The Patriarch Invokes Natural Law

phil-robertsonGet past the raw language that Phil Robertson, the Patriarch of the Duck Dynasty, used to criticize homosexual acts in his recent interview, and you see some sound logic behind it. First a look at the Patriarch’s comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” he said. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?

“But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Let the shock wear off and then ask yourself this: “Is the anal canal really a sexual organ? Was it really created for penetration? Is semen meant to be mixed with feces?” Yes, not pleasant to think about but the answer is clearly no. It’s elementary biology after all. It’s also natural law.

Natural law is the idea that the workings of the physical creation reveal that the universe has a moral character. The material functioning of things (say the biological complementarity of male and female working together to create new life) implies that a moral dimension exists regarding how they should function.

Moral theology cannot negate the natural law because then it speaks to something other than the creation as it exists. Today there are plenty of “theologians” who teach all sorts of things contrary to what nature itself testifies, thereby buttressing the grave confusion we see exhibited in the outcry against Phil Robertson. Their reaction to the Patriarch’s traditional ideas would be inconceivable a mere decade or so ago. Call them the legion of the unkowning.

The Patriarch is right — the anus is not a vagina. In fact, if you look at the biology of the anus it was not designed for penetration at all. Sodomy does violence to the body although this fact is often hidden with euphemisms like “homosexual intercourse” and other locutions that hide the true function of natural things.

The Patriarch’s moral reasoning doesn’t end there. He also said:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” he said. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

What’s wrong with that? Not much by my reading. Once the sexual divide has been crossed, it will be a lot easier to cross the specie divide for this reason: throw out nature and all you have left is emotionalized sentimentality. If “love” becomes the justification for homosexuality, why shouldn’t love become the rationale for relations with animals? It won’t happen overnight of course. The moral culture need more desensitization first.

It will start with polyamory, then agitation to lower the age of consent for pederasts, then the last taboo to be conquered will be bestiality. “We will go where no man has gone before!” the activists triumphantly proclaim. “Think of the freedom!”

But there’s nothing new here (sympathizers with the homosexual agenda can leave their faux outrage at the door). The decline of civilization follows a predictable track.

Orthodox Lavenders wont like this but maybe they will be receptive to a Bishop of another communion since they won’t conform to the teachings of their own. Roman Catholic Bishop Chaput said this:

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God.

Robertson and Chaput. Not a bad team. Kind of Orthodox too.

Comments

  1. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    I Stand with Phil.

    istandwithphil.com

    lets all sign the petition and tell A&E what we think.

    Peter

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Signing the petition makes one “rabid” according to deadline Hollywood.

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      • this is a problem because why? says:

        “Signing the petition makes one “rabid” according to deadline Hollywood.”

        Why in the world would I care what Hollywood thinks of me? Am I under contract to them? Do they own me?

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          Of course not. Just another indication what the world thinks. Everyone knows you have to put down the “rabid” for everybody’s sake. Yet there will be many “shocked, shocked I tell you” when it starts happening.

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  2. “Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality”

    When gays have birthdays, they don’t mention everything they don’t want but say positively what they do want.
    Likewise, Jesus didn’t negatively list every sexual variation He knew mankind would invent, but positively stated that marriage involves only a man and a woman!
    Google or Yahoo “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up,” and “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans.”

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    • this is a problem because why? says:

      Jesus never said not to tazer your neighbor and beat them into a bloody pulp with brass knuckles either, but I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t approve. Just guessing.

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    • James Bradshaw says:

      Jesus also said that to divorce your wife for any reason except infidelity is to commit adultery (Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:32). On this He was quite explicit … yet the Orthodox seem to ignore these mandates as “unworkable” and allow up to three marriages in one’s lifetime. I’ve yet to hear of the legality of divorce as “satanic”.

      On the other hand, I think it’s actually rather preferable that the Orthodox don’t take the Bible’s tolerance for human slavery at face value as do some of their evangelical brethren. As Pastor Doug Wilson of Moscow, Idaho has said: “Compromise on what the Bible teaches about slavery is directly related to the current pressures to compromise on abortion and sodomy.”

      Of course you’re all entitled to think whatever you want about anything. I’m just saying that, to the rest of us, it doesn’t seem all that intellectually consistent or honest.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        James, although I tend to think your oft stated position on divorce is a bit disingenuious, born more of your wish to promote the homosexual agenda to some degree rather than a real defense of marriage, it does have merit. You miss the point on the three marriages however. The additional marriages are an economia, not a ‘right’, and not automatic. The impression of the three strikes and you are out rule and that folks in the Orthodox Church have a right to re-marry until the limit is reached may be true in some places, but it is not the way it is intended to be used. Still as I mentioned, our winking at the cultural trivialization of marriage has had consequences, not the least of which is the upsurge of the oxymoronic (or just moronic) concept of homosexual marriage.

        We should only be married once, that is the way it has been from the beginning and the way it should always be BUT forgiveness and mercy can be granted to those who come boldly before the throne of God. Repentance is always a part of that, always. The sin must be recognized, the willfulness must be recognized, obedience and humility must be present.

        My present marriage is quite irregular and should not have happened by canon law. Nevertheless, it is a gift from God and despite its irregularity, my bishop has let me know in no uncertain terms it is blessed by God and that, as we should have no further care for the sins we confess, I should have no further care for the irregular nature in which my marriage was originally formed. It is, by God’s grace, a triumph of life over death of which I am wholly unworthy. Yet, it is real.

        For that I can but give glory to God.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Michael, contra James, I see no reason to apologize for your remarriage. While it is true that the Church looked at our Lord and envisaged marriage as uniting of two complementary souls throughout eternity, it in no way impugned the sexual congress that is at the heart of marriage. That the Church would allow another marriage for a widowed spouse may be (arguably) an “economia”, but if it, it is one based on nature –fallen or otherwise.

          Consider: what is a widow to do with young children? Prostitute herself to feed, clothe and shelter her children? What of a widower whose wife died in childbirth? Is he to pick up some random woman off the street to come and watch his children and clean his house while he is out working in the fields trying to harvest his crops? This is madness! There is much right to be said for remarriage at this point, especially if the widowed spouses are relatively young.

          I remember when my father remarried. It scandalized some of my mother’s relatives. But his wife has been a wonderful grandmother to my sons and nephews. My father’s children and their spouses have grown to love and respect her immensely. (I have now known her longer than I knew my late mother.) She even cared for my father’s father-in-law and showed him the proper respect until he breathed his last. My father’s remarriage was no more an economia IMHO than the leaves turning brown in Fall is an economia. If death is in the natural order of things, then so should remarriage be.

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          • James Bradshaw says:

            I have no desire to throw stones … certainly not at someone such as Michael B who seems to be scrupulous in matters of conscience.

            To be honest, I must also agree with George on the practical necessity of remarriage at times, especially for those with children. It is difficult enough to raise children, but to do it alone requires resources and a resolve many simply do not have. Studies also show that children generally fare better with two parents than one.

            Here’s the problem: this very human “concession” (as you refer to it) is not acknowledged either in Scripture or by the Church Fathers.

            From Origen to Ambrose to Justin Martyr to Aquinas: none of them were very understanding or tolerant on this matter. The expectation if you were divorced was that you remain celibate and die alone … children or not.

            http://awildvoice.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/quotes-from-the-early-church-fathers-on-divorce-and-remarriage/

            Yes, I know what Scripture says. I know that the early Church Fathers were intransigent on this issue. Yet, my system of ethics has to consider the spirit of the law rather than the letter, and I have to see a loving joining of two people who agree to raise children and sacrifice for each others’ well-being a higher good than remaining single for its own sake (which benefits no one, as far as I can tell).

            I’m simply being honest when I acknowledge that I’m departing from Scripture and the early teachings of the Church to come to this conclusion. Is this tension and uncertainty uncomfortable to people with even marginal faith such as myself? Well, yeah .. a little, actually. So, I guess I understand the “spin” that happens when folks more dedicated than I pretend that their ethics are in harmony with their religious traditions when a closer look reveals it not to be the case.

