It seems like we need a rule, mandate, or law for almost everything these days. Wear a mask that covers nose and mouth. Stand or sit 6 feet apart from the person in front or behind you. Get the COVID vaccine free of charge, with financial incentives in some areas, and available now within blocks of wherever we are at any given time. Regardless of how easy or simple, there seem to be people bent on breaking or dismissing all regulations and doing so almost appears like a badge of honor, a rite of passage—rules simply are not meant for them.
Here is the thing though: whether we like them or not, most rules and laws are intended for our collective safety and wellbeing. We don’t always have to like something or agree with it entirely in order to comply.
In our Gospel lesson this Sunday, the Pharisees try to “test” Jesus by asking whether it is lawful for a man to put his wife away in divorce. They think they are being clever and legalistic, but Jesus reminds them that divorce is only necessary because of their hard hearts. The real issue is not the lawfulness of divorce but whether the marriage fulfills the purposes of God, which include mutual love, responsibility, honesty, respect, maturity, safety of mind, body, and spirit, etc., etc. If these things are lacking, then yes, divorce may be necessary, since they cause harm and do not produce the love pledged and required.
Jesus said, there is only one great law: “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself.” The filter is: does this thing, behavior, conversation, decision meet God’s law of love for all people? What does love have to say or look like here?
Does wearing a mask and being fully vaccinated keep me, my family, and neighbors safe? Yes, that’s what the science says. Does standing 6 feet apart do the same? Yes, there is evidence. Does mutual love, respect, truth-telling, kindness, forgiveness, grace, generosity, etc. make for healthy relationships and diminish the threat of separation and divorce? Yes, yes, and YES!
Beloved, mistreatment and abuse of any kind—verbal, mental, emotional, physical, etc.— is not okay. Never feel obliged to stay in a situation where you are in danger or at risk. Please reach out, and I promise to support you however I can.
Grace and peace,