The Sacrament of Divorce?!?!?

I was listening to Issues, etc. (podcast from last week) and the guest (a very regular guest) Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse reacted in horror when host Todd Wilken talked about the Episcopal Church having a ceremony to "celebrate" divorce.

One of the things I've contemplated when studying divorce and remarriage in the church has been how to communicate to the congregation that a member who is (or in the process of becoming) divorced has been before the elders and is deemed by the church to have the right to remarry?

  1. the Episcopal Church does not call it a "sacrament"
  2. there is a point at which this sort of ceremony would be useful
  3. there is an emotional healing that takes place when a person can stand before a church congregation and have them know that the church leadership is standing with them.

The Roman Catholic Church has the annulment process, by which a marriage (no matter how long it has lasted or how many children it has brought into this world) is declared "not a marriage" to the church.  It does not deny that the marriage existed legally, but rather that - even if a priest presided over and blessed the vows - the marriage never existed in the eyes of the church because - in the hearts of the couple, or one or the other of the couple - it was not a sacramental marriage.

I disagree with this because one (or both) of the people involved may have very much made the covenant vows before God and man, and the heart was very much in line with what God intended marriage to be.   People sin.  I can come up with a couple of examples of how "annulment"  may not be fair to one party.

Just one...a man enters a marriage with the intent to stand before God and man and love her as Christ loves the church until they day one of them breathes no more.  She decides that she'd rather not be married and leaves...and then gets an annulment so she can get married in her parents' church.  The husband is left - after taking vows that meant the world to him and that HE kept...and knowing that those vows meant nothing in the eyes of the church, since the church just told him that marriage never existed in their eyes.

To tell a person who wanted to stay married that their vows were not sacramental, leaves them at the mercy of the spiritual life of their ex-spouse.

Where Rome gets it right:  The certificate of annulment comes with an assumption that the parties of the divorce have the Biblical right to remarry.

more in another post...

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7 thoughts on “The Sacrament of Divorce?!?!?

  1. Karl

    And so........some of us are now FORMER Catholics due to the travesty of the annulment process.

    I can tell you from first hand experience that the Catholic Church does not give a damn.
    Any priest or bishop who tells you otherwise is a damned liar!

  2. To tell a person who wanted to stay married that ...

    Even distinct from any ecclesiastical decision, i.e., in a civil divorce, one person may want to stay married. The push to divorce may not be mutual but no matter: it takes two to tango.

    I agree with you that what stings is the "never existed" part, when any reasonable person could see it did. It's the same as saying an apostate never really was a Christian, otherwise he would have persevered. There's too much presumption of cause that's determined wholly by effect.

    The blanket advice given by one-size-fits-all counseling ministries - I heard one on the radio the other night - concerns me. Praise God when he fixes the broken people in a broken marriage, but what's the message to those he doesn't?

    In the interest of full disclosure, you know my marriage is not sacramental - my spouse is not baptized - but valid, due to getting the appropriate little "e," episcopal dispensation. I couldn't simply enter into another marriage on the grounds that this one is not sacramental. Above, you seem to say sacramental marriages are the only sorts for RCC? Not so.

    I look forward to the next post when I can get more of your meaning. Peace.

  3. Post author

    you know my marriage is not sacramental...but valid...:

    I guess if I had thought about it I would have realized it. 😉

    Given that difference, would a person with a valid marriage, but not sacramental need to seek an annulment in order to be remarried within the Roman Catholic Church?

  4. need to seek an annulment

    Yes, I think that's true.

    I hope it's clear from how closely in time our respective comments were posted that I was in no way reacting to Karl's pained experience - I'm sad to hear of it, certainly and I can only extend my sympathy. Peace.

  5. Post author

    I was in no way reacting to Karl’s pained experience

    I responded to you...and then my computer slowed to a crawl and I shut it down and let it cool off.

  6. Hey,
    I think divorce is not proper solution of improper marriage because some sacrifices will be done by both people.
    Only one person can not afford or blame each other.
    Do your work separately and not dependent on each other so after doing these work half problem will be less.

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