Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Partners in Crime

It has been several years since the last time I was in the same room with Dr. Peter Toon, and in recent internet venues we have disagreed about those issues that distinguish Catholic Anglicans who hold to the Affirmation of St. Louis from a somewhat more Protestant variety. Nonetheless, when readers compare what he says about the inconsistency of conservative Anglicans on the issue of marriage/ divorce/ remarriage, and the relationship between these things and ordination, to what I have been writing, we could be mistaken for partners in crime. However, there has been no collaboration.

The following is a letter from the Christian Challenge that Dr. Toon wrote, and that appears in the July-Sept. issue. What Dr. Toon says about conservative Anglicans in the official Anglican Communion and the problem of inconsistent moral standards, has application as well for the Continuing Anglicans who claim that they want to be free from the wrong directions taken by revisionists in such churches as TEC (or ECUSA). Recently, I questioned the wisdom and integrity of an old established jurisdiction elevating to the level of Archbishop a man who, despite his excellent theological mind, brings enough baggage to his new position to cause potential ruin to that jurisdiction's reputation and to the people in their various churches who need clarity of teaching and a strong example of godliness among the clergy. Although I may incur the wrath of some of my CC colleagues, I am posting Dr. Toon's letter, and stating that I not only agree with every word of it, but I see that it is, sadly, relevant to the Continuing Church jurisdictions as well. 1

MARRIAGE

There is a question worth pondering about African and Asian bishops who have been so upset - even enraged - by TEC’s acceptance of same-sex unions. The question is whether those bishops realize that the church’s relaxation of marital discipline some 30 years ago is part and parcel of the massive change in attitudes toward, doctrines of and practice of sexual relations in both the USA generally and TEC in particular.

In other words, had not TEC liberalized its doctrine of marriage in canon law in 1973, in its Marriage Service (1979), in resolutions of General Convention and diocesan conventions, and in pastoral care and practice, and if TEC had not allowed divorced, and divorced and remarried persons to be ordained and engage in parish work and pastoral care, then TEC would never have come anywhere near to its present adoption of same-sex blessings and the like. For most clearly the latter are parasitic on the former and would not exist without the preparation of the way by them.

What needs to be put forward is a renewed doctrine of sexual relations and marriage, which brings all of us under the Law of Christ, declares to us what is not merely the ideal but the norm, and which judges equally those who unyoke and re-yoke marriages as well as those who engage in same-sex activities.

Unless I am severely mistaken, there has been from “the orthodox” very little critique of the divorce culture within TEC and its offshoots, but much criticism of the “same-sex” culture. Indeed a crisis in the global Anglican family has been caused by excessive attention to this latter issue by the “orthodox,” and the former - the invasion of the church by the divorce culture and of marriage by the therapeutic, self-fulfillment culture - has been treated pretty much as “normal,” at least in North America, by the same people.

Regrettably, the reports and resolutions of The Lambeth Conference from 1930 onwards up to 1998 concerning the doctrine and practice of marriage, the use of artificial birth control and same-sex relations do not provide a clear word for the global Communion to follow. Rather, this “instrument of unity” sends forth a mixed message when it comes to holy matrimony and relations between the sexes.

In contrast, the declarations (Encyclicals) of Popes since 1930 and the teaching of the recent Roman Catholic universal Catechism present a very clear statement of the meaning and purpose of marriage and sexual relations. Happily, the Marriage Service in the classic edition of The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and the Canon Law of the Church of England in place till very recently, do/did testify to a full Christian doctrine of marriage.

I personally cannot see any revival of the Anglican Way in North America which does not include a readiness and resolve before God to face the unhappy situation wherein the whole doctrine of marriage and sexual relations is deeply affected by the American zeitgeist, and where the church is not only in the world but also of the world and for the world, and where morals are based on what sociologists call “rights-monism.”

For an excellent collection of essays on the changes in law, public policy and culture with respect to marriage in the U.S.A. over the last century see: The Meaning of Marriage (edited by R. P. George and J.B. Elshtain, Spence Publishing 2006). And see also Allan Carlson, Conjugal America: On the Public Purpose of Marriage, Transaction Books, 2007, which is very useful.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society (www.pbsusa.org)
petertoon@msn.com
___________________________________________________________________________________
1. Yes, I know that proper annulments make a difference. And, one must hope that these are always done with integrity.



47 comments:

John A. Hollister said...

Where Fr. Hart has repeated himself, with additional support for his position from Dr. Toon, perhaps I may be forgiven for repeating myself in response to him. Therefore the following two points:

1. I have never met anyone in the Continuing Churches who does not feel that the integrity of marriage is a vital issue that touches on matters central to the core of the Catholic expression of the Christian Faith. Nor can I, nor do I, claim any personal familiarity with the Canons or procedures used in any church group, other than my own, for processing and determining cases of alleged sacramental invalidity. I do know, however, that we live in a broken world and that one aspect of this brokeness is that we are constantly compelled to confront the fragility of the marriage culture in the society around us; as a pastoral responsibility, we cannot evade that by shrugging our shoulders and saying, in effect, "It should not be thus and so it is not thus."

I also know that when two serously-inclined Continuing Churches begin to talk to one another about common interests and cooperation, this issue of how marriage cases are handled and judges must be right up there at the top of the list of things to be discussed, along with each group's respective standards and procedures for judging and accepting Orders conferred in the post-1970s Lambeth-affiliated sects.

That means that our memberships will inevitably include a number of persons who, through the defective teaching that is endemic out there and the utter lack of support for a culture of stable marriage that is part and parcel of that defect, have experienced failures in their natural and civil marriages. And, because our postulants for the clergy are necessarily drawn from among those same memberships, that means that some of our best candidates for ordination will also have had some of those tragic experiences.

In the face of this, we have only two choices. One is arbitrarily, and as a knee-jerk reaction, to reject such men from consideration. The other is to think through the logical implications of the principles that there is only one set of rules that applies to marriages and which applies equally to the marriages of the laity and to those of the clergy. If the Church is sincere in its belief that to it Christ has committed the administration of His Sacramental system, i.e., has given to it the Power of the Keys, then it must be willing to stand behind the judgements it renders in the cases of the marriages of its clergy just as confidently as it stands behind its judgements in the cases of the marriages of its laity.

To take the former path will, over time, convince our lay members that the declarations of nullity rendered in the cases of their sons and daughters are just "stop gap", "jury rigged", "ersatz" expedients, expedients the Church on which the Church is not willing to rely in the cases of its implicitly more important and/or purer clergy.

Not only is that rank clericalism but it is the recipe for a pastoral disaster.

2. Fr. Hart referred to the current head of a Continuing Church whose personal history he does not find edifying. But there is at least one other such head of an historically significant Continuing Church and one such head of an insignificant Continuing Church whose personal situations are virtually identical to that of the man he thus singles out.

And then there are at least two others whose personal lives have been so spectacularly irregular as to provide ample material for graduate seminars in pastoralia and canon law. Yet of these five, at least, he points only at one.

Despite the greatest care in personnel selection matters, any church group can make errors. Nor, in years past, was as much care exercised as one would expect to be today: the almost indescribable Roman experience, combined with some of our own chickens' coming home to roost, has taught us much. So this, too, is something that needs to be taken into account.

As the old joke has it, "Those who live in grass houses shouldn't stow [episcopal] thrones."

John A. Hollister+

LP said...

I'm well aware that the issue of "remarriage" and the clergy is a rather fraught one in the Continuum -- with different people bringing not just different theological interpretations but also different personal histories to the table.

I know, too, that there are some substantial differences over the interpretation of the crucial "husband of one wife" passages in 1 Tim and Titus -- this despite the fact that the clear, and nearly universal, patristic understanding of those passages (especially in the West) is that they forbid the ordination of men who have been sacramentally (to use the anachronistic term, but not concept) married twice: i.e. remarried after the death of the former (sacramental) spouse. (Those regulations [and permissions] about Christian marriage which apply to laity as well -- such as those outlined in 1 Cor 7 -- naturally apply equally to clergy and don't need to be repeated in these clergy-specific passages.)


And differences on these points gives rise to both theological and institutional disagreements.



Nevertheless, it seems to me that this is an odd case in which a _PRACTICE_ could quickly be adopted by all parties which would prevent most (if not all) future disagreements and conflicts, even if the canon law takes longer to work out... and establish a future generation of clergy where individual histories would not be a factor.


To wit -- make an examination of the marital status of any postulant (or to-be-received cleric) part of the prerequisites to licensing them as clergy (deacon, priest, or bishop).

There are only three possibilities:

*1* the man is, and always has been, single.

*2* the man is separated but has, in the past, been married (at least secularly/civilly).

*3* the man is currently married.


Case 1 -- no problem. Should the cleric chose subsequently to get married, this first marriage will be a full, sacramental marriage subject to Our Lord's teaching on that subject.


Case 2 -- the past relationship(s) must be investigated.

2a. If any of those past relationships is found to be a "sacramental marriage" (as opposed, e.g., to a non-Christian pre-baptismal civil liason) then the man must remain single or return to that sacramental spouse (just as Scripture demands of all Christians).

2b. If that past relationship(s) is not "sacramental", then the man is to be treated as in case 1 above... though a jurisdiction could certainly urge (or even require) that, for the sake of appearance and avoiding scandal, the man not get married after his ordination (even if Scripture doesn't forbid it).


Case 3 - again, the man's marital history needs to be examined.

3a. If this is the man's first marriage and it is a properly sacramental Christian marriage, no problem. He is ordained knowing that he may not get divorced and remarry... though he may (if unfortunate circumstances warrant) separate from his wife if necessary, just as Scripture allows.

3b. If the current marriage is his first but is merely a civil union, not a sacramental marriage, then this lack must be rectified - the marriage sacramentalized - before ordination. (Tertullian reports such "sacramentalizing" [again, the anachronistic term] of marriages even for laity received into the Church as early as the 2nd century).

3c. If the current marriage is _not_ the first, then past relationships must be investigated to ensure that none of them was, actually, a sacramental marriage. If a man has separated from a sacramental wife and is currently living with another woman (even if legally married), then he is living in adultery... not a state compatible with ordination.



The upshot of all this would be that, once a man was ordained, there would be little or no chance of future marital scandal - not any remarriage. The man would be either never-sacramentally-married and free to marry once; sacramentally married and not free to remarry; or sacramentally-married-but-separated and not free to remarry. Scripture conceives of no other options for Christians.


While there might be disagreements about a man's past -- e.g. those who believe that divorce from non-sacramental merely-civil marriages prevents a man from being ordained (an interpretation of 1 Tim and Titus which - as far as I know - has absolutely no Scriptural or Patristic support whatsoever) -- even they would agree on the man's status and obligations once he was ordained.

(Indeed, about the only substantive disagreement - at least after a man's ordination - which such a polity wouldn't solve would be if any continuing Church actually adjusted its canon law to reflect the actual Patristic teaching on 1 Tim and Titus... and refused ordination to men who had sacramentally married a second time after the death of the first sacramental wife.)


Anyway, I can't believe that any Continuing Church would have any problem with such a policy of examination and requirements -- it is, after all, the straight-forward application of aspects of the catholic understanding of marriage about which there is (as far as I know) no disagreement between the groups.

The result would be that, whatever disagreements there might be over individuals ordained in the past, no further such cases would arise... helping to clear the air and move the different jurisdictions closer to each other in both canons and practice.


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I want to ask a simple question. What was the universally understood expectation of clergy in Anglicanism one hundred years ago? This leads to a second question. What are we Continuing?

Anonymous said...

What was the universally understood expectation of clergy in Anglicanism one hundred years ago? …What are we Continuing?

Bravo to Fr. Hart! In your second question, you have hit the “third rail” issue with respect to the “continuing” churches. Merely parroting electronically and in print nostrums like we represent “Apostolic Christianity in the Anglican tradition. Our beliefs are stated on the pages of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.” Or, how about, “[fill in your jurisdiction here] holds the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ as handed down from the apostolic fathers.” Really?
Without getting into the nuts and bolts of belief in the Continuum which would be a great discussion, I do think the Apostolic Fathers might generally be appalled by the general condition of things in the Continuum’s little corner of Christendom on a number of scores. These range from priestly formation and training (if you don’t get this right, you will have bad fruit), to the winked-at behavior of both members and particularly clergy, to the consistent anger we harbor one for another, to the reception of the cast-offs from other jurisdictions, despite their little “issues”, in some odd form of ecclesiastical “gotcha”.
On this last one, having been a continuing church chancellor for many painful years (a burden happily laid down), I can only shake my head. I have proffered many a warning about taking in a “problem clergyman” as an “ecumenical gesture” only to be utterly ignored--no matter what was in the photographs. There are a thousand stories in the Naked City, each worse than the last. There are readers here involved in those cases, so let’s not rush to the stone pile, shall we? I certainly won’t tell them here—that will be for my lurid, yet witty, post-retirement memoires.
Let me zero in on the particulars of the comments in this thread. Having dwelt in the jurisdiction to which Fr. Hart refers and having had a role in writing for it a paper on the marriage discipline, I can certainly agree that a nullity properly given is a nullity properly given. That one you can take to the bank.
However, I have come around on the point that clergy must be held to a higher standard. On the one hand, there is a need to deal with the brokenness of sin that affects us all-even clergy. On the other, there is what we used to refer to in the horse and buggy days as “the appearance of impropriety.”
To borrow from Aquinas and others, just because you can, does not mean you ought.
There is that little admonition about I Timothy 3 and the behavior standards of bishops. What part of “blameless” do we not understand? And this goes for us ordinary clergy Joes. Sure you can scarf up a nullity or three. You can also engage in myriad behaviors warranting pardon and absolution. But, at what point does one cease to be blameless? Or, is this some odd variant of the sin of presumption with respect to the faithful, our vows and, accordingly, to God?
Long ago and far away, I frequently was treated to the wisdom of a prelate who admonished me, “We must always preserve the mystique of the episcopacy?” Apart from the fact that there should be no “mystique” to the episcopacy, I fear this largely meant that this was a variant of the old Wizard of Oz playbook: “Pay no attention to the man underneath the cope and miter.” (I think that’s dealt with in that “lifted up with pride” bit, but I was out that day during seminary.)
So, we can analyze the ability to grant nullities to death. I have, and, indeed, some you on this list have a copy of that paper.
And, we can look exhaustively at cases and develop a situational ethic, a path proven disastrous in other venues.
Or, we can simply do what we ought.

In Christ,

Fr. Charles H. Nalls, SSM

poetreader said...

There's a distinction between, "How far can I go before it actually becomes sin?" and, "What are my actions teaching about an attitude toward sin?"

Is sin merely the transgression of specific well-formulated laws, with a knife-edge of division between what is and what isn't sinful? Or is it more a measure of the state of rebellion in the sinner's mind? I believe Our Lord was quite clear, in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, that the latter is the case.

