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Till Death Do Them Part?

Those who are opposed to Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal that some divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed to receive the Eucharist might want to reconsider whether the Church has been wise in allowing the widowed to remarry.

In their critique of Kasper's proposal, a group of American Dominicans points out that there was much disagreement in the early Church about whether widows and widowers should be allowed to remarry. Even many of those who believed they should be allowed to do so thought remarriage should at least be discouraged. But the case for not allowing an abandoned spouse to remarry is very similar to the case for not allowing the widow or widower to remarry—namely, that marriage is indissoluble, a sacramental figuration of Christ's covenant with his Church, a covenant not even death can dissolve. Can one think of another sacrament whose effects are supposed to be nullified by death? [For an obvious answer to this, see Fritz Bauerschmidt's comment below.]

Defenders of the Church's current practice demand that the abandoned spouse persevere in chastity. Why should the Church not demand the same of the widowed? Both are victims of a circumstance beyond their control. One possible response is that the dead never come back to life (or never come back to this life), whereas it is never impossible that someone who abandons his or her wife or husband may repent of it and seek reconciliation. This sort of thing has been known to happen, after all, and when it does, it's can be a profound evidence of grace. It's also exceedingly rare, especially when the unfaithful spouse goes on to have children with another partner.

Practically, then, the abandoned spouse is in the same position as the widow or widower: in both cases, chastity would seem to require heroic virtue. From very early in its history, the church decided not to demand such virtue of widows and widowers, despite its original preference that they not remarry. The question now is why it should demand such virtue of those whose first spouse is "dead to them," often through no fault of their own.

In a certain sense, of course, no one is ever dead to a spouse. A real relationship of some kind persists after estrangement, even after death. Catholics believe in a communion of the living and the dead, which is why a widower, remarried or not, may pray for the soul of his deceased wife. In just the same way, an abandoned wife may pray for a husband who has broken his marriage vows and started a family with someone else. The question is why the church should treat these two people—the widower and the abandoned spouse—so differently. If the early Church's rationale for (grudgingly) permitting widows and widowers to remarry is, in the words of a fourth-century canon quoted by the Dominicans, to make some allowance for "the arising of the fleshly spirit," then why shouldn't the Church be willing, for the same reason, to extend some kind of accommodation to the civilly remarried Catholic whose first spouse abandoned her long ago and is now no more a part of her earthly life than he would be if he were dead?

Did the early Church, in deciding to allow the widowed to remarry, "despair of chastity"? That is the charge that Kasper's Dominican critics level against his proposal. It is a serious one. I wish they would have taken its implications more seriously.


About the Author

Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.



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Isn't Jesus pretty clear that the marriage bond doesn't endure beyond death (Mark 12:18-27)? So clearly the widoweds and not in the same situation as the divorced.


You really should know better.  These Dominicans are among the most conservative Dominicans in the country so we shoud expect that they would adopt the position they do.  If you are sympatheric to their view say so openly.  If not why is this post worthy of dot.Commonweal? Of course the  early Church did not despair of chasity in allowing those widowed to remarry.  It actually found a pastoreal souliton that put chastity on the back burner.  

These Dominicans do not represent the tradition of the Church and I wonder why you are pressing their point here.,

I was thinking the same thing ... "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."

Interesting how vowed religious have such strong opinins about a relationship  they have no experience of.

Fritz (and Crystal), 

You make a good point, one that occurred to me while I was writing this post. Perhaps I should have mentioned it. That famous passage in Mark certainly seems to answer the rhetorical question I put in my post: "Can one think of another sacrament whose effects are supposed to be nullified by death?" Maybe not, but no matter: marriage ends with death. It's right there in the red text; end of discussion. Christ's words are arguably clearer on this point than they are about the general indissolubility of marriage—or its sacramentality.

But that leaves us with a another question: Why did the early Church seem to disapprove of second marriages more than first ones? Maybe it was just a matter of a disdain for sex; maybe early Christians thought one marriage was bad enough and two were twice as bad. You were pushing your luck, as it were. But then again, if Paul's "better to marry than to burn" is a good enough reason for a first marriage, why woudn't it be a good enough reason for a second one?

Or possibly the Church's early ambivalence about the widowed remarrying had something to do with the idea that the only good reason for marriage was procreation and old widows could not bear children. Yet many, if not most, widows at the time would still have been young enough to bear children. In any case, I am not aware of any distinction being made between widows before and after menopause.

But if the early church really did understand matrimony as a sacrament (which is far from obvious), it seems at least conceivable that they thought it left a permanent mark on the soul, as other sacraments do. No one would be married in heaven, but one was bound in some way by the sacrament until one's own death. If this was the intuition, it obviously never developed into doctrine, or the church would have ended up forbidding the widowed to remarry. But, as the Dominicans point out, this question was debated for many years.

Apart from this interesting historical question, about which I have no expertise, my main point remains: To demand of a young wife abandoned by her husband that she not have sex for the rest of her life is to require the same kind of heroic virtue that the early Church decided not to require of young (or old) widows. And the Dominicans' intervention fails to distinguish properly between the moral situation of someone who abandons a spouse and someone who is abandoned. Moral realism requires attention to that distinction.


Alan Mitchell,

The reason I did not openly agree with the Dominicans is that I don't agree with them. You should know better than to assume I do, or to assume it's beneath Commonweal's dignity to engage with conservative Dominicans (some of whom happen to be old friends of mine). I do not share your confidence that these Dominicans "do not represent the tradition of the Church," but even if they didn't, why should that be a bar to conversation with them? In case you haven't noticed, dotCommonweal often engages with people who do not represent the tradition of the Church. We've even been known to mix it up with non-Catholics.

Clearly, Pope Benedict encouraged the divorced and remarried to desire the Eucharist


Encouraged to desire it, but forbidden from receiving it. Required to live like brothers and sisters, something that is not required of widows and widowers, for whom it is acknowledged unpractical. Offered spiritual communion as a substitute for the sacrament, as if the real, physical aspect of the Eucharist was not all that important.


In short, twisting themselves into knots rather than acknowledging that they are faced with a contradictory set of requirements that has no satsifactory solution. A courageous move would be to instead choose what is primary in that set and to do away with what is secondary.


