Christian Zeal in an Era of “Paradigm Shift”

A homily for the third Sunday of Lent

One phrase that has been thrown around recently in the Church regarding her moral teaching on life, sex, and marriage is “paradigm shift.” Blaise Cardinal Cupich of Chicago used this phrase when he described the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia as a “paradigm shift in moral teaching” in the light of the new situation facing the family today.

He opined that, by this document, “The core goal of formal teaching on marriage is accompaniment, not the pursuit of an abstract, isolated set of truths…This represents a major shift in our ministerial approach that is nothing short of revolutionary.”

These words left me scratching my head in confusion. If we take paradigm shift to mean a change in a person’s fundamental perspective or framework through which everything is viewed and interpreted, is a paradigm shift really what we need today? Can we have endless and random paradigm shifts in Church teaching, sacramental discipline, and pastoral care regarding married and civilly divorced, homosexuality, etc.? Besides, who supplies the new paradigm in the first place? When does the paradigm cease to shift or does it continue to shift endlessly? Who determines the direction and duration of the shift in paradigm? What is the direction of this “accompaniment” when moral truth is considered “abstract and disjointed”? Isn’t such “accompaniment” without the guidance of objective truth the case of a blind guide leading the clueless blind into mutual destruction, something that Jesus warned us about, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”(Mt 15:14)

Today’s scripture readings point us to the right attitude that we should have today in a world of ever shifting perspectives – zealous love for God. In this zealous love, we are so filled with love for God that we are ready to risk anything to make Him better known and loved by others. We allow the revealed truth to sink so deeply into our minds and hearts that we cannot but express and give witness to others about that truth with a self-sacrificing love in a way that is attentive to the signs of the times.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus Christ cleanses the temple because “zeal for His Father’s house has consumed Him.” He does not cleanse the temple simply because of His personal taste but to make them see the temple the way that God has always intended it to be seen and cherished, “Stop making my Father’s house a market place.” This action will be the basis for some of the hateful speech that Jesus would hear as He hung on the cross on Calvary, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”(Mt 27:40)

Why didn’t Jesus buy into their own messianic and just come down from the cross? He remained on that cross because of His desire to communicate to us that same zealous love for the Father that filled His own heart even in the time of suffering. Jesus Christ came into this world, suffered, died, rose from the dead, founded a Church and imbued it with the Holy Spirit so that He can make present to us the divine perspective in every aspect of human life and relationships and help us to live accordingly. He assured us that His words will triumph over the world’s constantly changing perspectives, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”(Lk 21:33) He has so enabled us to respond with the same zealous love for the Father before others that we would be judged by how zealous our love is: “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when He come in His glory and the glory of the Father and the angels.”(LK 9:26)

How do we begin to show this zealous love for God? The first sign of our zeal is our obedience to His commandments out of love for God. In Today’s First Reading, God offers His people the commandments only after He has showed them His love for them in setting them free from the bondage of Egypt, “I, the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.” Likewise, our obedience to all the commandments is our first and primary response to God’s love, “He has mercy…on those who love Him and keep His commandments.” To see the truths of the commandments as “abstract and isolated,” or unattainable, is a failure to grasp that the God of love cannot demand from us that which remains impossible for us with the help of His grace.

Jesus’ zealous love for the Father did not begin with His cleansing of the temple. No, His zeal began in His loving obedience to the Father, from His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary and throughout His entire life, “He was obedient even to death on the cross.” We resist the temptation to appeal to a shift in paradigm regarding the commandments or Church teaching based on scripture and tradition when we realize that the divine law-giver has freely chosen to love us and to be one of us so that we too lovingly obey His Father’s commandments. Jesus has come not to “abolish but to fulfill the law,”(Mt 5:17) and He does so in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As attested to in today’s Gospel, Jesus “knows them (and us) well…He himself understood it (human nature) well.” As our Creator, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our courage and our cowardice, and our ability to be faithful and to be self-deceptive. And yes, He knows our ability to appeal to a paradigm shift regarding His teaching.

Jesus restored the divine perspective on marriage and divorce which the Jews had lost because of the hardness of their hearts, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mt 19:8) Jesus alone heals and transforms our hearts so that we can act with zealous love for the Father no matter the prevailing perspectives in our world today.

