The Roman Catholic Church holds the position that divorce is never authorized. However, it has also found a convenient way to get around that pesky belief, and still dissolve marriages. How? By simply declaring the marriage never existed. That’s right, after 20 years and 3 kids, the marriage can simply be declared to have never existed. Divorce is justified by simply defining it as “not a divorce.” While this problem is widely recognized, there is a very similar process that Protestant churches are using to accomplish the same end, and it gets far less attention.
If you’re Catholic, the answer to “when is a marriage not a marriage?” is “When it is annulled.”
If you’re Protestant, the answer to the same question is “When we call it cohabitation.”
The Catholic church says “Don’t worry, we can nullify your marriage based on the technicality that it wasn’t officially approved by the church.”
Protestant churches say “Don’t worry, we can nullify your marriage based on the technicality that it wasn’t officially approved by the government.”
Both seem more interested in providing excuses for marriage destruction than in promoting marriage permanence.
Both seem all too happy to justify that which God hates.
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH ‘? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” —Matthew 19:4-6
Here we see that God’s joining makes a male and a female one flesh. If we have any doubts as to how this is accomplished, Paul clears it up for us.
Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” —1 Corinthians 6:16
It is through the sex act that God joins a man and a woman together in marriage. This is why adultery is such a big deal, punishable by death. It is also why defining cohabitation as “not marriage” is wrong. If God has joined you and made you one flesh, man is not to separate you. Not through divorce, not through annulments, and not through pretending your joining doesn’t constitute a marriage.
It is a marriage.
It is binding.
You shall not dishonor that marriage through the sin of adultery. You shall not dishonor that marriage through the sin of divorce. You shall not dishonor that marriage by pretending it doesn’t exist. If you do any of these, you mock and dishonor not only your marriage, but the sovereign God who performed it.
Don’t fall for the trap of cheapening marriage.
Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. —Malachi 2:15