As the Eucharist, I think, is more important than marriage, it may be prudent to avoid the sacrament of marriage and substitute a "spiritual marriage" instead, to avoid the risk of being some day trapped and barred from the Eucharist. That could be my advice to young, unmarried people: to avoid the risk of being some day separated from Christ, they should avoid getting married and just make a personal private commitment to their significnt other. It's not as satisfying as a marriage, but if they are serious about protecting their relationship to Christ, in the present state of affairs it seems to me to be the lesser of two evils.


I read the article but could not finish it. I just get to irritated at the anti-sex attitudes inherent in these arguments. I think the entire teaching around erotic love needs to be seriously re-examined. Benedict did this in his encyclical and this is the line we should look at again exploring. Affirm that sexuality is not a necessarily evil but a celebration. The whole ideas of making couples live as "brothers and sisters" as if this is somehow more pure than sex is just off putting. The preening about grace being required to suppress these desires is just irritating. What about the grace required to provide a wonderful orgasm to one's spouse and facilitate a unified experience as one. I know we might recoil at this sentence, and I do writing it (almost 50 years a Catholic and guilt around sex is hard to shake!), but it is true is it not. Do we not share in the creative, unitive aspect of God in the sexual act. Of course it can be distorted like everything else but we should affirm the goodness of sexual desire.

 I see no need to recycle Greek ascetisim, duality, and quasi-Manicheanism. Weren't the Dominicans historically opposed to the Albigensese? Now they sound like them!!

The Song of Songs is clearly an erotic hymn that invariably get "spiritualized" in order to somehow make the clear "fleshly" celebration that pervades that poem palatable. The negativity about the flesh is not the tradition we should be drawing on from the Fathers. We have managed to suppress their anti-Jewish tracts, surely we can somehow sideline these views as they are not part of the deposit of faith.

If we started from that place, we would end up in a different paradigm I am sure.

I did not read the Dominican's critique of Kasper's proposal so I cannot say anything about it.  However, I do not think that the interpretation of Jesus' words that at the Resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage is as univocal as one would think.  John Meyendorff offers an interpretation that does not preclude an eternal marriage bond.  The gist of Meyendorff's interpretation is that in the kingdom the obligation to ensure posterity for one's brother will no longer exist.  For this reason there is no longer any need for the utilty of marriage, but this is not the same thing as rejecting the possibility that something perdures death for those who are married.  Ultimately, Meyendorff interpreted Jesus's statement to be directed towards the Sadducees misunderstandings of the Resurrection, rather than as a statement meaning that marriage is merely earthly.  Meyendorff's position on marriage, more common in Eastern Orthodoxy than in Roman Catholicism, was that marriage is an eternal bond "between two unique and eternal personalities," but that indissolubility of the bond is not "legally absolute."

It is interesting that in Catholicism indissolubility is a property of all valid marriages, even those that are not sacramental (such as a valid marriage between a baptized Christian and a nonbaptized person). However, valid but non-sacramental marriages can be dissolved by the pope.  Only a sacramental marriage is absolutely indissoluble apart from death in the RC Church.  This does raise the question about what exactly the sacrament adds to the marriage.

Theodore Mackin has a section in his book Divorce and Remarriage about Augustine's distinction between the vinculum and the sacramentum of marriage.  In his analysis, he claimed that for Augustine it is not the vinculum itself that is indissoluble, but the sacramentum as a quality of the bond that makes the bond indissoluble.  The sacramentum is what relates the spouses either individually or together to God, rather than to each other, and so "it is something in the soul of each spouse having the same indestructibility as the sacramentum of orders in the soul of an ordained man."

As far as I can tell, very little is clear cut when it comes to marriage. If the author (Matthew Boudway) is asking the question "If remarriage is allowed in the case of death, then why can't remarriage be allowed in other cases?" I think it is a fair question, especially when looked at in the broader tradtion.


"That could be my advice to young, unmarried people: to avoid the risk of being some day separated from Christ, they should avoid getting married"


mmh, if you really want to be legalistic, that means no communion for life, since having sex wih somebody you are not married to is just as much an obstacle to the life of grace if  you have never been married or if you are divorced.

But really, I reject the legalistic spirit of this discussion. The question of marriage is: are we required (and do we need)  to make a complete gift of ourself or not? If yes, can we take it back and give it to somebody else? If not, can situations of grave sacrifice arise? These are substantial human questions. The Church discipline about marriage is just a consequence of the Christian answer to these three questions (yes, no and yes)

" the risk of being some day separated from Christ ... protecting their relationship to Christ"

The idea that one's whole relationship with Jesus is dependent on communion seems very wrong to me.

Carlo L., Your second question -- can we take it back and give it to someone else? -- does not cover all of the possibilities, and it is not the question M.B. and Cardinal K. raised. If one gives her  or his love as an extension of the love of God within, and it is given back, does one have to put it out with the trash as no longer of use to him/herself nor to anybody else? If so, why? One has a pearl of considerable price and because of one mistake, or someone else's mistake, has to (to mix the metaphor) hide it under a bushel?

I am uncomfortable with both the legalsitic spirit and the romantic metaphysics of this discussion.

Tom B.

our vocation is not just to give our "love". When I got married I understood I was giving all of myself TO GOD through my wife. If that is done with full awareness, I don't see how it can be undone. I will grant that many people may not have that awareness. It just means that a large number of marriages are actually null and void.


Carlo L., Well, it has been reported that Pope Francis himself thinks a large number of marriages are actually null and void, and he has heard more confessions than you and I together. Guys who work with the current crop of newlyweds -- almost all of whom give the same home address when they arrive for pre-Cana -- say their primary concerns are the reception hall, dresses for the bridesmaids and the wedding photographer. Some ask for changes in the liturgy to make it more photogenic, and the real, underlying motivation seems to be that grandma doesn't want to die without attending her granddaughter/grandson/'s church wedding. (If I exaggerate, it's only by a little.)

What are we going to do with those youngsters when and if they ever wake up? Tell them to take a vow of celibacy? That's sure to put them right back in Cuckooland.


But Carlo, God, to whom you say one is giving oneself through one's spouse, will survive the death of one's spouse. So why is that gift undone by the spouse's death? And how is it that one is able to give oneself to God again through another spouse after the first one dies? And if a widower can give himself to God through a second spouse, why can't someone who's been deserted by their first spouse do the same? 


...When I got married I understood I was giving all of myself TO GOD through my wife. If that is done with full awareness, I don't see how it can be undone. I will grant that many people may not have that awareness. It just means that a large number of marriages are actually null and void.

