God's Word: Marriage

Wives should be submissive to their husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of his body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also should wives be subject to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and handed himself over for her, so that he might sanctify her, washing her clean by water and the Word of life, so that he might offer her to himself as a glorious Church, not having any spot or wrinkle or any such thing, so that she would be holy and immaculate. So, too, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man has ever hated his own flesh, but instead he nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ also does to the Church. For we are a part of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. “For this reason, a man shall leave behind his father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife; and the two shall be as one flesh.” This is a great Sacrament. And I am speaking in Christ and in the Church. Yet truly, each and every one of you should love his wife as himself. And a wife should fear her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter toward them. (Colossians 3:18-19)

Similarly also, wives should be subject to their husbands, so that, even if some do not believe the Word, they may benefit without the Word, through the behavior of these wives, as they consider with fear your chaste behavior. For you, there should be no unnecessary adornment of the hair, or surrounding with gold, or the wearing of ornate clothing. Instead, you should be a hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, rich in the sight of God. For in this way, in past times also, holy women adorned themselves, hoping in God, being subject to their own husbands. For so Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You are her daughters, well-behaved and unafraid of any disturbance. Similarly, you husbands should live with them in accord with knowledge, bestowing honor on the female as the weaker vessel and as co-heirs of the life of grace, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7)

“What God has joined together, let no man separate”

And the Pharisees approached him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to separate from his wife, no matter what the cause?” And he said to them in response, “Have you not read that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female?” And he said: “For this reason, a man shall separate from father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife, and these two shall become one flesh. And so, now they are not two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)

And he said to them: “Whoever dismisses his wife, and marries another, commits adultery against her. And if a wife dismisses her husband, and is married to another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. And whoever marries her who has been divorced by her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)

But to those who have been joined in matrimony, it is not I who commands you, but the Lord: a wife is not to separate from her husband. But if she has separated from him, she must remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)


The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."

Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of Matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful, forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new sacramentally valid marriage, and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.

By acting in this way, the Church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to His truth. At the same time she shows motherly concern for these children of hers, especially those who, through no fault of their own, have been abandoned by their legitimate partner.

With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord's command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity.

(John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio.)


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