Must I Remain Single the Rest of My Life?

Q. At one time I was Muslim and my spouse was also, when I accepted Jesus Christ, my spouse moved out and moved in with another woman, who he has remained with ever since, that was seven years ago. I divorced him two years after he left and moved in with another woman. Must I remain single for the rest of my life.

A. When two non-Christians marry but later one spouse becomes a Christian and the non Christian leaves the marriage then the Pauline Privilege may be applied. The Information below was copied from Catholic Culture . It is a portion of a larger post regarding marriage.

The Pauline Privilege

Some have called the Pauline Privilege a “Catholic divorce.” It is not. A Pauline Privilege is the dissolution of a purely natural (not sacramental) marriage which had been contracted between two non-Christians, one of whom has since become a Christian. The Pauline Privilege is so-named because it is based upon the apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians. As you read further, you will see that the Pauline Privilege is no simple formula, and is certainly not a divorce. Neither Christ nor the Church accepts divorce, and as we have seen, marriage is truly sacred. Some marriages however, were not sacred from their beginning. In these marriages, neither party was a Christian or a Catholic. When at a later time, one partner converts and is baptized, questions about the marriage may arise. The Pauline Privilege differs from an annulment because it dissolves a real but natural marriage. An annulment is a declaration that there never was a valid marriage to begin with.

“A marriage entered into by two non-baptized persons is dissolved by means of the Pauline Privilege in favor of the faith of the party who has received baptism by the very fact that a new marriage is contracted by the same party, provided that the non-baptized party departs.”8

The Pauline Privilege is based upon St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians,

“To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him…But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case, the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace.”9

Valid Christian marriage performed without impediment as noted above cannot be dissolved or annulled. “The marriage bond has been established by God Himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved.”10

God does however, dissolve the marital relationship in certain circumstances. The simplest example would be the death of a spouse.

Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning her husband. … But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.11

We can see then, that the marriage relationship can be dissolved under certain circumstances and that God recognizes this dissolution. In the case of dissolution by the death of a spouse, He recognizes the right of the living spouse to remarry.

The Pauline Privilege does not apply to the death of a spouse, but recognizes that certain marriages, while valid, were not sacramental (not “Christian”). A marriage between two unbaptized persons is not a sacramental marriage. St. Paul’s inspired words in I Corinthians tell us that when one of the married persons has been baptized into the Catholic faith and the other remains an unbeliever, unwilling to live in peace with the believer, then the believer is not bound by the marriage. While Paul does not say specifically that the marriage is dissolved, the Church takes it to mean so, or the believer would not be free to remarry and the words would not contain the full truth. We know that St. Paul was divinely inspired to write those words, and therefore they do contain the full truth. The Church has then determined exactly how and under what conditions the “Pauline Privilege” may be exercised. According to the Church’s interpretation, the dissolution of a marriage that was contracted before the conversion and baptism of one of the parties does not take place upon mere separation of the parties, but only when a new marriage was entered into by the believer invoking this privilege.

Then only may the yoke of the matrimonial bond with an infidel be understood to be loosed when the convert spouse…proceeds to another marriage with a believer.12

If the non-believing party agrees to live with the believer in peace, then they should remain married. However, if the non-believing party does not agree to live in peace, then the believing party can be released from the bond of the non-sacramental marriage and is free to remarry. Even if the non-believing spouse agrees, but then acts contrary to this by abusing the Christian religion, tempting the Christian to infidelity, prevents the children from being raised in Christian faith, or becomes votia temptation for the Christian to commit mortal sin, then the latter retains the right to proceed to a new marriage. 13

Because of the serious and threatening conditions of a believer living with a non-believer, the Church determines in most circumstances to interpret the meaning of living in peace as whether the non-Christian is willing to accept the faith. In the case that the non-Christian refuses, then permission may be granted to the believing party to enter into a new marriage and thereby dissolve the previous one. This is what is meant when the Pauline Privilege is used in favor of the faith. The Church has then, the right to – in favor of the faith – dissolve a marriage that was contracted in infidelity (unbelief). Since according to I Cor. 7:12-15, these marriages are not absolutely indissoluble according to Divine right as stated by St. Paul, it then follows that the power to make this decision resides with the Church. This power was granted to the successor of St. Peter:

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.14

The Pope has determined that the local bishops exercise this authority. The diocesan Tribunal reviews each case for final determination.

Why Can’t the Wronged Spouse Remarry?

Q. What about the wronged spouse ? If one commits adultery? Then what?

What about people who’s spouse divorces them, and it is beyond their control? If my spouse commits adultery and then divorces me, where I have no choice, then am I condemned to a chaste unmarried life forever?