Ah, new grounds for annulment: not sharing Carlo's understanding of marriage.

death = the end of the life of a person or organism

abandon = discontinue before completion


since they are not the same situation, there is no reason to treat them the same.  Focusing on the similarities and ignoring the differences doesnt lead to a just conclusion but rather confuses everyone. 


I am not arguing that death and abandonment are the same phenomenon. I am arguing only that the situation of the widow and that of the abandoned spouse are similar in important respects. Both are deprived of a natural good by circumstances beyond their control.

I don't know why people are picking on Carlo.

I didn't get married with the idea that I was going to love God THROUGH Raber, but even though I was an Anglican at the time, I did have an idea that marriage would be my "monastery"--a place where both of us would become better and more connected to Christ. And also a place where the perpetual sameness would often be a big drag, where living with someone else's qurks would grate sometimes, and a place where constant compromise would create tensions. I assumed that common decency, trust, welcoming of children, the ability to keep my trap shut, and a mutual affinity for Coen brothers movies would smooth the way.

Every couple has to work out the "rule" of their "monastery," it's so much more than about sex and the Big O, or even reproduction and, by extension, sexual congress and whether it's being performed correctly, with sufficient openness to life. Many marriages last long after sex is no longer possible due to illness and age has made openness to life completely irrelevant.

I think focusing more on the corporal acts of mercy might be a better way to look at marriage. I wonder if young couples are asked to imagine themselves performing these for their spouses?

Can they feed the hungry and thirsty, clothe the naked, and house the homeless by contributing to a livable wage and living within their means?

Can they tend to a sick spouse by changing dressings, keeping a thousand meds straight, give up time to go to doctor appointments, clean up bodily fluids?

Can they visit their spouse when imprisoned, whether it's in jail or the hospital or trapped in a condition such as mental illness, addiction, or a final illness?

Can they soothe a dying spouse and provide a decent burial?

After death, when you can no longer perform these acts for your spouse, how does the relationship, as a marriage, anyway, continue? And why, if you are called to the vocation of marriage again, would it be good to deny yourself and the other person the grace of these acts?

Tom Blackburn,

As someone who has been involved in our marriage preparation program for several years, you exaggerate not much at all.  I don't mean to suggest that when we got married  so many years ago now those weren't concerns, but I have a sense that something is missing in terms of the role of the sacrement.  To some extent, I think it is fair to say that at least in the west, the Church has lost a generation.  I have opinions on why, and a huge one is the John Paul II priests and bishops, but there are many other factors.  the idea that a married couple live as "brother & sister" for example, demonstrates an complete and utter misunderstanding of the role of sex in a healthy marriage, and frankly a healthy life.  It is this thing to be "conquored" and used only to reproduce rather than a gift to be cherished and yesw, enjoyed for its own value.

The Church (or Aquinas, at least) claims that grace builds upon nature and allows scientific inquiry into the physical creation of the universe, the development of the Bible, and the historical Jesus, etc. This increase in knowledge is supposed to enhance our understanding of our faith.

If a group of scientists concluded that the universe wasn't created in the Big Bang but is eternal, I doubt the Church would call them out and state that those scientists are in error. The creation myth in Genesis would be interpreted, as it is today, as not a scientific record. It remains a source of spiritual insight.

However, when the same modern science reveals that marriage has evolved in concert with our modes of material reproduction in order for us to flourish and thrive -

Hunter/Gatherer: group marriage, Pastoralism: patriarchal polygamy, Agrarianism: brideprice/dowry, Labor Age: partnerships between workers (e.g., the modern "job" often makes or breaks this type of marriage) - 

 - the Church claims that a scientific error has been made. How can scientific inquiry into marriage and sexuality be more threatening to the Church that an inquiry into the historical Jesus?


I've noticed in old censuses on that women who had been abandoned or whose husbands maintained a second family (as was common in the good old days), or who were separated, or who were divorced (uncommon), sometimes gave "Widowed" as their marital status to the enumerators.



Agree, Brian.  Marriage has evolved like everything else.  (Including life expectancy.)


I probably missed all this stuff in my RCIA classes, but from where comes the ideas of what God thinks marriage should be like?  Aside from what Jesus said about divorce, I'm not aware of any advice from Jesus/God on marriage.  Adam and Eve don't appear to have been married.  "Biblical marriage"  was certainly not ideal.  How did it get to thought of as a sacrament when it wasn't instituted by Jesus?  It seems odd that Augustine, whose own personal life was a train wreck in that area  ;)  should be the expert on marraige.  Sorry - lots of questions.

Tom B.

"What are we going to do with those youngsters when and if they ever wake up?"

That's an easy one. Recognize the nullity of the first "wedding" and tell them to REALLY get married.



"So why is that gift undone by the spouse's death?"

I am not sure I understand your point. Why should be undone?  It can either be renewed in a second marriage, or continued in spiritual communion with the dead spouse, or even take a new form as consecrated virginity.

Perhaps I misunderstood your question?

Matthew, many thanks for that link to the critique from the American Dominicans.  For what it's worth, I don't expect Cardinal Kasper's proposal to be adopted by the upcoming synods.  (I should qualify that by noting that Pope Francis certainly is full of surprises!)  Perhaps, somehow, some day, in some way, what Cardinal Kasper desires may come to pass, but I'd think that the arguments presented by the Dominicans need to be taken into account and responded to if that is ever to happen.  

Jean Hughes Raber,

As so often, you make great sense and offer critical insights from the essence of Christian ethics.  Thank you very much.

Young people, especally young people in love, are pobably not that keen on such topics.   But they are not so keen, in my experience, on irregular verbs, the calculus of variations, or the bones of the human hand, but we find it well that, if committed to such areas for their future, they deal with some of the hard bits, even back at the beginning.

Mark L.

John Prior:

"Ah, new grounds for annulment: not sharing Carlo's understanding of marriage"

Unfortunately, I cannot make any claim of originality. It's all in the Church Fathers, the Cathechism etc.

Jean:   Thank you for those wonderful questions for a couple thinking of marriage.  I'm going to make use of them in the future.

I was at a wedding yesterday, a civil ceremony, with the remarks of the officiant a series of clichés and banalities.  They reminded me of another I attended back in the early 1970's at which the couple were told to compose their own vows. Hers to him went: "I choose you to be the window through which I will look out at the universe."  Eight or nine months later, she left him, and the common remark was, "I guess the window got fogged up."

