William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The Battle Over Sexuality In The Catholic Church Begins

Synod

Phase two of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family has kicked off at the Vatican. Perhaps you recall the “earthquake” set off at last year’s Phase one. Here’s a refresher.

Much is at stake. One faction wants the Church to adopt the ways of protesting Christians (which include the inaptly named Orthodox) and admit that Jesus was only kidding when he said “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” That God. What a card! Not uncoincidentally, this faction is largely German-led.

That same faction plus another of unknown size since much of it is underground, wants the Church to adopt the ways of the oldest Western protesting Christians and admit that God was only kidding when he had Paul say “Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” The whole New Testament is one big yuck fest!

Many of these would-be protesters, based on reasonable but inconclusive evidence, believe Pope Francis is one of them. Whether this is so, the belief (or hope) that he is has emboldened some protesters to reveal themselves as protesters. Take Msgr Krzysztof Charamsa, a Polish priest who not only publicly announced his same-sex attraction, and who not only displayed his lover for all to see, but who went to the trouble of issuing a manifesto of demands to the Church.

Demands? Yes, sir. Demands. Before we get to these, recall that becoming a priest is voluntary. Charamsa knew what he was doing when he signed up, and knew the rules to which he was binding himself.

The rules in short form are these. That there are no such thing as “homosexuals” nor “heterosexuals”; there are only men and women. That mankind reproduces sexually and this requires and introduces a complementarity—the man and woman become one flesh. That any behavior that does not respect this complementarity is necessarily a (reproductive) disorder. (Divorce is also a disorder in this sense, since it breaks apart families, which are the reproductive unit.) This is not only the proper view of sexuality theologically via the natural law, but scientifically.

Some more preliminaries. The word disorder is often objected to, because it’s harsh and judgmental. But nobody said the truth had to be soothing, and nobody said life was fair. You aren’t cured of cancer by refusing to call it a disease. And then there is a saying that the Church doesn’t view “homosexuality” as a sin, but even though this is true in a sense the battle is lost when this kind of language is used. What should be said is that temptation is not a sin, which applies to everybody. Further, temptation is not a good place: “…and lead us not into temptation” goes the prayer taught to us by God Himself.

What those who are tempted to same-sex activities are attempting (get it?) is to be awarded special status because of their temptations. They hint or outright claim that their temptations are gifts. They say they are their temptations, and that their temptations are good. And this is preposterous. Why? Because that means woofies would have their own temptation-gifts to offer. And so would you with your temptations, as long as you can find enough people to form a political class.

So finally to Charamsa’s demands. They are nothing unusual. And they reveal that Charamsa knows almost nothing of the rules he swore he would learn and uphold. I don’t mean to single out this man. He is only the bravest. There are many more like him without the guts to come forward, though this Synod might draw more out. Here are the “demands:”

  1. Disposal of homophobia and anti-gay discrimination,
  2. Condemnation of punishment for homosexuality,
  3. Cessation of the Church’s interference in guaranteeing human rights by democratic states,
  4. Canceling incompetent and prejudicial documents,
  5. Immediate cancellation of discriminatory instructions about denying the priesthood to homosexual persons,
  6. Initiate a serious interdisciplinary scientific reflection over the morality of human sexuality,
  7. Revision of the interpretation of biblical texts on homosexuality,
  8. Adoption of ecumenical dialogue with our Lutheran and Anglican brothers about homosexuality,
  9. The need to ask for forgiveness toward homosexuals,
  10. Respect for and belief in homosexuals and change in the distorted position of the Church on what a homosexual Christian life should look like.

These are the headlines, and to understand them the descriptions should be read, too. We’ll see how these play over the coming weeks.

41 Comments

  1. Charamsa mistook tactic acceptance (blind eye) for outward approval. That said, it is unclear how “fired” he actually is. That is, while he no longer has duties at the Vatican, will he be supplied with a quiet position elsewhere in the Church?

  2. If you get “Msgr Krzysztof Charamsa” to say his name backwards does he return to biizarro world? (I may be mixing Superman metaphors, but you get my reference)

  3. PS Had Charamsa outed himself as a lusty heterosexual with a (long-time and loving) female partner, he still would have been booted from his Vatican position. In its essence, the ouster is not “anti-gay”–the Vatican officials are having trouble expressing it thusly, and turning themselves into pretzels to say that his relationship “merits respect.”

  4. Actually the Orthodox consider allowing divorce an allowance given to the Church under its powers to “bind and loose” and put it under the umbrella of economy or “ekonomia” so it is not simply ignoring the Lord’s words but a power given to the Church (and only the church.) They also view marriage as being given through the Church (as opposed to the persons in the Latin view).