A. This is exactly why Jesus’ disciples said,

“If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” Mt. 19:10

But, you could seek a declaration of annulment. If that was granted then you could then marry. Many marriages performed in our culture are invalid because we are all influenced by our culture and go into marriage with out the necessary commitments for a valid sacramental marriage. If a declaration of annulment was not granted then a faithful Catholic would obediently live a celibate life until perhaps the unfaithful mate died. Then you would be free to marry. The Catholic Christian life does not include a promise of a happy marriage. Marriage is a sacrament to enable us to live our vocation and accept in all docility suffering as a purifying fire in our lives. Living “a chaste unmarried life forever” is preparation for our unmarried state in Heaven. It is a sacrifice for sure but it is not a condemnation. It is an opportunity to live for God and not for self which we are all called to do. Most of us go through life thinking we are living for God until we bump into something like this where we actually have to make a concrete choice to live for God and take up our cross and follow Christ (Who never married) or turn from Him and seek our own pleasure and happiness.

Matt 19:3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who married a divorced woman, commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.11 But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

Q. Divorce in these passages are a verb in which one of the spouses carry out the divorce. It prohibits one person from divorcing another. It seems clear that the passages condemn the one who initiates the divorce, not the innocent spouse that never wanted a divorce in the first place

A. Where? Humanly speaking it does seem unfair for the wronged spouse not to mention the chaos caused in the lives of children of divorce and remarriage. But there is nothing in the passage that limits remarriage to the spouse who initiates the divorce or commits adultery. The Christian life is a life of obedience and self-giving. This is opposed to our culture that tells us if it feels good do it. The sin of Adam and Eve was precisely in deciding that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil gave them the right to decide for themselves what was Good and what was Evil. They could ignore God.

Our culture is the ripened fruit of their choice.

Did Jesus Say Adultery Is Grounds for Divorce?

This morning I was walking with one of my best and oldest friends, which we do about three or four times a week. Our conversation wandered onto the topic of divorce. Since she is Protestant she mentioned that a friend of ours would be free to divorce and remarry because her husband would undoubtedly commit adultery soon if he hadn’t already. Our friend is separated. She quoted the verse, Matthew 19:9 “And I say to you: Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery”.

I said that the Catholic view was that adultery was not grounds for divorce because a person could just deprive their spouse of sex until they committed adultery and then think they could get a divorce and remarry. My friend said well there are differences of interpretation… and our conversation moved on. I knew there was a better way to explain it but could not remember it off the top of my head. So, looked it up and decided to post it. This was written by Jimmy Akin an apologist for Catholic Answers. I may edit it a little but you can see the whole article —>Catholic Answers

Did Jesus Say Adultery Is Grounds for Divorce?

By Jimmy Akin

In the first-century Mediterranean world, divorce and remarriage were common—except among the Jews. Jesus in particular used strong language in condemning the practice. In Matthew 5:31–32, he says,

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Similarly, in Matthew 19:9, he says,

“And I say to you: Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery” (emphases added).

Many Protestants seize on these so-called “exceptive clauses” as legitimizing divorce in cases where one of the spouses has committed adultery or engaged in some sort of sexual sin.

There are a number of problems with this. First among them is that the exceptive clauses do not appear in the parallel passages in Mark and Luke. In Mark 10:11–12, Jesus says only,

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Likewise, Luke 16:18 says,

“Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

This is striking. How could Mark and Luke, writing for the Greco-Roman world, omit the one, glaring exception that allows remarriage after divorce? Adultery and sexual sins were rampant in the Roman culture. Mark and Luke would have realized that their audiences needed to know about the exception even more than the Jewish audience for which Matthew wrote.

The exceptive clauses also do not appear in Paul’s discussion of divorce and remarriage. In Romans 7:2–3, he writes that

“a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.”

And in 1 Corinthians 7:10–11, 39, he writes,

“To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife. . . . A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

Paul was dealing also with a Greco-Roman audience, and he also does not make an exception for unfaithfulness or sexual sin. (The only exception he does make is for the dissolution of a non-sacramental marriage when one spouse has converted to Christianity [1 Cor. 7:12, 15]—what we know today as the Pauline privilege—but that is a different matter.)

Because the exceptive clauses occur only in Matthew’s Gospel—one written for a Jewish audience—it suggests that they reflect some issue of particular concern to Jews. What might this be?

One possibility is that the exceptive clauses are there as an illustration of the precision demanded in rabbinic logic. In other words, the clauses indicate that if one divorces an adulterous wife, one isn’t making her into an adulteress because she already is one. That doesn’t mean that he’s free to remarry; it just means that he isn’t forcing her into an adulterous situation if you divorce her.

Another possibility is that the Greek term used for “unchastity”— porneia—is being used in a special sense. For example, some have taken it to refer to unchaste behavior before the marriage is consummated. At that point, it is possible to dissolve the marriage, for marriages become indissoluble only when they are consummated.

