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« Theotokos | Main | Deafness and the Church »

January 02, 2008


Brian Day

"One of the benefits of marriage is divorce," said Joyce Kauffman, a Boston divorce lawyer who has handled a dozen same-sex divorce cases.

One of the benefits of marriage is divorce - for divorce lawyers! For all others, there is no benefit. While certain couples may need to separate from each other, with divorce there is a huge cost to all parties.

The Masked Chicken

Although the lawyer quoted in the article is theologically wrong and although she compressed her thought into a form that is logically hilarious, nevertheless, the point she meant to make is quite correct at the present time. Let me re-write the sentence to say what the lawyer in the article probably meant to say:

One of the (legal) benefits of (heterosexual) marriage (unlike same-sex unions) (is that) divorce (has a clearly defined historical, procedural and secular judicial basis).

This does raise some interesting points in logic from a Catholic point of view, like, can an impossibility ever be a benefit, since divorce is impossible within a valid marriage. Since divorce can never be realized in a valid marriage, then one may say that a marriage protects against divorce. Thus, properly speaking, one of the benefits of a marriage is not being able to be divorced. The marriage vow is something like penicillin (I know there's a wedding homily in there, somewhere).

That being said, at what point will those who think that marriage is not a sacrament finally realize that these trends in contemporary divorce laws are close to a reductio ad absurdum?

The Chicken

Bill Q

I suppose one could argue that, once someone has put children in a position of having two same-sex "parents," allowing such couples to go through the divorce process can protect the interests of the children and ensure than responsibilities to the children are not abandoned by either "parent."

Of course, a better way to do that would be to deny same-sex couples the privilege of adopting children.


Civil divorce is neither a problem or a sin. It is a method by which two people validly married, (i.e. a man and a woman) who can no longer live together can divide their property and ensure the material support of their children. This, of course does not impact their sacramental marriage.
Should the marriage be deemed invalid by the Church, then a couple in an annulled marriage will still be required to get a civil divorce, because the Church does not concern itself with property division or material support of children.
As for same sex couples, and divorces in states which do not recognize these unlawful marriages, tough stuff. These people are reaping what they sow, it is unfortunate that children who did not ask to be born into these situations are made to suffer. That the states precipitate this suffering by allowing children to be adopted into such situations is inexcusable.
"You have to have a way for people to get out of these things, otherwise you have multiple claims on the same property and no protections for people entering into new marriages. I think states that try to adopt these rules refusing to recognize the marriages just haven't thought it through."
I think they've thought it through just fine. They are saying "We do not recognize your so-called marriage. Do not enter into a psuedo-relationship and expect to garner the traditional protection alloted to married couples by centuries of legal precedents and social tradition. There are no protections for people who are not in legal relationships, at least no protections that don't exist for strangers in the same financial relationship."



"Civil divorce is neither a problem or a sin."

Would you mind helping me reconcile your understanding with the Catechism?

CCC 2385

Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

Divorce can be tolerated in certain cases but it is a big problem and a grave offense against the natural law.

Take care and God bless,


What TerryC is discussing is the use of the divorce courts to establish a legal separation.

Such civil divorces are a grave matter. Then, so is, say, a couple's decision to not have children. There are cases where it is licit.


"In a straight context, alimony is an income stream from one person to another and tax-deductible to the person who is paying it," said David W. Eppley, a divorce lawyer with lesbian clients. "But in a gay divorce, there aren't two parties, there are three, and that third party is Uncle Sam."

But in a sacramental marriage between a man and a woman, there arn't two parties, there are three, and that third party is God.

For years, family court judges leaned toward a maternal preference when it came to custody disputes. But what to do when both parents are women, or neither is?

Well, King Solomon had some ideas about that...

Levity aside, the poor kids are going to (figuratively) get ripped in half no matter what they do. :(



"What TerryC is discussing is the use of the divorce courts to establish a legal separation."

Which in certain cases can be tolerated but I disagree with TerryC that "Civil divorce is neither a problem or a sin."

Especially since the CCC describes it as "immoral" and a "plague on society".