            We ultimately don’t know … we have to make these decisions given the knowledge we have and the capacity for good that we’ve been given.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Mr Bradshaw, I said nothing about divorced persons remarrying. My commentary was only about widowed spouses. I don’t view it as economia to allow a widow(er) to remarry.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            George, not apologizing, just acknowledging the willfulness that was involved in my original decision. It was necessary that I repent and submit to the discipline of the Church in which my bishop was exceedingly merciful.

            Neither my wife nor I are young and our children are all adults. The blessings that have manifested in our marriage I marvel at. It is an example of economia at its best, IMO: God taking a situation and showering it with blessings despite the sinfulness of those involved.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Michael, do you not notice that most of today’s condemnation of homosexuality is ostensibly based on Scriptures, with little, if any reference to Church canons, while almost all of today’s (and your) excuses for divorce are the opposite, and bypass Scriptural injunction. To describe the blessing of remarriage after DIVORCE as justified by reference to “economia”— this is extremely problematic. ‘Economia” is not an excuse for any sin; in fact. Economia is God’s plan, period, His household management which is onto salvation. No sin should be allowed as being unto salvation. The Lord of Economy CLEARLY defined the Economy which applies to the sin of divorce. The Economy is “unless in case of adultery.” After the Church was embraced by Caesar, however, it was pressured at the Councils called by Caesar into tolerating the intolerable when it was done by the Emperors and, subsequently, like everything else, by everyone else. The Church today, Which blesses the remarriage of persons who got “no-fault” (sic) divorces is not practicing Economy, but enabling SIN. Today Economy has been debased into a crude Enablement!!! The Church sings (Resurrection Tone One Troparion): Glory to Thine Economy! (in the OCA, translated as “Glory to Thy “DISPENSATION”,with all its horrible connotations!
          A Greek American Priest defended abortion because of ‘Economy!’ He told me, “Your Grace, it’s not so simple: I had a married woman who confessed to me that she was pregnant by a man not her husband. Your Grace, if I had forbidden her to get an abortion, it would have RUINED her marriage and scarred her children by him!” Patriarch Bartholomew may very well speak of the sanctity of the life in the womb, JUST AS HE SPEAKS OF THE SANCTITY OF WEDLOCK, but you won’t find him condemning (or even using the word) abortion outright,; nor condemning divorce for all possible justifications.
          Before anyone else feels obligated to play the Pauline “better to marry than to burn” card, which indeed blesses the remarriage of the widowed, I mention it.
          And no sin should be blessed ‘based on our fallen nature.” What an idea!

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Your Grace, where do you get the idea that I support divorce. I do not. It is an horribly destructive occurrence that is totally the result of our hardened hearts. It ought not be.

            To repeat, if we Christians and the Church had taken a stronger stand on divorce decades ago as well as on fornication, adultery, the use of contraceptives, childless marriages and inter-faith marriages I do not believe that homosexual unions would be much of an issue at all, at least in the Church.

            In all cases of divorce, even those involving the faithlessness of only one of the spouses, repentance is still necessary. Early in my life in the Church there was a divorce in a pretty high-profile couple in my parish. There was no question that the offending party was the adulterous husband and he ended up leaving the parish. His wife was put under discipline for a year unable to receive communion and I am sure had other activities at the direction of our priest. She did not remarry.

            I agree with you. I agree with James.

            My wife had two previous husbands who abused and cheated on her and a third who died before we met. There is still much repentance for her even years later now that she has the opportunity to bring such things to God in confession.

            I am quite careful NOT to generalize from my unique situation, in fact, when given the opportunity, I tell people NOT to do what I did. My experience has only strengthened my understanding of the sanctity of marriage. Despite our Lord’s generosity to my wife and I, personally, I think, as a rule, three marriages is too many, even when abuse and faithlessness are at the heart of a failed marriage.

            That is the direction my priest gave to me quite strongly when I first told him about the desire of my wife and I to marry. I disobeyed and argued for all of the extenuating circumstances, etc, etc. Our marriage began with an act, on my part, of disobedience. Still, my marriage is blessed.

            Did God bless sin? No, He blessed the love of God my wife has, the necessity for her to be in the Church for her salvation and, it seems, for the salvation of others including my son and I, my new God son and others. He forgave sin, and gave us a great gift in the process. That blessing is a unique gift of which I am totally unworthy, yet I received it. I rejoice in that gift even as I realize how sinfully and willfully I acted.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            When,where, and by whom was the Orthodox Church bullied? I think it’s an impossibility….but maybe not in the “original Greek.”

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            • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

              My good bishop you stated:

              After the Church was embraced by Caesar, however, it was pressured at the Councils called by Caesar into tolerating the intolerable when it was done by the Emperors and, subsequently, like everything else, by everyone else.

              So let me rephrase how was the Orthodox Church pressured and the RCC was not? Again, please explain. Thank you.

              Peter

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                Thanks, Petey! I had no idea that when you wrote of bullying, you were referring to plain pressuring. Bullying is an extreme form of pressure which involves the very strong overpowering the very weak. Pressure, however, may include loving and positive means of persuasion which might be exercised by the weak on the strong. The Roman Church finally brought the imperial power to its knees, through pressure, and achieved superiority over the empire and all the states where Roman Catholic church power obtained. I think the whole history of the Roman Church’s achieving superiority over the state is well-known enough so I shouldn’t have to rehearse it here. It also defeated a movement called conciliarity or conciliarism and taught throughout the West that the Pope is superior to any council or councils. Nowhere in that long and well-known history do we find the state winning out over the Church until the Protestant Reformation.
                The Constantinopolitan Church, however, submitted to the Imperial will from the time of the 1st Ec. Council until the fall of the Ottoman Sultanate. Even though Arianism was “defeated” at the 1st Council, the Emperors from Constantine I on left the See of Constantinople in the hands of the Arians until Julian the Apostate became Emperor, and he appointed a Nicenophile Patriarch. The process was repeated centuries later when Constantinople went all Uniate: The Emperor and the Patriarch were both fully committed Uniates when Mehmet the Conqueror successfully invaded the city. THEN, the Uniate Emperor Constantine disappeared and the Uniate Patriarch fled to Italy. Then Mehmet the Conqueror ferreted out a non-Uniate monk hiding in an island monastery, George Scholarios, and MADE the CHURCH consecrate him a Bishop and then APPOINTED him to be Patriarch, rescuing the Constantinopolitan Church from the Unia, analogous to Julian the Apostate’s rescuing the Constantinopolitan Church from Arianism.
                And thank YOU, Petey, for letting me straighten you out on these points! I would like, however for you to quit referring tome as a, or your, “good” bishop. I’m not good at all.

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      • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

        Oh James where oh where to begin with your “intellectually dishonesty!” You know what you and MikeMeyers believe whatever foolishness you want. I cannot waste anymore time, nor should anyone else, explaining these things to you. Sorry sir your bait is not taken, at least not by me.

        If you really believe we Orthodox got it wrong, the Church Fathers got it wrong, the New Testament writers got it wrong and you good Progressives got it right then good for you. I will say to you what I used to say to the Jehova Witnesses that said the same thing but in defense of their heresy.

        I bid you peace, and good bye.

        Peter

        PS I also want you to know that if you think you can take Orthodoxy down like you did the Protestants and large portions of the RCC then all I can say is “Think Again. You will be in for a ver rude awakening.”

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      • James,

        It’s all pretty clear actually. Christ allowed divorce, period. He did so in the case of infidelity. He also said that if anyone is remarried after an illicit divorce (one for insufficient cause), the person commits adultery. What this means is that, though marriage should not be dissolved, it can be dissolved. Or to put it another way, “. . . let no man put asunder” is not a statement about what cannot happen but a normative exhortation which does not exclude the possibility that a marriage can cease to exist.

        Once the possibility of dissolution of marriage is admitted, the question is when it should be permitted or acknowledged. That’s up to the bishops, following doctrine and canon law, either strictly or in economy, who have applied different standards over the generations.

        Ideally, marriage is for life. It is not eternal, however. In the world to come, there is no giving or taking in marriage. No doubt the early Church took a very dim view of divorce and remarriage and no doubt that divorce and remarriage are allowed far, far too frequently in the Church today. Even the more penitential rite for remarriage after one marriage is neglected so as not to spoil the happy occasion. But the problem with modern, frequent divorce does not result from the Church’s teaching on the subject, but from 20th century attitudes toward the institution of marriage. The RCC rejects divorce, allows annulment, and suffers from similar rates of dissolution as do the Orthodox and the rest of society. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the divorce rate was around 1-3%.

