Divorce and Communion: the "traditionalists" aren't very traditional

In this new article for Commonweal David Bentley Hart says pretty much everything I was thinking about the hardline Roman Catholic stance regarding divorce and remarriage, and gives a nice bit of historical background.
«134

Comments

  • I also like the article, especially its comments about the dishonesty of annulment as a concept and the damage it incurs. Where is IngoB to put me right?
  • I think I may have mentioned this before, but when I worked for another denomination we had a wedding where the bride and groom had no fewer than five previous marriages between them, all anulled, though none on the grounds of non-consummation since the place was heaving with children from these ill-starred unions. Of course, the bride wore white :grin:
  • I think I may have mentioned this before, but when I worked for another denomination we had a wedding where the bride and groom had no fewer than five previous marriages between them, all anulled, though none on the grounds of non-consummation since the place was heaving with children from these ill-starred unions. Of course, the bride wore white :grin:

    Was it an RC wedding?

    If a valid marriage is indissoluble, then I think the Church should be extremely charitable in dealing with the realities of human relationships.

    Although (not having read the article), I think it is interesting that the Chuch is much more willing to look into the mental state (formation of conscience) of people who were married years and years ago than it is to consider whether or not a longtime priest might not have been sufficiently mentally prepared to validly enter into Holy Orders - with all the repercussions that would have on the validity of the sacraments celebrated by that priest over the years (aside from baptisms and weddings, which in the RCC do not require a priest to valid - the two spouses to be being the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony).

    Or are the requirements for the formation of conscience for the sacrament of matrimony different than those for Holy Orders, maybe because the bishop doing the ordaining, not someone being ordained is not the minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders? Am I getting that right?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited August 27
    Was it an RC wedding?

    If a valid marriage is indissoluble, then I think the Church should be extremely charitable in dealing with the realities of human relationships.

    @stonespring there's a fundamental problem with this. The whole doctrine of indissolubility is dependent on imposing a logical consistency on the facts irrespective of the human realities that underlie them. It isn't just based on choosing which of the gospel versions take precedence. It also depends on the argument,
    • marriage is a sacrament.
    • sacraments are irreversible.
    • therefore marriage is indissoluble,
    note, not 'should not be dissolved' but 'cannot be dissolved'.

    If one accepts that theology (I don't) then 'the Church' cannot be charitable because it can't accommodate 'the realities of human relationships'. They are irrelevant, merely a temptation to be generous when generosity cannot (not should not) be extended. Generosity would be denying 'the truth', deluding people into thinking that adultery isn't adultery.

    This may sound harsh, but that's because it is harsh. Habitually, it punishes the victims, because the guilty don't care anyway.

    Besides, logic would also say that if the lack of intention meant that the marriage didn't gel, then it didn't gel, was no marriage, whether either of the couple ever sought an annulment or not. Couples who married without the right intention, the potentially annullable, are living in sin. It is their moral duty to separate. I'm fairly nobody is saying that, which I regard as a strong persuasive argument against this whole approach.

    The core of the problem is treating 'sacrament' as a sort of magic word, and claiming that if something is a sacrament, it cannot be broken, rather than shouldn't be.

    Within it is something even more fundamental, which is that I think it betrays an insufficient appreciation of what Incarnation means.
    Although (not having read the article), I think it is interesting that the Church is much more willing to look into the mental state (formation of conscience) of people who were married years and years ago than it is to consider whether or not a longtime priest might not have been sufficiently mentally prepared to validly enter into Holy Orders - with all the repercussions that would have on the validity of the sacraments celebrated by that priest over the years (aside from baptisms and weddings, which in the RCC do not require a priest to valid - the two spouses to be being the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony).

    Or are the requirements for the formation of conscience for the sacrament of matrimony different than those for Holy Orders, maybe because the bishop doing the ordaining, not someone being ordained is not the minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders? Am I getting that right?

    That's an interesting parallel. If marriage can be annulled for lack of the right intention in either party, and ordination is also a sacrament, then I think I agree with your logic that it's inconsistent to treat ordination differently. The logic that would follow demonstrates the nonsense of indissolubility and annulment arguments.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    It also depends on the argument,
    • marriage is a sacrament.
    • sacraments are irreversible.
    • therefore marriage is indissoluble,
    note, not 'should not be dissolved' but 'cannot be dissolved'.

