“The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated… Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate.” (Pope Benedict XVI, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 64)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Divorce is Not a Sin

Call me a fly-by-night theologian. Perhaps that is what I am, but today I believe I had an epiphany, and its so simple its beautiful.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage, validly entered, is indisoluable, and while there are certain passages that (in some Bible translations) say that there is an exception for adultery, the church doesn't teach that, and it takes a long drawn out explanation of what the word "porneia" means and its really a hard thing to explain to your plain average Joe Protestant.

Instead, lets look at divorce from a common Protestant perspective, which is that divorce itself is a sin. There is argument among even Protestants as to whether or not this is true, and whether or not marriage is a covenant, but those who believe it is not often claim that divorce is a sin and that, once you divorce, you just need to confess it to God and he will forgive you. Then, they may claim that you are free to marry another person.

This logic does not hold, though, and the reason is simple: divorce cannot be a sin because God permitted it (via Moses) in the Old Covenant. Since God is all good, he would never give someone a license to sin, because that would make God evil. But because of the fact that God cannot approve of sin, divorce is not a sin. And if divorce is not a sin, then you cannot confess it and have it forgiven of you, thus you cannot get out of a marriage by confessing a divorce to God. You are still married, just as God intended, if you are a Christian.

Also, let's say for argument's sake, that divorce were a sin. Then you could confess it, but you need to repent, that is, amend your life. How do you amend your life for a divorce? You "remarry" or reconnect with your "divorced" spouse. So regardless of whether divorce is a sin or not, you are not able to exit from a marriage covenant that is validly made.

Now that is not to say that in certain circumstances, such as abuse, a person could not leave their spouse. But if they were to remarry they would be committing adultery, and the only way to repent from that would be to leave their new spouse and remain single for the rest of their life.

The apostles understood this when Jesus spoke to them. You can hear it in their voice when they said "If that is the case, then it is not expedient to marry."

Call this human logic but the Catholic Church has got this right. Marriage is forever. Praise God!

1 comment:

  1. Makes sense.

    And of course, under Canon Law, ALL marriages are presumed to be valid, which is why they must be investigated to determine if perhaps there was an impediment that actually rendered it originally invalid. Because...the Church cannot declare nullity on a marriage that is determined to have been valid

    Conversely, this is why there are some impediments to marriage that also cannot be overcome...ie a previous marriage that "ended" in divorce but was never declared null, certain physical conditions (natural law issues), etc. The Church also can't change natural law.

    There are many CATHOLICS who hold the Protestant view, and believe that the Church teaches divorce itself is a sin. They end up leaving the Church, never actually investigating this for themselves, and bash the Church quite unfairly. They think they are banned from Communion simply for getting a civil divorce.

    Very, very sad, and it's hard to get through all that anger to explain the true teaching.

    Yes, the Catholic Church has it right!