I’m going to have to be careful here and not paint with too broad a brush but, I do want to address the subject from a couple of angles.
First, AATW works because, under the Chatelaine’s tutelage, we have learned to defend our various beliefs strongly, and yet to do so without making personal attacks, except for a couple of commenters. I suspect we, all, often bite our tongues. What we have found of course is that we have far more in common than divides us. I personally despise personal attacks (although I occasionally slip into them as well) as the last resort of the man that has no facts.
In mentioning her own position to try to make a point about law and mercy, it was probably inevitable that Jess would get some comments which emphasised the former; it is one of the eternal tensions in our faith. Jesus had some hard words for those who thought that man was made for the law; he had some hard words for those who thought he had abolished the law, too. Lutherans of my vintage tend not to ask ‘what would Jesus do?’ as easily as a younger generation, but I may not be alone here in thinking that some of the reactions to Jess’ situation over-harsh, legalistic, and even of the Pharisees.
As I have told Jess, “Get thee to a nunnery” may have been appropriate once, a thousand years ago, in an age of arranged marriages, and life expectancies on the 40s or less. It is simply wrong now. One thing is the practicality, while Jess’ Anglican (and my Lutheran) churches do have monastic institutions, they are rare. The other thing is, she was sinned against, she is the victim.
Do we not temper the wind to the shorn lamb? How does the current Roman Catholic practice help her? It seems to me long on sanction and short on common sense. One option is she denies she was ever in something called a ‘valid’ marriage, although as it was an Anglican marriage and the RCC does not recognise Anglican orders, by what twist of legalism does the RCC suddenly insist it has the right to judge Jess’ marriage?
And now Catholic doctrine would take the victim and confine her for a life sentence, either cloistered, or living without a partner. There are several problems with this:
- It is unjust, she has done nothing to merit punishment, except to refuse to lie to God and man. It is very simply blaming the victim. We all know better than that.
- It unjustly reduces her life choices, being called to monastic service is a very high calling, if you have that call, otherwise it is likely to be seen as a punishment, for what? Trusting someone.
- Along the same lines, our economies are such that it is difficult to live very well on one income, and you would condemn her to that, without cause.
- And for that matter, although not a factor in this case, if there were children, you would condemn them to grow up in a one parent family, which has many times been proven to be far less efficacious for raising children.
While I agree that many of our church processes are far too liberal, and should be reformed, they should not punish the innocent, that was not what Christ taught us, indeed he taught us to forgive the guilty.
While I have great respect for the Catholic Church, the legalistic method they take in cases like this is simply wrong, and is completely unjustifiable in my mind.
As Romans 13:10 tells us:
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.