Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

1 + 1 = 1

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.
- Mark 10:7-9

Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Church whereby a man and a woman enter into a covenant with each other and God. It is frequently used in scripture as a sign of God's love and affection for his people. The Revelation of St. John presents the relationship between Christ and the Church as that of a bride and bridegroom at a great wedding feast. It is obviously not something God takes lightly.

The Church following the example of her Lord likewise takes the covenant of marriage very seriously. It takes it so seriously that it sees in marriage an image of the Blessed Trinity itself. For this reason, a sacramental marriage, one filled with God's grace, cannot be dissolved no matter what people do.

These days people file for divorce at an incredible rate for various and sundry reasons. Now we even have "no fault" divorces. So when the Church refuses to acknowledge the validity of civil divorce, it is not suprising that people are quick to call the Church rigid and unbending. When the Church says that a person who divorces and remarries commits adultery, rather than that person being concerned for his or her soul, they typically lash out at the Church.

Annulments are a sore subject with people. The idea that the Church can declare a marriage null and void, that a marriage never existed, is confusing to people. Questions like, "Are my children illegitimate, then?" often arise. The answer to these questions is really simple and can be found in the last section of the above verse: what God has joined together, man must not separate. The legal character of the marriage is not being addressed, and this is what determines legitimacy of children. The sacramental character is what the Church is judging. Was the union joined by God who knows and sees all? That is what the Church, the Body of Christ, must investigate and decide.

So the simple truth is that a man and woman in a marriage are joined by God. Who are we mere mortals to think that we can dissolve the union?