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After reading the recently posted annulment advice thread, I couldn’t help but offer my own opinion about the whole question on divorce, annulments, and the general state of marriage in our times. This is going to be a little of a rant, so please forgive me. 

Let me start by defining what I mean by divorce. By divorce, I refer to a separation from one’s spouse that allows for possible remarriage to another. This act is also called ”dissolving the marriage.”    

Now we all know that Christ forbids divorce. This is the teaching that must be followed, no exceptions. Except, it seems that there are man-made exceptions.

The Catholic Church doesn’t allow for divorce (dissolution of marriage). But the Church created annulments, solemn statements that declare that the marriage never took place. If there is no marriage there is no divorce. Sound logic, but it’s pretty hard to say that a man and woman, participated in the marital liturgy, produced children, but some sort of „impediment” is found and the couple were suddenly, „never married.” The logic may be correct, but does not conform to reality. Moreover, one can still separate from one’s spouse and remarry. Moreover, no matter how limited the number of annulments, no matter how scrutinised, such an option exists, even if technically framed in such a way as to appear that there is no divorce (dissolution of marriage). Finally, there is no numerical limitation to the number of annulments (that I know of), nor does the Catholic Church hold that marriage is eternal.   
 
Despite my criticism of the Catholic Church, I’m also equally, but differently, critical of the Orthodox Churches' approach to divorce. The Orthodox Churches allow divorce as part of ”economic” approach to sinful tendencies. The Churches claim that the marital bond is susceptible to sin, like anything else, thus divorce, like any sin is possible. Thus, the marital bond, through its susceptibility to sin, can be dissolved. The Orthodox Churches, however, still claim that marriage is eternal (death does separate). So basically, you sin, you confess, and we will remarry you, albeit with a penitential version of liturgy. This practise is nothing more than an accomodation of sin. Finally, the Orthodox Churches place numerical limitations on the number of remarriages (three). 

As I wrote earlier, Christ forbids divorce. It is from this simple, yet strong, prohibition that I believe that both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are wrong. East and West simply walk around Christ’s teachings without directly rejecting them. 

Instead of divorces (as I defined earlier), the Churches should only permit separations, meaning that the man and woman do not live together as husband and wife, but cannot ever enter into another marital bond. 

I agree with the Orthodox notion that marriage is eternal. I also realise that there are instances of spousal abuse. But separation acknowledges these symptoms of man’s sinfulness without committing another sin, namely dissolving the marital bond and thus freeing the spouses to enter into another marriage (prohibited by Christ). Morevoer, the separation that I proposed, would not dissolve the existing marital bond, despite the spouses living apart, because the prohibition against remarriage acknowledges the existence of a bond between the spouses.

Anyway, I’m sure to receive many angry comments, and I apologise up front. I just felt the need to voice my ideas, given the seeming rejection of Christ’s teaching by those entrusted to preserve them (the Churches).
But marriages can be objectively invalid, and thus non-existent. 

Suppose a man leaves his wife and fakes his own death. Later, he desires to “marry” a woman, and uses forged documents to “marry” her in the Church. Since his actual wife is still alive, there is no marriage. The woman he deceived into “marrying” him finds out, and tells the Church authorities. Since her “husband” was not free to marry, she is not married and is thus free to marry.

Note also that this isn’t a matter of guilt or innocence: suppose his actual wife has remarried, thinking her first husband is dead. She had acted in good faith, but her “second marriage” is nonetheless non-existent. Her husband is alive, and she thus cannot marry.

I agree with you that declarations of nullity are being given out promiscuously, and that most people who appear to be married are in fact married. I believe, however, that there are some situations where marriage cannot be valid. Preventing people in invalid marriages who deceived their “spouse” from marrying again may be a good legal penalty, but future marriages under other circumstances are ontologically possible.
(11-03-2017, 05:40 PM)Optatus Cleary Wrote: [ -> ]But marriages can be objectively invalid, and thus non-existent. 

