Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’
If those words disturb you, don't worry, they don't apply anymore because "we" know better.
In his sermon today, the rector noted that the greater portion (those African churches) of the Anglican Communion follow a literal interpretation of this reading, an interpretation that neither he nor the Episcopal church holds. He used the first half of his sermon in an attempt to support the current doctrines of free and easy divorce and remarriage in the Episcopal church U.S.A. The usual arguments were covered with a couple of surprises tossed out for good measure. It was a surprise when he tried to justify the liberalization of divorce and remarriage in the ranks of the clergy. (No mention of 1 Timothy 3. I guess nobody believes that anymore). Then he pitched in an argument that the multiplicity of grounds for divorce that developed over time were a big problem and they eventually led to the justification of divorce for anyone on the grounds of "mutual incompatibility." Talk about an opportunity to discuss the dangers of incrementalism. No mention of the increased ease of secular divorce and the Church's response, which in the case of the Episcopal church was not to just roll over and play dead, but to join the game with flapping jowls and wagging tails.
And does anyone recall how close the Episcopal church came to having a "Liturgy of Divorce?" Oh yes, it was unofficial and was aborted from the Episcopal News Service web pages after it was discovered and exposed by bloggers, but who can forget that it,
"aimed to 'witness and bless the separation of this man and this woman.' It contained an 'undoing of the vows' by the couple..."
Our rector then turned to the tried and true arguments of domestic violence, mercy, and justice as justification to ignore the words of the Lord. A surprise came when the rector admitted that "experience" was an important guiding force leading to our current liberal teachings. I am afraid that "experience" is all you have to go by when you toss out Holy Scripture.
Can "experience" lead to salvation?
I will say one thing for him, and that he is honest about himself when he said that he thinks that "some scriptural verses have to be set aside" and he includes Mark 10:2-16 among them. This was no surprise to me, but I just wonder what the guests who were present for today's infant baptism thought. I also wonder how the second half of the sermon, during which he lauded long term marriages and contained some good thoughts, tied in with the first 10 minutes. It left me wondering just what part of the Gospel was this sermon based upon if the rector "set aside" the scripture itself. I guess it was just another sermon based on "experience."
I also wonder what those baptismal vows meant,
Question Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your
Answer I do.
Question Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer I do.
Question Do you promise to follow and obey him as your
Answer I do.
Does that mean I promised to obey only the easy words and reason away the inconvenient ones?