What a weird, weird, demand

Yet it is time that foreign churches, as well as sending money and priests to the Middle East, used their influence to reform family law in the region. Who will bring pressure to bear to modernise the dense muddle of Christian personal status laws in the Middle East? The majority of the 14 million Arab Christians there cannot divorce. Many are locked into dead marriages – or convert to another religion so they can divorce.

Being a member of a religion is a statement: that this is the revealed truth about this world and the next.

Some such religions say that marriage is indissoluble. Maybe this is the revealed truth and maybe it isn\’t. But membership of a church which states that it is means taking that revealed truth as being revealed truth.

If you feel that no divorce is not part of the revealed truth then of course you\’re stating that divorce isn\’t part of the revealed truth. Therefore shifting your religious allegiance to another religion, one that does not claim no divorce to be part of the revealed truth, seems entirely logical.

Your desire to divorce is exactly that, a rejection of the teachings of the church you belong to. That you should therefore leave doesn\’t sound all that terrible really.

And there aren\’t any restrictions on being able to move churh. So why is this woman demanding that the churches must change their versions of the revealed truth?

6 comments on “What a weird, weird, demand

  1. Well, there are immense social pressures in some places not to leave a particular religion/sect (such as becoming a social outcast), so this isn’t an unreasonable piece. Morever, plenty of people are born into a religion, and might not really believe it anyway.

  2. It’s not as if religions are unchanging either, even the RC church has altered its position on various occasions. Apparently god or whoever only reveals the truth to organisations rather than individuals, your argument seems a bit collectivist to me.

  3. The reason is obvious – the self-centred nature of modern people. If *I* want to do something, then obviously not only everyone else, but also God should let me. It is not fair that these horrid little men with beards go around making me feel guilty about it too.

  4. I think the point she’s trying to make is that there is no separation of civil and religious laws in these countries. If you are a Christian, you have to – by law – follow the church’s rules. You are not allowed to divorce at all – even in a civil sense. However, if you declare yourself a convert to Islam, you are then bound by Islamic law, which allows divorce. It’s not that she’s calling for the church to change its “revealed truth”, she’s calling for “reform of family law” in these countries. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t make this point very clearly.

  5. Tim,

    As a former family law professional, the article is very confusing. I’m with Judge & Ian. What it might be is a commentary upon how Christians suffer civil discrimination in the Middle East, but she would never make that point so baldly, if only because she’s a duchess writing in ‘The Guardian’.

    As fars as the Roman Catholic position is concerned , proceedings for annulment can only be commenced once a civil divorce has been granted, which is why the Sacred Roma Rota has its own revolving doors for Boston millionaires and Philippino oligarchs. It is not the case that the Church does not recognise divorce. What is the case is that it will not permit re-marriage without annulment. I don’t have a Scooby-Doo what what the Melkite position on that matter is, but it’s probably not something that your friendly neighbourhood Tetrarch or Archimandrite would make a song and dance about after Friday prayers.

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