Why isn't adultery grounds for divorce?


#1

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

My understanding is that the Catholic Church does not permit divorce for any reason. Isn’t adultery biblical grounds for divorce?
My understanding of the word “fornication” listed above included all forms of sexual immorality. What is the Catholic interpretation of this verse?

I’m not divorced, but I am trying to reconcile my beliefs in an effort to join the Catholic Church.


#2

Let’s use the translation you give: No man should “put away his wife” except if she is guilty of fornication.

What is fornication? It is having sexual relations outside of marriage, and it is one sin that a married person cannot commit. If a married person engages in extramarital relations, the sin is adultery, not fornication. Fornication can occur only between two people who are not married (to one another or to anyone else).

So, if there is a situation in which a man puts away a wife who is guilty of fornication, it must be that she is not really his wife–that is, what our Lord is referring to is a sham marriage: The man and woman appear to others to be married to one another, but they are not. (Nowadays this is called “living together.”)

In such a situation the man may “divorce” his “wife” because she is not really a wife at all.

[quote=sabrinaofmn]Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

My understanding is that the Catholic Church does not permit divorce for any reason. Isn’t adultery biblical grounds for divorce?
My understanding of the word “fornication” listed above included all forms of sexual immorality. What is the Catholic interpretation of this verse?

I’m not divorced, but I am trying to reconcile my beliefs in an effort to join the Catholic Church.
[/quote]


#3

The problem with the fornication/adultery argument is that the Greek context rules out it meaning adultery. The word translated as fornication (or adultery in many Bibles) is the Greek word porneia, which is a term encompassing all forms of sexual immorality. Yet in this verse, and the surrounding verses, the specific word moichao is used for adultery. Now why would the evangelist, intending to refer to adultery, suddenly switch to a generic word and then go back to the specific? The answer is that he is not giving an excuse on grounds of adultery, but rather an excuse if the marriage itself is immoral.


#4

Sabrina,

The Catholic Church does STRONGLY discourage divorce, but it is permitted if needed. A divorced person has no less standing in the Church than a married or single person, and it is not considered a sin.

However, IF that divorced person then decides to re-marry and does get married without an annulment, then the person is living in adultery and should not take communion etc. until they have that sin resolved.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage cannot be dissolved, it is a binding contract between three. The groom, bride and God. If the bride and groom need to live apart from each other, that does not release them from their committment to purity for each other and God.

An investigation of the validity of Marriage can be undertaken by the Church and if the Church deems that the marriage was never a valid marriage in the first place (ie. at the moment of the vows) then a declaration of nullity is issued, which will allow both parties to re-marry. The difference is, a divorce can happen at any time in the marriage. A declaration of Nullity is only concerned with the moment the couples said “I do” and the circumstances surrounding and leading up to these events.

My wife and I have both had to have annulments of our previous marraiges before we can be confirmed next week. It really re-inforced to us, how important our committment is to one another!!

Hope this helps a bit?
Brandon


#5

Hi Sabrina.

This helped me, too:

Matthew 19:8
"He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”

JMJ pray for us.
dust


#6

Brandon noted that the Church discourages divorce but permits it in certain cases. His phrasing might mislead some people.

The Church teaches that a civil divorce has no effect on the existence of the underlying marriage. A civil divorce (in the Church’s eyes, a separation of the parties) allows for the division of property and the custody of children, but it does not end a marriage. No valid sacramental marriage can be ended unless one of the parties dies.

A declaration of nullity (an annulment) is a judicial finding that no sacramental marriage existed in the first place and that the two parties never were validly married (no matter what might be said on the civil register). An annulment does not end a valid marriage; it just states that there never was one to begin with, although the parties thought there was.


#7

The word used for fornication is porneia, which Strong’s concordance defines to include adultery: porneia: 1) illicit sexual intercourse

a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18

c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

Are you saying that Catholics have a different understanding of the Greek word porneia?


#8

[quote=sabrinaofmn]The word used for fornication is porneia, which Strong’s concordance defines to include adultery: porneia: 1) illicit sexual intercourse

a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18

c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

Are you saying that Catholics have a different understanding of the Greek word porneia?
[/quote]

No, we don’t. That’s my point. Why is the evangelist switching from specific to generic if he is talking about the same thing?


#9

[quote=Karl Keating]An annulment does not end a valid marriage; it just states that there never was one to begin with, although the parties thought there was.
[/quote]

Um… yea!!! What he said!!!

Brandon


#10

It may also be of note that the “exception” occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew, which is often believed to have been written to Jewish believers. In this case, the “exception” may have been thought to be marriage that was forbidden by Jewish law, which was essentially no marriage at all. The other Gospels give an absolute prohibition of divorce and subsequent remarriage.

David


#11

[quote=Karl Keating]Brandon noted that the Church discourages divorce but permits it in certain cases. His phrasing might mislead some people.