Suppose a man leaves his wife and fakes his own death. Later, he desires to “marry” a woman, and uses forged documents to “marry” her in the Church. Since his actual wife is still alive, there is no marriage. The woman he deceived into “marrying” him finds out, and tells the Church authorities. Since her “husband” was not free to marry, she is not married and is thus free to marry.

Note also that this isn’t a matter of guilt or innocence: suppose his actual wife has remarried, thinking her first husband is dead. She had acted in good faith, but her “second marriage” is nonetheless non-existent. Her husband is alive, and she thus cannot marry.

I agree with you that declarations of nullity are being given out promiscuously, and that most people who appear to be married are in fact married. I believe, however, that there are some situations where marriage cannot be valid. Preventing people in invalid marriages who deceived their “spouse” from marrying again may be a good legal penalty, but future marriages under other circumstances are ontologically possible.

Well, if one holds to the Catholic teaching that marriage ends at death, then yes, another marriage is ontologically possible. However, I believe, as do the Orthodox Churches, that marriage is eternal, and therefore death does not render remarriage possible even after the death of one of the spouses. In your second hypothetical scenario, the woman would not have been able to remarry regardless of the veracity concerning her husband’s death, because the first marriage is eternal. 

Honestly, apart from the practise of annulments itself, that is my biggest problem with the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage. If divorce (dissolving the marital bond) is impossible for men, why should death have any reign over what is Christ's? Christ through His Resurrection, conquered death and through His blessing in the Mystery of marriage, the marital bond likewise shares in His Victory.

While the Orthodox, in my opinion, are right about the eternity of marriage, they blatantly concede to sin by allowing man’s sinfulness to overcome Christ’s victory through their toleration of divorce (despite their limitations, "penitential” practises, and other justifications.)

Imagine a society where only death of one spouse allows for remarriage. Spouses would start killing each other just to be free to remarry. We can’t allow such conditions to be created. 
Thus, widows and widowers should not be allowed to remarry. That should be the rule. However, because of the complication of fatherless/motherless of minority (underage) children, the question of remarriage should be dealt with case-by-case. Children need two parents, the mother and father. However, we want to avoid providing incentives for remarriage. The preference would be that the widow/widower would join the household of the most closely related (and materially stable) married couple, with the widow’s/widower’s minority children being adopted by the aforementioned couple.     

These are simply some possible solutions that seek to avoid allowing for remarriage after the death of one spouse. My model is based on the Orthodox practise of married priests. The priest is allowed to be married only once. He cannot remarry after the death of his wife. Of course, the reason (prohibition against clerical marriage) is different, but the practise is worth emulating.
If marriage is eternal, how do the Orthodox explain Matthew 22:30? "For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven." The context, of course, is the woman with seven husbands, and the Sadducees asking whose wife she will be in heaven.
(11-06-2017, 04:37 PM)Paul Wrote: [ -> ]If marriage is eternal, how do the Orthodox explain Matthew 22:30? "For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven." The context, of course, is the woman with seven husbands, and the Sadducees asking whose wife she will be in heaven.

Here is one Orthodox counter based on Scripture and the greatest of the Fathers, St John Chrysostom (Ancient Faith: ”Concerning Eternal Marriage”) 

Continuity and Discontinuity


In Christ’s resurrection, He guarantees and models our resurrection. In understanding the state of resurrected humanity in the Kingdom of God, and how that relates to marriage, it is helpful to think in terms of continuity and discontinuity.
On the one hand, there is an essential continuity between our earthly, mortal bodies, and our bodies after the resurrection, just as there is between Christ’s body before and after His resurrection. The scars from the nails and spear were still visible. The body that died on the cross was the same body that was raised. Our human nature remains human nature, even after the attributes are changed (vs. a strictly Gnostic conception of purely spiritual bodies, with no continuity with the mortal ones).
On the other hand, the risen Christ passed through locked doors on the day of His resurrection. This is the discontinuity side. What is sown perishable is raised imperishable; the mortal puts on immortality. “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). So the goal is “neither escape from the body nor satisfaction of the body, but spiritualization of the body” (Trenham, p. 245, emphasis by the author).
If you have stayed with me so far, here is the application of a biblical anthropology and theology of the resurrection, for marriage: there is continuity and discontinuity.

