DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE IN TRADITIONAL ORTHODOXY
THE PATH OF TRUE ORTHODOXY AS RECEIVED
FROM JESUS CHRIST THROUGH THE APOSTLES
DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE IS LICENSED ADULTERY
AS A SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS LICENSED SODOMY.
BY: BISHOP +BRIAN J. KENNEDY, O.S.B.
I am well aware some of the Ethnic Orthodox groups and some churches in the Orthodox and Catholic Tradition allow for remarriage if the marriage ends in divorce due to adultery of one of the parties to the marriage.
There has been a propensity toward this error in the East almost from the beginning, however we maintain the position of the Apostolic Church on this serious issue.
Those error who state divorce and remarriage are permitted on grounds of adultery and immorality. Even the Orthodox Study Bible clearly states in the comment on 1 Cor 7: 11, that when divorce takes place the only two options for the individuals is to remain single or reconcile. Sadly, most supposed Orthodox Jurisdictions disregard this teaching and allow adultery by allowing a second or third marriage. Again the Orthodox Study Bible commenting on Malachi 2:16 correctly states God hates divorce. Sadly, knowing this truth does not stop the Eastern “Orthodox” Church from allowing adultery and calling it ‘blessed’ of God.
note in the Orthodox Study Bible for Proverbs 22 is a quote from St. Vincent
"I cannot sufficiently wonder at the madness of certain men,
at the impiety of their blinded understanding,
at their lust of error,
such that, not content with the rule of faith delivers once for all,
and received from the times of old,
they are every day seeking one novelty after another,
and are constantly longing to add, change, and take away, in religion."
Those who remove the “ancient landmark” mentioned in Proverbs 22 by allowing for divorce and remarriage have abandoned the faith as once delivered to the Saints. These errant churchmen do battle against the Scriptures, the teaching of the ancient Fathers of the church mentioned below and have made themselves traitors to Holy Orthodoxy.
The word for *immorality* (used in Mt. 5:32 and 19:9), PORNEIA, does not mean adultery. If Jesus wanted to say that there is an exception for adultery He would have used the word adultery (MOCHEUO). Instead, He used the word PORNEIA which has various meanings in various circumstances but never the word adultery. Most generally the term is used to denote a marriage which is invalid because of the close blood ties of the two attempting the marriage; incest.
Evidence of this is given at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. This deals with a decision of the Council not to make the ceremonial laws binding for Gentile converts except for four requirements. One of these requirements is 'impurity'(porneia). To understand the meaning in Acts 15 we should draw upon the context provided by Leviticus 17 and 18 which condemn incestuous unions. Porneia in Acts 15 is used specifically to forbid incestuous marriages.
In 1 Cor. 5:1 Paul in talking about the immorality going on between a son and his mother, used the word porneia. This is what the Apostles understood. That is the only grounds for a break up of a marriage. It was never a valid marriage in the first place.
The Early Church Fathers taught that a legitimate marriage lasted to death. And if separation became necessary a person was to remain single as long as the former spouse was alive.
What then shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this disposition [adultery]? Let him divorce her, and let the husband remain single. But if he divorces his wife and marries another, he too commits adultery (Shepherd 4:1:6 [A.D. 80]).
In regard to chastity, [Jesus] has this to say: If anyone look with lust at a woman, he has already before God committed adultery in his heart. "And, whoever marries a woman who has been divorced from another husband, commits adultery." According to our Teacher, just as they are sinners who contract a second marriage, even though it be in accord with human law, so also are they sinners who look with lustful desire at a woman. He repudiates not only one who actually commits adultery, but even one who wishes to do so; for not only our actions are manifest to God, but even our thoughts (First Apology 15 [A.D. 151]).
Clement of Alexandria
That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union is expressly contained in the law: "You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality." And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. "Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery," it says: "for if anyone divorces his wife, he debauches her"; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband (Miscellanies 2:23:145:3 [A.D. 208]).
Just as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seems to be married to a man, while a former husband yet lives, so also the man who seems to marry her [and] who has been divorced does not marry her, but, according to the declaration of our Savior, he commits adultery with her (Commentaries on Matthew 14:24 [A.D. 248]).
Council of Elvira
Likewise, a woman of the faith [i.e., a baptized person] who has left an adulterous husband of the faith and marries another, her marrying in this manner is prohibited. If she has so married, she may not at any more receive communion - unless he that she has left has since departed from this world (canon 9 [A.D. 324]).
If she whom a catechumen [an unbaptized person studying the faith] has left shall have married a husband, she is able to be admitted to the fountain of baptism. This shall also be observed in the instance where it is the woman who is the catechumen. But if a woman of the faithful is taken in marriage by a man who left an innocent wife, and if she knew that he had a wife whom he had left without cause, it is determined that Communion is not to be given to her even at death (canon 10).
Ambrose of Milan
No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. "If you are bound to a wife, do not seek a divorce"; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another (Abraham 1:7:59 [A.D. 387]).
You dismiss your wife, therefore, as if by right and without being charged with wrong doing and you suppose it is proper for you to do so because no human law forbids it; but divine law forbids it. Anyone who obeys men ought to stand in awe of God. Hear the law of the Lord, which even they who propose our laws must obey: "What God has joined together let no man put asunder" (Commentary on Luke 8:5 [A.D. 396]).
