(NOTE: FOR SOME REASON, THE LAST COMMENTS ARE NOT SHOWING UP IN FIREFOX, BUT ARE IN IE.)
About the Roman Catholic church and divorce and remarriage!
The more I learn, the more I realize that (as Moonshadow pointed out), the dogma/doctrine of annulment runs in the opposite direction. We can examine this dogma (or is it doctrine?) against Scripture. We know that that Scripture is my final authority (and considered here as the only infallible rule of faith and conduct). In examining traditions/dogma/doctrine of other denominations/religions I examine against Scripture to see if "it's in there".
From what I understand, getting an annulment means that you have to:
- make different "categories" of marriage (sacramental vs. "not") - which I don't find in the Bible. The website I linked to referred to "true marriage", meaning that some marriages are not true, a concept that I cannot find in the Bible.
- make a case before the church that your marriage before God never existed.
Having entered into a marriage contract (which is in the Bible and is considered "marriage"), you are married. Or (according to the Roman Catholic church) maybe not.
If you find yourself in a "not a marriage" (for lack of a better term) it's because of
- psychological reasons
- misrepresentation or fraud
- Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage (inability or refusal to have sex)
- Bigamy, incest (being married to someone else, or close relatives)
- Duress (being forced or coerced into marriage against one's will or serious external pressure, for example a pregnancy)
- Mental incapacity (considered unable to understand the nature and expectations of marriage)
- Lack of knowledge or understanding of the full implications of marriage as a life-long commitment in faithfulness and love, with priority to spouse and children.
- Psychological inability to live the marriage commitment as described above.
- Illegal "Form of Marriage" (ceremony was not performed according to Catholic canon law)
- One/both partners was under the influence of drugs, or addicted to a chemical substance.
Which of these is actually Scriptural? As one who believes that Scripture is the final and only infallible source of faith and conduct, we can examine each of these reasons against Scripture to see if they are Scripturally sound.
The first thing to look for is any place in the Bible where a marriage is labeled "not a marriage" before God. I don't find one.
- Christ, while talking to the woman at the well, said that she had had several husbands - were these all annulled? Jesus considered them valid marriages, or He would have said something different. But He didn't, He called them marriages.
- Consider Onan, who married Tamar in a Leverite marriage and didn't fulfill his end of the bargain. The Bible never tells us that it was not a valid marriage.
- Because it's the law of our land (in the USA), bigamy and incest would have the marriage not be valid to start with (without the judgment of the church). No annulment should be needed, because it was an illegal marriage. Inthe Bible, Jacob married his first cousins and the marriage was never considered anything but a marriage. In the New Testament, living with your father's wife was condemned and church leaders are prohibited from plural marriages.
- Canon Law; Scripture doesn't give a form for marriage (meaning that it must be done in a church and/or by clergy). In the Old Testament, the Law said that if a woman in captured in war, a man shaves her head, waits a period of time and then has sex with her. I suppose you could call that a "form", but it also contradicts the Roman Catholic exception for "duress" - at least for the woman). There was no ceremony in a church.
- question: if a man becomes impotent, can the wife get an annulment?
The New Testament gives us two reasons for a Biblical divorce. In the Bible, we are never told that there must be additional paperwork by the "church" in order to remarry. In the Bible, a Biblical divorce comes with the right to remarry.
The Roman Catholic Church considers a marriage valid when:
- It is celebrated in a ceremony according to church law
- both parties are free to marry each other
- each party intends from the beginning of the marriage to accept God's plan for married life, as taught by the church
- each party has the physical and psychological ability to live out the consent and commitment initially given to the marriage.
Again, let's examine this against Scripture. The Bible never tells us that a "valid" marriage must be celebrated in a ceremony.
That both parties are free is a Biblical concept.
Intentions don't appear to matter (again consider Onan) and (other than the ability to consumate the marriage) physical or psychological reasons don't appear in the Bible.
My conclusion is:
If you are divorced for Biblical reasons, the divorce is Biblical and the marriage DID exist. A person is free to remarry. You don't need an annulment.
If you are divorced for unbiblical reasons, there is still hope an forgiveness (read this). But the marriage still existed and you still don't need an annulment.
(One thing, though...I know a woman who married a man in prison and that was never consumated. Even according to our court system, that was called an annulment by the law.
- NOTE: Any debate on this post MUST be on a Biblical basis. We can examine the doctrine of annulment against Scripture or we can not discuss it.