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DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

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Scripture

Gen. 2:20-24 - we see that, from the beginning, husband and wife are joined together by God and become one body. A body cannot be dismembered and still live.

Mal. 2:16 - God says "I hate divorce." These are strong words from our Lord. Divorce and remarriage violates the sacred marital covenant between a husband and a wife that has been ordained by God.

Matt. 19:6 - Jesus makes it clear that it is God who joins the husband and wife together, according to His will. What God joins together cannot be dissolved because God's will is perfect and eternal.

Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18 - Jesus says that whoever divorces and remarries another commits adultery. This is an offense against the natural law.

Rom. 7:2-3 - again, Paul reiterates Jesus' teaching that sacramental marriage followed by a divorce and remarriage is adultery. He who commits adultery destroys himself. (Prov. 6:23). Many Protestant denominations have rejected this teaching of Jesus and His Church.

1 Cor. 7:10-11 - once again, Paul gives Christ's teaching that married couples cannot divorce and remarry. This violates God's divine plan for the husband and wife.

Matt. 5:31-32 - the Lord permits divorce only for "porneia." This Greek word generally means unlawful sexual intercourse due to either blood relations (also called incest) or nonsacramental unions. The Lord does not permit divorce for "moicheia" (adultery). It is also important to note that in these cases, a marriage never existed in the first place, so the Lord is not actually permitting divorce, but a dissolution of the unlawful union.

Eph. 5:22-32 - Paul says that the sacramental union of husband and wife is the image of Christ and the Church. Just as Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church are inseparable, so are a husband and wife also inseparable. A civil divorce cannot dissolve a sacramental marriage (between two baptized people).

1 Cor. 7:12-15 - these verses set forth what the Church calls the "Pauline privilege" - two unbaptized people marry, and afterwards one of the people is baptized. If the unbaptized person decides to leave the marriage, the Christian is free to remarry (because the first marriage was not sacramental, and a union between a baptized and an unbaptized person can jeopardize the baptized person's faith).

Ezra 10:1-14 - these verses support what the Church calls the "Petrine privilege" - a baptized person marries an unbaptized person. To save the baptized persons faith from being jeopardized, the Pope may dissolve such a marriage pursuant to his binding and loosing authority.

Rev. 19:9 - the marital union of man and woman reflect Christ's union with the Church at the heavenly marriage supper. Just as Christ and the Church have become one flesh through the Eucharist and the union brings forth spiritual life for God's children, a man and a woman become one flesh and their union brings forth physical life for the Church. This union is indissoluble.

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Tradition / Church Fathers

 "Flee wicked arts; but all the more discourse regarding them. Speak to my sisters, that they love in our Lord, and that their husbands be sufficient for them in the flesh and spirit. Then, again, charge my brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, as our Lord His Church. If any man is able in power to continue in purity, to the honour of the flesh of our Lord, let him continue so without boasting; if he boasts, he is undone; if he become known apart from the bishop, he has destroyed himself. It is becoming, therefore, to men and women who marry, that they marry with the counsel of the bishop, that the marriage may be in our Lord, and not in lust. Let everything, therefore, be done for the honour of God." Ignatius of Antioch, To Polycarp, 5 (A.D. 110).

"Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, 'Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except for the cause of fornication;' and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion while she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling. 'He that taketh a woman that has been put away,' it is said, 'committeth adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an adulteress,' that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her husband." Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 2:24 (A.D. 202).

"Whence are we to find words enough fully to tell the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction signs and seals; which angels carry back the news of to heaven, which the Father holds for ratified? For even on earth children do not rightly and lawfully wed without their fathers' consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers, partakers of one hope, one desire, one discipline, one and the same service? Both are brethren, both fellow servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh; nay, they are truly 'two in one flesh.' Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. Equally are they both found in the Church of God; equally at the banquet of God; equally in straits, in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither hides ought from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other. The sick is visited, the indigent relieved, with freedom. Alms are given without danger of ensuing torment; sacrifices attended without scruple; daily diligence discharged without impediment: there is no stealthy signing, no trembling greeting, no mute benediction. Between the two echo psalms and hymns; and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. Such things when Christ sees and hears, He joys. To these He sends His own I peace. Where two are, there withal is He Himself. Where He is, there the Evil One is not." Tertullian, To My Wife, 2,8:4 (A.D. 206).

