Pope Francis thinks modern marriages are invalid

Pope Francis is concerned because young people today “don’t know what it means” to be married.

Pope Francis raised eyebrows last week when he said that most modern marriages are “invalid”.  In a series of off-the-cuff remarks, the pope explained that young people these days “live in a culture of the provisional” and don’t truly understand what it means to get married. He blamed them for taking a cavalier approach to marriage and disregarding how serious of a commitment it is. The pope also expressed disdain for modern societal views which permit divorce as soon as a marriage becomes “inconvenient”. While his statement didn’t constitute an official declaration, it still caused a stir. Could Pope Francis be right?

Divorce On the Rise?

Many of us have seen the statistic: a staggering 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t a new phenomenon. Divorce rates have remained that high since way back in the 1980s. So while certainly discouraging, it’s not as if the situation has recently taken a turn for the worse. So are there other aspects to consider?

Marriage Motivations

Many couples decide to get married after careful thought and because they truly love each other. However, there are also plenty who get married for the wrong reasons. Some are overeager and choose to tie the knot prematurely. Others are swayed into marriage by economic incentives, such as tax breaks or military benefits. Sometimes couples decide to get married after being pressured into it by their friends or family members. In that sense, Pope Francis may have a point: some people simply don’t understand the consequences of saying “I do”. Is it possible that the institution of marriage has lost its sanctity?

An Evolving Institution  

Cynics are quick to point out that for the vast majority of its history, marriage was anything but sacred. It was a patriarchal concept which brought order to society. Arranged marriages were common, and people married out of practicality, not love. Wives were subordinate to their husbands, and extramarital affairs were common. Divorce, however, was not. The result was that married couples were frequently stuck in miserable relationships. This might lead some to argue that marriage never had much sanctity in the first place.

However, all of this points to the larger trend of marriage as an evolving institution. It has changed significantly over time, and will likely continue to do so – for better or for worse.

Religion, Too?A small church house

One of our Facebook friends brought up an intriguing idea: could this same concept be applied to religion? That is to say, do some people approach faith with the same imprudence they do marriage? There may be some truth to this opinion.

Studies have shown that when asked, the vast majority of Americans claim they are religious. In reality though, only a small percentage regularly attend religious services or are active in their place of worship. It would seem that people are more concerned with keeping up the appearance of faith, than they are in actually practicing it. This tendency suggests a strange and unhealthy attitude towards religion.

Outspoken Pope

Since being elected in 2013, Pope Francis has gained a reputation for being a progressive and outspoken leader on social issues. His response to a recent question regarding the church’s treatment of gay people has only cemented this opinion. In what has been hailed as a “groundbreaking moment”, he declared that Christians should apologize to gay people and others who have suffered at the hands of the church throughout history. The significance of this cannot be glossed over – this was the first time a pope has apologized to the LGBT community. He also condemned all forms of discrimination, and said the church must “ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons”.


What are we to make of all this? The pope has left little doubt as to where he stands on the issues. He made history by apologizing to gay people on behalf of the church and calling for other Christians to do so as well. His wider criticism of modern marriage may have some legitimacy, but it’s also true that institution of marriage is constantly changing and evolving. What do you think? Does our society have a careless attitude toward marriage? And is Pope Francis right that Christians owe gay people an apology?



  1. Joe Stutler says:

    Poor old git. For someone who has never been married, his sharing his opinion is just silly.

    1. mega says:

      Lol agreed

    2. Betty Ann Hadtings says:

      You don’t have to have been married to recognize that it’s a serious commitment.

      1. robynreviere says:

        This is true, Betty Ann. I am not currently married, I was young and wed for noble reasons, but when my then husband asked me to leave I was devastated. I did not want a divorce, but he had decided to call it quits and he did. Had he the strength of commitment to me, and our family I would have a different tale to tell. We are friends now but it took a few years for him to understand the co parenting aspect. God had other plans for me so onward I go.

    3. Rev paul says:

      I think some get married and don’t understand marriage i love. And respect my wife and we work hard for our marriage

    4. Brother John says:

      Let’s remember that the “poor old git” is the first Jesuit pope. Here are a few quotes about the Jesuits to ponder before writing Francis off as just another tottering old man with a funny hat. You may also want to research his connection with the brutal military regime in Argentina (aka Naziland).


