On Wednesday one of our students, Lauren Woods, read a monologue that I had written for our class on Mark 10. It’s one thing to read and discuss what Jesus says about marriage and divorce. It’s another thing to imagine what kind of real world impact his words had – and continue to have today.
The monologue is based on Mark 10:1-12. The full script is below if you want to follow along or read it on your own.
LET NO ONE SEPARATE
Performed by Lauren Woods
Written by Daniel Lee
I remember it like it was yesterday. Every new bride is nervous in the beginning. Will he like me? Will he think I’m beautiful? Will I be able to satisfy his needs? How many children will I give him? What will our life be like? Could he ever possibly love me?
All these questions and doubts were swirling through my mind throughout the entire wedding ceremony. He seemed a nice enough man. My father had made all the arrangements with his family. He was ten years older than me. I was barely a woman – only thirteen. He had completed his training in rabbinical school. He was an expert in the Law, set to join the sect of the Pharisees. This was a BIG deal for my family.
Would I bring honor on my family through this marriage? Or would I be a shameful disappointment of a wife? Hope and fear battled within me as we were pronounced husband and wife.
Life started out like a dream. He was gentle and caring. He treated me respectfully. I did my best to tend to the household duties while he was away with the other rabbis and teachers of the law. He took his study and research very seriously. He also took our marriage seriously. He was a good man.
But one year had passed and I had not yet conceived a child. Another year passed, and then another. He was growing resentful and even angry at times. He began treating me more harshly. I couldn’t focus under all the pressure, so I began to burn the food and became more accident-prone around the house.
My worst fears came true when he first uttered the phrase, “I divorce thee.” My cheeks flushed. Tears ran down my face. I ran off to my living quarters and sobbed into my bedding. I had to do better. If he said this twice more, that would be the end.
The next day when he returned home I tried to make everything perfect. Dinner was set. The meal hot and ready when he walked across the threshold. His face softened as he reclined at the table. The tension was released, and I let out a sigh of relief. But in a moment of lapsed concentration I accidently knocked over his wine glass right onto his newest cloak.
“I divorce thee!” he shouted, swiping all the remaining dished off the table and onto the floor. He stormed out of the house and back into the market place leaving me to clean up the mess.
I had never felt more alone and scared in my life. If I messed up one more time, he could send me back to my father, bringing disgrace upon me and my entire family. What if my father refused to take me back? I would have to resort to begging…or worse.
The next morning my husband was gone before I even woke up. No note or explanation of where he had gone or what he was doing. I spent most of the morning doing the household duties through a steady stream of tears. Noon came and went. It was time to prepare his dinner. It had to be even better than before.
I made all his favorite dishes. I pulled out the best wine. Everything was perfect, an attempt to cover over my own imperfections.
I heard his voice and his footsteps as he approached. My whole body was tense as I held back more tears. I was on the verge of shaking or collapsing. This could be my last night in this house. This could be my last night as a married woman.
As he entered the doorway, I was taken aback. His whole demeanor had changed. He did not look angry or the least bit irritated. He had a charming smile across his face – the same smile he bore as he pushed back my veil for the first time. His features were softer, and there were tears forming around his eyes.
I started to direct him to the table for his meal, but he stopped me before I could say a word.
“My bride. My wife,” he said. “I…. I love you.”
I nearly fainted. He had never uttered those words. I don’t have any friends whose husbands had said that, either.
Both of us now had wet cheeks from the streams flowing from our eyes. I was stunned, unable to move. He moved first, though, sweeping in and grabbing me into his arms.
“I love you,” he whispered before his kissed me.
He set me back down and I repeated the words back to him, trembling, “I…love you, too.”
After a moment, he let go of our embrace and reclined at the table, inviting me to recline and eat with him – another first.
As he began sipping his wine and tearing off a piece of bread – which he handed to me – he broke the silence.
“I met the most amazing teacher today. You may have heard of him. The call him Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth. My colleagues and I were in a heated discussion about marriage and divorce. I promise, I was not the one who brought it up, nor did I contribute much to the discussion. My mind was swimming. I did not want to divorce you, but it was all I knew to do. This is how I was taught. I can still hear my father’s voice, ‘The wife belongs to her husband, and he can do with her as he wishes. If she doesn’t please you, get rid of her and find a new one.’ Now I know he was completely wrong.
“In the middle of our discussion, Rabbi Yeshua came near. We wanted to test him, to see what side of the debate he was on. So, we asked him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’
“He answered by asking us what Moses said. We all knew. That was an easy one. The Law of Moses does permit a man to divorce his wife by giving her a divorce certificate. But then he said the only reason Moses permitted this was because our ancestors’ hearts were hard. He pointed us back to Genesis. When God created humankind, he created male and female. It was God who joined the first two humans together, and it is God who joins us together still today. If God has joined us together, then who are we to cause a separation?
“Rabbi Yeshua really challenged the way I thought about our marriage. It’s not just a social or economic arrangement. It’s a covenant between you, me, and God. I’ve been concerned about myself and what you can give me. But Yeshua says we should all serve each other and take care of one another – and love one another.
“So, I’m sorry about this…” He reached into his cloak and pulled out the certificate of divorce. “I already had the papers drawn up before Rabbi Yeshua came.”
Then he did the unthinkable. He tore that certificate to pieces right in front of me and tossed the remnants into the fire.
“Never again,” he said, “will I think of separating what God has joined. It’s you and me together for life, and death alone can separate us. I love you.”
The rest of the night was a blur. We still have no children, but he treats me like a queen. We do not have a perfect marriage – I don’t believe there is such a thing. But I no longer have to live with the fear that he might grow tired of me and send me away.
Not long after he met Rabbi Yeshua, the Romans arrest and crucified that great teacher. There are some who say he was raised from the dead. We did not see him, but we believe. There was never a teacher like him. We believe he is the Messiah, the Son of God. We have begun to meet weekly with the believers to pray and share a meal. Rabbi Yeshua showed us what love is, and now we try to show that to others.
I thank and praise God for Rabbi Yeshua, for saving my marriage, for saving me, for saving my husband, and for changing the way we see the world.