167:5.2 That night, in
sought to entrap the Master by inducing him to discuss marriage and divorce, as did their fellows one time in
but Jesus artfully avoided their efforts to bring him into conflict with their laws concerning divorce. As the
and the Pharisee illustrated good and bad religion, their divorce practices served to
contrast the better marriage laws of the
code with the disgraceful laxity of the
interpretations of these Mosaic divorce statutes. The Pharisee judged himself by the lowest standard; the publican squared himself by the highest
ideal. Devotion, to the Pharisee, was a means of inducing self-righteous inactivity and the assurance of false spiritual security; devotion, to the publican, was a means of stirring up his
to the realization of the need for repentance, confession, and the acceptance, by faith, of merciful forgiveness. The Pharisee sought justice; the publican sought mercy. The law of the universe is: Ask and you shall receive; seek and
you shall find.
167:5.3 Though Jesus refused to be drawn into a
controversy with the Pharisees concerning divorce, he did proclaim a positive teaching of the highest ideals regarding marriage. He exalted marriage
as the most ideal and highest of all human relationships. Likewise, he intimated strong disapproval of the lax and unfair divorce practices of the
Jews, who at that time permitted a man to divorce his wife for the most trifling of reasons, such as being a poor cook, a faulty housekeeper, or for
no better reason than that he had become enamored of a better-looking woman.
167:5.4 The Pharisees had even gone so far as to teach
that divorce of this easy variety was a special dispensation granted the Jewish people, particularly the Pharisees. And so, while Jesus refused to
make pronouncements dealing with marriage and divorce, he did most bitterly denounce these shameful floutings of the marriage relationship and pointed
out their injustice to women and children. He never sanctioned any divorce practice which gave man any advantage over woman; the Master countenanced
only those teachings which accorded women equality with men.
167:5.5 Although Jesus did not offer new mandates
governing marriage and divorce, he did urge the Jews to live up to their own laws and higher teachings. He constantly appealed to the written
in his effort to improve their practices along these social lines. While thus upholding the high and ideal concepts of marriage, Jesus skillfully
avoided clashing with his questioners about the social practices represented by either their written laws or their much-cherished divorce privileges.
167:5.6 It was very difficult for the
apostles to understand the Master's reluctance to make positive pronouncements relative to
scientific, social, economic, and political problems. They did not fully realize that his earth mission was exclusively concerned with
of spiritual and religious truths.
167:5.7 After Jesus had talked about marriage and
divorce, later on that evening his
apostles privately asked many additional questions, and his answers to these inquiries
relieved their minds of many misconceptions. At the conclusion of this conference Jesus said: "Marriage is honorable and
is to be desired by all men. The fact that the Son of Man pursues his earth mission alone is in no way a reflection on the desirability of marriage.
That I should so work is the Father's will, but this same Father has directed the creation of male and female, and it is the divine will that men and
women should find their highest service and consequent joy in the establishment of homes for the reception and training of children, in the creation
of whom these parents become copartners with the Makers of
and earth. And for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall become as one."
167:5.8 And in this way Jesus
relieved the minds of the
apostles of many worries about marriage and cleared up many misunderstandings regarding
divorce; at the same time he did much to exalt their ideals of social union and to augment their respect for women and children and for the home.
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