Monday, July 30, 2007

Even More on Marriage

The Most Rev. Mark Haverland, Metropolitan of the ACC, sent me a link to an old newsletter (April 2004) from St. Stephen's Anglican Catholic Church in Athens, Ga. Considering some of the discussion that has been going on in the More on Marriage and Annulments article I posted (which has included very good and stimulating insights from Canon John Hollister and Fr. Samuel Edwards), I am posting the link here to Archbishop Haverland's article. It is in PDF format, but PDF from Acrobat reader is free and easy to install. Furthermore, it is a newsletter that continues on with Parish information that is more than three years old. However, I am posting the link because the insights are well worth the little time it takes to read them. It addresses in quite frank terms the very real difference between what Christians know marriage to be, and what society in general has been doing to the whole meaning of the word.

I quote part of it here:

The claims of same-sex couples and polygamists to social and legal recognition as ‘married’ simply shows the incoherence that already is present. If marriage is simply a temporary arrangement for the mutual and private gratification of its participants, then its definition is entirely private and its redefinition is available to anyone who wants to use the term and claim the social benefits. Why should the rest of us subsidize such private and transitory arrangements?

In fact the deepest damage to marriage as traditionally understood has not been wrought by gay couples or by fringe Mormon groups. The deepest damage to marriage is the work of couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage, but also freedom from any truly binding responsibilities, freedom to personal fulfilment above all other goals, freedom to drop a marriage that has become inconvenient or irksome, and even the freedom while married to break any and all of the promises and vows one made at its outset...

Again, you may read the rest here.

21 comments:

LP said...

I hadn't read the previous post on marriage -- so I skimmed that and thought I'd add some observations and musings to this thread.



Historical notes:

(1) While there was initially no "ceremony" for Christian marriage, we do have, in the early 2nd century letters of St. Ignatius, the recommendation that Christians consult their bishops about potential marriages.

(2) Tertullian reports it was the custom for already-married couples who were received into the Church to have their marriages blessed.

(3) Jerome (among others) makes clear that the early church understood there to be a difference between the "legal" definition of marriage and the Church's "sacramental" ones -- and treated them, accordingly, differently.

(4) The 4th century provides us with our earliest evidence (if I remember correctly) of specificially Christian marriages. This isn't surprising - once bishops were given civil judicial powers by the emperor they gained, with that power, the ability to perform civil marriages.



Biblical notes:

Much of what is, today, described as "requirements" for valid marriages are extra-Biblical. All we can get from the Bible is that:

* Married Christians should not separate - if they do, it is only for the case of adultery, and they should not remarry.

* A Christian married to a non-believer _ought_ to remain married to that believer [though St. Paul is careful explicitly to state this is his own advice] but is not required to, particularly if the unbeliever departs (1 Cor 7).

But the debates about what constitutes "intention" all stem from subsequent speculations about what constitutes a sacramental marriage -- and, I think (though I may well be wrong on this) from post-patristic speculations.


I've heard it argued by some against those who uphold a Scriptural standard that "oh, but God can forgive sins and mistakes -- that first marriage was a mistake, God can forgive me, why would you hold it against me, making divorce the unforgiveable sin?"

But this is specious. Separation from a sacramental marriage is sometimes necessary - even Scripture makes that clear. And though a failed marriage doubtlessly reflects sin, one party in the marriage can be largely innocent of the sin (e.g. if a self-absorbed spouse decides to up and commit adultery).

It's not the separation or even legal divorce which is a sin -- it is, rather, the second marriage while the first (sacramental) spouse still lives, for that second relationship is - by the explicit (and uncomfortable) words of Scripture itself - adultery.



On intention:

I've always thought -- as other posters have commented -- that a post-facto determination of "intention" can rather threaten to open the floodgates to all sorts of _false_ annulments, as a spouse who has *changed their mind* about wanting to be married can always claim "oh, I never had that intention". How can you prove one way or the other?

Seems to me, FWIW, that if you have a marriage which is:
* between baptized spouses
* celebrated invoking the Christian God [and thus, implicitly, the New Testament's teaching on marriage] and with a vow such as "until death do you part"
* consumated
then there had better be some very significant and *objective* evidence to the contrary if one is to conclude it wasn't a sacramental marriage.

If someone has made such a vow, and later claims that they never had that intent, then they are by their own admission a perjurer -- and what's to ensure it was their public vow in front of officials and witnesses at the time of the marriage which was the perjury, rather than that their present claim to their priest/bishop (about a lack of intent) is dishonest?


