Ephesians 5:31 nearly mirrors Matthew 19:5. You contend these verses restrict civil marriage to opposite-sex couples. I say, not so fast…
The Matthean passage, which consequently illuminates Ephesians 5:31, isn’t a discourse in which Jesus elaborates upon who may marry, but touches precisely on the subject of divorce.
To appreciate the tension in Matthew, it’s critical to understand that the Pharisees parallel modern Christian fundamentalists in key ways. They were religious separatists (Ezra 10:11), and prided themselves on their ideological conservatism, as well as knowledge of, and adherence to, the Scriptures (Read Matthew 23:7, 13-33, where Jesus blasts them for their presumed theological orthodoxy and moral superiority!).
Jesus, addressing this sect of religious lawyers, the Pharisees, employs prudent legal restraint and precision.
Speaking to lawyers, he provides the minimum, yet, requisite information, thus enabling him to satisfy their query while preventing his own legal entrapment.
Speaking as a lawyer, Jesus cleverly answers their question with a question.
Verse 5: “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…?” Certainly, this must frustrate opponents of marriage equality. Why? Jesus’ question does NOT use the specifically restrictive legal language “for this cause and this cause only….”
Jesus doesn’t pronounce an injunction against same-sex couples seeking civil marriage, but does respond to the condemnatory, legalistic and hypocritical Pharisees quite handily.
--ez duz it Copyright © 24 June 2011