On the specific issue of the "remarriage" of clergy, I've become convinced that it is our questions that are wrong. If we are asking what our clergy can be permitted to do before they be adjudged sinners, I believe we are missing the point. Christian priests are not merely liturgical functionaries, but have as a major part of thir vocation the role of teachers. Teaching is not merely a case of what we say with our lips, but, even more importantly, of what we model by our living.

If, even in logically justifiable situations, where sin is not really an issue, clergy present the appearance that a vow of "until death" is not necessarily so, what are they teaching to laity with troubled marriages? I fear that we are strengthening, rather than combatting, the false notions held in this immoral, amoral society.

Celibacy is not an evil. It's always an option when another course may present a wrong message, and is very often the best, even the only really acceptable option, even in cases where it is not precisely required.

I don't advocate a narrow legalistic approach. I don't suggest that clergy now serving, even bishops, need suddenly to resign or become celibate. But I do find in this a serious call to be intentional in the future in presenting a firm opposition to the secular mindset.

We can judge, knowing the Lord has called us to do so, and can be confident in declaring nullity, and the consequent freedom to "remarry" in such cases, but we need to be very sure of what we are teaching if we are ordaining those in what appear to be second marriages.

ed

Fr Richard Sutter said...

I think a lot could be helped if we clergy were more intentional in teaching about the sacrament of marriage--especially about annulments. Too often our laity think "annulment" is just the church word for divorce! If we teach more clearly what a sacramental marriage is and is not, it would be obvious when the church rules that some particular relationship was not a sacramental marriage that the church was not saying that a divorce was somehow recognized by the church--which, I'm afraid, is what most laity think it means.

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Sutter, in previous posts on this subject I think it was also explained to me that an annulment is granted not only because the marriage does not qualify sacramentally but also (and these are my words which reflect my understanding, and Canon Hollister is welcome to correct me) where the conduct and attitude of the individual seeking the annulment, and all the circumstances, are such that it is appropriate for that individual to be released from the obligations (in particular the obligation not to go off and marry someone else) incurred in the non-sacramental union. If I am right, this needs to be taught, too, so that people don't think that it's all a matter of technicalities.

And Fr Hart, as to what we think we're continuing, I remember the 1960s, when after any sort of divorce no sort of Anglican Church wedding was possible. I'd also say that 100 years ago candidates for ordination were probably a lot younger and had merely had fewer occasions on which to mess up their lives. I remember when I was admitted to legal practice at the grand old age of 42, I had to declare all my prior misdemeanours to the admissions board. In my case, since I'm a bit of a dag, it was a single traffic light infringement (mea culpa) and I was let through. I heard of another case, however, where another mature age candidate with a multitude of speeding infringements was hauled before the board to explain herself. It turned out that her previous employment had been as a travelling saleswoman, and she'd spent most of her days on the road. The board let her proceed to admission, which was only right, since the process was designed for 23 and 24-year-olds who'd never had a proper job and in some cases probably not even a car. The most many of them could 'fess up to was a drunk and disorderly (male) or perhaps forgetting to buy a tram ticket on a day when inspectors were showing no mercy. Therefore, in an age in which mature men offer themselves for ordination and when the marriage culture is, as Canon Hollister says, fragile, we are likely to see many such men with more baggage than a wet behind the ears 24-year-old of 1907 (or even 1967) might have carried.

All that said, Fr Hart, you've got a point. Without pointing a finger at any living person, I'd say that it is appropriate to expect a higher standard from those who are set over us in spiritual matters, and, as usual, I agree with Ed. To take issue with Canon Hollister (dangerous, I know), I'd say that it's not just a matter of people perceiving that their own declarations of nullity are not the full canonical bottle because men with similar experiences are, or might be, barred from ordination. I agree with Canon Hollister in that I'm not in favour of an absolute bar. I would say, however, that in cases where there have been multiple annulments, the question could be asked as to whether the man in question has been impulsive or a poor judge of character, and a further question as to whether he's still like that or has learned from his experience.

If we ever get back to having proper seminaries for young candidates, it is paramount that chastity be enjoined on them on pain of expulsion. It shouldn't be a hard rule to keep if you are within a microculture that encourages it, regardless of the standards of the prevailing macroculture outside. Unfortunately, from my observation in Australia and England, seminaries haven't been like that for decades, either in practice or (more dangerously) in teaching, and therein, I think, a lot of our present rot lies.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I think it's worth noting that we should NOT "continue" aspects of the Anglican tradition that were uniquely rigid. It may surprise people to realise that this, as I understand it, is exactly what Anglican marriage discipline was in the past: unique in its rigidity. Remember, it was not just that we did not allow marriage after divorce at all (like Rome but unlike the East), but there were no annulment procedures in place (unlike Rome). So we had by far the most stringent marriage discipline, despite the fact that there was no theological rejection officially of the possibility of annulments. Do we really want to go back to that inconsistency?

However, I acknowledge that having higher standards for clergy is defensible on prudential and pastoral grounds, as long as economia is allowed for cases where the mistakes were made before adhesion to Catholic truth, for example.

LP said...

In the discussions on this subject between Continuing church folks which I've heard -- and, admittedly, as merely a layman on the periphery of things -- I've been struck by two "polarizing" interpretations of the relevant passages and issues.


To examine the two extremes:

The first is an almost Donatist knee-jerk reaction to the issue of divorce. It reads the "husband of one wife" passage in 1 Tim and Titus (clearly the echoes of an apstolic-era list of requirements for office) as a rejection of anyone who has had any "second marriage" in any sense whatsoever -- even someone divorced from a merely civil ceremony from before their conversion and baptism is excluded.

To take this position to its logical extreme, presumably, if someone got drunk on a Las Vegas trip their senior year in college, got a McMarriage at a drive-up Elvis shrine in front of a sideburn-sporting justice of the peace... then woke up the next day and (after recovering from the hangover) got the (merely civil) marriage dissolved... and, 10 years later, converted to Christianity, got baptized, married a Christian wife and eventually considered ordination, they would be rejected.

The problem with this position is twofold.

First, it ignores sacramental theology and the distinction between a Christian marriage and a civil ceremony. And while the elaborations of "sacramental theology" are a medieval formalization of this distinction, the concept is already present in the writing of the Church Fathers, the practices & canons (especially penitential) of the early church, and, indeed, in St. Paul's writings themselves.

Secondly, it proposes a reading of the passage in 1 Tim and Titus which, as far as I know, is completely unsupported by any patristic interpretation or practice of the early Church.


The other extreme is a liberal interpretation which differs from the toleration of homosexual activity and unions by the post-Christian PECUSA cabal merely in the issue it choses to defend. It dismisses the 1 Tim and Titus passages as merely excluding polygamists and requires of clergy no higher standard than that expected of laity.

To take this position, in turn, to its logical extreme, it has no trouble at all whipping out annulment after annulment on the flimsiest of excuses and appeals to "defective intent" -- one imagines a wink and a nod and a quietly slipped check passed to a bishop in a smoky back room... "say no more say no more..." -- and happily ordains anyone, regardless of the number of "unions" they have had, provided they jump through the hoops of a pro-forma "annulment" after each one.

The problem with this position, in turn, is also two-fold.

First, it also appeals to a dubious interpretation of 1 Tim and Titus. Now, it's an interpretation which has more patristic support (I believe the Syriac version of the passages in some Syriac MSS supports it, as do a few passages in Chrysostom), but represents a position in the minority both in patristic interpretation (e.g. as far as I know, every other major patristic author who comments on the passage has a different interpretation) and in the consensus of responsible modern scholarship.

Secondly, it (at its worst, anyway) dismisses consideration of the fact that clergy _are_ called to a "higher standard"... not a separate "moral law" from laity, mind you, but a set of "requirements for office". Those passages also expect a cleric to be "apt to teach" -- hardly a moral failing if one is not so apt, yet a lack which Scripture appears to consider a disqualification.


As long as different parties at the table continue to hold these different, fundamentally opposed views -- particularly based on each party's peculiar interpretation of "husband of one wife" -- I expect they will remain at loggerheads.



The "way forward" it seems to me (FWIW) to be this:


First, folks ought to read up on the patristic commentaries and scholarly studies and agree that the most likely interpretation of "husband of one wife" -- and certainly the one which was the consensual interpretation for the patristic period in the West -- is the barring of twice _sacramentally_-married men from the clergy. I.e. a man who is widowed from a first Christian marriage and who marries again afterwards.

We know from St. Jerome (among others) that the long-standing custom in the 4th century was that men who were widowed from a non-Christian (pre-baptismal) marriage and had subsequently remarried could be ordained (though Jerome personally disliked the practice) -- the impediment was not the second "marriage" (provided the first one was only "civil") but the second sacramental marriage. This was how they understood the requirements of those passages.

(The symbolism behind the practice/requirement is quite clear -- it "fits" with the Christian theology of marriage and the "iconic" nature of the clergy quite well -- so I'll avoid that digression to save space...)

In brief, neither of the two opposed "sides" black-and-white-ed above can appeal to Scripture's "husband of one wife" to directly support its view.


Secondly, the Donatist "knee jerk" reactors need to accept the ramifications of orthodox sacramental theology -- the distinction between a sacramental marriage and a non-sacramental/civil/secular one -- and acknowledge that someone (be he laity, postulant, or cleric) "remarried" after an validly annulled marriage (or after divorce from a merely secular union) has been, in the eyes of God and the Church, married only once.


Thirdly, the "wink-and-nod annulments-for-the-asking" crowd (and, yes, that's a caricature for the sake of clarity) need to take seriously the Scriptural concern with the example the clergy are supposed to set for the laity, and acknowledge the fact that it is both reasonable and proper (not to mention Scriptural) to have "requirements for office" for clergy which are not demanded of laity (even though there is one and the same moral law for all Christians) -- and that guidelines about marriage (no less than requirements that clergy be "apt to teach" and "not a drunkard") are suitable considerations among these requirements.



Again, FWIW, the following seems to me to be a reasonable set of requirements:

(1) OBEY TRADITION: No twice-sacramentally-married man should be ordained. This is the consensus of patristic teaching, and if we do indeed take seriously obedience to both Scripture and Tradition, then - like it or not, convenient or not - we should, if consistent and honest, err on the side of obedience to Tradition in this matter.

(2) RESPECT SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY: No dissolved "secular" marriage -- defined, say, as a civil union from which a man got a divorce before his confirmation -- shall be considered, per se, an impediment... because (per catholic sacramental theology) it was not a sacramental, Christian marriage.

(3) OBEY THE MORAL LAW OF SCRIPTURE: Anyone seeking orders must - if married - be in a "proper" marriage: i.e. no prior abandoned _sacramental _ wife (to whom the man is, thus, still married in the eyes of the Church), and in a marriage which is fully vetted for sacramental integrity (esp. concerning "intent"). This is nothing more than requiring of postulants the same standards which are required, by Scripture, of all Christians.

(4) SET AN EXAMPLE: No one who has had any prior marriage (be it merely secular, or an separated-for-just-cause sacramental one, or even one where the former wife has died) shall remarry after ordination. (A never-married-at-all man might still do so however.) This is not required by Scripture, but it would be a policy which would both set an example of the seriousness with which the Church takes marriage and also avoid the opportunity of scandal or confusion within a parish. [It's also more lenient than the Eastern requirement that no priest (even an always-single one) should marry after ordination.]


Should any two jurisdictions share these requirements/policies/protocols, then -- while there might still be some reservations about "extramural" clergy received into communion (which would require some variation of the above) -- the jurisdictions should have no concerns about each other's "home-grown" clergy... at least on this score, yes?


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP

We discussed this before, and I cannot agree about the widower being excluded.

The wink and the nod problem is much more the issue here; that is, such numerous annulments that just don't meet the smell test.

LP said...

---
We discussed this before, and I cannot agree about the widower being excluded.
---

Well, sacramentally - remarried - after - being - widowed - from - a - previous - sacramental - marriage widower, but yes.

Do the other 3 putative guidelines seem reasonable to you?


As for the widower thing, it indeed does seem strange to the modern mind.

The thing is, it's the nearly (though not entirely) universal consensus of the Fathers on the interpretation of that passage.

And, as the Affirmation of St. Louis states, one of the "essential principles of evangelical Truth and apostolic Order" is:
---
The received Tradition of the Church and its preachings as set forth by "the ancient catholic bishops and doctors," and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, to the exclusion of all errors, ancient and modern.
---

Note, it's not only the Ecumenical councils, but rather "especially." The consensus of "the ancient catholic bishops and doctors" is also part of this "essential principle."


If -- be it for convenience or modernizing or pastoral concern or lack of postulants or whatever -- you decide that the patristic understanding of that key passage of Scripture (key, at least, for understanding the intent of Our Lord and His apostles for the nature of His clergy), then you are going to have to - if you are consistent - likewise throw out any other "general consensus" of the Fathers as well.

We can't be pickers or choosers of normative authority on any issue... or we're no better than the pro-polysexuality advocates of PECUSA, merely a bit higher on the slippery slope.

Either the consensus of the Fathers' Scriptural interpretation is normative or it isn't. If it is, then we have to obey their authority in all issues, not just those we find convenient.



Anyway, we're hardly talking about a large # of potential postulants, are we? The death of a young wife (esp. in childbirth) and subsequent remarriage of the husband was a lot more common in the days of the early Church than it is now! I don't even know if there are any such cases among Continuum clergy (though, of course, I'm in no position to know).


pax,
LP

Anonymous said...

I commend both Fr Hart and Fr Nalls for a clear grasp of a real problem--one which will not be resolved merely by pointing out that the familiar exegesis of "husband of one wife" is probably different from the way this text was read by exegetes of the early centuries.

Granting that the Church has power to grant annnulments does not mean that this power has been or is being used in the spirit of our Lord's very stern teaching on the matter. When the disciples heard that teaching (a teaching far stricter than what commonly came from the rabbis) in Matthew 19, they naturally responded, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." At this juncture Jesus might have responded, "Now boys, don't worry, just remember the distinction between sacramental and non-sacramental marriage, and don't forget I'm giving you power to grant annulments." We all know Jesus said nothing of the sort, as much as many traditionalists apparently wish He had.

Yes, there may be a power to annul, just as there is the authority of the state to inflict capital punishment, and just as certain abortions may be justified. I pray that all three examples (marriage annulments, executions, abortions) may be extremely and equally rare.

And granting that certain annulments may be justified, I hardly believe that the ecclesiastical authority granting it should have one himself. And neither should the cleric who recommends it.

Laurence K. Wells+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The thing is, it's the nearly (though not entirely) universal consensus of the Fathers on the interpretation of that passage.

First of all, authoritative it is not; it was not declared in Ecumenical Council.

Secondly, if "nearly," then it was not agreed upon by all.