"Then, describing what ought to be in the case of those who are joined together by God, so that they may be joined together in a manner worthy of God, the Saviour adds, 'So that they are no more twain;' and, wherever there is indeed concord, and unison, and harmony, between husband and wife, when he is as ruler and she is obedient to the word, 'He shall rule over thee,' then of such persons we may truly say, 'They are no more twain.' Then since it was necessary that for 'him who was joined to the Lord,' it should be reserved 'that he should become one spirit with Him,' in the case of those who are joined together by God, after the words, 'So that they are no more twain,' it is said, 'but one flesh.' And it is God who has joined together the two in one so that they are no more twain, from the time that the woman is married to the man. And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those who are joined together by God, there is a 'gift'; and Paul knowing this, that marriage according to the Word of God was a 'gift,' like as holy celibacy was a gift, says, 'But I would that all men were like myself; howbeit, each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.' And those who are joined together by God both mind and keep the precept, 'Husbands love your wives, as Christ also the church.' The Saviour then commanded, 'What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,' but man wishes to put asunder what God hath joined together, when, "falling away from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding," not only to commit fornication, but 'to marry,' he dissolves even those who had been before joined together by the providence of God. Let these things then be said, keeping in view what is expressly said concerning the male and the female, and the man and the woman, as the Saviour taught in the answer to the Pharisees." Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 14:16( post A.D. 244).

"Two reasons can be advanced to explain why the marriage was celebrated with external festivities in Cana of Galilee, and why the water was truly changed into wine: so that the tide of Bacchanalian frenetics in the world might be turned to chastity and dignity in marriage, and so that the rest might be directed aright to the enjoyment both of wine free of toil and of the favor that presented it; so that in every way it might stop the mouths of those aroused against the Lord, and so that it might show that He is God with the Father and His Holy Spirit." Epiphanius, Panarion (Against All Heresies),5 1:30 (A.D. 370).

"'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him. But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many Women. But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her." John Chrysostom, On Matthew 62:1 (A.D. 370).

"'For this reason shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be two in one flesh.' To commend this unity he supplies an example of unity. Just as a man and a woman are one in nature so Christ and the Church are recognized as one through faith. 'This is a great mystery--I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.' He means that the great sign of this mystery is in the unity of man and woman....Just as a man forsakes his parents and cleaves to his wife, so too he forsakes every error and cleaves to the Church and subjects himself to her Head, which is Christ." Ambrosiaster, In Ephesians 5:31 (ante A.D. 384).

"There is hardly anything more deadly than being married to one who is a stranger to the faith,where the passions of lust and dissension and the evils of sacrilege are inflamed. Since the marriage ceremony ought to be sanctified by the priestly veiling and blessing, how can that be called a marriage ceremony where there is no agreement in faith?" Ambrose, To Vigilius, Letter 19:7 (A.D. 385).

"We do not say that marriage was not sanctified by Christ, since the Word of God says: 'The two shall become one flesh' and one spirit. But we are born before we are brought to our final goal, and the mystery of God's operation is more excellent than the remedy for human weakness. Quite rightly is a good wife praised, but a pious virgin is more rightly preferred." Ambrose, To Sircius, Letter 42:3 (A.D. 389).

"And these are the nuptials of the Lord, so that like that great Sacrament they might become two in one flesh, Christ and the Church. From these nuptials a Christian people is born, when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon that people." Pacian, Sermon on Baptism, 6 (ante A.D. 392).

"Therefore the good of marriage throughout all nations and all men stands in the occasion of begetting, and faith of chastity: but, so far as pertains unto the People of God, also in the sanctity of the Sacrament, by reason of which it is unlawful for one who leaves her husband, even when she has been put away, to be married to another, so long as her husband lives, no not even for the sake of bearing children: and, whereas this is the alone cause, wherefore marriage takes place, not even where that very thing, wherefore it takes place, follows not, is the marriage bond loosed, save by the death of the husband or wife. Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, 24:32 (A.D. 401).

"It is certainly not fecundity only, the fruit of which consists of offspring, nor chastity only, whose bond is fidelity, but also a certain sacramental bond in marriage which is recommended to believers in wedlock. Accordingly it is en-joined by the apostle: 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church.' Of this bond the substance undoubtedly is this, that the man and the woman who are joined together in matrimony should remain inseparable as long as they live..." Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, 1,10[11] (A.D. 420).

"When the wedding was celebrated [at Cana] it is clear that it was entirely decorous: for indeed, the Mother of the Savior was there; and, invited along with His disciples, the Savior too was there, working miracles more than being entertained in feasting, and especially that He might sanctify the very beginning of human generation, which certainly is a matter concerning the flesh." Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, 2:1 (A.D. 429).

"And so a wife is different from a concubine, even as a bondwoman from a freewoman. For which reason also the Apostle in order to show the difference of these persons quotes from Genesis, where it is said to Abraham, 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.' And hence, since the marriage tie was from the beginning so constituted as apart from the joining of the sexes to symbolize the mystic union of Christ and His Church, it is undoubted that that woman has no part in matrimony, in whose case it is shown that the mystery of marriage has not taken place." Pope Leo the Great, To Rusticus, Epistle 167:4 (A.D. 459).

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