Saturday, May 21, 2016

If your Catholic friends are divorcing, read this.

Recently I received a heartbreaking email from a male reader with an all-too-common dilemma. Here is an excerpt, with some identifying details changed (and emphasis mine):

I wanted to get your opinion on something and as always, your prayers. Recently, some good friends of mine have decided to divorce after 6 years of marriage. We were in each other's wedding and remained somewhat close until 2 or 3 years ago. With having additional children (we have 5 children, the oldest being 9) our lives have made it harder to stay in touch. It was only until recently that the husband contacted me saying that he needed some help. His wife had been having an adulterous relationship and he found out about it. He was not without guilt, having had an emotional affair with someone else as well. Both had made mistakes and he was wanting to rectify everything. He went to our local priest, went to confession for the first time in 10 years, and wanted his wife to start counseling. She refused and has since continued her relationship outside of marriage. They have 3 small children. 

The tipping point came this past weekend when I was at a store, and I ran into her (almost literally) in the parking lot and our eyes made contact. I couldn't even muster the strength to say hello. I left the parking lot feeling like I let God down. It was a perfect opportunity to simply say hello and break the ice a little. It has been killing me ever since. She's in a downward spiral, her parents support her adulterous lifestyle and are only adding fuel to the fire. She's all about material things right now and isn't thinking clearly about anything. 

I now feel this call/obligation to write to her. Not to be judgmental, but to remind her of mercy. That she doesn't have to go through with anything, and that I stood by them at their wedding and heard them profess on that day a commitment to love unconditionally. That everyone at that wedding had an obligation to lift them up when times got tough and we've failed to live up to our part of the bargain. That I'm not going to sit by like the countless others and support her decisions. I want her to know the truth. I know in her heart of hearts, she is searching for God. She just doesn't realize it. 

I know they are in the midst of divorce proceedings and I don't want to interject, but I feel I need to do something. I'm just very hesitant. Feelings are fleeting and I'm wanting to really test this to make sure it is the right thing to do. 

What would you do?

What would you have told him? More importantly, what would you do if you were him?

Among the regrets in my life are about three occasions where I did not discourage, and even tacitly encouraged, the divorce of Catholic girlfriends. I can barely type those words. All those instances were many years ago, and today my response to women who come to me basically asking "permission" to divorce (without abuse or safety issues) is very different. However, my previous complicity still hits me hard. Were there "good reasons" for those divorces? At the time, I believed there were, but looking back, I'm not so sure. Perhaps it was simply my desire to see my friends "happy" that informed my bad advice. Or maybe it was simple cowardice on my part.

My answer to this reader was the following:

Please, please, please do exactly that! Oh my goodness, if only we had more people who thought like you!

What you say is really perfect because it is true that it is your obligation (and the others' as well even though they won't do it and would not even think to). Good for you and I will pray for you. Whatever happens you have a clear conscience after this. Oh, I hurt  for those children who will be saddled with the lifelong effects of a broken home. It's always the children who must sacrifice for the adults, isn't it?

As someone said, the children are left to reconcile the two worlds that even the adults couldn't reconcile. What a heavy burden to put on the innocent. 

May God reward you. 

As it turns out, he spent many hours -- and many, many prayers -- composing the letter to his friend. He sent it, and he heard that she received it kindly, although he does not expect an actual response. He also had firm but loving talk with the husband and father, who has since fallen into similar sins.

My reader, praise God, did not sit idly by like so many friends and family do and "support" the break-up of this family. He did what his faith, his friendship, and his witness to the marriage obligated him to do: He spoke. He spoke the truth in love, but by gosh, he spoke.

The marriage/family/"gender" catastrophe in the culture today is happening because good people are too afraid to speak.

Like this courageous reader, you must speak.

You can do this. I promise you. Ask the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother to guide your hand or your tongue, and speak.


  1. Praise God for this reader (I had almost typed "leader" instead, but I believe that may be a better title for him)who is such a good example to others. In these days, it feels like we aren't supposed to speak up, that it is being uncharitable and judgmental. But how many times do we speak when we should speak, and keep silent when we should be speaking? It's difficult times like this, when it can cost us a friendship, to have the true love of neighbor to speak up. He had done his part; and I am sure God is pleased.

    1. It is very rare that the combox appears on my computer, Leila, so I had to take the opportunity today to offer encouragement to this reader/leader! But I've noticed that right after I typed this comment and hit "publish" that it has disappeared again. So perhaps God wanted me to speak too. :-)

  2. Becky, you are awesome, and thank you, God, for giving her the combox!!

  3. This post especially resonated with me, as my husband and I have gone through a similar situation. My husband was a groomsman in this friend's wedding, and I a witness to the lovely ceremony. We encouraged him to reach out to the pastor that married them, to receive some Christian guidance, but he was too distraught between her emotional affair and coming to terms that she did not want children.

    People have bought into the popular, but false, notion that their actions to not necessarily impact others. This flies in the face of Catholic teaching that we are made to be in communion with each other, and the actions of one (sinful or virtuous) impact the whole. My husband and I mourned the end of his marriage and especially the hardness of his heart not to seek any kind of counseling that could have saved this marriage.

  4. We are experiencing this with our best friends right now. They have been married almost 30 years.

    1. Get out photos lots of them... Photos of them young and in love sit down and look at the photos with her or him or both...ask them what they feel when they see those photos. Can they remember the love?

    2. Because marriage is a public institution, no one is supposed to petition in the civil court for divorce without first having the bishop’s permission (or the permission of his mandated delegate). A diocese staff person with the title “Promoter of Justice” is supposed to be involved in an ecclesiastic investigation before a party files for divorce. The bishop, or his mandated delegate is supposed to decide what kind of separation plan would be in accord with divine law, if there is a separation at all.

      On our website is published a 3-fold educational flyer available for download with endorsement from Judicial Vicar of New York. See here:

      The Church has the authority (though not exercised) to point a dissatisfied woman to experts that help couples have more satisfying marriages. I always recommend The Institute for Marital Healing, and The Alexander House (with Greg, Julie and team). While it is natural that friends and acquaintances are a little squirmy about strongly correcting someone that wants to force divorce, it is in the job description of the Church to be much more involved than they are before separations become final. The faithful, collectively, could support making this happen.

  5. That is so sad, Judy, and Corrie! So many tragedies.

    I will say, regarding Corrie's friend, that if the woman went into the marriage intending never to have children, that marriage would have been null from the beginning. Still a very big tragedy.

  6. Just popping in to recommend Julie & Greg Alexander's apostolate, The Alexander House They are a devout Catholic couple who came close to divorce when they simultaneously found out that each other was having an affair, but they pushed through and are now devoted to helping couples experiencing any kind of marital difficulty. God bless!

  7. You know my story - only TWO people spoke up to tell my husband that he was doing something wrong. On world marriage Sunday that first year, the priest was adamant that we as a community had a duty to uphold and support each other's marriages (not naming names ) but my friends hugged me after communion and no one said anything to my husband (it went right over his head). When asked what they could do, I told them that they could have their husbands (all Knights or CRHP brothers) speak to mine and they demurred. His daughters have had a chance to speak up but not until after they realized that I was not being paranoid and that he wasn't just taking time for himself (as he had told them). Men need to hear it from other men - and from their own families - my brothers tried to talk to him but he refused to take their phone calls....

  8. That is really sad, Catholic Grammie. Unfortunately, it is probably often the case that the spouse just won't hear what is being said to him. I clicked the link to The Alexander House that Margo provided, and I can't help wondering why God heals some marriages and not others. We can't just say "it's free will", because in their free will, the founders of Alexander House were ready to divorce each other. God's grace obviously came down on them in abundance. It has to be a mysterious combination of free will and grace, and we won't really know why God allowed our marriages to end until we meet Him in heaven. But given all of that, the truth is, we as Catholics have to speak up and at least try to prevent divorce. All we can do is speak, and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

  9. True, Sharon. Sounds as though you have experienced the same. I begged my husband to go to Retrouvaille with me and he refused. It does make one feel as though one's prayers aren't truly heard at times. My brother said that the devil lives at the end of the internet and "she" certainly got hold of my husband.

  10. Hi, I spoke up and sent a heartfelt, prayed over for weeks message to my SIL in a similar situation and she was furious, sent copies of my message to everyone in the family to try and rally against me, and called me and told me off. Many people agreed with her and accused me of being judgmental and many other ugly things. She admitted that I was probably right but refused to reconsider her path. We are barely on speaking terms but we pretend I guess. What was the point and what did it accomplish? I'm not sure.

  11. MarianneF, one thing I've learned in life is that you cannot control other people. You can do the right thing and do it out of love and with the full truth, and the other person may completely throw you under the bus and rage against you. I've been there. It doesn't mean that you did the wrong thing or even that your efforts were worthless -- It's just the risk we take. We can do our best, and the outcome might still be awful. We aren't guaranteed a good outcome. I guess love is just a risk, it's hard, period. Maybe someday she will apologize, and you will reconcile. Maybe not. Surely God can use your efforts, though. She did the wrong thing when she reacted that way and rallied the family against you. She could have just called you and expressed her anger and left it at that. Or maybe just talked out her perspective a little. I'm just sorry -- Family can be such a hard thing. People are often the worst to their own families, but it's important to not perpetuate the dysfunction. And we won't always see the fruits of our labor.

  12. Interestingly enough, my experience recently with raging, angry family members also involves divorce. As you know, Leila, my parents are divorced, and we have stepfamily. The article you posted recently -- the one about kids with same-sex parents -- really resonated with me. I feel like I went on a similar journey with divorce, really supporting our split family and gushing about our great lives in my childhood years and 20's, and then having an awakening after getting married and having kids. The dysfunction in our family became increasingly apparent when grandkids were involved, and we had perspective as parents. It took a lot of courage to talk with my dad about some of the negative impacts and hurt involved in the divorce/annulment/remarriage and our complicated family lives. But he is furious with us. He feels like the whole divorce/annulment/remarriage was "God's will" and that the annulment was an endorsement of his decisions, and we just need to get over it and move on. Even though my sisters and I never tried to turn back time or undo the new situation, we never rejected our stepfamily in any way, he feels like we are being unreasonable and hateful by trying to work some of this stuff out. And that entire side of the family won't speak to us anymore. I wish I was exaggerating.

    Fortunately, my mom's side handled this all in a much healthier way. We love our mom and stepdad, and it makes a world of difference when your parents acknowledge the irreparable hurt, acknowledge the struggle, and live in reality. It's so much easier to build good relationships, forgive, heal, and move on when your parents take ownership of their lives, acknowledge the brokenness, and avoid defensiveness.

    1. FYI, this is the article that Elizabeth was referencing:

  13. "It does make one feel as though one's prayers aren't truly heard at times."

    And yet, He always hears. But He will not touch one's free will. Sin dulls the conscience and deadens the intellect. Some people respond to grace, some do not. Thankfully, we know that God can use even sin at the service of His ultimate plan. We trust a loving God. In the end, we will understand all. This is not the end, not by a longshot.

  14. Elizabeth, yours is such an important story! So sad, but very real, and very honest. I wish more adult children of divorce would speak, but just like the children of gay parents or donor sperm, they don't want to hurt the parents they love, understandably! But it's always the kids holding things together, isn't it? Sigh.

    Marianne F, you did the right thing. Elizabeth is right: Outcomes are not our concern. We are to be faithful, not successful. Leave the outcomes to God. I wrote a little something about that a while back:

  15. ^Yes! The kids are expected to hold things together. And kids really want to embrace their parents' decisions. They will defend those decisions and reassure their parents over and over again, often to their own detriment. When they do start to confront all of it, often when they are well into adulthood, the backlash can be huge.

  16. I have to agree with all that is being said. As a child of divorce, I had vowed that would never ever happen to me. My father didn't even come to my wedding - because I didn't want the new stepmother there. My mother and stepfather sat in the front pew while I had my first stepmother as my matron of honor - my baby brother walked me down the aisle. Now my own children are dealing with the absence of their father in their lives because of his choices. They are young adults but they are still suffering. I have so much that I could say but I don't want to sound bitter - I'm just hurt - but I'm mending. Truly, he is still the love of my life but I don't want to see him. His indifference after over 30 years together is too painful. My babies - their babies - my joys in life - Our Mother Mary, St. Helena, St. Dymphna, St. Monica, St. Brigid and St. Catherine are my "posse". And, Leila knows, she is a true blessing in my life, too. As are many of you who have prayed for me and reached out over the years. I'm being forged.....

  17. God Bless You and hang tough catholic grammie. I can't imagine. Jesus surely has his hand on your shoulder.
    I despise divorce and all the damage it does.

  18. is the place that changed my life for ever. We are the example that our children and family see and use in their own lives. They saw us implode and through this program called Retrouvaille they also saw us reconcile. There is no greater gift of love that we could show our children and family: Forgiveness!