St. Paul lived in a time when people of Corinth had different perspectives on what matters most in life. The Jews endlessly longed for signs while the Greeks sought for wisdom. The Christians rather steadfastly “proclaimed Christ crucified,” because He is the “power of God and the wisdom of God.” The Christian life and worship was viewed through the lens (another word for paradigm) of the Crucified and Risen Savior. They saw in His commandments the power, wisdom, and love of God and they depended on His grace alone to live just like He intended them to live. They kept the divine perspective intact and gave witness to it without surrendering to the prevailing numerous perspectives of their time.

About four years ago, Japanese Olympian skater, Miki Ando, was at the peak of her preparation for the Sochi games. She became pregnant out of wedlock just a few weeks before the games began. She had to deal with the cultural shame of having a child outside wedlock. Her thoughts, the expectations of others, and everything else seemed to point her in the direction of having an abortion to preserve her figure skating career in a culture where figure skating is very popular. In her words, “I could not make up my mind all the way, but I hate[d] to make a decision to say goodbye to the baby.” But she chose to have the baby. She now has a 5 year old daughter and she is a two-time Olympic gold medalist today!

She felt the pressure to abort her child in our world where there were many perspectives about human life, sex, and marriage. In the midst of all those contrary and contradicting perspectives, she chose to follow the divine perspective on the inviolable sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death as expressed in the commandment, “You shall not kill.” She narrated her final decision, “I have chosen the baby’s life over skating.” She shows us that we can respect and defend the life of others at great costs to us no matter how strong the contrary perspectives may be.

Jesus shows us in today’s Gospel that if we choose to live by the divine perspective in all things, nothing will ever destroy us. He was speaking of His body when He said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Filled with a zealous love for the Father, He knew that death and the grave will not have the final say but that the Father will raise Him up.

We have received His own zealous love in our hearts in baptism along with the truth that sets us free. What we need is a divine overhauling of our hearts and its priorities and not a paradigm shift. Rather than appeal to a vague and nebulous shift in paradigm in the Church’s teaching regarding faith and morals, let us show our zeal by adhering to God’s commandments faithfully and seeking to proclaim the power and the wisdom of God behind these commandments. Even as we struggle with our own sinfulness, let our striving for loving obedience to God bear witness to the freedom that Jesus has won for us as well as the power of His grace in us today.

There is also a price to be paid too if we are zealous for the Lord too, filled with His love and striving to make Him better known and loved by others. We will be called names, ostracized, and even persecuted. We will be labelled “judgmental,” “rigid,” “bookish,” “haters,” “bigots,” “insensitive,” etc. But let us be rest assured that, like Jesus, nothing will destroy us if we maintain our zeal for the Lord in such moments.

Our Eucharist is a communion with the body of Jesus Christ, that body that cannot be destroyed, that body that is the power of God and the wisdom of God. We are brought into the divine perspective – the only perspective that matters and endures forever – by His wisdom and strengthened by His power to be zealous for God in a world of endlessly changing perspectives. There is a world out there in need of our zealous witness to God’s love for us all in Jesus Christ even if they do not realize it. Let us not disappoint or betray them by claiming a paradigm shift in how we interpret what Christ and His Church teaches today.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme, OMV

By

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • John Palmer

    Yep, Martin Luther initiated a paradigm shift also. No need to bloviate on how that turned out…

  • Pax

    hmm… a “par·a·digm shift
    noun
    a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.”

    This is for instance one of the things that we see when Tomas Aquinas used Aristotelian vs Platonic forms to frame the truths of the faith.

    Shifts in perspective and even assumptions are not bad, so long as they goal and what is accomplished is greater truth.

    I still haven’t worked my may through , not do I think the church as a whole has finished discussing ” Amoris Laetitia” , but I do think the document has had it’s intended effect of forcing people to question and re-evaluate their assumptions. Reevaluation can also cause one to validate their assumptions.

    I was thinking today of a situation today , suppose a man was married in the church , left his wife and the church, 30 years later he is married to another woman and has 10 children his wife also left the church and remarried and has 5 children. Is the church being loving and merciful by insisting that the two of them should be reconciled?

    That they are both commenting adultery and can never be reconciled with Christ unless they seek reconciliation with their first spouse? What is the point of insisting on abstinence in the second marriage if it isn’t motivated by the claim that sex in the second marriage is and always will be adulterous because the first marriage must be reconciled.