    If one accepts that theology (I don't) then 'the Church' cannot be charitable because it can't accommodate 'the realities of human relationships'.

    The Sabbath Marriage was made for man, not man for the Sabbath marriage.
  • One of the tricks the RCC plays with the sacrament of marriage is that it makes the bride and groom the ministers of the sacrament rather than the priest. If it were the priest, presumably it could not be annulled. But since it is the couple, they can do it wrong and thus it becomes annullable. It's a cutesy cheat.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    One of the tricks the RCC plays with the sacrament of marriage is that it makes the bride and groom the ministers of the sacrament rather than the priest. If it were the priest, presumably it could not be annulled. But since it is the couple, they can do it wrong and thus it becomes annullable. It's a cutesy cheat.

    Isn't this argument just marginally dressed-up donatism?
  • Do you refer to my argument, or do what I represent as the Catholic Church's argument?

    If the former, absolutely not. I don't think the priest has to be perfect. The point I'm making is that if the priest, perfect or not, follows all the rubrics, then the couple is married, period. As such, per RCC teaching, the marriage cannot be dissolved (or declared never-a-marriage-in-the-first-place).
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    edited August 28
    mousethief wrote: »
    Do you refer to my argument, or do what I represent as the Catholic Church's argument?

    If the former, absolutely not. I don't think the priest has to be perfect. The point I'm making is that if the priest, perfect or not, follows all the rubrics, then the couple is married, period. As such, per RCC teaching, the marriage cannot be dissolved (or declared never-a-marriage-in-the-first-place).

    Going back to comparing it with Holy Orders, I’m not so sure. For an ordination to be valid, the person being ordained needs to be of sound mind and also understand what being ordained and being in Holy Orders means and assent to it and intend to do what a deacon/priest/bishop does, even if it is the ordaining bishop(s) that is/are the actual minister(s) of the sacrament. The same is true of the couple getting married, whether or not you believe that the couple or the priest is/are the minister(s) of the sacrament. Or do I not understand the Orthodox Church’s theology behind this?
  • For a marriage in the Orthodox Church, the couple have to agree to be married, not be engaged to anyone else. The priest has to be an ordained priest not under the ban of any bishop. I suppose you could say "He has to intend to marry them and realize that's what he's doing" but exceptions to that are so bizarre I can't even think of one. Maybe a stage play.

    In contrast, the "intent" and "realize" clauses are interpreted such in the Catholic Church that you can come back 25 years later, after having grandkids, and claim you didn't really understand what you were doing, or similar, and get your marriage annulled.

    It seems to me (and I don't think I'm the only one) that this is a feint, a pious fiction, to allow what anybody else in the world would call a divorce.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 28
    mousethief wrote: »
    It seems to me (and I don't think I'm the only one) that this is a feint, a pious fiction, to allow what anybody else in the world would call a divorce.
    You are correct in thinking you are not the only one.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    45 or more years ago, I appeared for a woman seeking an annulment in the civil court. I can't now remember the basis, but it was either non-consummation or the husband's lack of intent. I'd never done an annulment case before, nor had the judge. My research could not find any previous case under the particular legislation involved - perhaps because of the absence of present-day information technology. So together we set out, me a baby barrister, the judge 40 years older with loads of experience. I ran the evidence I had and the court adjourned for lunch. Over the break, the judge rang me and said that it was all very interesting but if I came back at 2 and said some form of words, he'd make the necessary decree. I did that and he made the order. The client was happy, the client's father (the client was the daughter of a very good client of the firm instructing me) was happy, the firm was happy and so was I. The judge had a variation on the usual routine of work in his court and related the case at a dinner later in the year.
  • Outside the church I have no idea what the difference is between an annulment and a divorce. Is it that an annulment leaves your "record" showing you were never married?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Yes, just as I understand the decision of the Rota to be. My client was also seeking orders for property settlement and so had to proceed at civil law rather than religious.
  • Apparently in North Carolina back about 1980 a man sought a civil annulment of his first marriage on the grounds that the minister was a Universal Life Church (ULC) minister (mail order) and so the marriage was not valid. He was seeking an annulment since he was facing charges of bigamy and if his first marriage didn't exist the bigamy charge would vanish. The courts bought the claim and he got off though the state legislature quickly passed a bill stating that all ULC officiated marriages within the State before a certain date in 1981 were valid if they would have been valid with a different officiant and hadn't already been voided.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited August 28
    mousethief, to return briefly to your post, an annulment by the Rota or other church court would not affect the legal position of the parties, and the Rota could not make binding orders for custody, maintenance or property settlement. You'd have to go to the civil courts for those.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Apparently in North Carolina back about 1980 a man sought a civil annulment of his first marriage on the grounds that the minister was a Universal Life Church (ULC) minister (mail order) and so the marriage was not valid. He was seeking an annulment since he was facing charges of bigamy and if his first marriage didn't exist the bigamy charge would vanish. The courts bought the claim and he got off though the state legislature quickly passed a bill stating that all ULC officiated marriages within the State before a certain date in 1981 were valid if they would have been valid with a different officiant and hadn't already been voided.