Take care and God bless,

Memphis Aggie

My parents divorced when I was 6 and even though it was reasonably amicable it has had lasting impact on myself and my sister. For me, the respect and reverence of marriage by Catholics was a large part of the attraction of the Catholic Church and was crucial in my conversion. Divorce is very destructive and the denial of it's negative consequences is akin to many other self-serving delusions propagated by the culture of death.

Further didn't Jesus rebuke the Pharisees over divorce saying that the people pressured Moses into allowing it? I think the passage is in Matthew.


>>>"Should the marriage be deemed invalid by the Church, then a couple in an annulled marriage will still be required to get a civil divorce,"<<<

Except that the Church will not even consider granting a decree of nullity until AFTER a civil divorce has been granted. Until the divorce is granted you can't even submit paperwork to the Tribunal.

Ed Peters

I see the irony, of course, but actually, for journalism, it wasn't a bad discussion of the legal issues. Sort of a 'scared straight' ring to it.

All this reminds me of the joke, must have heard it 30 years ago: A bishop says, "No way should we allow priests to marry. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to be get divorced."

Brian Walden

I think there's a difference between civil divorce and divorce divorce. In a perfect world there would be no divorce. In a slightly less perfect yet still pretty close to perfect world, if a married couple could no longer live together they would get a civil divorce to legally protect the best interests of their family. But both parties would still acknowledge the fact that they are still married and live as such as best they can even while still being separated.

I think the problem is that civil divorce too often means the couple acts as if they are no longer married. Which as the Masked Chicken pointed out is logically impossible. You're only no longer married if you're a widow/widower. Otherwise you're either married or you never were married.

This makes me wonder. How does legal separation work? Does it grant the same types of means for dividing property and protecting children as divorce while still acknowledging that the marriage exists? Or is it basically just an intermediate state between marriage and divorce?


Seems to me the point of the story is that there is not enough recognition of same sex marriage, that homosexuals are still being treated as second-class citizens.

That is why national legalization of same-sex marriage is a good thing. These children need protection and security. We must recognize the marriages because otherwise children get hurt.

I thought you people were pro life. Why do you want the children to be hurt? Why do you discriminate against homosexuals? What would Jesus do?

At least that's how the gay-rights types played their cards when trying to deny the real definition of marriage in my state's constitution.

Bill Q

Russ72 writes:
Seems to me the point of the story is that there is not enough recognition of same sex marriage, that homosexuals are still being treated as second-class citizens.

Homosexual relationships are not equal to marriages, so it is quite appropriate that they not be treated as being equal to marriages in the first place.

These children need protection and security. We must recognize the marriages because otherwise children get hurt.

I have yet to hear of a homosexual couple bearing children of its own. The answer, then, is to refuse to allow such couples to adopt, given that their unions are never equal to marriages and never produce environments appropriate for the upbringing of children.

What would Jesus do?

He would tell them to go and sin no more. He wouldn't say that as long as they are living in sin, their lifestyle should be supported by the state in case they want to bring real children into their game of playing house.

Memphis Aggie


Whose children are we speaking? Last I checked it was impossible for a same sex couple to have children. The same sex couple with children is an inherantly artificial construct. The children must be separated from at least one of their parents.

As for the what would Jesus do question, if I take that seriously. Jesus would expect an act of contrition from the homosexual couple for their homosexuality (sin) and then He would forgive them, as long as they were contrite and sinned no more. You can't believe in Christ and shape him to fit your own will at the same time.

Marriage is not a civil right: it's a contract between potential parents.

Memphis Aggie

Bill Q and I cross posted very similar answers

The Masked Chicken

Russ72 can correct me if I am wrong, but I read his remarks as trying to characterize the sorts of arguments some in his state have made, not that he hold them, himself.

The Chicken

Bill Q

Memphis Aggie wrote:
He would forgive them, as long as they were contrite and sinned no more.

I suspect what you meant to say is "as long as they were contrite and were committed to sinning no more" or something to that effect.

