Why don’t Catholics condemn divorce as passionately as gay marriage?

By Karen Quiner

Loyal Quiner Diner reader, Bob, asks a good question:

“Please answer me this: Why don’t Catholics condemn divorce (especially no-fault divorce) the same as same-sex marriage? Jesus never spoke of homosexuality (and even Paul’s stand can be debated). Jesus spoke out several times against divorce – he saw it as adultery.”

This is a very interesting question that I have been meaning to address for awhile.

The Catholic belief is that Marriage is a Sacrament when entered into thru the church. It is a sacred union that is for life and cannot be dissolved unless there are very grave reasons such as abuse, or serial unfaithfulness.

Some marriages are never entered into as a sacrament, and the Catholic Church would not call these valid marriages. To be married in the church, a couple has to go through pre- marriage prep. This lays out what they are doing and the sacramental nature of marriage.

When a Catholic gets an annulment, it is my understanding that the church says it wasn’t a valid sacramental marriage in the first place.  It may be that the couple didn’t enter into it with a full understanding of what they were doing.

Catholic teaching states that the sexual act is sacred. Sex, although pleasurable, is primarily about things other than pleasure. It reflects our relationship with God. Sex in its proper context is a way to give totally of oneself in love. Sex, in its fullest and most joyous form happens when my focus is on giving myself to my spouse, and not in receiving or taking. This reflects God’s love for us and Christ’s love for his Church.

It is also a way that we are able to share in the act of creating life with God, which is a huge and awesome privilege. That is why we believe sex should not be separated from procreation.

I am going to direct you to a thorough article on the Catholic view and teaching on homosexuality. It is very good and said better than I can say it. I would urge you to read it: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality

Now, in answer to your original question: if divorce is sinful (and it very often is), why do we spend so much time focusing on gay marriage and not on divorce?

I think there are several reasons.

Catholics, like all people on the face of the earth, are weak and fallen people, and do sin. When that happens, we don’t want to condemn or cut them out of the church, but to love them and try to restore them in forgiveness back into the arms of the community.

We would have the same attitude towards someone involved in a homosexual union, or any sin for that matter. We are called to love the sinner (all of us fit in this category) but to hate the sin.

The very fabric of this country is in danger of being changed right now because of gay marriage. Marriage has not only sacred and religious ramifications, but there are practical and important secular reasons to protect traditional marriage.

Marriage, in its traditional form, has been about protecting the woman and child. Men are not wired for commitment like women are, and biologically, they want to have sex with lots of women. Marriage, in its legal form, attempts to protect the family.

Common sense, will tell anyone who is honest that children are best raised in a family with one man and one woman who are married to each other. Statistical data confirms this.

They need the security of knowing that the parents will both be there for them.

There are unique lessons to be learned from a father (man) and a mother (a woman). How is it even possible to argue that there won’t be some serious gender confusion with children raised in a gay marriage?

This is not to say that there aren’t some really wonderful gay parents. I was touched by the Des Moines Register article a few weeks ago about the gay man who is raising several children who had tremendous challenges. That guy gets the Christian concept of selfless, God-like love.

Gay marriage is being talked about more than divorce right now, because once it becomes law of the land, I fear there will be no turning back.

There are religious and sacred ramifications, but also serious practical and secular ramifications that could change the fabric of society, just as no-fault divorce did. Unfortunately, no-fault divorce is now the law of the land and there is probably no turning back.

If the family disintegrates, this country falls.

Sin is sin.

All of it hurts us as individuals but because we are all connected in mysterious and  practical ways, it hurts us all. Divorce is often a sin, but gay marriage is the issue of the day because laws protecting traditional marriage are being threatened.

Do I hate gay people or divorced people if I speak out against gay marriage or divorce? Of course not. That is a charge that is made by people who don’t have anything rational to add to the discussion.  I am a sinner just like everyone else and am grateful for a loving and forgiving God.


  1. larryzb on August 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    So, men are to fault for divorce? Or, at least most of the time. They are pretty much incapable of monogamy. That is a false assertion and ranks up there with the false (and ignorant) view that women have no sex drive.

    Sadly, the Catholic Church does not do justice to the dignity of married persons (husbands and wives). So, most people simply bypass its pronouncements on marriage. Consider this: If human sexuality within marriage were only for procreation, or even primarily for procreation, we humans would have a mating season like the the lower orders of animals do. Yet, God designed human sexuality the way He did so that the lovemaking between the spouses would be frequent, playful and passionate. The Catholic Church has historically taken a rather dismal view of the married state. Consider the anathema from the Council of Trent.

    It is to be hoped, that one day, the Catholic Church will have a more mature, healthy and rational view of the love betweent husbands and their wives.