Someone yesterday asked me who wrote the traditional vow--"for better, for worse," etc., and I said I didn't know. The authorship of such texts is often lost in the mists of the past.  Does anyone know how far back it goes?

As for the Dominicans' text:  If anyone thinks such arguments are not going to be posed at the upcoming Synod or that they don't have to be responded to, I think he's dreaming.

Perhaps I misunderstood your question?

Yes, Carlo, I think maybe you do. I understand how a marriage could be "continued in spiritual communion with the dead spouse, or even take a new form as consecrated virginity," but I don't know what it means for it to be "continued" in a second marriage. If, in marriage, you give yourself totally and irrevocably to one person, how could you ever do this a second time? And if you can do it a second time, why is it necessary that the first person to whom you gave yourself be dead? Is the original gift undone by the death of the recipient—the gift restored to the giver, as it were—and if so, why? Because the recipient can no longer make use of it? In that case, it does not make much sense to speak of continuing the gift by means of spiritual communion with the dead spouse, except insofar as one is in communion with all the faithful who have died. 

Fr. K,

The Dominicans' text might be brought up at the synod, but all this will do (it seems to me) is highlight even more the extreme chasm between how Catholics live their lives and the way the leaders of the church think they should.  The majority of the respondents to the Vatican survey, from Asia to the UK,  showed Catholics mostly do not accept or follow the church's teachings on marriage, divorce, sex, etc.  At some point doesn't the church have to take seriously the V2 idea that it can learn from both the faithful and the world?


I take it that in your last sentence, the word "church" means the hierarchy.  If so, yes, the hierarchy can learn both from the lay faithful and from the world.  It also has to learn, as you know, from the Scriptures and tradition and from Christ himself whose words about divorce are among the best-attested in the New Testament and were met with astonishment by his hearers then, too, which didn't lead him to retract or soften them.

Ever since I read those surveys of Catholic opinion on racial matters back in the 1950s, I've been hesitant about identifying opinion-polls with the sense of the faithful or about making direct inferences from them to theological conclusions or ethical imperatives.


Sorry, I meant to add this to my previous comment: the Dominican authors call for retaining the mandatory appeal of annulment cases.  I'd like to see the mandatory appeal become optional, just as appeals are optional in civil legal cases.  The authors argue that the mandatory appeal serves a sort of quality-control function, as the tribunals of first instance are more likely to be sticklers for correctness if they know that the case will be reviewed.  Perhaps, but an optional appeal may serve the same someone-may-look-over-my-shoulder-someday function, and I suspect that majority of annulment cases will be greatly expedited.

I'd like to see three reforms of the annulment process:

  • Make it quicker - the authors rightly call for more resources at the diocesan level; I would argue that discontinuing the mandatory appeal also would help in this respect
  • Make it cheaper - dioceses should bear the costs of annulment proceedings.  Annulments can cost $1,000 or more.  That is a lot of money for most people.  Most/all dioceses will waive some or all of the fee, but that is still an extra hoop to jump through.  I am convinced that the need to spend money and/or to apply for a waiver scares off applicants
  • Make it predictable - if an applicant knows that her case will be resolved in no more than six months (three months would be even better), she can plan her life after the annulment.  It is difficult to do that if it is not known when the decision will be made, and if the time horizon might stretch for a year or more.  Here would be a practical consideration: an annulment that is applied for at the time of Easter Vigil should be resolved by the time the next cycle of RCIA is ready to begin.


JP - if the process is not pastoral and focused more on supporting individuals thru small groups, individual counseling, classes on setting up their lives again, etc.; would suggest that annulments serve no purpose.  (all it does is kill trees with its endless paper trails, etc.)

Have two good friends on the Dallas diocese tribunal (more than 25 years each) and they hope that the system is not only simplified but eliminated in some cases.

Fr. K,

Yes, the scripture bit about divorce is hard to get around.  It haunted me for years after I first became a Catholic, because I was divorced.  I finally decided to believe in what I thought was the spirit of what Jesus said rather than the letter, but that may be kind of self-serving.

Bruce July 28, 2014 - 12:02pm

death = the end of the life of a person or organism


OR the marriage itself.


"So why is that gift undone by the spouse's death?"


The Mormons don't think it is ... marriage seals for time and eternity.  I don't know what they do about marriages after one spouse dies and the other remarries, but that's their problem, not mine.

Jim, the vow is 'till death do us part" so its doesnt end until death, despite whatever the participants or civil courts claim.


They may be similar in important respects, but they are not identical.  For example, in virtually all cases of death, the surviving spouse can say they had no responsibility for the death; but how many abandoned spouses can make the same claim?  Not many, because the relationship involves both spouses, neither can claim absolutely no responsibility IMHO

Bruce ... but "death" of whom or what?  A dead marriage is a dead marriage, whether the spouses are still around or not, and in spite of which one (or both) caused the death.

We have all known bitter, nastry, self-destructive relationships that continue to define themselves as marriages in spite of a lack of love, repecting the other, fidelity, ad nauseum.  Would someone care to tell me what those relationships are considered to still be a marriage? 

Maybe it is time to admit that God has NOT joined all couples together in matrimony, irrespective of whether the joining was witnessed by a priest or not.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is not a swan.

Jean Raber Hughes,

Your description of the "monestary" and viewin gmarriage in the context of the works of mercy is wonderful.  A concept that I have witnessed and have been trying to put words to for some time.  Yours is far better than anything I've come up with.  I hope you have no objection if I steal it when we next have a marriage prep session.  Interesting to that you rightly point out that marriage is a vocation.  Something that is often lost.  Thanks for the reminder.

I think there are many Catholics, including ordained men, whose grasp of marriage in general and the sacrament of matrimony in particular is very weak.   

Perhaps because the marrying couple are the ministers of the sacrament, it is regarded as less important than those reserved to ordained men.  Instruction about the matter, form, theology, history, etc., of the sacrament seems to be neglected in schools, including seminaries.

Perhaps the liberation of women has made some priests reluctant to emphasize certain teachings.

Reading the article on the Sacrament of Marriage in the venerable Catholic Encyclopedia might clear up or add to some of the confusion.