        Now, as to slavery, there is nothing in the Orthodox faith which encourages us to promote slavery or mandates that the state allow it though it was earlier accepted (“tolerated” is too tame a word, especially given some of St. John Chrysostom’s remarks regarding it). So it is a non-issue. Governments are free to abolish it, most have, and that is a good thing.

        To use these issues to suggest that since we allegedly depart from Tradition on either or both of them so we should be open to departing from Tradition on homosexuality is disingenuous. Neither Christ nor the Apostles said that marriage is indissoluble, nor did they say that we must own slaves. Both Scripture and Tradition do state, however, that homosexual behavior is an abomination, filthy, lascivious, etc. which precludes inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven.

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        • I am curious about a couple of Misha’s assertions in the comment above and would very much appreciate it if some of the more learned clergy among us could comment on the understanding of marriage in the Orthodox Church.

          Misha writes:

          “Ideally, marriage is for life. It is not eternal, however. In the world to come, there is no giving or taking in marriage.”

          And from within the context of Christ’s words about the only grounds for divorce, he writes:

          “What this means is that, though marriage should not be dissolved, it can be dissolved. Or to put it another way, “. . . let no man put asunder” is not a statement about what cannot happen but a normative exhortation which does not exclude the possibility that a marriage can cease to exist.”

          If one understands marriage as a sort of God-ordained social construct (which it was under the Old Covenant and, on a purely human level, continues to be even for Christians today), these assertions make sense. However, my understanding is that on another level – the level to which the Church calls us – marriage is far more: it is the icon par excellence of the union of Christ and His Church. And since the union of Christ and His Church is eternal, marriage is eternal, albeit not as a mere social construct or sexual union that in this life is limited to one man and one woman.

          As with all true icons, the icon of marriage participates in its prototype. Thus, while it is true that in the world to come “they neither marry, nor are they given in marriage…” this is not because marriage ends with the death of the spouses. There is no “Until death do us part” in the Orthodox Christian Mystery of Matrimony. Rather, it is because the union of the spouses is fulfilled in the Bridal Chamber of Christ. In the age to come, marriage does not end; it is fulfilled. Death is abolished, and all are perfectly united in Christ and with Christ.

          For the Church to affirm the iconic (and eternal) nature of marriage in this way doesn’t absolutely preclude divorce or even remarriage – any more so than any other sin (that is, sin understood as failure – not necessarily as transgression) precludes the possibility of repentance. We are all icons of God, and we all sin and fall short of the glory of our Prototype. However, it would seem that in matters of failure in marriage – or even the death of a spouse – the canonical disciplines the Church prescribes have as their primary purpose the preservation of the icon of marriage in all its fullness. Subsequent marriages are allowed as accommodations and are no less ‘legitimate’ or even fruitful. But they cannot be considered icons of marriage in the truest sense because Christ has but one Bride to which He is eternally faithful, and the Church has one Bridegroom to whom she has been espoused. The disciplines of the Church are, it seems to me, a reflection of this understanding – one that always calls us to perfection and the fulfillment of who we are as living icons while also recognizing that we are sinners and providing the means for our repentance.

          This is so incredibly difficult to express in a loving way. Divorce is so common and so understandably filled with emotional baggage. The very concept of the failure that is common to us all has become so closely associated with feelings of hurt, guilt, or shame that it is next to impossible to express this understanding of the subject without provoking anger in some. It is also undoubtedly the case that I have not articulated this as clearly as perhaps it should be.

          Again, I would very much appreciate comments or corrections to my understanding of this subject from the clergy who frequent this blog.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            Brian, Misha wrote: “Christ allowed divorce, period. He did so in the case of infidelity. He also said that if anyone is remarried after an illicit divorce (one for insufficient cause), the person commits adultery.” Both Misha’s sentences are untruths. He never spoke of a category: “illicit divorce”, let alone bless marriage after such, nor did He speak of “sufficient’ or ‘insufficient” cause for divorce. His word was clear and completely unambiguous. He clearly and unequivocally inveighed AGAINST divorce for ANY other reason but Adultery.. The Roman Church’s intolerance of divorce is, admit it, more Scriptural, and in accordance with the Saviour’s unequivocal teaching, than the Orthodox Church’s habitual tolerance of it.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              The Roman Church’s official intolerance for divorce, but their hypocritical methods of getting around the official stance I do not admire.

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            • James Bradshaw says:

              Bishop Fitzgerald: So the “proper” Biblical response to a woman who is abused physically and psychologically by her husband (or who has children who are being abused/beaten by her husband) is what? Stick it out? Wear a crash helmet around the house? Maybe separate and move in with parents but remain legally bound to her abuser who can then access their joint accounts and control from a distance?

              Again, this is why I eventually came to reject both fundamentalism and the notion of Scripture as inerrant. If I’m an infidel for thinking that there’s nothing grossly immoral about protecting one’s own life and the mental and physical well-being of one’s children, so be it.

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                I think you have produced a non sequitur; moreover, I never demanded nor demand that anyone adopt the theosis of martyrdom or ANY theosis at all. Naturally (I mean that literally, my man), the Christian wife has no ethical obligations that exceed those of pagans and atheists.

                Have him arrested and confined to a penitentiary, James. one possibility if giving one’s all is too much to bear.
                So you have rejected fundamentalism and the notion of Scripture as inerrant. Good for you!
                Now, aside from fundamentalism and scriptural inerrancy, I’m curious about your view of Christ, and His injunctions. Do you also doubt that Christ said what the Gospel reports?
                All that “love your enemies” stuff and ‘turn the other cheek” stuff does not apply to REAL enemies or REAL blows? Just asking. And thanks for your biographical note.

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            • Matthew 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

              Wrong, Vladyka. The RCC’s intolerance of divorce is not more scriptural than the Orthodox. They prohibit divorce across the board. There is no room for the above saying in the RCC. Moreover, Christ clearly specifies a valid ground for divorce and condemns remarriage for any other reason, so you are wrong again, He did actually speak of a sufficient cause for divorce. I agree He is clear and unambiguous, but you need to read him again.

              What I will admit is what I did state above and I stand by every word of it: Neither the RCC nor the Orthodox have anything to pat themselves on the back for regarding their respective leniency regarding dissolution of marriage.

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              • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                Misha, Misha! Please do not disagree with the goo..er…Bishop Tikhon. After all he is a bishop, and as we all know bishops know best and are always right.

                Petey

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                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                  First I heard THAT!! I think Petey should speak for himself because I certainly do NOT know or believe that “bishops know best and are always right.” I haven’t even trotted out credentials, such as “I’ve been teaching for years” or “I have X degree,” or “I’m a Greek,” or the like. I’ve never ever asked anyone to accept my words based on any credential. i DESPISE credentialism almost as much as I despise anonymous communications: emails, phone calls, Monomakhos rants, etc. Why I wonder, does Petey reply with sarcasm rather than with reasoning? is it an admission of being stumped? I think so.
                  I believe that the RC across-the-board intolerance of divorce IS closer to the Saviour’s strict limitation of divorce to the case of fornication, than the Orthodox Church’s tolerance of All Sorts of excuses for divorce, especially the “no-fault” divorces of today’s enlightened Nation under God. How many times did Tsar Ivan the Terrible get married without a peep from the Church, not even St. Philip of Moscow? Wasn’t it TWELVE (12) times? I think the most remarriages allowed an Emperor of Byzantium was eight (8). Rome never gave in, not even to the King of England, with his six (6).

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                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                    Thank you again. Good night and God bless.

                    Peter

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      Peter A. Papoutsis…you bless me so much that I worry you won’t have anything left for those that curse you!

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      Thank you, Peter A. Papoutsis, for giving us an inscrutable quote of Parson W.W. Wiersbe. A Calvinist where election is concerned, he’s almost as popular as Billy Graham and produced volume after volume of his interpretations of God, including, as you show, how to define His purposes!.
                      Bless them that curse you, Peter. Do you recall any other directions from Jesus Christ about whom WE should bless?
                      As long as we are venturing out into Calvinist waters to speak down to others, why not try Charlotte Bronte? “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the crown of thorns.”