    Certainly if a couple has been split up for weeks or months or even a few years, insistence on the reconciling makes sense.

    I suppose one of the assumptions that needs to be validated is what it means to say ‘the two became one flesh’. Is our current understanding of this an theological extension, much like ‘limbo’ was considered by pope Benedict or is it possible that the one flesh union can ( and obviously should not) be put asunder. However, if it can , after it has , is the only way to reconcile with God to put it back together, even if that is not possible because both spouses have whole other families? And how does the tie in with justice to the second spouses ( who may be pagans, or atheists and in no way acting in bad faith). How does that affect the children?

    All of these are good questions, to which I don’t have good answers. I would like to see some good answers from someone supporting the traditional formulation.

  • Viki63

    In your theoretical case, it’s possible that the couple could apply for an annulment. If that were not granted because there was no original impediment to their marriage, they could live with their second spouses as brother and sister. That is actually not as hard as it sounds; quite a few people do it. And if they have 5 and 10 children each, it’s probable that they are approaching an age when it would be easier.
    Life is short and eternity is long. It is worth any sacrifice to do the will of God as far as one can discern it.

  • Pax

    sure, but suppose their is no case for nullity, they were both young, understood what they were doing and then later simply lost faith in each other and the church. That is not really an answer to any of the questions.

    The question was, why should they live as brother and sister? That is the current church discipline but that idea so far as I understand is based on the idea that their continued sexual relationship would always be adultery because their first marriage is their only true marriage and their second marriage is immoral. So part of the implied question is , how do we know that is true? Where does that belief come from because 1) it isn’t exactly what scripture says and 2) it isn’t the same as the answer that the other ancient Christian communities have come too.

    Do you know when this became the normal answer in the western church? Was there a ex cathedral declaration or an consul enethma ever issued?

    In short is the ‘living as bother and sister’ practice , Like priestly required celibacy and the discipline of Catholics not taking or giving loans? Does it fall into the category like the belief all unbaptized persons go to Limbo or is a part of the immutable deposit of the faith? How can we know?

  • Librarian50

    “A major shift in moral teaching “that is nothing short of revolutionary” and that is not based on “an abstract, isolated set of truths. ” What does that mean ? Cupich decides that the Church’s teaching on marriage is “abstract” and “isolated” and should be discarded. And therefore any other moral teaching that he deems to be “abstract” and “isolated.” can be discarded . Who decides what truths are too abstract and isolated to be followed? That’s obvious. PUBLIC OPINION . Which is constantly shifting. Abortion to save the life of the mother shifts to unconditional abortion for any reason, which shifts to forcing doctors and nurses to perform abortions, which shifts to rich countries witholding life-saving aid to third world countries who don’t agree with them. This paradigm shift doctrine goes far beyond just the church’s teaching on sexual behavior. We are now being told that what the Church taught yesterday is no longer true and was never true. This doctrine can be applied to anything the church teaches. It’s all up for grabs.

    Two things I know about paradigm shifts are : 1. They are irreversible 2. The consequences are unforseeable. Because the consequences are unforseeable persons and communities can be irreparably injured or even destroyed.

  • dtcomp95

    If the Church’s teaching is open to “paradigm shifts”, then it isn’t absolute, and if there are no absolutes, as Cardinal Cupich seems to suggest, why bother being Catholic, or even religious?

  • Pax

    I don’t know about cardinal Cupich, but there is room for legitimate development of practice and doctrine that includes ‘paradigm shifts’

    That generally happens any time the church clarifies it’s teaching and declares certain doctrines anethma. It required a paradigm shift in christology to declare Arius a heretic and assert the doctrine of Theokokos ( Mary the mother of God). Prior to that time the ‘truth’ was known but not considered absolutely settled.

    Thomas Aquanus use of Aristotelian Logic in theology was a ‘paradigm shift’ compared to the early use of platonic forms to express the same truth.

    Simply calling it different is not an augment against it being right or wrong.

    The question should be, what is being said AND is it true ?
    If it isn’t true you need to be able to explain why and what is true.

    I’d like to get to the point where I have answers to those questions , but I’m not there yet.
    I think I ‘nearly understand’ what is being said, however , I haven’t gotten the second half

  • dtcomp95

    What Cardinal Cupich is suggesting does in fact contradict Church doctrine, as the article implies: “Isn’t such “accompaniment” without the guidance of objective truth the case of a blind guide leading the clueless blind into mutual destruction, something that Jesus warned us about…?”