And all this runs the very great risk of confusing *failed* marriages with *invalid* marriages. Suppose a couple marries, intending fidelity (even if ignorantly or without due consideration of what life may bring -- after all, who can know what's coming anyway), and then later one of them meets "somebody else" and has an affair. Can you, honestly, retroactively say "oh, well, looks like they didn't have the right intention so the marriage wasn't a marriage"? Is it not, rather, the case that they *did* have the right intention upon marriage, and then changed their mind or failed to live up to it? In which case what you have is a *failed* sacramental marriage... but still a sacramental one.

After all, it's the intention at the time of the marriage itself which is the issue -- you can't go saying that a marriage is invalid if either spouse later changes their mind any more than you can claim that a Eucharist or ordination is invalid if the cleric celebrating it decides, years later, to leave the Church, now can you?



On clergy:

This issue did come up, some time ago, with the DHC and debates over what "husband of one wife" means in the 1 Timothy & Titus requirements for clergy.

Whatever you make of an isolated-from-historical-context Scriptural argument (and there are several different interpretations), the unambiguously conclusive evidence from Western patristic sources (and most Eastern ones) is that the Fathers at least understood this requirement to be that, unlike laity, a cleric should have only been sacramentally married once ever. I.e. if a man is widowed from a Christian marriage and remarries, he is inelligible for ordination.

In fact, there was a debate in the 4th century about whether a man who remarried after being widowed from a *non-sacramental* marriage (i.e. before he converted to Christianity and was baptized) was eligible to be ordained -- the prevailing custom at the time (being challenged as any clerical marriage started to fall into increasing disfavor in the West) was that such a man _could_ be ordained, having been sacramentally married only once.



On practicalities:

The thrust of the previous post & discussion here was the scandal of the high incidence of divorced-and-remarried clergy in the Continuum.

I'm in no position to judge on any of those cases. That's up to bishops and marriage tribunals.

But, _practically_ speaking, I think the way to prevent such a high incidence in the future is really quite simple.

Every postulant, or prospective up-joiner, in a Continuing jurisdiction -- i.e. a jurisdiction which (unlike Episcopalians) wants to maintain Biblical standards for marriage & sexuality but (unlike Romans) has married priests -- ought, as part of their examination, have their matrimonial status checked.

There are, logically, seven possibilities:
(1) Single - 3 cases:
(1a) Never married
(1b) Divorced from a non-sacramental marriage [e.g. civil marriage ended before their conversion/baptism]
(1c) Separated from a sacramental marriage

(2) Married - four cases:
(2a) First marriage
(2b) Remarried after a divorce from a non-sacramental marriage
(2c) Remarried after a divorce from a sacramental marriage
(2d) Remarried after being widowed from a sacramental marriage

Of these 7 possibilities, only 2c and 2d are problematical.

In 1a and 1b there is no impediment to either their ordination or marriage (for any subsequent marriage will be a first sacramental marriage).

In 1c, if the man is the innocent party (e.g. deserted by an adulterous spouse, or no longer able - without scandal or psychological damage - to live with such a spouse) again, no reason to refuse him as a postulant, though, that former marriage being a sacramental (albeit failed) marriage, he cannot remarry.

In 2a and 2b again, no problem -- the postulant is currently married in his first sacramental marriage. (If the marriage was, initially, only a "civil" marriage, obviously it has been "sacramentalized" by the couple's subsequent baptism & entry into the sacramental life... which, I think we can assume, has happened before the man decides to seek ordination).

In case 2c, the individual is in violation of Scripture's teaching about marriage and is, in fact, living in adultery. However admirable a candidate he otherwise is, accepting such an individual as postulant or priest is to ignore Scripture's authority not just about clergy (1 Tim 3, Tit 3) but about all Christians (1 Cor 7).

And, in case 2d, you have someone in violation of what Scripture - as interpreted by Tradition - teaches about clergy (1 Tim 3; Tit 3) -- though I recognize that not all accept this patristic interpretation of Scripture.


At any rate, the point is that the proper course in every case (except possibly for case 2d) is unambiguous to any group which upholds Scripture's teaching.


Thus, for anyone accepted as postulant -- or received as clergy -- it ought to be known up front what their marital status is: either single or sacramentally married, and expectations made clear accordingly.

While you may have clergy who have been divorced and remarried in the past (e.g. case 2b), you will never have a case where Continuum clergy are getting divorces - for any postulant or cleric, before being taken on, is confirmed as either single [in which case there's no divorce to be had] or sacramentally married [in which case divorce is impossible].


Having an open and explicit policy (be it this or something similar) will make it quiet clear to laity that the Church is upholding and submitting to the standards of Scripture and Tradition for its clergy - who may, thus, without hypocricy require similar obedience to divine authority from the laity - without imposing non-Scriptural burdens or requirements upon its clergy (e.g. rejecting candidates in the 2b situation).

Of course, this will only be the case if it is also the case that annulments are *only* granted where careful & objective investigation has determined -- and, in the case of postulants to whom it applies, determined beyond any reasonable doubt -- that that former union was not sacramental.



