Divorce 201: the graduate course

3 Dec

An RH Bill advocate is also pro-divorce. No surprise there.

While searching for news on the RH Bill, I encountered a name: Beth Angsioco. Apparently, she’s the chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) and very much into “writing about” divorce — which caught my attention.

In an article on her blog, she enumerates the common arguments against divorce. She mentions and ‘disproves’ these arguments and injects her opinion and sees how divorce could “even strengthen and improve the quality of existing families.” (are you kidding me?)

The thing I focus on is, once again, the misrepresentation of the Catholic faith and the infusion of absurd rationality. She mentions the fourth common argument against divorce is that marriage is sacred. How does she refute this objection to divorce? Here are some snippets of what she wrote on the blog:

First, marriage is both a ceremony and a contract voluntarily entered into by both parties.

As a ceremony, marriage celebrates the love and desire of two people to live together. As a contract, marriage carries with it responsibilities of both parties.

Because entering marriage is voluntary, the decision whether to stay together or not should be taken by the individuals involved, not society, other people, or the Church.

As a contract, marriage comes with responsibilities. If one is gravely abused by the other, the contract is violated. In this case, what options does the other party have?

All contracts can be revoked. This should also be true for marriages. Divorce may be the option for the aggrieved party to get out of the marriage contract.

Studies in the United States and other countries indicate that the majority of those who file for divorce are women. The major reasons cited are: unfaithfulness, physical and other forms of abuse, neglect and desertion, alcoholism, and drug abuse. If most of those who violate marriage contracts are men, why punish women for their irresponsibility?

Right off the bat, this is loaded with half-truths and lies. One who might be ‘rational’ could not see the insidiousness of the writing to an individual unprepared for such claims.

First, yes, marriage is a contract… but it is not just a contract — it is a covenant. As Dr. Scott Hahn put it, a contract facilitates the exchange of goods. Mere goods. Commodities. But a covenant involves the exchange of persons. And THAT is one reason why marriage is sacred. If you think of marriage as a mere contract between two parties, then it is easy to see how it is just something you agree to and if something goes wrong, you return what you ‘bought’ or exchanged for it. You didn’t get what you ‘paid’ for so you can return it. It’s just a contract.

Where’s the love in that? sigh. Probably Miss Angsioco isn’t a romantic.

So, are you a commodity or a person?

The last two parts are the insidious portions of her blog post.

Second, if God is a party to the marriage, will God insist that individuals stay in abusive marriages?

The Roman Catholic Church speaks of a loving, just and forgiving God. If this is so, God would not want people to suffer and would save people from oppressive situations. As one woman member of Couples for Christ (who separated from her husband) said, “I don’t believe that God wants me and my children to stay in a marriage that almost killed us.”

Third, there is Church annulment.

The Roman Catholic Church annuls some marriages. Isn’t this an acceptance that some marriages are simply wrong and that marriage is NOT inviolable? However, Church annulment process is said to be long and expensive. Poor Catholics will never be able to afford this.

The well-being and happiness of people count in marriages. An understanding God would choose this. The line, “what God has put together, let no man put asunder” used against divorce is convenient for those who have not experienced marriage.

Again, another reason why a marriage is sacred: God is part of the marriage! Now, if God is part of the marriage, will the husband abuse his wife? The rationalization “God won’t allow me to be in an abusive marriage hence He will understand why I need a divorce” is just an escape from facing the real problem underneath the abuse happening within the marriage. It is the easy way out of problems that don’t get resolved. If a woman cheats on his husband because the husband’s income couldn’t keep up with the woman’s spending and files a divorce, it does not solve the woman’s materialism — it is merely transferred to the next man who can meet her demands. Would that make her happy? Perhaps. But does it solve the real problem: materialism?

A man abuses his wife physically whenever he’s drunk and blames everything on his wife. If they get a divorce, does that solve the man’s drinking problem and the finger-pointing? And yet you made a vow to be together “in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse.” Where did that all go? Maybe we should all re-word our vows to “until I find it convenient.” Where is the exchange of persons? Where is God in that marriage? The only god you invoke in that marriage is the god of convenience.

Do I want an abused mother and child to live with an abusive husband? No. I want them to live separately (if needed) and have someone intercede and counsel them about what is really happening to them.

And finally, equating an annulment with a divorce is stupid. Saying that they are essentially the same is like saying Menudo is essentially the same as Afritada. Which also tells me how much I would distrust you around food. So if you equate annulment with divorce, I better stay away from your legal opinion…

An annulment does not dissolve a marriage. An annulment says that there was no marriage to start with! You didn’t have a contract. You never had a covenant. God wasn’t part of the ceremony. There is no marriage to void! (If you are a smarty pants like me and curious as to what the status of the children would be if a couple with kids get annulled, have a look-see here.)

And, again, the insidiousness appears when she mentions how “an understanding God” would choose divorce. Hello Protestant theology!

I’m not saying all Protestant theology is bad… This one in particular is dangerous but not bad. Dangerous because if one does not know his proper theology, and puts social justice over God and His justice, it’s easy to drift away from what is truly divine and what sanctifies us. What is truly sacred.

So, did Elizabeth Angsioco prove that marriage is NOT sacred. Hardly. She only revealed how much she does not understand what she is really talking about.

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