Today’s Gospel gives us Our Lord’s teaching on marriage and divorce. He said that from the beginning it was God’s design for a man and woman to become one flesh in marriage. And, just as we would never consider cutting one human down the middle to make two humans, so we should not consider slicing one half of a married couple away from the other.
He did leave the door open a little for separations by saying that God let Moses allow it because the people he was dealing with were hard hearted. So, couldn’t that mean that if we had hard-hearted people around now, the church should be able to grant them divorces?
Then, what about all the annulments the church is allowing now? Let me tell you how I understand them. In the nineteen sixties a group of priests and psychiatrists approached Pope Paul VI with a proposition. They reminded the pope of the words addressed to a couple at their weddings. He asks them, “Have you come here freely, without reservation, to give yourselves to each other in marriage?
That question checks over four things that are needed for a true marriage. 1. Do you come freely? 2. “Are there no reservations limiting your full consent? 3. Are you unselfish enough to be able to give yourself? 4. Are you surrendering yourselves to a full marriage, not just an arrangement?
That group of priests and psychiatrists convinced the pope that if one or more of those things were absent, the union was not a full marriage, and so might be dissolved. Pope Paul VI then authorized every diocese to set up a competent board of experts to decide that in some cases no complete marriage had taken place, so the union could be declared annulled.