Third, the "nearly universal consensus" claim is subject to documentation, which requires more than just a few of the Fathers.

Fourth, remarriage for a widower is never a moral issue and has no implications that are scandalous, and therefore does not fit the text of I Timothy 3 at all.

So, I do not recognize it as a principle of the Holy Catholic Church.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

If I may add to what Fr. Wells has said, this boils down to an issue of credibility in the eyes of the world, and setting a godly example before the eyes of Christians.

Anonymous said...

Of course it it, and no amount of scholarly irrelevancies can change this fact. I will always remember the one all too brief pre-nuptial counseling I did for a young man I had presented for Confirmation 12 years earlier. No-one was living together, no-one was pregnant, and no-one had a previous marriage. The bridgegroom being about to be deployed with the USMC, there was no opportunity for thorough counseling. So in the one session that was possible, we went through the "Declaration of Intention" word for word. After the couple assured me copiously they meant business, I said perhaps you are ready to sign this. The lad looked me in the eye and asked, "Father, have you ever been divorced?" Any answer other than a clear-cut "No" would have destroyed my credibility as a witness to the Church's teaching.
Real people who live real lives in a real world are not charmed by casuistry or impressed by contrived arguments. (The couple, btw, after nearly five years are doing just fine.)
Laurence K. Wells+

LP said...

On the "husband of one wife" thing, part of my purpose in pointing out the patristic consensus is to try to show that neither "side" has the unequivocal authority of Scripture in their corner.

As long as one group says "Scripture gives no matrimonial requirements for clergy other than those on laity as well" and the other says "1 Tim 3 says that any divorce whatsoever is a bar to ordination" we'll never get anywhere, because each side will, citing Scripture, refuse to budge.

If we can get past that to realize that neither side has 1 Tim 3 unequivocally in their corner -- that it is, in fact, addressing the completely different issue of remarriage after widowhood (at least, assuming we're going to be catholics obedient to Scripture as interpreted through the lense of Tradition rather than protestants who prioritize our own interpretations over that of the Church) -- then fraternal discussion becomes possible.




As to the "authority" of that patristic interpretation itself, some responses to your 4 points:


First of all, authoritative it is not; it was not declared in Ecumenical Council.

I agree that it doesn't rise to the level of, say, Creeds and pronouncements of Ecumenical councils.

Nevertheless, if you look again at the passage I quoted from the Affirmation, you'll see that the "consensus of the Fathers" is supposed to be something the Continuing Church upholds. It doesn't say "Accept the Ecumenical Councils and throw out the rest of Tradition as irrelevant." It says we are to accept as authoritative "The received Tradition of the Church and its preachings as set forth by the ancient catholic bishops and doctors"... not just those bits in the Ecumenical Councils.

If the consensus on the interpretation of this passage, because it isn't in an Ecumenical Council, can be discarded, then so too can the consensus on any other not-addressed-in-an-Ecumencial-Council issue. Which, to my mind, sort of ignores that whole passage in the Affirmation.


There may well be good reasons for rejecting this patristic interpretation. That's a reasonable discussion to have.

But to say "oh, it's not in an Ecumenical Council, therefore it has no authority and we can reject it out of hand without any further consideration" is an extremely dangerous - and un-catholic and un-orthodox - argument.

Perhaps this Patristic interpretation, upon study and reflection, will be rejected. But it requires being taken more seriously than a dismissive "oh, it's not an Ecumenical Council."



By the way, if you follow the interpretation that the Seventh Ecumenical Council accepted the canons of the "Quinisext Council" (intended to "complete" the 5th & 6th Ecumenical councils by adding the disciplinary canons they lacked) when it refers to these canons of the "Sixth" council -- a council whose canons were accepted by both pope John VII and Hadrian I (who quotes from it as the canons of the "sixth ecumenical council") -- then there is, in fact, Ecumenical Conciliar authority for rejecting as clergy both those who have remarried after being widowed and those who have married after being ordained. But the status of the Quinisext council's canons are debatable.

www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xiv.iii.iii.html?
scrBook=1Tim&scrCh=3-3&scrV=2-2#highlight




Secondly, if "nearly," then it was not agreed upon by all.

Yup. I cited Chrysostom already as the sole (as far as I know) differing patristic interpretation.



Third, the "nearly universal consensus" claim is subject to documentation, which requires more than just a few of the Fathers.

Back when this issue came up in the APCK, for my own edification I did a search for all the patristic commentary on this passage which I could find. I didn't do the second step of compiling and skimming through a bibliography or recent scholarship on the question -- though the cursory check I did showed that the "remarried widowers should not be ordained" is what most historians seem to think the majority of Fathers understood by the passages. I can try to dig up that paper out of my archives (hopefully not lost in one of my hard-drive crashes) and give you a list of the passages I found if you want, though that threatens to make this a more "academic" exchange than seems to be the norm.



Fourth, remarriage for a widower is never a moral issue and has no implications that are scandalous, and therefore does not fit the text of I Timothy 3 at all.

This is one objection which I think is flat out wrong.

Among the requirements in that 1 Tim 3 passage are requirements such as being an "apt teacher". It is not a moral failing not to be "an apt teacher", nor is it scandalous.

To say, therefore, that because to remarry after being widowed isn't "immoral" or "scandalous" doesn't fit the sense of the passage is to misunderstand that sense. 1 Tim 3 is about requirements for office -- and not all those requirements are avoiding immorality and scandal.


Moreover, if you read any of the patristic writings on marriage and ordination, you'll find that their clear sense is that a second marriage - even one after widowhood - is scandalous; that the Church permits it (to laity) only as a caveat to human weakness. By their lights, remarriage after being widowed is a failure to live up to the full Christian and Scriptural ideal of marriage, and, thus, an impediment to ordination.


Maybe you're right that remarriage after being widowed - because it is permitted - is therefore necessarily not scandalous.... Do you then hold, accordingly, that multiple annulments - because they also are permitted - likewise are not scandalous?

Then again, maybe the Fathers are right.



pax,
LP

poetreader said...

Yes, Fr. Wells, you've hit the point dead on. Is it sin for a "divorced" man to be ordained? Well, at least in those cases where there is a truly proper annulment, I'd have to say no. But is it wise? Since one's life teaches at least as much as one's words, my response to that would have to be "probably not."

ed

LP said...

Looking back over Fr. Wells' posts, I'm finally able to realize why the position he advocates -- or, I should say rather, the _defense_ of that position -- strikes me as so weak and prone to raise hackles among those who take the "liberal" view toward clerical remarriage.


In point of fact, I actually tend to agree (FWLTW) with him, Fr. Hart, and Fr. Nalls in their reservations (if not prohibitions) of ordining divorced and remarried postulants... my objection is, instead, in the way Fr. Wells attempts to defend this (reasonable) conclusion... because I think it is a poor defense, one which causes knee-jerk reactions on both "sides".


Now, if this were a matter just of one private ideosyncratic opinion vs another, it wouldn't be worth discussing on a public forum. But the fact is that - at least in my experience - it's representative of one of the main "streams" of interpretation in the Continuum and, thus, worth closer attention. Not because it's Fr. Wells' position per se, but because it's a lot of people's position.


In short: by attempting to give this position the weight of a "sola Scriptura" prohibition, his argument, necessarily, abandons a catholic approach to theology and sets up insurmountable (and unnecessary) barriers to discussion and resolution between different groups of Continuers.

Indeed, I have heard clergy simply dismiss out-of-hand concerns about remarriage as "oh, those people think divorce is the only unpardonable sin"... end of discussion. Of course, that's not really an accurate description of the position... but it's an understandable knee-jerk response to a knee-jerk opponent who says (or is perceived to say) "Scripture forbids the ordination of any twice-married man whatsoever and if you don't agree with me you're disobeying God Himself."


Which is unfortunate... because it creates an irreconcilable conflict where there ultimately (I don't think) really is one. Or, at the very least, makes a mountain of disagreement out of a molehill.



Now, here are the two points on which I think the "Wells" position is suspect in its arguments... followed by some observations on some ways in which I think his conclusions can be reasonably defended which avoids these weaknesses.

Again, I'm not disagreeing with the *conclusion* (i.e. "the ordination of divorced and remarried men is problematic") but with the *argument*.



First: as presented, the defense bases itself on an ideosyncratic - and highly debatable - interpretation of Scripture... the kind of approach one expects from a protestant, not a catholic or orthodox, Christian.

"Husband of one wife", in Scripture, is ambiguous. Given the similarity of the passages in 1 Tim 3 and Titus, Paul seems, in all likelihood, to be simply summarizing an already-standardized list of requirements for clerical office. Since the Epistles are not a "church manual", it's not surprising that he isn't more explicit; he assumes his readers are already familiar with that to which he refers. But it does leave the phrase ambiguous.

Now, a Protestant approach to Scripture is to read this in a vacuum -- often, in a vacuum and in English. "Aha!" such an interpreter might say "this means a divorced and remarried man can't remarry, regardless of the nature of that divorce."

This is, on the face of it, a possible reading of the text. To a protestant, that's good enough. But a catholic or orthodox believer doesn't put his own interpretation ahead of Tradition. Rather, he looks to what the saints and fathers of the early Church taught and practiced.

And when we go to the patristic record, we find basically two interpretations of this passage. The minority view (found in a Syriac version of the NT and in some passages of Chrysostom) is that this passage merely bars the ordination of polygamists. The majority view (found in councils, canons, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Epiphanius... and everyone else I've seen commenting on the passage) views this as forbidding those who have remarried after being widowed.


Now, neither of these patristic interpretations lends support to the "Scripture forbids ordaining a divorced man per se" interpretation. And the response from some Continuers to this fact, sadly, seems to be simply to dismiss what the Church has to say about this passage of Scripture and substitute one's own interpretation as authoritative.

Thus, for example, Fr. Wells above dismisses these patristic commentaries and practices by saying "the familiar exegesis [i.e. his exegesis] of 'husband of one wife' is probably different from the way this text was read by exegetes of the early centuries."

Now, it seems to me, if one is a catholic believer with a catholic approach to Scripture, this should be cause for concern and for reevaluating the non-patristic exegesis with which one is "familiar"... rather than a reason to dismiss the patristic exegesis as irrelevant. Protestants do that... catholics ought not.


Now, I hasten to add that this does not mean that it's not appropriate to question the propriety or ordaining divorced-and-remarried men. There are plenty of good reasons to question the practice... indeed, Fr. Hart and Fr. Nalls and Fr. Wells have raised some of those good reasons here.

It's just that doing so by appeal to this particular (and unsupported-by-Tradition) interpretation of Scripture -- that these passages explicitly address all divorced-and-remarried men, of any stripe whatsoever, per se -- isn't a catholic one. Isn't in accord with the teaching and practice of the early Church.


And the result is that when those who disagree with this position (and now I mean not just the argument but also the conclusion) quite reasonably point out this fact, the response they get, unfortunately, boils down to "oh, but Scripture says what I say it says so it forbids the practice so this conversation is over until you agree with me." (And, yes, I'm exaggerating for the sake of clarifying).

And as long as those who object to the ordination of all divorced-and-remarried men insist on this non-patristic interpretation of Scripture as lynchpin of their position, this impasse will continue.




The second (to my mind) grave defect with Fr. Wells' argument - and it's a related one - is a non-catholic dismissing of the authority of Tradition. A dismissal I sense lurking in some of Fr. Harts' responses as well.

The bulk of the commentary, canons, and practice of the early Church supports the patristic interpretation that these passages forbid the ordination of those men remarried after being widowed. The Affirmation of St. Louis - as well as a catholic and orthodox respect for and obedience to Tradition - calls us to take quite seriously the "received Tradition of the Church and its preachings as set forth by the ancient catholic bishops and doctors."

Yet because Tradition doesn't support the desired interpretation of Scripture, Tradition gets jettisoned. Fr. Hart has said, in rejecting this interpretation, that because it isn't a canon of an Ecumenical Council (assuming, that is, that we reject the explicit acceptance of the canons of the Quinisext by the East and the implicit acceptance of it in the West, at least by several popes) it therefore has no authority - despite the contrary indications of the _Affirmation_ that it is not only the Ecumenical Councils which have authority.


Fr. Wells has gone even further in this non-catholic non-Afirmation direction and simply dismissed this appeal to Tradition out-of-hand as "scholarly irrelevancies".

I'm sorry... just when did the teaching and practice of the bishops and doctors of the patristic Church become "scholarly irrelevancies" to catholic Christians?


To those who take Tradition more seriously, here's what the Quinisext says on the matter (certainly not the only source, nor the earliest, but one of the most concise... and one which describes its own teaching as traditional and repeating past canons of the Church). [The link is in my previous msg... which, as I type this, hasn't yet had a chance to be posted]:

---
he who has been joined in two marriages after his baptism, or has had a concubine, cannot be bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or at all on the sacerdotal list; in like manner, that he who has taken a widow, or a divorced person, or a harlot, or a servant, or an actress, cannot be bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or at all on the sacerdotal list
---




Now, all of this doesn't mean that the "Wells" position isn't defenceable or worthy of serious consideration by the Continuum.

It is.

It's just that trying to base its authority chiefly (or even solely) on a dubious and non-patristic interpretation of Scripture -- and having to reject the authority of Tradition in the process ("scholarly irrelevancies") -- is not a particularly sound defense of the position... and, quite frankly, creates a defensiveness which precludes discussion or progress.


A better defense would be to appeal to Tradition itself. For example:

Among those many authors who accept "husband of one wife" as forbidding ordination to those remarried after being widowed, there are those who maintain that this applies even if that first marriage was a "pre-Christian" one.

Now, this wasn't the normative practice. Jerome observes (hyperbolicly) that the world is "full" of such clergy. The passage from the Quinisext cited above clearly repeats this tradition that it is only a second marriage after baptism which presents an impediment.

Yet some writers - such as Augustine - urged that clergy ought to start being held to a "higher standard" even than this, and that even if the remarried widower's first marriage was pre-baptismal, it ought to be an impediment.

Now, if such a "non-sacramental" first marriage presents a barrier then, analogously, a divorce from a "non-sacramental" first marriage would present a barrier as well. (After all, it is only a "sacramental marriage" which is "until death do you part" -- a civil union is terminated by a civil dissolusion just as much as by death.) Reasonably, therefore, Augustine could be inferred to forbid the ordination of a remarried-after-an-annulment-or-
civil-divorce man for the same reasons as he urged the novelty of forbidding the ordination of men remarried-after-being-widowed-from-
a-pre-baptismal-marriage.

Couple this with an appeal -- as Frs. Harts, Nalls, and Wells have already made -- to the practicalities of the priest serving as an example to his flock - not to mention serving as an icon of Christ - particularly in a world which badly needs a witness to Christian teaching on marriage -- and I think you can make a reasonable case.