  19. as a twice-divorced (embarrassed to say) Catholic, I have been through this very scenario. Friends who tried to talk to me (my choice to leave the marriages) but as a convert, not having a fully formed faith life. I don't hold myself fully accountable as we were contracepting and I can see the danger in that now looking back but how I wished my secular parents had chosen to support our marriage rather than my decision to abandon it. My poor family just didn't know better, none of them having a faith life. Now that I have the benefit of age and wisdom and a fully-formed faith life I pray I never have to try to sway someone against the evils of divorce!

  20. From a local, personal friend on my Facebook page:

    Your comment about being a vocal witness to couples in danger of divorce is true. Our 4th grade daughter told us about her friend's parents who were on the brink of divorce. She related that her young friend did not want her parents to live in separate houses because she loved them both and she wanted her family to be together. We continued to pray for the couple until our daughter finally implored us to "do something." Due to her continual and urgent plea, my husband had a talk with the Dad, urging him to not abandon his family, and that nothing short of handcuffs should make him leave. My husband also counseled him about changes that he should make in order to save his marriage. Not knowing the outcome of the talk, we continued to pray earnestly for the couple. Several weeks later, my husband got a note from the Dad thanking him for his witness. The divorce papers were rescinded! My advice--never give up. With God, all things are possible.

  21. Unknown, thank you!!

    And Catholic Grammie, I love you, my friend. You have been such a faithful witness.

  22. Often we are so intent on being compassionate that we affirm anything and everything a person does indiscriminately. I am guilty of this as I fall into the 'being polite' hole. It takes great courage not to do this because we have to face squarely whether our compassion is tainted by wanting others to think we are compassionate and thus offer 'love' without the Cross. So hard to actually do! I both applaud and pray for the friend of the couple in breakdown who has truly been loving by wanting the good of the other with nothing in it for himself but suffering. Another voice is so very much needed to balance the voice of the culture. The Way, the Truth and the Life goes via the Cross. God bless the couple and give them strength ... and pause. How blessed they are to have such a true friend.

  23. Marie M, yes! And it is so true.... we all want to affirm people, and we all are so polite, but that is not always what is good for our loved ones! Courage is the thing we all need to pray for.

  24. I kind of want to cry reading this post. I too have deep regrets, and the divorce I "supported" was my parents'.

    They were both kind, loving people and there really wasn't a "good guy" or "bad guy," they just wanted different things and went separate ways after all us kids were grown. They tried to make it as easy as possible for us, and we tried to support each of them.

    My mom was the initiator, and she went to a Catholic counselor ... who also aided her in "being ok" with leaving.

    It all makes me very sad, now.

    Thank you for bringing this to light; I am really glad your writer sent the letter and I know that if I have the opportunity in the future, I'll also try to offer grace & love from a Catholic perspective.

  25. iamlori, that is heartbreaking! I am so sorry.

  26. Part I - I have so much to add here since this hits so close to home. My broken family goes back generations, how many I'm not sure but what I do know is this:

    I am the product of a teenaged mom who had a child out of wedlock (I thank God every day that abortion never crossed her mind) and who's "father" has yet to grow up (he's in his 50's now). Dear ole dad already had another daughter out of wedlock five years prior to my arrival. They continued dating for approx. the first year of my life before she realized he would never stop partying. She then met and within 6 months was married to a non-practicing Catholic man who adopted me at 18ish months. (His parents remained married their entire lives and were from what I witnessed holiday Catholics.) They went on to have 2 boys and then divorced when I was 6yrs old and my baby brother was only 6 months. She simply wanted to "stop all the fighting" that was going on...but her husband filed for divorce and he received custody of all three of us. Mom remarried when I was 15 and stepdad has 3 sons and 2 daughters from two previous marriages. So far so good they remain married to this day. Adoptive dad ended up abusing me when I started growing into myself and I removed myself from the home very quickly. He went on to remarry and fairly quickly divorce another nice woman who had 3 daughters of her own from her previous marriage. And remember Dear ole dad from the beginning...well he went on to have another son out of wedlock and then finally settled down having a stepson and then the "planned" daughter who as far as we know is the baby of the family and of course the obvious favorite.

    Now do you think in my short-ish lifetime I might have had/still have some issues...abandonment, self loathing, hurt, pain, devastation, etc

  27. Part II - During the divorce of my mom and adoptive dad things were quite ugly. The three of us were used as pawns because of the hurt the two of them were feeling and at the same time we were told over and over that they didn't want to put us in the middle of confusing to say the least.

    So I come from a broken home. My husband has a slightly different story but at the root he also comes from a more stable but still a broken home.

    We met online back when chat rooms were all the rage and we still used dial-up. We happened across one another, chatted, exchanged phone numbers, talked for a few nights, met face-to-face over coffee. And then we did things all wrong...within two weeks we were cohabitating and a year later we were married by the JoP. Those first two years were brutal and we nearly gave in the culture that says if you're unhappy leave. (For three months I did just that, moving out and being unfaithful - I'm so ashamed of myself for the person I was back then). Everyone around me said leave...his side of the family was ready to pay for us to be divorced. Then something remarkable happened: He asked me to either be all in or to walk away <---it was a much longer conversation but that was the gist of it. Of course there were conditions to agree to: 1. MASS 2. Marriage counseling 3. I had to cut out all of the toxic people in my life

    I chose to stay. I decided I wanted the brokenness that has surrounded my family for generations to be ended by me and my spouse. We found out I had a mental disorder through the course of our counseling sessions. I was able to be treated and he stood by me. We had our marriage con-validated and I became a full member of the Catholic church. And years after that here we are...we live as best we can God, husband and wife, children, work, and everything else. Most of our family is estranged from us because we are trying so hard to live HOLY not happy but HOLY lives...and in that there is so much JOY! We know we've chosen the path less traveled and it's hard and sometimes it's lonely because we love our family. But we refuse to give our children the crap we were fed growing up, we do our best to keep their innocence intact, and we realized that due to the broken nature of our society/culture/etc that sometimes it's better to love and pray from afar then to get swept up in the chaos that others have helped create.

    I know this is super long I'm sorry...but I want to say that I am so thankful for those among us who speak the truth with regards to Marriage, Faith, God, all of it because we never know the fruits that come from those who are willing to help shine the light into the darkness. How many marriages can be saved simply by being reminded of the vows for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

  28. Gilliland Bunch, this is an incredible, beautiful, inspirational story!!! I am so grateful that you shared it! Wow! You are an example of how a commitment to holiness (and to marriage) can undo generations of brokenness and sin. Wow, wow, wow.... I love this!

    God bless you!

  29. What about a situation where there is possibility for annullment? Are those situations different?
    I would appriciate your prayers for my friends and advice very much. Our friends had a bad start of their marriage (one of them didn't feel ready to marry then, but for the other one (and the family) it was very important and they did) and I suppose they could get an annulment. They have sweet children and have loved each other, but their marriage was always hard (lots of fighting and less and less love) and last few years it got harder and harder. My friend has tried to save this marriage for a long time (for the kids) and I have always told her to do everything possible to save it. I know she gave so much and has tried so hard, but now she cannot fight for their marriage anymore, her heart feels like stone, she has no hope at all and is giving up and wants to divorce. She was unhappy from the beginning. I am so so sad for her, for him, for their children.. they are all such a lovely people and I like them very much ... and I don't know what to tell her now.
    I wonder how to be a good friend to her; should I tell her that I think her marriage could probably be null? What about children and her husband (he doesn't want a divorce)? I know she did a lot to try to save it and I feel so torn and would appriciate advice for me and prayers for them very very much. Thank you so much for this bubble of love and encouragment!

  30. Sally, so sad! I have so many questions! Is there abuse? Danger? You say that "they are all such lovely people", so you mean the husband, as well? If they are all lovely and good people, then they must make it work. This is about a choice, an act of the will. The children's welfare is at stake, as are the souls of the whole family. Why is she unhappy? What are the reasons? Does she understand that marriage is tied to salvation, and that the vows don't say "as long as I feel happy"? He doesn't want the divorce, so that makes me think (I could be wrong) that he has also tried to do what he can on her end? What do you personally think is making the woman unhappy?

    Thanks! Sorry, I know that's a lot of questions! You are being a very good friend!

  31. I'm about to put this on my Facebook page as well, but I want to throw in a reminder: If you are divorced, please, DO NOT throw out or destroy your wedding photos! Your children NEED and have a RIGHT to see the time when their parents were in love, and that they were the product of a mother and a father together. The children have a right to this. Trust me, I've heard from enough people, and I have read enough to know this, even though I myself am not from a divorced family. Your children have a right to their heritage, and their origins.

    Thanks. Just a PSA.

  32. Gillilland Bunch, just awesome! I am so impressed and inspired by people like you who have the stones to make a stand and simply say enough! I know folks like you guys and I can't think of any endeavor that changes the world more substantially than breaking the cycle of fractured families. The fruits are eternal because of your hard work and sacrifice. Just dig it. Thanks

  33. Sally, please tell your friend that she will regret it! Please tell her that, to her children, the divorce will NOT be worth it. I honestly beg her to think of the children. Annulments do nothing to benefit them! As my sister's stepdaughter (who is nearly 50 and has had a good relationship with her father for as long as I have known them) says, "I will never forgive the Catholic Church for saying that my parents weren't married, and I will never forgive my father for leaving us." And it will be your friend who risks never being forgiven for the pain she will cause her children. She chose to get married. Maybe she has been regretting it ever since. But she did it. And she was subsequently blessed beyond anything she deserves to be given those children, and choosing divorce will put a sword in their hearts. She has no right whatsoever to do that to them. And if she has waited until the children are grown, I will tell you that divorce causes pain for children at any age, and they will suffer at every major event of their adult lives because of her. Now that my children are getting older, some already grown, I wish more than ever that we were still married. We get along very well, but we never go together to any of our children's events - separate cars, separate hotel rooms (if I can afford it - usually I drive as much as four hours each way and don't spend the night even if the kids stay with him), vacations that my younger children still experience without me there to see their joy. My ex-husband didn't attend our daughter's wedding, and he barely has any contact with her children. We should now be attending the grandkids' events together but we don't. Ironically, he is in a miserable marriage now to an incredibly selfish woman but he is staying, this time, for the sake of his two younger kids. I will pray for your friend. It would be better if she could view her life differently, or if she had a happier marriage. But happiness is not what marriage is about. Maybe she will be happier if she gets a divorce, but her children will pay the excruciating price for her "happiness". I beg her not do it.

  34. Sharon, I wish your comment were required reading for every person contemplating divorce. Seriously. You are sadder and wiser. God bless you, my friend.

  35. Sharon, you may have read this elsewhere, but this sounds like your sister's stepdaughter:

    1. It sounds a lot like my kids, too, Leila. :(

  36. Sharon, I just saved your comment to refer to and use if ever needed in my family or among my friends. God Bless you. My husband is from a broken family and he still hurts from it at age 38.

  37. Sharon and Leila, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honest, touching and kind words! I'm so glad I wrote about it here! No, there is no abuse, they are simply not kind to each other, call each other names, criticizing a lot, cynism etc. Their fighting is only with ugly words (and it hurts a lot) and it is now un ugly habbit, almost the only way they communicate. Childern are 10 and younger, so still very young. And they love both parents dearly and parents treat them well. Her husband couldn't see his contribution to their problem for a looooong time, only her ugly side and didn't want any outside help or counseling. She didn't talk to me for a long time (probably because she knew I would tell her to hold on and try again) and now she contacted me to tell me she is done and wants a divorce and he knows it. He didn't expect it and was devasteted to hear it and is now going to counseling (alone, she doesn't want to go with him now) and it is all so so so hard.... He is a nice man, but as it turned out has big hurts from his past (which he didn't want so see) and his marriage was a place to show his hurt side in un unfriendly way. She is so hartbroken and hurt now, that she doesn't see even a tiniest chance for anything getting better. But from my perspective she also did her part to contribute to this brokeness. She talked to a priest, who sadly told her that she deserves better ( without hearing the other side!) and she thinks that she has done all she could and God wants her to be happy. She also tells me that their childern are doing very well (she is much less at home, since telling about wanting a divorce) and they surely also want a happy mommy....
    So yes, now, thanks to you, my head is clear again and I will talk to her.

    Please keep praying for this family, I still see hope.

    Leila, would you please, please, please write a post about annulment, because this is soooo confusing for me, and I belive for many others also. I was so confused, because I taught - if their marriage is null, would it not be better to just quit? And is it not a sin to keep on living together, if the marriage is maybe null? I also have another friends, who married in a pretty confused way and had a heavy start with lots of past hurts and sins (the way they married could be a good reason for annulment) but they had a change of heart, their marriage is lovely and they love each other and their children dearly and want to stay married forever. But I am confused again - do they live in sin? What to tell this friend? Should they get married again (secretly? or in front of their kids, who know nothing about their past?- wouldn't that be so hard on kids to know their parents were not REALLY married till now?) Or what should they do to have a real sacramental marriage? Well, this is all so complicated and I would love to understand it more.
    Thank you for your time! Sharon I am so sad for you and so thankful for your openess! I will pray for you.
    And also thank you all for your patience with my english. Feel free to ask, if something is not clear. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH!