  5. Maybe Anon has it right: “Charamsa mistook tactic [JohnK: i.e, tacit] acceptance (blind eye) for outward approval. ”

    Or maybe…. For more on the actual extent of this “tacit acceptance” at the highest levels, see this by Patrick Archbold, writing at whatisupwiththesynod.com; a short piece featuring 3 popes (and Elton John):

    Gay Priest Commits Unforgivable Sin (No, not that sin, silly!)

  6. “Life’s not fair and truth need not be soothing”?
    To the contrary, most in the media and politics now say the truth must be soothing even if it’s a lie and that life MUST be fair no matter how much money and laws are required–only the very rich in charge who made the rules are except. Until they get in the way of someone richer and more powerful.

    What if your gift is the ability to kill people and leave no evidence? Should you be allowed to exercise your gift? What if you only kill other killers or terminally ill people who were going to die anyway?

    My understanding is the priesthood does not exempt homosexuals, only those who claim homosexuality is moral and those who are practicing it. The last rule applies to heterosexual priests also. (As noted by Anon.)

    Can we demand the same changes concerning pedophilia? Hey, it’s a sexual desire just like any others. No difference whatsoever. It was listed right along side homosexuality in the DSM until homosexuality was voted out. We could vote out pedophilia now, too. You know, to be fair.

    Concerning divorce, I think in the Old Testament it was allowed. Only with the New Testament was it declared an absolute no-no. However, this one will be more difficult because human beings have come up with all these clever ways around the whole thing—annulment, having been cheated on (three or four marriages worth sometimes? Really?), etc. Even those who claim to not believe in divorce will marry a divorced person using one of the “escape clauses” mentioned. People are just not inclined to commit for a lifetime to another person. They don’t care who they hurt, they don’t care about their kids. They only care about being in “love” and doing what they want to. That’s a tough one to overcome. Then, if no divorce is allowed, they just shack up. The church is in for a long ride on this one, assuming they don’t just jump off the horse and run to Satan’s church because it’s so easy.

  7. Sheri:
    re: the New Testament was it declared an absolute no-no
    Not true. There is an exception.
    Matthew 19:9
    And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery…

  8. John B():
    I should have noted that exemption and used a better term. I will be more specific in the future.

    I understand adultery can happen and divorce and remarriage is stated to not be adultery this case, but some people claim two or three or four instances. Even if you apply the exception, it starts to looks like the person really is either a bad judge of character or making up excuses. The reason divorce is not advised is it breaks the bonds between people. Even if the divorce was due to adultery on the part of the partner, it’s important to realize that the remarriage may be marked by jealousy, constant watching of the partner, demanding explanations for everything the partner does, etc. The Biblical passage means that the remarriage is not considered adultery. It does not mean the remarriage is a good idea. I will attempt to be more clear in the future.

  9. I think that the Church interprets the exception (“except for sexual immorality”) to refer to cases where the marriage is invalid, for example when one partner is already married, or when the couple doesn’t know what the vows mean or intend to keep them. What we now consider grounds for annulment. Ask a priest, but I don’t believe that the Catholic Church today grants annulments or allows remarriages simply based on one partner sinning.

  10. Years ago I read the homosexual manifesto and their agenda was to promote homosexuality as natural, normal and healthy. Nothing has changed.

  11. Joe C: Interesting. I was always told that adultery allowed the party cheated on to divorce and remarry. I am not at all familiar with what allows for an annullment. Anyone who is Catholic that can give an answer?
    (The verse John B() is quoting is used in some protestant churches as a reason one can remarry after divorce. That’s where I heard about it.)

  12. Joe C is correct:

    …when the couple doesn’t know what the vows mean or intend to keep them…
    so while infidelity would maybe indicate a lack in the above (“knowing the vow” and “intention to keep it”), infidelity (for the Roman Catholic) is NOT a “get out of marriage free” card. The marriage MUST be annulled (and I BELIEVE usually requires some sort of mutual acceptance and/or agreement by both parties which can be tricky – but more than the word of the aggrieved is required).
    Yes, Matthew 19:9 is used by “non-Roman Catholics”, but some apply it less liberally than others.
    (Jewish) Dr Laura Schlessinger (sp) used the three A’s, Abuse, Addiction and Adultery [I would call them the Narcissistic Trio – any Narcissist worth the while would have no understanding of or intent to abide by vows – We don’t need no stinkin’ vows, just do what I say]

  13. “I don’t believe that the Catholic Church today grants annulments or allows remarriages simply based on one partner sinning.”