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                  • Isa Almisry says:

                    I’m afraid you are short on a couple of facts, Your Grace. Ivan married his fourth wife without the Church’s blessing, and had to do penance thereafter-at least that was what the Church Council ordered. The four that followed were without the Church’s blessing.
                    The Vatican bowed to give Henry’s aunt her ” ‘shameless sentence sent from Rome” as he put it. The it didn’t bow for Henry had more to do with Catherine’s nephew the Emperor having it bent over.
                    Leo’s penance as demanded by the EP over marrying a fourth wife is still immortalized above the entrance into Agia Sophia-he got his permission from Rome.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      Do you mean that the Russian Church surrendered after watching Ivan scorn their ‘penance’ and just turned the other way for marriages five through eight? I guess that attempt to impose penance WOULD be an example of a “peep” out of the Church which I mistakenly denied. So let me make the appropriate correction. The Church of Russia protested impotently at Marriage Number Four, but gave up in the case of Marriages Five through Eight. OK?
                      Thanks for correcting me by pointing out the two (2) historical blessings of divorce by the Bishop of Rome: KIng Henry’s aunt’s and Byzantine Emperor Leo’s; Emperor Leo, then, was brought to heel by the Ecumenical Patriarch over his divorce. In what way? Was it like the time the Hohenstaufen Emperor had to go kneel before the Pope in the snow?

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                  • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

                    “I believe that the RC across-the-board intolerance of divorce IS closer to the Saviour’s strict limitation of divorce to the case of fornication, than the Orthodox Church’s tolerance of All Sorts of excuses for divorce”

                    Christ didn’t limit divorce at all, He merely pointed out the sin of it, people should limit themselves from divorce because of the sin involved, but if not, God and the Church work with sinners where they are at, to a point. Christ didn’t say, to the woman at the well, that she had had one real husband and had lived in adultery with all the others, because only the first marriage is valid, no, He said, “you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” The “RC” fell away from the One Holy and Apostolic Church, and their invention of new burdens for mankind in one unbreakable (except by death) marriage that can only be eased under pretense of it never existing, is one of the many proofs of it. The “RC Jesus” would have said to the woman at the well, “You think you have had five husbands and have fornicated with just one man, but I tell you that only one marriage is valid while both spouses live, therefore it would ‘appear’ that you have committed adultery with five men. But, I bring you Good News. Pay my Apostles that they may examine the details of what you thought of as your first marriage, so they may find some flaw in it, and thus declare it invalid, freeing you to marry the man with whom you currently live in fornication.”

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                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      Harsh, but fair. I have had friends who have gone through this process so that they can remarry– pursuing the fiction that the first marriage was invalid, even though performed in the Church, enduring for many years, and producing several children!

                      Both parties participate in the charade because, of course, one or both want to remarry in the Church.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” I assume that you do not acknowledge by your real name what you have written about Christ’s teaching on divorce because you believe your livelihood and your personal welfare or possibly you job would be at stake, not to mention the persecution your bishop would visit upon you for what you wrote about divorce. I’m not clear, though, as to what exactly would inspire such unfair persecution, and I’ve read your message a couple times. Are you sure (and is George M. not sure) that you are not just afraid of embarrassment in case someone demolishes your expressed opinion: you just don’t want to be held PERSONALLY accountable for what YOU consider to be a summation of Christ’s teachings?.
                      Be that as it may be, You seem to ignore or gloss over Christ’s specific words, NOT about the sin of a man’s divorce, but about the sin of REMARRIAGE after divorce for ANY reason but fornication by his wife. Get it?
                      No Pope has blessed or permitted multiple remarriages, while almost any Orthodox parish priest has been blessed by his bishop to perform, and has performed REMARRIAGES for MANY reasons, including “NO FAULT.”
                      In this matter the historical record of the Church of Rome is closer to Christ’s clear, unequivocal, unambiguous declaration that a man’s remarriage for any cause but the spouse’s fornication is ADULTERY.
                      Finally, the Roman Church’s teaching, like that of all its offspring Churches is that a man and a woman marry each other: they are the “ministers of the Sacrament”and it is their VOWS that create a marriage. The Orthodox Church, however, has no such teaching: it teaches that GOD is the Minister of Marriage: not the bride and groom. There is no ‘I pronounce you man and wife” in our Church’s rite. The key words are ‘O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor,’ not ‘I pronounce you…’
                      “What GOD hath joined together let no MAN put asunder.” It seems to me that many of our Orthodox people say, “Everyone makes mistakes,’ but they do not realize a divorce says that GOD is the One Who made a mistake.

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              I’m sorry, Petey! It must be my fault you didn’t get it. Now, pay attention. The Constantinopolitan Church and its clergy were pressured by the Emperors to marry them and remarry them at will. The Roman Church was never pressured by any Emperor to bless his divorces and remarriages. Get it? That is a fact and not a perspective.

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          • Brian,

            Christ said,

            “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

            You wrote,

            “Thus, while it is true that in the world to come ‘they neither marry, nor are they given in marriage…’ this is not because marriage ends with the death of the spouses. There is no ‘Until death do us part’ in the Orthodox Christian Mystery of Matrimony. Rather, it is because the union of the spouses is fulfilled in the Bridal Chamber of Christ. In the age to come, marriage does not end; it is fulfilled.”

            Beautiful language, very in keeping with the flowery, neo-patristic mindset common in American Orthodoxy. Could have come from a book out of SVS.

            But I ask you, Brian, if marriage continues somehow into the resurrection, who’s wife is she? She had seven consecutive husbands, each of whom died. If marriage in any sense continues . . .

            Unless, of course, you’re suggesting some type of polyandry in the world to come. I’m curious, of what, precisely does this marriage in the resurrection (which Christ Himself seems to refute – - do the angels marry?) consist?

            Just to round it off nicely:

            Matthew 22:29 – [regarding the question of the Sadducees] There will be a resurrection, but not of the sort they think. (1) They are ignorant of the Scriptures, which say nothing about earthly laws of marriage being applicable to the future Kingdom. The resurrection is not merely life resuming where it left off, but a complete change of life. (2) They do not know the power of God, which transforms us from death to life. The “dead” even now are living before God (v. 32). – Orthodox Study Bible note

            and

            Matthew 19:9 – Divorce is permitted only for sexual immorality, which destroys a marriage – a teaching held by the stricter school of the Pharisees. The reasons for divorce were eventually increased in the ancient Church to include threat to one partner’s life, desertion, and forced prostitution . . . – OSB note

            From the Church of Russia:

            http://www.pravmir.com/when-marriage-is-dead/

            and from GOARCH:

            “The church will permit up to, but not more than, three marriages for any Orthodox Christian. If both partners are entering a second or third marriage, another form of the marriage ceremony is conducted, much more subdued and penitential in character. Marriages end either through the death of one of the partners or through ecclesiastical recognition of divorce. The Church grants “ecclesiastical divorces” on the basis of the exception given by Christ to his general prohibition of the practice. The Church has frequently deplored the rise of divorce and generally sees divorce as a tragic failure. Yet, the Orthodox Church also recognizes that sometimes the spiritual well-being of Christians caught in a broken and essentially nonexistent marriage justifies a divorce, with the right of one or both of the partners to remarry. Each parish priest is required to do all he can to help couples resolve their differences. If they cannot, and they obtain a civil divorce, they may apply for an ecclesiastical divorce in some jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. In others, the judgment is left to the parish priest when and if a civilly divorced person seeks to remarry.” – http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/controversialissues

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            • James Bradshaw says:

              So you’re suggesting that marriage “continues” in Heaven? What of Matthew 22:30 (“they will neither marry nor be given in marriage”)?

              The notion of life after death consisting of bonds with our families and friends and (presumably “saved”) loved ones is a popular one for sentimental reasons (at least for those of us who actually love our families).

              While I believe in existence after this life, I’m not sure it consists of the same constructs that exist on this plane. We are beings with physical bodies that, in some degree, define our existence (such as gender). What need would there be for gender in a sexless universe? What need is there for an ear canal in a sphere of existence where sound does not need to be communicated via waves that must be perceived through a vibrating membrane? I tend to think of our physical bodies as analogies to some spiritual reality. I’m just speculating, though.