After all, while Scripture may not expressly forbid the ordination of a man remarried after a divorce from a civil (or annulled) marriage, neither does it require it.

It's a matter of discipline, not dogma -- but that doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

And even without an appeal to the highly-debatable non-patristic interpretation of Scripture, a strong case can be made that ordination of the remarried ought to be forbidden or unusual.


I think a discussion along these lines -- rooted in calm historical and theological consideration of the authorities which the Affirmation itself calls Continuers to respect, both when those authorities are more "liberal" and when they are more "conservative" than our particular culturally-conditioned preferences -- offers more hopes of jurisdictional cooperation than does generalized hand-waving, finger-pointing... or even unsupported appeals to "experience".


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP has made a good and strong case, and I appreciate such effort and serious reflection.

The fact that St. Jerome says the world is full of such clergy (men with second marriages after being widowers for a time), is sufficient evidence that this was not enough to bar a man from ordination in the eyes of most of the bishops of the Church .

He has drawn a lot from the Council in Trullo (692 AD), known as "Quinisext." Some sources had erroneously claimed that the Orthodox Church regards this as an Ecumenical Council (which means that they don't know what they presume to teach about). That this was not a universally received Ecumenical Council, and yet alone lays down laws that the pope of that time would not accept, eliminates it as a source of authority. It reflects that hard line of one party within the Church that was favored by the Emperor. In some ways the Council was harsh and legalistic, to the point that its laws would eliminate almost everybody from being ordained or staying active in ministry.

To see why we cannot accept it as the standard, let us look at how this Council began to reflect not only the acceptance of divorce and tearing apart of families, but the requirement of this sin (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:5,6), that the Church of Rome would later, in the twelfth Century, impose on the clergy of the west, and which our Anglican fathers rejected. Granted, this applied only to bishops (and the rights of presbyters and deacons were upheld in Canon 13). Nonetheless, the men who were to be consecrated as bishops were expected to separate from their wives. In certain cases men "put away" their wives in order to be consecrated to the episcopate. The rules of this Council show a kind of thinking that eroded the sanctity of marriage itself, in time.

From "Quinisext:

"CANON 12: Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us,—it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur...But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed."

The idea that the office of bishop was grounds for divorce is enough in itself to show why this Council lacks true authority. That the pope of that time rejected it (until the emperor's army held a sword to his throat) is also instructive. Furthermore, if it makes me "Protestant" that I hold the scripture to be a higher authority than a not quite universal consensus of the Fathers, then so be it. As an Anglican I am both a Catholic and a Protestant at the same time (and anyone who rejects that understanding has rejected Anglicanism, and should not call himself Anglican).

I have planned to write another post that will answer other objections.

LP said...

ADENDUM:

This is perhaps a bit obvious, but probably needs saying anyway.

In comparing the patristic understanding of Scripture's "husband of one wife" and the patristic traditions about clerical celebacy/abstinance/etc, we don't have identical situations. You can't say, for example, "oh, if you reject the Quinisext on clerical celebacy, you must, ipso facto, reject its teaching on ordination of remarried widowers."

No.

The latter case, clerical abstinence, is a question of discipline. Scripture does not say "clergy shall be abstinent" -- it is, rather, an evolving discipline of the Church. We examine the council to see that discipline evolving.

By contrast, Scripture does say that a cleric shall be "husband of one wife". We examine the Quinisext (among other councils and lots of Fathers) on this issue not because the Council establishes the prime authority for which to follow that teaching, but rather because the Councils and the Fathers tell us how Tradition understands that passage of Scripture -- and we ought to obey what Scripture says about who should be ordained. Tradition helps us understand that authoritative Scripture.


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

(A comment got lost when I hit the "publish" button when Firefox shut off to "update" without my having requested it.)

The obvious fact about I Timothy 3 is that it is addressing matters of morality and causes of scandal (see my newer post). If a later Greco-Roman cultural perception, that arose from non-Christian sources, made the remarriage of a widower into a scandalous notion for that time and place, then it is not enough to make it into an eternal verity. Furthermore, it simply does not make any sense. Sometimes, some of the Fathers had beliefs that simply did not make it into the Catholic Tradition, and the Anglican Articles have clearly rejected this kind of thing from the start.

Canon 13 of that council does uphold the rights of priests and deacons as I said. But, whether or not we call Canon 12's requirement that bishops out away their wives in every practical sense as "divorce," or call it something else, is really not going to change the fact that these wives were being divorced without any recourse, anyone to whom they could plead their case, or any hope for a return to the life they had been promised in marriage vows now broken. Our Anglican Fathers rejected this non-authoritative precedent as having no place in the Tradition for good reason. Furthermore, this Council has no universally recognized authority. The Canons of the Ecumenical Councils tell us what was universally accepted and expected.

The remarriage of a widower does not cause scandal for anyone in today's world. But, easy annulments do.

LP said...

---
(A comment got lost when I hit the "publish" button when Firefox shut off to "update" without my having requested it.)
---
Was this my "corrections to your last" post to which my "addendum" was supposed to be the addendum? Should I resubmit?


---
The obvious fact about I Timothy 3 is that it is addressing matters of morality and causes of scandal (see my newer post).... The remarriage of a widower does not cause scandal for anyone in today's world. But, easy annulments do.
---

Again, I don't see how failing to be a good teacher is either immoral or scandalous.


Anyway, this argument strikes me as "special pleading". It starts to sound like "Well, scripture says X, but that's because they lived in one culture and we live in a different one and so what they thought then is irrelevant to what we think now and so that meaning of scripture can be rejected because it's not relevant to 'today's world'".

Which is, when you think about it, exactly how the pro-homosexual lobby dismisses the standard orthodox/catholic/patristic interpretations of Scripture about homosexual activity -- "oh they understood something different then"; "oh, today's world is different, so that scripture doesn't apply"; "oh, the Fathers thought Scripture meant one thing but we know better now" etc.


Now, the two cases are not identical -- there is a lack of precision in the Scriptural term 'monogynekos' and not-quite-totally-universal consensus on its interpretation in Tradition... unlike the passages unequivocally condemning homosexual activity.

But an argument which merely says "oh, it's not scandalous in today's world therefore we can simply reject the patristic understanding of Scripture" -- which, if I understand you aright, is what you're proposing -- strikes me as the same slippery slope PECUSA is further down on.


To me, the more "catholic" approach would seem to be to start with Scripture... "husband of one wife." This seems unclear. So we turn to Tradition. We start with Creeds and Ecumenical councils. Nothing there. Then we turn to the consensus of the Fathers -- aha! Very explicit teaching and practice that understands this Scripture to mean "not remarried after being widowed from a first post-baptismal marriage."

Now this seems a bit odd. Requires some thought. Despite being their understanding of the meaning of Scripture, is this merely discipline or is it dogma? If Scripture contains all things necessary, and if this really is what Scripture contains, then surely it needs to be seriously considered. Etc.

And a reasonable and careful and obedient discussion can ensue.


But to simply write this off as not meaningful "in today's world" seems, to me, a bit too facile and PECUSA-like.




Anyway, remember that this discussion of how seriously we should take the patristic refusal to ordain baptized-married-widowed-remarried men is actually a digression from the basic initial point, i.e. that the 1 Tim / Titus passage (whichever patristic interpretation you take) doesn't deal directly with today's issue of whether or not to ordain remarried-after-an-annulment/civil-divorce postulants... clearing the way for a more reasonable and less shrilly defensive discussion of the issue by the different "sides" within the Continuum.


pax,
LP

LP said...

========================
I'm guessing that it is, indeed, this post which Fr. Hart reports was accidentally lost by Firefox, so I'm resubmitting it.

It is the post which was supposed to appear before my "ADDENDUM" to it, and to which Fr. Hart subsequently responds in part above.

-LP
========================


Fr. Hart --


Thanks for your reply.

Some corrections on what you just posted to move things forward productively:


---
The fact that St. Jerome says the world is full of such clergy (men with second marriages after being widowers for a time), is sufficient evidence that this was not enough to bar a man from ordination in the eyes of most of the bishops of the Church .
---

You've missed the distinction.

It was NOT the case that men who had been remarried after being widowed from a post-baptismal first marriage were ordained. All (in this 4th century debate) agreed that Scripture forbids this practice.

The 4th century discussion - in which Jerome and Augustine advocate a stricter innovation - is rather whether men who had remarried after being WIDOWED BEFORE THEIR BAPTISM should also be excluded.

Augustine thought they should, though he recognized this was an innovation. So did Jerome -- and his comment about "the world is full" of ordained remarried widowers refered ONLY AND EXPRESSLY to those who were widowed BEFORE THEIR BAPTISM.

In short, Augustine and Jerome are not proposing the implementation of Scripture's rule (as they understood it) that remarried widowers should not be ordained... rather they propose extending that rule to include not just those who after baptism were married, widowed, and remarried, but also to include those who were married-widowed-baptized-remarried.




On the Quinisext -- no, it's not an Ecumenical council, though writers in both East and West have called it such. It also has been given more authority in the East than in the West. It initially met with resistance from the West, but already by the time of Hadrian I its canons were called "ecumenical". This, of course, could easily be simply a result of papal confusion or misattribution... that a pope calls its canons "ecumenical" does not, per se, make it so. But it is a fairly influential council none the less.


More importantly, even though not "fully" (or even "at all") Ecumenical, it nevertheless remains a valuable witness to contemporary practice. Its canons about clergy remarriage are described as reaffirming and repeating established tradition -- it was seen as correcting recent abuses and deviations from traditional practice, not as inventing new ones. So it gives us a window into established practice. (I believe the earliest evidence of this interpretation of 1 Tim 3 etc is in the Apostolic Constitutions - and even there it is described as long-established tradition. (In fact the AC was actually influential, in turn, at Trullo.))

It is of interest to orthodox and catholic believers because it reflects patristic interpretation and practice... and thus, especially as it confirms in conciliar and legal form what the writings of the Fathers give us in theological form, it helps establish what the "received Tradition of the Church and its preachings" are.

Thus I cite it to show that, in practice, the policy of not ordaining men who were baptized-married-widowed-remarried is well-established and "traditional" already by this point, so much that the teaching is upheld and enforced in a major (even if not Ecumenical) council.


Thirdly, the issue you bring up re. canon 12 is a bit of a digression from the question of "husband of one wife", but let's examine it.

I'm afraid you've misunderstood canon 12 and misrepresented the character of the Council.

The language used in Canon 12 is the standard circumlocution for describing sexual activity. The council is NOT saying that bishops should divorce their wives, but that they should not sleep with them.

(I believe that, frequently, the tradition was that when a man rose to the episcopacy, he would often not even live with her, to prevent the appearance of scandal. But they REMAINED MARRIED in the eyes of the church... she would still be "episcopa", even if not sleeping in the same house as her bishop husband, and active [and working with him] in the church.)


This tradition of clergy abastaining from sex (particularly in the day or days before celebrating the Eucharist) was widespread (though not universal) in both East and West well before even the First Ecumenical Council, let alone this appendage (or so it was viewed at the time) to the Sixth.

For example, the 33rd canon of the Council of Elvira in Spain (early 4th century) says "Bishops, presbyters, deacons, and others with a position in the ministry are to abstain completely from sexual intercourse with their wives and from the procreation of children. If anyone disobeys, he shall be removed from the clerical office."

Similarly, in the East, we have (among others) Epiphanius writing that the tradition was that: "he that still uses marriage, and begets children, even though the husband of but one wife, is by no means admitted by the Church to the order of deacon, presbyter, bishop, or subdeacon. But for all this, he who shall have kept himself from the commerce of his one wife, or has been deprived of her, may be ordained, and this is most usually the case in those places where the ecclesiastical canons are most accurately observed."

The fifth council of Carthage [familliar from discussions of the canon of Scripture], on which this Council draws, has as canon 4:
---
Faustinus, the bishop of the Potentine Church, in the province of Picenum, a legate of the Roman Church, said: It seems good that a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon, or whoever perform the sacraments, should be keepers of modesty and should abstain from their wives.

By all the bishops it was said: It is right that all who serve the altar should keep pudicity from all women.
---


That the Quinisext shares this notion is clear not just from historical context and the many many examples in contemporary patristic literature, but FROM THE COUNCIL ITSELF.

Canon XIII EXPLICITLY contradicts your mischaracterization of XII -- not only does it forbid clergy to divorce their wives, citing several Scriptural passages on the sanctity of marriage, it expressly calls for the deposition of those who teach or practice this error. You claim the Council commands what it expressly condemns.

The Council does not advocate divorce - it condemns it - it simply upholds the tradition that clergy should not be sexually active.

Moreover, in a liberalizing vein, it limits this tradition only to bishops -- it actually defends the right of clerics below the order of bishop to continue to have sex with their wives (unlike the stricter earlier tradition cited above). It even rejects the position of those who would prohibt men in minor orders from getting married (Canon 6).

So not only does this Council not start to accept "divorce" or the "tearing apart of families" that you claim it does -- in fact, it does the exact opposite in deposing those who teach or practice such divorce -- on this issue it is actually less "harsh and legalistic" than many previous councils & writers.

---
We, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse at a convenient time. Wherefore, if anyone shall have been found worthy to be ordained subdeacon, or deacon, or presbyter, he is by no means to be prohibited from admittance to such a rank, even if he shall live with a lawful wife.... If therefore anyone shall have dared, contrary to the Apostolic Canons, to deprive any of those who are in holy orders, presbyter, or deacon, or subdeacon of cohabitation and intercourse with his lawful wife, let him be deposed. In like manner also if any presbyter or deacon on pretence of piety has dismissed his wife, let him be excluded from communion; and if he persevere in this let him be deposed.
---



What we see here, in fact, is the gradual move toward the Eastern tradition -- still practiced by the Orthodox -- that bishops should be unmarried.

I wouldn't say that this is an "undermining of the sanctity of marriage" -- indeed, many of the same councils which suggested these restrictions on clergy also suggested a limitation on the number of remarriages the laity could have (after widowhood), leading ultimately to the canon (I forget which council) that laity could only remarry 2x (parallel to clergy, as the ancient tradition based on Scripture had it, never remarrying after being widowed). And the reason given is, precisely, the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage.

Rather, I think what we see here - and in the West even more than the East - is a grave uneasiness about sexuality -- the attitude that it is licit but somehow unclean -- which lies behind the "sexual abstinance" requirements and the ultimate formalization in the disciplines of celibacy (Rome) and an unmarried episcopacy (East).



Finally, on "protestant", I'm not saying person X or Y is or is not a Protestant.

What I am saying is that it is a "protestant approach" to Scripture and Tradition to ignore or dismiss Tradition's understanding of Scripture when it proves confusing or inconvenient, while it is a "catholic and orthodox" approach to take what Tradition has to say about Scripture seriously.