    No, usually a substantial donation is required.

  14. Briggs

    October 5, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    All,

    Not entirely out of place: WORLD’S FIRST LESBIAN BISHOP CALLS FOR CHURCH TO REMOVE CROSSES, TO INSTALL MUSLIM PRAYER SPACE.

    Those unwilling to say this is true must fall prey to those who will. Or should that read, “fall pray”?

  15. @nick

    About “binding and loosing” and “economia” – yes, this is one (of the many) reasons why I am now an ex-“Orthodox” Christian (I’m now a Catholic who opposes the Conciliar charade), and why I agree with Briggs that the title “Orthodox” is hardly apt for that pitiable mass of heterodox schismatics.

    The power of binding and loosing, as should be obvious to anyone with the use of right reason, is not the power to redefine morality, but the power to pass judgment and to enact disciplines with the intention of strengthening morals and upholding the Divine and Natural Laws. I was long weary of hearing all this shleck about economia, but it finally boiled over, when both my bishop and my spiritual father informed me that a bishop could “bless” an abortion, and that some “holy” men whom they knew had done just that, and then had imposed a penance for it upon themselves. Anathema sit.

    “Economia” is now used as a magic word, meaning “whatever the Orthodox Church chooses to turn a blind eye to is – alakazam! – acceptable ‘by economia.'” But the word actually means “the wise management of an household,” and it should be obvious that this kind of behavior is neither wise nor management, but rather a feckless dereliction of duty. The Fathers of the Church used oikonomia in the correct sense.

    The correct sense, is that the Church has a system of canonical law, by which the legitimate authority in the Church has established norms of discipline and procedures for upholding doctrine, morals and good order; acknowledging that the law cannot fit every situation, the Church recognizes the principle that the competent authority may, in his best judgment, determine that *in certain situations the intended effect of the canonical norms can BETTER be obtained by another method,* which he is free to use, all things being duly considered. Oikonomia does NOT mean that he is free to regard the intent of the canonical norm itself as being unimportant, still less that he can waive unchangeable moral teachings, or contravene Divine/Natural Law. The equivalent Latin term, “dispensation” means the same thing – from Latin dispendo, meaning “weigh out,” it involves a reckoning so as to weigh out the proper amount (of payment). It doesn’t mean to simply “ignore” the canon.

    So, let’s look at a brief example. Abortion is contrary to the Divine and Natural Laws, and the canonical norms of the Church are designed to uphold this, and to ensure that suitable penance and contrition are present in those who, having committed this sin, desire to return to peace with God through the Church. Let us say there is a canon prescribing ten years’ fasting and prostrations before return to the Mysteries. Now, imagine some sassy hoe has had her third abortion, cared little for the canonical penalty of her first two, and shows up to make a scene when she is denied Communion. It would be a merciful act of oikonomia for her to be publicly whipped and ostracized, and for the priest to get his bell, book and candle so as to pronounce upon her the solemn act of excommunication, handing her over to Satan and his apostate angels to be tormented in the flesh until she was crushed and contrition was wrung from her embittered heart by the most catastrophic forms of adversity. That is because this would be the better way to produce in such a slatternly and impudent murderess the contrition necessary to save her soul. Likewise, if a 13 year old girl was raped, and then pressured and threatened by her family to have an abortion, and she consented, but felt bad the whole way through and was crushed by sorrow and remorse afterwards, a reduction of the canonical penalty would be a good application of oikonomia in her regard. But if the priest or bishop told her beforehand: “Jesus Christ gave us authority to bind and loose, so I bless your abortion ‘by economia;’ vacuum that little dude’s brains out with no fear. I shall light a candle in front of the Theotokos and do forty prostrations, and God will smile upon us,” that cleric would be preparing the bed of cinders for himself, upon which he shall eternally roast.

    And the same principles hold for all moral truths, including divorce. The pope who says “by Christ’s authority to bind and loose, I declare that divorce is fine, so form a line and we’ll begin,” would not succeed, because Christ gave no man the authority to do any such thing. That pope would a) immediately cease to be pope, if indeed he had been a real pope beforehand, b) incur excommunication and c) set out on the highway to hell. Christ’s deputed authority of binding and loosing, is not the freedom to “co-create the moral order,” as Paul Evdokimov wretchedly opined. Oikonomia is not the power to legalize immorality; it is the power to *more perfectly* uphold the moral order by altering the letter of canon law in extenuating circumstances, in order to more assuredly achieve its intended objectives.

