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(Part 88)


August 14, 2015
Today’s gospel: Matthew 19:3-12

Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel has the elements that provide direction and clarity to his and his/our Church’s stand on human sexuality and marriage. Liberals and modernists today want to loosen up on cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, and same-sex unions. So far, for almost 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has stood fast on Jesus’ teaching. The Protestant Churches have already given way, now accepting divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage. But “from the beginning it was not so.” (v.8b).

First, Jesus says, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’?” (v.4). There are only two sexes, not the multiple genders promoted by the LGBT crowd. Thus same-sex unions and marriage are contrary to God’s intent and contrary to created nature.

Second, God intended man and woman to be joined in a new profound unity, becoming one flesh. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (v.5). Being one flesh does not just refer to sexual union, but to a new reality, a sacramental reality, a permanent reality. It is the start of a new family, the basic unit of society. Such is the importance of Christian marriage.

Third, the Christian marriage is indissoluble. It is for life, till death do the spouses part. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (v.6). Thus there is no divorce. Only God can unite a man and a woman in such an intimate way, to suit His purposes, and no human being can undo what God has done.

Fourth, “whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (v.9). This is why those who divorce and remarry are in a state of serious sin, since any sexual act in that non-sacramental marriage is an act of adultery. This is why they are not allowed to receive Holy Communion.

What is the remedy for a Catholic whose marriage has not worked out and who has contracted a new marriage? It is to see if his/her marriage was “unlawful” from the start, thus rendering it void ab initio. Then he/she can try to get a declaration of nullity from the Church. This is not Catholic divorce. This is rather getting a judgment that the initial marriage was not truly a marriage, for various reasons.

The liberals and modernists today want to bring down the high ideal of marriage. They accept that it is difficult if not impossible to live out this high ideal. “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (v.10). So these liberals today would first allow Communion to someone in an irregular union (divorced and remarried). Then later they will try to get the Church to allow divorce (which the Protestants have already done) on a case-to-case basis. Then later it would be no-fault divorce (which is now the case in many secular societies), that can be on demand without the consent of the other party.

They would be following in the footsteps of Moses. “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” (v.7). Jesus said that it was “because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (v.8). The Mosaic divorce legislation or procedure, requiring the writing out of a bill of divorce, was intended to check hasty divorces, by requiring sufficient cause and certain legal formalities.

Anyway, Christian marriage is a very high ideal, reflective of the intent of the Creator, reflective of the mystery and intensity and permanence of God’s love for His bride, His people. We must not seek to lower the standard or loosen the demands. Rather, we must teach about the beauty and majesty of Christian marriage, and provide the support structures to keep such marriages on track. “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted.” (v.11).

We pray that our prelates, especially those who will be meeting this October at the Synod of Bishops, can see clearly and remain steadfast in preserving Jesus’ and the Church’s teachings. “Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” (v.12d).

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