This is not -- (awooogah! awooogah! straw man alert! awooogah! =grin=) -- to suggest that one should not "hold the scripture to be a higher authority than a not quite universal consensus of the Fathers". Of course it's higher.

It is to suggest, rather, that one should hold the "not quite universal consensus of the Fathers" interpretation of Scripture as (in all probability) a higher authority than one's own (or one's contemporary culture's) interpretation of Scripture.

Scripture, of course, is the final authority. But under that, Tradition is more authoritative than self.



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have already answered some of LP's points. For example, I mentioned Canon 13. No, it does not contradict my point about Canon 12. Canon 12 is simply advocating the dissolution of marriage so that a man can set aside one sacrament (marriage), for another (holy orders, specifically the episcopate). This is one of the unorthodox principles of the Trullo, Quinisext, Council.

To say that the widower interpretation of I Tim. 3 is the consensus of the Fathers is to overstate the case in a way that can never be documented. Among the Fathers who actually did comment on "the husband of one wife," we have St. John Chrysostom. This saint and bishop, author of The Six little Books on the Priesthood, would have traced his belief, and therefore his practice as the Ordinary (to use our word), to the Apostles of Christ. He would have acted in concert with the other bishops he knew. This evidence is quite significant. And, do, I don't think that letting Chrysostom weigh in is to favor a "Protestant" approach that belittles the Fathers.

Furthermore, the very detailed examination of widowed before or after baptism is quite outside of the teaching already presented by St. Paul in those early years. It weighs us down with legalistic hair splitting, differing opinions even among some of the Fathers, and a bit of a distraction from the point.

In I Cor. 7, St. Paul begins by addressing the only moral issue that we find in scripture to match the meaning of "the husband of one wife," by reminding them of the Lord's own teaching about adultery, and his condemnation of putting away and remarrying. That he was sure they knew what Jesus had said explains his distinction between the Lord's commandments and his own (Paul's) advice, that we find as we read on in that chapter.

Finally, when these kind of subjects come up, people quote from various councils that, to put it simply, do not have the authority to teach dogma. The council chosen by LP was not even theological in nature, but purely legislative. The pope at the time rejected it, and saw it as the Emperor's high handed attempt to make laws for the Church. The Emperor proved him right by sending an army to threaten his if he did not "sign off." Later, his approval was rescinded. Such councils as this are not worthy to be invoked as if they were authoritative.

LP said...

---
Canon 12 is simply advocating the dissolution of marriage so that a man can set aside one sacrament (marriage), for another (holy orders, specifically the episcopate).
---

But it isn't.

It isn't calling for divorce or disillusion of the marriage.

It is, rather, saying that a bishop should not be sexually active -- and, to avoid a scandolus appearance -- shouldh't live in the same house.

I gave you several example from previous centuries of this tradtion, and can find more for you if you like. (I believe it was even considered at Nicaea I.)


Now, we may disagree with this discipline. We may think this council's rulings have been abused in later centuries. Fine.

But to claim that this canon is saying that "bishops should divorce their wives" is to grossly misread it in a way which even a cursory examination of the council's textual and historical context disproves.

It DOES NOT SAY that bishops should divorce their wives. To stop having sex with -- even to stop cohabitating with -- one's wife is not a divorce.

You may disagree with that patristic practice. But please don't misrepresent it.



---
Among the Fathers who actually did comment on "the husband of one wife," we have St. John Chrysostom.
---

I've already pointed him out as one of the few who support the "no polygamy" interpretation of the passage... though even he (and this is atypical of Chrysostom) admits that this is not the only interpretation.

I've also recently run across a passage in Jerome where Jerome shows an awareness of the "no polygamy" interpretation -- though he himself follows the "no ordaining of remarried widowers" interpretation -- so we can add his name to the (shorter) list of those who at least mention the polygamy interpretation.


But whether you decide to follow Chrysostom on the one hand or Jerome/Augustine/Ambrose/Gregory/Epiphanius etc on the other hand, the fact remains that none of the Fathers understand this passage in the way in which what I called above the "Wells argument" does.

I'm not saying, mind you, that Fr. Wells' conclusions are wrong... maybe they are, maybe they aren't. But an argument based chiefly (or even solely) on this interpretation of the bare phrase of Scripture is an argument which has no support in Tradition.


That was the main point of my observation on the patristic consensus -- I agree with you that whether or not we approve of the patristic practice of not ordaining remarried widowers is a digression (albeit an interesting one) from that initial point.


---
That he was sure they knew what Jesus had said explains his distinction between the Lord's commandments and his own (Paul's) advice, that we find as we read on in that chapter.
---

Yes... particularly as it shows that the distinction between what we'd call "sacramental" and "non sacramental" marriages are there from the earliest days of the Church. But that's also a digression (and taken up in your newer thread).



----
when these kind of subjects come up, people quote from various councils that, to put it simply, do not have the authority to teach dogma.
----

Let me quote for you again what I wrote above:

it nevertheless remains a valuable witness to contemporary practice. Its canons about clergy remarriage are described as reaffirming and repeating established tradition -- it was seen as correcting recent abuses and deviations from traditional practice, not as inventing new ones. So it gives us a window into established practice.


Our question here is not "what did the Ecumenical Councils have to say about ordination and marriage".

Our question here is "how did the Fathers understand 1 Tim 3".

To do that we investigate all the witnesses we have to Tradition -- the theological teaching of the Fathers is one witness and, hand in hand with it, goes the second witness of the practice of the Church.

It is in showing that the practice of the Church was not to ordain baptized-married-widowed-remarried men that this council is of interest -- because it shows that traditional practice matched the patristic theolgical exegesis of the text.

The fact that the council was not ecumenical, or that it became a token in the contemporary power struggle between the emperor in the East and the pope in the West, are irrelevant to the fact that it provides for us historical evidence about what the customary teaching and practice of the Church was at that time.


Again, we may, upon careful investigation decide that this is a matter of discipline, not dogma, and that a different discipline is appropriate today.

That's a separate question.... and a digression.

My point here in citing it was chiefly to show that in the practice, no less than the teaching, of the patristic Church, 1 Tim 3 was seen as forbidding the ordination of men who had been -- after their baptism -- married, widowed, and remarried.



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It isn't calling for divorce or disillusion of the marriage.
It is, rather, saying that a bishop should not be sexually active -- and, to avoid a scandolus appearance -- shouldh't live in the same house.


Silly me; after all, living in a separate house, living as if there is no marriage anymore, is nothing like divorce. And, how scandalous to live with one's own wife. The thinking that created this scenario was warped. At least the Orthodox Church rejected this, and began to choose bishops from the monasteries.

But an argument based chiefly (or even solely) on this interpretation of the bare phrase of Scripture is an argument which has no support in Tradition.

Please, tell us about the Fathers who supported the ordination of men who put away their wives for another woman. Please quote them. How about another "interpretation of a bare phrase of scripture?" Because of what Jesus taught so clearly about divorce and remarriage, "thou shalt not commit adultery" might apply, and could even suggest, merely suggest mind you, disapproval. Of course, without patristic support we cannot be sure. And, without patristic support, how can we simply accept what that Jewish carpenter guy said?

Yes... particularly as it shows that the distinction between what we'd call "sacramental" and "non sacramental" marriages are there from the earliest days of the Church. But that's also a digression (and taken up in your newer thread).

You will not find the use of these terms in any writings from "the earliest days of the Church."

It is in showing that the practice of the Church was not to ordain baptized-married-widowed-remarried men that this council is of interest --

This non-Ecumenical council, stripped even of its brief appearance of authority once the soldiers of the Emperor no longer enforced it.

it provides for us historical evidence about what the customary teaching and practice of the Church was at that time.

It shows us what the Emperor favored, and what the pope rejected.

LP said...

---
The thinking that created this scenario was warped.
---
I tend to agree -- the whole "manichean" thread in the Fathers of mistrusting sexuality is troubling.

Nevertheless, the plain fact is that the council (and that tradition of clerical celebacy-in-marriage, which can be traced back to at least the mid-to-late 2nd century) did not advocate divorce.

It did advocate that bishops shouldn't be sexually active. And we may disagree with that tradition.

But to claim that the council proposed dissolving one sacrament (marriage) as a prerequisite for another (consacration) is simply inaccurate -- it is both bad logic and bad history.



---
You will not find the use of these terms in any writings from "the earliest days of the Church."
---

I've already pointed out the obvious fact that "sacramental", in the 'medieval' way we use it today, is not found in patristic writings. Indeed, several times when I used that term I explicitly called it "anachronistic". I'm not sure what again pointing out that linguistic fact is supposed to add.

The point -- which I thought I'd made abundantly clear -- is that this distinction between "Christian" and "non-Christian", or between "pre-baptismal" and "post-baptismal", marriages -- i.e. the same distinction which lies at the root of the distinction we today call that between "sacramental" and "non-sacramental" -- is already found in Scripture and the early Church.

They didn't call it "sacramental" or "non-sacramental", they used other terms and phrases. But that doesn't mean they didn't make the distinction. They did.


Again, this doesn't mean that the "discipline" of annulments - which is based on this ancient distinction - is wise or (even if wise) not open to abuse. A profitable discussion could be had about the policy and its standards.

However, whatever abuses there may have been in practice, the concept of annulments -- that a marriage which is found to be non-sacramental is not binding in the way a sacramental one is -- is consistent with Scripture and Tradition.


---
And, without patristic support, how can we simply accept what that Jewish carpenter guy said?
---

Now you're simply getting silly and misrepresenting my statements. Let me summarize, yet again:

* Scripture says clergy (1 Tim and Titus) should be "husband of one wife". But this phrase (word in the Greek) is ambiguous - several interpretations can be advanced.

* While plenty of other Scriptures offer insight on the theology of marriage, none clarify this passge -- indeed, several different interpretations of it are harmonious with those other texts.

* As catholic Christians we turn, when Scripture is ambiguous, to the authority of the Fathers.

* First we turn to Creeds and Ecumenical councils. We find nothing there.

* Then we turn to the rest of Tradition -- to patristic teaching and practice. We do so not because we are bound by every single one of these opinions or practices, but because they tell us "how did the Fathers understand Scripture" -- Scripture which does bind us -- and that's what we're trying to understand: how did the Fathers understand this ambiguous phrase in Scripture?

* There we find 2 interpretations of "husband of one wife": (a) "not a polygamist"; (b) "not -- after baptism -- widowed and remarried."


This can lead to a discussion about whether or not we, too, as a denomination with married clergy, ought to obey this patristic discipline. And that could be an interesting thread in its own right.


I raise it here, though, to point out that the Fathers do not interpret the "husband of one wife" word to mean "remarried after a divorce from a civil marriage."

In fact, in the way they do take it, they expressly distinguish between the case of a man remarried after a marriage which wasn't a Christian marriage ("pre-baptismal") - in which case this Scripture doesn't apply -- and one which was.


Now, it may well be the case that the ordination of "validly" remarried men in Continuing Anglicanism bears some reexamination. I don't dispute that.

However, a defense of that position is best served by not making that defense rest on an interpretation of "husband of one wife" which isn't supported by Tradition.

One could, I think, make a case that a reasonable extention of that Scriptural principle -- in the wider context of the theologies of marriage and ordination -- would forbid such ordinations... in fact, I think pope Gregory I does exactly that [late 6th century].

But that's a very different sort of argument than saying that the word in Greek means something which -- according to the teaching and practice of Tradition -- it simply does not.


---
This non-Ecumenical council, stripped even of its brief appearance of authority once the soldiers of the Emperor no longer enforced it.
---

Again, you're harping on the debated status of this council and it's role in the growing late patristic tensions between an increasingly caeseropapist emperor and an increasingly papal bishop of Rome.

That's irrelevant.

As I already explained above, the council is quoted - among other councils and patristic authorities - to show what the Fathers thought that 1 Tim 3 meant.

They could put that opinion in their letters and essays (which they did), in the canons they enacted at local councils (which they did), in the policies which they urged and enforced in the church (which they did) -- they could put it on the back of a cocktail napkin, or carved in stone on an handy monolith, or in a video interview made by a time-travelling historian or three-headed alien theologian from Alpha Centari.

Regardless of the form of the evidence which survives for us to examine - in whatever way it's recorded for us to discover today - it shows us how the Fathers understood 1 Tim 3. The fact that those canons, or letters -- or cocktail napkin or inscription or alien transcript -- is not an Ecumenical Council is irrelevant to the fact that it provides us the historical evidence to see what their interpretation was.

What this council shows is that it was the practice at the time, that it was already an established custom by that point -- and it adds one more piece of intellectual historical evidence to the various comments from the Fathers which show that this was a prevelant interpretation of 1 Tim 3 in the early Church.

And that's the question we're trying to answer -- "how did the Fathers understand 1 Tim 3" -- NOT the dynamics of late patristic East-West tension, or whether we accept the authority of this council with the East or reject it with the West... or even whether or not this particular discipline is one we ought still to follow.

All that is irrelevant to the historical usefulness of this council in helping us to discover what was the patristic understanding of 1 Tim 3.



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But to claim that the council proposed dissolving one sacrament (marriage) as a prerequisite for another (consecration) is simply inaccurate -- it is both bad logic and bad history.

Not to see Cannon 12 of that council as requiring divorce in fact, that is, in every practical way, is to err into Nominalism (It's not called divorce, so it isn't). In fact, Henry Chadwick wrote about one case where the nominee for the Episcopate divorced his wife in order to be acceptable.

The point -- which I thought I'd made abundantly clear -- is that this distinction between "Christian" and "non-Christian", or between "pre-baptismal" and "post-baptismal", marriages -- i.e. the same distinction which lies at the root of the distinction we today call that between "sacramental" and "non-sacramental" -- is already found in Scripture and the early Church...the concept of annulments -- that a marriage which is found to be non-sacramental is not binding in the way a sacramental one is -- is consistent with Scripture and Tradition.

Actually, the scripture only gives us cause to annul illicit marriages, not marriages that are simply "non-sacramental." It is not clear that Paul, in allowing the believer to let the unbelieving spouse depart, is picturing a second marriage now that a "non-sacramental" marriage is over.

While plenty of other Scriptures offer insight on the theology of marriage, none clarify this passge -- indeed, several different interpretations of it are harmonious with those other texts.

Wrong. There is nothing ambiguous about the meaning, and that is because we have the words of Jesus and of St. Paul. The meaning is not only clear, but obvious. What some of the Fathers were venturing to postulate was if the meaning extends beyond the obvious.

A man who was living in adultery (by Christ's definition) would be excluded from the Church altogether, and only for this reason was the question raised about whether or not the meaning extends beyond this obvious one. We have to deal with a very different situation today.

Nonetheless, the morality and character required of the clergy in I Tim. 3 is not a special set of rules. No Christian man should neglect his children's upbringing, or be greedy of filthy lucre, or a brawler, or, for that matter, husband of more than one wife.

