Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The reason [rooted in history] why the Roman Catholic Church calls it annulment and not divorce

At some level, even the Roman Catholic Church feels it is beholden to its history. In this case, it is beholden to an early bishop of Rome, Callistus, who made a decision that would enable the Roman church to retain its appeal to women from wealthy families.

On the topic of marriage as a sacrament from the earliest times, Peter Lampe notes the origin of the practice by which the Roman church operated outside of civil rules for marriage: " is crystal clear in Hippolytus that from aristocratic circles more women than men found their way to Christianity. The disproportion was a social problem that Callistus during his term as Roman bishop (c. 217-22) attempted to solve. The problem undoubtedly had existed since the end of the second century, if not longer.
When women from the noble class were unmarried and in the heat of their youthful passion desired to marry and yet were unwilling to give up their class through a legal marriage, he [Callistus] allowed them to choose a partner, whether slave or free, and to consider him to be their husband without a legal marriage. From that time on the alleged believing women began to resort to contraceptive methods and to corset themselves in order to cause abortions, because, on account of their lineage and their enormous wealth, they did not wish to have a child from a slave or a commoner.
From Peter Lampe, "From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries," pg 119.

He elaborates:
A Christian woman [from a wealthy family] who wished to retain the title "clarissima" had two options. She could marry a pagan of the same social status and forego marriage wtih a socially inferior Christian. Or she could live in concubinage with a socially inferior Christian without being legally married. This second option received the blessings of Callistus in Rome. In this way he prevented two things: mixed marriages with pagans and the social decline of Christian women. Both were in the interests of the community. (121)
This is why Rome can say that it has mastery over marriage -- why, even though a couple may take vows, have any number of children, ask for and pay for an annulment, and voila, "the marriage never existed."

And that's why they can say they don't permit divorce. Because if they were to use the usual sense of the language, then they would have to admit that Callistus's end-run around the usual definition of what was a legal marriage was really an instance of permitting unmarried couples to live in sin. And of course, the pope is infallible. So they're stuck defending this set-up.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"The reason [rooted in history] why the Roman Catholic Church calls it annulment and not divorce"

Very interesting.

John Bugay said...

Yeah, if you study history from the beginning, so many more things make sense.

natamllc said...

One common earthly denominator of the Jewish culture and during this time period where Callistus ruled this way is with the Talmud rulings.

I have heard one Scholar personally speak to this in my Church. His point about the Talmud is it was a set of rules that did primarily the same thing Callistus does to "get around" the Truth and by so doing, establishes a sort of compromising truth that in fact is Anti-Truth/Christ! Hmmmmmmm?

Human nature shows up in every religious body of believers, whether of the Jews from within and from the Gentiles from within!

I guess what remains then for the True Worshipers of God in our generations is but to set aside man made traditions from every religious discipline and stick to the True Traditions of the Apostles? :)

John Bugay said...

Natamllc, I have not studied the Mishnah, but I'd like to take a look at it, because this was the Jewish "oral tradition" written down.

Moises Silva spoke about this in his New Testament Introduction class, which I've recently completed through iTunesU. (He was at WTS at the time, and I'd really recommend this lecture series to anyone who's interested in the history of the New Testament.)

There is a key difference between the "oral tradition" of the Jews, and the "oral Tradition" of the Roman church, in that, the Jewish tradition was repeated, verbatim, from generation to generation. That's how they were able to actually write it down. Very many rabbis of that era could repeat it verbatim.

For the Roman church, the "oral tradition" was just simply lost, or at best, retained in a handful of outward forms that really lost their meaning over time.

Alexander Greco said...

I do not see how your argument follows.

natamllc said...


You should.

The Talmud has some very vulgar rules that should make any reasoned soul vomit.

The human nature does everything possible to reduce God's Word down to other words or oral or written tradition to avoid the "guilt" of the sins of the flesh. When you lite the candle of the Torah and the Talmud, one shadow is Light to Light while the other is darkness to gross darkness!

Jesus was constantly dealing with the Talmud reasonings of the Chief Priests, Scribes and Elders of the people and consequently they had a heading butting as we are all informed that read the Four Gospels.