I'd like to echo gratitude for Jean's remarks. My wife and I have been married for 38 years, and we don't take tomorrow for granted.

Brian Doyle sometimes writes for Commonweal. I enjoyed his little essay, "Irreconcilable Dissonance":

Anybody's welcome to take my thoughts on the corporal acts of mercy and marriage, but, Catholics, you need to start thinking this stuff up on your own and stop relying on apostates like me to articulate it for you. 

Moreover, these are ideals, and I'd hate to think of anyone telling Our Young People they're going to perform these acts perfectly. And sometimes in marriage there are periods in which it takes all the mercy you can muster not to mash your husband's tiny head with a brick. 

"The window through which I choose to view life"? My Lord, I'd have run away from anybody who said that slop to me. 


Unfortunately, I cannot make any claim of originality. It's all in the Church Fathers, the Cathechism etc.


If you had cited the Church Fathers in your comment at 8:07 am, the claim would have been equally dubious, but not so bumptiously ipse dico.

But can a couple, in fact, obtain an annulment simply by claiming that at the time of the wedding they were unaware that they were giving themselves to God through the other party? Even I, with ideas far less rigorous than the Church's, find that a little too facile.

Carlo L., Well, I have to say that when it comes to the romantic metaphysics of marriage Bruce seems to have you beat. But:

"What are we going to do with those youngsters when and if they ever wake up?"

That's an easy one. Recognize the nullity of the first "wedding" and tell them to REALLY get married.

Role play for a moment. You are a pastor, and a couple whose wedding you presided at 15 years ago comes in and says, "Hey, we just made a retreat, and we both get it now. Holy cow, were we ever out of it. We want to get married seriously this time, so just recognize the nullity of the sacrament you performed 15 years ago, and when can we book the church to do it right?" Do you go along with that? Does your peer group? Does the Vatican when their story goes viral?


Occasionally I see a marriage that makes me envious. Each of the spouses seems to be a better person   than they were individually when they were single. Their spouse gives them support and makes them less fearful, more open to life, that is, less likely to be stuck in reactions or attitudes that would prevent them from having lives that shine. They are not focused solely on themselves and on their children but are turned outwards, and the world around them benefits from their presence. They do things that neither of them would have been capable of alone. When I think of them individually, I am puzzled by their success as human beings given their limitations, and I have to acknowledge that there is something in their union that transcends both of them, that is bigger than themselves, and it is a little bit mysterious.

Case in point: I have heard about people, during WWII, hiding some Jewish youth in their homes. About one couple, one might say: "On their own, they might have taken the risk, but it was too risky: they were married with children and had to think of the still young children and of their responsibility as parents, and so, naturally, it was not possible for them to provide a hiding place. It would have been irresponsible." - for those, marriage is turned inwards, their family is, at best, like a little shelter that they feel protects them from the vast and frightening world, but it primarily limits them, puts further obstacles in their way in their lives. About another couple, one might say: "Each of them on their own might not have taken the risk, but together, they felt stronger and more able to look beyond their fears. Their relationship and relationship with their children made them more sensitive to what they have in common with the rest of humanity, so that they could not ignore the plight of the Jewish people and were compelled to act in spite of the risks." For those, marriage is turned outwards. It brings forth the best in each of the spouses, and they shine.

I am not sure how marriage accomplishes that, but I imagine that it has to do with being present to one another, day in and day out. I look down on marriages where one spouse acts or talks as though they have figured the other one out, declaring: "He/she is doing x because he always [...]" or otherwise indicating that long habit has made them so used to the other person that they have a fixed image of him or her and interact according to their interpretation of their spouse's behavior, an interpretation borne from experiences from the past. A glance is enough to inform them of what they think is the other person's state, and they feel no need to look further. They don't really look or listen to the other person any more, they are not really attentive to them, and an outside observer can easily see little signs of alienation, when each person, in reality, is alone, isolated from their spouse by their loss of interest, by the force of habit, and by the weight of expectations coming from their years living side by side since marriage. It is extremely common. Often, marriage still brings them something, say, some basic company, physical contact, and the financial security that comes from being able to rely on one another and mutual trust that they will provide for one another, and that is no little commitment; but I feel that something is missing. They have lost the freedom to decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives, and they have not gained the energy that arises from the deep connection with another human being. They don't "shine", and I have not the least  desire to follow into their footsteps.


marriage --a place where both of us would become better and more connected to Christ.

That's a wonderful summary.


"for better, for worse,"

One thing that young couples are not always aware of is that "for worse" does not necessarily mean external factors such as disease or unemployment, but, in reality, primarily refers to internal factors. What does one do when one's spouse is so focused on their children or on their work that they ignore their spouse, when they are happier away from their spouse than in his or her presence, when they are always negative or angry or constantly belittle their spouse, or when they recede into silence and behave as though their spouse did not exist, when they seem very unhappy but refuse to share their worries, when, perhaps, they are tempted by suicide, when their contact seems repulsive, when the bond of marriage is like a chain that brings people down and there is no issue in sight? Even if there is no abuse nor adultery, the marriage is not well. Most marriages go through such times, but hopefully not for extended periods. What is the engaged couple's idea of what they will do when their spouse behaves like an enemy? Are they committed to a lifelong marriage even if the relationship is dead and a source of misery? That's what "for worse" means.


Tom B.

well, are we seaking in principle or in practice? Not having the correct intention IS ground for annullment, as far as I recall. How that should be decided in practice, is a different question. SOme people say the current canonical process is too cumbersome, there may be way to simplify it. This topic is tangentially touched in a new interview with Card. Muller that came out today, see



John Prior:

"But can a couple, in fact, obtain an annulment simply by claiming that at the time of the wedding they were unaware that they were giving themselves to God through the other party?"

Well, in the wording I used that would be open to discussion. But in substance it is very much a possibility, see again the Muller interview I mentioned to Tom B., especially where he talks about Corecco's suggestion.


"If, in marriage, you give yourself totally and irrevocably to one person, how could you ever do this a second time? "

Ah, I see your question. My understanding (not being a specialist) would be that:

a) your gift to that other person is also (and perhaps first of all)  a gift of yourself to God by answering His vocational call. So the second marriage is in that respect the same gift.

b) there seems to be something inherently "worldy" in marriage and sex as sacramental signs of union with God, so that the if the other person dies the bond established by marriage is broken.

c) That at the same time, marriage being a sacrament, it is an action BY God who "uses" your consent to making a gift of yourself in order to make two people one flesh. The indissolubility reflects the fact that it is something God does, not just the spouses. At the same time, this seems to imply that God can "do it again" if one of the spouses passes away.


