The tale of two wives: A Pauline conceptual imagery

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By Arul Valan

Anthonyraj was married six years ago. Unfortunately, he had no issues with his wife. Eager to have children, he married a second wife; of course, it was not a Church marriage. It was anathema.

The first wife initially reluctant later gave in and got reconciled. But the Church could not be reconciled. The Code of Canon Law forbids a man who had married a second woman while the first was alive, from receiving any Sacrament and he is automatically excommunicated from the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church forbids polygamy as a grave offense against marriage and contrary to the original plan of God and equal dignity of human beings. Naturally, Anthony was not allowed to receive the sacraments and participate in any of the church groups.

Anthonyraj was from a small-town parish. The parish had a big Church, three cemeteries (one each for each Caste), two burial carts (one for the caste Christians and the other for the casteless Christians). Besides, it also had within its canonical boundary, a marriage hall owned by a specific community, with the name of the community written in bold letters on top of the Hall- “Christian ***  community Marriage hall.”  

Something was gnawing at Anthony’s thoughts for quite some time. “It is okay that I am banned from the parish for marrying two women,” Anthony thought to himself.” This is the law of the Church and the land. But other Christians who call themselves Christians also are married to two persons.

One is Jesus (in the Pauline concept of Christ married to the Church). The other seems to be their Caste.” He remembered vaguely what he had read in the Bible…in Galatians 3:28.

Anthonyraj was wondering how these Christians could live with Jesus and at the same time with the Caste. He was trying to figure it out. The twin identity of the Caste Christians seemed to him strange bed-fellows. Is it not bigamy in the Pauline parlance? They seem to be wedded to two realities.

He would not dare ask the parish priest. As he was passing by the Church, a hymn to the Holy Spirit was being played over the Church speakers. As he quietly walked towards his home, he silently whispered a prayer, for the wisdom to understand this mystery.

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