Mark 10:2-16 (NRSV)
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." 5 But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." 13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
While this particular passage is probably more about Jesus' response to the Pharisee's "hardness of heart" than marriage and divorce, I will speak of marriage in this week's From the Well. The American Christian writer Phillip Yancey, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his marriage, wrote a letter to his wife entitled, "Yes, My Legs Ache, but We Made It." Yancey goes on to compare his 300 months of marriage to mountain climbing.
Some may make this marriage climb in a chair lift, but you and I have climbed it one step at a time, taking deep breaths, holding on tight, determined to reach the top. No wonder our legs ache.
His point is clear. Having a life-long, loving commitment in marriage is hard work but it is worth it. Anybody can marry for richer, for healthier, and for better. Marriage is more about the rhythm of good and bad, sickness and health, rich and poor.
Beverly's parents, Ted and Yvonne Taylor were married for 73 years. My parents, Rev. John and Peggy Burton have been married 62 years and Beverly and I for 37. Love is a gift from God that carries us through all the ups and downs. The composer, Hal Hopson, says it well in his anthem that Beverly and I sang to the congregation at our wedding:
THE GIFT OF LOVE
Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love my wards are vain,
As sounding brass,
And hopeless gain.
Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be giv'n by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.
Come, spirit come, and hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide ev'ry deed.
By this we worship and are freed.
Think about it.