Divorce law? Strengthen socioeconomic support for Filipino families instead
Divorce is understood as the act or decree of the civil authority declaring that the bond of marriage between two persons is dissolved, so it is now possible for them to marry other persons.
This act of dissolving the bond of marriage presumes that the civil authority has the power to dissolve it because it previously had the power to confer it or create it. If you did not bring something into existence by your action or work, you don’t have any right or power over it. It is not yours. You don’t have any power or authority to destroy it. Doing so, you are doing an injustice by claiming for yourself a power or authority you really don’t have.
But does civil authority have the power to dissolve marriage? Did civil authority create marriage in the first place? Did civil authority create that bond between spouses? Did the spouses themselves create the institution of marriage and the nature of the bond between them?
The answer to these questions is clear and obvious. But anyway, I’ll say it. It is a resounding No!
Marriage and its characteristic features existed long before civil authority ever did. It is a natural institution. God made it and gave it its characteristics. The Family Code defines it as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution…” This definition is very respectful of the nature of marriage as a natural social institution. It recognizes that the marriage union is permanent and that the law does not arrogate the power to dissolve the partnership. It also recognizes that marriage is the foundation of the family.
And so, patently, divorce is an injustice because the civil authority is arrogating to itself a power it simply does not have.
For many years now, our lawmakers have been pushing for divorce in the Philippines. They keep on saying that we are the only country in the world that does not allow divorce. Is there anything wrong with that? Should we be copycats?
It is already too overstated and obvious that divorce has wreaked havoc on families and societies where it is legalized. Why do our lawmakers want that for our families and societies?
Aside from being unjust, divorce law will be unconstitutional in the Philippines. Article 15, Section 1 of our Constitution states, “The State recognizes the Filipino family as the nation’s foundation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.” And Section 2 states, “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.” Divorce destroys both marriage, the family, and the lives of its members. By legalizing divorce the state will not protect marriage and the family.
Proponents of the divorce bill cite irreconcilable differences, breakdown of married life, the crime of rape, and five years of actual separation as grounds for divorce. They want couples whose marriages have broken down to have a way to live a new married life. But this possibility already exists in the present Family Code. It gives the possibility of declarations of nullity, like what the Catholic Church gives. This is not “divorce a la Church” but a recognition of the nonexistence of the marriage bond because of just reasons. And this gives way to a new marriage.
Instead of divorce law, our lawmakers should think of ways to strengthen marriage and the family, if they are committed to upholding our Constitution. They should think of how to make our workers earn more so that they are not forced to go overseas, reduce working hours so that parents spend more time with their children, give affordable and ample housing units so that families can have the children they want, rationalize our roads and traffic so that parents don’t waste too much time in traffic and so that they can be with their children, rationalize our cities so that people live near where they work, help and counsel couples having difficulties in their family lives, help parents to prepare their children for citizenship and married life, and many more.
Fr. Cecilio L. Magsino,[email protected]
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