Thursday, 27 February 2014

Two for the Price of One: Creation and Marriage

Well, would you Adam and Eve it?

'And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea, beyond Jordan. And great multitudes followed him: and he healed them there. And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away? He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

From the words of Our Lord and Saviour we can therefore deduce not only that divorce and remarriage is never permitted by God but that Our Lord Jesus Christ was no evolutionary thinker.

Firstly, Our Lord asks whether they - the Pharisees - have not "read" as if what is to be read concerning marriage is completely trustworthy and true.

He draws upon what can be read concerning union "from the beginning". Well, "from the beginning" means, I would posit, an allusion to Scripture from which we hear of our origins "from the beginning". It is here where we learn of God Who made them "male and female".

"Moses, by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives," said the Lord Jesus. In other words, Moses permitted divorce because divorce arises from "hardness of heart" - sin. Moses tolerated a sinful human custom, that Jesus Himself condemns.

But, says the Lord, "from the beginning" it was not so. Then Our Lord condemns divorce and remarriage, calling it what it is - adultery.

Now either Our Lord is a liar or mistaken (something which we cannot countenance without denying His divinity) or His teaching was that God made man and he made woman, for each other, "from the beginning", i.e from the time of Adam, the first man, and Eve, the first woman, according to what could be "read".

Am I gleaning too much from this?


Liam Ronan said...

And what was Our Lord's attitude toward adultery in the 'pastoral sense'?
"Jesus straightened up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, sir.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.' John 8:10-12.
"Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.' Matthew 18:21
We sin. We sincerely repent with a firm purpose of resolution. We confess our sin, though our contrition be imperfect. We obtain absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Should we fall again (as we all do), we repent and confess once again. God's Grace is always there for the penitent as is His Mercy and Help to grow in holiness.

Julian Crown said...

Notice that Jesus says speak of an exception, that is for fornication!

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cosmos said...


But you'd agree that there is an importnat pastoral difference between adultry and remarriage, I presume? You can repent of adultry because you turn from it and move on from it. You can't repent of remarriage if you go back to live with your seond wife. Does your old marriage disappear through your repentance?

The fornication exception does not consume the rule or (1) it would not have been a hard teaching that had to call upon Genesis a lot of Jews already thought that unchastity was the only solid ground for divorce), and (2) He would have created some very perverse incentives towards fornication. Notice too, that he uses the term adultry later in the verse, but fornication earlier. Why not use the same term if he meant the same thing? He also doesn't mention the exception outside of Matthew. The Church has, therefore, understood the exception more narrowly in terms of some broader impediment, like possibly incest (the couple was too closely related) or undisclosed pre-marital sex.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

cosmos- it's clear that the first and-one-only-marriage-of-one-man-to-only-one-womam = Holy Matrimony. all else belongs to the spirit of fornication (gay, straight, with or without Kinsey approval - which, unless there was a nuclear bomb involved would be unlikely). The 'dirty' word is celebacy -

for myself, I think, 'cause God said it has evil consequences' pretty much on the banned list.

Liam Ronan said...

On 14 September 1994 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF issued a letter to all of the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the Faithful within which letter Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

"The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only "to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples'". In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal."

Now one can repent of adultery outside of the context of a 'second marriage' and nonetheless subsequently commit the sin of adultery once again through human weakness and once again repent and be absolved. You will remember that 'imperfect contrition' (essentially fear of God and damnation) suffice for the absolution of any sin.

There are no unforgivable sins and to my knowledge divorce and civil remarriage is not classified as one of the sins crying to heaven for Divine vengeance. Unhappily, there are many people who will not acknowledge they have sinned and seek forgiveness. (Given the state of catechises they may be ignorant of the Church law and teaching regarding matrimony and they may never have ever heard of hell for those who sin gravely and remain unrepentant.)

Those who for serious reasons(as Cardinal Ratzinger describes) are unable to separate from their civilly married spouse may occasionally find themselves in a circumstance where their resolve to live a life of perfect continence fails and they sin again. These may confess that recidivism and be forgiven if they confess and have contrition for their sin and renew their efforts to live a life of continence.


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