“The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him.” – Mark 10:2
Whatever the Pharisees’ motives were for asking this question, it tells us that it was a contested debate of Jesus’ time, as much as it is today. In theory, in the first century Jewish society, the ideal of marriage was closely guarded, with chastity being the jewel in its crown. The virtue of chastity was considered the greatest of all virtues, and every Jew understood that it would be better to suffer death than to commit adultery, for they were taught that one who is unchaste causes the glory of God to flee. We read today in Numbers of the Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, upon seeing two who were not married entering a tent together takes a spear and goes in and kills them in the act of adultery. His zeal was for the keeping of the honor owed to God, and cleanse the community of the impurity which left a stain on the whole community.
In Jesus’ time, we know that divorce and remarriage occurred, and in the famous case of King Herod we see adultery lived out with almost a particular disdain for the law of Moses, which cost John the Baptist his head in his warning to the King of his adulterous relationship, to the point that the opposite of Phinehas’ zeal is found, with the innocent losing life as a consequence of the other’s sin, rather than the guilty. Our society today continues to suffer greatly due to unchastity and divorce, displayed through the breakdown in the family and in the innocent lives of the unborn being discarded through abortion.
The magisterium of the Church continues to be the John the Baptist in the modern world, guiding hearts along the road of right-living, and warning of the consequences when God is offended. This was very much a concern on the hearts of Blessed Paul VI, in his writing of Humanae Vitae, and Saint John Paul II’s general audiences on the Theology of the Body. Both lovingly display the glory of man created in the image of God, and how that image is marred by selfish love and usury of another as object; not as a person with their own God-given dignity.
Let us pray for our society in which we live, that we may all take heed, and ask God to bring healing to our land, where the many shades of grey become transformed and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and become a renewed sign of purity, a light that shines goodness and wholeness in our world.
May God Bless you.