Non-Catholic Marriages

Couples who do not get married in a Catholic church, or by a priest, would be considered not a valid marriage, correct? So, if they get divorced later on, and than start dating someone else or get married to them , would that still be considered adultery? or a mortal sin? If they aren’t Catholic, I would assume they would not know if that is a mortal sin, but isn’t that still wrong???

I guess it would depend on what you mean by getting married “not in the Catholic Church”. It also depends on the spiritual state of the couple. If, for instance, both are baptized, and get married in a church according to their faith tradition, then the Catholic Church recognizes that couple as having been validly, and sacramentally, married. If neither is baptized, and they are married outside of a church, it can still be considered a valid marriage. It’s when you get into “mixed” marriages, from a faith perspective, that a marriage can be considered illicit.

The other consideration here is that in the eyes of God, marriage is “until death do us part.” There is no alternative or exception to this rule. The church can and does examine marriages on a regular basis in tribunals to determine if the marriage ever actually took place or not, but Jesus was VERY clear on the issue of divorce.

Some secondary effects of annulments include the fact that for the period of time the couple was acting as if they were married, they were, in actual fact, fornicating outside of the bounds of marriage, which of course can be a mortal sin. I use the “can be” instead of “is” due to the makeup of what constitutes sin. (there must be full knowledge that the act is sinful, there must be full freedom to carry out the act, and it must be a grievous matter. if any of these is lessened, then the complicity is also lessened.)

Hope that helps!

I agree with all of this except for the bolded section. I have never heard of this before.
Could you provide the point of canon law that addresses this assumption?

Peace
James

Assuming there are no impediments to a marriage the Church recognises as valid and sacramental the marriage of two baptised people, even if they are not Catholic and even if they simply have a civil marriage.

Not sure about the canon law, but it only stands to reason… I’m assuming of course that said couple would have had sex while they were “married.” If an annulment is a statement that the marriage never existed, then when they had sex, they were not married… and the Church teaches that sex outside of the bounds of marriage is adultery and a mortal sin. Follow the timeline, and I think that should make sense, though I make no guarantees. I’ve been sitting here at my desk at work since 4:00 yesterday afternoon, and not very awake!:o

It does not “stand to reason” at all…
But by your own admission in order for something to be a sin, especially a mortal sin, there has to be knowledge and consent.
During the time of the “marriage” the persons involved had conplete confidence that they were married and that sexual relations were perfectly licit. There goes teh first point right there. They had no knowledge that they were sinning therefore no sin.

Peace
James

To continue on the above, if we follow your line of reasoning, then any children from said marriage would be illegitimate, and yet I know, from personal experience, that the Church does not consider the Children of an annuled marriage to be illegitimate.

Peace
James

Catholic couples who do not get married according to Catholic marriage laws are not in a valid marriage. The same rules do not apply to non-Catholic couples. They may validly marry outside the Catholic Church.

Actually, what you had in bold was my assertion that the hypothetical couple in question was fornicating… This does, in fact, stand to reason. The rest of my sentence was that it CAN be a mortal sin. I did not say that it definitively was, nor that it even probably was, and used, as you pointed out, the grounds for mortal sin to make exactly your point… I presumed the logical conclusion you elucidated… that the couple likely was not aware (that would be full knowledge) of the grievous nature of their actions, therefore culpability is lessened. But logic still asserts that if they were never married, and they had sex, then what they were engaging in was sex OUTSIDE of the bounds of marriage. This is the definition, as I understand it, of fornication, and is breaking the 7th commandment. The lack of knowledge in this case shows that it is in all likelihood NOT a deadly sin… but no less of a sin.

As to the question of children from the annulled marriage, that opens up a whole different can of worms, and is one reason why we should be that much more serious about how we approach matrimony. I don’t presume to know what the church’s stance on that issue is, but in my experience, most people are seeking annulments to be able to enter into a “new” marriage. If there be children involved, whether they be legitimate or not, there are serious issues to be addressed, and none of them easy. From my observations, the classification of “legitimate” vs. “illegitimate” is the LEAST of the concerns to be addressed. I am not here to condemn anyone, far from it. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Most of us make some grave ones along the way, so I’m not about to start casting stones, lest one get lobbed in my direction!:blush: I truly hope that nobody reading this believes me to be taking a “holier-than-thou” stance here… I assure you that I am not. I am merely attempting to define the problem as clearly as I can on 3 hours’ sleep in 48…

It is not a sin if the people involved have no inclination that what they are engaging in is sin. Simple as that. People who have every reason to believe that they are validly married have every right to engage in sexual activity. If at a later date it is discovered that the marriage was invalid, sin cannot be imputed to what occurred before that discovery. Period.

