Mark 10:4

“Moses,” they said, “permitted a man to draw up in writing a notice of separation and divorce his wife.” 

now that we know
the standardized rule
we can wrestle honestly
with whether it fits
this unique partnership

to wed a Neighb*r
is to wed G*D and gods
in all their manifold
combinations and permutations

to divorce a G*D or gods
is to divorce Neighb*rs
those we hang with or won’t
affects every molecule

this is no matter
for framed certificates
proving only time
when space is the matter

Whatever distinction can be drawn between a command and what is allowed is still up-for-grabs. For practical purposes there is not much difference. However, to ask for a positive action and receive back a passive one does raise a red flag of missed communication—one more time.

There is a still further subtlety to the business of allowing divorce. Whatever allowance Moses was talking about in Deuteronomy 24, it appears Moses was simply taking what was presumed to be a behavior of the day (husbands leaving wives) and regulating it, giving a process that clarifies and regulates a leaving to be more protective of the one being left. This assists a fledgling community to better flourish.

This shift from command to allow also gives another opportunity to ask questions about where we are grounded. In this case and current American civil-religion it is helpful to keep pushing things back and back, removing layer upon layer, to a more solid footing than simply a current common agreement or latest meme. In the current scene there is a great emphasis upon individual freedom that takes no account of any communal context or the effect one freedom has on another.

It is this question of effect that is always in play when dealing with any presentation of good news. From its military background we can understand a long-ago dancing on the watery grave of Egyptian charioteers. Seeing from a partnership perspective reduces the clear-cut nature of what is beneficial, for whom, and for how long.

Reponses to clear questions do reveal whether we are in an investigative or adversarial relationship and help us stay centered.