Divorce and Annulment…
What does the Bible really say about divorce?
The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.”
…In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” -Mark 10:2-5,10-12, NAB
Today, we will briefly describe the Catholic teachings about divorce and annulment. It will be a brief overview, but hopefully, it will give you a better understanding of the teachings and its purpose.
The Church takes a firm stance against divorce. God created marriage, the union of man and wife, but it was only because of the hardness of people’s hearts that divorce was created. Why are we then limited, when we remarry, from taking the Eucharist? Because of the second part of Mark 10, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.” In other words, we are living in a state of sin.
How do we correct our state of sin? The Catholic Church offers a process called an annulment, which is different from divorce. Divorce means that we choose to end our marriage. An annulment looks at the original marriage to see if it was valid in the first place. In other words, it looks to see if you were truly, sacramentally married at all – in God’s eyes.
With any of the sacraments, we must be in a state of grace before partaking in them. If we do not conform to the teachings of the Church, they are not valid. For instance, only confessing part of our sins or not truly being repentant for them does not allow the full grace of the Sacrament of Confession to come upon us. Likewise, entering the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony falsely can cause the same lack of grace.
The topic of annulments is one that takes more depth than I can provide here, but I wanted to leave you with these resources:
- American Catholic – “Ten Questions About Annulments“
- Catholic News Agency – “Catholic Marriage and Annulments“
- Catholics Come Home – “Divorce and Annulments“
- U.S. Cathoilc – “Annulments: What Never Was“