What is the spiritual significance, and consequence, of a wife who repudiates a husband?

That is to say, if a wife unilaterally divorces a husband, as is now allowable in the modern world – where it seems it was not allowable in the past – would that make it allowable, if barely so, for a man to remarry? This seems to be an issue left unclear by scripture.

I ask this question because in most states of the US, and I presume in other parts of the world, a unilateral act of divorce is possible by one partner without cause. And yet the scriptures, if not the canon, if I am mistaken, are silent about the possibility of a unilateral repudiation by a WIFE for no religiously legitimate ground.

I am here contemplating a case where a wife divorces a husband simply because, say, of economic reasons, such as the ugly cases where she believes that she could earn more money through the law courts. And I should say, where there are children involved in the first marriage.

Please forgive me if this is not expressed well, or seems unfair to anyone, but there seems to be an epidemic of divorce since the 1960s for little to no cause by women in Western countries. Please, I pray that this community helps me find an answer on spiritual as opposed to political or legal grounds. With my sincerest blessings.

Dear friend,

Jesus was quite adamant: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder (Mt 19: 7).

He roundly condemned all divorce. So the Catholic Church teaches that the state does not have the ability to dissolve a valid marriage—no matter who initiates the divorce. That our country has civil divorce does not mean that Catholics may dissolve a marriage. The Church allows a couple to divorce in order to equitably divide the goods that were held in common. But the individuals cannot attempt to marry validly in the Catholic Church, unless the it can be proven that the marriage was not valid to begin with. This holds for men and women equally.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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