Here is one such occasion recorded by Luke:

Luk 20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Surely not!"
Luk 20:17 But he looked directly at them and said, "What then is this that is written: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'?
Luk 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him."
Luk 20:19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.
Luk 20:20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.

natamllc said...


was your comment directed towards mine?

Alexander Greco said...

natamllc: No it wasn't.

I fail to see how this post answers why the Church calls it annulment and not divorce. It doesn't seem to make the connection. All it does is cite Peter Lampe who attempts to explain why the Church operated outside of civil marriage.

natamllc said...

And my main point is still, A.G.,
that human nature is what it is whether you are an authority in the Jewish tradition, the RCC traditions or mine, Reformed.

If you want to argue from a RCC tradition then, by all means, go ahead. How would you account for the thread and the purpose for it being Roman Catholic problem solving?

Question, would you step around your RCC shield and argue as a sinner then? Unlike you, Reformed have been graced already with being "Saints", so we can, at least, argue from either framework.

As the Saint that I am by Election and Adoption, by Grace alone through Faith alone based on the Merits of Christ alone, here is the framework from which I would argue my complaint against the RCC's position of annulment and not divorce:

Hab 2:1 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
Hab 2:2 And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
Hab 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Hab 2:4 "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

And, just so it is clear, this is the very first time I ever read anything about Callistus and his high authority to represent your views, especially if you hold to his views as the then infallible Bishop of Rome circa 217-22?

I guess the question I would be looking for in your argue is this one:

Did Callistus, Bishop of Rome, during his tenure, circa 217-22 solve the problem?

Alexander Greco said...

natamllc, my point is, how does this address the "why" of annulment as the title of the post says it does? Secondly, I'd like to see the primary sources.

natamllc said...


ok then.

And my point still remains, the why is because all we like sheep have gone astray with the reprobates!

Either you are a lost one or you are a reprobate lost one.

God causes the Election and Adoption according to His Good Will and Pleasure.

And I have no argument with God now that I claim what Peter does and so wrote about in 1 Peter 1:3-5

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Based on what you comment, I am presuming yours too?

BBB said...

Wait, so what makes marriage official, Biblically? This is something that has always confused me.

Do people need to be legally married to be truly married? What if they are not in an area with such legal provisions? Do they need a pastor, or can any man and woman get married on their own?

John Bugay said...

Alexander: my point is, how does this address the "why" of annulment as the title of the post says it does?

Well, "the Roman church operated outside of civil rules for marriage."

First, this is an attitude of arrogance, operating outside of Paul's admonition in Romans 13:1, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." And 1 Peter 2:

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

As far as primary sources, this is from Chapter 13 of his work on "social stratification," and he cites a broad range of primary sources, often in the footnotes, and often in the original languages. The particular citation that I've reproduced is from Hippolytus "Refutation of All Heresies" (9.12.24).

PBS gives this overview of Roman marriage:

At one point in Roman history, freed slaves had been forbidden to marry citizens. This restriction was relaxed by Emperor Augustus who passed a reform in 18 BC called the lex Julia so that, by the first century, freed slaves were only prohibited from marrying senators.

Augustus insisted on other restrictions on marriage. Citizens were not allowed to marry prostitutes or actresses and provincial officials were not allowed to marry the local women. Soldiers were only allowed to marry in certain circumstances and marriages to close relatives were forbidden. Finally, unfaithful wives divorced by their husbands could not remarry [expert].

And this is the class of women that is being discussed here.

It is all a part of the Roman Catholic attitude that is traceable everywhere that says, "We are the masters of the world. The spiritual world is the master of the civil world and the pope is the master of the spiritual world."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I'm a big fan of a lot of Mel Gibson movies. I really like so many of his movies.

That being said, did he get a divorce from his 1st wife, or did he receive an annulment from the Roman Catholic Church?

Alexander Greco said...

I believe Mel's dad gave him the annulment because he was pressured into marrying his wife due to pregnancy. By the way, Mel is a sede.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

So Mel didn't divorce his first wife?


Is a sede a Catholic?

Turretinfan said...

"This is why Rome can say that it has mastery over marriage -- why, even though a couple may take vows, have any number of children, ask for and pay for an annulment, and voila, 'the marriage never existed.'"

