Overcoming the Divorce Agenda
"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" (Matt.19:3)
I'm wondering whether this question is still relevant in the society today since divorce has been made to look so simple, or even as part of the definition of modern marriages. One thing is clear, the word "divorce" is not new to the English vocabulary. So, the craze about divorce in marriage should not be approached as if it's one of the contemporary apps developed by modern technology. That's why in responding to this question, Christ took the Pharisees to the Old Testament, "Have you not heard that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female". This could lead to another controversy as to whether we still believe in the fact that the Creator really made them male and female given the proliferation of the gender ideologies nowadays. However, that statement takes us back to the intention of the Creator, and the reason why in the Catholic church, technically we do not talk about divorce. Reason is that, "What God has joined together, no human being must separate" (Matt.19:6).
Some lady came to me with her marriage concerns. When I asked her about her readiness to get married in the church, her response was that she was scared of church wedding because of the fear that a divorce could come up. That's what I call the "Divorce Agenda". It's just like saying "I don't want to have a child because he/she might die". That's the problem with contemporary society. We want it the easy way, no sacrifice.
The argument about divorce in the gospel of Matthew Chapter 19 helps us to appreciate the toughness of marriage. Christ refers to Moses and the Old Israelites to prove that human beings have always been worried about the challenges that arose in the married life. It was due to their hard heartedness that made Moses to allow them to divorce their wives, but that wasn't so from the beginning, Christ reiterated. "Beginning" here implies "Creation", "Origin". It gives the true picture of the institution of marriage. Moses had no right to approve of divorce because he didn't institute the bond of marriage. God is the Beginning. Then Christ commands, "I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery" (Matt.19:9). Note here, "unless the marriage is unlawful".
Marriage is tough, no doubt about it. It comes with challenges. It also carries lots of joy. One thing I tell couples in spiritual direction is, "Go into marriage with the right intention. Go with optmism and hand it over to God". And it has worked for those who followed the suggestion. In your marriage, do not mind the divorce agenda of modern society. It is an agenda that simplifies everything. That's why so many young guys prefer going to wed at the beach instead of the Church nowadays; because they seem scared of commitment and of church guidelines. Some believe that divorce is part of the marriage contract. The church however helps couples to understand the commitments of marriage from the beginning. Marriage is a sacrament, a vocation, a life, just as the priesthood. It has to be nourished, cherished and sustained. It has to be lived with optimism and faith- faith in your spouse and faith absolutely in God who is the Source and Beginning of marriage. Marriage involves sacrifice.
I wish to encourage all couples today, especially those going through tough times, to look inwards and look steadily on Christ. Marriage is his institution, so only He can save your marriage. He says, "What God has joined together..." That means, "God has brought you and your wife/husband together". Do you believe that? If you do, go back to him and present to him your union, your marriage bond. Show him your wedding ring which you exchanged in his presence. Show him your troubles, your failures, your fears, your doubts, your challenges. Show him your faults, he knows you're not perfect. Tell him not to let anything put you asunder. I promise you, by God's grace, it's not over for you.
May the Lord help all marriages today.