At any rate, that's my $0.02 on the issue, for whatever it's worth. (Which, ecclesiastical inflation being what it is, may be less than 2 cents...)



pax Christi,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP, you have obviously done your thinking long before reading either post. If you read the comments on the earlier thread, a good deal of what you have said has been placed "on the table" for discussion. I am going to reply to the few parts where I disagree.

Married Christians should not separate - if they do, it is only for the case of adultery, and they should not remarry.

I see two problems with this. I believe this is based on Matt 5: 32, and I cannot agree with your reading of it. First of all, the word "adultery" is not the word that the The Lord used. He used the word "fornincation." The meaning is, if one leaves what is in fact an invalid marriage because of the revelation that the couple has been living in sin, and marries again, this "second" marriage is not adultery (i.e. one spouse was not able to enter into what the Church recognizes as marriage at the time of the wedding). Also, the only case in which adultery is legitimate grounds for an annulment is when the factors show a lack of intention ever to have been married in the first place. Frequency is such a factor. Therefore, remarriage in such a case would be based on the annulment, and count as a first marriage in the eyes of God.

In the comments of the first thread we have dealt with most of this, including abandonment.

Seems to me, FWIW, that if you have a marriage which is:
* between baptized spouses
* celebrated invoking the Christian God [and thus, implicitly, the New Testament's teaching on marriage] and with a vow such as "until death do you part"
* consumated
then there had better be some very significant and *objective* evidence to the contrary if one is to conclude it wasn't a sacramental marriage.


"Unquestionably sacramental"seems to be the standard you are aiming at. In the other thread we dealt with those marriages that become sacramental after the fact. Again, this has more to it then what you have laid out here.

...the unambiguously conclusive evidence from Western patristic sources (and most Eastern ones) is that the Fathers at least understood this requirement to be that, unlike laity, a cleric should have only been sacramentally married once ever. I.e. if a man is widowed from a Christian marriage and remarries, he is inelligible for ordination.

This was contained in many writings of the ancient Church, but never found its way into a Canon of the Universal Church, and lacks the kind of authority we can gather from such Canons as we find in the seven Ecumenical Councils.

In general, most of what you say I agree with. I wish that more people would think as deeply as you have been doing.

rev'd up said...

"In fact the deepest damage to marriage as traditionally understood has not been wrought by gay couples or by fringe Mormon groups."

Excuse me but this is total psyco-babble. Fringe Mormons are just that--fringe and utterly insignificant regarding marriage in mainstream culture. But isn't it in fact the sodomite and lesbian 'couples' that are the epitome "of couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments"? No threat of even accidental pregnancy when you engage in un-natural, sterile copulation.

There is no excuse in my opinion (and in the Church's traditional, historical opinion) for married couples to use cotraception; but I fail to see what is wrong with a husband and wife who want "the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage." Where's the sin in that?

As for it logically following that these same 'greedy' couples want "freedom from any truly binding responsibilities, freedom to personal fulfilment above all other goals, freedom to drop a marriage etc." is a straw-man argument. Silly.

I think it's time for someone to get back to traditional theology instead of trying to add credence to the modernist dogma of ameliorating the crime of sodomy.
Try reading Dante for starters.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Rev'd Up

Your reply contains two completely outrageous accusations. First of all, to twist the Metropolitan's words into some kind of modern liberal apologetic is to miss the obvious point that he has condemned "sodomy" along with every other form of immorality. Second, in 2004 the "fringe Mormons" were a very real legal problem that, along with "same sex Marriage" was presenting a threat to the definition of marriage.

Furthermore, as a historian, I would blame the entire question of the definition of marriage on the Mormons, and trace the whole problem back to the 18th Century. None of these things is without roots.

But, I do think you're right about artificial contraception.

LP said...

---Married Christians should not separate - if they do, it is only for the case of adultery, and they should not remarry.---

I see two problems with this. I believe this is based on Matt 5: 32, and I cannot agree with your reading of it.


Actually I'm taking Matt 5 and 1 Cor 7 together.

Matt 5 says that:
* If you divorce except for fornication (yes, porneia), you cause the other spouse to commit adultery (moikeuw).
* If you marry someone divorced, you commit adultery (again, moikeuw)

My understanding of this has always been the straightforward one -- and I think it's what the Fathers all say -- i.e. that if someone commits porneia then they have *already* committed adultery. Thus the spouse who sues for separation on the basis on porneia does not _cause_ the other spouse to commit adultery - that spouse (guilty of porneia) has already commited it. Its only in other cases -- where you separate from a spouse for some other reason, i.e. when that other spouse isn't already an adulterer/ess -- that you (the separating spouse) are culpable of the "adultery" which the deserted spouse's subsequent sexual acts represent.

