14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Britannica defines axiology thus:
axiology, (from Greek axios, “worthy”; logos, “science”), also called Theory Of Value, the philosophical study of goodness, or value, in the widest sense of these terms. Its significance lies (1) in the considerable expansion that it has given to the meaning of the term value and (2) in the unification that it has provided for the study of a variety of questions—economic, moral, aesthetic, and even logical—that had often been considered in relative isolation.
When we ask someone what they value the most we are pressing into their finances, their morality, their aesthetics, and their processing. Where do they spend their time and their money? Jesus has just finished warning his disciples about being too attached to money and now he rounds on the Pharisees. They ridiculed Jesus for being unconcerned with wealth or gain. We hear the same kind of ridicule today. When students who want to go to Moody Bible Institute tell their parents that they want to go into full-time vocational ministry, some parents despair. How will their children get by? Some parents become angry because they fear their children will be dependent on others for the rest of their lives. A problem is the lack of perspective that we are dependent on another. We are all dependent on God. A lack of faith finds security in money and then hoards it. The west is obsessed with finances and religious people are too seldom the exception.
People get together and find they can justify and affirm each other in their choices and values. We help each other to soothe our conscience. It is wisdom to amass personal wealth, we argue. It is wisdom to put ourselves first, because no-one else will. It is wisdom to grab pleasures whilst you can, you only live once. God is a forgiving God. But Jesus warns that what is exalted by men is an abomination to God. It reminds me that there is a way that seems right to a man but it results in death (Proverbs 14:2).
There has been a powerful change in the world since Jesus came and announced the Kingdom of God. However, it does not mean that the values of the Old Testament have been superseded by a grace where anything goes. Immorality is still immorality, sin is still sin, evil is still evil. Those who were trying to allow divorce in Jesus’ day, were often doing so for selfish means. I was told of a brothel in Pakistan when I lived there (possibly apocryphal), where young men would marry the prostitutes on the way in and then divorce them on the way out. By being married to the prostitute they didn’t break any Islamic laws. However, it is easy to see the motive behind this kind of easy marriage and divorce. God values relationships and love, not selfish utility of another person’s body. God’s values are higher and they represent the way the world is meant to be. How can we challenge the declining values around us and lift up eternal values?
There are good values in some of the cultures around me. People value your creation and think it should be treated with respect. People think that compassion and caring are good things, and so we should be compassionate and caring alongside these people. However, marriage is decaying into an institution anyone has the freedom to define. Its permanence unto death is undermined by both Christians and those who are not. Decisions are often made for immediate pleasure and the consequences of those decisions are avoided by damaging self and others. Let us know when to speak and when to be quiet. But help us not to assimilate and become people who value more and more of what you declare an abomination.
- What had the Pharisees just heard?
- Why do they react as they do?
- How does Jesus challenge their whole system of values?
- How are your values influenced by both the Old and New Testaments?
- Which of your values are most strongly tested by friends, family, and culture?