The Realm of Dependence

Mark 10-2-16 – The 19th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 4, 2015

“When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, ‘Allow the children to come to me . . .’” (Mark 10:14)

Did Jesus want me to be like a newborn? I’m sorry, but I want my adult life to involve more than napping interspersed with food input and poop output.
Did Jesus want me to be like a newborn? I’m sorry, but I want my adult life to involve more than napping interspersed with food input and poop output.

In a slice of Mark’s Gospel highlighting the religious laws about divorce in Jesus’ day and that adultery was nearly universal (in Jesus’ day or today), its final verses flummoxed me.

People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them . . .

Please, let me elaborate on divorce. I’m an expert! I’ve been divorced. Please, let me bemoan adultery. If not an expert in adulterous ways—trust me, I’m not—I’m at least an amateur. After all, in one of the many irksome Gospel passages, Jesus challenged us easily flummoxed humans to realize that merely leering at another (Matthew 5:27-28) was adultery. How prescient, since old Mr. Know-It-All, aka Jesus of Nazareth, commented about lustful gazes, gawks, and glances long before the Internet. What happened in Jesus’ day—inappropriately daydreaming about your fellow villagers—is now easy as a mouse click in the era of Ashley Madison and dating apps that range from the safe to the, er, weird. Continue reading →

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It’s Not Me! Blame Jesus!

Mark 10:2-16 – The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for October 7, 2012

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her…” (Mark 10:10)

I am an adulterer and have been since 1984.

In 1979, California provided me with, to use a phrase from Mark’s Gospel, a “certificate of dismissal” from my then wife. The real trouble began five years later when I said I do to my beloved and became, for the second time, a married man.

Adulterer!

Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:10-12)

Not much wiggle room, eh?

Would you like to debate homosexuality, child labor, abortion or slavery? With those subjects—and other controversial issues—the abundant presence or stark absence of Biblical verses has and will continue to fuel faith-based debates.

For Christians, what is there to debate about divorce?

A few years after California legalized my adulterous behavior, I memorized Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” for Easter. Most of my congregation way back then appreciated my efforts. It was likely the singular time when my quirks, doubts or opinions didn’t “adulterate” the sermon.

And yet I irked a few folks. One Easter visitor* jabbed his finger at my chest during the greeting line after worship. He growled, “After what you said about divorce, young man, I’ll never come to this church again. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

By preaching the exact words of the “Sermon on the Mount,” I’d highlighted two of Jesus’ most irksome insights. Continue reading →

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