It's worth noting that the Matt 5 does *not* say it's okay to marry someone who was divorced for some other reason. It doesn't condone any case of remarriage, rather it condemns one.

1 Cor 7 says, as a "word from the Lord" (which, if I understand aright, is referring to that same oral teaching and Tradition which stems from - and is recorded in - the Gospel accounts such at Matt 5) that if Christian spouses separate they should not remarry (the case of 'mixed' [i.e. non sacramental] marriages being taken up in the following verses):

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.


What this gives us - from Scripture - concerning what we today call "sacramental" marriages is that:

* Spouses should not separate except in the case of porneia
* If they do separate, to marry someone else is to commit adultery
* Such spouses should live singly or be reconciled.

In other words, from the Scriptural context, porneia does not constitue a basis for an annulment, rather it constitutes a Scripturally-sanctioned basis for separation from a sacramental marriage -- but that marriage remains in force and the spouses still bound "'til death do you part."

So I agree with you when you say: Also, the only case in which adultery is legitimate grounds for an annulment is when the factors show a lack of intention ever to have been married in the first place. -- indeed part of my point (perhaps I phrased it poorly) was precisely that one often gets the sense that adultery can be seen as providing carte blanche for annulment and remarriage, when Scripture itself makes clear that it is, in fact, no such thing.

The issue of "annulments" thus deals with a logically prior question -- i.e. what is a sacramental marriage (i.e. the kind discussed in Matt 5 and in the first part of the 1 Cor 7 passage) and what is not (i.e. the sort Paul addresses in 1 Cor 7 when he speaks to "the rest").

Adultery may be a factor in trying to determine whether or not the necessary sacramental intent was present in a marriage, but it doesn't (as I think you're also saying) in itself prove the marriage wasn't valid. Indeed, Scripture itself considers _porneia_ not as something undoing or invalidating a marriage, but rather as a legitimate cause for _separation_ from a sacramental marriage which (nevertheless) remains undissolved by that porneia.



In the other thread we dealt with those marriages that become sacramental after the fact.

Yes, I saw that -- I threw in the reference to Tertullian in my previous post to note that this idea of marriages "becoming" sacramental (i.e. by the incorporation of the couple into the sacramental life of the Church) is, in fact, a patristic concept & practice which predates even the medieval/modern formalization of what is meant by "sacramental."


This [i.e. the non-ordination of remarried widowers]was contained in many writings of the ancient Church, but never found its way into a Canon of the Universal Church.

But wasn't it understood in most of the patristic period (at least when clergy were still regularly or semi-regularly married) that this is what was meant by Scripture when it spoke of "husband of one wife".

If this patristic interpretation is correct -- and if we, as catholics, accept Tradition as a guide to the interpretation of Scripture when Scripture is, in itself, ambiguous or equivocal -- then surely doesn't matter that it's not in a conciliar canon, because it's already in Scripture and, thus, normative.

There are plenty of other Scriptural teachings which aren't found in surviving canons but those teaching are, nonetheless, binding because they are in Scripture.



pax,
LP

poetreader said...

I'll just throw in one clinker here.

Even if a "second marriage" is permitted, does that mean it's a good idea?

Specifically, in the case of clergy, who are expected to give a clear witness to what is true and holy, is it proper to enter into a marital relationship that can be seen as weakening the understanding of marriage? Or should clergy not be held to a higher (more visible) standard in such matters for the sake of what they are teaching by their life?

Ordination is not a right, but a privilege, and a privilege granted not for the benefit of the ordinand, but for the benefit of the Church.

Thus, I would not favor ordaining a man who has remarried, even if I should feel such remarriage, in this case, were not sin, and I would counsel a cleric contemplating a second marriage while in office that it would probably be better to resign the ministry if he were to do so.

I don't state these as "law" but rather as what seems a wise course, expecially in this time when marriage is being weakend in society as a whole, and indeed in the Church.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP

The interpretation of Matt.5:32 that provides the scriptural basis for the whole subject of annulments is a little understood, but widely applied norm, namely the marriage that is no marriage in the eyes of God. As for the case of a widower remarrying, and the irrelevance of this to Holy Orders for Anglicans, the Anglican view, based on consideration of the Fathers and the Scriptures (with a more comprehensive approach to Patristic study than had been normal among the Roman Catholics, and more than anything the churches of the Continental Reformation would ever try), led to the standard we are Continuing. Among the highest of High Church Anglicans, a man can be ordained who remarried after being a widower. Our Canons have never prevented this. It has never been considered a moral impediment that renders a man husband to more than one wife.

Views that appear in patristic writings are not necessarily the Patristic View, as I am sure you know. "Husband of one wife" has been understood by the Church of England and Anglicans in general to contain a moral significance, which the case of a widower does not have. Compared to other passages of scripture that are directly relevant, both Old and New Testament (i.e. who a Levitical priest could marry), the Anglican interpretation deserves, at least, weighty consideration.

rev'd up said...