    There is another article describing the conference Cupich held, and the speakers, most of whom propose ideas directly contradictory to Church doctrine and dogma. The idea of a “paradigm shift” itself implies a lack of objective truth. Most Catholics do not seem to believe in objective moral truth, much less Church doctrine. Society is rife with moral relativism – e.g. “I get to decide what is right and wrong”. If everyone gets to decide what is right and wrong, there is no right or wrong – just personal opinion.

    There is objective truth to decide whether Cupich’s interpretation is right or wrong – Church doctrine on marriage. Church teaching did NOT change in Amoris Laetitia (which is not a binding doctrinal document anyway – it is simply an exhortation recommending a pastoral approach to marriage). On this matter, Cupich is clearly wrong – at the very least in his statement that AL is a “paradigm shift in moral teaching”.

    If God’s laws (aka morality) can be changed by man, then God isn’t truly God – i.e. God does not exist. The “paradigm shift” examples you give were not actual paradigm shifts as basic belief did not change. Rather those were simply expanding existing understanding to exclude heresies and include broader explanations of basic beliefs. But the basic belief did not change – not after Arius, and not because of Aquinas.

    Jesus said that whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. If we can “shift” that very simple statement to say that civil divorce is no big deal, then we would be in effect saying that sacramental marriage is irrelevant and unnecessary – i.e. marriage would no longer be a sacrament established by God. The dominoes would continue to fall from there. If we have no objective absolutes upon which to base our understanding of right and wrong, then right and wrong are just personal opinions, and so is “Church teaching”. Matthew 16:18 promised that the Church would not change the beliefs of the Christian faith. Many have tried, but none have succeeded.

  • Pax

    well, again, I have very little interest in Cupich and even less interest in speculation what he did or did not mean.

    I am very interested in what is true and why so that I can defend, expose and live the truth. I also, in humility have to admit a very good likelihood the pope understand more then I do. SO, I’m interested in what “amoris”, what it means and if what the pope says is right.

    As to weather Aquinas was a ‘paradigm shift’ I’d recommend re-checking the definition. ‘a change in perspective OR of basic assumptions’. The change from representing catholic church in terms of Aristotelian logic as well as opposed to plutonium forms is certainly the former and possibly the latter. So i’d say it qualifies.

    We are both in agreement that an ‘legitimate’ shift in teaching or thinking can’t change the truth, only find a better way of more closely or more fully explaining it.

    So back to the prmimary questions. What is your understaning. Jesus said “Jesus said that whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery”.

    I will simply note that says commits it does not say ‘is perpetually guilty of’. Certainly if a sin WAS committed it can be forgiven. It sees the question is what do you do after the sin has been committed.

    More to the point, what do you 20 years later , after the person has remarried and has children by another women. Is there any way they can be reconciled to the church and why?

  • Viki63

    This is what I found: “Catholic pastoral practice allows that IF their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (meaning most people are unaware of their remarriage and consider them a married couple), then they may live together as “brother and sister” (without any sexual relations), and be admitted to the sacraments.” Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL., EWTN. (It seems logical to me: if the couple is still married to other people, they can’t live in an adulterous relationship and still receive the sacraments.)
    (I’ve never heard the belief that unbaptized people go to Limbo; I’m pretty sure that’s not a Catholic belief.)

  • Pax

    yes, but as I understand it , the whole debate is about if and how the “pastoral practice” can be made more merciful. I’m not clergy and really don’t have any say in it. I would however like to understand what mother church is teaching through her practices, especially as there seems to be great debate about changing that practice on some level. So I’m not looking for what the practice IS. That i understand,what I don’t know anything about , can’t seem to find even a basic history of or cogent argument for is WHY it is and WHY it is in all cases.

    What I remember being taught is that ‘because the couple is actively committing adultery every time they have sex’ which they are doing ‘because they are not married’ they are asked to live as brother and sister.

