Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marriage and Divorce

My wife asked me today about our fate if I was to become Catholic and she was to remain Protestant. Well, for Catholics, since we were both married in a church, our marriage would be considered valid.

I found this FAQs from the USCCB about marriage, if you have any other basic questions on the topic.

If I was to become Orthodox, the entry would be a bit different. The Orthodox often require a small ceremony as a recognition of the marriage. But usually still accept the marriage of an Orthodox to a non-Orthodox.

What about divorce? (knock on wood)

Prompted from the words of Jesus in Matthew 19, the two churches have two widely different methods to handling divorce in a world where "no man shall separate".

Most have heard Catholics don't accept divorce. This is true. Unless there is some ability for the couple to prove they're marriage was never valid (annulment), they are required to remain married. In the US, many complain abuses in overuse to the practice of annulments, saying just about anyone can make a case. This leaves doubt in the confidence of the Catholic Church's ability to protect the sanctity of marriage.

The Orthodox often practice an allowance of divorce in the case of infidelity. Does this mean the Orthodox don't respect the will of God? Not really. While they acknowledge the succeeding marriages will result in the individual's technical adultery (due to their previous marriage still being sacramentally valid), the Church accepts it as a lesser of two evils for the sake of human weakness. In effect, looking the other way.

Which one is better? I'm not sure. They both hold marriage in a high place and though different takes on divorce, only allow it in extreme circumstances. Personally holding marriage high, I find both approaches to God's word acceptable. Though, perhaps when practiced correctly, the Roman Catholic approach is more scriptural.


  1. I wanted to leave a comment about annulments in the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not sure where you heard that annulments are given liberally, but it is quite the contrary. Annulments are difficult to obtain in the RC Church. I just think that the rate of divorce has increased exponentially, so it seems like they are granting more annulments in modern times. But they truly don't just hand them out to anyone. They have follow the Code of Canon Law to grant an annulment. Couples would need to prove things such as being forced into the marriage, being previously married, psychological issues, having a divorce mentality before getting married, and similar extenuating circumstances. To me these are reasonable and not in conflict with the sanctity of the Sacrament of Matrimony.