Claire - I just want to let you know that I really appreciate your thoughtful comments here.  It's provoked a lot of thought about my own marriage.  Grace-filled and insightful - thanks for publishing them.

Thankfully no one brought up the theology of the Body. Interesting how most imitate Augustine in declaring marriage whatever they say it is. Also notable is how the discussion of receiving the Eucharist is important to those who believe that the celibate hierarchy is right on this. Most Catholics ignore them (and confession) and partake of the Bread of Life. Now would that make the Eucharist invalid. 

At any rate, I have no problems with Matthew's simple point that if the church was concerned about the hardship of absence for the widows, why should it not be as concerned for the abandoned spouse. As far as celibacy was concerned we might keep in mind that the early church thought the world was ending soon, so it was really academic. As it were. "28But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. 29But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess;"

I am not sure what this does for Carlo's heart. But the concept of nullity really annoys me. Just call it a new marriage and submit to the mercy of God and concentrate of alleviating the terrible penchant for war in the human composition.

Yes, the scripture bit about divorce is hard to get around. It haunted me for years after I first became a Catholic, because I was divorced. I finally decided to believe in what I thought was the spirit of what Jesus said rather than the letter, but that may be kind of self-serving

Crystal, you and I are in roughly the same boat re the Church as hinky converts. Like you, I know it's easy to get beaten down by the legalism some Catholics seem to peddle. It is a legalism that largely ignores the fact that God's primary attributes are mercy and love. I try to keep letting the wisdom of the Church work on my imagination, and I hope you will too. I'm not sure it will make us Good Catholics in any orthodox sense, but it might make us better Christians and people.

I sometimes wish there was a kind of Friends of Catholics auxiliary group for people like us, folks for whom RCIA didn't quite "take," who can't always square Catholic teaching with deeply held beliefs from other faith traditions or from life experiences, but for whom the Church is an important influence on our lives as Christians .


Jean, do me a favor and allow yourself to recieve the Eucharist which is basically a sacrament of love for each other. Don't worry about the church of orthodoxy. We are the church of the Beatitudes. Not the church of egotists and moarchists who revel in power and control. 

I am very, very sorry if this sounds hardhearted, but there can be spiritual peril in privileging "the spirit" of Jesus over the revelation of Jesus.  I say this while believing that there really is a Spirit of Jesus who is alive and active in our world, and without wishing to deny that the same Spirit may be at work in the hearts of the various folks who hang out here.  


Bill, receiving the Eucharist as a favor to someone else sounds like sacrilege. 

Jim P., no you don't sound hard-hearted, particularly. You sound like someone who has accepted that the teachings of the Church reflect the revelation of Christ, and who sees those who haven't accepted that notion as making a lot of watered-down compromises. I hear this from Raber just about every week. What I tell him is that without those of you who hold up the Church, it could not work in those of us flailing around in that watery bog of compromise. I apologize if I make you irritable and impatient. Perhaps I should be more circumspect in what I say here?

Are they committed to a lifelong marriage even if the relationship is dead and a source of misery? That's what "for worse" means.

What, pray tell, is the benefit to anyone if the relationship is dead and a source of misery?

I think that idea .... stay together no matter what ... is just legalism at its worst.

Jean, just so you know - I don't think you've ever written anything here that has ever made me feel irritable or impatient.  There is a sort of lucidity of heart in everything that you write here.  

I really am sorry if my comments come across as judgmental.  I daresay I make as many watered-down compromises as the next person.  Perhaps they tend to be in areas of life that don't elicit as much conversation on dotCom.  

FWIW - one of the little spiritually insightful nuggets in that Dominican paper is when the authors talk about the spiritual danger of despair.  If I ever write anything that causes you or anyone to despair, please, someone, whap me upside the head.  At the same time, I really do believe that God doesn't ask us to do what is impossible.  If what the church teaches about divorce and marriage isn't ever possible, I don't think the church would have taught it as long and consistently as it has. 

The prayer, "God, what is possible for me today?" seems to me a good one.


This is something that has always confused me.  In his book with Rabbi Skorka, Pope Francis mentioned and I quote "Catholic doctrine reminds its divorced members who have remarried that they aren't excommunicated... and they are asked to integrate into parish life."  Pope Benedict mentioned something similar as have other prelates.  First, how is the situation that remarried find themselves in any different from the situation that Pope Francis explained the mafia was in?  Aren't remarried divorcees also considered in mortal sin through their actions and therefore excommunicated?  Also, it seems that the comments of various bishops, especially Pope Francis, seem to suggest that remarried divorcees get spiritual fruits by remaining with the Church.  I'm confused what spiritual fruits there are that differentiate the Catholic Church from any other Christian Church outside the Sacraments.  Wouldn't the same divorcees gain similar spiritual fruits as Lutherans?  

I've received answers about this, but mainly from very conservative Catholics who think that Protestants and remarried divorcees are headed to Hell and feel that leaving the Catholic Church is a grave sin.  I don't believe that and don't think that Pope Francis believes that either.  (That sort of view is hard to square with things that he's said or actions like visitng the Pentecostals.)  But this odd middle ground right now really confuses me (i.e. remarried divorcees cannot receive Communion because of mortal sin but they aren't excommunicated and should remain Catholic.)  It strikes me either the "hellfire and brimstone" view needs to prevail or the more pastoral view needs to prevail.  This "muddled middle" which the Domincans (as well as other neo-conservative Catholics) occupy is the problem. 

I would suggest that we should take a man is not made for vows but vows for man approach. We have to be careful not to idolize the tools God has provided for our flourishing to the detriment to the purposes for which God has provided them to us. Just as making a person suffer rather than easing their suffering immediately perverts the idea of a day of rest, making a person suffer solitude perverts the idea of marriage.

God seeks justice and mercy, not purity for its own sake.

I would suggest that we should take a man is not made for vows but vows for man approach.

Ryan, that's a really interesting comment. Specifically, how would that approach play out in marriage? How do the "vows are made for man (and presumably women" apply to a couple who are starting to find each other intolerable? I'm having a hard time seeing specifics.