Wherever there is fornication and a suspicion of fornication a wife is freely dismissed. Because it is always possible that someone may calumniate the innocent and, for the sake of a second joining in marriage, act in criminal fashion against the first, it is commanded that when the first wife is dismissed a second may not be taken while the first lives (Commentaries on Matthew 3:19:9 [A.D. 398]).
Pope Innocent I
[T]he practice is observed by all of regarding as an adulteress a woman who marries a second time while her husband yet lives, and permission to do penance is not granted her until one of them is dead (Letters 2:13:15 [A.D. 408]).
Neither can it rightly be held that a husband who dismisses his wife because of fornication and marries another does not commit adultery. For there is also adultery on the part of those who, after the repudiation of their former wives because of fornication, marry others. This adultery, nevertheless, is certainly less serious than that of men who dismiss their wives for reasons other than fornication and take other wives. Therefore, when we say; "Whoever marries a woman dismissed by her husband for reason other than fornication commits adultery," undoubtedly we speak the truth. But we do not thereby acquit of this crime the man who marries a woman who was dismissed because of fornication. We do not doubt in the least that both are adulterers. We do indeed pronounce him an adulterer who dismissed his wife for cause other than fornication and marries another, nor do we thereby defend from the taint of this sin the man who dismissed his wife because of fornication and marries another. We recognize that both are adulterers, though the sin of one is graver than that of the other. No one is so unreasonable to say that a man who marries a woman whose husband has dismissed her because of fornication is not an adulterer, while maintaining that a man who marries a woman dismissed without the ground of fornication is an adulterer. Both of these men are guilty of adultery (Adulterous Marriages 1:9:9 [A.D. 419]).
Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, 'Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except for the cause of fornication;' and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion while she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling. 'He that taketh a woman that has been put away,' it is said, 'committeth adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an adulteress,' that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her husband." Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 2:24 (A.D. 202).
"Then, describing what ought to be in the case of those who are joined together by God, so that they may be joined together in a manner worthy of God, the Saviour adds, 'So that they are no more twain;' and, wherever there is indeed concord, and unison, and harmony, between husband and wife, when he is as ruler and she is obedient to the word, 'He shall rule over thee,' then of such persons we may truly say, 'They are no more twain.' Then since it was necessary that for 'him who was joined to the Lord,' it should be reserved 'that he should become one spirit with Him,' in the case of those who are joined together by God, after the words, 'So that they are no more twain,' it is said, 'but one flesh.' And it is God who has joined together the two in one so that they are no more twain, from the time that the woman is married to the man. And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those who are joined together by God, there is a 'gift'; and Paul knowing this, that marriage according to the Word of God was a 'gift,' like as holy celibacy was a gift, says, 'But I would that all men were like myself; howbeit, each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.' And those who are joined together by God both mind and keep the precept, 'Husbands love your wives, as Christ also the church.' The Saviour then commanded, 'What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,' but man wishes to put asunder what God hath joined together, when, "falling away from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding," not only to commit fornication, but 'to marry,' he dissolves even those who had been before joined together by the providence of God. Let these things then be said, keeping in view what is expressly said concerning the male and the female, and the man and the woman, as the Saviour taught in the answer to the Pharisees." Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 14:16( post A.D. 244).
"'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him. But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many Women. But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her." John Chrysostom, On Matthew 62:1 (A.D. 370).
"There is hardly anything more deadly than being married to one who is a stranger to the faith ,where the passions of lust and dissension and the evils of sacrilege are inflamed. Since the marriage ceremony ought to be sanctified by the priestly veiling and blessing, how can that be called a marriage ceremony where there is no agreement in faith?" Ambrose, To Vigilius, Letter 19:7 (A.D. 385).
Jesus revealed that Moses allowed divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as a temporary provision because of the "hardness of their hearts" (Matthew 19:7-9). But Jesus restored God's original plan of indissoluble marriage (Matthew 19:3-9); therefore, Traditional Orthodoxy continues to teach that a valid marriage between a baptized man and baptized woman cannot be dissolved for any reason except death. It can't be ended by a civil divorce.
Matthew 19:4-6, 9 - "the two shall become one flesh ... what God has joined together, no human being must separate" ... to divorce a wife and to remarry is adultery
Mark 10:9 - "what God has joined together, no human being must separate"
Mark 10:11-12 - if either man or woman divorces and remarries they commit adultery
1 Corinthians 7:10-11 - a wife must not be separated from her husband or if she has already left him, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband and a husband must not divorce his wife.
Matthew 5:31-32 - (Divorce causes adultery; those who marry divorce women commit adultery)
Mark 10:11-12 - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery"
Luke 16:18 - Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery.
Romans 7:2-3 - A married woman, for instance, is bound to her husband by law, as long as he lives, but when her husband dies all her legal obligation to him as husband is ended. So if she were to have relations with another man while her husband was still alive, she would be termed an adulteress; but if her husband dies, her legal obligation comes to an end and if she then has relations with another man, that does not make her an adulteress