  38. To be more clear, the second pair of my friends (who love each other and want so stay married) got married in a church (long ago). They had a big fight few weeks before their wedding day (for very big reasons) and seriously thought about breaking up all togehter. But they didn't make any step and the wedding day came soon with all the guests coming and they said yes to each other, although they didn't feel sure that they want it.
    Today I think, they shouldn't got married then and somebody should have told them to wait and work it out, but we were all young and silly and I was happy for them then. But getting married (even if in such a wrong way) was a first step on their way back to Good and to God, they learned a lot on their way.

  39. The reason I was happy for them, when they got married in such a messy way, was that they were very much in love before they did some very stupid things, and I tought they were secretly still in love. I also didn't understand much about a sacramental marriage, marriage was for me all about beeing in love and feeling happy.

  40. I would be so glad if my experience - or more so, my children's sad experience - helps prevent anyone else's divorce. Divorce is ugly and is a main contributor to the Culture of Death. My ex-husband is sadder and wiser for the devastation he caused, but I know now how much my own blind immaturity contributed to his unhappiness. I just didn't know. Sally, has your friend read the book Leila recommends, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands? I would also recommend a book called, First, Kill All the Marriage Counselors, which I think is more in-depth than the first book. Both books emphasize that women have the power to make their marriages happy. Your friend should at least give one or both books a try.

    I'd also love to see Leila address annulments. I personally consider the level of annulments in the US to be a huge scandal that undermines the Church's teaching on marriage and leaves even Catholics thinking that, if a couple is not happy, there is an exit door available. It also, just like Sally says,can leave many couples wondering if they are living some kind of fake situation. It is a complex matter, because we are to trust the Church's decisions, but when you have some dioceses where 100% of annulment petitions are granted, something is seriously wrong.

  41. Unless you personally know all the intimate details of a marriage, you have no business telling people they need to stick it out. Physical abuse is not the only form of abuse. Emotional, sexual, and financial abuse exists. Outsiders are almost never privy to full disclosure. It's dangerous to suggest that, barring any physical abuse, people need to stick it out in marriage for the sake of the children. The only people who really know what is going on in a marriage are the couple themselves.
    Please, if anyone in an abusive marriage is reading this, you don't need to stay. Avail yourself of the protections the civil law affords you.

  42. PRG, we specifically said that abuse is a different matter. There are plenty of divorcing folks who BOTH agree there is no abuse, just "misery" and "unhappiness". It happens all the time. And for some people, even a husband calling the wife or husband a name, or yelling, constitutes "abuse" enough to leave the marriage and give the children a broken home. Nonsense!

    And how many believe that adultery "breaks" a sacramental marriage? A lot! And yet, it does not.

    Let me ask you: What do you mean by "abuse" (that's important) and what do the vows mean? Why are they said?

    Serious questions, thanks.

  43. Here's the problem as I see it, and correct me if I am wrong, PRG. Many, many women (I mostly speak and talk to women about the intricacies of marriage) have begun to believe that a lack of "fulfillment" or an "emotionally distant man" (are there many women who don't think their man is "emotionally distant"?) or someone who is "not meeting my needs" or is "not the spiritual head of the household" or who is "angry all the time" -- btw, are there many men who are not angry a lot? In my experience, even the most amazing men, husbands, fathers, have anger -- they are men and it's a part of their (fallen) nature, just as worry seems to be quite a part of women's (fallen) nature.

    I am NOT talking about physical abuse or extreme emotional abuse and evil mind games, etc. I am talking about what many women have told me are "generally decent guys" (when pushed), but the women "are not happy". Perhaps, for example, a previously gregarious and joyful spouse has fallen on hard times and great suffering. That spouse may fall into depression, and the former fun and joy (and a job, let's say) are gone. Some women (good, Catholic women) would say that is an excuse to divorce him. I've heard and seen it. Even when the children love him and he still loves the wife and kids (by the wife's own admission). But she wants to leave, and her good Catholic friends are saying she "deserves happiness". But what, then, are the vows for? Let's just call them meaningless, like the culture does, and move on.... Except that we can't and won't. Christ meant what He said and His sacrament means something.

  44. Sally, great comments, and we must remember that marriages are presumed valid until and unless a spouse takes the case to the Church and asks for an investigation. So, we may not presume that there is an invalid marriage were the spouses were Catholic (or at least one was Catholic) and married in the Church. No one is "walking around in sin" just because if they bring their marriage to the tribunal, it might find that the marriage had been null. The couple is acting in good faith, and the marriage is presumed to be very real. And remember this: In America, annulments are so common, but that is not true everywhere. When annulment cases are appealed to Rome, most (as I understand it) are overturned and the marriage is upheld. So, the tribunal is not infallible. It is never an infallible judgement until a decision is declared by the Roman Rota. But, we are still in obedience and we are still okay if we go by the tribunal's dictates. God will not hold a couple accountable for the mistake of a tribunal, if you will. I hope that makes sense.

  45. I feel like I said that in a very clunky and inelegant way, so I will try again later if that did not make sense! I am out the door, so rushing as always, sorry!

  46. Eventually, we come to know that unforgiveness and resentment unchecked are the biggest enemies to the married life; they block the heart and blind the reason. It is exceedingly difficult to stand by and watch anyone you love living in darkness. Sadly, there's a good chance they will not listen and even become agitated.

    So, if you feel inspired by the Holy Spirit, then go ahead and try. Pray for the words to be from God since they will not have any power otherwise. If they don't listen, shake the dust (influence of evil) from your feet. Then, take up your spiritual weapons and pray!

    Lastly, for anyone who is feeling miserable in their own marriage, I want to share how my ten yr-old saved mine the other night. My husband and I had a little heated exchange right before bed. As resentment started to mount, my daughter started throwing a little tantrum. I was exhausted from the day and DID NOT want to go in to try and comfort or calm her. I'm so glad that I did though. When she settled down, what she said next was pure grace. "Mom, Daddy is trying to communicate with you but doesn't really know how." Grace melted my resentment and changed my mind. And knowing the truth about not letting the sun go down on my anger, I was prepared to stay up as long as it took!

    Marriage is like our faith. There is no coasting along on previous efforts. "Oh, I made a good effort for 3 days in a row and so now I can just take a break." Nope.

    God bless and I'm praying for all of you who are hurting and struggling. It's super important to know the truth.

    "The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more."

    The sacrament of marriage imparts the grace we need to persevere! I'm sorry if this upsets any gals who lean toward an ungodly feminism, but I'd rather sacrifice my "happiness" and keep my family a unit.

  47. Thank you Sharon for book recommendations! Thanks to Leila, I know the book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" but am afraid to recommend it to her, because she could think it is so old-fashioned and blaming woman for everything. I like this book very much, but am afraid she could`t profit from it right now. I will try to get this other book.

    What I think could help are honest words from divorce-children, adult and young, who can see and talk openly about their wounds. I hope this could help her see, because now she only sees that children "will be fine" and lots of people are "just fine" and "doing much better" after divorce. Sharon, thank you for your words and for sharing your pain in hope to help others, I will forward it to her. God may bless your efforts and help this family.

    If anyone has links to words from hurt divorce-children, especially the ones who did`t show their hurt in the childhood and could talk openly about it much later, please let me know.

    And please everybody keep on praying! I wrote my friend a letter, a very honest and warm one. I love her, we know each other for a long time and I hope she can see and feel my honest care for her and her family through my words and we can talk openly about it.
    It is so sad that so many important people in her life are supporting her wish to divorce and telling her "everything will be better then, for ALL of you". Her family of origin, her friends...

    I cannot tell you how thankful I am that you helped me see clear again and tell her honest words I will not regret. I shudder thinking what would it feel like to meet their precious children and look in their eyes, if I would have supported their mum to brake their family, because of possibility for annulment.

  48. PRG, thank you for your concern for marriages which are violent and dangerous.
    I always heard from the Church and from Leila that it is a right thing and your duty to protect yourself and your children in such a case and go away, brake up, divorce civilly - whatever needs to get done to make sure you and your children are safe.

    My friends are not dangerous or violent people at all and there was never any incident in this direction.

  49. Leila, you asked why this friend of mine was unhappy from the beginning of their marriage. Well, not from the beginning, but few years and one child later. I think the biggest reason is, she did`t feel supported it the way she needed. He is a hard working man, but could not show appreciation of her work (her job and house work) and he also criticized a lot. So she resented him more and more and both of them treated each other with less and less respect.
    I know her more then him and know she could find and tell very hurtful things and laugh at him from "above". The way she talked about him was often not nice and I`m sorry now, that I did`t stop her and tell her to choose her words with more respect.

    It is so hard for me, when my girlfriends talk about their man, like about some stupid laughable creatures. Now I see how wrong I was to just sit there silently and hear all this trash and not say a word. I would die, if my husband would talk about me like that. And I am sure, this woman would also.
    I need more courage to just politely ask them to stop doing it this way. This would also be an important contribution to more peace in marriages.

  50. Leila, thank you for your answer about annulment, and yes I can now understand more, but find it still somehow confusing. I would appreciate if you could write more about it, when you have some time.

    You say that marriages are seen as valid, as long as noone wants an annulment and actually get it. This I understand and it is a good thing.

    But, what if two people married in not optimal way (not really from their free will, but because of pressure of their families, friends, whatever) and later in their marriage they find out, it would be a reason for annulment.

    Wouldn`t it be wise to marry properly then and be sure their marriage is sacramental and they get all the graces they can?

    And also, what if one of them wants to separate 15 years later? It seems unfair - at first she/or he had a valid marriage as long as they wanted, and then they can get an annulment, because the start of their marriage was not right?

    I also wondered, how is annulment "better" for kids, then divorce, but now I understand more. The big difference is for the souls of the parents, but children hurt so or so.

    So if there are children involved it is always important to give everything to try to save a marriage, even if it could be null (of course not if it is dangerous).

    But what about a couple without children with a marriage with a potential to be null? If they, or one of them, want to separate and ask for an annulment - is it ok? Or should they also try everything possible to improve their marriage?

    I have so many questions and had no idea what an annulment is till few years ago.
    I want to learn and understand more. Thank you!

  51. Sally, funny thing is, the "First" book emphasizes that it's not the hub's job to make the wife happy, yet both books do emphasize that men want more than anything to make their wives happy! As the author put it somewhere outside the book, "He would swim through shark-infested waters to bring her a cold cup of lemonade if he thought it would make her happy." But you have to know how to go about it, and for a lot of us, that is far from intuitive. And maybe some couples never have to bother with this way of thinking, I don't know. But if she is successful in taking the advice in these books to heart, she will be a very, very happy wife with a very happy husband. What's she got to lose, right? :) I will keep praying for her!

  52. Sally, I'm not sure that I can do justice to the question, as it is sort of hard to look back at something in retrospect and expect to apply the annulment situation backwards. Maybe this will help:

    Let's say that a priest was illicitly ordained, but no one knows that. In fact, let's say that the ordination was beautiful, well-attended, joyful, and amazing!! Let's say every single thing about it looked legit. The priest went about his priesthood and doing his duties and offering sacraments and such. This priesthood went on for 25 years before it was determined that in fact, there was a problem! There had been an impediment to his ordination! There was a mix up and it turns out that this priest had himself never been baptized as a baby! (Maybe this was the Third World, and records were sketchy?) So, that impediment makes his ordination 25 years ago null! What does that mean? Well, all the people involved were acting in good faith, including those who came to him for priestly advice, sacraments, absolution, etc. Would God honor all those? Of course he would, since He can always work outside of His own sacraments, and since the priest was presumed to be a validly ordained priest. It is only in the investigation (which should be done only if there is a good and probable reason to believe so) that the objective truth becomes known. But if no one had realized that fact, would God have been absent to those folks who were all acting in good faith, or would He honor them and their intent and give them the Grace they sought? I think yes.

    We should not assume and wonder and worry about the validity of our priests' ordinations, in the same way we should not assume and wonder and worry about the validity of marriages. If the marriage has not been declared null, assume that it is valid. The end.

    Hope that helps! :)

  53. Sally,

    I don't think PRG was talking about marriages that were just psyically abusive. Abuse it a really hard temr to quantify and the sickest people are often the most charming people to the outside eye. While so many couples decide to break up because of unhappiness or because they found someone better, I think the vast majority of people don't intervene in others marriages, not because they don't care but because they have no NO idea of the state of the marriage. People very rarely tell you everything and being abused or mistreated is embarassing, you don't want to tell your friends that your husband degrades you, but that doesn't mean its not happening.