I think that it is probably worth noting that there are some kinds of marriages that are, in fact, able to be "annulled" in the eyes of the state (as distinct from divorce).

Among those are marriages that are void from the get-go (such as a marriage to one's full blood sister) and marriages that are voidable under certain circumstances (for example, if coercion or fraud is used to induce the marriage, sometimes the marriage can be annulled on the ground that the party lacked the ability to form the marriage contract).

Nevertheless, if you get the right canon lawyer (and you're willing to say whatever he suggests), it seems that practically any marriage can be annulled in Romanism these days. It's just another of many Roman scandals.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Alexander Greco,

Do you believe that the Roman Catholic Church is infallible in its decisions on granting annulments? Or to not grant annulments?

I.e., Do you believe that every single petition for annulment presented to the Roman Catholic Church has been infallibly adjudicated by the Roman Catholic Church?

Alexander Greco said...

I agree with Turretinfan's comments above concerning annulments 100%. That is prescisely what annulment means, that there was some sort of impediment which prevented the validity from the get-go. I also agree that the process commonly abused today, of which those individuals involved in those particular cases will certainly be held responsible before God.

It seems that Turretinfan agrees with the principle that there are impediments to marriage which prevent the realization of it (if I'm mistaken Turretinfan can let me know), would others here agree?

Thank you Turretinfan for bringing clarity to this subject. I still do not see the connection to annulments from the main post.

Alexander Greco said...

TUAD, I think my post above represents my opinion on that.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Alexander Greco,

I'm not able to understand your reply back to my question. Can you be more clear with a direct answer?

For example, choose between A or B:

(A) Yes, I believe that every single petition for annulment presented to the Roman Catholic Church has been infallibly adjudicated by the Roman Catholic Church.

(B) No, I do not believe that every single petition for annulment presented to the Roman Catholic Church has been infallibly adjudicated by the Roman Catholic Church.

What say you? A or B?

Clear question. Clear answer. Good clear communication.

Alexander Greco said...

TUAD, sorry, I thought that by saying that annnulments are improperly granted, and agreeing with Turretinfan clearly indicated my position.

I'm not sure that every petition is even granted, so I can't really answer your exact question. Even if I were to assume that they are, I would answer that no, the annulment process is not infallible. However, that being said, unless you have evidence that an annulment was improperly granted (which I indicated that it seems to me they often are), then at that point the brurden of proof is on you to demonstrate this. Prior to the annulment, the assumption is that the marriage is valid.

I'm not a canon lawyer, obviously, so any correction would be beneficial.

Sorry I can't give you a yes or no answer to your exact question.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Sorry I can't give you a yes or no answer to your exact question."

That's fine. Oftentimes, Protestants can't give Catholics a Yes or No answer to their exact questions either.

So it's all good.

BTW, is a sede a Catholic?

I.e., since Mel Gibson is a sede, is he a member of the Roman Catholic Church?

Any possibility of a Yes or No answer to that question?

Turretinfan said...


I think the answer to your question is (B):

"(B) No, I do not believe that every single petition for annulment presented to the Roman Catholic Church has been infallibly adjudicated by the Roman Catholic Church."

It is (B) for at least two reasons:

i) some are still pending (therefore they haven't even been adjudicated);

ii) the proceedings of the lower courts of Rome are not infallible in their determination; and

iii) even those rare (I think they're rare) cases where the annulment is appealed to (or originally handled by) the pope himself, the pope's unappealable decision is not considered to be "infallible," as far as I know.

I hope that helps.


Alexander Greco said...

Again, I agree with Turretinfan's comment above.

TUAD, it is an act of schism to say that the See of Rome is vacant.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TUAD, it is an act of schism to say that the See of Rome is vacant.

Are you saying that Mel Gibson is NOT a Catholic and not only that, but that he is also a schismatic?

Alexander Greco said...

I'm not really going to apply it to Mel because in all honesty I'm not sure what his views really are and I don't really care. I'm very ignorant of what Mel Gibson believes.

I will affirm the following from the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for your answer Alexander. I understand that that's the best you can do.

I hope you understand that when you ask questions of Protestants and they answer you the best they can, that you will remember that you did the same.


