Verses 11-12: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and maries another, she commits adultery.”
This seems pretty clear teaching from the mouth of Jesus himself. Yet most Christian churches permit remarriage after divorce. And Paul, who I am gathering must have been familiar with Jesus’ teaching in this regard, felt free to modify it to allow for divorce when it facilitated church membership. This raises a couple of questions: Is Jesus just expressing an ideal here, or is he laying down law? Why did Paul feel he had the right to take what, I think, has to be construed as a softer stance on the issue than Jesus did? Why do people who insist that same-sex intimacy is incompatible with Scripture not think that divorce is incompatible with Scripture? Some of the loudest voices raised against gays and lesbians in our church are by male leaders in second marriages.
And speaking of fairly explicit passages, verse 23: How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God.” Is Jesus saying that the possession of wealth in the midst of scrarcity is an injustice, and the unjust will not enter heaven? Or is he saying that wealth is a distraction that keeps one from focusing on the Kingdom. Or both? One thing I think is clear, when he says, in verse 27 that nothing is impossible with God, it isn’t meant as a free pass to every pious porker who clings to his riches while attesting to the power of Christ in his life. Yet those folks are about the hottest evangelists in the game right now. And you never hear anybody whining about their orthodoxy.
If, like many Episcopalians, you are used to having some questionably interpreted passages from Scripture used as proof that you are not following the true faith, it makes you wonder why those who wield the Bible like a billy club pay so little attention to what seem to be clear teachings on divorce and on the accumulation of wealth.