This time it was a phone call instead of a text. Last week, Joshua texted me about a test he’d just taken. Now he was asking me to proofread his first big paper for his religion class. The assignment was to summarize, compare and critique two influential 19th century writers, Karl Marx and Max Weber. After reading Josh's paper my first response consisted of one word, presuppositions. Josh looked up the word on Google and read it aloud. “Presupposition is a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action.” Joshua immediately understood my point. Marx and Weber were making their arguments from different presuppositions about religion. Joshua had been pointing this out throughout his paper without realizing there was a word for it.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus points to a presupposition to answer the Pharisees’ questions. I challenge you to see if you can find Jesus’ explicit presupposition as you read.
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But 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." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them,"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. Mark 10:2-16
Did you see Jesus' presupposition? It follows His answer to the Pharisees’ question about Moses’ commandment on divorce. Jesus has clearly stated the most basic of Christian presuppositions. "But from the beginning of creation, God made..." Jesus' point? Begin with the presupposition that “God made” and His “answers” will make sense to you. His disciples then ask Jesus the same question. His answer, rooted in the same presupposition, leaves little room for interpretation and confusion.
Why is this so important? Our technology-driven culture inundates us with a dizzying amount of information. It can be daunting to even recognize all the moral questions of our time. Thus, it can be easy to lose sight of the Truth.
That is why I think it is profound that the last part of this week’s Gospel focuses on children. Jesus tells us that we are to accept the kingdom of God like a child. Children keep things simple. Their faith presupposes the truth that from the beginning of creation, God made!