By Kristen Johnson
Matthew 5:31-32 (The Message): Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Our study during this morning’s worship service was about the Sermon on the Mount. Although we covered quite a bit of ground, what really fascinated me was my Pastor’s view that Jesus was talking about equality in marriage during this part of the sermon. During Bible times men had all the power. Anything they didn’t like about a wife could get them out of the marriage. Of course, women had no such rights – they were stuck no matter what the circumstances. Although we’ve certainly come a long way since then, we certainly don’t have the rights afforded to men in a lot of areas even today. Since Jesus saw all people equally, it’s interesting to think that this discussion was about equality in the marriage relationship, and not just morality, which (unfortunately) many “Christians” focus on solely. Instead of allowing the men of the day to divorce their wives because they wanted to move on to someone else, they needed to look past their own lusts and focus on fairness. What a concept.
A little research shows that my Pastor isn’t the only one who sees the issue of equality in these verses. An article at Grace Communion International states: Tom Schreiner writes, “Jesus upheld the dignity of women by speaking out against divorce, which particularly injured women in the ancient world.” James Borland notes, “In his treatment of divorce…Jesus clearly regards women not as property but as persons. They have legitimate rights and should be respected.“
Sadly, many denominations still teach that women are less than men by teaching that we cannot serve in certain positions simply because we are women (among other outdated and inaccurate teachings).
This post will likely get me tarred and feathered by my conservative family and friends. Tough – I like that my Pastor believes that Jesus sees men and women as equals. I think my Pastor is correct.
Serve all with love.
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