confucius on simplicity

Confucius says… simplicity

In an earlier article, I briefly mentioned about Church leaders’ absolute rejection of the use of birth control methods that in effect stands in the way of citizens’ civic responsibility. In this article, I’m adding to this topic by mentioning another issue that’s disallowed by Church leaders:  Divorce. Church leaders’ absolutist stand against divorce when they are fully aware of it’s impact particularly on already disintegrated families is just plain cruelty. Why should Church leaders dictate on your personal right to an openly happy and fulfilling life?

Divorce is again being revived by women’s party lists and as to how to re-frame this divisive topic, perhaps we should look to Presidential Decree 1083 (signed 1977) also known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (yes, there is such a Code!) specifically on the provisions for divorce or talaq may help, viz.

Section 1. Nature and Form

Article 45. Definition and forms. Divorce is the formal dissolution of the marriage bond in accordance with this Code to be granted only after the exhaustion of all possible means of reconciliation between the spouses. It may be effected by:

(a) Repudiation of the wife by the husband (talaq);

(b) Vow of continence by the husband (ila);

(c) Injurious assanilation of the wife by the husband (zihar);

(d) Acts of imprecation (li’an);

(e) Redemption by the wife (khul’);

(f) Exercise by the wife of the delegated right to repudiate (tafwld); or

(g) Judicial decree (faskh).

Article 46. Divorce by talaq.

(1) A divorce by talaq may be affected by the husband in a single repudiation of his wife during her non-menstrual period (tuhr) within which he has totally abstained from carnal relation with her. Any number of repudiations made during one tuhr shall constitute only one repudiation and shall become irrevocable after the expiration of the prescribed ‘idda.

(2) A husband who repudiates his wife, either for the first or second time, shall have the right to take her back (ruju) within the prescribed ‘idda by resumption of cohabitation without need of a new contract of marriage. Should he fail to do so, the repudiation shall become irrevocable (Talaq bain sugra).

Article 47. Divorce by Ila. Where a husband makes a vow to abstain from any carnal relations (ila) with his wife and keeps such ila for a period of not less than four months, she may be granted a decree of divorce by the court after due notice and hearing.

Article 48. Divorce by zihar. Where the husband has injuriously assimilated (zihar) his wife to any of his relatives within the prohibited degrees of marriage, they shall mutually refrain from having carnal relation until he shall have performed the prescribed expiation. The wife may ask the court to require her husband to perform the expiationor to pronounce the a regular talaq should he fail or refuse to do so, without prejudice to her right of seeking other appropriate remedies.

Article 49. Divorce by li’an. Where the husband accuses his wife in court of adultery, a decree of perpetual divorce may be granted by the court after due hearing and after the parties shall have performed the prescribed acts of imprecation (li’an).

Article 50. Divorce by khul’. The wife may, after having offered to return or renounce her dower or to pay any other lawful consideration for her release (khul’) from the marriage bond, petition the court for divorce. The court shall, in meritorious cases and after fixing the consideration, issue the corresponding decree.

Article 51. Divorce by tafwid. If the husband has delegated (tafwid) to the wife the right to effect a talaq at the time of the celebration of the marriage or thereafter, she may repudiate the marriage and the repudiation would have the same effect as if it were pronounced by the husband himself.

Article 52. Divorce by faskh. The court may, upon petition of the wife, decree a divorce by faskh on any of the following grounds :

(a) Neglect or failure of the husband to provide support for the family for at least six consecutive months;

(b) Conviction of the husband by final judgment sentencing him to imprisonment for at least one year;

(c) Failure of the husband to perform for six months without reasonable cause his marital obligation in accordance with this code;

(d) Impotency of the husband;

(e) Insanity or affliction of the husband with an incurable disease which would make the continuance of the marriage relationship injurious to the family;

(f) Unusual cruelty of the husband as defined under the next succeeding article; or

(g) Any other cause recognized under Muslim law for the dissolution of marriage by faskh either at the instance of the wife or the proper wali.

Article 53. Faskh on the ground of unusual cruelty. A decree of faskh on the ground of unusual cruelty may be granted by the court upon petition of the wife if the husband:

(a)Habitually assaults her or makes her life miserable by cruel conduct even if this does not result in physical injury;

(b) Associates with persons of ill-repute or leads an infamous life or attempts to force the wife to live an immoral life;

(c) Compels her to dispose of her exclusive property or prevents her from exercising her legal rights over it;

(d) Obstructs her in the observance of her religious practices; or

(e) Does not treat her justly and equitably as enjoined by Islamic law.