    No one would argue that divorce isn't hard on children, but often so is marriage. I can't imagine that it is better for your children to watch you stand by someone who mistreats you or carries on affairs than to show them how to be strong and be on your own even if its hard. Most parents who divorce take it very seriously and do it as much for their children as for themselves. While some people do callously leave their families, I don't know that I would consider it a majority of people, especially women who do that.

  54. CS, have you looked at the mountains and mountains of social science regarding the devastating effects of divorce on children?

  55. And have you ever actually talked to children of divorce, including adult children of divorce? They don't like the fighting, but they would rather that the sin and fighting be fixed and healed than the family break apart. As I ask again and again and again... where are the adults?

    And as I have asked here and on Facebook with no answer: What do the vows mean?

    And CS, you are a Christian. When Jesus said that Moses only allowed divorce for the "hardness of your hearts" but "from the beginning it was not so" and when he restored marriage and said that "he who divorces and remarried commits adultery", what do you think His thoughts are about marriage and divorce?

  56. This post hits home and I am really trying not to post a million thoughts on the matter!

    Gilliland bunch, such a painful and hopeful story. Thanks for sharing it. I will keep you and especially your extended family in my prayers. The Prayer to St. Joseph has been miraculous in our family.

    CS, you are right about not knowing the true state of a marriage.

    I am taking it a step further to say that even in the case of physical abuse, who is wise enough to make a decision for another? No situation is hopeless. But, you can give them the tools that they need to figure it out.

    Leila, you are right about the devastating effects of divorce.
    I remember saying often that I felt like a tree that had been pulled up from the ground with its roots exposed. Or being in the middle of the ocean without a life raft. "Who am I now?" plagued me for decades. My body and mind matured, but my heart atrophied. Although dysfunctional, I was part of a unit ~ The Vogel family. Like the trinity, we were one family, many persons. There was no drunkenness, coldness or indifference that measured anywhere near the blow that the "divorce/anullment cure" delivered.

    But, I understand how my mother, who came into the marriage with emotional deprivation from her own parent's brokenness, simply could not hold up. I get that. It's an insane and viscous cycle. Although the 12 steps provided much help and great strides were made, it was the direction and medicine of the church that they needed most, but was not there for them or at least she was unable to find it at the time. The turning point for her was when a priest gave permission to "Leave the bum." Oh how I wish she had found one who was wise and good and listened to him.

    So, while we can't really tell a person what to do, we can indeed tell them where to go. And of course pray for the grace that the Gilliard bunch and my own family is living proof of.

    Someday I will blog and it will be called, "So, where is the grace that abounds?" I will write about all of the ways that God has indeed brought good out of evil ~ just like He promises.

    1. *Gilliland, sorry, I thought I corrected that. :)

  57. Michelle, wow! I will be waiting eagerly for that blog!!

    Thank you!

  58. It's very true that children of divorce suffer, especially those coming from low-conflict marriages. However, those coming from high-conflict marriages do better IF the separation of the spouses causes the conflict to cease. Unfortunately, those conflicts often flow into the custody fights. I know many children of divorce who have suffered from the horrible marital situation and the divorce.

    I stand by my comments about abuse. Many of the comments left above indicated that the only time a couple may separate is when there has been physical abuse, "nothing short of handcuffs." I completely disagree. In my experience,people with truly horrible marriages rarely speak about it. It's too embarrassing. I have a friend going through one of those divorces right now. We are good friends and I had no idea how bad it was because she never said a word. She would never have left him. He left her and the kids. It was the best thing that could have happened to them. He had isolated her from her friends and family, taken control of all the finances, stole tens of thousands of dollars (forensic accountant is trying to track down the money) from their accounts. And that's just the financial aspect. Those kids witnessed his constant verbal attacks against her. It was awful, and there is no redemption to be had. He's a sociopath. Unfortunately, there are many in similar situations.

    These "Oprah" (not abusive) divorces are probably what your intended target is, Leila, but reading the comments makes me wonder if some of the readers understand what you're saying. This subject is extremely complicated.

    Here's my serious question; if a priest can be dispensed of his vows under certain circumstances, why can't the innocent spouse be dispensed of his/her obligation under serious circumstances?

  59. Sharon, yes, I also think this books could be very very helpful and you are right - I will recommend it to her and she will see if she finds some wisdom there.

    Leila, thank you, your imaginary priest example helps me understand.

    CS, I thought similar as you before, I understand what you mean and my personality is also so, that it is very easy for me to not say anything to anyone, because I can never really know everything and everybody can decide for themselves. It is very hard for me (and I am still learning) to say something the other person will (probably) dislike.

    But we are our brothers keeper and are responsible for each other. You see, I can never know 100 % what my friends marriage looks like, and yes, emotional abuse is horrible!
    But she gets a lots and lots of advice from people who encourage her to divorce! And they have no idea and don`t think much about the children, they believe the fairy tale that the children "will be happier" when their mom finds a better man and a new happiness.

    It is my experience over and over - (at least in our circle of friends and neighbors) - somebody is unhappy and everybody else is suddenly a "good friend" and tells him/her to quit and have a wonderful life. Especially divorced people, who should know more!

    So no, if we say nothing, we are silently supporting all this voices telling them "go away!", "be happy", "you deserve a better man" etc.

    One friend of mine was complaining about her husband (no big things, just everyday stuff) and another (unhappy and divorced) woman started to talk to her about how she should think about divorce - imagine! And this friend actually started to think about it and as she talked more and more with this woman, she was more and more sure that her marriage is not worth the effort.
    I could`t believe it, and (untypical for me) I had courage to talk to her and tell her what I think. Luckily she found out that this woman (whom she considered a friend) had more and more veery strange ideas and half year later she quit meeting her. After that her marriage was good and enjoyable again.

    That`s the problem - if we don`t speak, others will.
    And who will speak up for the voiceless children?

    I think many marriages could be saved, if friends and family, who have good relationship with the couple, would really support them, with love and honesty.

    Michelle, I would also love to read your blog! Let us know about it!

  60. Sally! Oh my gosh, yes! You have really nailed the problem! It's everywhere. It's epidemic. And divorce, among women, tends to be quite contagious. I see it go in waves. Women "talk" and "support" each other. And all of a sudden, there is a rash of women leaving their "emotionally absent" husbands.

    Thank you for your courage!

    PRG, the tendency for people to warn about sociopaths is why the "regular" divorce-minded people are not spoken to. "Maybe everyone is a sociopath?" we are led to think. Another big one is "My husband was a narcissist". Yes, maybe a woman's husband is a narcissist, but more likely, he is just A GUY. I hear that term used so much these days, to justify everything. It's a problem. So, yes, truly sick people need to be gotten away from, but to keep our mouths quiet simple because that *might* be the case (and if we found that out, we'd help the woman find a safe way out), seems to be the wrong approach, since most woman who are unhappy are not married to sociopaths and narcissists. They are married to fallen human men.

    As for the priest "dispensation" from the vows, it does not make the man not a priest. The man is still a priest for life, and for eternity, with a mark on his soul. So, it's not the same. Also, the priest can still perform his priestly duties in an emergency. He is still a priest.

    I keep coming back to: What do the marriage vows mean?

  61. Leila, I am lucky enough not to have too many friends who have had divorced parents. Though I have had some and I agree completely that divorce is hard on Children and often produces different kind of children.

    "They don't like the fighting, but they would rather that the sin and fighting be fixed and healed than the family break apart."

    I have NO doubt that this is true but this isn't the correct would they rather live with the sin and the fighting or with a divorce. Parents are people too, burying once feelings of betrayal isn't particularly practical. In most situations its fight or leave.

  62. and Sally,

    I understand that. I am not disagreeing in the slightest that one can be overly supportive of divorce, it is obviously very serious and many many people need counseling to work out their issues.

    However its slightly contradictory to rail on about the sins of men, the porn addiction, and cheating, the substance abuse that runs rampid amount people and then condemn women for leaving that.

    I am at the point where many of my friends are just now getting married. I would always encourage her to seek counseling first and to be reasonable and yes sticking it out if merely 'unhappiness is the issue. But mistreatment is a real thing-its much less about being free to find someone else, but I would encourage anyone to cut lies with an untrustworthy person who betrayed and mistreated them and that is ESPECIALLY TRUE if they were married

  63. The marriage vows are like any contract, you are signing up for a specific thing, but if that thing has something drastically different in it than what you signed up for, the contract is null and void

    If you buy a house and it gets dirty and has spider webs and occasionally breaks down, you must still pay for that house. Its not perfect but no house is, you have to work with it

    However if you buy a house and its gorgeous on the outside and perfect but the seller misrepresented it and it has a crooked foundation and termites and is a crap house with a bow, you may be initially fooled but you leave the house demand your money back as soon as you find out.

  64. CS, now I remember the moment, when I changed my mind about not telling unhappy people to try their best, to give their marriage a new and honest chance.

    I was pregnant with our third child and my husband got very sick. I didn't feel well and it wasn't easy time for our family. But we supported each other, talked a lot and did our best. At this point my husband talked to a friend ( who didn't even see me once, he doesn't know me at all and lives far away) and told him about his illnes and how exausted he feels and this friend - divorced and living with a divorced woman - told him that everything would be much easier, if we wouldn't have SO MANY children and if his wife (me) could give all attention to him. So maybe my husband should think about finding one strong and childles woman, that would heal him in no time!

    My husband told me this like "you won't believe what stupid thing I have heard!" but I couldn't laugh. I cried. I cried knowing in this moment, that if we would have a crisis, we could soooo easily find people (or they would find us) who would tell us that our spouse is ruining our life. And who would be very generous to support us in direction divorce, who would share and give and "help" us get rid of each other.

    This tears opened my eyes.

    My husband is great man, we love each other and have gone through hard times together. We both know we will stay together no matter what life throws at us.
    But still, it makes me deaply sad to know that nice (!) people would support us in our weekest moments to destroy our love, our family, our souls.

    I'm so sorry for all people whose marriages ended because their spouse had "friends" like that. It hurts to even think about it, thant someone could cut right through your heart without even giving one tought about you.

    Chatolic Grammie, your post touched my heart. How can it be that only two people told your husband that it is not the right thing to leave you??? Even people going to church?!? It is a big tragedy and I am so sorry to see that I could have easily been one of the people in the silent crowd. I hope I will never again forget how much support, real support and love and courage people need, when they are at their lowest point and divorce is the only exit they can see

  65. First, thanks Leila and Sally! The timing isn't quite right, but I am building up some writing when inspired.

    And Sally, I have two dear friends that I go to when I'm having trouble in my marriage and they always encourage me to persevere. I cannot count how many times they have changed my mind with some simple perspective or experience of their own. I don't burden my mother or immediate family because I don't want to influence them and naturally they will lean toward me. I left all of my old friends behind who are still stuck. I love them and I will pray for them, but my life is different now, so it would be unwise for me to hang with them. They'd be like, "I would never put up with that!" That is not what I need.

    When I think of how I may have influenced someone years ago toward divorce, I am deeply sorrowful and vow to pray for her for the rest of my life.

  66. Another tought, that sometimes comes to my mind -

    if it would be possible to divorce ones children, I am sure there would be parents who are so desperate that they would do it. And after years and years our society would probably get used to it.

  67. CS, but marriage isn't a contract. It's a covenant. It's not a business deal that one just backs out of when they get a lemon. Vows are sacred. What do the sacred vows of marriage, before God, mean?

    Can you respond about what Jesus said?

    Also, I can tell you that my husband, who grew up in a very miserable marriage, was incredibly grateful that at the very least, his parents stayed together until he was grown. I can't think of many people I've talked to in real life (in fact, maybe none) who were glad that their parents divorced rather than stay together. I don't doubt there are people who think that, but I have not met them.

    And, remember, the children are always left to reconcile the two worlds that even the adults could not reconcile. And I mean for decades and decades. It is an injustice to the children and we seem to almost never address the fact of the children, except as an aside, when we must, or when someone else mentions them and forces the discussion. I see that all the time.

  68. "When I think of how I may have influenced someone years ago toward divorce, I am deeply sorrowful and vow to pray for her for the rest of my life."

    YES! Me, too. This is the sort of thing, the sort of wisdom and sorrow, that only comes later in life. :(

  69. Michelle, yes, it's so important to find friends (not family, as you say, who will tend to side with you), who will help you keep your head on straight when things get rough in a marriage. I think you may be on to something! I really think I may need to run with that idea and take it to others! wow!

  70. "The marriage vows are like any contract, you are signing up for a specific thing, but if that thing has something drastically different in it than what you signed up for, the contract is null and void"

    How is this anything like Christian marriage? It's not. I am stunned by this.

