met a man who says Im a gift from God to him. But his wife divorced
him almost 20 years ago and Ive been told I cant marry him in
the Catholic Church. Its not fair. Why would the Church be obsessed
with what happened 20 years ago?
ctually, the Church concerns itself
intimately with things that happened 2000 years ago, so 20 years is just
an eyeblink in the context of that tradition.
As for understanding the sin
of divorce, you first need to understand
the grace of Holy Matrimony. Just as the Old and the New Covenants that God
made with humanity were grounded in Gods unending
love for us, so Holy
Matrimony reflects Gods love through the union of a man and a woman
in their task of establishing a family. Since Gods covenant can never
be broken, neither can the covenant of Holy Matrimony.
In fact, Christ was quite explicit
in his teachings on divorce. Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:3132 and 19:112,
Mark 10:112 (and even John 4:18) all speak to the fact that Jesus condemned
divorce and remarriage as
So why do we live in a world
2000 years later filled with Christians who think of divorce
as about as meaningful as an automobile oil change?
Well, one passage of Matthew
(5:32) speaks about an unlawful marriage as grounds for divorce.
At least, this is what a faithful translation of the Greek says. A scholarly
understanding of this text reveals that Matthew was writing to a Christian
community within a pagan Greek setting, and so he likely applied Jesus
basic teaching about divorce, as found in all the other Gospels, to the Greek
Christian communityand if you know anything about Greek paganism you
know that it was characterized by all sorts of immorality, including incest.
So what was the Christian community to do when someone who was married, say,
to his step-mother or sister, wanted to convert? Well, he had to divorce
his wife because the marriage, according to Christian
morality, was unlawful in the first place.
But the problem doesnt
end there, because this exception clause eventually got blown
up all out of proportion to Matthews original intent.
In the early 16th century, when
Henry VIII, the king of England, wanted to get a divorce because his wife
couldnt bear any children, he appealed to the Pope. The Pope essentially
said, No, it doesnt matter if youre a king; this is your
cross, so bear it.
Henry, with a
pride bigger than his stomach, essentially replied,
Go to hell; Ill form my own church in which I have the say-so,
and I will declare it legal for me to get divorced. So he set himself
up as head of his own church, and he also set about revising the Bible to
purge it of anythingespecially anything supportive of Catholic
doctrineinconvenient to his desires.
The result of this revision,
called the Authorized version of the Bible, was completed by his heir, King
James I. Thats right, the King James Bible. And in it, these words,
which conveniently justify Henry, are put in Christs mouth: But
I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause
of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry
her that is divorced committeth adultery. Thus Henry was retroactively
justified for divorcing his fornicating wife. At least, he accused
his wife of fornication (all the while he himself was fornicating with his
mistress, mind you)and his word as head of his own church was as good
as Gods, wasnt it? Wasnt it?
Anyway, once Henry confused civil
law with religious law and inserted his authorized corruption into
his Bible, it was only a short time400 years or sobefore
divorce, for any reason, became a household word. The Catholic Church has
been left holding the Bible, so to speakthe intact and unpurged Catholic
Bible that preserves the true intent of Christ.
So there you have it. You can
authorize yourself, if you want,
and get married outside the Church, but to get this eyeblink
of a satisfaction, you will pay the dire price of grave
sin. Or you can remain
faithful to Christ, however inconvenient it might
be to your desires. Maybe God did give you as
a gift to each otherbut not as you want to think. Maybe God gave you to him
so that you could witness the true faith to him and help to lead him to a true
understanding of religion and marriage.