Wedding Lectionary: Matthew 19:3-6 & Mark 10:6-9

These two passages each contain the core of Jesus quoting Genesis 2:24. They also are situated in the Gospels as an occasion of the Pharisees testing the Lord. Language scholars inform us this “testing” is a verb with an overtone of inducing embarrassment or failure in someone.

On a joyous wedding day, we shouldn’t let the Pharisees intrude, perhaps. Some would say we shouldn’t mention the d-word, which is why the Matthean choice here:

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,

     “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning

     the Creator made them male and female and said,

     For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

     and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”


… isn’t preferred to the Lectionary’s edit of Mark:


Jesus said:

“From the beginning of creation,

     God made them male and female.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

     and be joined to his wife,

     and the two shall become one flesh.

So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Therefore what God has joined together,

     no human being must separate.”


Maybe a couple would prefer the brevity of Mark. Jesus quotes the Scripture. God joins the couple in marriage. No human being can or should break what God has brought together.

Another approach would be to look at the Biblical metaphor of “one flesh.” The sexual act does not involve the blending of two bodies into one. The man retains his bodily definition: skin and flesh, during and after intercourse. But the joining of the couple in the act of sex brings an emotional and spiritual unity that the body is limited in expressing. Eventually intercourse is over, but has the act of intercourse supported the other aspects of two-becoming-one that Jesus endorses as the Father’s intent?

If a couple were willing to discuss their sex life and share with one another their expectations and delve a little into this Gospel understanding, it might shed light on the Church’s teaching for the reservation of sex to marriage.

And for couples already sexually active, this notion should still be addressed. Sex within marriage has a purpose, and if sex has had a different purpose for the couple, some adjustments in understanding should naturally follow.

Curious question: have any readers used either of these readings for their wedding liturgy?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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