Alexander Greco said...

TUAD, agreed. That is the reason why in the other post I asked Matthew Schultz if his opinion of one of his book recommendations is to the best of his knowledge *at this time* accurately represents the reformed view of bioethics. I asked this in precisely this way because perhaps upon further reflection, after aquiring further knowledge, Schultz might not have the same opinion of the book. Anything is possible, and he should not be held accountable later on because today he says it is a great book. None of us are all-knowing sages, and we should be allowed to amend our opinions.

Marie said...

Interesting post, John. Annulment was one of those weird concepts that never seemed to make sense to anyone (I'm talking about when I was a Catholic). The sense I got was that it was some sort of pass that you could get if you had a cousin who was a priest or if you had enough money to *ahem* make sure it happened, so you could continue to take Communion and look respectable before your Irish Catholic relatives.

As in the following sentence: "Oh, cousin Margaret Mary Patty-Patricia isn't divorced. They got an annulment, dontcha know." (Insert eye-roll on part of speaker here).

It made SO much more sense once I became a Christian, and started reading the plain truth of Scripture!

By the way, Jay Adams has a superb book on divorce and re-marriage in which he really digs in and exegetes what the Bible has to say on both institutions (marriage and divorce). It was required reading for my NANC studies.

Alexander Greco said...


Do you believe that there can be impediments to marriage which would prevent the realization of the marriage, such as marrying one’s sister? In reality, it would not much matter how long a brother and sister were married, how many children they had, or how much they loved each other and were committed to each other when they went though the external acts of “getting married.” Rather, perhaps you take issue with what the Church considers to be impediments to marriage? Maybe we could discuss these. Does anyone here actually disagree with the concept of an impediment to marriage?

John Bugay said...

Hi Marie, welcome to Beggars All. Thanks for giving us that up-close-and-personal view of how an annulment can play out in real life.

A friend has sent me a more complete source on the quote about Callistus than the one I posted here; I hope to put that up some time in the near future.

Meanwhile, please feel free to look around. I have to apologize for some of the riff raff. We generally have an open commenting policy, and there are some fine Catholic folks who aren't too happy about some of what we write here.

Marie said...

Thanks John!

@ A.G.:

Do you believe that there can be impediments to marriage which would prevent the realization of the marriage, such as marrying one’s sister?

Yeah, one big impediemnt right there would be civil law. But cases of incest are not what we are talking about here - I'm talking about when two people, who have been married for a number of years, decide they have "nothing in common" and want out. But, of course, they want to have it both ways: divorce and the veneer of being "good, respectable Catholics". Luckily, said couple has "connections" within the "organization" so it all pans out.

Happens all the time in the RCC, and we all know it.

FWIW, annulments had nothing to do with my leaving the RCC lock, stock and barrel when God saved me. But this post is interesting because it brings to light a chapter of history of which I had no previous knowledge.

Rather, perhaps you take issue with what the Church considers to be impediments to marriage?

Rather, I take issue with the blatant Scripture-twisting and corruption it employs as an impediment to calling a divorce a divorce. See 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 for starters. Inerrant Scripture trumps papal bull every time.

Alexander Greco said...


Two people who up and decide that they want out because they perceive that they no longer have anything in common is not grounds for an annulment. At this point, it seems that you are not in opposition to the teachings of the Church, but to the abuses. I agree with you there. I am also against the abuses against Church teachings. Do you have in mind a particular impediment to marriage that the Church holds?

I fail to see any connection to the ability to remarry in the verse you have provided. Where am I miss-reading the verse? However, I do read the following:
10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

As far as divorce is concerned, Catholics can have a limited divorce, meaning a separation if the circumstances warrant such an action. As far as an absolute divorce, meaning that the marriage bond has been dissolved, a Catholic-Catholic marriage cannot do. It seems to me that this is more fitting to the meaning of marriage and the potential repentance of the offending spouse. I can elaborate on this further at a later date.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I am also against the abuses against Church teachings."

Not infrequently, its the priests and the bishops who are abusing Church teachings.

Marie said...


