The most disheartening section of the [Anglican Church of Canada’s] report comes in its treatment of the words of our Lord in Mark 10:1-10 and Matthew 19:1-9. Whatever the motivation may have been, the report circumvents a straightforward reading of Scripture. In his disputes with the Pharisees regarding divorce, Jesus invokes the original purpose of God in establishing marriage: namely, to create an indissoluble bond between man and woman. The report comments on these passages (188.8.131.52):
Jesus refuses to be entrapped, and yet also refuses to make a new law; rather, he challenges the “hardness of heart” reflected in both casual and utilitarian practices of divorce and remarriage in the Hellenistic world. Jesus is therefore not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage, but rather giving a pastoral (and political) response to a particular set of practices.
The first sentence in this paragraph is on the right track. Jesus doesn’t fit into the casts forced upon him by some contemporary rabbinic positions regarding divorce. He does not make a “new law” either; in fact he simply reiterates a very old “law,” one going all the way back to creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Further, the report is correct in noting that Jesus probably was concerned about “a particular set of practices,” not least the permissive attitude toward divorce that was common at the time.
It does not follow, however, that Jesus is “not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage.”