    I imagine that the position in North Carolina is much the same in effect as here - a marriage is only valid if performed by a person properly licensed to do so - and that means properly licensed under State (or Federal here) law.
  • Ministers aren't licensed by the state in the US and each state has its own law on who can officiate. Some require ministers to have a congregation, some don't. Some require them to register with the county clerk (or equivalent) ahead of time, some don't. South Carolina apparently doesn't allow Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist religious leaders to officiate (though I suspect their law restricting officiating to ministers of the gospel, rabbis, and Native American spiritual leaders is unconstitutionally too narrow). North Carolina states "A wedding can be performed by a magistrate or by any minister who is ordained in a religious denomination or authorized by a church. Marriages can also be performed in the recognized manner of any religious denomination that does not use officiants, or in the recognized manner of any federally or state-recognized Native American tribe." Note that the ULC is a recognized religion by some states.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    All those celebrating marriages here must be licensed. As a matter of practice ministers of almost all churches (it could be all) are licensed as their training is counted as sufficient. Civil celebrants need to undertake a recognised course and to pass an exam. A couple of quick points: just over 75% of marriages are conducted by civil celebrants and many of these will also conduct funerals for which no licence is required (I can't find figures except that about 60% want a civil funeral).
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @mousethief and others who might be curious, in England and Wales in law:-
    Annulment = setting aside a marriage that has never been. There are two subcategories:-

    Void marriage = there has been a wedding but it is completely invalid, e.g. because bigamous, party under age, conducted by a person not authorised to conduct marriages etc.
    The couple were never married at all. In theory, no court process is necessary but in practice it is required so as to demonstrate that people who appear to be married, aren't.

    Voidable marriage = the marriage would have been valid, but has never been fully completed. The 'usual' ground would be non-consummation, though there are a few others. There is no such thing as psychological non-consummation.
    The legal process is necessary. The couple were married until one of them brought the marriage to an end, but after that, are treated as though they were never married.

    All these are rare➔almost unknown. The CofE regards the parties thereafter as single and free to marry in church without further ado.

    Divorce = the dissolution of marriage, on the ground of irretrievable breakdown, which has to be demonstrated from the presence of at least one of the five facts prescribed by law, e.g. adultery. All five relate to things that happen during the marriage, not before or at the time of the wedding. Divorce brings a marriage to an end. There is no nonsense about backdating it. They were married until the decree absolute. The bond has been terminated. Thereafter they are not married. The only other way a marriage can be terminated is death.

    This is frequent. There is some ambivalence about this in the CofE, but the general position seems to be that, sad and regrettable though it might be, the Church recognises that they are no longer married. They are free to enter into a civil wedding, which will be valid. However, if they want to marry in church, they will have to jump through some extra hoops and may not succeed in getting through them.

    Other jurisdictions might be different but is that any help?
  • My problem with annulment is that, at the time of the wedding, the couple want to be married. If informed then of any irregularities they would be at pains to put everything right. The logic of annulment implies, to me, that there are loads of happily married people who might turn out to be single if carefully investigated.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Other jurisdictions might be different but is that any help?

