When it comes to being Christ’s disciple, Mark cuts us little slack. It requires obedience to Christ, prayer, humility, attention to personal example, faith, and concern for those on the margins (all topics covered in the section 8:22 – 10:52, beginning and ending with stories of healing the blind).
Discipleship also requires faithfulness – a faithfulness that extends to marriage.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain words of Jesus regarding divorce. Of the three, only Matthew allows an exception clause for divorce: marital unfaithfulness. Neither Luke nor Mark have this exception.
So which is it? Is there an exception or not?
By Jesus’ day, Moses’ law was being interpreted as allowing for divorce – and as long as there was a way out, few people thought anything of it. That, really I think, was the problem. Jesus’ words (as recorded by the synoptic writers) did not do away with the subject of divorce among the disciples – as can be clearly seen by Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 7. Mark recounts these words differently from Matthew and Luke. In Mark, Jesus applies the rule of faithfulness equally to men and women. Marriage is for life.
But what if things don’t work out that way? What if you get a divorce? What if you get remarried? What then?
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say. It happens. Paul will later acknowledge it and provide some path forward for those injured by divorce. It’s a sticky subject with a lot of uncertainty. Theologians offer their thoughts, but everyone should remember: If Jesus didn’t cover the contingencies and consequences, neither can we. It is enough to say this: “God intends marriage be for life. Period. Be careful as you enter it. Be even more careful as you exit it. Undoing a marriage is trifling with the creation of God.”