  71. Sally, what an amazing and important story! Yes, you saw it all clearly then. So sad and scary as we look around us and how easily people are led astray.

  72. I didn't mean that you signed up for a healthhy man and he became sick, or that you signed up for a rich man and he became poor and so you leave him. I am talking about real material differences. As in the person pretended to be one thing and was really another, he pretended to be faithful but wasn't. There are very bad people in the world and at the very least people who do very bad things. If you unfortunately happen to be married to one, whose true nature you couldn't have possibly known, you need to leave them.

    God doesn't want you to be with bad people who treat you badly Leila. In addition to biblical passages God has given us common sense and a sense of self preservation

  73. When we're children we think of our parents as only our parents when we grow older we see they are people just like us with needs and desires and actual human feelings.

    I don't doubt that most children wish their parents were together. Children's love of their parents is irrational, they love their parents. Even if your Dad is an alcoholic loser you will love him and while that's sweet it doesn't mean your Mother should love him too. No one would expect you as a child do know he is neither a good partner or a good farther, but you also can't fault your mother for knowing and doing something about it. Parents take the decision to divorce very seriously, but you don't owe it to your children to eniquivically stay married to their father

  74. CS, if you are talking about fraud, that is one thing. Most of the cases of divorce do not involved someone who was committing fraud at the altar.

    You talk of common sense, but really what you continually talk about (in fact, much of your ideology from what I can tell) is feelings-based, which is not synonymous with common sense.

    If my husband became an alcoholic loser, I would still love him. That is the point. That is the vow. You may think that "biblical passage" (which you are rarely willing to discuss, even as a Christian) are just one of the many things to consider, without our own feelings trumping all, but it's not that way. Christ said many things about marriage. And not once did he say, "If he is a loser, leave him. If he treats you badly, you deserve better, honey!" He said a lot, though, and I'm wondering how much you have pored over those passages, and how much you have looked into what the vows say, and the reason that marriage exists (was created and ordained by God) in the first place?

    No one is saying that one must unequivocally stay with an abuser. No one said that. But it's true that many people do take divorce "lightly" in the sense that they are very concerned with their own "happiness" and "fulfillment" and they assume that the child (who has rights, natural rights, by the way) will "get over it" because they are "resilient". This is not what real love is about, and this is not the view of marriage that can sustain a society.

    Family is the basic unit of society (it is the first societal unit) and the rest of the society is as strong or as weak as are the bonds of marriage and family. Leaving because we are "not happy" is an injustice not only to the other spouse (who many times is trying hard to make it work and begging the "unhappy" spouse to stay), but to the children of that union.

    1. I have become so inarticulate these days! This is what I mean to type:

      You may think that "biblical passages" (which you are rarely willing to discuss, even as a Christian) are just one of the many things to consider, with our own feelings ultimately trumping all, but it's not that way.

  75. One thing that is so often missing in the ideas and ideology you put forth, CS, is the idea of obligation or duty to others. If you were to rank these priorities in order, what would they be?

    Everything else

    What order do you put those in? If they are out of order, everything in life will fall out of focus and things will become a mess.

    And, where do you put yourself in that list?

  76. Yes, CS, I too am wondering why you seem so hesitant to mention Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus is supposed to come first and foremost in every aspect of our lives?

  77. Leila,

    I'm familiar with certain passages on marriage but I've done nothing to study it. I can promise you this; if you do not know to leave someone who mistreats you--not someone who forgets your birthday or doesn't pick up his socks but someone who actively mistreats or degrades you, you don't know anything useful. If you believe God commands you to be degraded you believe in the wrong God.

    Leaving because you are unhappy means a lot of things. I think people are flighty and weak these days, absolutely; people get sick and boring and don't always give you everything you need, if they are good people who are merely human you need to be work through it, because life is hard and that is the promise you made. BUT that presupposes that the person is good and decent and treats you well, not as a fairy princess but as a loving and caring partner.

  78. Leila,

    Of course we have obligations to others; I don't think I've met a woman no matter her 'profession who didn't help so many other people. But the first thing we must do as human beings is put our own masks on. Women are hit over the head and bound with the obligations they are supposed to have to others, obligations which they frankly already carry out so the point that I don't think anyone needs to be reminded of them.

    I don't miss the obligation you have to others Leila, I just acknowledge the number one obligation you have in life is you. For godness sakes love your parents, love your children, love your spouse, but in order for you to do those things and do them well you must first love and honor and protect yourself

  79. And CS, in all love and sincerity, I can promise you this: If you think that your future husband, or anyone you love, will not mistreat you at some point, and maybe even for more than a minute, and maybe more than once, then you don't know anything useful. You will be shocked and surprised, and you will be out the door before the first year or two of your marriage has been completed. I myself have mistreated my own husband. I have mistreated my own children. I have mistreated my parents, my friends, everyone. I don't know many, if any, people who have never mistreated their loved ones. But praise God for His mercy, and for the opportunity to grow in virtue and in love. And praise God that marriage is not about having someone who *always* treats you like a loving and caring partner. Sometimes, people you love, the people that live with you day in and day out for a quarter century or a half century at a time, sometimes people treat you like shit. And sometimes you (meaning, me) treat him like shit, too.

    This is life, and I pray to God that you understand that. And that life is not like the movies, and marriage is not like a Sparks' novel. It's real and it's gritty and it's better than anything that is a fairy tale, because it's reality and it's a promise we make before God that "no man can put asunder" -- the Christian marriage bond especially (a sacrament of God, a conduit of grace) is not breakable by any human means. We may break ourselves against a sacrament, but it is not breakable by us.

    Again, abuse and safety issues? Get out, get to safety. No doubt about it. But the rest of what you say? I'm not feeling it.

    And as for what the vows mean, what marriage is, what God ordained it for (hint: It's not for temporal "happiness", it's tied to salvation itself), I would look into it more deeply. It's infinitely important.

  80. "I just acknowledge the number one obligation you have in life is you."

    No, CS, my number one obligation in life is God.

    It is in dying that we have life.
    It is through the Cross that we find salvation.
    The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
    I must decrease so that He must increase.

    This is Christianity. It is not about being a doormat; no, that would be a false humility. It is about putting others ahead of ourselves, and being a servant to all. It is above all, about putting God above every other thing.

    Put yourself first, and you will never find happiness.

    It's what the culture has taught us, but it's a lie. Me first is a lie. We are not on a plane going down where we need to first secure our mask to save others, we are in a culture which says kill your own flesh and blood, your own child, to be "happy" and place yourself first. We are in a culture which tells us it's totally okay to leave our husbands and break a child's home so that we can be "fulfilled" and find "romance" and "happiness" that we "deserve" with a man (or a woman!) who is "emotionally available". It's a lie, and not a single saint in 2,000 years (and the saints are the ones with the great interior joy and peace!) has lived a life of "me first". Not one.

    Selfishness will never, ever bring happiness. Never. There is a reason that the suicide rates among young people in the west (the material west!) are soaring. Misery abounds, as does the "me first" mentality.

  81. You didn't rank your priorities for me, except to rank yourself first.

    So, I know that you put yourself at the top, but can you rank the rest?

    1. Me
    Everything else

    (And I just want to confirm: You put yourself before God, yes? And if not, can you show me how you put God ahead of yourself?)

  82. Not to belabor it, but I want to be very clear. You are still pro-"choice", yes? So, that analogy about putting the mask on first really gets me.

    If you (the generic "you") are pro-"choice", you would be all for putting the mask on yourself first in order to save your child, unless your child is in the womb and inconvenient or unwanted or you had really bad morning sickness that could interfere with your degree or your career or your plans, and then at that point you would want full rights to kill that child, not protect that child and save it. YOU would definitely come first, even before the life of your own child. See, that is abandoning one's obligation to one's own child. And when a woman or a man is abandoned in a marriage, the spouse that is left is not physically killed, but psychically killed. I cannot tell you the number of broken people who have privately contacted me with their stories. Tragic, unnecessary, despairing, heartbreaking -- does not begin to cover it. Again, not talking about emotional torture or physical abuse. I'm talking about normal people who sin and are sinned against, but who made vows and had a marriage and were betrayed. It happens every single day. And the suffering is unimaginable, especially the children.

    Look, we all have a voice. What is your voice on marriage? On human life and abortion? Where do you stand with your voice? There are plenty of people who are the voice of divorce and the voice of abortion. That is not where a Christian voice must originate. Yes, compassion, yes, help, yes, understanding and resources. But we must be a voice FOR marriage, and FOR children. Is your voice known as a defender of marriage and a defender of human life?

  83. Leila, I do not really agree in staying in a marriage if it could get an anullment- if this is the case it means that at least one party did not make the covenant freely and I do not think God forces anyone to stay in such situation. I do not know the situation in the US but if the Church makes the marriage a null marriage we need to take it as such as Jesus said - what you bind and unbind on earth would be bounded unbounded in heaven. I think it is against God to force someone to stay in a null marriage because of children. A null marriage is completely different for me compared to divorce. It might look the same from the perspective of children but it is not - in the first case parents are still in God's grace, in the secong they would be in mortal sin.
    So in the first case there is still a blessing coming from the parents to the children.
    Does it make sense?

  84. Unknown, but you would never know you could even get a declaration of nullity unless you first have the tribunal look at it. And then, of course if the tribunal says that the marriage is null, you would not be in sin to go forth and marry again. But, that declaration, at that level, is not infallible, and in the USA, where some dioceses have 100% affirmative answers, there is reason to think that the "lack of discretion" (immaturity) argument is way overused. That is why the Roman Rota overturns so many of the US judgements if they are pursued.

    No one is "forcing" anyone to stay in a marriage, and if it's declared null, there is no way to do that, and no reason to. But the spouse that contests has every right to appeal it to Rome and if the Roman Roto overturns it, then there is no annulment. That is the final decision.

    But yes, an annulment is completely different from a divorce, for sure. One (divorce) is ripping up a dollar bill, the other (annulment) is discovering that it was a counterfeit dollar bill.

  85. For CS and others, it's interesting that just tonight I stumbled upon this article, about an exorcist who says there is a demon who targets families (and loves divorce):

  86. It's clear from your statements that you do not believe that anything less than "handcuffs" constitutes grounds for separation. Again, abuse comes in different forms. It does not always show itself with bruises and police reports. I don't understand how getting yourself out of an abusive marriage is selfish.

    Nobody here loves divorce, but some of us understand that it is necessary in serious situations.

  87. PRG, I don't read anything Leila has said as arguing that nothing "less than 'handcuffs' constitutes grounds for separation." What I am really tired of in our culture and in arguments in favor of the sad state of our culture, is that we are supposed to look at the worst-case scenarios and base all of our laws and behavior on those cases. Some people are in truly bad marriages, therefore no-fault divorce for everyone. That's our culture's solution. It's not Leila's position that is extreme, it is our culture's position that is extreme - to the detriment of society itself, most especially the children.

  88. Unknown, a huge problem with the annulment process in the US is that you can't leave a null marriage. You have to leave the marriage first, completely destroy it in divorce proceedings, before the Tribunal will even look at whether your marriage was valid. So the only way to "test" your marriage if you think it might not be valid is to divorce. That is actually not even in keeping with canon law, and it is a harmful way to deal with things. But as Leila said, all marriages are presumed valid, so no one is in mortal sin for staying in a marriage that could possibly be declared null.

    1. I guess I should clarify that all marriages that appear to be valid, are presumed to be valid. If you are a Catholic who marries outside of Church law, then of course your marriage is known instead to be invalid. But that is, normally, easily corrected. It's not as though you have to leave that marriage, you just have to have it blessed or con-validated or whatever the procedure is, assuming there are no impediments to doing that such as prior marriages.

  89. Sharon, how do you say so succinctly and clearly what I stumble around to say? Thank you! Those comments are exactly right.

    PRG, what you are referencing, about the "handcuffs" is a quote I posted here from a friend whose 4th grader kept begging her parents to not just pray but to "DO SOMETHING" to help the marriage of her little classmate's parents. The classmate was so distraught that her parents were divorcing. So, at my friends' child's prompting, Scott went over to talk to the divorcing husband, man to man (this is soooooo important!!! And women really need to stay out of the way that good men talk to other men who need to hear it). In that discussion, according to my friend's account, Scott told the husband to do whatever it takes to save his marriage, and not to leave his home in anything other than handcuffs. Meaning, don't leave and don't let your wife force you out if you have not done anything! The marriage was saved. The children involved see the adults as adults again, and even heroes.

    This is not a cause for alarm, it's a cause for praise to God and joy!