  2. Lauren Sherwood says:

    We live in a culture that thrives on separating and dividing when in the Divine sense, we are actually all the same and all one! The honor and the Gratitude has been left behind and we are all scrambling to figure out who and why we are by looking outside of ourselves. Love starts on the inside and is then radiated out! I think many of us are very naive and uneducated in the spiritual ways when we go into marriage. We follow all the rules and rituals of the past without understanding or questioning what and why they are. At 57 years old, a seven year marriage that ended in divorce and two kids later, I am finally beginning to understand that service to others is only possible, in a healthy way, once we have learned to serve and love ourselves with the same honor and respect! That is NOT something that is cultivated in our culture! We all want, want, want and forget to be thankful and honor and respect who and what we have and who we are! I guess that means that I do understand and agree with what the Pope is saying in terms of marriage and also religion!

    1. Diane Baum says:

      Very well said!

  3. J. K. Harrill says:

    I have preached for years the truth most marriages are not for Biblical Reasons but for Legal Rights! It’s not because of Gods Word but The Judges Decision that couples marry! Upwords of 70 % of all children in Public Schools are from Dysfunctional Famlies, Biological Mother and Father are not together!

    1. Bri says:

      I totally agree with your there where I live the community has more dysfunctional families than anything else going wrong within the community. I see many children who are lost an their parents are just as lost an not got anything together spiritually, physically, emotionally anyway you look at it there is just one big mess!

  4. hsw says:

    My marriage is far more valid than the Pope’s opinion of my marriage.

    1. Joe Langer says:

      I doubt the Pope was expressing an opinion on your marriage specifically, or on all marriages.

  5. Lloyd Hargrove says:

    How about, “You no play’a da game, you no make’a da rules!”
    Want to save the Catholic Church? Let priests and nuns marry. “Forbidding marriage is the doctrine of devils”

    1. Camilla says:

      Nobody is requiring them to take vows as priests or nuns of celibacy is not for them.

  6. George Worley says:

    And what does he say about my 36 years of “Marriage?” It is invalid too as marriage is between a man and a woman according to his church not a man and a man. He has brought some good to his church however in the long run it still is very lacking. You still have men of the cloth molesting children. You still have them not able to marry. You still have women who cannot be clergy. Until the these things change, the Roman Catholic Church IMHO is full of hypocrisy. Worldwide Christianity is on the decline.

    Like it are not Pope marriage is evolving and there is not one thing you can do about it. It is time for you to come out of the dark ages.

    1. hsw says:

      So true – the concept of family has become beautifully fluid.

      I’m sure he’d call my 20-year marriage invalid because I was married before and divorced. Thankfully his approval is not necessary to my peace of mind or my marriage.

    2. Morris Glidden says:

      Only God can judge what is right and what is wrong. When you look at nature and you see homosexual behavior in animals, you don’t hear the Pope come out and make a comment on that and they are God creatures. So if God allows it in nature then it is allowed in man.

  7. Kieran Nolan says:

    In second grade, I had an argument in class with my teacher, a nun. She asked the class if anyone knew why people got married. My hand shot up. I said it was because they fell in love and wanted to spend the rest of their life with that person. My teacher told me I was wrong. She stated that the reason people got married was to have children. Even at age seven, I could see the cold hard truth in her statement. The church needed more little Catholics to grow up and perpetuate the church. Marriage had nothing to do with love or the needs of the people who were married. Fortunately, I blew off her cynical attitude and followed my heart. I’ve been with my wife 33 years because our relationship is based on LOVE. My wife’s first marriage was performed in the Catholic church, so according to the church our marriage is INVALID. What is invalid is the reasoning that has perpetuated the beliefs that the church has pushed for thousands of years. I agree with Frank that many people don’t take marriage seriously. It’s great to have a pope who is actually thinking about the problems, but he needs to address the archaic attitudes of the institution as well.

  8. Diane Baum says:

    I am stepping out a bit here and asking all of you to just take a moment and realize that maybe what his initial words meant were taken out of context as a sound bite. Marriage is a serious institution. Many people do go into it with all the right intents but somehow, those intents become marred. I was married for 25 years to an abusive person. I had four kids. Although I tried everything to make that marriage right, I had to end it because I could no longer deal with the “what if’s?” and my kids should not have witnessed the day in day out struggles of watching their mom be hurt. Today’s “celebrities” make a mockery out of marriage, to them it’s all about the hype rather than the commitment. What the pope is trying to tell us is that it is the daily struggles that make us or break us and how we deal with that as couples. Some couple will turn tail and flee, while others will stand firm and realize they are in it for the long haul. I believe he wants us to realize that marriage is for the “long haul” duration…and stick with it when possible. Did I know that the one I had married was going to become abusive? No. But I can hold my head up and know that I tried…so very hard! Every relationship is unique. I don’t think the pope would want our kids to be harmed in bad marriages by watching mom and dad’s bitter fights. I also believe that he understands that many of us do try our best…but for some of us, even the best wasn’t good enough.