As to what constitutes proper intention for the confecting of a Sacrament: the Church teach that if the proper form and matter are enjoined we have no cause to question the validity of the Sacrament. For example, a priests who celebrates Mass while in a state of mortal sin, if he does what the Church's rite requires (even if he is thinking about getting back to his mortal sin), then the Body and Blood of Christ are nevertheless still made manifest. Is it not the same for couples who say, "I do," before man and God?

Our Lord says that God intended marriage to be permanent from the beginning of man's history--in the Garden of Eden. If for marriage to have Sacramental power does it necessarily have to be conjoined with other Sacraments (i.e. Baptism, Mass, Confirmation, Penance)? Are all "civil unions" of no consequence? Is there no significance to a man and woman formally declaring that they wish to be man and wife whether in a Catholic Church or not, in front of a priest or not? Are we to conclude that all married Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, et al. are not really married but merely fornicators in God's eyes?

The modern Church has far overstepped God's law for marriage--that no man put asunder. The current notion of annulment in East and West (especially continuing Anglicanism, its episcopacy and clergy) and re-marriage is 180 degrees out of phase with what God intended from the beginning.

Fr. Hart,

You are correct that I made some 'outrageous accusations' regarding ++Haverland's gobbledygook--but they were spot on. And I did not 'twist' his words I simply un-twisted what he had said.

His is an attempt to apologize for the effects of the sodomite anti-culture upon the Church and society. It was not long ago that all Christians were taught that the vilest sin of all was sodomy: because it condemns two souls to hell. Because of this, sodomy is worse than murder, yes, even abortion. The archbishop is attempting to minimize the destructive nature of sodomy upon civilization in favor of blaming "couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage." Can anyone name a city on which fire and sulfur rained because of "couples who want everything..."?

There is a subtlety to the archbishop's words.

LP said...

Are all "civil unions" of no consequence? Is there no significance to a man and woman formally declaring that they wish to be man and wife whether in a Catholic Church or not, in front of a priest or not? Are we to conclude that all married Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, et al. are not really married but merely fornicators in God's eyes?

The problem with this approach - with which I have a great deal of natural sympathy - is that it runs up hard against the explicit teaching of Scripture.

In 1 Cor 7, St. Paul clearly states that while some couples are bound to each other until death do them part - and even if they should, for cause, separate, they must remain single or be reconciled - and this as a teaching from the Lord Himself, there are "others" who are not bound by this Dominical instruction. He advises them to stay together, but makes it clear that this is not binding in the way that the "word from the Lord" is binding, and that they are not bound to each other the way the first category of couple is bound.

So there is already, in the apostolic days itself, a distinction being made by the Church between different "kinds" of marriage.

This disctinction continues throughout the patristic period, the Fathers of the Church making clear that what society calls "marriage" isn't always what the Church calls marriage, and vice versa.


Perhaps a way to think of it is this. Suppose a non-Christian couple decides, on a whim, to get married because they want a big party, or because of the tax benefits, or whatever. They don't intend the marriage to last more than a few years, they want an open marriage so they can sleep with other people, etc.

This, obviously, is not what the Bible and the Church mean by marriage.

Yet, just because they get their justice of the peace to sign a legal document to call this a "marriage" according to the civil definition, are you going to claim, now, that this union is a "marriage" as Scripture understands it? Are you going to say that this is, in fact, the first type of union - the life-long, "sacramental" one - described by St. Paul in 1 Cor 7, rather than the other kind from which he distinguishes it?

Are you, in short, going to say that sacramental validity is determined by the secular State?


Obviously, this is an extreme example. But it points to the very real place which "intention" has in sacramental theology.

If someone enters into a relationship without any intent for it to be a "real" marriage in the full Christian sense, can we say that this is irrelevant, that if they go thorugh the form they're married even if they expressly intended some other relationship? Would we say, analogously, that if someone in a junior-high drama class is acting out a skit in which he "baptizes" a classmate - with no intention on the part of either student of actually baptizing, merely of acting out the skit - that this is a real baptism?


Now, I think you've got a point insofar as that, if form & matter & agent are present, then intent should be _assumed_, and the burden of proof be high to establish the contrary. If a man and a woman make a public vow, especially in a religious setting or before a Christian minister or priest, and say "until death do us part", then there had better be some very compelling evidence to show why, despite all these obvious and objective facts, they actually intended something different. (Personally, I would suggest that actually this intention to 'portray' the act as a Christian marriage is, itself, proof of intention, but that's up to bishops & tribunals, not me.)

And, similarly, where there isn't such a "Christian" context, I think you can establish *intention* as well -- a couple may intend a marriage in accord with the Scriptural understanding even in a private civil or non-Christian ceremony.


