This week’s Scripture passage: Galatians 6: 11-18
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to[b] the Israel of God.
17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
It happened today for only the second time. A couple can’t use me to do their wedding ceremony because they couldn’t complete a dissolution of divorce before marrying each other. The woman had been separated from her first husband for more than ten years but they hadn’t divorced. By law, I’m prevented from executing the new marriage ceremony.
This whole law and relationship business is a wild one these days. Gay rights advocates are fighting tooth and nail over the right to marry. Seniors are finding it necessary to live together rather than marry because their benefits from deceased spouses are keeping them financially solvent. Many stand to lose hundreds of dollars each month if they re-marry.
Young couples are living with their partners without the benefit of marriage even though the statistics show an overwhelming projection that this choice will harm their chances of staying married or together for that matter. And now, it seems, there is a growing trend among Christians to forego the civil process of obtaining a marriage license and choosing instead to go through a ‘sacred union’ ceremony. This union is intended to show that their vows are before God rather than a civil authority which they believe should not regulate family and relational issues.
Paul’s summary verses wrap up his epistle to the Galatians by reminding those of us who walk by faith that the life lived under the law is a lifestyle based upon governing consumption and utility. Laws govern our boundaries and therefore, what we may use and not abuse. On the other hand, Grace and Love guide freedom and creation. Laws put limits, Love and Grace promote possibilities. There is no shortage of constraint in Love and Grace but that constraint is intended to bring fruitfulness to bear.