    Greatly. Thank you.

    .
    Ministers aren't licensed by the state in the US and each state has its own law on who can officiate.

    Ministers perhaps aren't licensed by the state but it used to be commonplace for the minister to say, "And now by the power vested in me by the state of North Dakota, I pronounce you man and wife." (mutatis mutandis by state). Don't know if they still say that. But the minister is exercising the power of the state in some way, since s/he is marrying the couple both in the church sense and in the legal sense.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    One of the tricks the RCC plays with the sacrament of marriage is that it makes the bride and groom the ministers of the sacrament rather than the priest. If it were the priest, presumably it could not be annulled. But since it is the couple, they can do it wrong and thus it becomes annullable. It's a cutesy cheat.

    Not really.
    Sacraments have both magic words and a physical thingie - water/oil/bread and wine/ doing a penace etc.
    In marriage the vows are th magic words and what goes on (dear reader) behind closed doors is the physical thingie. Both are required. The clergy only get involved (mercifully) with the physical bit if it was absent and the marriage unconsummated (just like in English law.)
    The indissolubly come straight from scripture which is pretty non-negotiable - let no man put asunder. The "trick" in annulments is to try to find some reason that God may not have joined together - lack of consent, never meant it to be for life, inability to form mature consent. I think they are trying to be humane in the face of pretty uncompromising scripture.
  • The question you avoid is, why is the priest not the administrant of the sacrament, when priests and/or bishops are the performers of every other sacrament (save emergency baptism)?
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Do you refer to my argument, or do what I represent as the Catholic Church's argument?

    What you represent as the argument of the Catholic Church. The idea that a couple can "do it wrong". The idea that a marriage is such a difficult thing to attain that ordinary people can be happily married for a decade, then suddenly discover that they had this defect of intent, and so aren't actually married.

    It's nonsense.

    Sure - there are people who get "married" with no intention of having an actual marriage, but that doesn't describe most people who marry and then divorce, and it doesn't describe most people who get a Catholic annulment.

    Pretty much all those people being granted annulments intended to get married. They intended, to the best of their understanding at the time, to get married as the Catholic church sees marriage. They intended to raise children together and live happily ever after, and then it didn't work out.

    But to argue that there was some kind of defect in the understanding of the ministers of the sacrament (the couple) and so therefore there is no marriage is the same kind of Donatist logic that argues that a Mass said by a priest with a poor understanding of theology isn't actually a Mass at all.

  • But to argue that there was some kind of defect in the understanding of the ministers of the sacrament (the couple) and so therefore there is no marriage is the same kind of Donatist logic that argues that a Mass said by a priest with a poor understanding of theology isn't actually a Mass at all.
    I get you now. 100% agree.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »

    Not really.
    Sacraments have both magic words and a physical thingie - water/oil/bread and wine/ doing a penace etc.
    In marriage the vows are th magic words and what goes on (dear reader) behind closed doors is the physical thingie. Both are required. The clergy only get involved (mercifully) with the physical bit if it was absent and the marriage unconsummated (just like in English law.)
    The indissolubly come straight from scripture which is pretty non-negotiable - let no man put asunder. The "trick" in annulments is to try to find some reason that God may not have joined together - lack of consent, never meant it to be for life, inability to form mature consent. I think they are trying to be humane in the face of pretty uncompromising scripture.
    I don't think that makes sense. If the marriage is indissoluble in God's sight, then it isn't 'let no man put asunder'. It's 'no man can put it asunder'.

    Trying to find some excuse for saying that God 'may not have joined together' on that logic is indeed, as you say a "trick". The church would not be being 'humane'. It wouldn't have the capacity to be humane. That would be beyond its peculium. The church would be conniving at delusion and giving people the false encouragement that they can commit adultery with impunity.

    This is why I think it's more honest and better to say that divorce is a bad, sad and unfortunate thing. The bond should not be broken, but where it has been, it has been. Adultery, cruelty, infidelity, failure of ḥesed, and the later concocting of fake defective intentions are what break marriages, not defective intentions at the time.


    Incidentally, it isn't the vows that are the 'magic words'. It's the mutual exchange of 'I take'.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    The question you avoid is, why is the priest not the administrant of the sacrament, when priests and/or bishops are the performers of every other sacrament (save emergency baptism)?