You assertion that somehow sin is imputed in this way can only have the effect of causing those with scrupulosity issues to see a poentially mortal sin where there was no sin at all.

Both My wife and I have received annulments through the Church. When she received hers, there were children. That is how I know about the legitimacy issue. In both of our cases, (hers in the early 1970’s and mine in 2007) not one word was ever said about having committed adultery by having sex with our ex spouse.

Please talk to your pastor and get this straight in your mind.

Peace
James

Caffeine is starting to kick in… I amend my assertion about sin, but NOT about fornication, and therefor, not about the fact that the act would, in fact, be breaking the 7th commandment. You are correct, as I was focused on the concept of mortal sin, forgetting that venial sins too fall under this scrutiny to determine whether the act committed was sinful… or just wrong.

Please, again, I implore you to understand that I am not casting stones. The entire point I was trying to make in bringing up the notion of fornication here is that just because a couple is able to get an annulment and get back on the right track, does not change the fact that damage was done during the first relationship. I am asserting that this damage is to some extent spiritual in nature. We are after all spiritual beings. If the couple was Christian, then spiritual damage was done to the entire Body of Christ. (No wrong act, and no sin, occurs in a vacuum. We are all part of the Body of Christ!) The bottom line for me is that we all, as a collective society, have fallen into the trap that Love is a feeling or emotion more than an act of the will, and that Marriage is a contract, and not a covenant. This is an area where we as Catholics need to do much more evangelizing. You, having experienced firsthand the damage and trauma, both spiritual and emotional, that divorce can inflict, are even better equipped than such as I to testify to that fact.

Peace, and may God’s grace shine upon you and your Wife!!

I’m afraid I cannot explain it any better than I already have. People who have had marital relations with their spouse have committed no sin, nor have they done anything wrong. If later, the marriage is annulled, no sin can be imputed “retroactively”.
If you still believe that their is any sin, whether venial or mortal, from the simple act of two married people having sex, I strongly suggest you take this up with your pastor. Please do this before you ever try and tell another person what you have said here.

Please, again, I implore you to understand that I am not casting stones. The entire point I was trying to make in bringing up the notion of fornication here is that just because a couple is able to get an annulment and get back on the right track, does not change the fact that damage was done during the first relationship. I am asserting that this damage is to some extent spiritual in nature. We are after all spiritual beings. If the couple was Christian, then spiritual damage was done to the entire Body of Christ. (No wrong act, and no sin, occurs in a vacuum. We are all part of the Body of Christ!) The bottom line for me is that we all, as a collective society, have fallen into the trap that Love is a feeling or emotion more than an act of the will, and that Marriage is a contract, and not a covenant. This is an area where we as Catholics need to do much more evangelizing. You, having experienced firsthand the damage and trauma, both spiritual and emotional, that divorce can inflict, are even better equipped than such as I to testify to that fact.

I agree with much of what you write here, that the body of Christ is wounded by the sins and evils we commit. However, this has nothing to do with your assertion regarding the imputation of sin - after the fact. Again I urge you to talk to your priest.

Peace, and may God’s grace shine upon you and your Wife!!

And to you.

Peace
James

Two things here.

  1. I have not yet suggested that sex between a married couple can impute sin. That is a topic for another thread, because it is DEFINITELY possible. I have heard this from more than one priest. (Lust is a sin. If you have sex with your wife out of lust, or merely to “scratch an itch” then you ARE committing a sin, because you have turned your wife into an object for pleasure. …but that is a topic for another thread.)

  2. If you properly understand an annulment, it is NOT an official ratification of a divorce by the church. An annulment is a statement that the prior marriage is null and void. Stated another way, an annulment is an official statement that the prior marriage was invalid, or NEVER OCCURRED. That means that if your first marriage was annulled, then you were never married. The Church still upholds vigorously that marriage is until death do you part. I am arguing for a technicality, and yes, damage was done. The 7th commandment was broken. Was it a mortal sin, probably not. But that does NOT change the reality.

