I’m getting such helpful responses to my fictional question about Jane and John, and finding the discussion so illuminating about the Catholic concept of marriage, that I have another hypothetical question. Some of you seemed to be enjoying discussing my previous story, so I hope you enjoy this one too.
Suppose Alice and Bob, both Catholics, get married in church. Things go well at first, but after a while they get busy and start neglecting each other. Alice is lonely, so she is flattered when Charles, an atheist at her work, starts to pay attention to her. Alice and Charles end up having an affair, and Alice leaves Bob, stops going to church, gets a divorce, and marries Charles in a civil ceremony.
Some years later, Alice has realised that the grass wasn’t really greener on the other side of the fence. Charles has been promoted and moved to a different department, so she no longer sees him at work, and when they do have some time together he no longer finds her so fascinating as he used to. Meanwhile his bad habits at home are just as irritating as Bob’s used to be. She feels spiritually dissatisfied too, but Charles doesn’t understand why she cares about God. Alice decides to go back to church. She joins a Catholic church, and makes new friends there.
While visiting the friends, Alice runs into Bob again. They start spending more and more time together, and Alice enjoys being with somebody who not only shares her history but also understands her spiritual values. She starts to remember all the great things about Bob that attracted her to him in the first place. Eventually they end up in bed and have sex. They still remember the particular ways of giving pleasure that they each most like and the sex feels satisfying for both of them.
Alice goes to see her protestant friend Diana and tells her what happened. “It felt so right,” she tells her friend, “but now I’m confused”. Diana tells Alice that although her affair was wrong, nevertheless Alice is legally married to Charles now, and for her to have sex with Bob is adultery. Alice replies “But in the eyes of the Church I’m still married to Bob and my whole marriage to Charles has been adultery, so how can it be adultery for me to sleep with Bob?”
Diana tells Alice she can’t answer that and recommends Alice to talk to her priest. What should the priest say to Alice?
Meanwhile, Bob also goes to see his priest. What should the priest say to Bob?