Question:

I read your web site today concerning divorce and the Bible. Clearly, God considers divorce a serious matter, possibly a sin.However, for years Catholic's had strict rules about divorce and remarriage. It seems that Catholics were unfairly targeted as being too unforgiving or strict when it came to the laws of marriage. Actually, the Catholics were correct in their thinking about the laws of marriage and divorce. My question is do you agree with Catholic viewpoint on divorce? And do you think if you divorce and remarry that you will be doomed in hell because of your sin, or do you feel God will judge you according to your circumstances?

Answer:

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"The Catholic doctrine on divorce may be summed up in the following propositions:

  • In Christian marriage, which implies the restoration, by Christ Himself, of marriage to its original indissolubility, there can never be an absolute divorce, at least after the marriage has been consummated;
  • Non-Christian marriage can be dissolved by absolute divorce under certain circumstances in favor of the Faith;
  • Christian marriage before consummation can be dissolved by solemn profession in a religious order, or by an act of papal authority;
  • Separation from bed and board (divortium imperfectum) is allowed for various causes, especially in the case of adultery or lapse into infidelity or heresy on the part of husband or wife. "

[New Advent, "Divorce (in Moral Theology)"]

To a Catholic, a marriage does not begin until consummation (sex). According to God, a marriage begins with a covenant (the wedding vows). "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14).

In the Scriptures there is no distinction between a Christian and non-Christian marriage in regards to its survivability. Two Christians, knowing God's laws are to jointly work at making a marriage last. A non-Christian is not motivated by God's teachings, yet it doesn't make a marriage any less real (I Corinthians 7:12-16).

Roman Catholics teach that a marriage between two Catholics cannot be ended for any reason. Jesus states, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Fornication, thus, is a grounds for divorce that allows the faithful party in a marriage the right to remarry.

Paul also teaches that divorce might occur, though it is strongly discouraged. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). If a divorce (assuming not for fornication) does occur, then it doesn't leave the couple the right to remarriage.

I conclude that the Roman Catholic stance on divorce differs in significant ways from what is found in the Bible.