The Masked Chicken wrote:
Russ72 can correct me if I am wrong, but I read his remarks as trying to characterize the sorts of arguments some in his state have made, not that he hold them, himself.

I wasn't sure of that, myself. I figured a rebuttal to the arguments was in order either way.


I'm pretty sure that if Jimmy were dropping into a wormhole, his response would be "Cool!!! A wormhole!"


My guess is Jimmy's response would be Yee-Haw!

Take care and God bless,


Catholics love divorce, they keep the tribunals humming and keep destroying families, spouses and specifically children.

Heterosexuality is more perverse than homosexuality, these self-erving divorce lovers can't even get right what comes naturally. How pathetic is that?

Worst of all is the Catholic Church listens to its already corrupted experts and completely disregards those of us destroyed by its pastoral practices and tribunal system who know what things are like on the inside. Our children are always ignored.

It is an awful situation all around and there is not the slightest interest in changing it, year after year.

Tim J.

Karl -

I certainly think that no-fault divorce has been the greatest scourge on the family, bar none, and that there are problems with the tribunal system, but if you could moderate your tone you would find more sympathy and many willing to make common cause with you.

To attack the entire Church in your anger, or to make statements like "heterosexuality is more perverse than homosexuality" helps you not at all.



Even though I am saddened by your angry, illogical rants, I am glad you still read Jimmy's blog. You remain in my prayers.

Take care and God bless,

Donna Marie Lewis

It's perfectly possible for both members of a female same-sex couple to have a physical connection with a child via today's technology.
Step 1: Female 1 has her egg fertilzed by IVF
Step 2: Female 2 has said newly-concieved child implanted in her uterus.
Step 3: Resulting baby has a biological mother (Female 1) and a birth mother (Female 2) .
Such a child would, literally, have 'two mommies', as two functions of motherhood (conception and birth) would be split between the two women.
BTW, there are scientists working on reprogramming ova so that they can merge with other ova, taking the place of sperm. If and when they get results, we could see children who would have a mother...and a 'father' who happens to be female. A 'bonus' would be that all such children would be female, since there would be no possibility of a Y-chromosome becoming involved.
I'm not saying that I approve of any of this - just that the idea can't be put in the category of 'self-contradictory' any more. The problem with 'reductio ad absurdum' is that technology keeps moving the lines. (I remember reading, as a teenager, a respectable science book which claimed that cloning was a phantom issue, since 'no clone of an animal of a higher order than an amphibian will ever be produced.' )

Memphis Aggie

In such an example one female parent provides 50% of the genetic material, the male parent is excluded and the other female acts as a surrogate providing no genetic material and is not blood related. They are not equally yoked to the child and the authentic parent (the father) is excluded. You prove my point that this construct is artificial.

Memphis Aggie

Your other example of purely female regeneration/cloning is also known as parthenogenesis and it exists in plants, cockroaches and some reptiles under extreme conditions. It may be possible to do in humans, but that does not make is desirable, moral or natural. You make my point again - such "unions" are artificial.

Donna Marie Lewis

I would agree, Memphis Aggie. But the response from many, if not most people would be, "Of course it's artificial. Who cares ? So are cars, air conditioning, and the Internet. "

Donna Marie Lewis

I'm basing this on some (apparently ) fruitless conversations I've witnessed where one person proves conclusively that something is unnatural and the response is a shrug....

Donna Marie Lewis

BTW, technically, the second process I described is not the parthenogenesis which happens in certain cases in nature. In those, a single female egg splits without a sperm, and the offspring is a clone of the mother. (In some cases it is stimulated by mock mating behavior between females, but no genetic material is exchanged. )The process being worked on would involve modifying an ova so that would merge with another ova. Thus the offspring would be a genetic mix of the two ova, and would have a equal genetic link to both women, and no genetic link to a male.
Again, I think it's a horrendous thing, but it's probably coming down the pike sooner than you'd think...


If Jimmy were to fall into a wormhole, I hope he would take a picture, showing his boot, of course. That would legitimize it for me.


Wormholes rule.


Wormholes rule.

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