Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Implicit justice

Something which struck me as I prepared to speak on Sunday on Mark 10:2-16 was the blow Jesus struck for justice with his words about divorce and marriage. The contemporary situation in which a man had all the rights in marriage, including the right to issue a certificate of divorce, had to stop. In the creation of humanity, men and women were created equal in the sight of God as the image of God. Neither husband nor wife should have dominance within marriage, Jesus is implying with his cessation of the Mosaic approach to ending marriage. We might add, from the same passage, that Jesus also struck a blow for justice in respect of children: by blessing them, he affirmed their full personhood. By citing children as models for how the kingdom of God is to be received, Jesus drew all his teaching into the practice of life in the kingdom of God.

Children accept authority - the rule of adults over their lives. To enter the kingdom of God which is the rule of God over our lives, we also need to accept God's authority and live under it. Family life included!

How this approach to justice works itself out in day to day living involves more than a simple equity in relationships. Disciples are called to live sacrificially, go the extra mile, love enemies, forgive others, and trust God for everything. Above all, in the kingdom of God, God matters most. Not us.

So getting our theology right, whether the theology of marriage or of economics or of ecology, will involve more than imbibing the latest thoughts of our culture or our media pundits. Yet when those voices speak about justice, we should listen, if only to keep discerning where justice is at work in the teaching of Jesus, and of the whole Bible.


An American commenter, Mark Harris, takes me to task for my post yesterday, about the American election. I think the great issue at stake in America today, its debt, is too important not to comment. Get that issue wrong and the world will be a very poor place indeed.

Cranmer's Curate makes an apt point about marriage here. Christians should be clear and united that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. Justice for gay people involves responses the churches of the globe have not done well, often slow to catch up with secular movements on, but that does not mean we need to revise the fundamental core of marriage, that it involves a man and a woman.

Although it is a long post - I read recently that all internet posts should only be 1 page in length - Jason Goroncy offers a superb and deep reflection on the recent Presbyterian Assembly here in NZ. Repays reading slowly!


Jason Goroncy said...

Sorry mate, I never got the memo about length ;-)

Father Ron Smith said...

I looked carefully through Jason's offering, taking heart, with him, at the following statement of Karl Barth - about the need to move beyond the concretisation of past tradition, using it as a guide to the past but not letting it become a barrier to what God might want us to be and do today;

"Theological work cannot be done on any level or in any respect other than by freely granting the free God room to dispose at will over everything that men may already have known, produced, and achieved, and over all the religious, moral, intellectual, spiritual, or divine equipage with which men have travelled. In the present continuation of what was won yesterday, the continuity between yesterday and today and between today and tomorrow must be submitted to God’s care, judgement, and disposing." - Karl Barth -

Ernst Käsemann, when he visited St. John's College in the late 1970s, also had a word or two to say on this subject. This is not too far from the ethic of Good Pope John XXIII - 'Semper Reformanda'

Bryden Black said...

Indeed Peter; a glorious tour de force from Jason.

Of course, with my trying to be a good 'reader' of Barth, I'd reinforce not only his "beginning once again at the beginning" (Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (T&T Clark, 1979), pp.165-6, gives an example of this, cited by Jason), BUT ALSO his CD I.2 re the threefold Word of God. There may be NO building from the Beginning that does build via the supreme testimony of Holy Scripture! All sides in the Marriage debate need to address this fulsomely ... sadly some play fast and loose, it seems.

Shawn said...

Semper Reformanda means to always seek to bring the Church into conformity with God's Word, not to jump on every fashionable secular bandwagon in the name of "progress", especially when liberal progress means little more than the permanent revolution of cultural Marxism.

Always back to the Bible not the world!

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Liberty: God's only justice, is steeped in natural law. Of which, has an ingrained sense of patriarchy.