  90. And not one person has answered me: What are the vows for? What do they mean?

  91. Leila,

    We are disagreeing about vocabulary. Yes of course sometimes our loved ones treat us like crap and we treat them like crap, that is what is is to be human. And if we only dealt with people who did what we want we wouldn't have anyone. But if someone unrepentantly and habitually mistreats you, no matter who that person is you should not keep them in your life. Abandoning someone is an extremely serious thing to do that should not be done without real cause, I am merely saying I don't have an exhaustive list of mistreatment. You and I talk about cads a lot, and well some people Marry them. If you are married to a no good person you should separate yourself, that i very different from being married to a person who doesn't fufill every wish you have.

  92. Self preservation isn't selfish Leila

    Prehaps we just know different women. But I haven't seen the selfishness you are talking about really. Even amoung the friends I have, the very young and liberal friends I see people (read women) staying with people too long and trying too hard to make it work and invaribly becoming doormats because they 'want to make it work.' I see young women giving everything to their bosses and to their boyfriends ( to their depletion). I see women obsessing over their children to the point of feeling life an awful mother for doing something for themselves. So I'm just not seeing this, this flippant attitude of women telling their husbands and children to handle themselves. I am seeing women expected to be superwomen and who try their best to be everything for everyone yes to their own determent. My generation takes a lot of selfies but there isn't a ton of genuine self love.

    I'd advise women to be selfish because they struggle with it so, because women often put themselves last, I don't think we need more of that

  93. Again, putting yourself first doesn't mean abandoning other people, it doesn't mean taking the largest piece of steak at Dinner, it means that the most important thing a woman is, isn't that she is a a mother or a wife or a daughter, its thats she's her. And long before / after she is those things and those people grow up or die she has herself.

    My mother is a perfect super mom. She puts our interests above hers daily. But she understands if she isn't nurturing herself she can't nurture us. Leila, you don't strike me as a Doormat, who cowers for her husband or children or refuses to get her nails done because she can't buy her son every toy he needs. Thats really all I'm advocating, self-love and self-protection. The best wives and mothers I know love themselves very much.

    I don't have a spouse or Child so most of that list isn't relevant to me haha. God is all around me and I think he's generally fine with most of the decisions I make. Once I'm married I imagine my children will come before my Spouse. And when you are in good relationships with people you can put them first, but you must put someone first in conjunction with them putting you first (unless you are their parent of course)

  94. CS, if you put your children before your husband (with whom you are to become "one flesh"; the two shall become one), you very much will be risking a divorce. Why would you put the fruit of your love above your love? Makes no sense, and it's disordered (literally, out of order).

    One of the most striking things you've said is that "I think [God] is generally fine with most of the decisions I make."

    What makes you think so? What is your basis for this belief?


    PS: You are right, I am no doormat. I adore being a woman, and a strong one. I love my man, my kids, and I have a healthy dose of self-esteem. It's because I know who I am -- a child of God -- and I fear that your generation is, as you say, very unsure of who they are and why they should love themselves. That is tragic. So, they are always running to the "next thing", when they can't find "happiness". They will never find it. Never. As Augustine said: "The heart is restless until it rests in Thee."

    If serving and obeying and submitting to God does not come first, above all else, there will be no happiness long-term.

  95. I missed Bai's comment before it was removed. Can I inquire as to the nature of it? If its the Bai Macfarlane I think it is, I would be very interested to hear her perspective.

  96. I am curious too about Bai Macfarlane's comment.
    Some of the comments above make me not want to get married.
    I wonder why if couples are suppose to put the spouse ahead of children, why God made babies and children so time-consuming and very, very, very needy.
    Divorce is sad, however, one never knows what goes on behind closed doors. I guess one carefully worded comment to a friend to discourage divorce would be okay, but I realize the friend and/or couple is accountable to me.
    Let's say one spouse does become an alcoholic, how long should that other spouse stay in a bad marriage? And who wants to live with a guy (husband) who is angry most of the time? Not I. What if spouse makes no effort to improve relationship? At what point does the marriage become a farce? I am not always saying divorce is the answer, but when does a rough patch become a rough expansive desert and there is no water? Do you just live in the desert until you die? Or do you wave to a passing helicopter for a rescue? And what if spouse doesn't want to climb into helicopter and get to a healthier place? Not that divorce is quick and easy and leaves wounds. I am wondering.

  97. * not accountable to me. Couple does not have to answer to me for the state of their marriage.

  98. Oh, that's strange that Bai's comment was removed. It was removed by her (that's what "removed by author" means, because sometimes people think it means "blog owner"). I think she may have felt like she had to run it by me first? She did send me an email with info, so I will post that. I don't mind links and such, so she should have kept it up.

    Lena, the question is not about whether or not someone is difficult to live with. The reason one would have recourse to a civil divorce or separation is because there is danger. If there is no danger, but only (even lifelong) "unhappiness" and "lack of romance" or whatever, then there is no recourse, by Christ, to break apart the family.

    The question of making children so needy.... aren't spouses just as needy, really? Some would say even more so. :) I am not sure I understand the question, but children will always benefit when their parents love the other parent, and have a strong marriage bond. That is the first bond. The children come out of that bond, so how could they usurp it or supersede that primary bond?

    The message of the culture is "be happy" and find "fulfillment". If one does not have temporal happiness, then one is free to leave and find it elsewhere. That is not what Christ ever said, it's not what we do when we are given a cross that we can't "fix" (suffering has meaning, because Christ gave it meaning). If there is no danger, why would someone leave? What do the vows mean? (No one has yet answered that.)

    I am not talking about marriages that are null. If they are null, it means that they never existed. I assume we are talking about divorce here. Divorce is a scourge on our society in ways that are so far-reaching and damaging that it's hard to overstate.

    How can marriage "become" a farce? What is marriage? What is the obligation that we have when we made our vows (even if our spouse neglects them)? If something "becomes" a farce, that does not touch its validity, since the validity of a marriage is at the time of the wedding (was there an impediment at that time). Other than that, a marriage that is a sacrament is unbreakable by man, even by the Pope.

  99. Here is the note from Bai McFarlane, and yes, it's the same Bai McFarlane many of you are familiar with:

    Hi Leila,

    Because of your blog posting "If your Catholic friends are divorcing, read this", I am contacting you. I work to support spouses who are reluctantly divorced after the other spouse forced divorce when there was no grave morally justified basis for permanent separation of spouses. What you wrote particularly touched me, because you described what is happening all over the U.S. amongst nominal Catholics and even serious Catholics. The difference is that you regret your involvement in the situation.

    “Among the regrets in my life are about three occasions where I did not discourage, and even tacitly encouraged, the divorce of Catholic girlfriends. I can barely type those words. All those instances were many years ago, and today my response to women who come to me basically asking "permission" to divorce (without abuse or safety issues) is very different. However, my previous complicity still hits me hard. Were there "good reasons" for those divorces? At the time, I believed there were, but looking back, I'm not so sure. Perhaps it was simply my desire to see my friends "happy" that informed my bad advice. Or maybe it was simple cowardice on my part.”

    Please allow me to introduce myself. With the non-profit educational organization, Mary’s Advocates, I uphold marriage against no-fault divorce. The USCCB, National Catholic Register, and TheCatholicThing have publicized our work. I presented a paper in Rome as guest of Human Life International Rome and the paper was distributed to delegates at the 2015 Bishops synod. My writings have appeared in LifeSiteNews. I’ve been a guest on Relevant Radio and Ave Maria Radio.

    Our hope is that Plaintiffs will work to improve their marriage rather than force no-fault divorce. Or if not, at least a just outcome could be obtained by the faithful spouse and children wherein the spouse that wants to keep the family together will have the upper hand in any negotiated separation plan.

    Can I collaborate with you to spread the Church’s actual teaching about separation and divorce? Will you share this with your readers?

    Because marriage is a public institution, no one is supposed to petition in the civil court for divorce without first having the bishop’s permission (or the permission of his mandated delegate). A diocese staff person with the title “Promoter of Justice” is supposed to be involved in an ecclesiastic investigation before a party files for divorce. The bishop, or his mandated delegate is supposed to decide what kind of separation plan would be in accord with divine law, if there is a separation at all.

    On our website is published a 3-fold educational flyer available for download with endorsement from Judicial Vicar of New York. See here:

    The Church has the authority (though not exercised) to point a dissatisfied woman to experts that help couples have more satisfying marriages. I always recommend The Institute for Marital Healing, and The Alexander House (with Greg, Julie and team). While it is natural that friends and acquaintances are a little squirmy about strongly correcting someone that wants to force divorce, it is in the job description of the Church to be much more involved than they are before separations become final. The faithful, collectively, could support making this happen.

  100. The vows mean that you solemnly promise to God and your spouse that you will stick it out, through thick and thin.

    By the way, alcoholism falls under "sickness", although exceedingly difficult to live with.

    Everyone (including me) is fine when things are going well, but as soon as it gets tough, we want to bail out. I do think that Connie's mother's story is a very good example of commitment in the face of grave change. Such a faithful woman and look at the children she has produced! Praise God.

    "Faithfulness — is an essential characteristic of a truly great personality: he chooses to remain faithful to what he has seen, even though his vision may later become blurred." Alice von Hildebrand

    My children have watched their father and me struggle over the years. We both came from emotionally deprived childhoods and we struggle to know "how to" and "What is normal?" very often. But, I will never regret that they have seen the face of commitment! And also transforming grace. Maybe they'll say, "Wow! My mom and dad struggled so often and they never gave up! And I'm not giving up on ____ either."

    Sadly, very often his type of commitment appears as weakness, rather than strength.

  101. Bai, thank you for your thoughtful post! Michelle M, what you say about emotionally unstable childhoods can be summed up perfectly in the article I'm going to link to that was on aleteia this month. The quote that stood out is "people often marry the person who fixes their childhood wounds. Except when hard times come and we find out that they actually do not (we need to heal ourselves first) we blame them." This is paraphrased... the rest is in the article. But it was like a change in the way I viewed marital struggles.

  102. Michelle M, bingo! Thank you! And this:

    "Sadly, very often this type of commitment appears as weakness, rather than strength."

    Amen. Is it because the willingness to love even in suffering, tedium, "unfulfillment" is itself considered a fault and a weakness, instead of a virtue?

  103. Bai McFarlane's message above was informative and good to know.
    Yes, I do agree that children do benefit from the strong marital bond of their parents. I am so grateful my parents married until one parent departed this earth. (No, I am not grateful that my mother died). My grandparents were the same, but there were aspects in those marriages that I would not want to copy. One aunt appears so sad and defeated in her marriage that makes one not want to be married. It's so dismal. As far as needy spouses, I am interpreting that as them being emotionally immature - one who doesn't grow as time goes by. By farce, I mean the relationship is like a business partnerships or one is using another for status or money or something else. By farce I mean one partner resents the other and the resentment goes on and on and on - that kind of thing.
    I observe so many parents totally center their lives around their children, I wonder HOW they manage to put each other first. I wonder HOW married parents put the marriage first when taking care of small children. The needs of infants and small children are great distractions.
    Today at Mass the priest blessed a couple who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. It's also very encouraging to see those events at Mass. My parents and others I know have celebrated wedding anniversaries at Mass and a reception (small, large, informal, formal, cheap, expensive) afterwards, and it's special to be part of that.
    I remember my high school classmates and I having a conversation how we "would just die" if our parents ever divorced. This was in a large public school. Even the boy who gave off that tough heavy metal image and smoked cigarettes he was too young to purchase said that.

  104. Hi Leila,

    I didn't mean put my children above my husband in terms of caring care of them first and then if there is time left attending to him, I meant that one has unconditional love for their children in a way they don't for their spouse. There are a great number of things your spouse can do that should result in you leaving them alone and very few things your children can do to result in you treating them that way.

    Why do I believe God is generally ok with the decisions I make? You accuse some of what I say as being a feeling, but in this case that's exactly what it is, a belief that I have

  105. "I know who I am -- a child of God -- and I fear that your generation is, as you say, very unsure of who they are and why they should love themselves. That is tragic. So, they are always running to the "next thing", when they can't find "happiness"

    Right, but that's an argument for why they should find God, not why they should stay married? Especially if they are married to Godless people, who have no intention of becoming Godly

  106. CS, everyone who wants to live life the way they want (without having to change drastically or turn from sin) will always say that they know that God is happy with their decisions. We've all done it. But to say that you primarily base that on a feeling you have.... doesn't that negate the concept of objective truth and revelation from God? How can you check your "feelings" on it against what God may actually want? Isn't this the whole point of life, to do God's will and not our own? And if so, how do we know "God's will"? If we all base it on our "feelings", then God wants us each to do whatever we want, He is a God of absolute contradiction, confusion, chaos, and there is no such thing as sin. So... how does this fit with Christianity?

    Actually, if I am unsafe with my children, I would leave them or make them leave, too. Why would we treat a spouse different when it comes to safety issues?

    Also, could you answer: What do the vows mean?

  107. Leila,

    I don't think God wants us all to do the exact same thing. There are certain things we should avoid certainly, but most of life is deciding between apples and oranges more than it is applies and poison. But actual right and wrong is relatively apparent.