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                James, marriage certainly continues after death (see below in my reply to Brian). It is wholly transformed and transfigured, but it is still marriage. The marriage now is not irrelevant to our life in the Resurrection. It is part of who we are and what we offer to Christ that he weighs in His judgment. The bonds of marriage are not wholly carnal or even mostly carnal. They are certainly a great deal more than a legal contractual arrangement for the division of property that all civil marriages are.

                The ‘one flesh’ is far more than just the body, just as partaking of the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist is more.

                That extra dimension lies in the male-female synergy which is why there can be no such thing as same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is a social and legal construct without foundation in life.

                It will take a great deal of human will and energy to keep it together which is why the whole force of government must be brought to play to make it happen and keep it going. No opposition can be allowed because each little bit of opposition exposes it for the false construct it really is and drains its existence.

                The more we live true marriage in thought, word and deed, the more we celebrate the mystery of the marital union in Christ, the less same-sex marriage can even be.

                We don’t need to fight it. Fighting it is giving it life. We definitely don’t need to give into it, but we don’t need to fight it either by “defending our rights”

                It is not about rights, it is about truth, life and the love of God for His Creation, in His creation.

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              • That’s good point, but aren’t we in heaven waiting for the resurrection . . . of our bodies?

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                • colette,

                  That’s actually at the heart of the matter. It depends on how we’re defining “marriage” in the world to come. Yes, we go to a heavenly repose (or not so heavenly, but we’ll be optimistic for purposes of this discussion) and then are resurrected. Now, the assertion is that marriage somehow continues throughout this journey. Thus Christ’s point about there being not giving or taking is on point regardless of sexual activity or the lack thereof. Even if it is just “holding hands” in the New Jerusalem, or cohabitiation without intercourse, or whatever, will the poor widow in the Sadducees hypothetical hold hands or cohabitate with 7 men or not? More practically, do widows cohabitate or hold hands only with their first husbands or with the rest too?

                  None of the above. Now, if marriage means theosis and does not mean individual pairings, that’s a different story. But, in common sense terms, what does “marriage” without individual pairings amount to? In precisely what way will the married couple, whose marriage survives death, interact in the next world that non-married persons will not?

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          • I am very much afraid that you have all misunderstood my question and also what is meant by marriage being fulfilled in the age to come, which is why I directed my question to the clergy.

            With respect to all, it is some of you (not I) who are thinking like the Sadducees, albeit at the opposite extreme – which is to say that you have completely glossed over my question about the iconic nature of marriage in favor of deriding me for, as you seem to assume, carnal notions of marriage as we know it in this life.

            Yes, it is absolutely true that in the resurrection they neither marry nor are they given in marriage. The way I was taught, however, is that this is because marriage itself is fulfilled in the Bridal Chamber of Christ. I was taught that we will forever be with our spouses in a union that transcends that which we share in this present life as much as the prototype transcends the wood and paint of an icon.

            Surely you have heard of the Bridal Chamber that has been adorned and that I have no wedding garment to enter. Surely you have heard of the marriage supper of the Lamb, etc. Indeed, we will all be married to the Bridegroom; will we not? Do not think that the way I was taught envisions this as some sort of orgy. Orgies are precisely the perversion of this understanding – just as fornication and homosexuality are perversions of “the union of all men.”

            To Misha,
            Questions that relate directly to the iconic understanding marriage: If marriage is as temporal as you say, why is divorce not allowed except in the case of fornication – not by the law, mind you, but by Christ? What is it about marital faithfulness that is so important to Him?

            Yes, a marriage can be dissolved just as an icon can be defaced beyond recognition. Both are tragedies caused by sin.

            To His Grace,
            I had no intention of juxtaposing the Orthodox Church with that of Rome. Rome is right doctrinally about this just as they are right about many other things, though often in a way that is largely legal and lifeless. I would very much appreciate it if you address my central question.

            To all the clergy,
            This was (and remains) an honest question. I have no interest in being ‘right.’ I would, however, like to know if the way I was taught is wrong and, if so, why. I know the ‘legal’ answers. But Christ didn’t address the ‘legal’ as much as He addressed the heart.

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            • I should add a clarification to the fourth paragraph above. Under this understanding the transcendent union includes all those who have a share in the Bridal Chamber of Christ. This union includes, but is not limited to, our spouses. But I repeat that this is understood as the fulfillment of marriage. The exclusivity is between Christ and His Bride, not the former spouses.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Brian, having lost a spouse and being grated the grace to re-marry, I can, possibly, answer more authoritatively than most. The marriage does not die, but neither does it continue as before.

              Since my wife now, also lost her spouse we have an interesting time of it. Our deceased spouses are, in a sense, part of this marriage. We acknowledge them. The love we share with them is still very real and alive, just wholly non-carnal. There is even a sense that our love for our deceased spouses has grown and been purified in the course of our marriage. Wholly by the grace of God, we are more able to love them now than we were when they were with us. That repentance is also part of our marriage now.

              Thinking about it and trying to articulate it makes it sound really complicated. Its not, it just is–part of the mystery of our life in the Church (seen and unseen).

              Because of this experience I can say that re-marriage for any reason, especially upon the death of a spouse poses significant spiritual complications of which I was not aware. For my wife and I it is a joy to include our respective deceased spouses–part of our love for one another and our Lord, it may not be for everyone. I did not know or suspect such an occurrence going in.

              At the same time we both realize that the level of intimacy we might otherwise share is decreased a bit (because of our egos and other passions only). However, if we had met when we were young, we would not have liked each other.

              Extrapolating from my experience a bit, your idea of the fulfillment of marriage as communion and all of us entering into the Bridal Chamber seems to be right. What we see and experience now is but a shadow of what it will be. I suspect that the communion we will share with our Lord and each other then is simply inexpressible, even if we could know it now.

              It is not really an exclusivity either, IMO, it is a transcendent inclusivity but Christ is the only point of communion. All else falls into the place of love, mercy and righteousness.

              Each of us interrelated with one another through Him. Each in a unique manner as we are truly ourselves.

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            • Brian,

              I’m not sure what to tell you beyond what I have. I understood precisely what you were asking and do not have a problem with the type of imagery you are using regarding marriage and the Bridal Chamber of Christ. I just think that it is problematic when you reference it regarding Orthodox marriage discipline which is why I asked above,

              “I’m curious, of what, precisely does this marriage in the resurrection (which Christ Himself seems to refute – – do the angels marry?) consist?”

              “What precisely is marriage?”, might be a good question as well as, “what precisely about marriage survives into the next world?” I assume that you are saying that marriage without the carnal aspect was your intention. If so, we shall call it “marriage – X”. Now, with which, if not all, of the 7 deceased husbands would the widow have marriage – X in the next world?

              The reason it needs to be formulated that way is because the question which prompted this whole line of discussion was about a perceived defect in Orthodox doctrine regarding the mystery in this life.

              “Rome is right doctrinally about this just as they are right about many other things, though often in a way that is largely legal and lifeless.”

              The focus of my response was to show that the Orthodox understanding is quite complete, the RCC’s understanding defective (they contradict Christ Himself), and that the real problem is not our doctrine but our practice.

              “If marriage is as temporal as you say, why is divorce not allowed except in the case of fornication – not by the law, mind you, but by Christ? What is it about marital faithfulness that is so important to Him?

              Yes, a marriage can be dissolved just as an icon can be defaced beyond recognition. Both are tragedies caused by sin.”

              Christ answered that. They were meant to become one flesh. And under one strict interpretation of the Law during Christ’s earthly life, divorce was only for unfaithfulness. So this stress on marital fidelity was not unique to Him. Marital fidelity is a big deal in patriarchal cultures. Infidelity often ended in execution for adultery because they take it so seriously. Not to mention marriage being a holy institution, infidelity amounts to the defrauding of a man’s property by inheritance to a child not his own..

              And yes, you are getting closer to the truth. It is like an icon that can be defaced, or even destroyed, and this does not break the marriage bond between Christ and His Church.