  9. sont143 says:

    I think the old fella is referring to his constituents. Under the rules of the Roman Catholic Church, divorce is never permitted. Annulment, granted by an ecclesiastical court, is a possibility. However, this means quite literally that the marriage was invalid from day 1. The major causes for this are: 1-Non-disclosure of a pre-existing mental or physical ailment; 2-Non-disclosed homosexuality; 3-Unwillingness to have children; 4-Lack of psychological preparedness for marriage. The last of the conditions leaves a lot to the discretion of the court.. However, it has been my experience that alcoholism, adultery, and abuse almost never qualify as lack of preparedness, so don’t ask what that means. It would, therefore, appear to me that he is talking to Catholics rather than those of us who could not care less.

    1. Diane Baum says:

      and the very sad thing is that when I was going through my 25 years of hell in an abusive marriage, my priest thought that to have our hellish marriage “blessed” would save us. We were already married in the church, but for some insane reason, he felt that to renew our vows would make my then husband realize just how special our union was. All it did was have him turn on me even more. It was ridiculous! My then husband expected me to “obey” him. “Obey”…as if I were a dog. He felt that because of that one word, he could beat me at will, verbally put me down and then, go to church on Sunday and receive Communion anyway. Yet I was told that if I divorced him, the Church would not grant me an annulment. It’s all about RULES & REGULATIONS! Luckily, (God forgive me for putting it that way, but it’s true,) he passed away only three years later from cancer. It was over, I was finally–in the eyes of the Church, free to marry again. After much counseling, I found someone who was worthy and we have been happily married since 2010.

      1. Susan Colmenares says:

        God bless you both. I wish you all the happiness in the world.

  10. Paul says:

    From my perspective, the problem with broad-brush statements like these are the
    same with all broad-brush statements: It takes the observations of some and applies
    judgment to all. It’s distorted logic
    When I got married, there were plenty of people saying the same thing.
    That was 39 years ago and we have a wonderful relationship and marriage
    with 2 great daughters and 3 grandchildren.

  11. John Owens says:

    This pope is ridiculous. For all his education, he doesn’t know what he believes.

    1. Ron L. says:

      At least he has a mind of his own! He is uncorrupted by the lies in the bible that every pope before him relied on.

  12. Joe Langer says:

    I had one very short marriage a long time ago. I got married for the wrong reasons, and without knowing my spouse as well as I should have. I was lonely and she was the first to give me the attention I craved. But she turned out to be a con artist, a thief and a pathological liar. By the time I understood that she was not who I thought she was, it was already over. So I do know what the Pope is talking about, and I agree with him. I would love to get married again, but this time to the right woman, for the right reasons, and knowing what I’m getting into.

  13. Dr. Valerie Ann Grimes, M.Ed., Th.D. says:

    God bless you sir. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit is still working on the earth. I was just speaking to a group yesterday about knowing the true meaning about the purpose of God’s house and why it was really built. The zeal without knowledge is in every city and state: marriage, academia, parenting, investments, and just plain coexisting.

  14. Kevin Zeller says:

    The only reference to DIVORCE found in KJV Bible is this…

    Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and *given her a bill of divorce;* yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.


    Jesus had a few words to add to this general proviso, but, then again…


  15. Dennis E. Loucks says:

    As general statements go it has some validity. As a reality… not so much. Marriage is in general a social contract, that said we also bless these marriages. To enter into this contract and ask for a sacred blessing should be viewed very seriously.
    It is important to distinguish the difference between religions too. Marriages of other faiths are not the Popes to judge.

    I agree marriage is serious and needs to be entered into with due thought, but you can’t invalidate the contract of to loving people.

  16. Jason Blevins says:

    Me & my will 6 months since she left she left me & the kids, 14 4 & 3, & I work 16 years we were 2 gether. The guy was younger than her, no job, lived with his mom & is a gamer. Convicted of second degree rape.

  17. Stella says:

    Christians owe an apology to just about everyone. As for marriage – it isn’t necessary. People don’t need a piece of paper to make their love “legal” or their children “legitimate.”

