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Post No. 49 (Divorce, again. Sorry)

March 23, 2011

The Times of 22nd March 2011 (online edition) reported the following:

Speaking at the University Chaplaincy in an activity organised by the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija, Dr Fenech Adami, himself a staunch catholic [sic – it’s the age of copy and paste], said it was unacceptable that religious arguments in the divorce debate were dismisseda priori [sic – ditto].

He did concede, however, that these arguments could not always work, when for example discussing with someone who was an atheist, and said that believers should try to understand their interlocutor’s milieu.

I’ve already tackled this here, so I won’t go into it again. I agree with Dr Fenech Adami – the artist politician formerly known as Eddie –  and I’ll go one step further. “Religious arguments won’t work” with people whose marriage has broken down, too.

All this business about divorce has been tackled in the wrong way, in my humble and probably misguided opinion.

How can you prove empirically – or scientifically – that the introduction of divorce will increase marriage breakdowns? Failed marriages are all around us and people have been leaving each other for ages. So we can’t pin that one on divorce. Scratch it.

Divorce and marriage are like cold and heat. Cold is not an entity per se. It is simply defined as the absence of heat. Ditto divorce. The first step must have been – or perhaps must be, as there might still be time – to define marriage. I won’t go into it here:

a) not enough space

b) not enough grey matter

It’s enough to say that when you’re talking about divorce you have to understand marriage in its Catholic sense, as defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and (probably) Canon Law. You also have to take marriage in the context of Catholicism i.e. you can’t say that marriage is a union between a man and a woman with the intention of producing kids and forget about the “turn the other cheek” bit, or the “forgive your enemies for a zillion times” passage.

This is where the unpalatable bit comes in. If I beat my wife and she knew about my violent streak before she married me and pressed on regardless – which means that she has no grounds for a declaration of nullity – she can’t just say “I hadn’t bargained for this” and look for pastures new. The most she can do is leave the matrimonial home for her own safety. But she’s still my wife. Her duties as a married woman have changed, but that doesn’t mean she’s not married any more. This is what most people object to. They’ll only “stay married” as long as the boat isn’t rocked too much.

No amount of logic and argumentation can sway a utilitarian outlook on life. And this is where I disagree with the anti-divorce brigade. Stop trying to put a “secular spin” on why divorce is bad. Stop trying to “scientify” the evil of divorce. It can’t be done.

Establish what marriage – as outlined above – is and leave it at that. The bottom line should be: “This is marriage. Take it or leave it.”

Of course they’ll have to fluff it out a bit and smooth the rough edges, but frankly I can’t see what they can add to it.

… I told you that my opinion is probably misguided. You can’t say you hadn’t been warned.



From → The Gripevine

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