              This is the line that is the problem:

              “In the age to come, marriage does not end; it is fulfilled. Death is abolished, and all are perfectly united in Christ and with Christ.”

              Earthly marriages end in death or divorce. While it is true that the earthly marriage of persons is an icon of the heavenly marriage of Christ and His Church, just like all earthly icons, this one can be destroyed and always is by either death or divorce. That does not make its prototype any less eternal. But, of course, this has nothing to do with any erroneously perceived defects in Orthodox marriage doctrine.

              I have often heard clergy trained at SVS when asked a fairly simple and straightforward question backtrack and come forward with great loads of flowers and fertilizer. So much so that in some quarters that is what Orthodox clergy are known for, and that is a shame. On one level, speaking about heavenly things is all very fine and well. Yet most people don’t need a Thomas Kincade embroidery as an answer to most questions. It can be entertaining and uplifting in certain contexts, a sermon perhaps, but other contexts people just want the straight skinny – - “what’s the d*mn rule and why?”. You don’t need to poop flowers all over such a question, just directly answer it.

              That is why I tend to be wary of appeals to heavenly prototypes and references to the “transforming Grace of Christ in the Life of the Church which permeates . . .”

              Yes, yes, of course.

              Often as not, it is used as an obfuscation, an attempt at playing alpha, or a tacit admission that the speaker likes to hear himself talk, specifically, painting pretty pictures with words. In situations like this, it can obscure rather than illuminate since flowers are very poor levers with which to move around substance.

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              • Misha (and Michael),

                Thank you for your thoughtful replies. Misha, I hear what you are saying about flowery language (believe me, I do!), but there is one thing that troubles me. To say that…

                Earthly marriages end in death or divorce.

                …acknowledges that death (or divorce which is another kind of death, but primarily death) is the victor, even if temporarily, over union and communion. I have to say that I have a difficult time accepting that this is the truth of Holy Matrimony, one of the primary Mysteries of Church for the salvation of most people. “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” “Love is stronger than death;” is it not? And how can a Mystery of the Church be considered earthly? “What God has joined together…”

                I fully understand all the legal, social, and religious aspects of marriage – particularly those of the Jewish culture Christ addressed. However, I can think of no time when Christ ever answered a question from a cultural perspective. He always questioned the framework of the question itself in order to reveal the truth of the matter and cut to the heart.

                I also understand that a large part of marriage as we know it is a provision for this life. I don’t deny or diminish this aspect at all. But even in the ‘legal’ language you quoted from GOARCH, one can see (don’t you think?) a reflection of the Church’s canonical discipline that makes very little sense unless marriage is understood by the Church as primarily iconic – an icon that the Church takes care, however imperfectly, to preserve and not allow to be defaced.

                And Michael, thank you for this:

                It is not really an exclusivity either, IMO, it is a transcendent inclusivity but Christ is the only point of communion. All else falls into the place of love, mercy and righteousness.

                It is a far better expression of the way I was taught.

                Still hoping to hear from the good clergy among us.

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                • Brian,

                  The Church does teach that the purpose of marriage, like all the other mysteries, is to facilitate the theosis of the faithful. And so, in that sense perhaps, “marriage does not end”. Although perhaps it might be better to say “theosis doesn’t end”. However we also have:

                  I Corinthians 7:39
                  “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

                  Romans 7:2-3
                  “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

                  Just to take two examples. I suppose, as a priest once told me, “context is everything”.

                  PS: Bit of advice: Be careful whom you call “good” around here. There are some touchy customers.

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                  • Protopappas says:

                    The idea that marriage ends in death is hard to rectify with regard to the marriage service:

                    Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants (Name) and (Name) a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace…and a crown of glory that does not fade away

                    Your servants, who, by Your Providence, are joined in the community of marriage. Bless their comings in and their goings out. Replenish their life with all good things. (Here the priest lifts the crowns from the heads of the bride and groom and places them on the table.) Accept their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled; and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages.

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                    • No doubt we desire their crowns to be accepted in the Heavenly Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled, preserved without offense. But that does not mean that the marriage of the two continues, but rather that the crowns (which represent martyrdom and eventual theosis) are to be preserved. If for example, one crown were shared between them and that crown was to be preserved, that would constitute, perhaps, a problem. It is not simply a matter of carnality, but of the joining of two persons eternally beyond this life. However, since the Church has in other places explicitly stated that marriage is dissolved by death (which I have quoted elsewhere), we can surmise that it is the glorification that survives. Incidentally, in Western Rite Orthodoxy, “til death do us part” is used.

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                    • Protopappas says:

                      Misha,

                      Apparently you did not read the whole post, where the first quote is that a single crown of glory is given to the couple, who is affirmed as being made one flesh (not “temporarily one flesh,” but one flesh). The second they are prayed for that they, as one flesh now (otherwise we have to completely disregard the marriage service), together be preserved without offense unto the ages of ages.

                      I am not speaking about opinions or about what fallible jurisdictions say, but what the marriage service itself says–facts. You can either renounce the marriage service or acknowledge the facts about what it says. There is no alternative.

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                    • Does “ages of ages” denote time? And Heaven or God’s Kingdom being outside of time . . . .mean anything in this? Also are there Byzantine references to marriage being eternal?

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                    • Also, it seems we have to either disregard the wedding service or Scripture as they seem to be at odds if taking either one literally or without further commentary.

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                    • Protopappas,

                      Of course I did. And it would be unfortunate if the Orthodox marriage service conflicted with the words of Christ Himself. Thankfully, it does not.

                      “Accept their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled; and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages.”

                      Nothing there implies that marriage extends to the world to come. If it did, remarriage after the death of a spouse would be illicit. The natural result would be a policy more unreasonable than that of Rome. It simply does not say that they “together be preserved” but rather “preserve them”. Preserve them both in heaven and the New Jerusalem vs. preserve them both together forever in heaven and the New Jerusalem. One interpretation directly contradicts the words of Christ, the other does not. You choose. Your adding “together” is a bit like Luther’s adding “alone” to faith.

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                    • The quote from the marriage ceremony cited above by Protopappas is from the rite of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese which you can find on their website. The same website that has this which I quoted at greater length above:

                      “Marriages end either through the death of one of the partners or through ecclesiastical recognition of divorce. The Church grants “ecclesiastical divorces” on the basis of the exception given by Christ to his general prohibition of the practice.” – http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/controversialissues

                      So if I’m mistaken on this one, so is GOARCH.

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                    • Misha,

                      I wonder if some of us here aren’t essentially talking past each other.

                      It is one thing to address the purely practical matters caused by sin that are found in the rather dry, “just the facts, please” GOARCH statements. It is quite another to talk about what marriage is.

                      Personally, I find this GOARCH statement to be very practical as a quick, easy answer to an inquirer asking the question, “I have been divorced. What do I do now?” But it is thoroughly inadequate – as well as downright abhorrent – in terms of the Church’s understanding of what marriage is. Perhaps I am naïve, but I simply cannot imagine a GOARCH priest beginning his counseling of a never-before-married Orthodox Christian couple desirous of marriage with these words:

                      “The church will permit up to, but not more than, three marriages for any Orthodox Christian. If both partners are entering a second or third marriage, another form of the marriage ceremony is conducted, much more subdued and penitential in character. Marriages end either through the death of one of the partners or through ecclesiastical recognition of divorce.”

                      (Not to worry; if you find that in the future you cannot lay down your life and continue to be united to this person, you still have two more chances. Really?)

                      Furthermore, while I understand the pastoral nature and intent of this statement (below), the framing of the statement in the secular language of ‘rights’ is also abhorrent to the Church’s understanding of marriage as union and gift.

                      “Yet, the Orthodox Church also recognizes that sometimes the spiritual well-being of Christians caught in a broken and essentially nonexistent marriage justifies a divorce, with the right of one or both of the partners to remarry.”

                      Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, The Eucharist, Holy Unction, Ordination, Marriage. Although all of our life in Christ is Mystery/Sacrament, these are the ‘major’ Mysteries of the Church. All have the eternal dimension of union with God and with one another. They are gifts of Christ that are fulfilled in Christ. How can marriage (again, understood as the union of persons that begins with spousal union and is fulfilled in the union of all humanity in Christ per my comment of January 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm be the exception?

