If at all possible, I’d love to get some sober opinions regarding the issue of convalidation of sacramental marriage, and the existence of sacramental marriage outside of the Catholic Church (otherwise Abram and Sarai were in big trouble.)
I’ve seen a great deal of people throwing around opinions in the other threads I’ve read in this forum, and others, accusing people of being adulterous simply because the Catholic Tribunals had not yet examined previous marriage to determine the suitability of previous said contracts for validity. I find this to be a very bold statement. For this to be the case, one has to assume that the Tribunal holds the sole authority to determine sin, and The Father’s opinion in Heaven is meaningless. That is a slippery slope indeed.
Let us consider a few pieces of Dogma that I thoroughly agree with, because it is much easier to write than referencing the mountain of Scriptures that support these Dogmas (BTW, what a useful thing that Dogma is!)
Dogma 36. “God knows all real things in the past, the present and the future (Scientia visionis). (De fide.)”
Dogma 37. “By knowledge of vision (scientia visionis) God also foresees the free acts of the rational creatures with infallible certainty. (De fide.)”
Dogma 38. “God also knows the conditioned future free actions with infallible certainty (Scientia futuribilium). (Sent. Communis.)”
Those lovely three make it abundantly clear that before a Tribunal ever examines a previous marriage to validate the current one, that God has forseen in the past that it was either valid or not valid. If God has declared it valid before the Tribunal has had a chance to come into agreement with Him, that does not place the person in a state of adultery.
Where does the possibility of sin truly come in? Most abhorrently I would say it would come in with the people giving the appearance of adultery, even if their marriage is truly sacramental from it’s roots.
We are clearly commanded not to give the appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
But the appearance of evil, while grievous, is far different than the sin of adultery. So why are people so quick to fly off with the “you are in an adulterous relationship” comments? I find that horrifyingly concerning.
If one would argue that marriage does not exist outside the Church, they should regard that the Church itself considers first marriages to be valid until otherwise proven, even among the heathen.
In Matthew 19 the Pharisees came with legal questions to attempt to turn the public opinion away from Christ; He did not back down. He clearly stated that Divorce was unacceptable for a true sacramental marriage. I’m not in any way disagreeing with that.
Matthew 19:3-6 "3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Later, in the following verses, the Pharisees then ask why Moses permitted divorce and Jesus smacks them in the face with the opinion (the only opinion that counts,) that it was for the hardness of their hearts and God did not intend it that way in the beginning.
The part of the previous scripture I want to focus on is that Jesus referenced Genesis to define marriage. Marriage was decreed, by the Father, before the time of the Law, the Prophets, or the Mystery of Salvation and the Church to be the joining of a man and a woman as one flesh, hold fast to his wife, set out on their own, etc… This clearly states the prerequisites for a marriage bond. Having been declared by the Father, anyone who proceeds in these steps (whether they be friend or enemy of God,) is recognizing the divinity of the sacrament in honoring the Laws of God written on their hearts. Though they may hate God, they are still obeying His definition of a marriage if they submit to it.
Herein lies the murky water. Just because the Tribunal has yet to affirm whether or not said union existed, does not the Father already know? Should they takes steps to avoid giving the appearance of evil? Yes.
Are we to call them adulterers without the knowledge of God?
I would stipulate no.
Any opinions that are not knee jerk reactions are welcomed. Don’t expect much response out of me if you slap me in the face with “this is how it is you burning heretic, etc…”
On a last side note, I am in no way saying I disagree with the process the Church uses to validate marriages. You cannot expect a community to be in union unless issues of morality are thoroughly brought out in to the open and faced by all. This was a problem in the early Church, especially with regards to Paul’s letters of rebuke to the Church in Corinth. Rather, I recognize that order must be maintained and that some teachings are to avoid even the possibility of sin. This would be why some teachings are tradition, some are Scripture, and some are Dogma. Makes good sense to me, but I wanted to see if others were of the opinion that the teachings regarding convalidation are more aimed at maintaining order and recognizing what already exists, as opposed to blanket stating that marriages don’t exist and all are living in horrid adultery until they bow their knee to Rome.