TBLA(1b): a bit more on Matthew 22

The best thing about writing on a blog is the chance for instant feedback and analysis, which means that misconceptions have a chance (a chance, not a certainty) of being cleared up before going further. So this is primarily a response to John’s comment.

Matthew 22 is undoubtedly a teaching about the resurrection; Jesus is refuting the Sadducees as John articulates. Yet I don’t think that this exhausts the meaning or importance of the passage itself. Firstly, the assumption being made by the Sadducees is to do with the Mosaic law about inheritance, about keeping a name alive in the land. That is the context which generates the perceived absurdity – the absurdity being that a woman cannot belong (be given) to more than one man. Jesus rebukes this by rejecting the idea that there is any ‘belonging’ in the resurrection, in the sense assumed by the Sadducees. He is therefore, I am arguing, rejecting the “social apparatus” of marriage as it existed in his time, ie the whole panoply of property law and inheritance obligations. The point that I was stumbling towards is that there is a distinction between this “social apparatus” – which is transient – and those elements of a relationship which do partake of the eternal, especially in so far as they embody agape.

The interesting bit – interesting for me, that is – is going to be working out precisely how this difference works out for us in this life, and how far things like the raising of children, or the ‘mutual love and affection’ of a gay partnership, are affected by this distinction. My sense is that the raising of children requires exactly a “social apparatus”; whereas something like a gay relationship doesn’t so much. Which is why I expect to argue that marriage – which is very much a “social apparatus” – is different from something like a civil partnership, even when that civil partnership is equally (if not more) capable of being a vehicle for the incarnation of agape love.