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How Can Marriages Be Annulled? What Does the Bible Say about Catholic Divorce and Remarriage?



The Catholic Blog - Helping people find answers to the most common questions about Catholicism with answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible. ( )

“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “The Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.  In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.” (CCC 1629)
  • “A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection” (1633)
  • “In the case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. (1635)
  • “the remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ.  They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.” (CCC 1665)
  • [Encouragement to divorce if your wife does not obey you] Sirach 25:35-36 “If she walk not at thy hand, she will confound thee in the sight of thy enemies. 36 Cut her off from thy flesh, lest she always abuse thee.”

“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • Mark 10:7–9 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, [8] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. [9] What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (ESV)
  • Romans 7:2–3 “For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. [3] Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.” (ESV)
  • 1 Corinthians 7:39 “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (ESV)
  • SEE: “What Does the Bible Say about Divorce and Remarriage?”

“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Questions to Consider:

  • Is the concept of “annulment” (that a “marriage never existed”) a biblical concept? If so, where?
  • How does that differ with Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 saying that only death ends a marriage?
  • Does the Bible ever distinguish between marriages inside or outside the church?
  • Is it right to provide an avenue of allow marriage to a non-believer when the Bible prohibits it clearly (1 Corinthians 7:39)?
  • Is not withholding Eucharistic communion withholding forgiveness? 
  • Why would Sirach 25:35-36 encourage divorce in such a sweeping manner?  Does the Bible encourage it or permit it on rare occasions?

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