I recently learned an acquaintance has been seeing a psychotherapist for depression. The counselor practices Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.
After a year of counseling, he found himself significantly improved from his 20-year battle, to the point of calling himself cured. Newly awakened, my acquaintance, a husband and father, has decided he should never have married and is seeking a divorce. He finds his marriage unwelcoming, even to the point of mechanical. He believes the Catholic Church will allow annulment. How so? Well, his logic is based entirely upon mental state, that since he was mentally handicapped (i.e., in depressed) when married and accepting his vows, he can seek freedom and receive God’s grace.
As Philip Yancey would say, anyone who writes about grace must confront grace’s ugly side, loopholes. Retrospectively, if Moses and David could murder and God still loved them, why not a father freed from the prison of depression?
Loopholes have both personal and moral consequences. Of course his decision to leave will mostly likely inflict heavy, permanent damage on his wife and children. Even so, the force of living propels him forward, unto a new and brighter world. In essence, when most of us ask for grace, we confuse condoning and forgiving.
What my acquaintance is actually doing is simply ignoring the fact of his marital bonds, as he neglected to request and accept forgiveness. A man who admits no guilt cannot expect to receive grace. While I am happy he overcame depression, does he rationalize his decision as a way of escaping marriage?
In truth, many of us rationalize ourselves with accusers seen in life. Everyone wants to rip the flesh of some poor soul who deserves it, often chillingly destroying that person’s life forever. Think I’m wrong, just read the New York Times or any tabloid magazine.
My larger point is not whether the husband or wife mentioned should stay married or not. Certainly, I am unaware of their marital dynamics and I wish not to negate nor diminish those who have to separate. Still, often times we can only advance in God’s love by trembling, being humbled and without excuse, and begging for mercy, i.e., grace. I rarely see this very humbling experience and wonder what true repentance looks like, even in myself.
We need to move away from the “Yeah, I know it’s wrong, but I will ask for grace later” mentality. For me, just as blood nourishes and keeps life flowing, loving one another actually nourishes our spiritual freedom, and in turn, love is kept flowing. By severing relationships so easily, we actually sever our true path of freedom, the one God calls “a religion of love.”
Love is the path to full spiritual liberation. Too bad most of us miss it.