Changes in marriage doctrine in the 1800s and today

Prior to 1908, marriage between Catholics and non-Catholics was considered non-sacramental and therefore invalid.

But the Catholic Church eventually changed it in the decree Ne Tamere in 1908, to avoid the administrative headache of trying to identify and rectify clandestine and doubtful marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics.

My question is, if, because of the desire for administrative efficiency, the Catholic Church is capable of making such a radical change in the definition of what constitutes a sacramental, valid marriage, then why can’t it do so again by changing its current teachings on same-sex marriages?

This premise is not correct. Valid marriages between Catholics and baptized non-Catholics have always been a sacrament. An invalid marriage between a Catholic and baptized non-Catholic is of course not a sacrament because it’s not a marriage.

What has changed over the years are the canon law regulations regarding the conditions under which a Catholic can validly contract a marriage to a non-Catholic. And this particular document didn’t actually change anything, it clarified the meaning of certain terms used to define the valid form of marriage for Catholics as had been laid out in documents from Trent.

This is where you have erred. The Church did no such thing.

It is not possible for two people of the same sex to marry each other.

This is mixing apples and oranges.

Natural law says that marriage is between a man and a woman. This was confirmed in both the Old and the New Testaments.

St. Paul developed this teaching, pointing out that the Sacrament of Matrimony is a figure of Christ’s love for His Church. He also stressed the importance of marrying a fellow believer.

For a sacramental marriage, both partners should be validly baptised. The Church merely explained some of the finer details in 1908.

My question is, if, because of the desire for administrative efficiency, the Catholic Church is capable of making such a radical change in the definition of what constitutes a sacramental, valid marriage, then why can’t it do so again by changing its current teachings on same-sex marriages?

Because marriage is, by definition, between a man and a woman. A mutually monogamous civil and sexual relationship between two men and two women is, well, a mutually monogamous civil and sexual relationship. It is not a marriage, much less a sacramental one. Worse, it is a grave sin (Lev. 18; Rom. 1: 18ff.) :frowning:

Perhaps put another way, although I think both of the previous posts speak to this point: The former is a matter of discipline, the latter, of morality. Regarding matters of discipline (e.g. celibate clergy, no meat on Fridays), recall Jesus saying “what you bound/loose on earth will be bound/loosed in heaven”.

Morality, however, is eternal and unchanging. Jimmy Akin once discussed worshiping God on the Sabbath as an example: The discipline of what day for the worship to occur could change; the morality that God is owed worship does not change.

To change the doctrine about homosexuals concerning marriage (which requires also changing the definition of marriage) would be to imply that what was evil (namely, sodomy) is now good – and this is impossible, because God does not change (so morality arising from God’s nature does not change), and because God, in His infinite wisdom, does not contradict Himself.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.