    Because the couple are exercising their own priesthood. The priest is just a witness on behalf of the church. I believe the church wasnt involved at all for years. Not avoiding the question ... what a curious turn of phrase.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    If one thinks about it, it couldn't be that the priest is the administrant of the sacrament. If it were, then if a priest pronounced the couple man and wife, they would be married even without any intention on their part, or even without their agreement.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    If one thinks about it, it couldn't be that the priest is the administrant of the sacrament. If it were, then if a priest pronounced the couple man and wife, they would be married even without any intention on their part, or even without their agreement.

    No. Every sacrament requires the right material, and the material in this case is two consenting, available unmarried people. Just as a priest can't baptise an unwilling adult.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    The fact that it is the couple who consent to the marriage,say the vows and consummate it might be a slight clue as to why they and not the church's representative are the ministers of the sacrament.
    I have a (unchecked) notion that in places ahere the state requires that couple are married in the town hall first before trotting off to a religious service the couple go for a blessing only and don't repeat their vows. Showing the minister the certificate is enough to show they have exchanged the vows.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    The question you avoid is, why is the priest not the administrant of the sacrament, when priests and/or bishops are the performers of every other sacrament (save emergency baptism)?

    As a good Protestant I believe there are only two sacraments: baptism and communion. As the article that kicked this thread off showed, marriage is essentially a civil action; the priest is there in a legal capacity to make sure everything is done correctly.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    [quote="Alan29;c-184401"]The fact that it is the couple who consent to the marriage,say the vows and consummate it might be a slight clue as to why they and not the church's representative are the ministers of the sacrament.
    I have a (unchecked) notion that in places where the state requires that couple are married in the town hall first before trotting off to a religious service the couple go for a blessing only and don't repeat their vows. Showing the minister the certificate is enough to show they have exchanged the vows.
    [/quote]Not quite. See what I said yesterday about vows.

    A civil wedding in England and Wales does not include vows. People can add them, but they aren't essential. I don't think they're allowed to mention God. All they have to do is declare before the registrar that they are free to marry and then each says I X take you Y to be my lawful wedded H or W.

    I can't and am not going to speak for other countries or other ecclesiastical households. However, as they are already married, a CofE clergy-person cannot then perform a later wedding for them.

    The marriage can, though, be blessed. There is a form of service. What is happening is that they are adding the commitments in a church wedding to a marriage that already exists. Because it has no legal effect, there's more flexibility than for a wedding. It includes the vows, but in the recommended form, the vicar puts the vows to them and they accept them. The rings are blessed but not exchanged because they are already married. They may not sign the register. They may not be given a marriage certificate.


    @mousethief does the Orthodox church regard a couple who married before a Registrar or a non-Orthodox minister of religion as married or living in sin?
  • Enoch wrote: »
    @mousethief does the Orthodox church regard a couple who married before a Registrar or a non-Orthodox minister of religion as married or living in sin?

    Oddly, neither. It's 1 am here and my brain is fuddled, but there's a word like "regularize" -- they need to bring their marriage into the church. There's a story about St. Innocent of Alaska, a priest (later a bishop) who came over from Russia. At one point his diocese was a zillion tiny islands flung out across the Aleutians, hundreds of miles. He basically went around in the summer months in a kayak and heard confessions and gave communion and baptised any infants born since he was by, and one of the things he did was regularize any "marriages" that happened when he was away. Which is to say, two people decided to set up housekeeping, and did. When he got to the island, which could be once every five years, he would officially marry them. But they were not "living in sin" or anything like that (not sure that's an Orthodox term at all). They just needed to make it official in the church.

    I am told that in the olden days, one got married civilly and then when the couple took communion from the same chalice, they were thereby married in the church. There was no separate service of holy matrimony. That changed during the Turkish Yoke, when the Ottomans basically said, "We're not going to marry your people. See to it yourselves." So what had been civil suddenly came into the church.
  • I think I may have mentioned this before, but when I worked for another denomination we had a wedding where the bride and groom had no fewer than five previous marriages between them, all anulled, though none on the grounds of non-consummation since the place was heaving with children from these ill-starred unions. Of course, the bride wore white :grin:

    Was it an RC wedding?

