Marriage and Divorce in the Orthodox Church
#21
Quote:It isn't like the Catholic Church's position is that a spouse must remain in the same household as an abusive, unfaithful spouse.  A civil divorce can be tolerated in such situations, though from the Church's perspective this is more like a permanent legal separation that protects the abused or abandoned spouse.  If one wants to consider the marriage "dissolved" in some sense as a result of terrible sins, okay.  But the problem is really the issue of remarriage, is it not?  A sacramental marriage might in practice be dead, but the sacrament is still valid.  It seems to me, and I'm not trying to look down on the Orthodox, that the Orthodox position is agreeing to divorce, even if it roots that agreement in a particular theological or pastoral reasoning.  Thinking of it as dissolving a marriage doesn't change that, as even secular courts will often refer to divorce petitions as a petition for a dissolution of marriage.

Dear SeekerofChrist, thank you for your post. I have highlighted a few sentences that I think could be beneficial to help us locate the source of our differences. 

Let me begin with your distinction between the sacramental marriage which "in practice" is dead and the "validity" of said marriage. I must admit that this line of reasoning is alien to me. I do not mean to insult you or come off as rude, but speaking of a "valid" sacrament that is de facto dead sounds like an abstraction to me; like an icon of Christ, with His face rubbed off its surface. When St. Paul speaks of marriage as a sacrament [sacramentum; μυστήριον/mystērion] in his letter to the Ephesians (5:32) for example, he clearly refers to a lived reality. What is a valid marriage, if the bond is broken? 

In the Orthodox mindset, the bond between the spouses is very similar to that between the people and their Bishop, it is the mystery of the Church. We, as a people, should gather around our Bishop, as a manifestation of being One in Christ. If the Bishop becomes an apostate, however, we will no longer gather around him; he is defrocked. It takes a canonical trial to remove him, of course, just like it takes a canonical trial to declare a marriage dead, but the bond can and sometimes should be declared dissolved. We may install a new Bishop, despite the old one living in our city, being "validly" ordained, just like we may find someone new to start a family, despite our old spouse being alive. 

I should also say that we Orthodox are not automatically allowed to remarry after the first marriage is broken, or after the death of our spouse. It is sometimes permitted, however, most often for pastoral reasons, to avoid greater evil. This tradition goes back to St. Basil the Great and the practices of his diocese in Caesarea. His letters (which has been transformed and widely used as canons in since the 6th century) tell us about the practice of readmitting a man to communion after his wife leaves him and he remarries. This tradition has since been built upon; it has influenced later canonical writings, as well as the civil legislation of the East Roman Empire. 

Of course, in the West, St. Augustine became a much more influential figure. It is well known that he formulated a clear doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and held on to the the current Latin interpretation of Scripture, which says that the Scriptural references to divorce may have authorized separation, but not remarriage. This tradition has, however, been able to co-exist with the Eastern one.
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#22
(10-07-2021, 08:20 AM)Nisse Wrote: Of course, in the West, St. Augustine became a much more influential figure. It is well known that he formulated a clear doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and held on to the the current Latin interpretation of Scripture, which says that the Scriptural references to divorce may have authorized separation, but not remarriage. This tradition has, however, been able to co-exist with the Eastern one.

I'm interested in hearing more about this. I've seen it floated by some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics who favor the Orthodox practice that the Orthodox practice was being done prior to the schism without criticism or condemnation from Rome. I don't know where to look to find if this is true, but if it is, I would like to understand how it worked and how it was perceived in the West at the time.
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#23
(10-06-2021, 05:36 PM)AlNg777 Wrote: I thought that the Catholic Church does allow divorce and remarriage in the cases of the Pauline Privilege and the Petrine Privilege.
Neither refers to a consummated sacramental marriage.
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#24
(10-07-2021, 08:20 AM)Nisse Wrote: His letters (which has been transformed and widely used as canons in since the 6th century) tell us about the practice of readmitting a man to communion after his wife leaves him and he remarries.
I don't buy that St. Basil would admit a non-repentant adulterer to communion.
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#25
(10-07-2021, 08:20 AM)Nisse Wrote:
Quote:It isn't like the Catholic Church's position is that a spouse must remain in the same household as an abusive, unfaithful spouse.  A civil divorce can be tolerated in such situations, though from the Church's perspective this is more like a permanent legal separation that protects the abused or abandoned spouse.  If one wants to consider the marriage "dissolved" in some sense as a result of terrible sins, okay.  But the problem is really the issue of remarriage, is it not?  A sacramental marriage might in practice be dead, but the sacrament is still valid.  It seems to me, and I'm not trying to look down on the Orthodox, that the Orthodox position is agreeing to divorce, even if it roots that agreement in a particular theological or pastoral reasoning.  Thinking of it as dissolving a marriage doesn't change that, as even secular courts will often refer to divorce petitions as a petition for a dissolution of marriage.

