Archive for October 7th, 2012

There are two scenes in the Gospel: one with Jesus  and the Pharisees and the second with Jesus and the disciples and the children.  Both scenes involve children in two strikingly different ways.

The Pharisees wanted to “test” Jesus.   The Pharisees hoped for a “gotcha’ moment and test Jesus on a very important and serious subject: divorce.  Now, it is very easy as we read and hear the lesson to gloss over a variance in verbs. Jesus asked them, what did Moses command you?  The Pharisees responded, Moses allowed or permitted…Jesus spoke of commandment and the Pharisees spoke of permission.    One Rabbinic school taught only adultery can sever a marriage.  The other school said if a wife ruins dinner is grounds for dismissal and divorce, like ruining dinner.  What situation may a man dismiss/divorce his wife and still keep the law of God and be saved? 

That is pure works righteousness: trying to save ourselves but worse:  how much can we get away with?  You could divorce your wife because she burned the eggs? Oh, how ludicrous, I say.  What were those people thinking about?!  Look at our time.  When it comes to marriage and the family the question is still asked: What is permitted? What can we get away with?

The answer has been with remarkable, clear and accompanied by terrifying results:

  • No fault divorce
  • Divorce and remarriage as serial monogamy
  • living together
  • Abortion
  • Contraception
  • Both to be paid for by  the government against 1st Amendment rights
  • “making love” became “hooking up”
  • Homosexuality and same sex so-called ‘marriage’
  • pornography
  • prostitution
  • Bestiality

I could go on. All is permitted. Jesus said to the Pharisees that Moses allowed divorce for your “hardness of heart”.  The Greek Word there is sclerocardia, sclerosis of the heart, hardening of the arteries, clogged with lust and vice.   Moses gave you this  commandment because of your hardened-hearts, willful and unlawful.  He speaks to us all here.  God speaks His Law to us all here. What is always the result of such sclerosis of the heart?  A heart attack: Broken hearts, broken lives, broken families, broken children and a broken nation.  Many know of this in their own families, with friends and co-workers.  Nothing is stable.

In this Presidential election year what is the number 1 topic?  The economy, stupid. Jobs, jobs, jobs.  Money.  I think it is an important and even a crucial debate. But note:  marriage and the family, under the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, are relegated to the corner of the public square as “social issues” something apart from the economy, as if marriage and the family is secondary.  As far as I can tell from when Reagan was first elected as President in 1980, through the 1st Bush, two terms of the Democrat Clinton and two terms of George W. Bush we have had some 28 years, in my estimation, of a robust economy. So everything was good?  Oh, but now we’re going broke?  Now we’re in debt up to our eyeballs?  In those 28 years we saw the further disintegration of family and marriage. The Lord speaks to us of a different brokenness and a much more profound debt.  January 2013 will be the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  We’ve talked about sex endlessly.

They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess. 

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, which was original radio talks he gave in England on BBC during the depths of World War II in the 40s. For all the chattering, now we can whatever we want, it sounds like willful and wayward children. So many are not happy but terrified by the instability caused by emotional pain, risk of disease and trying justify the unjustifiable of breaking the commandments.  Sclerosis of the heart.  Marriage and family are not secondary to the economy, the economy is secondary to marriage and family.  It is our servant not our master. We only have one Master and He died and rose for us all. We can have it all and yet are broke in breaking God’s law and hence lives. We have been flat broke for along time now.  Up to our eyeballs in debt.   Christ Jesus came to be the very heart of the prayer He taught us:  Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Christ Jesus is the only hope for healing of marriage and family in His forgiveness of us all. 

Therefore,  Jesus redirected the Pharisees not only to the Law of God, His Law but to the beginning, to His sheer grace and peace to Adam and Eve. It was not good for the man to be alone, the Lord observed so He made a helpmate suitable for Adam.   The Lord gave Adam every creature but none were suitable.  I have read the word “help” is the Old Testament is usually used of God except for the woman. Marriage is the Lord’s sheer gift before sin entered the world, as is everything we touch, hear,  and see. Marriage is the Lord’s always new math: 1 + 1 equals 1.    Marriage is God’s gift to Adam and Eve.  Marriage begins the Bible and even as sin entered the world, the Lord did not abandon His gift of marriage to men and women.  The Bible is the history and story of marriage and families from the beginning to Abraham and Sarah to Joseph and Mary and Christ and His Church and in the new creation when the heavenly Jerusalem descends as His bride. The stories of those families is checkered as ours, at best.  The Lord gave His promise through many of those families.  The Lord came and sought His bride and slipped the pure gold wedding ring of His salvific love on our finger, in true faith.  What is Mine is thine and what is Thine is Mine, He said in His eternal vow.  All your brokenness of sin I have taken upon Myself and I give you all that I have:  grace, mercy and peace, the fidelity of love stronger than sin and death.  You divorce Me, but I will not divorce Thee.

In the house the disciples rebuked the fathers and mothers bringing children to Jesus.  Jesus snorted with indignation at them.  This Scripture is the one used at every Baptism in the Lutheran Church.  The Christian home is a baptized home, prayerfully every member in it, cleansed in His forgiveness is every sinner therein.  Marriage and family were given before sin entered the world.  Marriage and the family is fallen but not forgotten by the Lord.  It is His good gift still to us all.  Jesus was born of a family and a marriage and had half-brothers and sisters in that family.  He extends His family to us all so that Baptism is the golden ring of faith and salvation for us all to forgive and to build His Church in our families upon the rock who is Jesus. He plants His Cross in our homes and hearts.  As many have home-schooled, we all must home-church. A forgiveness which is impossible for sinners to accomplish, but which is as hard as nails and with Him all things are possible. As He said from the Cross: It is finished.  You have My wedding ring. The Christian home is a baptized home.  There is no adult baptism.  All baptism is baptism of children, of infants,  to be like a child, knowing on our own we make a mess of so much and can, but in Him we are saved and receive like a child all His gifts, as a child does from Mother and Father.  The Pharisees wanted to have an adult theological discussion in order, well, to finally get their way in salvation, find out what is permitted  See how much one can get away with and then see  Jesus blessing the children and the two are related meeting as at an intersection:  His Cross.  He enfolded into His arms the children that day and blessed them. He still does and has for you. 


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: