Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mark: teachings that should cause teachers to tremble

Mark 9:42-10:16

Jesus is going through a lengthy discourse.  He had just finished telling his disciples to stop arguing over who is the greatest and encouraging them to be like children.  Then he says that if anyone should cause a child to sin, it would be greater for him to be tied to a millstone and thrown into a sea than to face whatever he will face in hell should he not repent.  This should cause teachers and ministers everywhere to tremble.  I know I have not been the best example to the kids that I lead at all times and I hope that I will never cause them to fall into disbelief or sin.

Then he talks about divorce.  The popular thing to do in that day was to take God's word that had permitted divorce to protect a woman should a man's heart get so rebellious against God and using it as an excuse to just divorce a woman because he had grown tired of her and she wasn't hot anymore and her cooking was bad.  It's just like today when teachers twist God's word around to allow homosexuality and gay marriage.  God has never approved of such things or allowed them, and he most certainly doesn't approve of people using his word to marginalize women.  God meant marriage to be permanent and only to be broken after adultery happened.  And, of course, men and women must guard against adultery in the first place and remember that when they married, it was for life.

Now, I know many divorced people and remarried people with kids from previous marriages.  What's done is done.  You can't do anything about it now.  But from now on, honor the Lord more than you honor your feelings.  I find it especially interesting that in Mark, the divorce teaching is sandwiched between teachings about children.

And now, Jesus reminds the people to let the little children come to me.  People in support of infant baptism would use this as a proof text.  I support infant baptism, but I don't see it there.  My main support is that it replaces circumcision which was done to 8-day-olds.  Certainly not old enough to understand, which is the point.  We need to start considering our children as part of the church and dedicating them, not just the parents, when they are born and long before they understand so that when they do start to understand, they're already there.  And infants are members of the covenant community along with their believing parents and need to be baptized.  And we should not treat them as a different level of existence than the adult members of the church.  I think we'd worry less about our kids and not push for professions of faith before they are ready.

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