Article 54. Effects of irrevocable talaq or faskh. A talaq or faskh, as soon as it becomes irrevocable, shall have the following effects:

(a) The marriage bond shall be severed and the spouses may contract another marriage in accordance with this Code;

(b) The spouses shall lose their mutual rights of inheritance;

(c) The custody of children shall be determined in accordance with Article 78 of this code;

(d) The wife shall be entitled to recover from the husband her whole dower in case the talaq has been affected after the consummation of the marriage, or one-half thereof if effected before its consummation;

(e) The husband shall not be discharged from his obligation to give support in accordance with Article 67; and

(f) The conjugal partnership, if stipulated in the marriage settlements, shall be dissolved and liquidated.

Article 55. Effects of other kinds of divorce. The provisions of the article immediately preceding shall apply to the dissolution, of marriage by ila, zihar, li’an and khul’, subject to the effects of compliance with the requirements of the Islamic law relative to such divorces.

Section 2. ‘Idda

Article 56. ‘Idda defined. ‘Idda is the period of waiting prescribed for a woman whose marriage has been dissolved by death or by divorce the completion of which shall enable her to contract a new marriage.

Article 57. Period.

(1) Every wife shall be obliged to observe ‘idda as follows:

(a) In case of dissolution of marriage by death, four months and ten days counted from the death of her husband;

(b) In case of termination of marriage by divorce, for three monthly courses; or

(c) In case of a pregnant women, for a period extending until her delivery.

(2) Should the husband die while the wife is observing ‘idda for divorce, another ‘idda for death shall be observed in accordance with paragraph 1(a).

The above provisions clearly state the parameters in which divorce are allowed, which is basically what the hype is all about. We contend that the Islam way of life is constricting, but in fact in certain aspects it’s essentially more progressive, practical, and respectful.

Another case in point: Acknowledgment by father (of his children). The same Code provides,

Article 63. Acknowledgment by father. Acknowledgment (igra) of a child by the father shall establish paternity and confer upon each the right inherit from the other exclusively in accordance with Article 94, provided the following conditions are complied with:

(a) The acknowledgment is manifested by the father’s acceptance in public that he is the father of the child who does not impugn it; and

(b) The relations does not appear impossible by reason of disparity in age.

Whereas it took us mainstream Catholics/Christians 27 years (after 1977), but not before having subjected to hell thousands of parents to produce this and that documentation and having made a volleyball out of innocent young children as when they were referred to on public policy papers illegitimate this and illegitimate that, to finally put into law Republic Act 9255 (An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surname of their Father). My god. Oftentimes, we complicate human life unnecessarily.

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

― Henry David Thoreau

Food for thought (going forward toward understanding and assimilating with our Filipino Muslim brothers and sisters).


Where is the joy of love?

In Wednesday’s L’Osservatore Romano, Italian historian and politician Rocco Buttiglione said the church has always taught that there can be cases in which the faithful might not believe themselves to be in a state of mortal sin, or might not be fully responsible for it, which can mitigate their culpability. “The path that the pope proposes to divorced and remarried is exactly the same that the church proposes to all sinners: Go to confession, and your confessor, after evaluating all the circumstances, will decide whether to absolve you and admit you to the Eucharist or not,” he wrote.

Buttiglione’s argument, featured on the front page, marked a shift in the Vatican’s defense of Francis’s document, confronting the criticisms head-on, rather than just praising the pope’s text.

The initiative could signal a more concerted campaign by the Vatican to ensure that the “The Joy of Love” is interpreted as Francis intended. Already, conservative Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has said that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can only receive Communion in his archdiocese if they abstain from sex and live as “brother and sister.”

Business Mirror

So help me God for thinking this out loud but for anyone, the Church or otherwise, to demand and impose on secular people, to actually utter it – divorced and civilly married to abstain from sex and live as brother and sister – is infamy! A total negation of the human in human beings. They might as well zap people into becoming the walking dead. Then, joy of love indeed!

