Confused Catholic [Long post]

Hi there,

First off, I would like to say that I am a Catholic, albeit not a particularly well-educated one. Take note that this is a lengthy read too ;). There are a couple of things that I have been wondering about, and I haven’t found the answers to them yet. I was hoping some of you guys could help me out :slight_smile:

To start, 2-3 passages in Matthew regarding marriage confuse me. There are 2 main reasons these passage bother me. Before I go on, I just want to say that I know the Catholic position that if you are married within the Church, there is no acceptable reason for divorce. The passage that is often quoted to back this up is:

“And God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will no longer become one’. So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has called together.” Matt 19:5-7

Yet, if you read on, you will read, “I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any other causes than his unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman.”

And again in Matthew 5:32, “But now I tell you: if a man divorces his wife for any other reason than her unfaithfulness, then he is guilty of making her commit adultery if she marries again; and the man who marries her commits adultery also”.

Now it seems that this is contradicted in 1 Cor 7:10-18 where divorce is not allowed, although it doesn’t specifically talk about a case where a partner commits adultery.

So the 1st reason these passages bother me is because I don’t see how they are in line with Catholic teaching since Jesus says that divorce is OK if a partner is unfaithful. It also annoys me when I read the typical Catholic response as to why divorce is always sinful because they simply ignore parts of the passages. Catholics are great at telling non-Catholics how they often take Biblical quotes “out of context”, yet I would say that the typical Catholic response (all that I recall reading anyway) completely avoids these points.

The 2nd reason why I am bothered by one of these passages is because Jesus says, “Moses gave you permission to divorce because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like this at the start of Creation” Matt 19:8

This particular statement made me realize something. Does this mean that God allows a lesser sin in order to make us avoid greater sin? (ie. God previously allowed the sin of divorce because he knew the truth wouldn’t go down well in Moses’ time). But hang on- I thought that God never led us to sin. Even if He is making us avoid a greater sin, he is still technically lead them to sin, no?

Post on the Divine Mercy Chaplet moved to Spirituality Forum
Confused Catholic: The Divine Mercy Chaplet

First, the passage in Matthew does not allow divorce for “unfaithfulness”. That is a faulty translation. What the passage is talking about is unlawful marriage-- marriage within too close of a degree of kinship. Marriages which are already invalid based on the natural and divine law-- basically the precursor to the concept of a decree of nullity.

The Church’s teaching regarding this passage has always been consistent.

Second, regarding Moses-- it was *Moses *who allowed a writ of divorce not God. God did not lead anyone into sin. People have free will to go against God’s commandments and compromise, which is what happened.


I am just wondering though, if what I have is a faulty translation, is it normal/acceptable for this Bible to have an Imprimatur?

It is a poor word choice that can lead to faulty conclusions like you have made. Without knowing the background on the passage clearly it’s not the best word choice.

But, yes, it’s in a number of translations.

What version do you have?

Also, keep in mind that the Church does not ban the separation of the spouses for extreme circumstances such as abuse of the spouse and/or children. A person may even seek a civil divorce to protect themselves.

BUT, the Church teaches that the bond remains. Even though physically separated from the spouse, they are not free to contract another marriage.

This is fundamentally different than what Moses was allowing.

Well it’s the same one I was told to get back at school (went to a Jesuit College).

“Good News Bible” from The Bible Society in Australia and it has an Imprimatur from Edward Cardinal Clancy.

Even those that do support the notion of civil separation because of fornication (a good example being the perennial favorite Douay-Rheims translation), the foot note is such:

“In the case of fornication, that is, of adultery, the wife may be put away: but even then the husband cannot marry another as long as the wife is living.

That is not a current, or good, translation. They use a dynamic equivalency approach to translation-- more like paraphrasing.

Also, it’s a Catholic edition of a Protestant translation. I’m surprised it has an Imprimatur.

It’s not a translation I would use.

What would you use?

The one I prefer generally is the (RSV)Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. You can order one here:

I have always wondered about this myself.
Can anyone help?

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