Thursday, November 6, 2008


Growing up in a Church of Christ (Evangelical) background, one of their favorite topics to squabble endlessly about was the topic of when divorce and remarriage was permissible. Of course, this simplifies a lot when you become Catholic because we don't believe there can be such a thing as a divorce - at all.

So, the "scripture scholars" over in the Protestant side will come back asking about Matthew 19 and what it means. I'm linking this blog post from "Biblical Evidence from Catholicism" just to let him make a point so I don't have to ramble all day. You might want to read up about what an annulment really is in order to understand this argument in its totality.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I had an extensive argument with some good friends about Matt. 19:9 one time. I don't know where the Catholic Church stands on this, but basically the argument was over whether or not the woman put away due to her fornication was allowed to marry someone else. I thought she was. I even wrote an article about it several years ago, an article I never published or gave to anyone. I just had it on my standby in case someone brought it up again, in which case I would have given them my article so I wouldn't have to talk about it anymore.

I'm not even sure I'm right anymore, though. Sometimes we have these very deeply constructed arguments that both seem to do injustice to the text. Sometimes, I just don't know if Jesus was thinking anywhere near the same level we were (or at least I was) when he said that one sentence in Matthew, or else there would have been a whole chapter on the darn thing.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Well Matt, I'm going to give you my understanding of Catholic teaching (I have not been through a divorce or annulment, so someone who has might be more detailed.) Basically, we believe that there is no such thing as a divorce. Therefore, the Church does not recognize a civil divorce as dissolving the sacrament of marriage. Only death does that.

The Church has what is called the "annulment process" - which means that the Church will investigate a marriage of two people who want an "annulment' and those people must prove that the sacramental bond never existed in the first place (thus that the marriage is null and void, and never existed in any point in time). A good simple example of this would be if a woman was forced to marry when she was under the age of consent - She could get an annulment because the sacrament never exists.

What Jesus seems to be saying in Mt. 19:9 (if you read the link) is that no one can divorce (because you cannot undo what God has bound), but that there are some cases when a marriage doesn't exist (if a married man marries another woman, that second marriage would not be valid.)

The big question then, is what happens to people who get a civil divorce and the Church does not recognize it. This is a case that could be recommended from time to time by a priest. Think about the case of an abused wife - she might be recommended to get a civil divorce for her safety and the safety of her Children. This would not remove her from the Church, nor would it invalidate the sacramental nature of her marriage, but it would protect her and her children. She could continue to receive communion as long as she did not remarry (or date for that matter).

Rene'e said...

It has started.....

Obama reviews Bush orders on stem cells, drilling

Anonymous said...

Leslie McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9 that appear to allow for divorce and remarriage for marriage unfaithfulness.
He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall's paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Your conclusion is very sound...The Church has always taught there is no exception and that Divorce is not allowed (does not really cause an end to sacramental marriage anyway).