I finished reading the book of Ezra today. I have read it before, and so expected the end to strike me as odd, which it always has in the past. The last chapter of Ezra recounts the mass divorce called for by Ezra in the midst of rampant inter-marriage with the surrounding pagan nations. It always seems so out character – it just doesn’t sit right.
This time I was not so disturbed by it. My focus and outlook have changed. Yes, it still seems hard that marriages were ripped apart – even some where the partners had children through the marriage. But the core issue with the law is faithfulness. And the people turning to God in this instance were telling God how unfaithful they had been to him, and committing to return to him with whole hearts.
Our relationship with God comes before our relationship with spouse or family. Our culture doesn’t seem to get this. Even the church seems to put so much weight on marriage and family that it seems to border on near-idolatry. I do believe that God expects us to be concerned for the welfare of our families as good stewards. But God is still first.
I wonder what James Dobson would say about the last chapter of Ezra? Not that I am trying to be critical of him, he just stands out as a vocal Christian proponent of the importance of being a good spouse and parent. It’d be interesting to hear his read of this passage.