Catholic Teaching on the Immoral Nature of Divorce
Most Catholics recognize that divorce is not allowed. Every Catholic should know that marriage is permanent until death. If you are a Catholic, here is a refresher from the Catechism.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) # 2384: Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery. And, CCC # 2385: Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
Are You Going to Hell if You Get A Divorce?
One can never say if a person is going to hell. That is up to God. However, if one commits the sin of divorce knowing that divorce is a grave sin and fully consents to the divorce, then one's soul is in serious danger of eternal punishment. A person who has not consented to a divorce, but is forced to participate in divorce court proceedings cannot be culpable for the sin of divorce. The sin of divorce becomes more complicated in the case of marital abandonment or in cases of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In any case, it is recommended that a person seek counsel from a Catholic priest and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Is an Annulment a Catholic Divorce?
No, an annulment, or Declaration of Nullity, is a finding by the Church that a sacramental marriage never took place at the wedding ceremony. The validity of the sacrament is dependent upon the disposition of the person receiving the sacrament. A person cannot receive the Sacrament of Marriage if he or she does not demonstrate a proper understanding of marriage and / or does not give full consent to the marriage. For example, a drunken bride or bridegroom cannot validly get married. Or, a person who is subject to emotional or physical fear from the future spouse cannot validly get married. Or, a person who gets married with the idea of trying marriage out for a while to see how it goes. There are many other circumstances that may invalidate the sacrament.
Why Am I Getting A Divorce?
We frequently hear the top reasons for getting a divorce in the news media. Financial difficulties, infidelity, addictions, sexual problems, abuse, etc. But, these are symptoms of the real reason for getting divorced. Divorce is a result of misplaced priority by one or both people. Ask yourself why you got married. Was it for financial security? Physical chemistry? Having a family? A cure to loneliness? Whatever the reason you got married, chances are that your expectations have not been realized. And, things have gone from bad to worse.
Now, look back on your dating and engagement period. During that memorable (or miserable) time, did you decide to get married because of heaven? Did you think that your future spouse would help you get to heaven; and that you would do the same in return? Did your future spouse have the same motives?
Has a light bulb gone on?
Remember, a divorce is not the end of the world. Over the years, parishes have developed ministries to care for people suffering through divorce. Avail yourself of the Church's support. There is always forgiveness with repentance.