I've been at the dentist getting my fangs sharpened, and while I was away (you didn't seem to miss me) I was thinking of the interview with Cardinal Mueller that Carlo referred some of us to at 3:09 a.m. The more I thought, the less it seemed to be about marriage, even though that was its ostensible topic. In the end, it's really about authority in the Church. I mean, if I, in my pathetic attempts at discipleship, were to preach Jean Hughes Raber or Claire, I think I could get a conversation going with almost anyone who has been near a marriage. Expounding Mueller, on the other hand, will only put casual passers-by to sleep and drive away seekers, screaming.

P.S.. To Jean: As Yogi Berra should have said, leave the circumspection to Ferdinand Magellan. Be yourself.


I'd look at the treatment of vowed religious as a starting point. I'm not familiar with the details, but I believe that someone (superior, bishop, pope?) has the ability to release a vowed religious from their vows. I'm not sure what the standard should be, but cases of abandonement and abuse should lead to the victim being released. I'd also want to have some other options so that there isn't an incentive to commit abuse or abandonement.

Maybe the idea that 'the vow is made for people, not people for the vow' would mean that when the relationship is right, marriage makes it better, but when there is no healthy relationship, marraige is a burden that can be released.  Jesus did leave a loophole for divorce on the ground of porneia.  Keith Ward writes ... "'indecency' (porneia), ... could be very widely interpreted to mean anything shocking or unacceptable, not just adultery." (

Tom B.

"Expounding Mueller, on the other hand, will only put casual passers-by to sleep and drive away seekers, screaming."

I think you misunderstand Card. Muller's job. I am sure if he were in charge of pastoral care of some parishioners somewhere he would find other ways to talk to them. But his responsibility is to preserve the integrity of revelation, which is also very important. Note his remark about the fact that setting up an opposition between life and doctrine was a characteristic of Gnosticism.

Vowed religiois can be let out of their vows against their will, like what happened to John Dear  and they can ask to be let go, like this Jesuit who wrote bout the process he had to go through, saying it was almost like applying for an annulment ...

At our ceremony, my husband and I vowed to be married "until death separates us". But I don't think that's a permanent separation- Death will just come between us for a little while and then we'll be together again.

This gear-grinding of legal vs. pastoral approaches to marriage comes about because the magisterial tradition offers very little, VERY VERY little, as to what a holy marriage actually looks like in people's lives. The doctrinal concern historically was to establish what constituted a marriage, which was then decreed indissoluble unless the pope said so. (See Noonan's excellent "A Church That Can and Cannot Change" on this point.) It's a legal question, not really a pastoral question at all. 

So we look for pastoral guidance in a theological tradition that's fundamentally legalistic on this point. And we try to force pastorally-sensitive and life-giving insights into a legalistic framework. Can't be done without a theological framework that realizes that not all marriages are either broken from the start or perfect from the start--real marriages sometimes erode or corrode or die. (See the parable of the sower for a recognition of this dynamism in spiritual life.) And sometimes marriages that start badly (or at least annulably or--gasp!--non-sacramentally,) grow into extraordinary witnesses to the power of grace and human effort. Marital reality is far more complex than a legalistic framework can handle.

Note also the very different pastoral contexts of the conflicting statements in the NT on divorce, and how different any of those contexts is from our own today. Divorce, like widowhood, threatened a woman's life. (Indeed, when Jesus raised the widow's dead son, he saved 2 lives, not one.)

Of course, no actual married people will speak at the synod. 


Carlo, read what Lisa said. Lisa, he is all yours.

I recently saw the musical "The Book of Mormon." It's an exhuberant, big-hearted show that nevertheless points out a few of the unusual things Mormons believe. For example, that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missiouri, and that God the Father lives on a planet called Kolub.

Having been raised Catholic, I couldn't help but think of some of the similarly strange things we were told we had to believe in when we were kids, for example the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception. These teachings and others lead me to the same question that arises from the church's position that abandoned spouses and other divorced people need to remain chaste to receive the sacraments:


Maybe if priests were allowed to marry we'd have people with more normal, healthy attitudes on human sexuality in charge.

This kind of stupid stuff gives religion a bad name.

Maybe if priests were allowed to marry we'd have people with more normal, healthy attitudes on human sexuality in charge.

Yeah, but they'd still be men.

I'd look at the treatment of vowed religious as a starting point. 

I thought of that, too, but the vows of monks and nuns are not sacraments as marriage is.

In the Anglican tradition, a divorcee who wants to be remarried has to go through a discernment period with the priest (and in some countries like the U.S. the bishop also), who can decline to perform the ceremony--and I've heard it's pretty rare to get the requisite permission. As a result most couples remarry in a civil ceremony and seek a blessing at some point (which is not the equivalent of a church wedding). 

Remarriage after divorce, however, is less vexed in the Anglican tradition because it does not automatically bar anyone from communion, though a priest could excommunicate a couple if he or she felt there was some scandal involved in the remarriage. 

Not necessarily.

Not necessarily.

I think the Church will accept married priests out of necessity, and fairly soon; they're already accepting them as converts from the Anglican and Lutheran traditions. Women priests? That'll take a schism, I think.

Moreover, I think Catholics are naive if they think married priests are a panacea. I know too many married Protestant pastors who merely THINK they're better at giving family advice because they're married. In some cases, the advice they give is too highly colored by their own experience. 

I also feel I owe a debt to two celibate priests who offered unsolicited family advice at a time I needed it. They were perceptive enough to see what I was struggling with but didn't say, and they approached the topic with discretion, humor, and understanding. Let's not sell our current priests short, particularly those with decades of pastoral experience. 

I know a lot of celibate priests who know a lot about marriage. But think some more about Lisa Fullam's last sentence (6:20 p.m.). Instead of decades of pastoral experience, the speakers at the synod will have had decades of experience in which they did not have to interact seriously with any married people with less than several million dollars in the bank. With those lost pastoral years working against them, the thing they need most is someone with experience with marriage to tell them about it.

And that particular questionnaire wasn't designed (and maybe couldn't be) to get them to the empathy they will need.

I saw that there will be some married couples at the synod but I believe they'll only be observers and I don't doubt they'll be chosen for their agreement with the party line.

Who among us with a problem marriage would choose a marriage counselor who not only was unmarried but who had decided marriage was not something he/she ever wanted to engage in?

