Thursday, 13 August 2009
Why Do We Discriminate Against the Re-Marrying Divorced?
Why do we discriminate against the divorced when they wish to remarry? In this diocese divorced people wishing to be remarried in the church must fulfill a specific set of criteria. One relates to the divorced person fulfilling all responsibilities, and working through any outstanding issues, from the previous marriage. The other requirements are that the couple connect themselves to an Anglican faith community, and must be referred to Anglicare for counselling. The Archbishop must give his approval before the priest in question can participate in the wedding. The stated reason why these criteria are mandatory is because of the higher rate of breakdown in second and subsequent marriages. (I wouldn't mind seeing the latest statistics, but seemed unable to dig them up on the internet.)
The problem is that we make it compulsory and we do not do so for first marriages. The rate of breakdown of first marriages is alarming in itself, and if we add into it the breakdown of live-in relationships prior to first marriages I wonder if there is any real distinction to be made. For consistency we should make similar criteria for first marriages, or else make the criteria suggestions for the clergy to consider when doing their pastoral work.
So why discriminate? I suspect it has something to do with a lingering, visceral discomfort about the remarriage of divorced persons.