Actually, from a biblical POV you cannot make a case for "limited divorce", ie. separation. The verses I quoted (as well as those in the gospels citing divorce) use the same word: χωρίζω chōrizō. This was the word for divorce, which was recognized (and regulated) by God under Mosaic Law, as you know. There is NO biblical precedent permitting what is known as separation - that is actually worse than divorce, because it is an ambiguous "no man's land" where the couple is legally still married, but living apart. This is sin, and rarely (if ever) leads to a God-honoring resolution of the sin which led to that state in the first place. The KJV renders that word "depart" in verse 15, but no matter what synonym you use in English, it refers to the legal act of divorce.

I'll reply to the other question you raised separately, as this response is already quite long.

Alexander Greco said...

I'm not sure how frequent it is, I don't possess that sort of knowledge. I assume that it is quite frequent due to my perception of the lack of orthodoxy among the modern priests and bishops. I do know very well one priest (a very well educated canon lawyer and tribunal judge) who doesn't engage in these abuses.

Alexander Greco said...


Thanks for your response. A few things to consider, does it mean dissolution? Secondly, you have not justified remarriage. Thirdly, this makes the hasty assumption that the offending party might not repent and rejoin with their spouse. Fourthy, Scripture repeatedly looks unfavorably on divorce.

Alexander Greco said...

I'm curious, why would separating from one's spouse for a time while awaiting their repentance because they brought another woman into your bedroom be sinful on your part? It seems to me that would be the virtuous thing to do.

Also, what do you allow for grounds for divorce other than sexual immorality or abandoment?

James Swan said...

By the way John, this was a very interesting post. I haven't done a lot of research in this area. Thx.

Marie said...

Regarding annulments, whether in theory or practice, the scenario I have described is one I have personally seen played out (with some variations) somewhere between 8-10 times among Catholics I know. More than once, the "annulment" was granted long after children were produced by the union. In none of the cases did any of the parties seem particularly concerned about pleasing God; it was all about "getting my needs met". I don't know if or how much money changed hands, but my impression (we have several priests in the family, including a Jesuit) is that the whole subject of annulments makes those who depend on the church for a living rather uncomfortable. It seems to be an embarrassment.

Annulments are, in practice, de facto divorces.

Now, as far as biblical grounds for divorce/"impediments to marriage" go, let's back up and first consider what marriage is. Marriage is:
1. a divinely-ordained institution
2. the first and most functional institution
3. covenantal and binding
4. a covenant of companionship
5. the place for true intimacy
6. to conform to the model of Christ and the Church.

(I assume we agree so far, so I will not bother posting Scripture references).

Now, divorce:
1. always stems from sin
2. is not necessarily sinful
3. always breaks a marriage
4. is never necessary among born-again believers
5. is legitimate on the grounds of sexual sin
6. is legitimate when an unbeliever wishes to divorce a believer (in 1 Cor. 7:15, which I already quoted, "let him separate[divorce]" is a permissive imperative in the Greek, ie. "Let it be!"
7. is forgivable when sinful

Questions one needs to ask (for instance, when doing marriage counseling) include:
1. Are all, one or none of the parties Christian?
2. Who wants the divorce?
3. On what grounds?
4. Does this party really want the divorce, or only a change in the situation?
5. Has 1 Corinthians 6 been violated?
6. Has sexual sin been present?
7. Is there acceptable evidence for such sin, or only hearsay?
8. Has Church discipline (Matt. 18:15 ff) been applied?
9. If so, what was the outcome?
10. Is there repentance/forgiveness?
11. Is reconcilliation required?
12. Does an unbeliever want the marriage to continue? (that's usually a deal-breaker)
13. Has a former spouse remarried another?
14. Did any church fail to handle a divorce/remarriage properly (ie without church discipline)?
15. If so, how? And what must be done to set this straight?
Is the believer in a state where the church may declare him/her free from all obligations and, therefore, free to remarry?
17. If not, what more needs to be done to bring about this condition?

As you can see, I've studied this subject in some depth. And unfortuantely, what I've sen in the RCC is NOT in line with the Bible's teaching on divorce and re-marriage. In addition to the inherently corrupt system of "annulments", Communion is also denied to the spouses of people who have committed adultery; remain unrepentant; and divorce. I have known one man and one woman in this unfair predicament - I guess they weren't well "connected" or familiar enough with Matthew 18 to defend themselves Scripturally. Sadly, both stay in the institution of the RCC, (out of fear) even though it considers them "persona non gratis".

