Mark 10:1 He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. 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, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore 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.”
Jesus is the rock star in this scene and the Pharisees (religious officials responsible for teaching the rules of faith to Israel) want to bring him down a notch. So they ask him a question to test him. They’re hoping Jesus will answer incorrectly (not according to the inherited tradition) so they can discredit him. After all, with his healing ministry and miracles and such there are thousands who follow him. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The “correct”” answer is “yes”. The law of Moses made allowance for divorce, which had been the practice of the Jews for many centuries. Jesus doesn’t deny that divorce is permitted, only that divorce is a reality reflecting human frailty and brokenness in relationships.
Jesus took the rules as he received them and interpreted them in his own time and culture.
Throughout our history, the church’s teaching and practice has evolved, adjusting to a changing world. I am personally grateful for this. The church is being challenged again by the “hybrid” nature of our ministry, occurring both in-person and on-line. Most of our churches didn’t have a digital expression until two years ago when the pandemic shut us down. We’re still in the very early stages of learning what it means to be a hybrid church, but we all agree on-line ministry is here to stay.
I expect over time some of our inherited practices will be challenged. Some already have. We share communion with people who aren’t physically in the same space. That didn’t used to happen, but it does now every Sunday. We have on-line church members and even our first on-line church council member. But these are baby steps really. We haven’t yet figured out the most effective ways of including our on-line people, but we will. And as was the case with Jesus, I have no doubt we will have to set aside some important traditions and teachings to do so. Lord give us grace to be faithful and flexible at the same time. Amen.