Dear SeekerofChrist, thank you for your post. I have highlighted a few sentences that I think could be beneficial to help us locate the source of our differences. 

Let me begin with your distinction between the sacramental marriage which "in practice" is dead and the "validity" of said marriage. I must admit that this line of reasoning is alien to me. I do not mean to insult you or come off as rude, but speaking of a "valid" sacrament that is de facto dead sounds like an abstraction to me; like an icon of Christ, with His face rubbed off its surface. When St. Paul speaks of marriage as a sacrament [sacramentum; μυστήριον/mystērion] in his letter to the Ephesians (5:32) for example, he clearly refers to a lived reality. What is a valid marriage, if the bond is broken? 

In the Orthodox mindset, the bond between the spouses is very similar to that between the people and their Bishop, it is the mystery of the Church. We, as a people, should gather around our Bishop, as a manifestation of being One in Christ. If the Bishop becomes an apostate, however, we will no longer gather around him; he is defrocked. It takes a canonical trial to remove him, of course, just like it takes a canonical trial to declare a marriage dead, but the bond can and sometimes should be declared dissolved. We may install a new Bishop, despite the old one living in our city, being "validly" ordained, just like we may find someone new to start a family, despite our old spouse being alive. 

I should also say that we Orthodox are not automatically allowed to remarry after the first marriage is broken, or after the death of our spouse. It is sometimes permitted, however, most often for pastoral reasons, to avoid greater evil. This tradition goes back to St. Basil the Great and the practices of his diocese in Caesarea. His letters (which has been transformed and widely used as canons in since the 6th century) tell us about the practice of readmitting a man to communion after his wife leaves him and he remarries. This tradition has since been built upon; it has influenced later canonical writings, as well as the civil legislation of the East Roman Empire. 

Of course, in the West, St. Augustine became a much more influential figure. It is well known that he formulated a clear doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and held on to the the current Latin interpretation of Scripture, which says that the Scriptural references to divorce may have authorized separation, but not remarriage. This tradition has, however, been able to co-exist with the Eastern one.

A few things occurred to me as I read your response.  A valid baptism can be rendered "dead" by the next mortal sin, yet baptism is never performed again.  I can sin repeatedly, with abandon, after my baptism and still, the baptism does not become invalid.  Our Lord instituted the sacrament of confession to handle our sins after baptism.  I'm not sure how permanent Holy Orders are in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but at least in Catholic sacramental theology, a man can be ordained a priest, then leave the Church as an apostate while still having valid Holy Orders.  But in such a circumstance, one would easily say that in practice, the man has ceased to function as a priest.  You're quite right to say that we can corrupt the sacraments we receive, but that doesn't seem to retroactively invalidate the sacrament.
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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#26
(10-07-2021, 09:31 AM)Melkite Wrote:
(10-07-2021, 08:20 AM)Nisse Wrote: Of course, in the West, St. Augustine became a much more influential figure. It is well known that he formulated a clear doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and held on to the the current Latin interpretation of Scripture, which says that the Scriptural references to divorce may have authorized separation, but not remarriage. This tradition has, however, been able to co-exist with the Eastern one.

I'm interested in hearing more about this.  I've seen it floated by some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics who favor the Orthodox practice that the Orthodox practice was being done prior to the schism without criticism or condemnation from Rome.  I don't know where to look to find if this is true, but if it is, I would like to understand how it worked and how it was perceived in the West at the time.

First of all, please forgive me for not responding sooner. I have been quite busy, but I should have taken the time...

The Eastern practice of allowing divorce under certain circumstances was generally not allowed in the West, with a few exceptions (the penitential of Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury; the Councils of Verberie in 756 and Compiégne in 757 etc.). My only point is that the two practices existed within the same communion.

The best book I have read, dealing with this topic, is "Church Law and Church Order in Rome and Byzantium" by Clarence Gallagher (d. 2013). I remember it as being quite expensive, but you could hopefully find it at your local library, if you are interested. The author (d. 2013) was a Catholic Priest and an expert in Eastern Christianity, and I believe that the book presents the complexity of this issue in a very honest way. The book would also provide you with a number of useful footnotes if you want to study the subject further.

