Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Messiah and Divorce

Message: 1
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 12:04:40 -0600
From: "Rick Conason"
Subject: RE: Marriage, Divorce and Unconditional Love

Dear Richard,

I've been away for a week so just saw this email, and being that I work
primarily in the field of marriage your comments in this area are
naturally of interest to me. And, I think you are definitely on the right
track here. As you say, "A second wife could not truly be a wife, for her
place as wife has already been taken, the perfection and completion of
human being that occurs through marriage has been achieved," although for
the sake of completeness I would point out that this is only true while
the first wife is still alive. If the wife dies then the "oneness" is now
gone and the husband can create a new oneness with another woman.

When you get to the part where you ask, "But, you might ask, why shouldn't
a person be able to love many--even all--people with an unconditional
love? Is that highest love limited to married couples?," however, I think
your analysis goes a little astray.

First, one's "highest" love is never the love for a fellow human being but
rather one's love for God. Second, all love is not the same, so there can
be different kinds of "unconditional" love, i.e., the love for one's
children as opposed to the love of one's spouse. Third, when focusing
only on marital love then it is true that unconditional love can only be
given to one person, because once a third person enters into the
relationship the love by its very nature ceases being unconditional -- it
is now divided. And of course, if it were possible for 3 people to become
one flesh then by necessity two of those people would be of the same sex
so one would be condoning homosexual marriage which is strictly forbidden
by Scripture and Tradition. That is why this paragraph

>>Of course not, but the capacity for that love is a grace. It comes
the sacraments of baptism and, for those whose unconditional love is
directed to another person (a husband or a wife) marriage. But for those
whose unconditional love is directed to Gd, it comes through the
sacraments of baptism and Holy Orders. For to commit oneself to loving Gd
unconditionally is to commit oneself to loving every man unconditionally:
"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matt. 18:5)

is misleading. Everybody is required to direct unconditional love to God,
not just those in Holy Orders. It is just that the type of love directed
towards God is different than that directed towards one's spouse.

With respect to your comments about

>>Jewish tradition regards the prohibitions of the Torah as establishing a
spiritual bottom line. The Torah does not forbid divorce, and not even
polygamy because, while they do not represent a spiritual ideal, they do
not violate that bottom line.

>>The Torah permits divorce , it seems, in order to regulate marriages
are not true marriages, marriages of the sort which can, without
contradiction, bond a man to many women. A man who loves his wife
unconditionally will never divorce her.

I would suggest that the whole question about the Torah permitting divorce
can only be understood within the context of the traditions of Shammai and
Hillel. And the reason that the Church's current teaching about divorce
is even more strict than Shammai would have set it is because the actual
Messiah that came is even greater than that expected by the Jews so He can
help us live this even stricter rule. Oh, and divorce cannot regulate
"marriages that are not true marriages," because if a marriage is not a
"true marriage" then it is not a marriage at all.

Finally, the Church does not forbid divorce, "because the sacrament of
marriage confers a grace that establishes unconditional love between
husband and wife, or, at least, potential for that love, so that all
marriages are true marriages. Therefore, there is no place for divorce."
It forbids divorce only and strictly because that is what Jesus taught in
Scripture. Also, it is not at all true that the Church declares the
nullity of a marriage (it never "nullifies" a marriage), because the
unconditional love which creates a marriage was absent. Unconditional
love is not an essential element of a valid marriage or a criteria for
judging whether a valid marriage ever came into being. Unconditional love
is indeed a vital element if one is to experience the fullest expression
of the marital bond, but validity is judged by the lowest definition of
marriage not the highest.

Deacon Rick

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