  16. Briggs: This is what happens when it’s more important to be liked than right. It has no place in any but Satan’s church, where popularityIS the enticement. I often wonder if Hitler told his minions that no one would like them if they didn’t herd the Jews into ovens. Popular opinion is not supposed to be part of religion. Go join a social club and stay out of religion. The social club is where you belong. As for “inclusiveness”, you can be included if you believe what the church does. You can be included as you learn what the church believes. You can take a hike when you decide you know more than the church. That’s God’s rule.

    (Sweden is going to pay a high price for their lack of spine in this. Muslims are pouring in and they do not want to integrate.)

  17. I always thought Muslims had a sixth (or homing pigeon) sense about where Mecca was.

    Today, I’m sure, there’s an app for that

    and Lo :
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/find-mecca/id322788671?mt=8

    Tell the good bishop to “come up to present time!”

  18. Here’s an authoritative link on Matthew 19:9 and the “divorce exception,” which really isn’t…

    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/does-jesus-leave-a-loophole-for-divorce-in-matthew-199

    It essentially confirms what Joe C said.

  19. silverfiddle

    That Catholic Answers answer (about 19:9) makes no sense:

    And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for “unlawful sex”…
    So their answer is because the text uses the word “illegal sex” instead of “adultery” then Jesus didn’t mean “wife”! Which word didn’t Jesus mean? Wife or “unlawful sex”

  20. John,

    I’m not a scholar, and I provided the link as a service to others; not to ignite a sectarian debate.

    Perhaps this turns on a loose usage of husband and wife during those times, with both married couples and people engaged in long-term concubinage employing the same terms

  21. Ronald Sevenster

    October 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    The real scandal of the Charamsa affair is that he wasn’t laicized for his immorality but only punished with losing his job at the CDF for his inopportune outing.

    The real acute danger for the Church is that the clergy, including the higher echelons of the Church hierarchy have so much lost touch with Catholic intellectual tradition that they are ready to embrace all the clinchers and slogans of the secular West. The discontinuity in language and terminology between the 2014 Synod documents and what was written before, for example by Pope John-Paul II, is so immense, that one is inclined to believe that Cardinals like Kasper, Cupich, Marx, Schonborn, and a lot of other have simply thrown overboard almost the entire theological tradition of the Church and the idea of a living philosophia perennis.

    Two important things very much need to be restored: (1) Catholic intellectualism based on the firmly held basis of scholastic philosophy; and (2) Catholic sacramental discipline. The internal enemies of the Church should be exposed and removed, not only from their office, but from the Church itself.

  22. Silverfiddle

    Apologies – thanks for the link
    I understand their position – as a former Roman Catholic, I feel I can comment on the way things get stretched to fit a viewpoint.
    That statement works for me and my viewpoint as well (a friend of mine went through an annulment.
    Personally, I hate the idea of divorce or annulment, but that answer was straining at gnats.
    Most of my family is still Catholic. My oldest brother would probably have no problems with Msgr Charamsa, and very much objected to The Church being involved in local politics about Gay rights and marriage. Sheri, Briggs and others know this about me and I THINK I’m given some latitude here.

  23. What seems far more interesting than the issues raised here is that someone has bothered to raise them at all — giving the source undeserved credibility when none is warranted. It’s like the doctor on this bit from “America’s Finest News Source” (except they were joking) taking Alzheimer’s patients seriously:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieK1PTXmopE

    Then there’s that Far Side cartoon depicting the tall manly cowboys in a bar with the ‘toon’s focus on some dwarf-midget cowboy who’s picking a fight with another dwarf-midget cowboy. A nice illustration of the adage, ‘you’re judged by the company you keep.’

  24. Sander van der Wal

    October 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Regarding 8), didn’t he forgot the Calvinists?

  25. Going back to the Douay-Rheims version, which is a much better source, the verse becomes: “And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.” Note the mention of fornication, NOT adultery. What is being said there is a woman who cheated on her betrothed husband. A man who discovered that his wife had a fling before the wedding ceremony could divorce her. Notice, he can throw her out, but he still can’t remarry. That’s the same situation as a woman married to an abusive husband…she can divorce him to protect herself and her children, but she can’t remarry. Meanwhile, so long as she lives a chaste life, she’s perfectly free to receive communion.