There we find 2 interpretations...

No. There you have found two interpretations. There are more.

I raise it here, though, to point out that the Fathers do not interpret the "husband of one wife" word to mean "remarried after a divorce from a civil marriage."...a man remarried after a marriage which wasn't a Christian marriage ("pre-baptismal") - in which case this Scripture doesn't apply -- and one which was.

Slow down. That needs documentation, because it borders on the legalistic and ridiculous. Look again at what I said above.

All that is irrelevant to the historical usefulness of this council in helping us to discover what was the patristic understanding of 1 Tim 3.

Actually, what is irrelevant is the entire Quinisext or Trullo Council. it does not show us the consensus of the Fathers; it is not part of the Tradition; it contains warped thinking in some parts (btw, why should we dismiss the practice of the African and Lybian bishops? It seems more in accord with the scriptures about the married apostles than does Canon 12); and this council was rejected by the pope at the time.

I fail to see why the obvious escapes you. If Jesus condemned the practice of divorce and remarriage, making exception only for the ending of illicit marriages that are really "fornication" (which really makes repentance the issue- consider Herod and Herodious as a perfect example), where do we get off redefining the issues? A man who leaves his wife to get hitched to his secretary, and then is granted an annulment because his first wife and mother of his eleven children was a Roman Catholic who married him in an civil ceremony instead of a church building, gets to be an Anglican bishop? But, a man who was a widower for a time, and remarried with no moral stain, is not "the husband of one wife?" What legalistic sleight of hand, worthy of a canon lawyer par excellence.

Sorry. It simply doesn't work.

LP said...

----
A man who leaves his wife to get hitched to his secretary, and then is granted an annulment because his first wife and mother of his eleven children was a Roman Catholic who married him in an civil ceremony instead of a church building, gets to be an Anglican bishop? But, a man who was a widower for a time, and remarried with no moral stain, is not "the husband of one wife?" What legalistic sleight of hand, worthy of a canon lawyer par excellence.
----


I realize, upon further reflection, that this is getting us back toward precisely that "defense" of the "Wells position" [and, I remind you again, I'm distinguishing between the defense and it's conclusions] which I think is flawed, unsupported by Tradition, and has dangerous and un-catholic implications.

And that "defense" is - when push comes to shove - running to 1 Tim 3 to say that it forbids ordaining anyone who has remarried after an annulment.

And doing so even without Scriptural exegesis or defense from tradition -- or any demonstration as to why an alternate interpretation of Scripture (such as the two supported by Tradition which I have cited) is incorrect or not authoritative, but merely dismissing those Tradition-supported interpretation by rhetorical hand-waving: "what legalistic sleight of hand."

And this is precisely why some do not take these conclusions seriously... because they perceive the weaknesses in this agument.


Look, annulments are based on the teaching and practice which evolved out of the distinction present in 1 Cor 7.

Either annulments are valid or they are not. Either any Christian can remarry after being separated from (what we call) a "non-sacramental marriage" or they cannot.

This is a "logically prior" question which has to be answered for all members of the Church -- before we even get to the question of ordination.

As such, it's a question which has to be addressed in terms of Scripture and Tradition about marriage, such as 1 Cor 7, not the Pauline requirements for ordination.


Some of those who respond negatively to this argument against ordaining men with annulments do so by saying "oh, your argument rejects the catholic and sacramental undertstanding of marriage."

Guess what -- they're right.

Look at what you yourself have just said in interpreting 1 Tim 3 as forbiding such ordinations:
---
Nonetheless, the morality and character required of the clergy in I Tim. 3 is not a special set of rules. No Christian man should neglect his children's upbringing, or be greedy of filthy lucre, or a brawler, or, for that matter, husband of more than one wife.
---

You're saying that this being of a "husband of more than one wife" (which you take to refer to the case of remarried-after-an-annulment) is a sinful thing -- comparable to being greedy or a brawler or a drunkard... that it is "immoral", and this is why 1 Tim 3 condemns it.

In other words, you're essentially saying that no Christian -- not just clergy -- should remarry after an annulment. Which means that you don't think annulments are justified -- that, in fact, that first marriage is still binding (else the remarriage wouldn't be sinful)... which means that all who have remarried after an annulment, laity included, are adulterers.

Which means that the Church is simply "winking" at sin with annulments... which means, in turn, you think it's okay for the Church to tolerate in its membership what Scripture calls adultery (for which the early Church excommunicated members) - and only actually insist on her teaching if a man is considering ordination.

THIS cannot stand.


If remarriage after an annulment is a "moral" issue -- as you are suggesting it is -- then you are either going to have to forbid it to all Christians, clergy and laity alike, or you're going to have to give up on this particular argument against such ordinations.

Because, otherwise, you're either rejecting the distinction between sacramental and non-sacramental marriages, or you're implicitly condoning the winking at adultery among the laity.


Now, that said, I think you can make a case -- one based on Scriptural principles and the teaching and practice of Tradition -- to argue that while remarriage after an annulment is perfectly licit and proper, it ought - in some cases at least - to be an impediment to ordination.

But, if so, you're going to have to do it in terms of "discipline" and defend it in the wider context of the theologies of marriage and ordination in Scripture and Tradition.


Because if you do so by - ultimately - simply an appeal to the mere word "husband of one wife" you have, implicitly (or so it seems to me... and to many others), fallen into the problems of sacramental theology mentioned above, and opened yourself to having the entire position on ordination rejected because of this flaw.

Which is what I was getting at back in one of my earliest posts on this thread -- how this exegesis of 1 Tim 3 (regardless of the merits of the conclusion/position itself) provides a stumbling block to profitable discussion in the Continuum.


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

You're saying that this being of a "husband of more than one wife" (which you take to refer to the case of remarried-after-an-annulment) is a sinful thing --

Annulment? Divorce, not annulment. I Tim.3 was written by a Jew of the First century, not by a Greek who was influenced by Manicheanism or Stoicism (of which he was fully aware). To the Jew, St. Paul, a widower has no wife, since marriage cannot last beyond death; a divorced man can have two wives, however. His first wife is, by the teaching of Christ, his only wife as long as she lives. His second wife, genuinely called his wife under the laws of men, is not his wife in the eyes of God.

In this case, the Anglicans long ago rejected the few commentaries that you regard as the Patristic consensus (which is no consensus at all), simply because it cannot be justified in light of the very direct teaching from Jesus and the other passage by St. Paul himself. it was a case of the scripture as highest authority.

There is no point in continuing to discuss this detail, since we will not agree, and the repetition is going nowhere.

Now, annulments do not arise from just I Corinthians chapter seven, but rather from the so-called "Matthean exception" in the Sermon on the Mount. "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." The real meaning is not that one can divorce for adultery and be free to remarry, as some suppose. The word "fornication" is used because this actually means that the rule does not apply when the marriage that is ended is really no marriage at all, but fornication. Therefore, the issue never has been that one can obtain an annulment on the basis of a marriage having been merely "non-sacramental." The marriage has to have been illicit.

Only when we add to this the words of St. Paul from I Cor. 7 that apply only to a believer that has been abandoned by an unbelieving spouse, do we have another cause for an annulment. Taken a step further, anyone who abandons a marriage shows by that act that he is an unbeliever, whether he attends Church or not, whether he is baptized or not. Also, the one who abandons shows that no intention has been present on the part of a "right minister" of the sacrament.

To extend this to the granting of annulments for such silly things as 1) a civil ceremony, or 2) the wedding was before they had been baptized, or any other legalistic technicality, is to abuse the whole concept. And such an annulment has no weight.

LP said...

Resubmitted from a day or two ago: it appears Firefox lost another one... and to more or less "finish" the convo about remarried widowers per se.


==============================


---
Actually, the scripture only gives us cause to annul illicit marriages, not marriages that are simply "non-sacramental."
---

I disagree.

In point of fact, Scripture says nothing about annulments per se.

What it does say -- 1 Cor 7 -- is that the marriage between two Christians is binding (Paul calls this the word of "the Lord", referring to Christ's teaching on marriage) but that between a Christian and non-believer is not.

Paul explicitly states that his urging of Christians who are married to non-Christians that they do not divorce is his own advice, not Christ's teaching. ("I say, not the Lord...").

And this distinction between "Christian" (or post-baptismal) and "non-Christian" (or pre-baptismal) marriages is constant in the writings of the Fathers and the councils and canons of the Church.


Annulment is simply a formalization of this distinction -- if a "non-Christian" (or, what we would call, "non sacramental") marriage is not binding life-long - if only a sacramental marriage is a genuine Christian marriage -- then a process by which an uncertain relationship can be investigated -- to find out if a marriage is sacramental or not -- is a reasonable policy.

One can, of course, certainly debate what exactly constitutes a "sacramental" marriage -- could suggest that, given the gravity of the issue, the "standard for proof" needs to be a lot higher. But that's a separate question.


---
There is nothing ambiguous about the meaning, and that is because we have the words of Jesus and of St. Paul.
----

There is nothing ambigous about Scripture and Tradition's teaching about marriage and divorce per se.

In commenting on the additional requirements for office imposed by 1 Tim 3 the Fathers do not question or challenge this.

Rather, they discuss and legislate about what this additional requirement which applies only to clergy is -- and maintain that it refers to remarried widowers.


---
There we find 2 interpretations...

No. There you have found two interpretations. There are more.
---

I'd be happy to see references... it would certainly facilitate accurate discussion of the Fathers to get as much of the evidence as possible.

Can you provide citations for these passages?


---
I raise it here, though, to point out that the Fathers do not interpret the "husband of one wife" word to mean "remarried after a divorce from a civil marriage."...a man remarried after a marriage which wasn't a Christian marriage ("pre-baptismal") - in which case this Scripture doesn't apply -- and one which was

Slow down. That needs documentation, because it borders on the legalistic and ridiculous. Look again at what I said above.
---

You've distorted my meaning by your selective quotation.

Before your elipsis I am pointing out that the Fathers, in all the commentary on 1 Tim 3 with which I am aware, do not take it as applying to "men remarried after divorce from a civil marriage." They take it to mean either "men who are polygamists" or "men who remarried after being widowed."

After your elipsis I am pointing out the fact that, in the case of the "forbidding a remarried widower" interpretation, the teaching and practice was that a man widowed before his baptism and subsequently remarried was not seen as being barred from ordination (the Church did not see this passage as applying to him - though some, such as Augustine, thought it should) while a man who was widowed after his baptism and who subsequently remarried was seen as being barred, by this passage, from ordination.


---
Actually, what is irrelevant is the entire Quinisext or Trullo Council.
---

This is not how intellectual history is done.

The Quinisext may not be - in the West - Ecumenical or even authoritative. Fine.

So what?

That doesn't mean that the council can't provide -- e.g. by what it records as being "traditional" and the subject of past canons -- valuable and valid information about the Church's early teaching, practice, and understanding of what 1 Tim 3 means.


---
I fail to see why the obvious escapes you. If Jesus condemned the practice of divorce and remarriage, making exception only for the ending of illicit marriages that are really "fornication" (which really makes repentance the issue- consider Herod and Herodious as a perfect example), where do we get off redefining the issues
---

You can start by taking this complaint to St. Paul, who quite clearly -- 1 Cor 7 -- saw this teaching as applying only to the marriage (what we would call "sacramental") between two Christians [or those who became Christians while still married.]

Perhaps, you might possibly consider that it's not St. Paul (or the early Church which consistently followed this distinction) who are "redefining" the issue, but modern commentators who want to insist that the teaching of Gospels means something other than either St. Paul or the early Church understood them to mean.


Or, perhaps, you mean (I can't quite tell from your context) that annulments are simply wrong.

But if that's the case, then we're no longer talking about rules and practices which apply particularly to ordination (as the 1 Tim 3 passage does) but to all Christians, clergy and laity alike... we're talking about the meaning of 1 Cor 7, which discusses marriage for all Christians, rather than 1 Tim 3, which gives a set of guidelines for selecting ordinands.



---
A man who leaves his wife to get hitched to his secretary, and then is granted an annulment because his first wife and mother of his eleven children was a Roman Catholic who married him in an civil ceremony instead of a church building, gets to be an Anglican bishop?
---

I don't know who this is, nor do I care to know.

If there is a problem here, then it's a problem with a particular case of annulment. It's a troubling anecdote, suggestive of an abuse of the practice of annulments -- but it's irrelevant to this theological discussion.

Or are you suggesting that because you can give one or two anecdotal examples of a misuse of Scripture's teaching, that teaching can be rejected in favor of some other interpretation?

If you're going to argue that way, then no teaching of Scripture will stand... for -- given human nature -- there will be an example and anecdote of abuse which will "disprove" any interpretation in this same way.



---
But, a man who was a widower for a time, and remarried with no moral stain, is not "the husband of one wife?"
----

According to many of the Fathers and the practice of the early Church -- YES.

(The even explicitly state that such a remarriage is not immoral and that it is fully licit for laity.)

Doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it. Doesn't mean I fully understand it. Doesn't even mean I think (FWLTW) that this should still be a discipline today.

But it is how they understood this passage... and that's what I'm pointing out.



pax,
LP

LP said...

---
You're saying that this being of a "husband of more than one wife" (which you take to refer to the case of remarried-after-an-annulment) is a sinful thing

Annulment? Divorce, not annulment.
----

Ah, now we may be actually getting somewhere -- at least toward clarification.


You're saying that 1 Tim 3 forbids a man who has "been remarried after a divorce" from being ordained.

You say this because, you point out:
His first wife is, by the teaching of Christ, his only wife as long as she lives. His second wife, genuinely called his wife under the laws of men, is not his wife in the eyes of God.


In other words, because marriage is until "death do you part", that second marriage is, ipso facto adulterous -- and thus an impediment to ordination.

Adultery is, in fact -- at least as the apostolic and patristic Church saw it -- an impediment to membership in the Church at all, which makes it an odd thing to include in a list of requirements for leadership. However, we'll leave that objection to the side for now.

Now, all certainly agree that a man in an adulterous relationship should not be ordained. (Indeed, he probably shouldn't even be allowed to receive communion -- but that's a separate issue.) So that point is not in question.


What is the question you have raised is whether or not a man divorced from an annulled marriage and remarried ought to be ordained.

Well, supposedly an annulment is a finding that a marriage is not a "sacramental" one. That that wife never was -- according to the theory -- a wife "in the eyes of God" as you put it. I certainly don't dispute that such annulments can be abused. We are here talking about a proper annulment.


Now, if it is the case that valid annulments are what they claim to be (as you've suggested by a hypothetical example in the other thread), then your objection about ordination fails. Because that first "wife" - though called a "wife" under the laws of men - was not a wife in the eyes of God... and the wife a man now lives with is a wife (and the first wife) in the eyes of God.