Today, with the tradition of the wedding night, it is highly unlikely a spouse could be unfaithful between the marriage ceremony and the consummation. However, in Jesus’ time it was customary for a couple to be legally married for about a year before the consummation. The bride continued to live with her family while the husband prepared their home. At the end of this time there was the “fetching of the bride” ceremony, where the groom took her back to his own home with family and friends accompanying them. Then, during the wedding party, the couple would retire and consummate their union. Clearly, within this long time frame unchastity was possible on the part of one of the spouses.

Others have interpreted the Greek term used for “unchastity”— porneia—as a reference to incest, the idea being that divorce and remarriage is permissible in the case of incestuous marriages, since the marriage was never valid to begin with. If this is correct, then we have the principle that underlies modern annulments: Those who are not validly married are free to contract it.

Advocates of this interpretation point out that porneia is not the usual Greek term for adultery. Indeed, in the passages cited above, Jesus uses the term for adultery (moicheia) and does not identify it with porneia. These advocates point out also that many peoples in the eastern-Mediterranean region had marriage practices that allowed unions forbidden by Leviticus 18. This caused problems when individuals wanted to convert to Judaism and Christianity. Did they have to leave their spouses? Matthew, writing in an eastern-Mediterranean context, would have had reason to insert a clarification to prevent such converts from using the unqualified statement as justification for staying with their current spouses.

The idea that porneia is being used in this narrow way is suggested by two other biblical passages.

In Acts 15:29, it is proposed that, to avoid offending Jewish believers, Gentile converts abstain from eating idol meat, blood, strangled animals, and from porneia.

Acts 15:29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

These objections are often regarded as being based directly on Leviticus 17–18, where the same things are prohibited in the same order.

Food sacrificed to idols:

Lev. 17:7 They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations…..

Blood, from the meat of strangled animals (strangled animals retain the blood in the meat)

10‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.

Sexual immorality –>Pornea ( not the Greek  word for adultery)

Lev. 18: 6 None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD.7You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.8‘ You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.9 The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover.10‘The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours.11‘The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness.12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s blood relative.13‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s blood relative.14‘ You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.15You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is lewdness.18‘You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.

The second passage is 1 Corinthians 5:1, where Paul applies the word porneia to the case of a man who has married his stepmother—a case forbidden by Leviticus 18:8. These considerations make it reasonable to assume that porneia is being used in the exceptive clauses to refer to incestuous unions.

Whichever above arguments you find convincing, it is clearly false that Jesus meant to allow divorce and remarriage when one party has committed adultery. Matthew 19:9 has often been read against the context of the Hillel-Shammai debate and interpreted to mean that Jesus was simply siding with Shammai in permitting divorce only for adultery. But this does not square with two key points in the text.

First, 19:3 specifically says that the Pharisees were trying to test Jesus, and it uses a Greek word—peirazo—that the synoptic Gospels use to indicate an act of malice. Even John P. Meier, a biblical liberal, notes, “If the Pharisees are simply asking Jesus if he favors the opinion of Hillel or Shammi, how does this constitute a malicious attempt to force him into a dilemma whereby one choice or either choice would involve a damaging statement? After all, both rabbinic opinions were perfectly respectable” (The Vision of Matthew, 252).

Second, Jesus’ answer is so amazing that in 19:10 the disciples declare that it would be better not to marry if what Jesus has said is true. Meier again: “This is not a reaction to the well-known position of Shammai, which would hardly lead a Jew or anyone else to such a conclusion. Matthew has the disciples react all too humanly to Jesus’ total prohibition of divorce” (ibid., 253).

Finally, “if Matthew were espousing adultery as grounds for divorce, he would soon run up against grave practical difficulties. In this hypothesis, Matthew would allow divorce and remarriage for a husband and wife who had committed adultery. But a husband and wife who remained faithful to each other would not be allowed to divorce; indeed their attempt at divorce would be considered adultery. Obviously, the only thing to do for a faithful Christian couple who wanted a divorce would be to commit adultery, after which a dissolution of the marriage would be allowed. What we wind up with is divorce on demand, with a technical proviso of committing adultery. This all constitutes a strange church discipline, one in which adultery seems encouraged and fidelity discouraged” (ibid.).

The situation Meier describes is actually found in many Protestant churches. Any experienced Evangelical counselor can attest that many Evangelicals who find themselves in difficult marital situations do commit such sins specifically for purposes of being able to divorce and remarry. They may say to themselves, “Jesus will forgive me afterwards” or “I have already been forgiven for all my sins—future ones included.” Through this loophole Evangelicalism has absorbed the secular world’s divorce and remarriage ethic, just as it has absorbed the secular world’s contraceptive mentality.

Fortunately, in recent years all the interpretive options mentioned above have found advocates in conservative Protestant circles. Time will tell whether this new recognition of the seriousness of Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage will bear significant fruit.