Lent, 3rd Sunday. Four things the Church is Serious About, #3: The Church is serious about Marriage. God loves His people faithfully; He will never give up on us. Neither is divorce possible for human marriages: once the two have become “one flesh” no human being can separate them. The Church takes the words of Jesus seriously, and that’s why the Church is serious about Marriage. (3 Mar 2013)
Four Things the Church is Serious about, #3:
The Church is Serious about Marriage
Jesus gives the Samaritan woman the Good News that, despite her troubled past, God still loves her (John 4). The true love she has been looking for all her life has come looking for her; His name is Jesus Christ. God has offered His people an unbreakable covenant. He himself has always been faithful to us no matter how far we have wandered from Him. God will not divorce us even if we deserve it. He asks us to love one another in the same way that He loves us.
Divorce is not Possible
The Church believes that the love between a husband and a wife must reflect the love of God for His people. Just as God is faithful to us, so also we must be faithful to one another. God will not divorce us, so we cannot divorce each other. Why doesn’t the Pope change the Church’s old-fashioned ideas about divorce? Because of what Jesus said:
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (Mat. 19:4-9, RNAB)
The Church, obeying the teachings of Jesus, believes that once a marriage has been ratified and consummated, the two have become ‘one flesh’ and no power on earth can separate them.
What about Annulments. Isn’t that just an expensive Catholic divorce?
Jesus says, “unless the marriage is unlawful.” There are a number of circumstances where one’s marriage might appear valid, but might not be a truly unbreakable one-flesh union. For example, if someone was deceived or forced into marriage, or if a couple agreed never to have children, or not to be faithful to each other exclusively. In these circumstances, the marriage might appear valid, but a careful investigation would reveal that there was a serious defect that prevented the two from becoming “one flesh.” The annulment process in the Diocese of Green Bay costs $350. Even if an annulment is granted, the children are still considered legitimate.
I know this is a touchy subject because divorce has touched the lives of so many. No one plans to get divorced, but we often make choices that undermine true love before and during marriage. We have to prepare well for the marriage of a lifetime. Let us pray for all married couples and help support our friends and family in staying married. We need to support and comfort those too who have felt the pain of divorce. Marriage is difficult, but it should not be painful: it should be a portal through which we catch a glimpse of God’s faithful love. We can be comforted by knowing that no matter how you have lived, God still loves you and is still faithful to you.