I agree there are many instances where sin can be incurred but not by the mere fact of engaging in licit marital acts in, what is believed, and accepted by the Church at that time, a licit marriage.

  1. If you properly understand an annulment, it is NOT an official ratification of a divorce by the church. An annulment is a statement that the prior marriage is null and void. Stated another way, an annulment is an official statement that the prior marriage was invalid, or NEVER OCCURRED. That means that if your first marriage was annulled, then you were never married. The Church still upholds vigorously that marriage is until death do you part.

I am fully aware of what an annulment is. As I said I have been the blessed recipient of an annulment through the Grace of God in His Church. I find it somewhat insulting that you believe me to be deficient in this matter.
If I am deficient I would ask that you set me straight by citing the proper points of canon law that suppprt your position that two people, innocently engaged in what are proper marital acts within the context of what they believe at the time to be a proper and valid marriage, are incurring sin.
I say again - Please cite official church documents on this matter and not your own “line of reason”. You see - My “line of reason” tells me the opposite, so one of us must be wrong. Therefore it is necessary that we consult the Church’s teaching on this matter to determine what is correct.

I am arguing for a technicality, and yes, damage was done. The 7th commandment was broken. Was it a mortal sin, probably not. But that does NOT change the reality.

The seventh commandment has not been broken merely by the fact that the marriage is annulled. That is the reality.

Peace
James

In order to try and get a more clear and documented answer to this question, I have taken the liberty of starting another thread. It is here

Peace
James

I am sorry if you feel insulted, as that was definitely not my intent. I did not say that a sin had been committed. As we have both pointed out, in order for an action to be a sin all three qualifications must be present. I earlier retracted my suggestion that it was sinful, so let me be clear that unless the couple was willfully “playing” at being married, (which would surprise me to discover were the case in even 0.01% of the cases), there would be no sin involved, and no need whatsoever for guilt.

The truth, and so I agree with you that it is, that there is no guilt in such situations, does not change the equally valid statement that I asserted. You were not married to this other woman. You did engage in sex with her. There is no guilt, and yet the fact remains that what you did was engage in sex outside of marriage. This is not an accusation of guilt in any way, shape or fashion, as you clearly believed yourself (as virtually all couples do) to be validly married to this woman. But, in the eyes of the Church, and therefore in the eyes of God, you were not. Hence my assertion that you, and many other such couples, were, in actual fact, engaging in sex outside of the bounds of ACTUAL matrimony… which is the definition of fornication.

Let me try to explain with a metaphor. Let us suppose that you are one of the few Americans who actually obeys all posted speed limits. Let us also suppose that your next door neighbor is a police officer. At a party one night, the topic of speed limits comes up, and you proudly announce that you always obey the speed limit. This neighbor, who has been behind you in his squad car on any number occasions, points out that while you do now obey all speed limits, in your last car, you habitually went 7 miles per hour over the speed limit. You point out that your speedometer in that car always showed you going exactly the posted speed limit. Who’s right? I would submit that while you would have no reason to feel guilt, in actual fact, you were routinely exceeding the speed limit by 7 miles per hour, and hence, breaking the speed limit law. Are you guilty? No. You believed, and had every reason to believe, that you were obeying the law. Was the fault yours? No. The fault was with the automobile manufacturer. But that does not change the fact that you were breaking the law.

Similarly with the case of an annulled marriage. Did you believe you were married? Yes. Is there guilt on your part? No. Now, with hindsight, you recognize that you were never married to this woman, but at the time, you were fully convinced that you were, and therefore you were doing what is right to do in the circumstances you believed yourself to be in. But that does not change the fact that you were not actually married, and that the action was technically breaking God’s law. Do I believe that there is any guilt? No. Do I believe that spiritual damage was caused? Yes.

I would point out also that the reason that I brought this up to begin with was to point out that while annulments may help us to rectify past wrongs, that there are consequences to our actions. You are, from what I gather, in your FIRST marriage, from God’s perspective, as is your wife. Yet, neither of you were completely chaste (albeit unknowingly) leading up to your wedding. This means that when you went to your wedding bed with each other, you each carried with you experiences which, had you never gone through the motions with your prior lawful (but not Godly) spouses, you would not have had. In other words, you were not virgins up until the day of your wedding. This is unfortunate, and the real reason that I brought it up to begin with. On the other hand, praise GOD that you have found the Wife that God intended for you, and that you have reconciled yourself with the Church.

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