Why Catholics don’t divorce

A while back I had a post on the Baha’i concept of social laws vs. spiritual laws, and how that doesn’t translate well – or at least it translates differently – to the Catholic worldview.

I used the example of divorce, which generated a lot of comments. I did my best to explain how Catholics conceptualize marriage and divorce, but I’m not sure if I was clear. Here is an old clip from South Park from 1998 that says what I was trying to say.

Quality time

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4 Responses

  1. I think in ancient times, women did not have the options they do today. Society was mostly agrarian with a pressing need for nuclear families. This is not true in this day and age.

    Marriage can be a great blessing or a terrible bane. A bane that brings out the worst in both parties. Although, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, we really need that option. I know I did. My married life was hell and inflicted great spiritual damage to my soul. Divorce was a spiritual blessing to me,

  2. This is a very painful topic for me, but it is important. Firstly, I try to follow Bahai teachings. Secondly I am in the process of divorce. Thirdly I believe so greatly I the lofty station of marriage that I cannot accept being single. Therefore I don’t plan to remarry, but instead, I am making other plans… Marriage is a metaphor,as almost evrry thing in this physical world is. Unity is , for people like e, a primary symbol of all that we summarize as the highest aspirations of mankind. And I accept full responsibility for its failure. I am not contesting anything.

    I wish there would become a more serious attitude about an act of deciding to get married, in society. Among the collection of friends my age and relatives, divorce is about 50%. God is All-Merciful, All-Forgiving. But this doesn’t comfort me. The purpose of marriage is not considered carefully enough. From the outside our family looked reasonably successful. And this outer face is what we worked hard to preserve. This also cut us off, in our downward circular spiral. I would dare to say that what I know of family counseling outside the USA is somewhat medieval in outlook, and mostly spiritless. I say you, if you are attempting to be a spiritual person, why would you a cept advice from an agnostic/atheist counselor?

  3. I agree, marriage is a serious decision. It is a decision to commit yourself to the other person no matter what that person does or turns into. That’s really heavy.

    That doesn’t mean you have to live with them if they’re abusive, pretending everything is fine. A person in that situation can separate if they need to. But their marriage commitment is still present, and it would be wrong for them to start a sexual relationship with someone else.

    You’re right that marriage is a metaphor. But it’s more than that. It’s also a mechanism by which we learn to be like God. Real love is unconditional, and we must develop our capacity to do that. Choosing to dedicate ourselves to someone else is an act of unconditional love. We can’t say, “I’ll stay with this person unless they do X or Y. Then I’m free to leave them and start up with someone else.” Saying that puts conditions on our love. That’s not real love.

    The Catholic Church tries to instill this in people through marriage prep classes. Anyone who wants to get married in the Catholic Church has to take them. They also have to wait at least six months before doing the ceremony. It doesn’t always work, sometimes because the couple doesn’t take it seriously, or sometimes because the parish staff aren’t good at conducting the classes. But hopefully a lot of couples gain a better appreciation of what they’re getting themselves into. Marriage is not to be taken lightly.

    I wish our popular culture promoted a view of marriage as a school of virtue, rather than treating it as the happy ending of a romantic story. Too many people go into marriage with a warped idea of what it is.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this. Our lives take strange and tragic turns. It doesn’t mean failure. We are broken creatures, and the brokenness follows us all of our mortal days. As long as we keep turning back to God, asking him for forgiveness and an increase in virtue, then we are living life well, no matter what happens along the way.

  4. When I was young, I thought I was well-prepared for marriage because I grew up in a home with a decent mom and dad who, though they didn’t always agree with each other, respected each other and loved each other very much. Their marriage lasted more than 55 years, ended only when my mom died of cancer. But, I so wish now that I had gone through some type of more thorough marriage preparation. I am Baha’i but my first husband, whom I married in my 20s, was a Christian. And he followed an earlier engagement which was broken before the wedding, also to a Christian. Their being Christian wasn’t the problem (my current husband is Christian also). The problem with my first husband was a very bad temper I saw nothing of until we were married and which degraded into physical abuse before we reached 6 months; and deception about what he truly thought and felt on a myriad of issues. Not sure if a preparation program and waiting period would have been able to flush these out, but I might have been better able myself to get at his real character. As it was, I had to send him away as soon as the physical abuse started; and while I was prepared to wait as long as it would take to get some help, his own pastor told me to cut my losses as my then-husband would not acknowledge he had a problem. That experience so wrenched my young heart and spirit that I didn’t want to look at dating again for a long time.

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