    However, I think this is the question the pope has rather loudly asked and perhaps is even attempting to insist on what he thinks is the best answer (which of coarse may be a sin , or a guidance of the spirit on his part, it really isn’t mine to judge) is this:
    “Is the current pastoral practice the best, and does it reflect most fully the true deposit of the faith , when one considers specific , long term cases where the original marriage is obviously already ‘put asunder’ and beyond any reasonable hope of human repair, especially if such repair would do great harm to multiple families and people’.

    His suggestion seems to be that adopt a pastoral practice more in line with most of the other ancient churches who, while teaching much the same as we do , allow after a period of 7 to 10 years of penance, the second marriage to be recognized as less perfect but still a not sinful and allow the return to the sacraments while blessing the sexual union. Can that be squared with roman theology? Sum seem to say no, I would agree the practice should not lead the theology, but it is a good debate to have, the end result should be either to strengthen the assumption with greater and more full exposition of the truth and or to modify the practice to more fully express the truth.

  • dtcomp95

    Hi Pax – of course Christ can forgive anything, when we are truly contrite and seek reconciliation through confession. The Church has a process of reconciliation for people in the situation you described – civilly divorced from a valid marriage, and remarried outside the Church (in which case, the first marriage is still in effect in the eyes of God, and the Church). Either separation of the second marriage, or abstinence (which is of course the only viable solution for the sake of the children, however difficult it may be).

    We can be forgiven, but we can’t continue in sin. There really isn’t any way around that. This is a case where learning the faith, and living by it is important for all ages.

    This answer isn’t my personal opinion, but a short summary and paraphrase of a longer article describing existing canon law (916) and the Catechism as it relates to this specific example.

  • Pax

    Do you have a reference to the article so I can read it?

    So, you believe then ( as it would seem the church currently teaches), that even if two people have not spoken to each other for 20 years and both of them have been remarried outside the church, there is no possibility of them entering into a sexual relationship with someone else without committing adultery? Certainly there isn’t unless they are allowed a second valid marriage, but does the church have the authority to allow that? Why or Why not?

    What if the church chooses to recognize a second marriage? is that theologically possible? Christ said “what God has married let no man put asunder”.

    Does that mean a) it is not possible for a man to put it asunder OR b) it is a sin if a man puts it asunder?

    It would seem the tradition favors possibility a as an interpretation, however there does not seem to be evidence this interpretation was the only one prior to 1200 because the orthodox churches have a different interpretation.

    if the interpretation is b) then it would seem like at some time AFTER a person has committed the sin and been forgiven of it, it is possible for the church, if it chooses to , to acknowledge a second marriage, because refusing to acknowledge a second marriage is then a matter of discipline , not theology.

    So, the second question is:
    Is the current practice part of the deposit of faith from Christ or a pastoral practice adopted by the church like priestly celibacy. As an example Catholics were at one time forbidden form taking out loans, or lending anyone money, because the church did not consider there to be any valid forms of doing so that were not the sin of usury. With the advent of modern money and modern banking the practice has changed, but the teaching on the sin has not. Just as , if pope Francis wanted too, he could allow bishops to start ordaining married men to the priesthood tomorrow.

    How can it be proven to be a immutable practice that comes from the deposit of the faith? I would like to be able to prove that, but so far, I don’t know how.

  • Viki63

    Your suggestion seems reasonable. It is way above my pay grade, however, and I would hope the Holy Father and the Magisterium would have that debate. I wonder how many people actually find themselves in that situation, who would not be able to have their first marriage annulled. I have had an annulment myself and did not find it an arduous process.

  • Pax

    yeah, it seems like it should be fairly rare. The orthodox churches require seven years of penance before allowing marriage in the same situation.
    I do tend to think we should probably change our definition of ‘valid’ marriage.
    Basically we already don’t require an annulment if you were a hindu married as a hindu and your spouse left you because you became catholic.
    However, right now we consider non-practicing Catholics and protestants to be entering into a valid marriage. I think, given the fact that anyone in any of those situations OBVIOSLY has no intention of entering into a indissoluble union , they can no more be considered to have a sacramental marriage then a Hindu. That would probably handle more then 50% of the cases people see now.

  • dtcomp95

    I don’t know if links are allowed here, but I will post and let the moderators decide if it needs removing:
    http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2012/01/03/divorced-catholics-and-the-eucharist/

    Also, canonlawprofessionals.com has some answers regarding when annulment would be possible.