When the Lord spoke to the Sadducees about marriage in heaven (Mt. 22:23-33), He made it clear that “in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” That is, the earthly purposes of marriage, to suppress man’s licentiousness and to procreate, are irrelevant in the Kingdom. All the earthly concerns of a married couple: sexual intercourse, birth-giving, possessions, etc., are part of the “form of this world” which is passing away. “They are like the angels in of God heaven” (Mt. 22:30).
But there is one aspect of marriage that is eternal: “Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:8). St. John Chrysostom reminds us that married Christians are known to be such in the Judgment and in the Kingdom. We will recognize and delight in our spouses and in our children. We will be restored, not to marriage, but to something better, a union of souls, rather than bodies, a union that begins in marriage and reaches a far more sublime condition (cf. Chrysostom’s Letter to a Young Widow).
(11-07-2017, 02:14 PM)Klemens Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-06-2017, 04:37 PM)Paul Wrote: [ -> ]If marriage is eternal, how do the Orthodox explain Matthew 22:30? "For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven." The context, of course, is the woman with seven husbands, and the Sadducees asking whose wife she will be in heaven.

Here is one Orthodox counter based on Scripture and the greatest of the Fathers, St John Chrysostom (Ancient Faith: ”Concerning Eternal Marriage”) 

Continuity and Discontinuity


In Christ’s resurrection, He guarantees and models our resurrection. In understanding the state of resurrected humanity in the Kingdom of God, and how that relates to marriage, it is helpful to think in terms of continuity and discontinuity.
On the one hand, there is an essential continuity between our earthly, mortal bodies, and our bodies after the resurrection, just as there is between Christ’s body before and after His resurrection. The scars from the nails and spear were still visible. The body that died on the cross was the same body that was raised. Our human nature remains human nature, even after the attributes are changed (vs. a strictly Gnostic conception of purely spiritual bodies, with no continuity with the mortal ones).
On the other hand, the risen Christ passed through locked doors on the day of His resurrection. This is the discontinuity side. What is sown perishable is raised imperishable; the mortal puts on immortality. “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). So the goal is “neither escape from the body nor satisfaction of the body, but spiritualization of the body” (Trenham, p. 245, emphasis by the author).
If you have stayed with me so far, here is the application of a biblical anthropology and theology of the resurrection, for marriage: there is continuity and discontinuity.

When the Lord spoke to the Sadducees about marriage in heaven (Mt. 22:23-33), He made it clear that “in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” That is, the earthly purposes of marriage, to suppress man’s licentiousness and to procreate, are irrelevant in the Kingdom. All the earthly concerns of a married couple: sexual intercourse, birth-giving, possessions, etc., are part of the “form of this world” which is passing away. “They are like the angels in of God heaven” (Mt. 22:30).
But there is one aspect of marriage that is eternal: “Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:8). St. John Chrysostom reminds us that married Christians are known to be such in the Judgment and in the Kingdom. We will recognize and delight in our spouses and in our children. We will be restored, not to marriage, but to something better, a union of souls, rather than bodies, a union that begins in marriage and reaches a far more sublime condition (cf. Chrysostom’s Letter to a Young Widow).

That letter from St. John Chrysostom seems to be describing the perfected love of the communion of Saints in Heaven, rather than a special marital relationship in Heaven.  There is no marriage in Heaven, but there is a greater love to be shared there.
If one's spouse and children make it to heaven (and obviously oneself), surely they would share a great love for each other. However, a similar love would also be given to the entirety of the people in heaven. Whether the degree of love between a spouse and his family would be greater than that which is given to others I have no idea. Same could be said for friends and other family (parents, siblings, cousins, etc).