House Bill No. 1799, Divorce Bill- a bill that has long been an issue not only involving Philippine politics but also directly affecting the citizens, married or not, as well as children and adults alike. It’s a bill introducing divorce in the Philippines. As we all know that the Philippines is, right now, one of the two countries in the world, alongside with the Vatican, left not in favor of divorce. It traces back to our culture where we value family ties and the idea of staying together until ‘death do us part’. The idea of freedom to remarry is the heart of this bill but it also encourages the idea that marriage is a temporary “bondage” and therefore, the passage of the bill will encourage ‘petty love’ and breaks family apart.
The Opposition argues that this bill must have religiously unbiased provisions. It should be regulated, if not completely disregarded.
The arguments there of is as follows,
- The Sanctity of Marriage will be disrespected
- Compromises has to be made with both parties.
- Being the only country that has no divorce law is an honor that every Filipino should be proud of.
According to Jesus is Lord Church as support to our definition, Prevalent arguments of the opponents of the bill, revolve around the moral, spiritual and social grounds – citing divorce as a mechanism that would ultimately weaken personal values on the institution of marriage and that would usher in a society of men and women oriented to the freedom of conditional marriage. Opponents of the bill infer that, with divorce being presented as a liberating instrument to intolerable unions, such presentation, in effect, would be culpable to the formation of an entire society of individuals who view marriage as a loss of freedom, and so, would find marriage as either a temporary union that can be dissolved the moment either party is unhappy or as a non-essential in society that can be replaced by such unions as cohabitation.
The right perspective:
In as much as marriage is not as simple as the legal union between two individuals, divorce too, is not as unelaborated as the termination of a lawful union. In the issue of whether or not divorce ought to be introduced to our society, perspective plays a crucial role in the evaluation of the validity of the proposed bill. Hence, it is absurd to even ask whether or not the safety and well-being of emotionally and physically battered women and children carry weight because they most assuredly do. In the same vein, it would also be pointless to debate whether the moral, spiritual and social implications of divorce are significant because they are very undisputable. Which is a heavier burden for society to carry: failed marriages or a changed orientation about the nature of marriage? Which has bigger ramifications to present and future unions: the great good that the second chance given to victims of disastrous marriages brings or the immense wrong it does to the very perception, conditioning and orientation of marriage as an institution? Which has greater implications: the moral and spiritual difficulties that troubled marriages bring or the moral and spiritual complications that the introduction of divorce brings?
Nowhere in the Bible is remarriage by reason of divorce legitimized except only after the death of a spouse. Acknowledging the reality that the disbanding of a marriage, in certain circumstances, is inevitable [even necessary], provisions for divorce found in the Bible only discuss when separation is permissible. In contrast, emphasis on the sanctity of marriage and the so-called one-flesh relationship is underscored numerous times in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Such emphasis is best embodied in the following verses:
- Genesis 2: 24: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
- Mark 10: 6-9: 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
- 1 Corinthians 7:10-11: To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)— and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
- 1 Corinthians 7:39: A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
In line with this 1st argument, Archbishop Oscar Cruz told the press on an interview that “love for the family is at the core of cultural identity of Filipinos and should not be destroyed through divorce.” Similarly, CBCP’s legal counsel Jo Imbong said that the consequences of divorce seen on families in western countries reveal its “disastrous effects.” “It was a disaster. [It] destroyed family, destroyed children, destroyed stepchild-parent relationships, everything is in havoc. Now do you want that to happen in this country?” she commented, adding that the Philippine Constitution mandates the protection of the family as a social institution. “It recognizes the sanctity of life and [of] marriage as a sacred union,” she said.
This merely says that passing this bill will greatly affect the real “meaning of marriage”. The marriage of people under the grace and blessing of a religious union or of the blessings of the Law that in the end will just be useless and irrelevant is destroying the sanctity and sacredness of marriage.
As for the 2nd argument, the marriage, in order to be dissolves takes a lot of process, time, money, effort and compromises.
Contrary to how society has been conditioned to believe, divorce does not begin and end with the severing of legal ties between husband and wife but so much more; it involves:
- Emotional separation – divorce necessitates an abandoning of an individual’s feelings about the marriage – disenchantment, disappointment, dissatisfaction, bitterness and anger, among others, for the former spouses and feelings of rejection, confusion, fear, anger and dejection, among others, for the children.
- Co-parental separation – even while contending with post-marital conflicts as well as economic and time restructuring, divorce demands that parents still share legal and physical custody of children despite the dissolution of the marriage.
- Economic separation – more so for the less-earning or non-earning spouse, it is imperative to acquire new financial skills which include but are not limited to gaining employment and skills in reallocating funds and assets.
- Community separation – the same support, comfort and warmth from shared family, friends and acquaintances in the community, at work and at church should no longer be expected.
- Legal separation – professional mediation may be necessary in the resolution of such issues as reputation, privacy, division of assets and custody raised in the legal proceedings – especially in the part of the innocent or less capable party.
The above elements underline the reality that divorce as the solution to marital abuse is merely a liberating illusion. Far from relieving suffering brought about by tragic marriages, its very nature creates further possible suffering in that it does not assure that any resulting subsequent marriage will be a happy and permanent one. Having weakened the very structure of marriage, the establishment of divorce creates more problems than it solves since the elements that essentially contributed to the breakdown of the marriage such as immaturity in terms of financial skills, communication, psychological readiness and emotional stability were most likely not really addressed but merely recognized long enough for the present marriage to be dissolved. Furthermore, it also causes separations that go beyond legal dissolution to occur which damages the emotional, economic and psychological well-being of not just the spouses but the children, the community and the society as a whole.
In the end, even while acknowledging the abhorrent condition of the marriages that prompted the endorsement of the divorce bill we, the Opposition, upholds that the preservation of the nature, sanctity and structure of marriage as an institution far outweighs the supposed advantages of divorce. As it is, we see that a three-fold solution to problematic marriages may be considered: (1) prevention in terms of strengthening the preparation process prior to marriage, (2) relief in terms of a revisiting of the provisions and implementing guidelines that make up annulment and legal separation and (3) support in terms of addressing the physical, emotional, economic, social and spiritual needs of those who are victims of intolerable marriages [particularly women and children].
Here’s a latin phrase to cap off my arguments: Si vis pacem, para bellum [If you wish for peace, prepare for war – peace through strength]. A strong society is less likely to be attacked by enemies, that is, a society with a strong institution of marriage is less likely to suffer from tragic marriages. We have to prepare to battle for the preservation of the nature, sanctity and structure of marriage for there to be peace in our marriages.