Our Manichaean Politicians Endorse Divorce Law

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Two of my friends are getting married this year and I can’t help but to look back and realize how time flies so fast. It was as if yesterday when we were just wide eyed probinsyano and probinsyana  in a catechetical formation house in Siena, Quezon City nine years ago. Today, many of us are already licensed teachers and missionaries. While some of us considered religious life after college like me, others have already decided to settle in their life and start a family.  I can sense my friends’ excitement and the fact that many of us are coming proved that such excitement is contagious. I just admire them—really I am—for marriage implies a commitment that is final: an irrevocable vow to live with a person whose being, despite knowing him for years, remains elusive and even mysterious! Honestly I am surprised with myself of having such thought being a religious person who similarly took a vow publicly to live a life of obedience to God, His Church and the Dominican Order. For, while living in a community is not as simple as eating butong pakwan, I know that living with a person is a different story. But to promise to do so for life? You must be very in loved to the person to say “I do!”

This makes me admire young couples who are deciding to get married. For I trust that they knew very well that by tying the knot, they tell the public that “yes folks, we’ll love each other until Thy Kingdom come.” I believe that they look at marriage not as some other stage in their relationship which they can just terminate when the feeling is gone. I hope that they knew very well that marriage is a mutual decision to spend the rest of their years together, “for richer and for poorer.” Marriage is anchored to a profession of lifelong commitment with one another. Unless the couple missed this essential element, there is no such marriage at all.

This makes me so surprised about some of our legislators who find it difficult to look at marriage in this essential aspect. They are the same legislators in the Philippines who feel pressured about the fact that our country is the only nation left in the world (aside from the Vatican, of course) that has no legal process for the termination of marriage, i.e. divorce. Our legislators are becoming ‘Manichaeans’—they fight evil by countering evil right away: They suggest that to a failed relationship, divorce is the answer; to infidelity, divorce; and to seemingly irreconcilable crises, still divorce. While divorce presents itself as a handy solution to marital crisis, it does not address the problem per se. It provides superficial answer to a problem that instead demands moral imperative. If the government is willing to push through with such legislations, it should prepare itself to accommodate every family that would knock on the door of its agencies for support—something that the government is already struggling to address nowadays! And if divorce was ever implemented in this country, it would not promise a decline of marital crisis in the future. Trust me.

If the government is interested to save future couples from falling into crisis, assuring them of chances of terminating marital vows would not help. If they remain consistent to this recent ‘Manichaean’ attitude of theirs—that is, their reactive way of responding to our socio-political problems—they fail to address once again the real situation behind, this time, why Filipino couples end with failed relationship.  If only the government would recognize the Christian way of fighting evil. Unlike Manichaeans, evil for Christians is not by some doing of a sinister god whose defeat is only by eliminating him. Evil for Christians is more of a deprivation of perfection that is due to a thing. As Aquinas puts it, “A man is said to be evil because he lacks some virtue; and an eye is said to be evil, because it lacks the power to see well (ST I, Q. 5, A 3, ad. 2).” It is obvious that most unfortunate marriages are like this. They lack something. They are deprived of that which is due to a marriage that would lead to a fulfilling one. If so, then the pressing concern which our legislators should look at is not that the Philippines is the remaining country without a divorce law but that there is a serious need to empower Filipino couples for a successful marriage. Hence, the Christian way to address marital crisis requires moral extension. It is difficult, yes and might appear idealistic compared to the seemingly practical way of simply cancelling marriage bonds. But terminating vows would not solve the crisis in the future. Unless a serious step to strengthen couples by means of serious preparation and on-going assistance which the Christian solution proposes, marital crisis remains a problem that even a divorce law could not handle.

9 responses to “Our Manichaean Politicians Endorse Divorce Law

  1. Much as I hate it when married couples divorce, sometimes it’s the most sensible way. Can you imagine the man living with another woman, and alerady have children with her, while his first family are wallowing in self-pity and anger ? I live here in the US where divorce is pretty normal….. but the man is obligated to support the family until the woman remarries or the children turn 18. We used to live in the Philippines, and I tell you, in our small subdivision, there are couples who need to divorce. There’s one where the man is such an asshole he even got their domestic helper pregnant. How can the wife ever live with this man ? There’s one who even left his family pern,amently, leaving said family to fend for themselves, while his other family lives in luxury.. Over here, the man’s wages are garnished, leaving him in poverty as well if he happens to support another woman.

