Is it safe to say that divorce is INTRINSICALLY evil?

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“Intrinsically evil” means evil always and everywhere.

If a marriage is invalid (that is to say, if it later found by the Church to have never existed, due to a defect in consent, or the presence of an impediment), then the divorce never ruptured a valid bond. In other words, a divorce in that case was not evil, but merely served as the first act in a chain that led to a declaration of nullity.

In other words, it’s possible that there is a divorce that is not evil; and therefore, divorce cannot be intrinsically evil. QED. :wink:

If someone is abusing you then I would say divorce is a very good thing.

AFAIK, the commandment is: What God has joined, let no man put asunder. It seems pretty explicit to me from Scripture, that divorce is forbidden.

In cases of spousal or child abuse, the church recognizes that divorce may be necessary for the protection and support of the family. The Church also requires a civil divorce before annullment proceedings can begin. Remarriage without a decree of nullity is the problem.

Tom…the point is that man can’t! Which is why divorce proceedings don’t leave a person - in God’s eyes - free to marry (again).

Agreed. Yet, what God has not joined, can be broken. A Catholic decree of nullity (i.e., an ‘annulment’) is precisely that: a marriage that was null from the start, and therefore, never existed as a valid sacramental bond.

When you are handed divorce papers from your spouse, telling the judge that you don’t believe in divorce isn’t going to stop the divorce from happening. I know, I tried that one. So…:shrug: it’s the remarriage thing that’s the problem.

No. Divorce, in itself, is not intrinsically evil. It is even, sometimes, an unfortunate necessity.


One can be divorced legally, but in all other aspects of reality that is a marriage, one is still married.

“Intrinsically evil”? Well, if there was a “real” marriage, yes.

But what is a “real” marriage in the eyes of the Church? As your second source says: capacity, consent, form.

The main issue is almost always consent. Marriage is a contract between two parties. One party cannot agree to a contract if the other party is not honest up front, or if one party breaks the contract, or if you didn’t understand what the contract meant, etc. etc.

I went to a Marriage Encounter 30+ years ago; I had been married 15 years at the time. There were about 40 couples. I was astounded to find that at least 38 of the 40 couples had no idea what their spouses thought about basic questions: death, children, sex, etc. They had obviously never talked about those basic things!!! My wife and I discussed it all before marrying, agreeing on some things, disagreeing on others. But we knew exactly what the other person thought. It wouldn’t occur to me to marry someone if I didn’t know those things!!!

But you can think of millions of examples: Your husband–unknown to you–is marrying you for your money. Is this a real marriage? Your wife told you she wanted children; now she has changed her mind. Are you still in a real marriage? Your husband says he loves you but give you no evidence of that–no affection, no gifts, no time spent together. Is that a real marriage? Your wife married you with the attitude that you were the best thing around at the time; now she has found someone better. Was that a real marriage? Obviously (I hope!) none of these were valid marriages–either in the eyes of the Church or in the eyes of anyone with common sense.

This is very very true.


If you really, really think you adhere to a religion that states it is “intrinsically evil” for a woman to divorce a man who has been beating the heck out of her, then, with all due respect, I want no part of whatever religion you adhere to.

Fortunately, because the Catholic Church does not hold divorce to be intrinsically evil, I won’t worry more about this.

What was not there…cannot be “broken”.

By definition - it was not there.

A decree of nullity is as you note - discovering and judging that such never existed.

Divorce is a grave offense against natural law (see Catechism).

Now if say one needs to seek a “civil” divorce - for an important civil reason (see below) knowing that such is not a “divorce” for the marriage continues…and such is the only way …

“If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.” (CCC 2383)

Such is a different thing.

It is not that the grave offense of “divorce” becomes “ok” - one is rather looking there at two different matters.

Agreed. But, what was there – in this case, a purely civil marriage – can be broken. Hence: what God joins, cannot be broken; what God does not join, can be broken.

There is no other marriage for two Baptized persons than a Sacramental marriage.

If the marriage was not valid it was not valid.

Again no marriage there to be “broken”.

Only the civil records to be corrected to reflect reality.

(now saying that - of course there are various sufferings involved - especially for those who really thought they were married…such is not to ignore that “reality” - of real heart ache and suffering).

True, but there is a civil reality to be considered. And, of course, in any pastoral discussion, it would be inadvisable to lead with “you were never married”; that leads to misunderstandings and anger.

Again no marriage there to be “broken”.

A civil marriage. Not a sacramental one. And, of course, divorce can only have effects on that civil reality.

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