    If you are unsafe with your Children you should and will leave them. But that gives you about one reason to 'leave your child' when there are many to leave your spouse. Your spouse for instance can cheat on you whereas your children can do no such thing.

    A vow is a contract, its a promise to do something

  108. CS, that is actually not a Christian understanding of marriage, but it is a secular one. You are a Christian, and that is why I always ask. I want you to see the distinction (in your mind, what is the difference between a vow before God and a signed, legal contract that can be rescinded if parties don't live up to their end?).

    Actually, adultery does not break a sacrament, not at all. And adultery does not end a marriage, or at least it shouldn't.

    Here are the standard Episcopal wedding vows (I think that is your denomination?):

    Standard Episcopal Church Vows


    In the name of God, I, ________, take you, ________, to be my wife,
    to have and to hold from this day forward,
    for better or worse, for richer or poorer,
    in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
    until we are parted by death.
    This is my solemn vow.


    In the name of God, I, ________, take you, ________, to be my husband,
    to have and to hold from this day forward,
    for better or worse, for richer or poorer,
    in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
    until we are parted by death.
    This is my solemn vow.

    So, you are saying that this vow to be true to your spouse till death, a vow in the name of God, is simply a contract?

    "But actual right and wrong is relatively apparent."

    How can that be? We are all people of good will here, yes? Even the non-Catholics? And we see right and wrong very differently, even diametrically opposed (some of us are calling good evil, and evil good; there is no way around it). So, can you elaborate on how what you say can be true, when we don't see right and wrong the same at all? It's important to get truth right, since Jesus himself said, at his trial, that he came to the world to testify to the Truth.


  109. Leila,

    What do you mean adultery isn't grounds for divorce? I'm not familiar with protestant grounds for divorce but I'm 99% that's a valid reason.

    A vow before God is a a promise, its a vow that you make that assumes several things, the first and formost is that the person also keeps their vows to you to you, if they break their vows you are not longer beholden to yours.

    Your children don't take any vows and generally no matter what they do or how rottenly they behave you are stuck with them ;)

  110. "How can that be? We are all people of good will here, yes? Even the non-Catholics? And we see right and wrong very differently, even diametrically opposed (some of us are calling good evil, and evil good; there is no way around it). So, can you elaborate on how what you say can be true, when we don't see right and wrong the same at all? It's important to get truth right, since Jesus himself said, at his trial, that he came to the world to testify to the Truth.

    Sure, some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Those same people are right and wrong regardless of if they use the bible or the koran or their own consciences. I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. All belief in anything is a 'feeling' or a sense we get, and its impossible to 'determine' whose right (except for glaring things of course)

  111. College Student,

    1) Where in the vows does it say that if one person breaks the vows, the other person is no longer beholden to their vows? It's not "I take you to be my husband/wife until death or until you break your vow", no it's until death period.

    2) Are you really actually claiming (after several years of reading and engaging here with Leila and the rest of us) that it is impossible to determine right and wrong??? What "glaring things" specifically are you referring to?
    I'm at a loss.....

  112. Margo,

    The vows also don't give caveats if your spouse molests your children, or starts worshipping satan or beating you. But we assume all of those things are assume.There are numerous numerous reasons to leave your spouse or any human being for that matter that are not explicitly stated in your vows. The vows are not until death period, that is absurd

  113. I have to agree with Margo. CS, what are you referring to, about the "glaring things"? We can't even agree that taking the lives of innocent human beings is immoral. And there were two young, bright college students (now graduated, as you have), who once told us that in the most dire of circumstances, the "moral thing to do" would be to rape and murder a six-year-old girl. So, could you clarify?

    Also, I am guessing by your answer (that all right and wrong determinations are based on "feelings") that you don't believe in divine revelation? Did God reveal Himself or not? Is Christ God Himself, or not? Christianity is a revealed religion, and you are a Christian. Are you saying you don't agree with the Christian belief? I am trying to get at which Christian beliefs you are in agreement with?

    As for the vows.... No vow before God is contingent on "the other person keeping his vows". Never heard that before in any type of sacrament or sacred vow. That is something one might write into a secular contract, but it's not part of the vows. And, you are failing to make the distinction between leaving the home for safety reasons, and divorce, and also annulment. These are very different things.

    Christ and St. Paul both reiterated that there is no such things as divorce in Christianity. Can we investigate and see if the marriage ever existed in the first place? Sure. But that would be something that was an impediment at the time of the marriage vows. It does not apply to what comes after.

    What does "for better or for worse" mean? And are you saying that when you and your spouse come to the altar and make those vows, they are conditional and that divorce is certainly an option if it doesn't work out well? If so, what do the vows mean? Don't words have to mean something? And we have very dire warnings about breaking one's oath to God. Not a great thing to do, as this is serious, serious business.

  114. "until we are parted by death.
    This is my solemn vow."

    If this does not mean what the speaker says, then what does it mean?

    This shows how it's all related, everything we've talked about over the course of six years. Words don't actually have real meaning, or they only mean what we say they mean. Words like "marriage" (no real meaning) or "woman" (no real meaning) or "vow" or "truth" or "love" or any word at all. They mean whatever we feel like at the moment. Which makes words meaningless.

  115. I'm saying that different people, as you have alluded to, will argue about what is right and wrong. And while what is right doesn't change, no one not the Christians or th Jews or the Satan worshipers 'know' they are right. They all believe they are right and that belief as all beliefs are, are based on as you like to say 'feelings' These 'feelings' make sense if you accept certain givens as true and they don't if you don't.

    So let me be clear Leila leaving for safety reasons are or are not grounds for divorce? Because if they are, how is that not breaking the vow. And if it isn't, why the hell is the vow anything anyone should take seriously.

  116. "And are you saying that when you and your spouse come to the altar and make those vows, they are conditional and that divorce is certainly an option if it doesn't work out well?"

    Leila you started this post discouraging people from divorcing for frivolous reasons ( or so I thought). Which every single person agreed with you on.

    My vows at the alter will not be conditional that it all 'works out well' my vows will be conditional that my husband doesn't treat me like shit, or cheat on me, or become a serial killers. Very bottom level things.

    In this day and age, what do we achieve when we tell women never to leave their husbands no matter what? What message does that send? what kind of abuses does that lead to?

    A while ago you posted about a woman who was not married in the church, and she converted but her husband did not want to. The scenario said that she should abstain from sleeping with him but that her husband wasn't willing to live as brother and sister. Why didn't more people claim that he should have dealt with with whether they slept together or not. Why were more people not clamoring that the husband should be fine to living without sex because he made a Christian vow to his wife?

  117. First, I want you to clarify so that I understand: Do you or do you not believe that Christianity is a revealed religion? Meaning, Christ is God, and He came to establish His Church, which teaches His Truth. <--- Do you believe this or not? Do you believe that Christianity is true? If it's true, are you saying you only know it's true based on "feelings"? Or are you saying we cannot know if Christianity is true?

    I am very confused. Thanks for helping me out here.

    As for divorce -- divorce is a civil dissolution of a civil contract. In cases of danger, even the Church is tolerant of a need for a spouse in danger to legally separate, or even legally divorce. But this legal divorce does not touch on the validity of the sacrament. So, one could civilly divorce for legal or safety reasons, but that does not in any way make that person "unmarried" in God's eyes. The sacrament stands. When Jesus said that what God has joined no man can separate, he meant it. There is no such thing as Christian "divorce". That does not mean that one who sins against his or her spouse is not held accountable -- in fact, quite the opposite. Woe to that person who breaks his vows before God.

    Now, annulment means that the marriage (the sacrament) never was valid (for example, fraud at the time of the vows, forced marriage, incestuous marriage, or going into the marriage with the intention of not having children, on purpose). In the same way there is civil annulment, there is ecclesiastical annulment. The concept exists both in the secular and ecclesial realms.

  118. CS, I can almost guarantee that at some point your husband will "treat you like shit" and you will treat him badly, too. That may go on for a while. He may also cheat on you and you may cheat on him. That does not negate your vow or his. Sorry, it just doesn't.

    And, the discussion you bring up was SO complicated and nuanced (because of the kids, specifically, and the ignorance of going in to a non-valid marriage in the first place) that the Church herself laments those situations. But the bottom line is that a man who wishes to have sex with his civil wife would not be equivalent to the man who beats his wife. And, as we said in that LONG thread (which is not going to be rehashed here, but can be re-read there), the couple is not actually married and did not take sacred vows.

    And, for the millionth time, I never said:

    "we tell women never to leave their husbands no matter what"

    I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever said that. I have said the opposite a million times. A woman (or a man) may leave if there is danger. That does not NEGATE the marriage vows or the sacrament. Please, please, stop misrepresenting my words or the Church's position. Please. It's my one huge frustration.

  119. To say that I or the Church "tell women never to leave their husbands no matter what" really burns me up, honestly. I just don't get how many times I have to say something before it's accepted or understood. I don't get how you could say that this is my or the Church's position, or that it's what I'm suggesting, when I've never said that, and in fact I have said the opposite. Gah. It's so hard to have these conversations when there is blatant misrepresentation. And I can't figure out why you do that.

    Help me understand.

  120. Leila,

    I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and he died for our sins and that there is great wisdom in the bible. I don't even know EVERYTHING the bible says so I won't pretend to have an opinion on all of it, but I don't think everything in it is literal and interpretations vary rapidly.

    There is no such thing as Catholic divorce. The protestant Church was founded on Divorce. Adultery is very much grounds for a divorce and the church would very much support you getting remarried once you divorce your first fornicating spouse.

  121. At some point my husband treating me badly is world away from my husband always treating me like shit. If anyone constantly treats you poorly. Get. Away. From. Them.

    "tell women never to leave their husbands no matter what" really burns me up, honestly. I just don't get how many times I have to say something before it's accepted or understood."

    Because you said earlier in this very conversation that even if your husband BEATS you or worships Satan or molests your children he is still your husband.

    Because your response to by saying but what if he's an adult satan worshiper? was 'what do the Vows mean? 'What does for better or worst mean. Ughhh

    I have yet to hear your say goodness gracious women if your husband does X Y Z leave his Ass! But I have heard you make endless excuses why you shouldn't why you should and in fact must stay married to a monster because there is no such thing ' Christian Divorce'

  122. But what is the point of knowing that Jesus is God (as true and good as that is, and praise God you believe it) if you don't think that he came to reveal the Truth of God to us? He said, and I quote, "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth."

    Do you believe he said that and came for that reason, then left us with no revelation as to what the Truth actually is? And what obligation do you, personally, have to seek and find that truth? And if interpretations vary rapidly, then how did Christ make sure we would find the Truth when people decided to start personally interpreting the Bible?

    Yes, you are right about that: Protestantism was founded on divorce and negation and division, 1,500 years after Christ founded His Church.

  123. As for your next comment... I.GIVE.UP. You simply won't read what I wrote. It doesn't matter how many times I say the same things, and make the same careful distinctions.

    This is why we have a world of people who can't figure out that Bruce Jenner is not actually a woman.

    Yes, I'm frustrated. Hopefully, the lurkers have understood my points. I've tried.

  124. "Because you said earlier in this very conversation that even if your husband BEATS you or worships Satan or molests your children he is still your husband."

    For the millionth time (plus one), I never said to stay with him. I said to leave if there is danger.

    Is anyone besides CS unclear on this? If so, I will continue to clarify. If not, I am satisfied that I personally have done all I can.

  125. Here is the Catechism, widely accessible online, on civil divorce (which was not negate the sacrament of Matrimony):

    2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.177

    If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

    (The safety of the spouse and children are legit reasons to access civil legal avenues, including separation and civil divorce of the spouses -- so that they can get out of danger.)

    1. *which does not negate the sacrament of matrimony

  126. Leila,

    as I said, I think there is a lot of wisdom in the bible. But it also encourages owning slaves and says that if a man rapes a woman she must marry him, so one has to know how to evaluate it haha

    We have preachers to help guide us but even they differ in terms of what they think God wants; there are preachers who claim Christians can't be republicans, preachers who claim Christians can't be democrats; not so long ago I went to a Luthern service and he Pastor introduced us to his Gay lover afterwards.

    We have an an obligation to seek the truth, by talking to God, I agree with that, some of what he wants us to do is self evident and some of it requires us deliberately asking!

  127. So what you are saying is that Christianity is not a revealed religion, but that God "reveals" his truth to each of us when we ask him? How do you account for Mother Teresa having such different views than you, then? Or how would you account for me and, say, Billy Graham or a Muslim Imam having such different point of theology and how to get to Heaven?

    And are you saying that we really can't know if God approves of gay sex or not? That it's sort of up to us to figure out?

    Sure, there is "a lot of wisdom" in the Bible, and there is a lot of wisdom in many millions of other books and holy writings out there. But why is the Bible different than those?

