Mark 10:11

and he said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery against his wife;

let’s play up-the-ante
take a reality
heighten judgment

from misalignment
abuse on shame

whoever means you
make mandatory
thicker walls

Verses 11 and 12 look to re-establish an equality between males and females that offends both Jewish and Roman ways of dealing with the reality of broken partnerships.

The Roman way that eventually became serial marriage raises the moral question of dissolution. Here adultery becomes the sticking spot. There is no softening of the harm being done, no matter the social acceptance of divorce. A stone epitaph from Quintus Lucretius Bespillo to his wife, Turia, who died between 8 and 2 BCE, as recorded by Ludwig Friedlander in Roman Life and Manners Under the Early Empire, speaks to this acceptance:

Seldom do marriages last until death undivorced;
but ours continued happily for forty-one years.

Roman ordinances in both 18 BCE and 9 CE make it clear that “… men aged 25–60 and women 20–50 who were unmarried, widowed, or divorced were obligated to marry unless they already had at least three children.” ~LaVerdiere-278

Verse 11 is in basic accord with Jewish tradition, but verse 12 upsets things by moving beyond a strictly patriarchal structure. To give women the right of divorce would be highly problematic for those restricting the right of divorce to men.

In both cases what seems to be at stake here is the issue of “hard-heartedness” from 10:5. Whether the command comes from the state or the temple, there is an underlying and basically irreconcilable reality that some desire is blocking a continued growth toward oneness or a deepening partnership.

Any potential fickleness of passion or external circumstance such as lack of a male heir needs to be looked at in light of the pain of the loss of hope inherent in the start of relationship, whether brokered for one or engaged in independently. Such a loss is the set-up for a next brokenness when not explored and learned from.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.