Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

Marriage and children; what went wrong and when (II)

There are parts of Scripture that are very difficult to understand and we should be grateful that Christ gave us the Church, His bride, to lead us to all truth, because otherwise we could go around interpreting Scripture pretty much as we like and as St. Peter warns, doing it to our own destruction.

From the very beginning the Church disallowed divorce and remarriage, contraception and abortion and treated children as blessings, not inconveniences or commodities.

No matter how people in the Church sinned, the teachings never changed. Even when pope’s were sinning against the 6th Commandment, they never changed the teachings of the Church.

But something gave way seriously in the 20th Century.  As the First World War ended a culture was growing in which adults were becoming more self serving and less willing to have and care for children.

In 1930 the Church of England’s Lambeth Council declared that married couples for very serious reasons could contracept. Some commenters have suggested this door was pushed open because many clergy were already contracepting in the face of Christian teaching. Christ was shoved aside for personal convenience.

Pope Pius XI responded immediately with Casti Connubii on the sanctity of marriage and reiterated the 2000 year prohibition of pushing God out of the bedroom with contraception.

You see the authority Christ gave to His Church in binding and losing was limited by His Will. She has no authority to go against God, which should be obvious, but we have lost the ability to reason.

So the C of E opened the door and all the consequences followed. By the time the 1960s arrived with “find yourself” and “how does it feel for you?” mantras even Christians were buying into the culture and divorce and remarriage, contraception kept God out of marriage.

The end result is as we see it today- and it’s an ugly mess. But we can’t point fingers at gay people wanting “marriage” or even couples playing “marriage” without actually making the Covenantal vows, when we Christians and that includes Catholics, have ditched Christ’s teaching for convenience sake.  The fact that many protestant churches have actually enabled divorce and remarriage, deliberately sterile marriages through contraception and even given a nod and a wink at adultery is shameful.

By the time Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae  in 1968, a lot of damage was already done to Christianity and the rejection of HV by so many Catholic priests and bishops sent us hurtling down the same road.

The prophecies of Humanae Vitae have all come true and the damage to women and especially to children can hardly be denied. Even secular research is admitting it.

THIS IS A GOOD OVERVIEW OF the teachings on marriage with some studies on how divorce is hurting families at the end.

So that’s how we fled down the slippery slope. How do we climb back up?

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Marriage and children: what went wrong and when? (I)

I’m sure most of you are well aware that marriage took its first major hit in the Garden. The consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve are very much in how their marriage was now to be conducted and how fallen human nature would affect marriages from then on.

By the time Jesus is preaching on the subject and raising marriage to the status of Sacrament a lot of poisonous water has gone under the bridge. The last Old Testament prophet, St. John the Baptist is martyred for defending the sanctity of marriage. There is definitely a sign of things to come there, as the Bridegroom takes up His mantel.

Jesus was asked about the Rabbi Hillel’s view that a man should be able to divorce his wife for any reason. Essentially they were asking if “no fault” divorce was allowed by God.

The answer was a very clear “No.” Jesus explained that Moses only allowed divorce because the Israelites were so hard-hearted. I have heard more than one Biblical scholar comment that Moses allowed divorce to prevent the even worse sin of wife murder. Israel became so sunk into the blood thirsty and nasty pagan culture that killing your wife to get a better one would have been a genuine problem had it not been for the “get out clause” Moses allowed.

But Jesus raises the bar again for His Church reminding us of this:

Have you not read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female? For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united with his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, what God has put together, let no man put asunder.

(Matt. 19:4-6)

So a man and a woman who are free to marry (I’ll come back to that) go before God and take their vows and so God puts them together and therefore they cannot be separated. That means that even if they divorce they are still married and not free to remarry. In fact Jesus Himself clarifies that point when He said

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.

(Luke 16:18)

The “get out” clause that has been overused and misinterpreted has been the “except for unchastity” that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5:32. I’ll come back to that.

As the Church grew it was well understood and written in the Didache c.80 AD that marriage was a Sacrament and that no Christian couple could divorce and remarry or use contraception (St. Paul called it pharmakai) or abortion.

But things are very different now. What went wrong?