Jesus made His position on divorce very clear: One to a customer for life. (Slight paraphrase.)
Seriously. His apostles were quite frankly, freaked out. He doubled down, and started talking to them about celibacy. Seriously. Look it up in Matthew 19.
With the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight, we can see the wisdom of prohibiting attempts at second marriages. Divided loyalties for children. Broken hearts of abandoned spouses. Since we have been systematically breaking His commandments for the past 50 years, we have statistical evidence that divorce is hard on children.
This particular research summary finds that children of divorce have poorer relationships with not only mother and father, but often with grandparents as well. Children of divorce have a weakened ability to handle conflict, are more likely to be aggressive, and as adults, tend to be less able to communicate effectively with their own spouses. Children of divorce have more behavior problems in school, more depression and anxiety, diminished learning capacity and lowered school performance. Child abuse and neglect are more common, especially in stepfamilies. Children of divorce have lifelong increased health burdens, including a risk of premature death. This summary of research goes on in this vein for 48 closely-typed pages, and 333 footnotes.
On the night before He died, Jesus foresaw His own physical suffering as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagine that He saw all the sins of the world, for which He would suffer and atone. Because He was God, He could see all things and know all things. I believe He saw the children of divorce, weeping for the loss of the lives they had known. I believe He saw the anguish of abandoned spouses. I bet He saw the fact that second “marriages” are more likely to fail that first marriages. He saw the disappointment so many attempted second marriages would bring. He was trying to spare us all this.
Some bishops of the Catholic Church are interpreting Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia to mean that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can present themselves for communion, if they believe they are “at peace with God.” I cannot imagine what these men are thinking.
I can tell you what they are NOT thinking. They are not thinking about the abandoned spouses. They are NOT thinking about the children, whose families have been turned upside down by their parents’ switching out of parent-figures and sex-partners.
This is the child’s perspective. We tell them, “I still love you. But my relationship with my new sex partner is more important to me than my relationship with your other parent, even though your other parent is half of who you are.” The children cannot make sense of these incompatible claims.
Needless to say: this conflict does not even arise in families where the parents are continuously and faithfully married to each other.
There is, in the end, only one cure for this kind of social confusion. To say as often and as loudly as we can: Jesus was right to prohibit attempts at second marriages while the first spouse is still living. We know this from experience. Our experience is so profound, we will not be talked out of it.
If you have such an experience to share, please consider telling your story for the Tell Ruth the Truth blog. You will be helping more people than you know.