    I think you raise good questions, and I too want to be able to see that this practice is immutable. If we draw specifically from scripture, as the Church does currently, annulment/invalidity of the first marriage is the only way of fully validating the second marriage – with annulment being the interpretation the Church was granted by Christ (Matt. 18:18). Since Christ is specific about marriage in scripture (Matt. 19:9, Luke 16:18), I would see it, and current teaching on divorce, as immutable.

    I don’t however see specific scriptural teaching that would demonstrate a similar finality on lending and borrowing. The earlier Church teaching on lending was likely adopted from early Jewish/Christian practice, but not specifically from Christ (another interpretive discipline/practice rather than absolute moral law).

    Many if not all Church doctrines and practices (celibacy) are scriptural, but, in this example, come from the disciples rather than Christ himself (i.e. Paul recommending celibacy as the better choice vs. marriage for the sake of dedication to serving God).

    As a general rule, we have to rely on is Matthew 16:18-19 – Christ’s promise that hell will not prevail against the Church – i.e. moral law can not be undone because it is defined and established by God. Marriage, as a sacrament, and adultery fall into the divine law/moral law category, and as such, can not be changed. What I think Amoris Laetitia addresses is how priests are to handle people in non-valid marriages. The wording is perhaps a bit weak and confusing in that AL refers to these situations as “irregular” instead of invalid, implying that while they are not ideal, they may also not wrong. I think this is where the diversions from Church doctrine and comments on a “paradigm shift in moral teaching” are arising – interpreting the literal words of AL to create binding doctrine/dogma when they are not. Just like the Catechism, the actual phrasing and wording can be in error. Existing Church doctrine and dogma (which can’t be changed by documents like these) are still true and absolute, even if not clearly explained in such documents.

    I think this is a case where the Church needs to speak up clearly and not leave issues like this open for debate. As with anything, even the desire for pastoral compassion can be taken too far, weakening the concept of morality, and truth itself. Healthy balance between compassion and moral law is the most compassionate approach since we are to live with our eyes on eternity, striving to be faithful to Christ, not wavering with the temporary whims and confusion of this world.

  • Viki63

    I don’t think we can say people “obviously” have no intention of entering into an indissoluble union. People in love plan to marry for life. They may not technically have a sacramental marriage, but it is certainly valid. “Valid” and “sacramental” are technical terms in the church, and should be used carefully.
    I would hesitate to recommend what should be done, as I would not want to point anyone toward sin. I pray that the church will figure this out; she takes her time about these major decisions.

  • Pax

    agreed. Certainly a marriage in front of a justice of the piece is ‘valid’ but do all valid marriages need to be annulled? Do protestants have any greater intention of staying together then hindu? It seems they belong in the same category to me.

  • dtcomp95

    Yes, that verse is clear. And Christ’s (and the Catholic Church’s) teaching is clear too – there is forgiveness, when we truly seek it. But doing so requires taking the appropriate steps to avoid sin, or leave a life that is itself a constant state of sin (i.e. we may struggle with some sins, but others are defined by the situation itself, such as being married after an invalid divorce). Previously invalid marriages are the only scenario where divorce and remarriage would only require an annulment, rather than permanent abstinence. The Orthodox version seems to make a fundamental mistake – judging God’s laws in light of civil law. Christ did say “render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar” when referring to that which a government has defined (money, traffic laws, etc). But God defined marriage, not man, so it is not up to civil law or civil authorities to define, or redefine marriage (among many other things).

    No doubt much of this world simply wants to believe the Pope is changing Christ’s teaching and that divorce will just be a “personal decision” much like many other debated issues. But that is not the case. AL is an exhortation, not a binding change in Church dogma or doctrine, even if he had said the Church should start admitting people to communion who are clearly disobeying Christ’s words in whatever form.

    The true solution though is for couples to go into marriage
    understanding and committed to following God’s design for marriage.

  • Pax

    yes, I’ve sometimes mused, dispute the various impracticality, that the church in the united states ( and elsewhere as the law may allow) , should come up with some kind of binding pre-nuptial agreement that would help enforce the mindset of permanence in the civil contract as well as the perspective spouses. It should have a mandatory consoling clause it in and a requirement that neither part can actually file for decree of divorce unless given permission by the office of the bishop. Even then the should probably be a requirement for binding arbitration by a priest appointed by the bishop. That would be a good way to use the civil law to teach the spiritual reality.

MENU