Marriage

Peter came to Jesus with a question.

“Lord,” he said, “how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No,” said Jesus. “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Listen. The kingdom of heaven is like a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. In the process, one of his servants was brought in who owed him ten thousand talents. As he was unable to repay this, the king ordered that he should be sold—along with his wife, his children and everything he owned—to clear the debt.

“But the man fell on his knees and begged, ‘Please be patient with me and I’ll repay it all.’ Then the king was filled with pity for the servant. He cancelled the debt and let him go.

“But when the man left the king, he found a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii. Grabbing the servant by the throat, he demanded payment.

“The man fell on his knees and begged, ‘Please be patient with me and I’ll repay it all.’  But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt was paid.

“When the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called back the man whose debt he’d just cancelled.

“‘You swine!” he said. “I cancelled all your debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then in anger the king handed the man over to the jailers to be tormented until he repaid the entire debt.

“And that’s exactly how my heavenly Father will treat you, if you refuse to forgive your brother from your heart.”

Having said this, Jesus left Galilee and went to the region of Judea that’s east of the River Jordan. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed those who were sick.

Then some of the Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him with a question.

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” they asked.

“Haven’t you read what was written?” he asked. “’In the beginning, God made them male and female.’ And ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and so the two will become one flesh.’ Since they’re no longer two but one, what God has joined together let no one separate.”

“Why then,” asked the Pharisees, “did Moses allow a man to give his wife a notice of divorce and send her away?”

“Moses permitted divorce,” said Jesus, “because of your hard hearts, but that wasn’t what was originally intended. And I’ll tell you this, whoever divorces his wife – except for sexual immorality – and marries someone else commits adultery.”

“If that’s how it is between husband and wife,” said the disciples, “it’s probably best not to marry!”

“Not everyone can accept that,” said Jesus, “but only those who are suited to such a life. Some people are born to be celibate; some people are made to be celibate by others; and some people choose to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. So, let those accept this who are able.”

Matthew

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