  2. Karen Quiner on August 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I didn’t say, nor do I believe that men are primarily at fault for divorce. I am only saying that there are practical reasons for marriage outside of the religious ones, and that is for the protection of the women and children. And I don’t think of women as weaklings that need protecting, but the fact of the matter is that the women are most often left with the children.

    My Catholic church does not take a dismal view of marriage or sex. It teaches that sex is a joy, something to be enjoyed, and that in the sex act, we can participate in the creation of life with God. It also teaches that it is in the sexual union that married couples have the opportunity to totally give of themselves, body and soul in love. Sex in this context is a wonderful and joyous thing.

    • larryzb on August 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm


      Interesting how you say “My Catholic church”…hmmmm. As well, you infer (incorrectly) that I endorse the excesses of the sexual revolution.

      Apparently, you do not know your Church’s history very well. It is fine for the Church to condemn so-called “gay” marriage and to condemn divorce. But, the Church has lost its credibility with many married persons (Catholics) because it does not have a healthy respect for the dignity of married persons. Micro-managing.the marital bedroom and the range of expression of the sexual love between the spouses shows this.

      Does “your” Church defend marriage and the rights of children? Really? If that is so, we say it does so very selectively. It knowlingly and willingly fails to condemn the current assault on marriage and on children in the USA by not condemning the mutilation of baby boys by circumcision. Karen, circumcision abnormailizes the marital act (coitus) for both the wife and for the husband.

      Do we have a mating season? Is sex, within marriage, only for procreation? Can celibate males, who make the rules, have a proper understanding of the “unitive” aspect of married sexual love?

      We conclude that the Church demands more of us than God requires of us.

      Karen, it is your blog and you take the last word. We will not offer further comments. Best, Larry

      • Karen Quiner on August 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        You misunderstand, like so many people do, what the Catholic church actually teaches. A wise man, Bishop Fulton Sheen said one time: “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

        Unfortunately, too many Catholics do not really understand what the Catholic church teaches. I suspect you would find the same thing in most denominations. Too many of us don’t take the study of our faith seriously enough. I am sad to say that I was one of those people until recent years.

        In answer to your questions:
        “Does the Church have a healthy respect for married persons?” Absolutely, the Church holds it in high respect and considers it be be a beautiful vocation.

        “Does the Church defend marriage and the rights of children?”
        Absolutely! I cannot imagine how you would think that they don’t. Have there been instances in which flawed humans have made errors, sometimes horrible errors? Of course. There are sinful and broken human beings in the Catholic Church just like there are in your church.

        ‘Do we have a mating season? Is sex, within marriage, only for procreation?”
        No, nor does the Church ever say so.

        “Can celibate males, who make the rules, have a proper understanding of the “unitive” aspect of married sexual love?”
        Yes, because intercourse is a reflection of the kind of bond that is possible with God. Everything that God has given us is ordered to reflect spiritual realities.

        If you are really interested Larry, I would urge you to take a look at the “Theology of the Body”, which fully explains the place and significance of the marital bond as taught by the Church. It is gorgeous. A shorter version that is easily and quickly readable is called “Heavens Song.” It is a cliff notes version.

        Let me conclude with a personal comment. I have been married for 35 years to the love of my life. We have a healthy and exciting relationship. Our marital life is rich and full. God has always been at the center. We fully embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church. We are equal partners who enjoy mutual respect. We have fun together.

        Thank you for an interesting exchange. We are brother and sister in this family of God.
        God Bless you,

  3. Karen Quiner on August 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    P.S. to Larryzb: The more “mature, healthy, and rational” view of sex has not gotten us anywhere good since the whole sexual revolution. It has been ruined to the point where married women are able to giggle over books like 50 Shades of Gray which features a woman selling herself to a man as his sex slave. It is an ugly and base concept and only perpetuates the idea that it is ok to use people for your own gratification.

  4. onetenthblog on August 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Reblogged this on One Tenth Blog.

  5. Sashwat Amin on August 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

    • quinersdiner on August 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I think it’s on your end. I’m not aware of anyone else having problems. Trying opening it using a different web browser to see if that helps. Thanks!

  6. Tom Anstead on May 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Dear Karen,
    You seem like a good person. Congratulations on your long and happy marriage. You haven’t been through the horror of no-fault divorce, so a few of your points disturb me.
    YES, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. Read “Taken Into Custody” by Dr. Stephen Baskerville, or just ask any man who was FORCED out of his family. It can happen to women also, but the divorce laws greatly favor them.

    “Men are not wired for commitment like women are, and biologically they want to have sex with lots of women.” My response: ???!!!??!!