In this case, there is no reason to object to his ordination -- he is the "husband of one wife". The first relationship (his "first wife" in the eyes of the State) was not a marriage in the eyes of God -- so his present wife, though his "second" or more in the eyes of the State -- is, as far as the Church is concerned, his first and only one.



By contrast, if such a remarriage after a divorced-from-an-annulled marriage presents an impediment to ordination because (as you put it in the clear case of the divorced-from-a-sacramental-marriage), the first wife was and is *still* a wife in the eyes of God (and thus the relationship with the second wife adulterous), then not only should such a man not be ordained, but no one should be allowed to remarry after an annulment -- because (by the logic you use to forbid ordination to such men) that second relationshp is adulterous.


And, indeed, despite your prior hypthetical, this seems to be your position, at least if I understand what you mean by:
To extend this to the granting of annulments for such silly things as 1) a civil ceremony, or 2) the wedding was before they had been baptized,

I agree that if a marriage was only a "civil ceremony" but between two Christians, then that is no grounds for an annulment (we remember that there were no "Church marriages" for Christians until at least the 4th century... yet Christ's teaching was still held to apply to Christians married civilly) ... and I agree that if two people were married before being baptized but, while still married, were baptized/confirmed, then the marriage - ipso facto - is sacramentalized and cannot be "annulled" just because it started as a civil marriage before then.

But if you're saying that other such marriages -- e.g. a civil ceremony between non-Christians from which they are divorced while still non-Christians -- are just as binding as a "sacramental" Christian marriage (and, thus, that anyone remarried after such a divorce is an adulterer) then I believe you have jettisoned both Scripture's clear teaching, the Tradition of the Church, and catholic sacramental theology.



To show why I believe this to be the case, let us digress on the issue of divorce and remarriage in Scripture. I believe you are reading Scripture in an incoherent and self-inconsistent way.

In Matthew, Christ does not say that it is licit to remarry after being divorced from an unfaithful spouse. This is reading something into the text which is not there.

Matt 5:32 But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

This says nothing about whether or not it is licit to remarry after divorcing an "unchaste" wife. In English it might be taken to imply that... but it doesn't expressly say that. In fact, the only thing it does say about remarriage is the opposite -- that whoever marries a divorced woman (and it says nothing about the cause for that divorce) himself commits adultery.

This realization is key because of what the rest of Scripture says on the issue -- and we're supposed to read Scripture in harmony with itself. While the quesetion may be left up in the air by Matt 5, it is not left ambiguous by other parts of Scripture.

First, look at what Mark 10 says, which actually does expressly address the question of remarriage after divorce:

Mark 10:9-12 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."


Mark actually addresses remarriage -- and it says that it is always adulterous to remarry after a divorce... it doesn't say that it is okay to remarry in the exceptional case where the divorce was for 'porneia'.


In other words, the popular reading of Matthew -- that it's okay to remarry after divorcing for adultery -- is (a) reading something into the text which isn't there; (b) reading into the text something which implicitly contradicts that passsage itself (i.e. to marry a divorced - for whatever reason - woman is adulterous) and (c) reading something into the text which explicitly conflicts with Mark.


This reading is confirmed by Paul -- which also shows the "reading into" Matt 5 to conflict with Scripture.

In 1 Cor 7 Paul says:
To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) -- and that the husband should not divorce his wife

Paul says nothing about 'porneia' here. He says that the charge from the Lord is that a spouse should not divorce and, if she does, should either "remain single" or "be reconciled" -- remarriage after porneia is not acceptable here any more than it is in Mark.

This tells us that even in the "acceptable" case for divorce (which, as Matt tells us, is 'porneia') the two parties should either remain single or be reconciled. They may not remarry.

In other words, in every New Testament passages which discusses remarriage after divorce, the practice is forbidden. This incluces the case of 'porneia'.



Now, if this were all that the Gosples or Epistles said on the matter, then we would have to conclude that all remarraiges -- even after divorce from a civil marriage -- are forbidden.

That anything called a marriage -- even the drive-up-drunkenly to the McMarriage chapel in Las Vegas -- is a "until death do you part" relationship in the eyes of God.


However, this is not what the New Testament says.

Immediately after saying that marriage is a life-long, indissoluable union, Paul goes on to say "To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever..."

Hang on -- what "rest"? If Paul were talking about all marriages, then you can't have any "rest" who "has a wife who is an unbeliever."

The only way for this to make any sense is if those to whom Paul is talking in vv.10-11 are married Christian couples. This is what distinguishes these ("to the married") from the "rest" ("any brother who has a wife who is an unbeliever...")

Moreover, Paul expressly says that his advice is now no longer the Dominical teaching -- it is his own advice, not the "charge" of the Lord from the previous sentence: "I say, not the Lord".

What is his advice? -- that such a brother "should not divorce" his wife.

Hang on, didn't Paul just say that the Lord commands that husband and wife should not divorce? Why is he now saying that he advises this same teaching -- and that it is his advice, not the charge of the Lord?

Again, there's only one reading which makes sense -- the "charge" of the Lord applies ONLY to married Christians. It does NOT apply to "the rest" -- i.e. Christians married to non-Christians.

Now, Paul advises that such married-to-an-unbeliever Christians also do not divorce. This isn't a charge from the Lord -- Christ's teaching in Matt & Mark does not (at least according to St. Paul) apply to them -- but it is his earnest advice.

However, he recognizes that, even if a Christian follows this advice, the unbeliever may desert the believer, in which case "in such a case the brother or sister is not bound."


In short, then, the clear teaching of Scripture is that a marriage between Christians is life-long, even in the case of porneia, but that this teaching of the Lord applies only to a marriage between Christians -- not to a marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever. Paul advises refraining from divorce if possible even in this latter case... but he goes out of his way to highlight that this is his advice, not the command of the Lord.


Thus, any complaints against a man who has remarried after a divorce from a non-Christian marriage (e.g. to an unbeliever, or even before he himself was a Christian) which cite the "charge" of the Lord in Matt and Mark are complaints based on a flawed reading of Scripture.

There may well be reasons to object to this or that particular case... maybe even to all such divorces. But, if valid, such objections can't be based on Matt 5 or Mark 10 -- because, as we see from 1 Cor 7, those passages do not apply to those relationships. (If, that is, we accept the Epistles and the practice of the early Church as an authoritative authority for Scriptural interpretation and doctrine.)


Similarly, anyone who appeals to Matt to say that it is okay for a Christian to remarry after divorcing an adulterous wife is also appealing to a flawed reading of Scripture, as Mark 10 and 1 Cor 7 both explicitly condemn such a remarriage.



On this score, I object in the strongest possible terms to your claim:
Taken a step further, anyone who abandons a marriage shows by that act that he is an unbeliever, whether he attends Church or not, whether he is baptized or not.

This is an absurd statement.

What you're saying is that if someone sins against marriage then they aren't a Christian and so the marriage isn't binding -- that the fact that they are a sinner means that they are an "unbeliever". Not a bad Christian or a sinful Christian, but a NON-Christian.

Well, if this is the case, then *no* sinner is a Christian. And as we know that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", then *no one* is a Christian. Which means that *no* marriage is a Christian marriage, that what Christ teaches in Matt and Mark, and what Paul teaches in 1 Cor, applies to *no one*... and so all divorces and remarriages are aye-okay... not just in the case of adultery or desertion, but in any case whatsoever... provided that the former spouse has, at some time, sinned.


Similarly, I equally object to your claim:
Also, the one who abandons shows that no intention has been present on the part of a "right minister" of the sacrament.

It shows no such thing. Far more likely it shows that the abandoning spouse (and I assume you mean abandoning for someone else -- not, e.g., abandoning as the only way to escape and survive a physically abusive relationship) has changed their mind, or failed to live up to their intention, etc.

You are, here, again saying that present action invalidates past intention -- which, quite frankly, strikes me as the kind of loopholing legal manoeuvring which you castigate in the case of annulments based on "defective intention".



I'm somewhat mystified as to where you get the somewhat tortuous interpretation:
The real meaning is not that one can divorce for adultery and be free to remarry, as some suppose. The word "fornication" is used because this actually means that the rule does not apply when the marriage that is ended is really no marriage at all, but fornication.

I agree that, as discussed above, the meaning is not that one can remarry after such a divorce -- as Mark 10 and 1 Cor 7 make explicit.

But the passage says nothing about "if the wife commits 'porneia' then it wasn't acutally a marriage and so you're not really divorcing her."

On the contrary, it explicitly says that this is a case of divorce -- what makes it a special case is not that it isn't a real divorce, but rather that it is the one acceptable case for a divorce... indeed (reading this in light of 1 Cor 7 -- Scripture interpreting Scripture) it is the one acceptable case in which one Christian spouse may divorce another (i.e. the situation implied in 1 Cor 7:11).

A far more Scripturally-consistent reading of Matt 5 is to understand that the "except in the case of 'porneia'" clause is not saying that what it is calling marriage and divorce in this case isn't actually marriage and divorce in this case, but rather pointing out that if a man divorces and deserts a wife who is not an adulteress then he is morally cupable for the adultery her future 'porneia' would represent -- just as a man who marries a divorced woman (divorced for whatever reason) is, ipso facto, also an adulterer.

A man is does not "cause his wife to commit adultery" if he divorces her for 'porneia' not because it wasn't really a marriage, but rather because she, by her action before that divorce, made herself an adulteress... and so no blame attaches to him in divorcing her.



Finally, you continue to deprecate and ignore all the patristic exegesis of 1 Tim 3 (i.e. that it forbids ordaining polygamists or that it forbids ordaining remarried widowers) with phrases such as:
few commentaries that you regard as the Patristic consensus

Yet you have presented nothing more than hand-waving, or arguing from silence, or speculations about what the Fathers "would have said", or opinions of contemporary bishops. You seem to assume that your reading of Scriputre, or that of contemporary bishops, is more authoritative than that of the Fathers or the practice of the early Church -- and that you, not they, are more likely to rightly undrestand what St. Paul thought.

You have given no cogent argument to dismiss this patristic interpretation save to raise a few irrelevancies (e.g. because a council is not considered ecumenical in the West it therefore can be ignored when it reports what the established traditional practice of the early Church was) -- and you have given no counterexamples from patristic sources to support your interpretation -- not even to show that that interpretation is present in the Fathers, let along whether or not it is a common one.

All you have done is claim that my statements are either false or inaccurate.

If you are questioning my integrity simply because I disagree with you, then discussion is pointless and I've been wasting my time attempting to have a rational and honest exchange.

If, on the other hand, you genuinely think that the Fathers don't say what I report and do say what you claim for them, then please, present that evidence. I will happily do likewise.

I have been unable to find the essay I wrote (which included all the patristic citations I had found by searching through various patristic lexica for commentaries on 1 Tim 3), so I will have to re-do that research (insofar as I can) to recompile that list... but I will be willing to do so if I come to believe that you are serious in a desire to understand and respect the exegesis of the Fathers. Frankly, I'm not yet so convinced -- I sense that you are ready to dismiss anything they say on this issue if it doesn't match your own personal exegesis. However, I would be more than happy to find this impression is false... so if you can give the evidence from patristic teaching and practice which you say is there to support some third exegesis (in addition to the polygamy and remarried widowers one), I'll happily reassemble the evidence I have found which demonstrates the first two.


Surely, if there are differences over the application of 1 Tim 3 which are causing so much consternation in the Continuum, it is in everyone's interest to have an objective, accurate and documented account of what the Fathers have to say (after all, the Affirmation calls us to respect their opinion)... even if, upon discussion, it is judged that not all of their patristic practices and disciplines are appropriate or relevant today.



pax,
LP

poetreader said...

There's a problem I see in much of this discussion. When one attempts to make a clear distinction between pre-baptismal and post-baptismal marriages one runs into a matter of annoying fact.

Jesus, in Matthew 5, was not talking specifically about the marriage of Christians (though he, looking ahead, was, without a doubt, including such marriages). Why do I say this? Because there were not and never had been any such marriages; there were not, and never had been, for that matter, any Christians yo be married. Jesus was making a statement concerning the old Law, the Law of Moses, either reinterpreting it or modifying the interpretations that were then being made of it. The divorce He condemned, and the marriage He condemned, were involving the marriage, divorce and remarriage of non-Christians.

I'm not sure how to factor this in with Fr. Hart's distinction between sacramental and non-sacramental marriage, and I find it making LP's arguments from Jesus' words more than a bit problematic.

Marriage, it would appear, is truly a Sacrament only when Baptism has entered the equation (It would be a little more difficult to link Confirmation that firmly with Matrimony) -- but it would appear that Our Lord considered pre-Baptismal marriage to be marriage after all, and fully as binding. St. Paul, in Corinthians, in his distinction between the word of the Lord and hois own advice may, then, be an expression of a settled opinion in the matter, but not one he was willing ascribe absolutely to Jesus' own words. In other words, the advice of an Apostle given in a document inspired by the Holy Spirit should not be seen as giving permission for a questionable act, but of requiring a very deep seriousness in even considereing such a thing.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anyone who simply abandons his wife (or her husband) is to be treated, as are all open, notorious and unrepentant sinners, the same as an unbeliever. His exclusion from the sacrament of Communion should be the obvious working out of this. LP thinks that this is absurd. He is alone.

In the bit about the man with a sordid tale, I was not speaking of a specific real life situation, but of the kind of crap that passes for true consideration all too often.

LP wrote:
But the passage says nothing about "if the wife commits 'porneia' then it wasn't acutally a marriage and so you're not really divorcing her."

That was not my meaning, and you must know it. The obvious point that I was making is that the so-called Matthean exception is about an illicit marriage that is, actually, fornication. This is not simply a "non-sacramental" marriage. It is, in fact, no true marriage at all. I know this raises the bar too high for people who want a simple and easy annulment from a true and valid marriage. But, too bad.

FYI, Mr. LP: Nothing I say is ever absurd. If you cannot understand it, it is your problem.

You can start by taking this complaint to St. Paul, who quite clearly -- 1 Cor 7 -- saw this teaching as applying only to the marriage (what we would call "sacramental") between two Christians [or those who became Christians while still married.]

I think you had better reread that chapter by St. Paul, and see what he really said. Furthermore, the problem we have today is not "a brother or sister" abandoned by a pagan or otherwise non-Christian. All too often it is the problem of Christians who deserve to be treated as unbelievers by the Church. Those who forsake a marriage deserve this treatment, and their victims deserve the freedom of which St. Paul writes.

I have been unable to find the essay I wrote (which included all the patristic citations I had found by searching through various patristic lexica for commentaries on 1 Tim 3), so I will have to re-do that research (insofar as I can) to recompile that list...but I will be willing to do so if I come to believe that you are serious in a desire to understand and respect the exegesis of the Fathers. Frankly, I'm not yet so convinced -- I sense that you are ready to dismiss anything they say on this issue if it doesn't match your own personal exegesis.