The real problem, I think, is not so much the sacramental theology of marriage of Scripture and the patristic Church -- with which you're effetively disagreeing when you say that anything called a marriage should be treated as a "marriage" of the 1-Cor-7-type-one type -- but rather the problem is that _some_ of those who are charged with the deadly serious duty of investigating whether or not a marriage is sacramental take their obligations, and this theology, way too lightly.


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Rev'd Up

The problem is that you are quoting half a sentence. The second part gives meaning to the first part: [They want the conveniences and pleasures of marriage] "...but also freedom from any truly binding responsibilities, freedom to personal fulfilment above all other goals, freedom to drop a marriage that has become inconvenient or irksome, and even the freedom while married to break any and all of the promises and vows one made at its outset." I cannot assign your meaning to his whole sentence. There are heterosexual (to use vulgar newspeak), normally and legally married people who do not want to live within the meaning of the sacrament, even in churches. I think you carry the burden of proof, as in all prosecutions, and I do not see that you have made your case at this point.

LP

St. Paul advises that a spouse married to an unbeliever should not seek to be unbound, and yet that a Christian is free if the unbeliever abandons the marriage. This only make sense when we think in terms of grounds for annulment. Since the unbelieving spouse and all children of the marriage are sanctified by the believer's faith, we cannot be sure that it is not just as binding as a sacramental union between two Christians. Therefore, it appears that the abandonment reveals a lack of intention to be married even in the eyes of that ancient pagan society in Corinth.

Therefore, I stick to a very minimal Intention position (a very Anglican view about sacraments in general). If a man and woman vow to be married until death parts them, even when they are not Christians, the necessary sacramental Intention is present; after conversion it becomes fully sacramental. If an unbeliever departs, in a mixed marriage, that spouse never intended to be married, since marriage is for life.

LP said...

If a man and woman vow to be married until death parts them, even when they are not Christians, the necessary sacramental Intention is present; after conversion it becomes fully sacramental.
---
Yes, this is how I've always understood that passage as well. I know, too, it is what the Roman church teaches. Off the top of my head, I can't remember passages in the Fathers which specifically address this issue, but I'd be surprised if your statement weren't consistent with their teaching.


My impression is that, in modern times, the growing # of annulments results from the "assumption" that people know what they're doing in marriage.

Either there's inadequate marriage counselling before hand, or those couples who "show up" at a church are simply brought precipitously into the sacramental life of the Church without due examination or instruction.

(The "open communion" of PECUSA is merely the most scandalous and obvious example of this trend... but I think it's a trend that's present even in non-PECUSA churches.)

If couples getting married in a Christian context -- or who, after marriage, join a Christian church -- were actually told what marriage is according to Scripture and given more help in living it out, I suspect there would be far fewer of those situations which result in the request (merited or unmerited) of an annulment.


pax,
LP

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

rev'd up,

To condemn the "modern" marriage discipline of Eastern, Western and British Churches as "180 degrees out of phase" is to deny the infallibility and indefectibility of the Catholic Church. If they are all wrong to allow some "remarriages" while the first "spouse" is living, then the whole Church has embraced sin and heresy. Reductio ad absurdum, it would seem.

As for sodomy being worse than murder (and presumably rape as well, therefore), I find this morally repugnant as a claim. And I find no consensus position at any point in the church's history to back this up. Aquinas apparently believed masturbation was the worst sexual sin, but I don't think even he made it worse than murder. Remember that the destruction of Sodom followed upon not only homosexual behaviour but predatory sexual behaviour. These were people who thought it was their right to abduct and sodomitically rape visitors to the city.

Regarding what is the root cause of present rampant immorality, many have blamed the pill and contraceptive mentality. You blame homosexuals. Abp Haverland thinks heterosexual attitudes have done most of the work, and given the fact that heterosexuals are the vast majority, this makes sense. I think looking for one root cause alone is missing the point. Society has always had these problames to greater or lesser degrees because of the fact that all human sexuality is disordered from the Fall onwards, like everything else.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

If I may add to Fr. Kirby's point, the only reason we live in a time of "liberal" acceptance of homosexual sin is because it is necessary for the larger group, having lost their sense of morality altogether, to accept all sins in the sexual category. It is interesting that they draw the line only in the matter of consent; where the act is not between consenting adults they still object, thus condemning pederasty (to use the correct word) and every act of rape. I expect that line to move in the future; but, for now, the majority feel safe in condemning something outside the limits of their own temptations. Even though most people do not feel an attraction to their own sex, it is impossible for them to condemn homosexual conduct without condemning their own sins of adultery and fornication, and their sins of perversion (e.g., "oral sex, etc.). But, since most of them would never be tempted to abuse a child or commit rape, it is safe, indeed psychologically necessary, to draw some sort of line somewhere, and feel better than somebody.

