I have a friend that is protestant that was married (to another protestant). They divorced. This friend was then interested in remarrying (another protestant) and asked me if I thought that it was adultery for her to remarry. As a catholic, what is the appropriate response to a protestant person in this situation (since they don’t have an annulment process in the protestant church like catholics do)?
Its a little bit tricky in such situations.
Jane (a Baptist) marries John (a Lutheran). They divorce and later on Jane marries Bob (a Presbyterian).
Consent makes marriage. Therefore if Jane and John, at the time of their marriage, were able and intended to consent to all the essentials of marriage then it would be a valid sacramental marriage and thus no future marriage could ever be valid until either Jane or John died. But if, for whatever reason, either Jane or John were unable or unwilling to properly consent to the essentials of marriage then the vows would have been invalid and thus would mean that Jane’s later marriage to Bob is actually valid.
We must always remember that an annulment does ***not ***actually dissolve a marriage, it is an official recognition that a valid sacramental marriage never existed.
In marriage tribunals when a non-Catholic has been married more than once and now wants to marry a Catholic, the tribunal as to annul each of the previous marriages beginning with the first one because once the first marriage is proven invalid that means the individual was free to marry at the time of the second marriage and the second marriage becomes the presumed valid marriage until proven otherwise.
The tribunal system of annulments exists so that Catholics can be assured that any “second marriage” is in fact valid and not a violation of the Gospel’s teaching on marriage.