  18. Shilo Kings says:

    Once upon a time, I knew someone that went to marry someone with wrong motives. I warned them, not to mess with marriage vows,
    because God takes them very seriously. This person did not listen, and while they were away, they were on a tree enjoying the scenery (no code) and when they jumped down, the ring got stuck on a limb, and it ripped her entire finger with the ring off. She had to have it sewed back on.

    moral of the story, yes, society had devalued what it marriage means.

    Its not a paper, or 75-85 bucks you pay. Marriage is an (inward) commitment of the heart.
    you can have a ring, and the paper, but without the inward commitment, you don’t have a marriage, you have an arrangement.
    Weddings today and all its merchandise, is a well advertised event, with a stage to boot.
    Doesn’t mean you have a marriage.

    Its like those that claim to be christians, who have the t-shirts, the designer bible, and such, but no evidence of what that word
    Means in their life.

    Anyway, thats just my opinion.

  19. Shilo Kings says:

    The kind of commitment that is not just emotionally vested, but just as fierce in a passionate commitment, for the sake of the vows,
    even when your heart is tested.

  20. Susan Winthrop says:

    I thought this was an interesting perspective. I do have to mention that one does not have to go to temple, church etc. to be religious. I myself light Friday night candles, wrap Tefillin, say the Sh’ma upon waking and before going to bed. I also believe that who I am, the way I hold myself out in the world is based on my religious and spiritual beliefs…my temple is our G-d given world and all G-d’s creatures human or otherwise…

  21. Sharon LaVerda says:

    A big problem with the future of “Christians” is that their classes as children taught doctrine expecting the parents to teach the relationship. The relationship wasn’t there to teach. That is why there is no evidence of what that word means in their life. It seems to me it is too often like that in marriage. It is about the party, how much they can drink at it, the clothes and not having to listen to their parents anymore. The relationship maybe hasn’t been there in the parents marriage to teach what marriage should be about. I have actually had more than one couple say to me to keep the ceremony really short because they are just interested in the party.

  22. Karsten S. A. Johansson says:

    I don’t really care what it is called and whether divorce is convenient and statistically highly probable. What I care about is when you make the vow to your God “Til Death Do We Part,” you shouldn’t be so easily persuaded to go against that vow. Don’t promise your deity something you can’t or won’t keep. I don’t believe divorce is a sin. I do believe making promises to God that you can’t keep *is* using the Lord’s name in vain.

  23. Rev. Donna says:

    I do think marriage is a concept which was initiated to bring order to society. Whether it is taken seriously or not will probably always be debatable. Many people have lived together for many years without the ‘license’ & a piece of paper does not guarantee commitment or stability. However, it does have a place in society and many other concepts are built around it.
    I commend the Pope for his apology to the gay community. That is a major step in the right direction & for bringing peace.

  24. Jim says:

    First, let’s remember that priests and nuns are married to God. It’s a very serious commitment and obviously one to which a person is drawn. But, as commitments go, let’s also remember that priests and nuns do not have arguments over household finances, who’s turn it is to take out the trash, and leaving the toilet seat up. It’s a commitment, but it’s not a marriage with another human being. Being married to the Invisible Man up in the sky results in a lot of one-sided conversations.

    Since this article focused on the Pope, I’ll pick on the Catholic church for a bit. I find it funny that the Catholic church considers divorce to be a sin. But if you have enough money, you make a sizable donation to your church, and the church will nullify your marriage so that your second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.) marriage will be recognized. What a joke! You can have a 30-year marriage nullified, rendering any children from that marriage bastards, just so your next marriage is recognized by your church. Am I the only one that sees the humor in this?

    I think a marriage license should be like a driver’s license. You should have to renew it every five years. That would make divorce a lot easier and cheaper.

  25. Steven P Robinson says:

    I have to admit that my wife is a mystery at times, as I am to her (and an exasperation), however we both committed to each other. Our friends considered us married from day one, because we were bonded from the get go, did not get the piece of paper for over 4 years after she accepted me into her life.

    Must be doing something right as 2 February made 38 years for us, June 26 being 34 years legally wedded.

    That’s the point, I think, commitment to each other, in total, no matter what life throws at you.

    I stuck by her when she was unable to work for 15 years due to PTSD and other effects of service connected disabilities (we met at military college in Vermont and both served, her in the USAF me in the USAFR). She went through the incredibly difficult time of watching me during my illness last year (I am, as of now, a pancreatic cancer survivor).

    Not giving up, being each other’f friend…romance is nice, but it doesn’t last and won’t carry you through the years.

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