(following Crystal) Especially if they chose not to marry because they think marriage is a less holy state  of life than celibacy. 

Crystal and Lisa, I think confiding in a priest depends entirely on the priest. I could say anything to our former Episcopal priest and our old Catholic parish priest. 

I do understand the concern Catholics have that "real" marriage experience is not being heard, just as I understand the concern that "real" female experience is often not being heard. I think this has to take place at the diocesan level. A "year of listening" to couples or women in every parish. Leaving out the disaffected like me is fine, but so often these types of things include only the winners of the "family of the year." 

Yep, I agree Lisa pretty well nailed it.

I assume the primary concern on this topic is separation from God.  What I cannot grasp is how anyone can convinvce themselves, outside of confusion or delusion, it is possible to be seperated from God.  The problems lie in our relationships with each other.  In those relationship we have a great deal of control and, thus, a great deal of power.  Struggle as we might we have no power whatever over our relationship with God.  More in line with this specific debate, If we are fortunate enough to love someone why in the world would God wish it to ever end?  Perhaps we can seek the solution where the problem lies, in the mirror.

I assume the primary concern on this topic is separation from God. 

If for you communion is the time when God is closest to you, then being barred from receiving communion would be similar to, in human relationships, being barred from direct contact with your closest friends and limited to writing, calling or video-conferences. 

Jean, I wasn't thinking so much about what a person could feel comfortable saying to a priest, but pf how he could understand the situation and offer good advice if he had no experience of what it's like to be married.

Crystal et al, I understand your feelings, but, frankly, I think marriages are as idiosyncratic as the individuals involved in them, and that nobody can really understand any marriage in the specific sense. So, instead, there are a bunch of know-it-alls out there telling people how they're "supposed" to be as a couple. This is why marriage advice columns are so utterly laughable. "Once you and your husband have agreed to disagree, end your discussion with a 30-second kiss." Or "Whenever you have an argument, hold hands." (Real advice from my award-winning diocesan publication's marital advice column written by a deacon and his wife who've been married long enough to know better.)

I assume most priests were not raised in a vaccuum. They had parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors who were married, and know plenty about family life and marriage, even if they were never married themselves. I assume a priest also has an innate interest in the human condition and enough imagination to put himself in the shoes of others. Bonus if he's read "Middlemarch." If he has those attributes, I don't see how he's any less qualified to help a couple through some specific quandary than somebody who has been married.

The idea that you can't give marital advice if you haven't been married is akin to telling people that they can't raise children if they've never been parents. If we followed through on that, where would the human race be?

I'm sure that a good confessor would learn a lot about marriage by being exposed to intimate details from many marriages. The question is whether he truly listens rather than just focusing onl\y on those details required to give the accepted reply.

Pope Benedict succintly summarized the marriage of St Bridget in and concluded with the following words:

May the Lord’s Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.

That is not a bad way to start a description. It just needs to be fleshed out. Many books have been written on developing one's relationship with God - how to deepen one's prayer, phases one goes through, understanding and dealing with sterile periods, concrete steps, etc. There are some individual saints whose intimate day to day struggles are known in detail by their writings, and for every situation one can find some experience that echoes one's own. That is, I think, an important part of the legacy of the church. But where are the writings about developing one's relationship with one's spouse in a Christian marriage? 

This is not directly related to Cardinal Kasper's proposal, but is somewhat tangentially related to relaxing rules on the reception of communion: one of the UK's senior prelates has suggested that Anglicans might be welcome to receive the Eucharist.


Fr. Komonchak,  when writing the following statement,

It also has to learn, ... from Christ himself whose words about divorce are among the best-attested in the New Testament and were met with astonishment by his hearers then, too, which didn't lead him to retract or soften them.

do you put your understanding into the context of the world in which Jesus and the writers of the bible lived? 

The cultural world and religious world of 2000 - 5000 years ago was one where women were almost literally the property of the men. First the woman was the property of her father, who arranged a 'marriage" with a suitable man, that was arranged for business considerations (dowery etc).  The marriages of this era were not meant to be what we now hope marriages will be - a loving mutual relationship. Marriage was a business contract.

Does your understanding take into consideration the plight of women who are divorced by their husbands who do not come from wealthy families and have no resources of their own? They couldn't fall back on a career to support themselves and/or their children (who probably would stay with their father anyway, automatically). 

Were some women who were divorced by their husbands and who had no family backup  forced onto the streets to beg or become prostitutes?   Were women allowed to divorce their husbands then?  I'm sure there are readers here who know more about the culture of the first century than I do who can answer these questions. 

Maybe Jesus' words astonished people because maybe he was simply saying to men that they can't just abandon their wives to a fate that might include poverty or even death - that's immoral. 

He lived at a time with short average lifespans compared to today. He also lived at a time when many women died very young - in childbirth.  Death came sooner and widows could remarry.

When he spoke those words, it seems he might have just been trying to protect women from abandonment in a culture where women had no rights. If they were not from a family that could support them after divorce, maybe divorce was close to a death sentence for women. 

Could Jesus really have been thinking about a time 2000 years later when women in most countries have equal rights to education and jobs and could support themselves if necessary and might live more than 80 years (the average for women in the western countries is more than 80 years and for men it is almost 80 years)?

  Since the best people hoped for entering marriage in that era is that they could survive together financially, have children who would help support them once they were old enough to help out, and support them in their old age (with high infant and child mortality, having a big family was a way to be sure enough children survived to provide some economic security to their parents),  and with luck at least like one another, if not love one another.

That is not the idea we have for marriage today, and the culture is totally different, along with lifespans that were rare in Jesus' day.  What are the probabilities today that marriages might last 50-70 years compared to Jesus' time?  How many marriages ended because of death in the first century before even 10 or 20 years time?


The idea that love in marriage is primary seems relatively new, as far as I gather, and it could be that we are making progress in our understanding of marriage as God wished it to be. Prople talk about marriage being under threat, but at the same time our definition of marriage may be improving.


Irene BaldwinJuly 29, 2014 - 6:13pm

At our ceremony, my husband and I vowed to be married "until death separates us". But I don't think that's a permanent separation- Death will just come between us for a little while and then we'll be together again.


Irene ... what will happen if, when one of you dies, the other remarries?  Will the remarried party then be part of a plural marriage in heaven?  Mormons will love that!

I'm not attempting to be snide, but just asking about the possibilities.


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