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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Curious AND Confused

by Catherine Frakas 16 May 2001

Curious AND Confused QUESTION from Confused August 20, 2001 I've notice A LOT of questions on this forum regarding annulments and remarriage, etc. I have a question - WHERE in the Bible does it refer to having marriages annulled??? I believe this is a MAN-MADE rule of the Church. I know the Bible speaks against divorce, but by having a marriage annulled in the Church does NOT change the fact that one is and has been divorced! I feel this is unnecessary pressure put on the Church.
I've noticed there are many man-made rules in the Church, and I really don't understand why. I feel that life has enough stress and requirements in general. Our service, praise and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ should be a time of CELEBRATION!
God is a forgiving God, and we are humans who make mistakes and bad choices. But because of the Greatest and Ultimate Sacrifice, we need only ask Him for forgiveness for our shortcomings.
Why does the Church insist on so many rules and requirements? Our personal relationship with Christ dictates our eternal future - not the rules of the Church. Can you enlighten me? I don't mean to come across as disrespectful; this is all new to me, and I've found hindrances instead of uplifting. Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 27, 2001 [NOTE TO ALL READERS: If you wish to remain anonymous you may, but please make up a real sounding name and do not use handles. I need to be able to say Dear Sally or Dear Charles, not Dear AngelinTrouble or Dear SleepingInSeattle. Thanks.] Dear Sir:
Well first we must begin with the fact that you have asked a totally man-made and unscriptural question. Where is that in the Bible? in the context that the issue MUST be in the Bible to be valid, is a an improper and unscriptural question.
No where in the Bible does it say that all teachings and all authority is in the Bible alone. Nowhere! That doctrine is a man-made doctrine, an invention from the flawed opinions of arrogant men.
The Bible ITSELF says that the not everything is in the Bible. If we are to believe everything the Bible says then why don't we believe John 21:25? Have we ripped that verse out of the Bible?
So first off I frankly don't care if it is in the Bible or not. That is a non sequiteur. I believe in the Word of God and the Word of God is given to us in Oral Tradition and in Written Tradition. In fact, when the Church was deciding which of the letters that were roaming around was actual Scripture and which were not, one of the criteria to accept a letter as Divine Scripture was whether or not is agreed with ORAL TRADITION.
And, if all the Bibles in the world were somehow destroyed, it would matter not for we have the Oral Tradition that is handed down from generation to generation by the Church, protected by the Church and by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 11:2 tells us to hold fast to the Tradition handed down to you... We are not talking about tradition with a small t. This is not customs. We are talking about the infallible deposit of faith, the Word of God, passed down orally. 2 Thess 2:15 says we are to obey Sacred Tradition whether oral or written. And 2 Thess 3:16 says to shun anyone who acted contrary to Tradition.
Now as to your question, all things must be determined valid or invalid. Just because something asserts itself as valid does not make it so. Just because a person is married in the eyes of the civil government, does not make them married in the eyes of God.
Even in civil law there is the concept of annulment. An annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid -- that the person was never really married. This is true whether we are talking about civil marriage or marriage in the Church. If the needed requirements for a valid marriage are missing, then there was no marriage. It does not matter if the couple has been together for 45 years and has 25 kids. If the requirements for a valid marriage are missing, then they were living in sin for those 45 years and not really married.
This has nothing to do with rules. This has to do with TRUTH. Is the marriage valid or not?
As for Rules, God gave the Church the authority to make rules to guide and protect the faithful. The Church made rules in the Bible. You seem to think that everything has to be in the Bible, well the Church making rules IS IN THE BIBLE. Read the book of Acts. The Council of Jeresalem, a RULING BODY, made rules on how a non-jew was to convert. Jesus never made these rules, the church in committee made up the rules.
Generally when a person complains about rules it is because they are immature and have no understanding of how rules actually FREES a person. Discipline is a freedom experience not a limiting one to the spiritually mature.
In the Church there are NO rules that are oppressive. All of the rules are for our own good and for the order of society and Christendom.
I will challenge ANYONE to prove that any rule of the Church is a genuine burden. Any rule perceived as a burden comes from the person's ego, pride, and rebellion and not from the rule itself. Grow up. St. Paul chastised some of the people for they lack of spiritual growth. Today is no different.
As for a worship service, the Catholic Mass is a CELEBRATION. It is called the Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist. It is a TRUE celebration in worship. Protestant services are not much of celebration really and are certainly not full worship. They may be preaching services, entertainment services, pep rallies, but worship, genuine worship of the offering of the WHOLE self to God of mind body, and soul, the senses of touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing, this the usual Protestant service is not.
Our relationship with Jesus does determine our eternal future, but Jesus said, If you love me, obey the rules. (John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (commandments are rules).
Jesus reminded the Apostles of this fact when they weer tempted to disobey the Pharisees. In Matt 23:2 he said to OBEY them when they sit in the Chair of Moses. Today we have the Chair of Peter and we must obey that authority.
The Bible, remember the Bible, is filled with rules and filled with teaching that we are to obey.
Jesus has delegated authority to the Church to make rules. Those rules are for our good welfare. There are NO rules that the Church has that are a burden to those who wish to live the Christ-life.
As the old saying goes, Laws (rules) are for those who would break them, to those who do desire and pursue the right thing, no rule is necessary.
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