Marie said...

I'm curious, why would separating from one's spouse for a time while awaiting their repentance because they brought another woman into your bedroom be sinful on your part? It seems to me that would be the virtuous thing to do.

No; the sin must be dealt with immediately - again I would refer you to the Matthew 18 process. The elders should be involved with counseling the married party, with the end goal being repentance and reconcilliation. A legal separation is not only unbiblical, it violates the principle of 1 Corinthians 6:1. Because a believer may not take a fellow believer to court the matter must first be taken to the church, including a divorce. We are required, both the church and the married couple, to get the situation resolved. Either you are married, or you are divorced. God does not allow for some in-between state, moreover which requires the involvement of a secular court. (There is more that could be said on this issue, but I'll leave it at that for now).

Also, what do you allow for grounds for divorce other than sexual immorality or abandoment?

None, unless a non-Christian initiates the divorce (see the same passage). In that case, and in accordance with the prohibition on being married to unbelievers, there is not much the Christian spouse can do (but Scripture is equally clear that the believer is not to initiate the divorce).

I hope that answers your question.

Paul Hoffer said...

I will attempt to respond to this article in more detail this weekend as I am helping my son move into a new apartment and will not have time to address this until then. But in the meantime, I offer the following thoughts:

Your article does not address the issue at all. An annulment determines that a sacramental marriage never occurred between the parties. It is a recognition that there existed one or more impediments that prevented the parties from receiving the sacrament. A decree of nullity does not dissolve a valid marriage but is a recognition that the marriage was not valid in the first place. A decree of nullity is not limited to the issue of whether a marriage was sacramental but does apply to other sacraments as well~ordination comes to mind.

In contrast, a divorce is a legal concept that allows a civil authority to terminate a contract of marriage. The civil process has nothing whatsoever to do with the sacrament. One can get a divorce and still be married in the eyes of the Church and vice-a-versa.

Peter Lampe, a Lutheran minister, an ecumenicist, and a professor of the University of Heidelburg might claim some sort of knowledge of history, but apparently from your portrayal (limited to be sure) of his view of marriage shows his ignorance of the theological underpinnings of the sacrament of marriage as it is understood in the Catholic Church.

By the way are you acknowledging that the early church was the "Roman" Catholic Church which your article implies existed as early as the beginning of the third century? Or do you agree with the fiction that your co-religionists here that the Roman Catholic Church did not come into existence until much later in history?

God bless!

Marie said...

A.G., we were cross-posting - I just saw this now:

Thanks for your response. A few things to consider, does it mean dissolution? Secondly, you have not justified remarriage. Thirdly, this makes the hasty assumption that the offending party might not repent and rejoin with their spouse. Fourthy, Scripture repeatedly looks unfavorably on divorce.

Does chōrizō mean dissolution, you mean? Yes. It means the legal act of dissolving a marriage. Someone who is divorced is no longer married, period.

I'll start with your 4th point, because it is the most basic: YES. Absolutely; Scripture looks more than unfavorably on divorce; God hates it! (Mal. 2:16). The causes of divorce are always sinful. It is never desireable; but sometimes (rarely) it is necessary.

The whole goal is to get the initiating party to repent and reconcile with his/her spouse. That's why the Matt. 18 process is escalated; the only time the "abandoned" spouse would be biblically free to remarry would be if the adulterous spouse persisted in sin, refused to repent, and ultimately was put out of the church (considered as a non-Christian). Then, and only then, can the one who initiated reconcilliation be considered free to re-marry. (So that would pretty much answer your second point).

Divorces that are granted on biblical grounds are extremely rare, and legitimate re-marriages are rarer still, but it does happen. It isn't necessary to do any deep exegesis to see this in the New Testament (there is much more in the Old, but if we don't stick to the New Covenant it tends to muddy the waters). Paul had the final word on divorce.

Alexander Greco said...


