The never-ending debate on the divorce bill: Prevention or cure? | Inquirer Opinion

The never-ending debate on the divorce bill: Prevention or cure?

/ 05:01 AM June 13, 2024

Before diving on to thoughts about divorce, it’s proper to reflect on who, when, where, what, and why (5Ws) on marriage.

We can trace the 5Ws from the Bible. The Pharisees addressed the divorce issue to Christ, and they questioned Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” He answered, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).

Based on Christ’s answer and the Bible, marriage in 5Ws is: “God” (who’s the author of marriage); “at the beginning” is implied by the Bible as the time of creation (when); and they lived in the Garden of Eden (where); “man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (what marriage is); “joined together” (why marriage has to stay). Marriage, as the Bible says, is a union initiated by God.

However, as we continue to read the account, the Pharisee further asked a follow-up question: “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” Divorce can be noted as early as the time of Moses, as far as the biblical record is concerned. He answered to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:7-9). It would be unreasonable for God to institute something then eventually dissolve it thereafter.

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The divorce issue is perhaps not the main issue after all. It’s how Filipinos work out their commitment to each other with God. Because marriage is made by God as it’s God who joined them together, it’s right to say that marriage knot is not between husband and wife alone. So, when marriage won’t work between Juan and Maria, then they need to ask God for help on this matter. Perhaps they just lack that “glue” with who joined them together.

Is the law on divorce preventive? The law in the biblical perspective is like a fence built so as not to hurt others, oneself, and to keep a strong connection with God. If the divorce law is preventive, then it should protect and uplift marital relationships. But how could it be preventive when it already provides a push button to quit?

Is it curative? As with any medications or diagnostic tests, benefits must outweigh the risks. The divorce law may be an emergency exit in the building on fire, but what would it be like if both spouses helped each other get out of the building from fire (in case they can’t extinguish the fire)? If buildings destroyed by fire can be built again, why not two spouses rebuild their home selflessly? If the law is curative to the victims of “mismatched” marriages and domestic violence, how will it be fair to future generations? Or is the law going to be a consent to a vicious cycle of “trial and error” simply because divorce is just around the corner?

What do the statistics in other countries say about how divorce laws affect divorce rates? Would it be more curative if we treated the cause and not the symptoms? Why don’t we make and empower laws that will help build love, and not break families? Aren’t the 10 commandments love to God and love to one another? If truly love conquers all, then what every Filipino family can do to unite families might astound the world (the one of the two)—the Philippine heritage that’s more valuable than gold!

Ham Geg G. Manggasang, physician

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