I will also try to comment on the last post by SeekerofChrist:
Quote:A few things occurred to me as I read your response.  A valid baptism can be rendered "dead" by the next mortal sin, yet baptism is never performed again.  I can sin repeatedly, with abandon, after my baptism and still, the baptism does not become invalid.  Our Lord instituted the sacrament of confession to handle our sins after baptism.  I'm not sure how permanent Holy Orders are in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but at least in Catholic sacramental theology, a man can be ordained a priest, then leave the Church as an apostate while still having valid Holy Orders.  But in such a circumstance, one would easily say that in practice, the man has ceased to function as a priest.  You're quite right to say that we can corrupt the sacraments we receive, but that doesn't seem to retroactively invalidate the sacrament.

Dear SeekerofChrist, I do not think we would ordain a Bishop again, if He were to be reinstated to His position. My point was rather that we – the people in a certain diocese –do not need to relate to Him as our Bishop, once He is deposed, and we would elect a new man to take his position. A Bishop is related to as our Bishop if he function as our Bishop, just like a spouse is a spouse when the couple relate to each other as spouses. 

The question is therefore not whether the sacrament is valid or not, but under which circumstances it can be repeated. Catholics are allowed to repeat it when one of the spouses dies (arguing that the bond is broken, I assume?), and Orthodox are sometimes allowed to repeat it in case of death, adultery, abuse etc.
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#27
(10-24-2021, 12:11 PM)Nisse Wrote: I will also try to comment on the last post by SeekerofChrist:
Quote:A few things occurred to me as I read your response.  A valid baptism can be rendered "dead" by the next mortal sin, yet baptism is never performed again.  I can sin repeatedly, with abandon, after my baptism and still, the baptism does not become invalid.  Our Lord instituted the sacrament of confession to handle our sins after baptism.  I'm not sure how permanent Holy Orders are in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but at least in Catholic sacramental theology, a man can be ordained a priest, then leave the Church as an apostate while still having valid Holy Orders.  But in such a circumstance, one would easily say that in practice, the man has ceased to function as a priest.  You're quite right to say that we can corrupt the sacraments we receive, but that doesn't seem to retroactively invalidate the sacrament.

Dear SeekerofChrist, I do not think we would ordain a Bishop again, if He were to be reinstated to His position. My point was rather that we – the people in a certain diocese –do not need to relate to Him as our Bishop, once He is deposed, and we would elect a new man to take his position. A Bishop is related to as our Bishop if he function as our Bishop, just like a spouse is a spouse when the couple relate to each other as spouses. 

The question is therefore not whether the sacrament is valid or not, but under which circumstances it can be repeated. Catholics are allowed to repeat it when one of the spouses dies (arguing that the bond is broken, I assume?), and Orthodox are sometimes allowed to repeat it in case of death, adultery, abuse etc.

Thank you for your reply.  This is basically what I've come to realize.  The Orthodox have a different understanding of when the marital bond can be dissolved, and for me, it is a matter of which Church has the authority from Christ to settle this question.  Thanks for a very civil discussion.  It is appreciated.
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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#28
(10-24-2021, 01:03 PM)SeekerofChrist Wrote:
(10-24-2021, 12:11 PM)Nisse Wrote: I will also try to comment on the last post by SeekerofChrist:
Quote:A few things occurred to me as I read your response.  A valid baptism can be rendered "dead" by the next mortal sin, yet baptism is never performed again.  I can sin repeatedly, with abandon, after my baptism and still, the baptism does not become invalid.  Our Lord instituted the sacrament of confession to handle our sins after baptism.  I'm not sure how permanent Holy Orders are in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but at least in Catholic sacramental theology, a man can be ordained a priest, then leave the Church as an apostate while still having valid Holy Orders.  But in such a circumstance, one would easily say that in practice, the man has ceased to function as a priest.  You're quite right to say that we can corrupt the sacraments we receive, but that doesn't seem to retroactively invalidate the sacrament.

Dear SeekerofChrist, I do not think we would ordain a Bishop again, if He were to be reinstated to His position. My point was rather that we – the people in a certain diocese –do not need to relate to Him as our Bishop, once He is deposed, and we would elect a new man to take his position. A Bishop is related to as our Bishop if he function as our Bishop, just like a spouse is a spouse when the couple relate to each other as spouses. 

The question is therefore not whether the sacrament is valid or not, but under which circumstances it can be repeated. Catholics are allowed to repeat it when one of the spouses dies (arguing that the bond is broken, I assume?), and Orthodox are sometimes allowed to repeat it in case of death, adultery, abuse etc.

Thank you for your reply.  This is basically what I've come to realize.  The Orthodox have a different understanding of when the marital bond can be dissolved, and for me, it is a matter of which Church has the authority from Christ to settle this question.  Thanks for a very civil discussion.  It is appreciated.


Thank you as well!
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