    Yup.

    Full nuptial mass at the high altar of a cathedral with an archbishop presiding and a papal nuncio robed and in the sanctuary.

  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Yes consenting to the marriage is the words bit.
    Doesn't have to be a priest to witness a RC wedding. Where there are no priests layfolk are deputed. Marriages of baptised members of other churches are considered sacramental by the RCC.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    @mousethief does the Orthodox church regard a couple who married before a Registrar or a non-Orthodox minister of religion as married or living in sin?

    It's pretty murky and different jurisdictions have different guidelines. From what I've seen, usually marriages contracted by people who then convert are accepted- whether it was a civil marriage or conducted in a heterodox or non-Christian rite. However I recall reading somewhere that priests in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America have a policy of requiring all married converts to get an Orthodox wedding. This doesn't seem to be clearly spelled out in the guidelines but it has created obstacles for some people, especially if one of the spouses is non-Christian or has not had a recognized Trinitarian baptism, and is not willing to convert.
  • First I've heard of that. I'll ask Father on Sunday.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    If you want to say that there are 'tricks' in the RC process of annulment then one would have to say that there are 'tricks' in many legal processes, both civil and ecclesiastical. Instead of talking about 'tricks' I would rather say that it is an attempt to find a set of words or ideas which attempt to explain what was lacking in the whole marriage.. There are many impediments to what the RC church considers to be a valid sacramental marriage - first and foremost one. might mention free and informed consent given by both parties. The marriage ceremony itself is only the beginning to the marriage. In lots of cases the couple may believe that they are in love and indeed are actually in love, but that is only part of what constitutes a valid marriage. There is the real intention to live together and to share both good times and bad,t here is the acceptance of children should they come along. Lawyers, yes even canon lawyers can find words which explain how a marriage does not fulfil all the requirements for a valid Catholic marriage. Civil lawyers in civil cases can do much the same.
    Since the man and wife are ministers of the sacrament there is no absolute need for a priest to be present and the situation which Mousethief describes when a priest could not be present would obtain also in similar situations in the RC church. The priest at a suitable time would conduct a convalidation ceremony.
    Whether or not marriage is a sacrament, the words of Jesus about the indissolubility of marriage apply to all Christians surely. I understand about divorce and that it seems a sensible word to use, but I also understand that the RC Church does not want to use that word about what it considers to be a sacrament. It would rather try to explain it in a different way.

    An annulment from the Catholic tribunals does not affect the civil status of the parties.
    The children of any annulled marriage are not considered as born out of wedlock. The obligations of the parties to each other remain financially as the law of their land would make them.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    In lots of cases the couple may believe that they are in love and indeed are actually in love, but that is only part of what constitutes a valid marriage.

    Does it anywhere say in the canons or the catechism that love is required for marriage? This is largely a 20th century invention and it's hard to believe it goes back into the depths of history.
    There is the real intention to live together and to share both good times and bad,t here is the acceptance of children should they come along.

    When a couple has been married 20 years and has 5 grandchildren, none of that is relevant. Trying to weasel out of a marriage at that point is bullshit.
    Whether or not marriage is a sacrament, the words of Jesus about the indissolubility of marriage apply to all Christians surely. I understand about divorce and that it seems a sensible word to use, but I also understand that the RC Church does not want to use that word about what it considers to be a sacrament. It would rather try to explain it in a different way.

    And that way is dishonest. The RCC wants to eat its cake and have it. We will pretend that we are fulfilling the Dominical command that marriage is indissoluble, while allowing dissolutions of marriage but calling them something else. It's bulltookey.
  • Well, scripture says “let no man put asunder” - does that leave any theological space for recognising when God wishes to separate what he had once joined ?
  • Well, scripture says “let no man put asunder” - does that leave any theological space for recognising when God wishes to separate what he had once joined ?

    Jesus in one of the Gospels also says, "except for adultery". So clearly the rule is not hard and fast.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Bullshit I understand. Booltookey is a new word for me. I like it !
    Why is 'annulment' weaselling out of a marriage but perhaps not if one calls it 'divorce' ?
    Annulments are not normally granted for adultery,as adultery is breaking the marriage bond,whereas 'annulment' is saying that there was no sacramental marriage bond.
  • Completely agree with mousethief's assessment. Annulment is all smoke and mirrors.

