On Matrimony – Part 15

If man is meant for love and if the ultimate natural expression of love in ordinary human life is marital love, and if entry into the human community ought to be in the context of this total marital love, if society itself is premised upon marital love, then the health of marriage is the health of society.

Let us hear then the grave words of Pope Leo XIII about how sickness in the health of marriage can ruin society.

Leo XIII reflects on the grave danger to society that results from any threat to the bond of marriage. A lengthy quote, worth considerable attention. Here, he is only lamenting divorce. He is not considering all the diseased ideas being legalized today. From Arcanum:

29. Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life.

Allowance of divorce leads to other evils. The slippery slope. He gives the history of Protestant states as testimony. He points out the United States and Germany in particular. This is chillingly similar to the situation brewing concerning the October Revolution that some are planning to achieve at the October Synod.

30. Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly see these evils to be the more especially dangerous, because, divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier. These are truths that doubtlessly are all clear in themselves, but they will become clearer yet if we call to mind the teachings of experience. So soon as the road to divorce began to be made smooth by law, at once quarrels, jealousies, and judicial separations largely increased; and such shamelessness of life followed that men who had been in favor of these divorces repented of what they had done, and feared that, if they did not carefully seek a remedy by repealing the law, the State itself might come to ruin. The Romans of old are said to have shrunk with horror from the first example of divorce, but ere long all sense of decency was blunted in their soul; the meager restraint of passion died out, and the marriage vow was so often broken that what some writers have affirmed would seem to be true-namely, women used to reckon years not by the change of consuls, but of their husbands. In like manner, at the beginning, Protestants allowed legalized divorces in certain although but few cases, and yet from the affinity of circumstances of like kind, the number of divorces increased to such extent in Germany, America, and elsewhere that all wise thinkers deplored the boundless corruption of morals, and judged the recklessness of the laws to be simply intolerable.

Yet Catholic states were not immune from this problem either.

31. Even in Catholic States the evil existed. For whenever at any time divorce was introduced, the abundance of misery that followed far exceeded all that the framers of the law could have foreseen. In fact, many lent their minds to contrive all kinds of fraud and device, and by accusations of cruelty, violence, and adultery to feign grounds for the dissolution of the matrimonial bond of which they had grown weary; and all this with so great havoc to morals that an amendment of the laws was deemed to be urgently needed.

Leo urges that whoever learns from history would will that divorce not be permitted by the nation. (In truth, such laws have no legal foundation. They are pure fictions. However, the public law of a land has a great influence on the private morals of individuals.)

32. Can anyone, therefore, doubt that laws in favor of divorce would have a result equally baneful and calamitous were they to be passed in these our days? There exists not, indeed, in the projects and enactments of men any power to change the character and tendency with things have received from nature. Those men, therefore, show but little wisdom in the idea they have formed of the well-being of the commonwealth who think that the inherent character of marriage can be perverted with impunity; and who, disregarding the sanctity of religion and of the sacrament, seem to wish to degrade and dishonor marriage more basely than was done even by heathen laws. Indeed, if they do not change their views, not only private families, but all public society, will have unceasing cause to fear lest they should be miserably driven into that general confusion and overthrow of order which is even now the wicked aim of socialists and communists. Thus we see most clearly how foolish and senseless it is to expect any public good from divorce, when, on the contrary, it tends to the certain destruction of society.

Once again, the Gospel of Christ must assist and guide society in the framing of laws for the good of the state itself. Of all the Christian gatherings, the Catholic Church alone bears the torch of this element of the Gospel: The Indissolubility of Marriage.

33. It must consequently be acknowledged that the Church has deserved exceedingly well of all nations by her ever watchful care in guarding the sanctity and the indissolubility of marriage. Again, no small amount of gratitude is owing to her for having, during the last hundred years, openly denounced the wicked laws which have grievously offended on this particular subject; (51) as well as for her having branded with anathema the baneful heresy obtaining among Protestants touching divorce and separation;(52) also, for having in many ways condemned the habitual dissolution of marriage among the Greeks;(53) for having declared invalid all marriages contracted upon the understanding that they may be at some future time dissolved;(54) and, lastly, for having, from the earliest times, repudiated the imperial laws which disastrously favored divorce.(55)