A Note on Marriage and Pharisaism

Jesus addresses Christians when we hear His words at Mass today: "They [the scribes and the pharisees] tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them."

I think of those of us who take the defense of marriage in dead earnest, who do so above all because the welfare of children is at stake in it, which the preferential option for the powerless sets as the first concern for social justice.

IF we are serious about marriage as followers of Jesus (merciful hammer of pharisees), we would never dare to impose rules on others self-righteously (as if looking down on poor sinners that we somehow aren't!) The defense of love cannot be done from the meanness or pusillanimity of the censorious heart. It must be done from a burning, personal, descending, incarnational love for that single individual we address.

It is not optional for the Christian to empathize with those who do not enjoy the comfortable home lives we might have. If we have been so blessed, then all the more should our hearts be filled with mercy--real mercy, active mercy--for those who bear most painful crosses.

Most crucially, before we would think of obscenely spouting rules at wounded people, WE would accompany them through their dark valley. WE would lovingly provide a marriage-supporting culture in particular cases.

Pharisaism is a profound spiritual disorder, what Voegelin would call a pneumopathology. A pharisaical "defense" of marriage is the smoke of Satan. May the good Father break to pieces the hardness of our hearts.