Marriage Advice from an Unlikely Source: Jesus.

Martin Schongauer, 1473, via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus and Mary painted by Martin Schongauer, 1473, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re like me, a lapsed church-goer who still considers themselves spiritual in nature, you may have come to the same conclusion I have: It’s hard to find many insights of real value in the Bible. I’ve written before how many of the lessons Jesus teaches leave me scratching my head, for instance the parable of the fig tree.

That’s why I was thrilled when Care of the Soul author Thomas Moore began putting out a series of books on the four Gospels. There may be no better guide to the intricacies of Jesus’s teachings than Moore, a former monk who lived in a Catholic religious order for 12 years, and who went on to become a psychotherapist and perhaps the greatest spiritual writer of our time.

In his latest release, Gospel–the Book of Mark, Moore has translated the original text into very understandable English, reinterpreting some passages while providing a running commentary that illuminates the meaning of Jesus’s words and actions. In the introduction to the book, Moore reminds us that Jesus did not set out to create a religion or church.

His purpose is clear. He wanted to raise human awareness and behavior to a higher level…he was guided by basic values of love and community….and was not moralistic but rather deeply concerned about the roots of self-serving and destructive behavior.

Jesus On Marriage and Divorce

We all know where Jesus stood on love, with statements like “Love whoever you encounter as yourself,” but I did not realize that the unmarried Jesus had also weighed in on marriage and divorce. Check out this passage from Moore’s new translation of Mark:

A man will leave his mother and father and embrace his wife, the two becoming one body. They are no longer two, but one. What God has put together no human being should separate. ~Mark, Chapter 10

Thomas Moore adds commentary to this passage that gives it new meaning and context, as it also draws from his life-long study of the soul. Like myself, Moore has been married to the same woman for over 20 years and believes in the sanctity of marriage. It’s important to note that a strong belief in marriage is not the domain of conservative Christians, or liberal Christians for that matter, but all of us who took and continue to take our wedding vows to heart. Below is an excerpt.

Today many people take divorce for granted and just ignore this teaching of Jesus. 

It may sound moralistic and old-fashioned, but seen as part of the entire Gospel teaching, it may indicate that if we could truly inaugurate the utopia of the sky kingdom [heaven on earth]…divorce need not be an option.

Even now, some people get divorced thinking that it is nothing more than the dissolution of a contract. Then they get sick and cannot sleep, and dream for years about their lost spouse. Deep in the soul, divorce is not an easy thing. We should not take it lightly.

There is also a tendency in divorce to blame your partner for the dissolution of the relationship, a way of protecting yourself from the deep, heavy feelings of responsibility and choice.

Jesus’s words lend divorce a degree of seriousness that is rare in our time.   

It goes without saying, that when in an abusive relationship divorce may be the only viable solution. But when one enters a marriage in love, and the love seems to dim, there are always ways to rekindle the flame. For a deeper dive on the subject, see my story Five Tips from the Dude on Love and Marriage. It features insights from actor Jeff Bridges, aka “the Dude”, who has been married to his wife Sue for over 30 years.

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