the set readings today when Jesus is asked about marriage and divorce between a man and a woman.
This is very poignant today because I conducted the last wedding of the year in the RMC yesterday in All Saints East Budleigh.
When asked to justify his remarks that marriage is an eternal covenant for life Jesus refers his listeners back to the book of Genesis chapter 2 verse 24.
In saying this He is doing far more than just saying “Look at the rules: this is what God says”
He is in effect saying that in Him He is re-creating Eden. God’s provision for Adam and Eve has priority over any subsequent loosening of that intention, and within the story of that first man and woman we see God’s original purposes for human life.
A man and a woman joined together for life “until death do us part” as the liturgy states.
Later rules says Jesus, were a concession to our innate sin, weakness and hardness of heart. In Genesis 1 verse 27 , the first creation story it says,
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”.
We can take from this that men and women were made together and that together they complete each other in reflecting God’s image.
Men and women are created equal but undeniably different and together we complete each other and reflect God’s image in which we were originally created.
These values, the original intention, were to be one of the hallmarks of the new age of the kingdom of God that Jesus was inaugurating.
What qualifies Jesus to inaugurate and usher in this “new Eden” is given to us in the letter to the Hebrews, so beautiful written it scarce needs any commentary from me.
The two extracts from Hebrews amplify the two natures of Christ who is both fully divine, and just as importantly fully human.
Both His divinity and his humanity are vital to our eternal salvation won for us by his sacrifice made once for all.
The word made flesh. It was essential that in his humanness he knows our weakness and temptation, our suffering and our death, but it was also essential that He is divine and whose sinless death has the power to cover all human sin.
In our secular society that seeks to undermine and negate everything that Jesus stands for and accomplished, it is vitally important that we stand firm and defend our Christian values, not by being purely defensive but being positive and joyful proponents of lifelong marriage between a man and a woman as a sign of the values heralded by Jesus.
Lifelong monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is a powerful statement of Christian values; values that embody the kingdom of God
It is clear from all available evidence that a stable monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is by far the best environment to bring up children.
But secular elements seem to want to do anything they can to undermine marriage and make divorce ever easier. They do this often in the misguided belief that they are making things easier for women. All that has happened in reality is huge sink estates filled with unmarried and divorced mothers struggling to bring up children alone in areas that are sometimes described as “man deserts”.
It is ironic really because Jesus hardening attitudes in his time against divorce was in a very concrete way helping women in first century Palestine. Then, a woman on her own was a truly marginal figure, and whether widowed, single or divorced the term “widows and orphans” became a catch-all biblical phrase to describe the marginalised people in society
Life within the kingdom of God, which Jesus both announces and inaugurates is nothing less that the renewal of paradise – a new Eden.
It is no wonder that St. Paul calls Jesus a second Adam in Romans (15:12 and in 1Corinthians 15:22) and life in Christ as a new creation (2Cor. 5:17 and Gal. 6:15)
Jesus’ picture of marriage is of life as it is to be in God’s kingdom, when everything is renewed and perfected, where monogamy, trustfulness, and commitment are foremost is actually a reflection of our relationship and attitude towards God which is why Marriage is regarded as a sacrament and wherever the kingdom is found, there is Jesus, and Where Jesus is – there is the new Eden.