Yes, it is very sad. I think about 21% of Catholic marriages end in divorce, but a larger number of Protestants ones do, closer to 25% I believe. The statistics are just about the same for non-Christians. We Christians aren’t living out our faith and beliefs very well, are we?
You have to realize that Protestantism which is pretty broad does not view marriage as a sacrament. Martin Luther only claimed that there were 2 sacraments. When one doesn’t view marriage as a binding sacrament and there are no fault divorce laws, then anything goes and divorce, remarriage etc becomes a slippery slope that we are seeing here. While more conservative Protestants do give lip service to the “permanence” of marriage while the spouses are alive, it usually gets side swiped in allowing reasons such as adultery and abuse which again is a slippery slope. Legally, there is nothing any church or religious institution can do to try and stop divorces. The only thing any Church can do is put parameters around who they will marry and what would make one marriage eligible. Obviously, only the Catholic Church has set and stuck to those standards based on the view of marriage as a sacrament. I am curious if you knew these couples were divorced before and how you ended up invited to the weddings.
It’s wrong to live together before marriage. But let’s not presume to know why they got divorced their spouse could have died or committed adultery on them.
Here is what my tiny denomination teaches about marriage:
The Bible and Lutherans teach that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. It is a partnership in which the man is the loving head. Marriage is established by God. It is a holy relationship not to be broken. A married person sins if he or she divorces without a biblical reason. Before God, no divorce is valid except in cases of fornication or desertion. The tendency to consider marriage as unimportant results in great harm to the family, the church, and the nation.
Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:24,25; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Psalm 51:10
Among my Protestant friends, my own participation in Protestant churches, and listening to Christian radio I have never heard marriage or divorce taken lightly. It has always been spoken of as a holy covenant instituted by God with the intention of it lasting a lifetime.
Sadly not everyone treats it that way, regardless of faith.
Yes, it occurs among Protestants, but I don’t think it is a Protestant issue as compared to other groups. There has been a movement among the Protestant churches in the communities I’ve lived in to marry no couple without several sessions of counseling with the minister to determine whether the couple understands the sanctity of marriage, and has prepared themselves for the reality of marriage, and the teachings of the faith.
I do not know if the marriage ceremonies you attended took place in a church or not. Many people I know who remarry are doing it with a justice of the peace either at the courthouse, or more commonly in a rented hall or back yard setting.
Humans are humans and I know people of all faiths that have divorced and remarried both in and out of their church, lived together before marriage, and took up with a new partner before their divorce was final. As I said, this is not a Protestant issue.
I have noticed that trend, particularly for marriages after divorce. I wonder if people feel that it gives less of a sense of a “seal of approval” from the church to do it that way.
I know in Catholicism that marriages are to take place in the sanctuary, and that Mass is not to be held anywhere other than in a Church on an altar without special dispensation, to keep people focused on the importance and solemnity of what is taking place, to not allow room for casual attitudes.
I think that is a very wise practice, and helps avoid confusion and loss of respect for that which is holy.
To me the fact that the pastor officiates whether it is in the church proper or at an outside location does imply the blessing by the faith. Of course I don’t know any of the particulars or whether the service itself was of a religious nature.
As far as I am aware there are no Protestant versions of annulments and I really don’t know how, within the church or congregation, such a situation is handled. Maybe someone with experience will chime in.
I would not take the fact that a wedding was conducted outside a church sanctuary to be indicative of the officiating clergymen’s views on the marriage in question. For one thing, many Protestant communions do not invest church buildings with the same sentiments that Catholics appear to. Dispensations are not needed to carry on religious services outside a sanctuary. The people are the church. We are living stones, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. Holy ground can be found anywhere where there are holy people.
Thanks for that information. I know that Protestant churches do not take divorce lightly, but I wasn’t sure under which circumstances is was considered Biblical.
question? I have heard that adultery, addiction and abuse are considered valid reasons for divorce. I can easily see how addiction and abuse can fall under the category of desertion, do you know if those are considered Biblical or is that something that would have to be determined individually by a minister.
A: The LCMS believes divorce is contrary to God’s original design and intention for marriage. While divorce can be justified scripturally in certain situations (adultery or desertion), it is always preferable for couples to forgive and work toward healing and strengthening their marriage. Because no two situations are alike, LCMS pastors deal on a case-by-case basis with members (or potential members) who are wrestling with the issue of (past or present) divorce.
The Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the LCMS has prepared a report called Divorce and Remarriage which discusses the Bible passages and theological principles underlying the Synod’s perspective on this issue.*
The divorce and remarriage report is a 50 page .pdf which thoroughly explains the LCMS stance. It does mention “that Jesus refrains from charging with adultery the one who has been put away as victim of the sinful act of another suggests that we, too, ought to exercise considerable caution regarding judgments in such cases, lest we bind heavy burdens, hard to bear.”
Re: Matthew 19:9, the LCMS says that “not only is the act of divorce itself sinful, apart from remarriage, but the act of remarriage after an illegitimate divorce is judged contrary to the will of God.”
Addiction and abuse may be grounds to live apart from your spouse, but not for an act of divorce. If your adulterous spouse divorces you, then you are not made an adulterer by remarriage.
I believe the majority of Protestant denominations allow for divorce in the case of adultery, and some allow it for desertion, too. However, divorce is considered a sin and should never be undertaken lightly. It isn’t an unforgivable sin and remarriage is allowed after divorce and repentance in most denominations, but not all.
However, many Protestant denominations give individual churches quite a bit of leeway in how they run those individual churches. So one church may not allow people to divorce and still be pastors, deacons or elders or in any leadership role, but another church may allow that. One church may require a lot of classes and counseling before the pastor determines if he will remarry someone and another may not. In one very large Baptist church I attended, divorced men couldn’t even be ushers regardless of the reason for their divorce. At my Christian college, the president’s wife left and divorced him over his objections. He was forced to resign from his job. To my knowledge nobody but the Catholic Church offers a decree of nullity.