Divorce & Marriage Between a Believer and an Unbliever (Unbaptised)


#1

I am a Protestant in the process of converting, and so far, I have only been able to identify one insonsistency in Catholic teaching/practice. The inconsistency relates to two issues regarding marriage and divorce. My question is twofold:

  1. 2 Cor. 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

The Catholic Church marries Catholics to unbelievers every day. I had an unbaptised unbelieving friend marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church. How do they square this practice with the above Scripture? Please don’t reply that it’s so the kids can be raised Catholic or so that the unbeliever will be led into the Church because such reasoning would be only coming up with man made logic to violate a Biblical teaching.

The best answer that I have heard is that possibly this teaching was meant for the Corinthians only (Karl Keating’s answer, although he only cites this as a possibility only). If this is the case, how then do we know when a teaching is for all or only a select audience? I find error with this logic as it allows us to dismiss any teaching that we don’t like, writing it off that it was only meant for one particular audience. I am uncomfortable if the Church can take any Biblical doctrine and write it off as “discipline” rather than “dogma”. It opens the floodgates to dismissing doctrines that we deem to hard to follow.

I fear that I have identified an insonsistency in the Catholic Church (which won’t keep me from converting); however, I find it troubling. Moreover, if it is an inconsistency I wish that someone would just admit to it.

  1. My second question is related to this general topic and easier to answer. It references Mt. 5:32 “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

As a Protestant I have always believed in divorce only in the case of adultery. My understanding of the word “fornication” was that it applied to many different types of sexual immorality. I am still having trouble understanding why Catholics don’t allow for divorce under conditions of adultery. I received a previous answer regarding something about the reference being specific earlier in the text and this word being more general, but the answer was vague, and I am still confused. The “save for fornication” appears to be allowing for some sort of exception. If it doesn’t allow for an exception for adultery, what does it then mean?

On the February 5th radio program, Jimmy Aikin answers the first issue, although I felt that he did an insufficient job. His answer is two 1/2 minutes into the program. You might want to review his answer which I found wholly lacking. He basically said that Paul is stating a law here but that canon law allows for exceptions to Paul’s above stated law. I find this incredibly troubling for he is admiting that the Church can usurp any Biblical commandment, thereby elevating canon law above Biblical law.

Please help me reconcile these very troubling apparent inconsistencies. And I do hope that they are only *apparent * inconsistencies, not actual inconsitencies. Again, the Protestant Church is full of inconsistencies, so it’s not something that will turn me off from Catholicism, but I want to know once and for all what Catholic teaching is on these issues.


#2

Dear Sabrina,

The New Jerusalem Bible states: “2 Cor 6: 14 is a warning against the infiltration of pagan practices which would split the church and cut it off from its founder…” The Church was still quite new and vulnerable at the time. It is understandable that St. Paul would be leery of mixed marriages under such circumstances.

But remember, the Church has the protection of the Holy Spirit in interpreting Sacred Scripture that the individual does not have. Thank God, as a Catholic, the responsibility of interpreting Scripture correctly does not fall to me. I know a former Protestant minister, who after becoming a Catholic, confided that it is so nice not having to be his own pope.

In the July / August 2000 issue of “This Rock” Jimmy Akin gives an explanation of the Catholic Church’s take on Mt. 5:32 that I expect you will find satisfying. See attachment below.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.


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