    And, how does one "know how to evaluate" the Bible? (Serious question)

    In other words, how do we interpret the Bible? On what authority or by what objective measuring stick?

    1. I don't mean to throw so many question on you, but these are very basic, very serious questions that touch on Truth itself. Since humans are Truth seekers by nature (God made us so), then it is so important to know these answers. We can't find truth just be "feeling" it ourselves. Then, that gives us no objective truth at all, simply our own subjective wishes/desires/justifications/constructs. That's not truth.

  128. Let me try it this way:

    Let's say two Christian ministers (priests/whatever) hold diametrically opposing views on homosexual acts.

    The first one holds the same view and teaching that has been held by Christians since Christ, namely, that homosexual acts are gravely, mortally sinful. Terrible, horrible offense against God and man.

    The second one introduces you to his gay lover, with joy, and doesn't believe that homosexual acts are inherently sinful.

    How do we know who is right?

    Remember, this touches on salvation itself. Souls are at stake. Are you saying that God left us in confusion on issues of serious importance?

    How do we know who is right? (And please don't say that "our feelings" tell us who is right, because we are led to diametrically opposed conclusions, so that cannot be it.)

  129. Im agreeing/disagreeing with you similtanously. I only mean discerning the process of what God wants you to do is more than talking to holy people; because even these holy people anointed by God disagree. They disagreed about slavery they disagree about just about everything, just like medical studies you can find a clergy to agree with you if that is what your looking for ;).

    Because of that you have to do your best to discern what is wrong and right. I'm not saying that you should make it up because I understand that that gets very dicey, but there is personal discernment in faith as in all things.

  130. Right, but I'm talking about the moral law. Big issues. Not little ones. And, it was Christianity that condemned chattel slavery, by the way. It's in the non-Christian countries where slavery is still practiced HEAVILY.

    Christianity never said that chattel slavery was a moral good. That is something that the opponents of Christianity like to say.

    Are you saying that the moral law is murky?

    I just don't get how we can "discern" the moral law as Christians, since Christianity has laid out right and wrong for 2,000 years. I'm not trying to be difficult, but how did the pastor with the homosexual lover come up with a new twist on the moral law? How can he be right, when his Faith tradition has always said the opposite?

  131. I guess I'm saying, yes, holy people (in this fractured age of thousands of Protestant denominations) have always disagreed. That's the question: How do we know who is right?

    Did Christ leave us with this utter confusion? Or did he leave us with something more clear? It all comes down to who has the authority, right? To whom did Christ leave his authority?

  132. Another way to consider the question:

    There is not a Christian saint in history, for 20 centuries, who has smiled upon homosexual sex. Not one. Not a single one. And even today, with the advent of the sexual revolution (a secular movement, by the way), the vast, vast majority of all Christians in the world think that such acts are sinful.

    When a Christian pastor comes out in the 21st century and embraces the sexual revolution by introducing his gay lover, can he really be the one who has the truth that God has (apparently) hidden all along?

    Or, can we discern that perhaps it is he who is going against the moral law?

    How do we discern, exactly? What tools do we use in order to find out what Christ and Christianity (again, a revealed religion) teaches?

  133. Leila,

    My takeaway from the Luthern minister and his boyfriend wasn't that it was right because he was doing it, I have a suspicion that he happened to believe it was right because he wanted to do it and not vice versa. But the Church has said that slavery is right, just because a teaching is old also doesn't mean anything. It is also considered unclean for a woman to have sex on her period for godness sake.

    I do wonder though, what God would want us to do when meeting a gay Minister. I imagine he'd want us first and foremost to look at our own sins our own horrible terrible sins against God and men. To look at that minister as a cause to look at ourselves.

  134. "How do we know who is right? "

    That's the whole point we have to seek what is right. There clearly isn't one place we can go for it.

  135. Leila, this post led me to the most wonderful little essay that I think you will absolutely love, if you don't already have it. "Marriage" The Mystery of Faithful Love, by Dietrich von Hildebrand

    CS, what does the word authority mean, both personally and as a society? We know there are experts in just about everything and when we need a specific expertise, we are very good at finding someone who on the whole is reliable. And then, if we are wise, we go to that source when a specific question or difficulty arises. We put our faith in their knowledge and skill.

    Why then, do we balk at it when it involves spiritual expertise? Probably because we haven't truly realized the need. Or maybe we're just not ready because we love the state that we are in more than the state which we know that we truly belong.

    And thankfully, our spiritual authority is revealed and instituted by Christ himself, through the Catholic Church. However, like a perfect recipe, it does involve proper execution. So, you know, we're human and all.

  136. CS, the Catholic Church has never taught that slavery was just or moral. Quite the opposite -- She was one of the first organizations to CONDEMN chattel slavery as a moral evil. Did all of her adherents listen? No, but that's simply the nature of free will. See here:

  137. "That's the whole point we have to seek what is right. There clearly isn't one place we can go for it."

    So we can't go to the Church Christ founded to teach in His name?

    I guess my question (still unanswered) is this: Do you believe that Christianity is a revealed religion? (Revelation from God)

    I suspect your answer is "no", you don't believe it is. Please clarify if you could.

    Michelle, is it an article or a book? I would love it, I am sure!

  138. Leila, it's a little book I purchased from Amazon and yes, I am pretty sure you will. Very timely.

  139. Leila,

    I'm slightly confused what you are asking?

    I'm not Catholic, and thus we don't have one authority. We have the bible and Preachers and to help us decipher it. However what the bible says and even how seriously you are to take each and every part differs depending on which preacher you ask. So just as medicine is revealed to us but you must find a trusted Doctors and yes you must 'discern' which Doctor to listen to based on what you gather about them.

  140. Hi Michelle,

    I'm agreeing with you. In Each and every profession there are quacks (including Christian Clergy) so you must discern who to listen to. That is merely all I am saying

  141. Honestly, I don't know how anyone feels secure outside of the Catholic Church. I mean with all of the emotional deprivation that so many of us adult children of divorce are suffering, to have so many different ideas about what the truth is about marriage or anything else is just too much.

    I have long and often "felt" dysfunctional, but because of the Church's steady and reliable interpretations, I have been able to "live" functionally in spite of my feelings. Its coming together more and more.

  142. CS, I think that even Protestants would say that Christianity is a revealed religion. I also know that each believer is expected to interpret the Bible him or herself. I guess I'm wondering if you think that is an effective way to know the Truth, or how you reconcile the fact that a religion could be revealed by God and discerned subjectively, with no actual authority to know if the individual is correct.

    Michelle, exactly. The Church was founded by Christ, with authority, so that (as Jesus said) "we would not be left orphans".

    We are not all expected to reinvent the wheel with every new human born. I cannot even imagine God doing that to us. As I wrote on another post, about my joy at not having to stumble through with no direction or clarity:

    Think about it: What kind of God would not leave a source of clarity and truth for all to see? How cruel that would be: We would be relegated to a lifetime of groping in the dark, never knowing what is true and what's a lie, never understanding our place, never really knowing our Creator. The result would be existential angst and moral/social chaos. A loving God would not leave us there.

    And indeed he does not!!

  143. "In Each and every profession there are quacks (including Christian Clergy) so you must discern who to listen to."

    But, discern based on what?

  144. "We have the bible and Preachers and to help us decipher it. However what the bible says and even how seriously you are to take each and every part differs depending on which preacher you ask."

    But how do you know which preachers have authority? How do you discern?

  145. Leila,

    I'm not sure what your getting at. Whether your alluding to a Protestant authority or merely saying that protestants have no authority and so that I should be a Catholic.

    You discern based on the way you discern anything, by listening to the information being presented and determining whether or not it makes sense, you listen to the counsel of wise people. If you seek goodness you will find it

  146. What I'm asking is: What is your measuring stick (i.e., something objective, outside of yourself) that you use to discern what is true? Because if you just use "yourself", then you will discern whatever "feels right" to you, and then you are the arbiter of truth. It's all subjective.

    What is your measuring stick for knowing if you have found truth? What did God leave us to make sure that we know? Or do you think he didn't leave us anything but our own feelings on the matter of truth?

    I hope I'm making sense. Forgive me if not.

  147. Did God give us revelation so that we can know His Truth? If so, where is it? Is it clear or muddy? Did he want us to know it, or did he want us to start from scratch with each individual who has to dig it out from somewhere, and reinvent the wheel? Where is His truth? Where was it in the First Century, the Fifth, the Fifteenth, the Twentieth, and today?

  148. You discern based on the way you discern anything, by listening to the information being presented and determining whether or not it makes sense, you listen to the counsel of wise people. If you seek goodness you will find it you consider Leila to be a wise person? Has anything of what she, I, JoAnna, Nubby, Sharon, etc. etc. have said over these past 5 years make sense?

  149. CS, I was thinking, what if you have more than one wise person who at the same time, say something different? At the same time, I have known protestants (one of my dearest friends) who are on fire with the love of God and I don't doubt that God guides them and especially on account of the inconsistencies. But wouldn't it be nice if you had a source beyond the human face with which you could search to find the original and true meaning of things? Well, that's what you have with the CC. Yes, you have to go against the crowd very often, but that is how you know that your probably doing the right thing anyway.

    "I'm not sure what your getting at. Whether your alluding to a Protestant authority or merely saying that protestants have no authority and so that I should be a Catholic."

    I am! Yes, would you ever consider it? If not, why? What have we done to make you adamant, or what can we do differently?

  150. "What I'm asking is: What is your measuring stick (i.e., something objective, outside of yourself) that you use to discern what is true?"

    I don't mean to dodge the question Leila, but I'm not discerning 'truth' on a daily basis. I'm an adult, for the most part my values have been formed, they came mostly from my parents, whose received theirs from general Judeo-Christian morality. The things I'm trying to solve on a daily basis are mostly just problems where advice is useful (rarely am i deciding whether or not to murder someone ;). I get that advice from the people whose judgement I trust. Most decisions we make day to day aren't particularly moral/immoral

  151. "Where is His truth? Where was it in the First Century, the Fifth, the Fifteenth, the Twentieth, and today?"

    Its in the Bible


    Much of what you and Leila, and others have said have made sense. And there is certainly some wisdom in much of it, I'm not refusing that :)

  152. Michelle,

    It wouldn't help me to have one source if that one source isn't right all the time lol. I can see the Catholic Faith is inspiring to many; and I earnestly appreciate your to teach me more about it, I know that you offer it from a place of love. But I don't believe in the tenants of Catholicism and thus I wouldn't make a great convert.

  153. I'm confused, CS. If you believe truth is in the Bible, why do you seem to ignore so much of the truth that the Bible teaches? For example, the Bible teaches against same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, etc. And the Bible also says that Jesus established a Church, and that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth (not the Bible).

  154. CS, I respect your response. Thanks for your honesty. I am curious though, as to what it is that draws you here? I'm new, but according to the comments, you aren't.

  155. CS, thank you for the responses. You know I keep asking questions, so...

    The Bible was not canonized (i.e., there was no New Testament written, assembled, and declared by the Church) until about three hundred years after Christ. In the First Century, there was nothing that could have been called the New Testament. So, where was Truth to be found? Where did Christ leave it?

  156. JoAnna,

    I believe in the Bible as Guidance. I'm not at all a Bible Scholar but i don't believe abortion or contraception are forbidden in the bible? I have never encountered a clergy who was against contraception and on frankly very few were against abortion (if they happened to comment on either

  157. Michelle,

    that's an excellent question. I'm not longer even in college that is simply the moniker I choose at the time.

    I don't even know where I found this blog, but years ago I did :). Leila was posting about the Hookup Culture and I had mixed feelings about it and posted a few comments and found myself roped up in conversation. I've always been interested in the perspective of the women on this board because it greatly differs from my own and what I'm generally exposed to, and so I've continued to follow/comment

  158. "The Bible was not canonized (i.e., there was no New Testament written, assembled, and declared by the Church) until about three hundred years after Christ. In the First Century, there was nothing that could have been called the New Testament. So, where was Truth to be found? Where did Christ leave it?"

    You post a very interesting question Leila, one that I don't have an answer to and have never thought much about. I suppose he didn't

  159. Well, therein lies the problem, CS. Some clergy say that the Bible condones abortion. Some clergy say that the Bible does not condone abortion. How do we know who is right? They can't both be right, can they?

  160. CS, yet the Christian religion was growing and thriving and filled with the Holy Spirit (and being persecuted by the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin and being martyred) during those centuries before Pope Innocent I (I think it was?) canonized the New Testament. And I misspoke, as it was closer to 400 years after Christ when the NT was finally declared by the Catholic Church (the only Church).

    It's a question to ponder, how the Truth was known to the first four centuries of Christians. When you start going into history, things start to really break open and it's simply stunning. Let me know what you find as you search for the answer.


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