The Church teaches that a civil divorce has no effect on the existence of the underlying marriage. A civil divorce (in the Church’s eyes, a separation of the parties) allows for the division of property and the custody of children, but it does not end a marriage. No valid sacramental marriage can be ended unless one of the parties dies.

A declaration of nullity (an annulment) is a judicial finding that no sacramental marriage existed in the first place and that the two parties never were validly married (no matter what might be said on the civil register). An annulment does not end a valid marriage; it just states that there never was one to begin with, although the parties thought there was.
[/quote]

Should it not, also, be noted the seperation is not permitted except in certain cases? (e.g. Physically/spiritually abusive spouse, Adultery)

IIRC, unless there is danger one also needs permission from the local Ordinary to seperate. Civil divorce is permitted to handle legal issues

Can. 1151 Spouses have the obligation and the right to maintain their common conjugal life, unless a lawful reason excuses them.

Can. 1152 §1 It is earnestly recommended that a spouse, motivated by christian charity and solicitous for the good of the family, should not refuse to pardon an adulterous partner and should not sunder the conjugal life. Nevertheless, if that spouse has not either expressly or tacitly condoned the other’s fault, he or she has the right to sever the common conjugal life, provided he or she has not consented to the adultery, nor been the cause of it, nor also committed adultery.

§2 Tacit condonation occurs if the innocent spouse, after becoming aware of the adultery, has willingly engaged in a marital relationship with the other spouse; it is presumed, however, if the innocent spouse has maintained the common conjugal life for six months, and has not had recourse to ecclesiastical or to civil authority.

§3 Within six months of having spontaneously terminated the common conjugal life, the innocent spouse is to bring a case for separation to the competent ecclesiastical authority. Having examined all the circumstances, this authority is to consider
whether the innocent spouse can be brought to condone the fault and not prolong the separation permanently.

Can. 1153 §1 A spouse who occasions grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult, provides the other spouse with a reason to leave, either by a decree of the local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own authority.

§2 In all cases, when the reason for separation ceases, the common conjugal life is to be restored, unless otherwise provided by ecclesiastical authority.

Can. 1154 When a separation of spouses has taken place, provision is always, and in good time, to be made for the due maintenance and upbringing of the children.

Can. 1155 The innocent spouse may laudably readmit the other spouse to the conjugal life, in which case he or she renounces the right to separation .

This is all because of the marriage debt. It isn’t right to say that divorce is allowed, as long as one doesn’t remarry. Their is the moral obligation of the marital debt which cannot be denied with just (grave?) cause.


#12

I’m sorry if this question was answered in the above post, but I had trouble following the legalistic quote :confused: :

Generally speaking, is an annulment usually granted in the case of abandonment and adultery (i.e. a husband left his wife specifically to wed another woman). And can an annulment be granted with the participation of only one spouse?

Thanks.


#13

[quote=David Ancell]It may also be of note that the “exception” occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew, which is often believed to have been written to Jewish believers. In this case, the “exception” may have been thought to be marriage that was forbidden by Jewish law, which was essentially no marriage at all. The other Gospels give an absolute prohibition of divorce and subsequent remarriage.

David
[/quote]

Maybe I am misinterpreting what you are saying but Mathew 19 does not permit divorce and remarriage. Quite the opposite… Jesus is saying that yes according to the laws of Moses one can divorce in the case of adultery, but this is not really the case. God has set it up that when two people are married they become of one flesh and that union is unbreakable by man. If someone does get a divorce and has coital relations with another they are committing adultery, because the union of the flesh still exists.


#14

Why isn’t adultery grounds for divorce?

Maybe somebody said this already but … it’s till death do you part not till death do you part or till one of you screw up.


#15

This might sound a little off the wall but it is only in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus gives an exception to his prohibition on divorce, in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9; parallel passages in Mark and Luke contain no exception clause. The only other place in Matthew’s gospel where divorce is mentioned is Matthew 1:18-19:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”

It is my understanding that in Jewish eyes, the betrothal meant Jospeh and Mary were considered legally married but before they had “become one flesh”, i.e., before their marriage had been consumated. Since Matthew describes Joseph as"being a just man" and as having “resolved to divorce her,” it seems Matthew inserted the exception to divorce to cover Joseph’s special situation. Otherwise, how could Matthew condsider Joseph to be “a just man,” if the divorce he had resolved to obtain was contrary to God’s will as proclaimed by Jesus?

If I am correct in my interpretation of Matthew, this would mean a man may divorce his wife (or a woman her husband) only if, after the wedding but before the consumation of their marriage, it is discovered that his wife (or her husband) has been unchaste and already “become one flesh” with someone else.

Along these same lines, it is my understanding that the Catholic Church does allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of a valid but unconsumated marriage. (I think I remember hearing this last sentence on an episode of Catholic Answers Live’s Be An Apologist.)

Todd


#16

Its an isnpiring foruma and I am gonna send the link to my other friends


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