    BTW, many years ago I read somewhere that the Orthodox would accept divorce, under certain circumstances, because they recognised that the marriage itself could die. Is this correct? Certainly it's an idea I am drawn to.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    One of the ideas which some Catholics are pursuing with regard to separations of spouses who may have said that they will stay together 'till death us do part' is indeed that the marriage itself can reach a 'death' moment and thus cease to exist.
    After all a bereaved spouse may marry again after the physical death of the other spouse, so why not after the 'death' of the marriage ?
    If I understand correctly Orthodox jurisdictions do not allow married and widowed priests to marry again, if their spouse dies. It is the same for married Catholic priests.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    ... Why is 'annulment' weaselling out of a marriage but perhaps not if one calls it 'divorce' ?

    Annulments are not normally granted for adultery,as adultery is breaking the marriage bond, whereas 'annulment' is saying that there was no sacramental marriage bond
    .
    That is precisely the point. A few marriages genuinely fail to take. Perhaps the law is unduly harsh in only recognising this where the parties have not physically consummated the union. Most marriages that fail, though, do so because one or both parties repudiates the bond.

    The only reason why one ecclesiastical household has developed such a complicated annulment jurisdiction is because it is determined that nothing ecclesiastical shall acknowledge that people do apostatise on marriages. It seems that insistence on that principle takes precedence over everything against and in the face of all evidence, experience and perception of what actually happens, what people do to each other.

    It is 'weaselling' to evade this. It is also 'weaselling' to invent doctrines, practices and tribunals to endorse this.

    It is dishonest to grout around peoples' states of mind perhaps 25 years ago and to pretend that this marriage has failed because for some spurious reason in the distant past but that one hasn't. It is likewise dishonest to allow some people to get out failed marriages for spurious reasons, but to forbid others, when in both cases it is the things like adultery, desertion, cruelty etc that broke it.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Well, scripture says “let no man put asunder” - does that leave any theological space for recognising when God wishes to separate what he had once joined ?
    @Doublethink what are you saying there? Is there, or should there be, any space for saying God might wish to separate people? People get divorced because one of them or both of them either repudiate their marriage or do something that has that effect. Letting anyone introduce the extra claim
    "Well God told me to walk out on you"
    strikes me as self-deception of the highest order.

    What's the difference between that and,
    "Isn't it wonderful that when you had become fat and middle-aged, and had lost interest in sex, God brought this pretty young secretary into my life who tells me I'm wonderful".
    ?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    In Biblical times a divorce might have resulted in penury and death for the abandoned wife. Look at the book of Ruth. Hence the strong opposition to divorce from Jesus.

    I have also heard that the Orthodox church have a view that a marriage can die and this should be approached as a pastoral matter. Which I think is a helpful theology for the church today. Does anyone know any more about it?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited August 30
    The Orthodox don't so much permit divorce as permit remarriage. But it is not an automatic thing. The permission of the bishop is required, and good reasons must be put forth (in practice the priest(s) write a letter to the bishop(s) stating why they think the persons should be allowed a second (or third) marriage (never a fourth)). This is done as ekonomia*, when remarriage is considered the best path for the salvation of the couple involved. Which sounds very highfalutin' but in practice it often (not always) means, one or more of them have small children, and being married would be better practically.

    Orthodox priests may not marry, period. On the other hand, a married man may become a priest. The difference is power imbalance and obviating coercion, potential corruptions, etc. etc. If one wished to become a priest's wife, therefore (for whatever reason that may be; none occur to me), and one didn't already have a future priest selected, hanging out at the dispensary at the seminary and chatting up final-year seminarians is a great way to go about it.

    ________________
    *ekonomia can be thought of as bending the rules for the good of the person(s) involved. A matter of practical compassion, with an eye toward the person(s)' salvation.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I haven't come across the concept of ekonomia before, but it sounds very practical. And Jesus' teaching about the Sabbath surely sets a precedent. The OT Law was intended as a blessing, not a burden to humanity.
Sign In or Register to comment.