Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
– Hebrews 12:12-16
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
– Matthew 5:8
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:48
SIFC’s admired friend and comrade, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, paid the fine compliment this week of tagging us on Facebook to her post of an article in Crisis Magazine by Deacon Jim Russell of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Roman Catholic Church. Anyone who has followed this blog for very long knows that we give “equal time” to offending evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, if their allegiance is with the extrabiblical doctrines of the established leadership of either church. They also know that “standerinfamilycourt” is a Protestant (not that the leadership of most of those denominations would “claim” this blogger.) It is always a delight to connect the community of those standing in faith for the God-restored wholeness of the covenant marriages of their youth, and those who have righteously exited an adulterous, civil-only union (entered into with somebody else’s spouse), with the larger faith community of stakeholders in the marriage permanence movement. In fact, SIFC believes this exact role of bringing different groups of stakeholders together around the word of God is the specific one entrusted to this ministry by the Lord, while many others in the movement perform a variety of other very effective and indispensable roles under their own specific anointing.
Here are Dr. Morse’s comments, as she shared this piece:
“My friend Deacon Jim Russell on the Catholic annulment process:
“Some well-meaning Catholics wrongly say the decision NOT to pursue an annulment is “pathological” when in fact it’s heroic and virtuous…. Think about it. If I really believe I meant what I said about marrying for life, for better or worse, until death do us part, even if I’m abandoned by my spouse, it doesn’t automatically mean that I “need” an annulment.”
We wholeheartedly agree. In fact, allowing for SIFC’s (admittedly) limited understanding of Catholic doctrine and practice, but based on God’s explicit word, the only “marriage” where an “annulment” would be automatically needed is for a marriage least likely to take place under the blessing and consecration of the RCC, namely the nuptials where one or both of the parties is divorced from a living, estranged spouse. However, such weddings that Jesus routinely called adulterous do indeed happen increasingly today under the Roman Catholic roof, where the aforesaid piece of man’s paper has been obtained “invalidating” that which God joined, yet He still recognizes, and He still defends as indissoluble holy matrimony,.
Several points in Deacon Russell’s piece seem troubling. He begins with a fairly accurate statement:
Scripture tells us that “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16), and it doesn’t sound like Jesus was too thrilled with how Moses handled it, since “it was not so” in the beginning. But, what about annulments?
Our response: Anyone who could quote Jesus’ definitive words of Matthew 19:8, and then in the very next breath ask, “What about annulments?” has strong myopia in our view, and needs to go back to Matthew 5 to meditate on the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus pointedly and provocatively said,
For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
– Matthew 5:20
Deacon Russell is darn right that Jesus was less than pleased that Moses chose to “manage” the sin of those he was called to lead, rather than having the moral courage that Jesus and John the Baptist had to seek to eradicate it. The full quote from Christ’s lips in Matthew 19:8:
He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
In other words, it was Moses, not Jesus, making the concessions to human weakness. Was the Sermon on the Mount that launched and defined Jesus’ ministry not all about raising the moral bar back to what existed before the bite of the apple? How then does it logically follow that Jesus would go on condoning “concessions to human weakness” ?
Today, would He not be saying to Roman Catholics, “Because of human weakness, Innocent III permitted you to claim your marriage was invalid, but from the beginning it was not so… ” ?
Of course, SIFC would be completely remiss in not mentioning the evangelical Protestant equivalent of this false doctrine of “accommodating human weakness”, the equally spurious notion that hard hearts must be “allowed for”, therefore Jesus “made provision for divorce and remarriage.”
Jesus gets blamed for much in carnal, humanistic Christendom, does He not? Anyone who labors under the delusion that nursing and coddling either “human weakness” or “hard hearts” is consistent in any way with following Christ needs to spend some significant time in the book of Hebrews….(verses 3:8, 3:15, 4:7)
Russell: “First, let’s be clear that divorce and annulment are utterly different. One erroneously says an indissoluble marriage covenant can be ended before death (divorce), and the other truthfully says that sometimes an attempt at marital consent doesn’t really ‘make marriage’ because of some defect…”
Actually, Deacon Russell, there isn’t a fly’s whisker of difference between the two in their immoral effect. Both are fabrications of mere men, whereas Jesus tells us, “from the beginning it was not so!” They both contradict the clear word of God on two counts. Both falsely claim to remove God from His covenant with a one-flesh entity He supernaturally created with His own hand, and both claim that something besides physical death can sever that entity. Nobody vainly “attempts” consent, especially before the altar of the Lord. Nobody should be allowed to retroactively disavow consent if they don’t want to answer some day to the Most High.
You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. – Matthew 5:33-37
When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? – Eccl. 5:4-6
Russell: “If we were not weak and wounded creatures, we simply wouldn’t need the annulment process. But we are, so we do.”
Apparently, the Ten Commandments (such as the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th) do not apply to anyone who believes themselves to be, (or can persuade their bishop that they are) a “weak and wounded creature”, according to Deacon Russell. See Matthew 5:48 above.
Russell: “…but the Church’s annulment process exists to preserve the truth of the indissolubility of marriage. This sacred truth is so important that an explicit process to determine whether marital consent should be declared “null” is absolutely necessary. Why? To maintain the other side of that coin—those occasions when marital consent cannot be declared null.
Is that so? Wouldn’t the better way be to excommunicate the unrepentant adulterer and those who seek to abandon their God-joined spouse and children? That seems to be what Paul was advocating in 1 Cor. 5, not because he had it in for divorced people, but because Jesus made it quite clear that souls were on the line with unrepented immoral relationships. Why is “judging consent” necessary? Did God delegate that authority to men? Not according to Jesus Christ: “therefore what God has joined, let NO MAN put asunder.”
Russell: In saying this, the Holy Father [ referring to John Paul II] is not impugning the process that faithfully renders authentic declarations of nullity—he’s just placing that process in the appropriate pastoral context that is always to favor every attempted marriage that is still capable of being convalidated rather than abandoned, no matter what stage of divorce or the annulment process the man and woman may find themselves…”
Beware any high-falutin’ word that either begins or ends with “CON”. “Convalidation” (CONvolution / CONcession)
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.- Proverbs 10:19
This is still denying both the power and the will of God. SIFC, not being Roman Catholic, had to do a bit of research on this one. This human contrivance seeks to claim that God sometimes uses defective “glue” in joining that one-flesh entity, therefore the human subjects can deign to “re-glue” themselves with a “new act of consent”. But according to this particular article, it doesn’t stop there. Apparently, an adulterously “married” couple can also “CONvalidate” :
“….but more often, it is because one or both of the spouses was not free to marry in the Catholic Church because of a previous marriage or because they were awaiting an annulment.” Guess what? Such a couple can “CONvalidate” until the cows come home. It still won’t CONvert legalized adultery into holy matrimony under any church roof.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!