                      I don’t mean to argue. I’m enjoying the conversation.

                      It still baffles me that with all the clergy who frequent this blog and comment on all manner of inconsequential matters none have participated substantively in this conversation.

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                    • Brian,

                      You’d be surprised how frank a Greek priest can be.

                      However, that aside, I simply don’t identify with all the flowery stuff about “eternal dimensions” and how a union is “fulfilled” in this or that. That may seem harsh but I’m being honest. It means nothing to me. If you actually get down to cases then I can latch onto it. Otherwise it’s just passing clouds, neither here nor there.

                      If one says, for example: Marriage is a mystery of the Church filled with grace toward the end of the working out of salvation, the theosis, of the husband and wife, in this world and the next, as a way of uniting them to Christ through a type of spiritual martyrdom as symbolized by the crowns, etc . . . well, that’s fine and dandy. Makes sense.

                      Of course, when one dies the marriage has ended. Doesn’t mean that theosis doesn’t continue, though. I think it’s important to be clear about that. Also, if a person is asserting that the pair are joined to each other in the next world in some way that they are not joined to others, they are contradicting Christ who said just the opposite in response to a direct question which is on all fours with our discussion.

                      “(Not to worry; if you find that in the future you cannot lay down your life and continue to be united to this person, you still have two more chances. Really?)”

                      Yes, really. These higher spiritual matters work themselves out in material reality in just that mundane a manner. It ain’t lofty, it ain’t romantic, and it ain’t lost-in-the-clouds poetic. Just the way it is. Everybody would be better off without sin. But we’re stuck with it for now.

                      I will agree with you however that the stuff above about “justifies” and “rights” is crap. Nothing “justifies” divorce but events can destroy a marriage. And no one has a “right” to subsequent marriages, or even the first one for that matter. A bishop can always say, “No, we’re not going to perform a second marriage at this point.”

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                    • “Also, if a person is asserting that the pair are joined to each other in the next world in some way that they are not joined to others, they are contradicting Christ who said just the opposite in response to a direct question which is on all fours with our discussion.”

                      This is precisely the point at which we seem to be talking past each other. No such assertion was ever made.

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                    • Protopappas says:

                      Misha,

                      My issue is not with the reality of divorce, but your statement that sacramental marriage is intended to end, and that it is not intended to be everlasting.

                      You ignored the first quote, where they are to be granted a single crown that does not fade away:
                      “Bless this marriage and grant unto these Your servants… a crown of glory that does not fade away

                      You said that if it was a single crown you could understand. That’s what it says, a single crown.

                      Earlier in the same prayer, the priest recites aloud the following prayers:

                      “O God most pure, author and creator of all creatures, who didst transform the rib of our forefather Adam into a wife, because of Thy love towards mankind, and didst bless them and say to them: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.Thus by the union of the two, made them one flesh: Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, and what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

                      Divorce is due to sin. “They neither marry nor are given in marriage” you are seeing it as saying something that it does not. It does not say that “they are not married” but “they neither marry.” The context is that if a person ended a marriage on earth and did not reconcile it, they will not be able to marry again in the age to come, because there are no weddings in the age to come. They either enter in as one flesh and coheirs of the grace of life, or they do not. There is no opportunity for them to once again marry (for men) or be given in marriage (woman). This is simply a continuation of the Lord’s message that now is the day of repentance, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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                    • I hesitated to add this because unless the clergy finally decide to comment, there is nothing further to be said.

                      I have no romantic notions of marriage or of the Faith. It is the eternal dimension and the hope of fulfillment that constitute the substance of faith (as well as marriage). It is the only motivation to persevere through trials (and even failure) that is worth anything. If union with God and with one another is a lofty notion lacking in substance, I am at a loss as to how one can help but conclude that the whole thing – including Christ’s words, the Church, Scripture, the Tradition and all – is anything more than a not-so-well-oiled social structure claiming an empty authority.

                      Theosis is union. Union is theosis.

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                    • “The context is that if a person ended a marriage on earth and did not reconcile it, they will not be able to marry again in the age to come, because there are no weddings in the age to come. ”

                      No, Protopappas, that is not the context. The context is a woman who was widowed six times and each time married one of her husbands brothers in succession. The quote precludes the possibility of marriage lasting into the next world. If it were eternal, she would be married to seven men. Which one is her husband, the last? What if she loved the first more? Or the fifth?

                      Matthew 22:

                      “23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

                      24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

                      25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

                      26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

                      27 And last of all the woman died also.

                      28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

                      29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

                      30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

                      31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

                      32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

                      The story answers precisely the question being asked here.

                      As far as a crown being preserved, is this not the crown of martyrdom? Is one single crown held over both their heads?

                      Of course union is theosis and theosis is union. The question is what type of union with whom. It is possible to get lost in the clouds regarding marriage being eternally between one man and one woman. Theosis between God and man is obviously eternal.

                      Beyond this, there’s no point in my commenting on this. I’ve quoted from websites from the major jurisdictions, laid out the text and pointed out the absurdity of the alternative. If that’s not enough and anyone wants to persist for the sake of argument, that’s fine. If your bishop is not concerned about what you believe on the subject than neither am I. No skin off my tail.

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                    • Protopappas says:

                      Right, marriage is the union of a man and a woman with Christ, who is the Arche of the relationship. To deny that this is a stage of theosis is madness. God has joined it together just to tear it apart again in death? I don’t think so. Death is overthrown, and what previously ended in death, Lord willing (and the couple willing) results in the inheritance unto eternal life of the two persons united in one flesh in the Lord.

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                    • Protopappas says:

                      Misha, it says simply and clearly that Levirate marriage (what the Sadducees were addressing) does not exist in the Resurrection. Indeed, it ended (in heaven and earth) with the New Covenant, and arguably never was permitted with regard to married widows, but only betrothed widows (the only way to reconcile Lev. 18. 16, 20. 21 and Deut. 25. 5-6). In the Resurrection they neither marry in Levirate marriage nor are given in Levirate marriage. These verses that you quote disprove your own contention. The Sadducees were trying to trap the Lord because they did not believe in the Resurrection. He says precisely that there is no Levirate marriage in the Resurrection because it requires death, and God is the God of the living. He gives as example Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

                      “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

                      I am sure that Isaac and Jacob would be shocked to hear from you that their parents got forcibly divorced in death, as would Christ who points to these three as an example against the abuses of Levirate marriage, and those who continued to live, even after physical death.

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              • Misha,

                I failed to answer the question you posed (again, according to the way I was taught).

                “I’m curious, of what, precisely does this marriage in the resurrection (which Christ Himself seems to refute – – do the angels marry?) consist?”

                Marriage in this sense consists of the union of all men (including women, of course) in Christ. Thus the Scripture (and marriage) is fulfilled: “The two (that is, Christ and His Church) shall become one flesh.” The union of marriage is understood as being forever in the sense that It begins now as icon and foretaste, but it doesn’t end with death (or even divorce for that matter if both spouses ultimately repent), for death is overcome, being swallowed up by life. The imperfect (in the sense that it is not complete) union of husband and wife is fulfilled, not abolished, in their perfect union in and with Christ. The question, “Whose wife will she be since all had her?” becomes completely irrelevant.

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      • Where does scripture ever condone slavery-especially Christ or the New Testament? Where do the Fathers?

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Colette, I’m glad you mention this. I for one am tired of the Left trotting out the old hobby horse of slavery being hunky-dory in the Bible.

          Why? Because slavery was OK everywhere in the world, especially in Africa where the majority of slave-hunters and traders were black Africans. It was OK in ancient Greece, Rome, Persia, and not one of those civilizations were Christian or had ever read the Old Testament for that matter.

          And before the Progs start going ballistic, we might as well admit that some type of servitude is okie-dokey with them as well. Why else do they want to open our borders and allow millions of MesoAmericans in if not to undercut native labor?

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  3. Trudge at SmartVote says:

    George,

    Thank you for addressing this “controversial statement” in your post. And Bishop Chaput is a light to us.

    However “Orthodox lavenders” is an oxymoron. In effect these bishops and priests are plainly hypocrites and deny Christ. Their appearance and their doom has been foretold. Their judgment, of which they are unconcerned, will be severe.

