Text: Matthew 19:1-12
For joy and forgiveness in a marriage
For joy in chastity
For those hurt by a spouse
MATTHEW WASTES NO TIME in giving us a case study for how the previous discussion of forgiveness matters. The relationship between husband and wife, the keystone relationship of human society, creates the space where we all learn how to live together. The family is the primary example for Luther’s frequent discussions of life with the neighbor. Family relationships take on a different cast when we understand that the Ten Commandments are really about the people whom we deal with morning, noon and night instead of the idealized neighbors we create in our heads!
Paper and ink on an industrial scale have been utilized to examine this text and understand what Jesus really meant. Scholars have brought to bear every tool of the trade, such as psychology, sociology, economics, history, and political science to disassemble and deconstruct these verses—all to one purpose.
We will not be hurt.
Since our society has that as its mantra, we do what must be done—accumulate power so that no one can hurt us. No one wants to discuss that the power that we seek and celebrate is the power of death, the power that allows us to render those that oppose us into objects. Since marriage, woven into the fabric of creation, serves life, then marriage as Jesus sees it is not possible for us, for the power of death unravels marriage—‘til death do us part and all that.
Do not forget that the same mantra we will not be hurt clears the ground for revenge to grow and for forgiveness to wither. Forgiveness rests on a different power: the power of God, the power of life, the power of love that is patient and kind, that is not envious or boastful or proud. It is a power that does not dishonor others. Such power is not self-seeking or quick to anger or forever score-keeping. Such power gives no room for evil because it delights in the truth. The power of love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So yes, it will hurt, and wisdom is needed to discern the limits of that hurt, for forgiveness is not without boundaries. Forgiveness does come with a cost in a world that stands in opposition to the intent of the Creator. There is no shame in being honest about that cost and what we are willing and able to endure. Let's just also be honest about the cost that comes from we will not be hurt, where our neighbors are always potential enemies rather than opportunities for blessing.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks