Let us now recognize the new ideology of No-Pathism.
“No path to citizenship!” (for the undocumented), say the Republican presidential wannabes.
“No path to marriage!” (for un-heterosexual couples), say the marital traditionalists.
“No path to heaven!” (for the un-predestined), say the neo-Calvinist Evangelicals.
“No path to Communion!” (for the divorced and remarried), say the Old-Time Catholics.
You may regard this as, pardon the pun, pathological, but it’s all about maintaining boundaries; or, if you will, borders. There’s contagion out there — sinful, damned, unAmerican contagion — and we’ve got to remove it, or hold it at bay, or at least find a way to keep ourselves from being contaminated.
The next showdown in the no-pathic struggle will come in October, when the Catholic Synod of Bishops takes on the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried. Conservatives like Catholic Culture’s Phil Lawler would, it seems, prefer easier annulment — the church granting that the previous marriage wasn’t really a marriage — to letting D&R persons back into the fold as such. “[I]t’s difficult,” he writes, “to imagine how a new process, admitting divorced/remarried couples to Communion, can be reconciled with the words of the Lord“:
“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” And in the house the disciples asked Him again about this matter. And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Those words are what Mark has Jesus saying. Matthew, on the other hand, puts the proscription this way:
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The word for “sexual immorality” in the original Greek is πορνείᾳ (porneia), as in pornography. The fact that the Catholic bishops construe “except for sexual immorality” as “unless the marriage is unlawful” is, well, interpretive license, in line with Catholic doctrine.
Personally, I don’t see how forbidding Communion to all D&R persons can be reconciled with Matthew. But then I’m no No-Pather.