And, this all began with the acceptance of two things: 1) Divorce and remarriage, and 2) contraception. Acceptance of homosexual sin was an inevitable development along this same road, as was legalization of abortion.

John A. Hollister said...

rev'd up asked:

1. "[F]or marriage to have Sacramental power does it necessarily have to be conjoined with other Sacraments (i.e. Baptism, Mass, Confirmation, Penance)?"

Yes, it does. Only one Sacrament is available to the non-baptized, and that is Baptism itself.

2. "Are all 'civil unions' of no consequence? Is there no significance to a man and woman formally declaring that they wish to be man and wife whether in a Catholic Church or not, in front of a priest or not? Are we to conclude that all married Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, et al. are not really married but merely fornicators in God's eyes?"

Certainly not. Whenever a man and a woman pair up, intending to live together and to produce and rear children, they have entered into a valid marriage under the Natural Law.

If, in addition, that man and that women have complied with the requirements of whatever society it is in which they are living, they have entered into a valid marriage under the Civil Law.

Clearly such marriages are not unpleasing to God, as they were the only forms of marriage available until the advent of Our Lord. The only question is whether, having entered into a valid Natural Law and Civil Law marriage, a man and a woman have gone beyond those minima and have, in addition to and on top of those requirements, confected the Sacramental Marriage of the New Covenant.

The marriages of the unbaptized or even of Christians who married with deficient intent are not meretricious relationships, they simply are not Sacraments in the strict sense.

While I am sure it was not what was intended, the use of these non-Christian marriages as a reductio ad absurdum could be construed by outsiders as actually denigrating those who are attempting to walk in such light as they have been given in order to live upright lives.

John A. Hollister+

rev'd up said...

Fr. Kirby, you said, "All human sexuality is disordered from the Fall onwards." Are you declaiming yourself a Jansenist? Sure looks that way. -Snip- "These were people who thought it was their right to abduct and sodomitically rape visitors to the city." You are putting the cart before the horse. God had dispatched His angels to destroy Sodom before the alleged act of inhospitably, aggressive behavior.

Fr. Hart, I agree with part of your last paragraph but we must be accurate in understanding that contraception predates the current phenomenon of divorce and re-marriage. Contraception or sterile copulation (Onanism, rubbers, etc.) is at the root of sexual sin. Not to put words in your mouth but unlike Fr. Kirby, I don't believe you would agree that intercourse between husband and wife is "disordered."

Sodomy does not naturally flow from the divorce and re-marriage culture; sodomy stems from a perverted lust for sterile copulation and is loosely tied to contraception.

It is not my experience that those who engage in properly ordered immorality are themselves in turn going to turn a blind eye on dis-ordered immorality. Most men who engage in an affair with a woman are the same men that (if they could get away with it) would take a baseball bat to a sodomite.

To put the onus of societal decay on those who engage in properly ordered intercourse rather than those who engage in sodomy, is to blame the city's destruction on the dynamite(immorality) instead of the nuke(sodomy).

++Haverland tries (unsuccessfully) to lay greater blame at the feet of male/female couples. To take his entire second paragraph (produced in the original post) as a coherent statement is utterly hopeless--no, Fr. Hart, I do not splinter the archbishop's sentence; I understand it as it reads. He makes a serious slander against "couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage" the "but" that follows is inconsequential to the meaning because the archbishop makes no exception. It appears that one position "couples who want everything etc." flows unhindered into the following "also freedom from any truly binding responsibilities, freedom to personal fulfillment above all other goals, freedom to drop a marriage that has become inconvenient or irksome, and even the freedom while married to break any and all of the promises and vows one made at its outset." They are not mutually exclusive parts of one sentence despite the "but" that stands between them. His is a Parasitical, dialogic flim-flam job. The meaning of which says to me (a Catholic family man) after stripping it of prolixity: Male/Female couples which are inherently disordered are the root cause for all sins of the flesh.

Is ++Haverland married? Divorced? Re-married? What?

All he needed say was: Divorce is bad, re-marriage is worse but sodomy is off the chart wicked—Little children keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

rev'd up said...

"His is a Parasitical, dialogic flim-flam job."

Oops, I meant to spell "Pharasitical."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Rev'd up wrote:
++Haverland tries (unsuccessfully) to lay greater blame at the feet of male/female couples. To take his entire second paragraph (produced in the original post) as a coherent statement is utterly hopeless--no, Fr. Hart, I do not splinter the archbishop's sentence; I understand it as it reads. He makes a serious slander against "couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage" the "but" that follows is inconsequential to the meaning because the archbishop makes no exception.