I have already addressed the potential for abuses. You have not argued, as of yet, against the teachings of the Church. What you have done is provide personal experiences which do not equate to an argument against Church teaching. Perhaps you can show which impediments to marriage, as given by the Church, are in error. You stated that some of these couples have children. However, children do not establish a marriage. For example, a couple who are siblings cannot have a valid marriage just because they had children together. A couple who were forced into ‘marriage’ do not validate that ‘marriage’ just by the mere presence of children.

Secondly, my wife’s father is a pastor of a Church (theologically Calvinist, who introduced me to the writings of James White), and there are cases of corruption in the divorce process in their churches as well. I’m not sure if you consider your own process to be inerrant, so pointing out the abuses in mine is incidental to the issue.

Thirdly, I’ve never mentioned a ‘legal’ separation. I’m not sure what gave you that impression. Since I have not made that argument, I will not defend it. What I will defend is the reasonableness of a spouse to separate (not live in the same household as a temporary solution) in order to hope for a future reconciliation with his/her spouse. This allows for God’s grace to work on the offending party and bring them to repentance, and for the couple to reunite in their covenantal communion. I would like to see how you find this unreasonable.

Lastly, I still have not seen your biblical justification for remarriage. It seems to me that you have just assumed it.

Marie said...


I will briefly outline the biblical principles of remarriage for you, and after that I will have to come back to this tomorrow.

First, God does state that remarriage is generally desirable. See 1 Timothy 5:14. Remarriage is not necessarily forbidden, even after divorce (see Ezekiel 44:22). Note here that #1 - only a priest is forbidden to marry a divorced woman; and #2, even a remarriage on unbiblical grounds is still a valid marriage. Therefore, biblically divorced people who remarry have not sinned. See 1 Corinthians 7:26-28.

Now, don't misunderstand: God does not allow remarriage of those who are under obligation to go back and be reconciled to their husbands. See 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. If someone ought to be married to someone but has obtained a divorce anyway, they commit adultery if they marry a second party (when she should be reconciled to the first). See Matthew 5:31-32. (Note how the Pharisees had twisted Deut. 24; there is NO command in Deuteronomy - it is simply describing an if...then situation. Christ does NOT claim they are "still married in God's sight".

A divorce always leads to an unmarried state. They ought to still be married, but they are not. Divorce, then, for sexual sin is legitimate (and illegitimate for other reasons). It is still a divorce, though a sinful one. A remarriage is still a marriage, though it may be a sinful one.

Re: separation - I assumed from context that you were arguing for separation as the term is commonly used today.

Re: teachings of the RCC on "inpediemnts to marriage" justifying annulments - I'm saying that the whole rationale behind the system is inherently corrupt (not to mention unbiblical). Giving the example of two full-blood siblings being married and obtaining an annulment is as absurd as the typical pro-abortion argument "what about in cases of rape or incest". (Statistically accounts for less than one tenth of one percent of all abortions performed on demand). You know as well as I do that these are not the people seeking (and being granted) annulments, anyway - they are the well-heeled, connected regular folks who, for one reason or another, don't want to be married anymore.

Re: corruption in Calvinist churches - no doubt. But I don't worship Calvin; I worship and seek to obey the living Christ. If you'll notice, not once did I quote from Calvin's Institutes -- I prefer to stick to the Bible.

Don't see the word "annulment" in any concordance, nor the practice laid out by Paul, Christ, or the Apostles.

Good night, all.

Paul Hoffer said...

I do have one question, what is the writing of Pope Callixtus I that you are quoting from. The "Acts" that he supposedly wrote have been determined to be spurious. And the contemporaries who wrote about him were not entirely complementary. Tertullian did not like him because he asserted that the bishop of Rome did have primacy over the other sees and Hipplytus did not because he was opposed to re-baptism.

BTW, that Callixtus allowed noble women to marry slaves is recognized in the original Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 edition). Apparently, he taught that civil authorities did not have the right to decide who could enter into a sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church, a fact that a Lutheran minister who does not recognize marriage as a sacrament might not understand. You certainly did not.

Again, blessings upon you and yours!

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Bugay, here is my response to the erroneous premises contained in your article:

God bless!

John Bugay said...

Paul Hoffer, it appears as if your comment stayed posted. I'll give this a look when I get a chance.