  26. The Catholics have no choice but to get with the times, or at least to some point a little closer to the times. They’ve come quite a ways, and remain the standard, as far as I’m concerned, of Christianity, but they have to come to terms with reality or it will cost the Church a lot of money, and a lot of good work will be left undone.

    That said, among you conservative Catholics, what a dreadful world you envisage.

    JMJ

  27. E. G. : That answers it (for me)

    Yes, it was a “before incident” (a variation of finding that it’s Leah instead of Rachel). He could only discover it after the marriage.

    However, in that case he can remarry because it’s the exception to what Jesus expounded; the woman was misrepresented and therefore the contract “null” and void.

  28. JMJ: What part of “THIS IS NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST” do you not understand? Are progressives actually so insecure and unable to think that they never do anything without the group consensus? Morality is NOT based on popularity. Only situation ethics work that way and those who espouse situational ethics often find the situation damns them in the end.

    As for what a dreadful world is envisioned, was the Roman practice of tossing Christians to lions more your idea of a utopia? Or a world where the ruling class determines who gets what? I thought you suffered from class envy–why are worried that the Catholic church will lose money and good work will be left undone? They are greedy capitalists who impose their values on people. You really should wish their demise. No theocracy, no pesky morality in laws. Utopia!

  29. Ronald,

    The internal enemies of the Church are precisely the people who hold themselves forth as being the hierarchy of the Church… and it is the hierarchy who have the authority to issue excommunications. So long as we continue to embrace the notion that public enemies of the Church can remain hierarchs of the Church (an idea contrary to the Holy Tradition and defined definitions of the Faith), we will continue to yield exasperated obedience to the destroyers of the Church. Why would they excommunicate themselves? Anathema sit!

    Fr. Cekada had a particularly amusing moment on one of his videos about this, where he asked whether it was reasonable to expect the Cardinals to take action against heresy in the Church, and then cut to video of them all twirling around (literally!) like sodomite go-go dancers at WYD. These are effeminate, apostate, unserious men. They are the ones who need to be excommunicated, and they will not excommunicate themselves.

    Yes, yes, there are a few senior officials of the Conciliar movement trying to be Catholic, but still by half-measures. Too little, too late.

  30. Jersey,

    You don’t even see the illogic of your statement. Catholicism is the “standard,” you it needs to change?

    Also, if a group believes it is the guardian of eternal truth handed to it by God, why would it need to “get with the times?”

    Sounds like you have a personal problem centering on your own narrow, shallow opinions.

    Dreadful world? Look around you.

  31. I may be hasty but I read the manifesto of this unfortunate man and his boyfriend as a threat.! “You must comply to these complaints or…..”
    What will he do when the Church doesn’t comply? This is a genuine question!

    The Orthodox view of Marriage is easily discovered on the Internet. For instance Try Pravmir and search . They will have a more official view .

  32. http://www.pravmir.com/category/family/divorce/

    A Russian Orthodox perspective. There is also an Antiochian Church in America.
    Look for web pages . The priests are American or Canadia and speak your language

  33. John B: “The marriage MUST be annulled (and I BELIEVE usually requires some sort of mutual acceptance and/or agreement by both parties which can be tricky – but more than the word of the aggrieved is required).”

    It’s more than that. A “decree of nullity” actually states that the marriage was never valid. There’s no way, even with mutual agreement, that a validly-married Catholic family can “divorce”. Unfortunately, there are ready excuses for almost every couple. Since so many Catholics marry outside of the Church, they can cite that as a reason for the marriage being invalid. Or if they were married without understanding the vows. Or if one was previously married and civilly divorced, etc. The Church is in a tough spot. It doesn’t want to be granting “Catholic divorces” to everybody and his brother, but it also cannot ignore the fact that some of these marriages are in fact invalid. The thing is, for every couple requesting an annulment, there’s an alternative: they could request a new ceremony to make the marriage valid. It would be wonderful if the Synod would remind people of that.

  34. Joe C

    ” A “decree of nullity” actually states that the marriage was never valid.”

    I agree. The marriage falls apart, for whatever reason – and this was my point – imagine one is concerned about annulment. Now the other is approached about saying what they had shared meant nothing.

    That reminds me of a conversation I had with an acquaintance. For some reason his divorce came up. I instinctively said: “I’m sorry.” He replied, “I’m not.”

    I never felt so sad. I definitely think that attitude tells a lot about how much people invest in marriage.

  35. Joe C : The thing is, for every couple requesting an annulment, there’s an alternative: they could request a new ceremony to make the marriage valid. It would be wonderful if the Synod would remind people of that.