Without the second half of the sentence, there is no real criticism of such people at all. So that people will not have to scroll up to see it, I quote Archbishop Haverland once again:

"The deepest damage to marriage is the work of couples who want everything: the personal conveniences and enjoyments along with the legal and social advantages of marriage, but also freedom from any truly binding responsibilities, freedom to personal fulfillment above all other goals, freedom to drop a marriage that has become inconvenient or irksome, and even the freedom while married to break any and all of the promises and vows one made at its outset."

Without the part that starts with "but also" no disapproval is stated in the sentence. The opening words of blame depend on the second part, also simply because it is part of the whole thought. So, once again I cannot buy the charge Rev'd Up is making. The rules of the English language still apply, as do the rules of sentence construction. The attempt to quote the first half the sentence as a stand alone remark would have gotten you a red mark, and disapproval from any decent teacher, in elementary school. In any statement that has composite parts, the full meaning is qualified by the whole, and each part is dependent on the other parts. I don't wish to repeat this anymore.

++Haverland has made a valid point: since the majority are not homosexual, the biggest threat to marriage comes from the loose morals prevalent in society among the greater number. They approve homosexual sin in order to avoid a standard that condemns their own sin.

Frankly, from a purely moral perspective, "heterosexual" (what an unnecessary word; I use it under protest, since "God made them male and female") fornication and adultery are no less potentially damning than sodomy, since willful sin, or mortal sin, is enough to send the unrepentant person to Hell. I do not regard the sodomite as a worse sinner than the adulterer, and if you think that the Church teaches differently you can try to prove it with the only authoritative source; an interpretation of scripture that comes from the Universal Tradition of the Church.

In pastoral ministry we have to deal with reality in order to help save the souls of people under our care. I have had to minister to people with "same sex attraction" who live in celibacy, but mostly have ministered to people who fight temptations that are far more common to man; I have also been disappointed by some "normal" people who give in to sin and never repent. The salvation of each soul, however, is directly related to the real temptation each one must endure. It is no virtue of mine that I never lust after another man, since I have no such inclination. Comparative righteousness is the "theology" of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was "not as other men."

When Fr. Kirby speaks of disordered sexuality as a universal condition of the Fall, his theology is completely correct. It was a theological statement, not a theory from psychology. If not for this general disorder, each man would have the grace to want only his own wife, and no other woman, even in the most random thoughts and the most involuntary and fleeting urge. So, too, the woman for her husband. The Fall was the Fall from Grace, and without that grace our urges fell from the perfect goodness of the image of the God to something more basic and more of the nature of the animal. Fr.Kirby is quite right, therefore, in what he wrote.

rev'd up also wrote:
Is ++Haverland married? Divorced? Re-married? What?

I do not know, and also I do not know of anything against him. But, what is the point of such a question? On a purely intellectual level I cannot agree with rev'd up's take on the sentence. Without editing the sentence, his interpretation does not stand up. So, this is a distraction.

Anonymous said...

For what it is worth to answer a question: ++Mark Haverland has never been married.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote: "I do not regard the sodomite as a worse sinner than the adulterer...."

While he is correct that the *sinner* in the one case is not "worse" than in the other, that is, as a being, their being in pari delicto does not mean that the one sinner's *act* may not have been more damaging, and therefore even more to be deprecated, than was the other's.

The ordinary fornicator or adulterer is making use of a natural instinct or faculty and his sin lies in the time or place of his act, on his obligations to third persons, or on his choice of partner. Thus he is engaging in a natural act and it is only the particular circumstances of that act that cause it to be sinful.

When a person engages in sexual activity with another person of the same sex -- and I agree completely that the term "gender" is both inapposite and dangerous in this context -- that act is, by definition, always either fornication or adultery; there is no way it can ever be a sanctified act as it would when properly used between married partners.

Further, and connected with that absolute and across-the-board exclusion from grace, such an act is always contrary to nature or, as Pope Paul VI rightly termed it, "objectively disordered". Thus on top of the sin which is always present in such cases, there is the additional and very damaging aspect that the act is against the natural law.

Only apologists for homosexual conduct* ever seek to downplay that very important fact of the unnaturalness of such actions.

John A. Hollister+

LP said...

I agree with everything you say about homosexual fornication being worse than heterosexual fornication, in that the latter is a sin against the natural order.

However, in the case of adultery, there is an additional factor - sin against a sacrament.

IMHO, then, adultery is worse than both homosexual activity and non-adulterous heterosexual fornication.

This notion is supported by the writings of a number of the Church Fathers, who held that the 3 worst sins (some even holding that they were sins that the Church could not completely forgive, save perhaps on the death-bed) were murder, adultery, and apostasy. Homosexual activity was not mentioned.

pax,
LP

LP said...

CORRECTION -- Oops, sorry, meant "in that the _former_ is a sin against the natural order". Obviously. lol.

LP