    “Unfortunately, no fault divorce is now the law of the land and there probably is no turning back.” Yes, and this seems to be the position of the Catholic Church as well. I will say this. Just forty-five years ago, no fault divorce was not the law of the land, and it pretty much just took one evil man, James A. Hayes, to change it. So the entire Catholic community and the millions (once again, I am not exaggerating that number) of people ruined by no fault divorce are powerless against the
    workings of one evil man? I will not, will not WILL NOT BELIEVE THAT!
    And if we do believe it, your statement that if the family is destroyed, the country will fall is true. But no fault divorce already has completely destroyed the family. But it just destroys one family at a time. It already
    has ruined over fifty percent, if we are to believe divorce statistics. If
    we do not try to change the law, it will eventually destroy all families, one at a time, and we’ll be left with something we can’t even imagine.

    Tom Anstead, another statistic

  7. Parody on May 29, 2013 at 7:25 am

    “Common sense, will tell anyone who is honest that children are best raised in a family with one man and one woman who are married to each other. Statistical data confirms this.”

    Common sense tells me that you have very little of it. How much statistical data is there that covers children who were raised in a family with two men, or two women who are married to each other? The best that statistical data can confirm is that a single parent has much more trouble raising children on his/her own.

    Stop trying to force your religious beliefs on all of society and just worry about the people who claim to follow your teachings.

    • quinersdiner on May 29, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Actually there is much statistical data on the subject: “In a historic study of children raised by homosexual parents, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father.”

      Compared with children raised by their married biological parents (Intact Biological Family,IBF), children of homosexual parents (Lesbian Mothers, LM and Gay Fathers, GF):

      √ Are much more likely to have received welfare (IBF 17%; LM 69%; GF 57%)
      √ Have lower educational attainment
      √ Report less safety and security in their family of origin
      √ Report more ongoing “negative impact” from their family of origin
      √ Are more likely to suffer from depression
      √ Have been arrested more often
      √ If they are female, have had more sexual partners–both male and female

      Children of lesbian mothers:

      √ Are more likely to be currently cohabiting
      √ Are almost 4 times more likely to be currently on public assistance
      √ Are less likely to be currently employed full-time
      √ Are more than 3 times more likely to be unemployed
      √ Are nearly 4 times more likely to identify as something other than entirely heterosexual
      √ Are 3 times as likely to have had an affair while married or cohabiting
      √ Are an astonishing 10 times more likely to have been “touched sexually by a parent or other adult caregiver.”
      √ Are nearly 4 times as likely to have been “physically forced” to have sex against their will
      √ Are more likely to have “attachment” problems related to the ability to depend on others
      √ Use marijuana more frequently
      √ Smoke more frequently
      √ Watch TV for long periods more frequently
      √ Have more often pled guilty to a non-minor offense”

      Religious beliefs have nothing to do with a secular society wanting what’s best for our kids. Why would we want to redefine marriage when the traditional model of marriage is so much better for the kids? This research simply confirms common sense.

      Thanks for writing.

      • Parody on May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        You clearly missed the point. Homosexual couples “who are married to each other” was the comparison being made. I highly doubt that any reputable study can be performed on this because laws have made such a study rationally impossible, as they made the population required for the study non-existant.

        If I am wrong about this, please direct me to the source of the study so I can review its methods and figures so that we can debate this on equal grounds.

        The fact that it comes out of the University of Texas, however, makes a case that it very well could have been conducted with a strong bias to defend the religious secular argument.

        Tell me, did the study discuss in detail all the advantages received by these children or did it only focus on the items you already listed? If not, that would indicate a stake in the heart, as it would show conclusively that the study was only trying to create animosity to support the Church’s side and should retain no academic recognition whatsoever.

        I am also curious if this is the only study conducted on the subject. Have you tried to find any studies that support the opposition to your argument? As indicated earlier, no good argument can be made if the person defending that argument is not trying to address all sides of the issue.

        • quinersdiner on May 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm

          Feel free to look up the study yourself. Marriage was defined by secular society as being between a man and a woman for a simple reason: to protect children who can only be produced from such unions. In other words, marriage was created for children. It had a practical function. Even if there were no religion, secular society would have created the institution of marriage. The redefinition of marriage now bases marriage on attractions, not the children. The study to which I refer suggests that children raised in gay families do not fare as well as children raised in a traditional marriage.

      • Parody on May 30, 2013 at 7:18 am

        Your reply is not unexpected. When a person’s credentials are challenged, and they know that they are presenting a strong bias, the easiest defense seems to be ‘find it for yourself!’

        Well, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on it this morning, but I did a quick search for “study on gays and parenting children” and found numerous studies that disagreed with your own, while not find a single one that corroborated it.

        Here’s a couple of quotes out of them:
        “lesbian couples exhibited more parenting awareness skills than did heterosexual couples”
        “studies have found no difference between lesbian and heterosexual mothers…”

        • quinersdiner on May 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

          Your reply, too, was as expected.