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Gordon Hayman wrote:

Hi, guys —

Good afternoon.

  • We know that killing is wrong because it deprives somebody of their life and it's against God's Law.
  • We know that theft is wrong because it deprives somebody of their rightful goods and it's against God's Law.
  • We know that bearing false witness is wrong because it deprives someone of the Truth and is against God's Law.
  • Similarly, adultery and coveting goods are wrong and are against God's Law.

All these are strong moral reasons. Other than being against God's Law which is of course Paramount,

  • Why is a "relationship" between two 70-year-olds who have both been divorced for many years, in my case 37 years , and obviously cannot create a family and cannot get married, be wrong?


  { Why is a relationship like this where we cannot obviously create a family and cannot get married, be wrong? }

Andrew replied:


I received the following reply from one of our back-up helpers, Andrew.


Gordon mentions that the two 70-year-olds cannot get married.   He says that the two are divorcees; but this by itself does not settle the question.

If the two would like to get married, and want to live a normal Catholic life, they should talk with the local parish priest, and ask about whether marriage is possible for both of the two. There are various reasons why their first marriages might not be binding:

  • perhaps the first spouse has died
  • perhaps the first spouse had already been married to someone else and was still bound by that
  • perhaps there was an important procedural mistake in how the first marriage was performed
  • perhaps there was a mistaken intention in the bride or the groom back then: something that meant that she or he did not really want to be married, despite taking vows

Situations like these are complicated personal matters that we, at AskACatholic, are in no position to address.  Instead, the two 70-year-olds should contact the local parish and ask about seeking annulments for the previous marriages.

The process is a matter of seeking facts, so the conclusion won't be known at the outset.  It may turn out that one or both of the couples really are still married to someone else.  If that is the true situation, it is a burden to be an abandoned spouse, doing the right thing and remaining faithful to the marriage bond established by Christ, even if the first partner has left the marriage. 

But if both of the two parties are free to marry, then it will probably be a great relief to them that they can do so; and I wish them all the best.


I hope this answers your question.

Hope this helps,


Gordon replied:

Hi Mike,

Unfortunately, it did not.

I was trying to be tactful rather than just come out with it.

  • Why is it morally wrong for two seventy-plus year old adults who are in a relationship, one of which might not be a Catholic but a Christian,
  • who do not want to get married (too complicated with existing families, assets etc.)
  • who obviously cannot have children
  • whose original (partners/spouse) are dead or divorced for 15 years at least, and
  • whose original marriages were perfectly OK to have "sex"?

There are not many sins that only affect God. If we do everything else that the Commandments decree, surely it can't be wrong! This is not a "one night stand" where sex is the only raison d'etre.

I fear however that the answer will be: These are the commandments. You can't pick and choose. 

Unless you repent, you will be damned!!

Gordon Hayman

Mike replied:

Dear Gordon,

First, I've sent your reply to my colleague Andrew, who answered your original question.

Your assumption to my reply is generally correct.
Like I've said in some of my previous replies:

Every car has an owner's manual. If you put chocolate syrup in your gas tank, the car won't run.

Everyone on earth has an owner's manual for their body, it's called the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you practice things outside the scope of the "body manual", over time, your body won't radiate the holiness and goodness it was intended to by God, aka your body won't work properly.

You're making the choices including your choice to ask us this question.

I'm sorry if you don't like our answers. I'm sure the Pharisees didn't like Jesus' Answers either.

Note that in your original question there were 4 issues that you stated were "against God's Law".

And if you obeyed 4 out of the 5, it can't be that bad.

This is called Moral Relativism. Look it up on the web.


Andrew replied:

Hi, Mike —

Gordon's question is clearer now: he's asking why a couple who do not wish to marry may not engage in sexual union as if they were married. He's asking if this is not mere legalism.

Let me point to the teaching of Pope John Paul II about the meaning of sex. Here I'm drawing on an article by philosopher and professor Janet Smith:

"The body is the expression of the human person, that is, we express who we are through our bodies. . . .

"We must use the expressions of the body honestly and . . . there must be a correspondence between what our bodies do and what we, as true lovers, intend. . . . John Paul II uses the phrase "language of the body"; he wants to teach us what the truth is we should be expressing with our bodies in our sexual relationships.

"John Paul II is saying that the sex act carries with it inherent meaning: it says among other things,

"I find you attractive, I marvel and rejoice in your existence; I am grateful for the gift of yourself and wish to make a gift of myself to you.' He also maintains that the act says, 'I wish to become wholly one with you."

"This is what the body expresses when it engages in sex, and that if the person engaging in sex does not intend this meaning, then he is not telling the truth with his body."

So when someone says with the body, "I make a total gift of myself to you", but withholds permanent and exclusive commitment, and is not willing to make a vow before witnesses: then the body is involved in a contradiction; it is a type of lie.

This is not a matter of mere law and commandment: it's a matter of what is really best for the human person: a real loving mutual gift of self, from each to the other.


I hope this better addresses your original question to the site,


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