    What does it say about us that this “patriarch” of a television show speaks with more force and clarity about moral principles than our Orthodox leadership?

    And when Camille Paglia, a lesbian academic, sounds the alarm about the anti-cogitant climate and the implications of the current elevation of irrationality and hatred of the good in our country when it comes to basic moral matters and “the birds and the bees”:

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/19/paglia-duck-dynasty-uproar-utterly-fascist-utterly-stalinist/?onswipe_redirect=no

    The Duck Dynasty patriarch speaks more like Christ, the Apostles and fathers like Chrysostom than most of us do.

    But this the desire of intercourse effected, and united the sexes to one another. This desire the devil having taken away, and having turned the course thereof into another fashion, he thus sundered the sexes from one another, and made the one to become two parts in opposition to the law of God. For it says, “the two shall be one flesh;” but he divided the one flesh into two: here then is one war. Again, these same two parts he provoked to war both against themselves and against one another. For even women again abused women, and not men only. And the men stood against one another, and against the female sex, as happens in a battle by night. You see a second and third war, and a fourth and fifth; there is also another, for beside what have been mentioned they also behaved lawlessly against nature itself. For when the Devil saw that this desire it is, principally, which draws the sexes together, he was bent on cutting through the tie, so as to destroy the race, not only by their not copulating lawfully, but also by their being stirred up to war, and in sedition against one another.

    How many hells shall be enough for such? But if thou scoffest at hearing of hell and believest not that fire, remember Sodom. For we have seen, surely we have seen, even in this present life, a semblance of hell….For such is the burning of Sodom, and that conflagration! And they know it well that have been at the place, and have seen with their eyes that scourge divinely sent, and the effect of the lightnings from above. Consider how great is that sin, to have forced hell to appear even before its time! (St. John Chrysostom, from Homily 4 on Romans)

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  4. Tim R. Mortiss says:

    Splendid Nativity letter from the Ecumenical Patriarch read this morning at the liturgy at my GOC. Very strong statements about marriage made, with the example of the Holy Family. Really a very good and strong message, I am glad to say.

    I don’t yet find an internet link to it to post.

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    • I, too, was presently surprised by the Patriarch’s encyclical. It has an unusual and refreshing depth to it. The defense of the family and the embryo is most welcome. It is very obvious that there are new people writing at the Phanar.

      Now that being said watch the GOA media channels. Sure this letter will be seen on the official GOA facebook page but what about other national ministries like GOA young adults, GOA youth ministry, HCHC, OCF, Y2AM or your local metropolis youth page? I bet you will conveniently not see this encyclical pop up in these places these years. Why? because more and more these ministries do no want to deal with the difficult issues that are raised in this encyclical.

      What does it say that there are folks out there who have so little faith in our young people that they will not publish the EP’s letter for fear of the a real discussion on a serious issue breaking out.

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  5. People – anyone – even us – living today have been brainwashed by our largely satanic culture. That there are Orthodox that would consider sanctioning homosexual unions out of economia shows how far this culture has permeated us. Such behavior was not only not permitted but unspeakable. Just 50 years ago such commentary from Phil Robertson would never needed to be heard. It would be scandalous. It would be painfully obvious that anal intercourse – long known to be one of the satanic rites – could never be raised to the same level as a heterosexual marriage. People who believe “it was always like this” are more than simply misguided – they are wrong. The desire for homosexuals to marry has largely been pushed by the liberal media – it hasn’t been in response to actual demand. They created the idea, which could only be possible in the last 100-150 years or so as the godless state gave itself the authority to perform marriages (before this was solely the domain of the Church). So who’s running the media? Who is shaping the dialog? You can ask – Who is running the Government, making such abominations allowable?

    “They” are trying yet again to make a mockery of Christianity by exposing Phil Robertson in the hopes of making him a laughing stock. This is the way those in the media work to destroy Christianity – by using him as an example it is clear no smart person would think like him. It is no surprise that it is working. Just look at where we are now. This is just one more tactic in their toolbox. Naturally the NYT took the racism angle, as they always do, to keep the people divided and anti-Christian.

    That Jesus didn’t need to tackle this issue head on is obvious. It was forbidden even to the Jews.

    I remember listening to Father Athanasios Mitilineos’ tapes as translated by Constantine Zalalas. He stated the sin of homosexuality is especially hard to conquer, as it has three dimensions, making it almost impossible to repent from:

    1) Homosexuality goes against God’s created order
    2) Homosexuality goes against Gods call to asceticism
    3) Homosexuality goes against God’s will for the individual man, as he should either be bound in marriage or devote his life solely to God (through Monasticism)

    Making light of this dangerous and serious sin is the mistake of our times. To allow active homosexuals to have communion would have been an abomination in any age. May God Help Us!

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  6. Michael Kinsey says:

    We must allow some space and time for the very rare authentic repentant gay, righteousness guides us to this. We did well doing this with Fr. Seraphim Rose with the wisdom of a St John Maximovitch. Otherwise, rejecting all professing homosexuals is within the rights of our freedom of religion in the US. Ordaining and tonsuring them is way beyond the pale, claiming repentance or not.. It would effective provide a safe and sacred holy place, our churches, from this social pathology which claims political power over us.People with kids really would like this.

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  7. Michael Kinsey says:

    I mis-clicked Gene’s B’s blog, sorry, I have a skittish mouse. I feel his statement was informative and Christian, and there is no better compliment.

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    • Michae lKinsey says:

      Swiggle, jiggle, snarky quick, ,my mouse has caused a hissy fit.It’ much too fat,to call it a gnat, looks like straining it out .is where its at.

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  8. So Putin and the Russians get it right (again).

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  9. @ Andrew, I don’t normally post here, but I take issue with you saying OCF does not want to deal with the difficult issues the encyclical deals with. I work with OCF on a local level, and yes, we do deal with these issues. Please do not make sweeping generalizations, but talk and get to know your local OCF clergy chaplains, lay adivsors, district coordinators and student leaders before making such sweeping and unfounded generalizations. Also, not sure if you were implying this, but OCF is not solely a GOA ministry, but a ministry under the Assembly of Bishops. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

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    • Annoyed, thank you for your concerns but I can assure you my observations are extremely reasonable and well founded.

      Would you like to provide an example of how local or national campus ministry has addressed the issue of same sex marriage and helped college students better understand and defend Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality?

      And yes, I am asking for something more than a vague statement along the lines of “we deal with it”……

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  10. WONDERFUL Post.thank you for share… looking forward to more.

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  11. @ Andrew, I can assure you that I still think your assessment is off base. We had a 3 day retreat a couple of years ago about marriage and sexuality according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church with our keynote speaker being Metro Jonah. You can look it up on Youtube.

    Who have you talked to who is involved in OCF?

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  12. Also, at College Conference East 2012 a priest and his wife spoke at a workshop session about the importance of marriage and that marriage is for a man and a woman only.

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  13. cynthia curran says:

    Consider: what is a widow to do with young children? Prostitute herself to feed, clothe and shelter her children? What of a widower whose wife died in childbirth? Is he to pick up some random woman off the street to come and watch his children and clean his house while he is out working in the fields trying to harvest his crops? This is madness! There is much right to be said for remarriage at this point, especially if the widowed spouses are relatively young.

    Good point George, in Antiquity this was the case, no husband prostitution was probably the result. In fact studying about the line of my great-grandfather that goes back to Virginia and Massachusetts in colonial times some of them married more than once since women died in childbirth a lot.

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  14. cynthia curran says:

    Michael, do you not notice that most of today’s condemnation of homosexuality is ostensibly based on Scriptures, with little, if any reference to Church canons, while almost all of today’s (and your) excuses for divorce are the opposite, and bypass Scriptural injunction. To describe the blessing of remarriage after DIVORCE as justified by reference to “economia”— this

    Well, this is usually the liberal response. Now homosexuals interesting enough tend to have more than one partnership in their lifetime while Lesbians are more faithful to one person but liberals always use that people have been married several times if they are straight. If one is honest them you condemn both, but human nature being what it is means that humans are messy.Liberals tend to be self-righteous on people married several times but on the other hand they except alternative lifestyles.

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