    I love that. It kinda reminds me of the scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” where the children defy the idea of “Arranged Marriage” and one of the girls says “but Papa, I love him!” And Tevye in a Whitney Houston moment asking in essence “What’s love got to do with it?”. Suddenly Tevye comes face-to-face with whether there is love in his marriage with Golde.

  36. @Sheri:

    Oddly, enough, everyone who’s “gotten with the times” , from the Anglicans to the Episopicals to the Unitarians to the Evanglicals – all of them are suffering from increasingly empty pews and older congregations, literally dying out.

    Conversely, those silly reactionary Eastern Orthodox in Russia are growing ever stronger…

  37. The Orthodox marriage practices predate The Great Schism by something like seven centuries, so it’s really not in the same category as a Protestant divorce. That being said, this one as well as other early practices (like deaconesses for example) could be easily abused these days, so laxity in enforcing morality should be avoided.

  38. @Olf,

    No, the Eastern Churches did not tolerate divorce in the early years; rather, many people now look upon certain statements of the Fathers, where they speak of those who marry two and three times after the death of a spouse, as committing rather heinous acts. They interpret these now as statements about divorce.

    The Fathers of the Church, and especially the Eastern Fathers, strongly emphasize the superiority of celibacy. One of the ways they did this, was to draw attention to the fact that, while marriage is still blessed, sex and marriage as we know them are products of the Fall, the “corruption” (diaphthoros is their term, equivalent to concupiscence and other trappings of Original Sin in the West) inherent in human nature is manifested especially virulently in sexual activity, and Christ came to bring us into the Kingdom of Heaven, “where they neither marry nor are given in marriage,” an ideal which they said all Christians should be striving to attain, explaining that this is related to the frequent fasting periods (including from sex) in the traditional discipline of the Church, and the reason for calling the monastic life the “angelic” or “heavenly” life.

    In the light of all this – themes which recur with great frequency in all the Fathers, especially of the East – their attitude was that to marry at all, even the first, virginal time, was already something short of the ideal, but a tolerated concession to human nature, acknowledging that “it is better to marry than to burn.” Therefore, they viewed those who could not contain themselves after having had the consolation of a (now deceased) spouse, as beginning to fall seriously short of the higher Christian standards of detachment and self-control. But, as St. Basil says, a second marriage (after the *death* of a first spouse) is tolerated. But if a widower/widow were to marry a third time, they call this “iniquity,” and beyond this St. Basil calls “the behavior of an animal.” The services for second and third marriages were not for marriages after divorces, which were forbidden, but for second and third marriages after the death of a spouse.

    A further complicating factor, was the fact that civil and ecclesiastical marriages were separate things at various times in Byzantium, Russia and modern Greece. Sometimes civil divorces were administered entirely separately from the Church, and sometimes the Church was left with sole power over such things (sometimes being forced to deal with the fait accompli of a civil divorce, and perhaps Imperial pressures…). But certainly you would not be able to point to any consensus among the Fathers or saints of the Orthodox Church in favour of divorce. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, just off the top of my head, upheld the Catholic position in its entirety, even down to allowing for divorce (i.e., separation) only for adultery, but not allowing remarriage after adultery, either. And if some accuse Nikodemos of being under “Latin influence,” certainly Ignatius Brianchaninov was a noted anti-Latin thinker. St. Clement of Alexandria clearly forbade it, as did St. John Chrysostom. This latter, commenting on the verse “a woman is bound by the law for as long as her husband lives…” had this to say: “It behooves her in no way to be separated, while her husband lives, nor to bring in another man , nor to enter upon second nuptials. And see with what diligence he has made use of the proper words, for he did not say ‘let her live with her man so long as he lives,’ but ‘the woman is bound by the law for as long as her man may live,’ and therefore, even if she serves him with a divorce, even if she quits his house, even if she goes to another man, she is bound by the law and is an adulteress. Do not read to me those laws drafted by outsiders, commanding to serve one with divorce papers and so to be separated. For it is not by those laws that God shall judge you in that day, but rather, according to the laws He Himself established.”

  39. Oh, I’ve got no problem with the Western teaching (except for its legalism) on marriage and sexuality (I’m even bigger hardliner on this issues than Sedevacantists). Divorce in the Orthodox Church is considered to be a sin of heinous murder. The second “marriage” is not really a “marriage” (as can be ascertained through the penitential rite used in the ceremony of the second “marriage”), it’s just a “lesser evil” than allowing the “married again” to live without the Church’s oversight. It should to be completely avoided. Unfortunately, it’s not.

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