Mark 10: 1-12
This is a hard teaching from Jesus. Especially today when divorce rates seem so high. I say “seem” because some suggest that people stayed in marriages in the past because there was no where for people to go when the relationship deteriorated. Abused women stayed with their abuser because, to leave, would mean they’d be on the street.
This saying of Jesus was meant to protect women from men who divorced their wives on a whim. Since the women were dependent on their husbands for food and shelter, a certificate of divorce meant destitution. The same happened if their husbands died. That’s why the bible talks so much about helping widows and orphans.
In a male dominated society, women and children were vulnerable. And left on their own, they received no help, other than the charity of family and friends, when the male of the house decided to move on.
So, I see this passage not as a hard and fast rule against divorce. But as a means of social justice and human compassion. It’s actually a strike against selfishness and a call for men to live up to their familial and social obligations.
To use this passage as an assault against those whose relationships fell apart is to miss the deep social contract that marriage was, and to hurt those who’ve already been wounded by broken relationships. Jesus had no interest in kicking people when they're down. He was VERY interested in protecting the weak and the vulnerable against the attacks of the strong and powerful.
Today, I think its important to see divorce as a tragedy rather than a sin.