    I myself cannot live with an unfaithful man, ever. There’s no more trust, and without trust, there’s no love. It is better to let go.

    • It is true that in such situations, couples in crisis deserve an escape especially those who turned out as victims. But while the choice to cease staying together can’t be deprived of them since, as you’ve said, it is the sensible thing to do, the dissolution of marriage bonds, as what divorce formally mean, would not bring them into a constructive confrontation of the crisis they are into.

      I recognise that instances you’ve mentioned are real but there are even more complex situations that divorce can’t singlehandedly deal. I’ve known couples close to me (honestly, that’s why I made this post), that above of all needs confronting their crisis but simply resort to a divorce-like lifestyle. They could have saved their marriage and above all, that love they had promised to fulfil, but since they thought that simply throwing their vow out of the window would solve the conflict, without any recourse to clarify what went wrong, they are haunted down by the same issues with their own partners.

      To be honest, I tried not to touch such complex situation but I’m glad that you’ve pointed it out. That’s why if you notice, I was addressing instead to that argument that a divorce law could solve marital crisis. But while a divorce law may offer a way of addressing present-day marital crises, it hardly promises anything about the future. What I fear is that, we may end up wiping the dust away everyday without finding out how come dust finds its way inside our homes. And if so, the housekeepers will get tired of this seemingly endless struggle against dust. If our government is interested to really get into the problem, I suggest that they rather consider prepare couples seriously and assist them in their marriage life. This is a proactive way of confronting the problem and more promising to our future couples than merely severing marriage bonds.

      • Of course being a slob is not a ground for divorce…. this is one case where intervention is needed.

        We know of so many couples where the wife is physically abused A man threw a landline telephone at the wife, hitting her on her face, and almost every week, we see blackeyes, or a cut lip. That is criminal assault,. A marriage certificate does not give a man the right to abuse his wife.

      • If you want the couple to work out a crisis, a divorce law should make it so unpalatable that any spouse will think twice before they go astray. The house goes to the wife/children, if mortgage isnot yet paid, he’s obligated to continue paying for it, he should support the education of the children, if any,, and will continue to support his wife financially. If he’s a salary man,his wages should be garnished automatically from his paycheck. With that, let’s see if he would want to cheat on his wife. To me, I’d divorce him right away, clean out his pocketbook, and let him lve a hard life with another woman…… I’d be a happy camper, because he;s become a useless man to me.
        Harsh ?

    • If scaring off couple in order not to cheat on their marriage vows is the intention, that sounds good! But I don’t think severing marriage bonds is necessary. It would seem even better to let the marriage bond exist between them after all the sanctions. But more importantly, I don’t think it would work as it is in the Philippines. Our legal system has to improve many things to equally serve justice from the richest citizen to the most unfortunate ones. I hate that it would end up abused by some who has ulterior motives over conjugal properties.

  2. Divorce is such a debate for me. Morality wise, I hate the idea of divorce. But relationship wise, like what renxkyoko stated, there are instances that the most feasible way is to divorce. Well, I am still contemplating on this idea also.
    I agree with you, people should invest more on the foundation.
    Thank you for the thought provoking post. 🙂

    • renxkyoko’s comment was also such a thought-provoking one that I ended up writing almost a whole article in the comment section! I even laughed at myself when I read your comment. In a sentence, you got perfectly what I was struggling to put up in paragraphs! Thank you esorenneiluj25 for dropping by 🙂

  3. Like I said on a comment somewhere, there are good statistics that shows that the Philippines is now ready for divorce and even same sex marriage. If only the catholic church stops meddling with the affairs of the state.

  4. It’s the sign of the times. Eventually, this, along with abortion, would be passed. Does it make it right? of course NO. But the world is moving towards that direction. Do we follow? as Catholics we have to resist, albeit in our own ways.

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