Married couples and people in relationships, divorced or not, will have sex and will not live as brother and sister. It’s the rational order of such arrangements. Physical connection sex being the ultimate experience of it is integral to the holistic human experience of intimate relationships. To cut that off leads to the breakdown of the relationship itself, if not of the individuals involved. In fact, permanent withholding of sex from one’s spouse is a cause for divorce.

I once tried as an experiment an intimate relationship based solely on intellectual connection. I learned that this simply is humanly impossible. One cannot be full of love for another and be exclusive yet spend an entire year together just discussing things. It doesn’t build intimacy nor a relationship in the real sense. One cannot divorce intellect from emotions and physical needs and desires. They somehow blend into one another. Besides, does one marry or have a relationship in order to avoid sex? Physical connection, touch, in the context of relationships based on mutual love is like God’s life-giving breath on the human soul. Here touch takes on a sacred quality which lends the same quality to sex between the couple (not manifest in different circumstances such as commercialized sex). To withdraw intimacy from one’s partner is the kiss of death itself.

It is easy within the world of convents and seminaries called “to be not of this world” therefore essentially closed off from the experience of realities in the secular world to make judgments based on their own lived realities of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The human life even with nuns and priests is mostly gray and largely unexplored. We are all on a journey of learning and discovery of the human life. And as Christians, we look to how Christ lived his human life.

Compassion is what I believe lies at the core of Christ’ human existence. He understands our life. He knows the human struggle. It is this that moves him to do for humans more than we deserve. I imagine him then walking among crowds. He looks with God-eyes at the sea of humanity around him- people toiling at work, making money, collecting taxes and having a difficult time at it, mothers and their daughters, fathers and their sons, the men of the church, the men in the palaces, the blind, the sick, the whorehouses, etc. I imagine his heart lurching at the sight of these but at the same also at the beauty of the human soul (“shining like diamonds in the sky”). Aren’t these people his creation after all? It is why he goes away on intervals, to regain proper perspective of his mission and build up courage to be faithful to it.

Humanity is a heavy burden. Just look at the weight of that cross, the deadweight of of all past, present and future lives. God himself sweated blood carrying it. Yet even when he could he did not wave his magic wand to put a stop once and for all to ignorance and pain around him. He still wouldn’t. Instead, while allowing free will to run it’s course he walks with us, patiently, as we make sense of our lives as he once did too. His dearest human friends abandoned him, but he has always got his Father, an other, to accompany him. He is now that Father to us; if we needed anything, anything at all, he tells us he’s right here. He understands from experience that nobody should carry the burden of human life alone. When we open up ouselves to the communion that his companionship brings and take advantage of it, we wake up one day and realize we are a new person. A bit more like our Companion. And it didn’t take waving of a magic wand.

This now begs the question, if Christ is all the more with us in difficult times what greater right has men to snatch away from us this presence at will? And why single out the divorced and civilly remarried? What about couples living together outside marriage? Plunderers? Murderers? Terrorists? Rapists? Child exploiters? Is this crusade exclusively against the divorced and civilly remarried really about God? And are not priests based on the principle he who knows more should know better not to sin the greater sinners when they do transgress? Then, do they measure themselves up by the same yardstick used on the rest? Do they bar their own selves from Communion?

The rest of the world, just like Joseph who helped carry the cross of Christ, shares in carrying the burden of Church people’s transgressions. This is why the Pharisees infuriate Christ (it may be said that Christ’ human existence was a protest against pharisees). They stand on the edges, observing and judging him. They think they’re apart from the people, above humanity. They arrange religion by the book like the book was superior to God himself. They were so attached to their doctrine they hadn’t realized they were face to face with the Word himself. To their kind, the Word brings division and confusion. To those who recognize Truth with “faith as big as a mustard seed” – “the blessed poor” – communion and understanding.

If human life is meant to be lived by the book, would Christ have sent the Spirit? Living by the book requires no discernment. We merely follow what’s stated in the manual. When we err, it’s off with the head or some other. But living the human life is so much more than what any manual could contain in instructions. Hence the Spirit who continues Christ’ mission to instruct his people in his ways.

Condemnation and discrimation are the ways of the Old Testament. In the New, Love changed all that. Love’s message is that no man or woman is such a sinner that he or she is a hopeless case. We are called by Love, to be authentic first because only then can we love truly.