Marriage, Divorce and Annulment
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney’s wedding in late July was overshadowed by his decision to have his first marriage annulled by the Roman Catholic authorities. He is himself a “practising member of the Church of Scotland”, but his wife is a Roman Catholic and the only way for them to marry in a Roman Catholic church was for him to obtain an annulment of his first marriage – a declaration that it had no legal existence.
Mr Swinney’s divorce was as a “result of his first wife’s infidelity”, which is a legitimate reason for divorce if we follow Scripture. But Rome rejects the validity of divorce under any circumstances; in the words of anmerican canon lawyer, “the Church does not acknowledge the right of civil authorities to dispense from vows taken in church”. In this way Rome can maintain a significant degree of control over her followers; the exercise of power is what is important to her, not faithfulness to Scripture.
Clearly no marriage is valid if one party is already married. But there are other grounds for annulment: (1) A lack of due discretion. This applies if a woman “married in haste. In other words, she lacked the discretion necessary to spot his personality disorder. Her husband promised to take care of his family, but clearly he did not have the character or the desire to do so. She claims that if she had known what kind of a misfit he really was she never would have married him.” (2) Defective consent. When, for instance, the bridegroom “kept a lover before, during and after the marriage”. (3) Psychic incapacity. “If a person is incapable of fulfilling the burdens and obligations of marriage, the marriage can be annulled. You cannot make a promise to do something you are incapable of doing. For instance, a paranoid schizophrenic may have behaved normally at the time of the wedding, but later, when the illness becomes full-blown, the marriage falls apart.” Effectively, all this is an exercise in providing grounds for divorce, and only in the second case, where adultery comes in, do we have a scriptural ground. It is clearly only playing with words to speak of annulment rather than divorce.
“When an annulment is granted,” the canon lawyer claims, “the Church is not saying that there never was a marriage. The union certainly was a sociological fact, and the memory of it may even be cherished, but the legal contract on which it was based turned out to be invalid.” This is Jesuitical nonsense; either there was a marriage or there wasn’t. Thus Rome seeks to maintain her power over the lives of her followers, and even of those who would marry them.
But what about the children of an annulled marriage? Actually, we are told, “canon law declares that all the children born of an annulled marriage are legitimate”. Again this is to play with words. If there was no marriage, the children are illegitimate; if the children are legitimate, there must have been a marriage. But Rome has never been willing to bow to common sense.
And if there are children from the Swinney marriage? They will, of course, be brought up as Roman Catholics. Yet some people wonder why we are so anxious to see the rule maintained which prohibits the monarch of the UK marrying a Roman Catholic. Apart from any other reason, to marry a Roman Catholic would almost inevitably lead to the children being brought up as Roman Catholics – and therefore to a Roman Catholic monarch in the next generation, with no prospect of an heir being brought up as a Protestant at any stage in the future. Rome has indeed found marriage to be a fruitful area for the exercise of her power.
The European Union Constitution
An editorial in the British Church Newspaper describes Britain’s position in the European Union, under its newly-released draft constitution, as nothing less than our being “incorporated into a Roman Catholic state which, like most Roman Catholic states, is a battleground between religionists and humanists, but both springing from the same root, namely Rome. Bishop J C Ry1e observed that the only thing that the Pharisees and Sadducees agreed on was the persecution of the gospel. Their modern counterparts, the religionists and the humanists, are no different.”
While the Pope has expressed his dissatisfaction at the lack of explicit references to Christianity – that is, Roman Catholicism – in the draft constitution, he protests too much. European Roman Catholic bishops, and also leaders of ecumenical churches in the EU, have welcomed the constitution, saying that it recognises the place of religion in the future EU. The European Institute of Protestant Studies comments that the Roman Catholic Bishops and the ecumenicists are really rejoicing in the acceptance of Roman Catholicism as the religion of the EU. Their approval of the constitution, says the Institute, “will do nothing to allay British Protestants’ fears concerning [its] political and religious consequences”.
We cannot but agree with the British Church Newspaper editorial when it also says that the draft constitution will deprive us, “barring a miracle”, of our Protestant liberties. “This may not be obvious at first. But our liberties will no longer be the inalienable rights of a free Protestant people. They will be parcelled out to us, or withdrawn from us, at the whim of our new Roman Catholic rulers, at whose mercy we shall find ourselves.” Taking into account the determination of our government not to hold a referendum on the constitution, and its determination to sign up to it, it seems that God, in judgement, is giving us over to the dictatorial powers of Brussels.
Mr David Heathcoat-Amory, a House of Commons representative on the convention that produced the draft constitution, points out: “In reality, the whole undertaking was controlled and orchestrated from the top. The real debates took place in the Praesidium, or between the Presidency, secretariat and member states in private.” Lord Pearson of Rannoch has stated that the adoption of the EU Constitution will prove the end of the hard-won right of the British people to elect and dismiss those who make their laws and levy their taxes. He says, “The draft EU Constitutional Treaty quite simply gives the EU almost complete power over the member states. It does this by turning the EU into an independent megastate, like the United States of America.”
Undoubtedly, God has a controversy with us; His judgement is upon us. Some pin their hopes on the Government negotiating concessions; they are of the same mind-set as the senior Whitehall official who declared recently of this constitution, “There is no reason why we cannot keep the good bits and get rid of the bad bits”. Past patterns indicate that, whatever concessions may be gained initially, the EU will continue to ratchet up its powers steadily.
Lord Pearson asks, “What is to be done? People feel helpless. But they can insist on seeing their MP and pressing for a referendum on the new constitution. . . . I fear this does not mean someone else; it means you!” The seriousness of the situation starkly demonstrates that, while we must do what is in our power by making representations to MPs and others, we need especially to humble ourselves before God, seeking that He would avert the further judgement of losing our Protestant constitution and other hard-won, blood-bought religious and civil liberties. May we cry most earnestly, “It is time for Thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void Thy law”!