Of eunuchs and predators: Matthew 19:1-12 in a cultural context

Carmen Bernabe. Biblical Theological Bulletin, Vol 33, 2003, 128-134. Discusses Jesus' comments on divorce. From the abstract: "In this essay I hold the view that the point at issue in Matthew 19:1-12 is less one of divorce and more of a contrast between two forms of wife-husband relationship within a marriage: one, the traditional form, and the other, an alternative form deriving from the values of the forthcoming Kingdom that Jesus proposes to his disciples". The dominant cultural context was one where male honour depended on the kind of relationship men had with their wives - which tended to be dominant and patriarchal. Jesus suggests a radical alternative: that men do not divorce their wives at will, and renounce some of their culturally derived masculinity. This could be seen as "symbolic or social castration" - which Jesus alludes to in his call for men to choose to live like eunuchs "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven".