On his recent visit to Australia, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan, spoke at the Conference of Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy on the unchangeable truth about marriage and sexuality.  Part of his talk is reproduced here:

From the beginning it was not so (Mt 19:9)

The unchangeable truth
about marriage and sexuality

by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

The Lord’s attitude to marriage and divorce

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word and the eternal Truth in person, restored the original dignity of the human nature in a most wonderful manner — “Qui dignitatem humanae substantiae mirabilius reformasti.” This is especially so regarding the sexuality of the human being, which was created in a wonderful manner in the beginning — “mirabiliter condidisti.

Through the Fall, the dignity of human sexuality was wounded. Because of the hard heartedness of fallen man, Moses introduced divorce, which was contrary to the absolute indissolubility which God had commanded. Although the Pharisees and Scribes had known the Divine Truth about the beginning of the marriage, they nevertheless endeavoured to receive from Jesus, as a well-known and recognised teacher, the legitimation of the practice of divorce, a practice which was already widely adopted in those times perhaps out of “pastoral reasons.”

The first liars about the possibility of a contradiction between the doctrine and the pastoral practice were precisely the Pharisees and the Scribes. They asked Jesus about the basic legitimacy (“quaecumque ex causa”) of the divorce. (cf. Mt 19: 3) Jesus proclaimed to them, and through His Gospel He still proclaims to the men of all times, the ever valid and unchangeable Divine Truth about the marriage with these words:

“In the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, commits adultery.” (Mt 19: 9)

Jesus restored in all its seriousness and beauty the Divine Truth about marriage and human sexuality. Regarding this Divine Truth which Christ authoritatively proclaimed, He does not admit any sophisms (eg annulment of the guilt because of psychological reasons) and any exemptions with reference to an alleged pastoral practice (perhaps restricted to the individual case), as the Pharisees and the Scribes had practiced.

In His teaching, Jesus goes so far as to proclaim:

“Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5: 28)

This commandment of Christ is universally valid. It means any lustful sexual desire of a person who is not one’s own legitimate spouse is in the intention, in the eyes of God, already a sin against the sixth commandment. Christ thus condemned each deliberate mental sexual act, and all the more, each corporal sexual act, outside marriage as being against the will of God.

Jesus did not present His words as His own teaching, but as the teaching of the Father:

“My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent Me.” (Jn 7: 16)

“I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.” (Jn 8: 26)

“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (Jn 14: 24)

 

The full text of Bishop Schneider’s talk is available on the website of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy:

http://www.clergy.asn.au/featured/from-the-beginning-it-was-not-so/