Sermon on the Mount

Mark 10:2-16

Tertullian begins by pointing out that God could have given Adam and infinite number of partners, but he gave him just the one, thus enshrining the law of monogamy in our very origins. One man and one woman, that is the relationship which the church cements in marriage. As Origen tells us, the mystery of the one man and the one woman becoming one flesh is viewed, by analogy, to the joining of God and humanity in the Incarnation. St Augustine adds that it is also the protoype of the union between Christ and the Church.

Clement of Alexandria commented that guilt in divorce lay not only with the man who initiated the divorce, but also to the man who took on a divorced woman – a second marriage is ‘veiled adultery’, Athenagoras adds. The tempter promotes a more permissive view of marriage and remarriage, but this is not what Christ tells us.

Both woman and man are equally bound by their marriage vows, and no further union is possible without the implication of adultery, St Augustine wrote. God created marriage, and as the union of one man and one woman is from God, for divorce is of the devil. Divorce is allowed only for adultery, since it means that one or more of the two never wished to preserve conjugal fidelity.

Origen commented that Jesus was not vexed when he was challenged by deceptive questioners who were really hoping to trap him; he was always able to turn the tables.