If you have written such an essay, fine. But, anyone can collect a list of quotations; it does not add up to a "Patristic Consensus." I have not offered my "personal exegesis" at all. Somehow, the logic of simple and obvious things gets past you as look for the complex. Certain obvious facts are clear when we compare I Tim. 3 to the words of Jesus, and the words of St. Paul in that other place, I Cor. 7. One obvious fact is that a man with two wives is not the husband of one wife. Somehow, you seem to think it cannot be that simple, but it is.

It is the universal position of all Anglicans that the widower thing is not St. Paul's meaning. A list of selected quotations, if you have it, does not amount to "the Patristic position," especially when it contradicts Chrysostom.

You have given no cogent argument to dismiss this patristic interpretation save to raise a few irrelevancies

Right. What I say in response is irrelevant. Drawing directly from the scripture is irrelevant because every obvious point, needing no interpretation because there is no ambiguity, escapes you.

Let's try this once more.

A widower has no wife. If he marries again, he has one wife. A divorced man has two wives, his wife in the eyes of the Church and his legal wife. The remarried widower is the husband of one wife, and the divorced and remarried man is not. The ideals of a later age did, in this case, confuse the issue, and create an ambiguity where there had been none. The phrase in I Tim. 3 is not ambiguous. Marriage does not continue after the death of either party. To say otherwise is silly.

The divorced and remarried man, if he has an annulment, is the husband of one wife.

Now to get to the only point I was making: Even with real and legitimate annulments, how wise is it to continue the current practices of the Continuum? Stick to this subject, because it is the one that I did not wish to see scuttled by distraction.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have allowed the subject to be stolen away. The point of posting Dr. Toon's letter was to suggest that Continuing Anglicans are imitating the modern problems of ECUSA et al, rather than being loyal to the traditional Anglicanism we claim to represent. This matter of divorce, remarriage and a nod and a wink to ordination is a problem in our own camp. The only difference is that we have the shield of annulments. The problem is, evidence indicates that this whole process has been abused, and used to excuse our Revisionist behavior.

I want no more comments in this thread that simply distract us from this important moral issue, that are, perhaps designed only to do that very thing, because I have struck too close to home.

LP said...

---
Anyone who simply abandons his wife (or her husband) is to be treated, as are all open, notorious and unrepentant sinners, the same as an unbeliever. His exclusion from the sacrament of Communion should be the obvious working out of this. LP thinks that this is absurd. He is alone.
---

This is not what I said, and that should be obvious.

Quite to the contrary, I explicitly pointed out that, in the early Church, such an adulterer would be denied communion and full membership in the Church -- how you could have missed this statement, so as to claim I've said the exact opposite, is beyond me.


What I think is absurd, rather, is the notion that such a sin invalidates their baptism and undoes the sacramentality of their former marriage.

"What God has joined, let no man put assunder"... and this "man" includes the husband and wife themselves.


A Christian marriage may fail. One partner may desert the other. One partner may become an adulterer or an adulteress. Their marriage may even fail. But that doesn't "undo" the sacramentality of it. St. Paul himself implies as much when he says that if a Christian couple separate they must remain single or be reconciled.


---
It is, in fact, no true marriage at all
---
As already exegeted above, this is not the plain text of Scripture. I won't bother repeating that exegesis. Suffice it that both Mark 10 and 1 Cor 7 explicitly forbid what you claim Matt 5 implicitly permits.

If anything, this raises the bar even higher than you do, by not permitting adultery to be -- as you apparently do -- a valid grounds for an annulment of a marriage between two Christians.


---
the problem we have today is not "a brother or sister" abandoned by a pagan or otherwise non-Christian. All too often it is the problem of Christians
---
Very true. And, given what Mark 10 and 1 Cor 7 explicitly say about a divorce from a Christian marriage, in this case Scripture does not permit them to remarry, because their Christian marriage remains binding -- even if a separation is permitted because of the adultery.


---
A widower has no wife. If he marries again, he has one wife.
---
Nevertheless many of the Fathers -- who could add 1 and 1 just as well as you or I -- and the practice in much of the early Church was that the passage forbade the ordination of such a man.

But we don't need to continue that exchange, save to note your final quip:
---
simply distract us from this important moral issue, that are, perhaps designed only to do that very thing, because I have struck too close to home.
---
I'm not quite sure what the point of this veiled ad hominem attack is, but it's both irrelevant and inappropriate and has no place in a theological discussion between fellow Christians.... and I'm disappointed to see it.

If you're attempting to apply it to me in some veiled way, I can tell you, for the record, that I am only once-married, intend to remain that way, and - because I take the clear meaning of Scripture seriously (as exegeted above) - should my wife ever abandon me, I would still consider myself bound "until death do you part" (even if you wouldn't) because our marriage was a sacramental one between two baptized Christians.

I am describing the positions I am because I honetly and piously believe them to be obedience to Scripture and Tradition -- not because I have a personal situation to defend or a jurisdictional affiliation to excuse. So if that what your dig is trying to get at, I hope this clarification sets any doubts you might have to rest.

And all of this personal stuff ought to be irrelevant if we really are trying to discuss together, objectively, how best faithfully understand and obey Scripture and Tradition.

Anyway... 'nuff said.




Now... to move forward, you say:

---
The divorced and remarried man, if he has an annulment, is the husband of one wife.
---

Aha. Now we're getting somewhere.

Given this definition of annulment -- which I think all jurisdictions in the Continuum would agree with -- 1 Tim 3 (whether you take the Father's two interpretations or your own interpretation) is irrelevant -- because it doesn't apply to this case. As you just said, such a man is the husband of only one wife.

That being so, we don't have a case of "Scripture forbids the ordination of a man with an annulment."


There may well be other reasons (and good ones) to forbid it -- and the discussion can now move there -- but 1 Tim 3, per se is, by the definition you just gave, not a factor in the case of a remarriage after a valid annulment.


This is an import point, I think, because I know that some in the Continuum have rejected any consideration of this issue because they perceive (perhaps wrongly) that those who object to such ordinations to do so based on a rejection of the sacramental theology behind annulments and/or a postulating of some second moral law. (This is getting back to the "two poles" I outlined way back when.)

After all, look at what Fr. Hollister said in the very first comment on this thread -- when he objected to your post:
think through the logical implications of the principles that there is only one set of rules that applies to marriages and which applies equally to the marriages of the laity and to those of the clergy


But if this is not a question of "rules that apply to marriages" (and equally to both clergy and laity) but rather of "additional requirements for clerical office," then the discussion (wherever it is to end) can actually move forward.



Now - if all do indeed agree to what you said about annulments above -- the question becomes: "given that it is licit and appropriate for a man, whose previous marriage has been validly annulled because found non sacramental due to genuine impediments... give that it's licet for him to remarry, is there anything in Scripture or Tradition to suggest that such a man -- while not in any violation of the moral law to have remarried -- should not be ordained."

In other words, it becomes a question of proper discipline (for which the traditions of the Fathers and early Church are also authoritative and important) and requirements for ordination rather than dogma and requirements made of all Christians.



So, I would suggest, we have two basic questions:

(1) Are there any "requirements for office" for ordination above and beyond those requirements for lay membership in the church?

(2) If so, do any of them touch upon the marital history of the potential ordinand -- if so, what and why? (And what is the evidence from Scripture and Tradition which supports this suggestion -- or, if contrary to Tradition, for what reasons is that change appropriate?)

(3) And, if there are some and they do touch on marital history, how does the case of a man remarried after an annulment fit in?



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Aha. Now we're getting somewhere

The only one who is finally getting somewhere is you. I have said nothing new here.

If anything, this raises the bar even higher than you do, by not permitting adultery to be -- as you apparently do -- a valid grounds for an annulment of a marriage between two Christians.

Who are you addressing? Not me, obviously. Did I not rule out the so-called Matthean Exception in the clearest terms? Adultery, by itself, is no true grounds for annulment. The practice of granting annulments to Christians who have been abandoned, however, is standard in Roman Catholicism and among Anglicans. This comes from their understanding of I Cor. 7 as a matter of fact, and is justified by the reasoning I have given, that someone living in sin has denied the Faith, and is treated as an unbeliever. I should not have any reason to repeat these things.

It was you who tried to make "the husband of one wife" the sole basis for discussion, bringing up the widower thing again, as if any Anglican bishop in the Continuum would accept such an idea. You may think of this as a kind of doctrinal development, quasi-Newman if you like. I think of it as a better grasp of the Primitive Church, a realistic appraisal by Anglicans of Paul's meaning; and as a fuller approach to scripture in this case, drawing meaning from the complementary texts, which is only right (in other words, we are on solid ground in ordaining men who remarried after being widowers; and this is not some idea of mine. It is the accepted practice of orthodox Anglicans, and always has been).

Now - if all do indeed agree to what you said about annulments above -- the question becomes: "given that it is licit and appropriate for a man, whose previous marriage has been validly annulled because found non sacramental due to genuine impediments... give that it's licet for him to remarry, is there anything in Scripture or Tradition to suggest that such a man -- while not in any violation of the moral law to have remarried -- should not be ordained."

Licit? Well, if you read what I have written you will see that the question is whether or not it is appropriate. It most certainly does compromise the integrity of the Church if a number of the priests are in any sense twice married with each spouse still alive. In some cases it presents the problem of a man who is too compromised to meet this requirement: "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)..." And of this one: "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

The very fact of divorce in and of itself raises questions about how well a man rules his own house, and usually creates a situation in which he cannot have his children in subjection, because custody is mixed or taken away. I know of one bishop who told a priest (a friend of mine) how happy he was that his children were accepting his new wife after 14 years of bitterness.And the record shows that his divorce came almost immediately before his second marriage, giving to everyone in his own family (especially the kids) and community the idea that he had left the mother of his children for this other woman. He knew that in the eyes of his children he had wronged their mother, and forced an unwelcome intruder into their lives. To that whole picture I pose the question, why is this man a bishop? Why was he even made a deacon? His own house is a mess, whether his suspicious annulment was "licit" or not.

Like Peter Toon, I am comparing our standards to those of a mere generation or two back. Are we Continuing what we claim to be continuing, or accepting watered down ECUSAn standards? There is no question about whether or not our churches are ordaining men that would have been rejected 50 years ago. The fact is, we are. the question is, what are we continuing? Should we not consider the wisdom of those Anglicans from whom we have received the baton in this generational relay race? If we think we have a better way, then we had better be extra cautious. That's what the Episcopalians thought.

LP said...

---
Adultery, by itself, is no true grounds for annulment.
---

Ah, then we agree.

I thought you were saying something quite different -- which is why objected so strongly -- because I found very confusing your statement on Matt 5:
The word "fornication" is used because this actually means that the rule does not apply when the marriage that is ended is really no marriage at all, but fornication.
... I took this to mean that you believed the "absurd" interpretation that a man could divorce his wife for 'porneia', claim (on the basis of that 'porneia') that the marriage was no marriage ("the marriage that is ended is really no marriage at all") and she not really his wife, and thus remarry.


So if this was merely a case of me misunderstanding, then why the rather hostile tone of the your last two posts, rather than simply pointing out that I had misunderstood you -- that, in fact, we are in accord on this point, that adultery does not dissolve the sacramentality of a Christian marriage?!




---
It was you who tried to make "the husband of one wife" the sole basis for discussion
---
No, I did not.

In my initial post, from which this exchange started, that was one point among several -- but it was the one from those many which you singled out to jump on -- to the exclusion of the rest -- and make the basis for this extended exchange.

Scroll up. It's all right there.


Furthermore, as I have typed over and over and over again (are you not reading?), I made this point not to suggest that, today, we should not ordain remarried widowers [maybe we should; maybe we shouldn't -- that's a separate question from the annulment issue we are discussing here] but rather simply to point out that, as the Fathers understood it, 1 Tim 3 does not apply to the situation which we find in this case of annulments, and should not be brought out as a proof text for forbidding such ordinations.


And just now, after all this back and forth, you've stated that you actually believe that a man who has had a (valid) annulment and remarried is only the "husband of one wife" -- "The divorced and remarried man, if he has an annulment, is the husband of one wife."

In which case, why did you not simply, right from the get go, say "I disagree about widowers -- I think it is acceptable today to ordain remarried widowers..." (even though I expressly wasn't talking about contemporary practice, but rather simply about the exegesis and practice of the early Church) "... but that point is immaterial either way, as a man remarried after a valid annulment is 'the husband of one wife' and so - whatever one thinks about the suitability of his ordination - 1 Tim 3's 'husband of one wife' does not apply."

????!!!



Nevertheless, you now, once again, seem to be bringing in 1 Tim 3 through the back door when you say:
---
It most certainly does compromise the integrity of the Church if a number of the priests are in any sense twice married with each spouse still alive.
---

Why?

Why should "in any sense twice married with each spouse still alive" be relevant to the situation of an annulment -- about which cases you are objecting in this thread -- if a man remarried after an annulment has only been married once (as you yourself said above).

How... unless you think that this "in any sense twice married" actually does apply to annulments (e.g. the State considers them twice-married, though the Church does not) and is, thus, objectionalbe because violating the "husband of one wife" requirement of 1 Tim 3?

If not on the basis of 1 Tim 3's "husband of one wife", then in what way PER SE has the Church acted without integrity in ordaining a man remmarried after an annulment?


Note: I said PER SE.

Certainly, there might be reasons in particular cases in which an annulment was granted which would threaten that integrity. As you point out, perhaps there is a case where, by pursuing this new (and sacramentally first) marriage without due care for his children, a man doesn't live up to that requirement for ordination. Or perhaps it was not a case where the husband was manifestly deserted by an unfaithful or abusive wife, and so has given every impression that it was he who left her simply for the sake of a new relationship.

And, yes, certainly, these particulars -- especially if they seem to violate some of the other requirements of 1 Tim 3 -- could well be cause for careful review, on a case by case basis. I quite agree.


But this is NOT because these men are "are in any sense twice married with each spouse still alive" (which is what you say is, fundamentally, objectionable) but, rather, because of these other particular considerations.

"Husband of one wife" in the case of remarriage after an annulment is, however, not relevant.



So, to come back full circle to the original question:
---
Should we not consider the wisdom of those Anglicans from whom we have received the baton in this generational relay race?
---

Yes... you make a good case that this practice should be reconsidered.

But if it is, across the Continuum, going to be reconsidered, as you urge, then all must get past the knee-jerk dismissiveness characteristic of both "sides".

And a crucial aspect of getting past this dismissiveness is for each side to accept that 1 Tim 3's "husband of one wife" does not, per se, prohibit the ordination of men remarried after an annulment... but that 1 Tim 3, as a whole, nevertheless does establish the Scriptural basis for certain 'additional' requirements for clergy which, while not a new moral law, nevertheless go beyond the 'requirements' for lay membership in the Church -- amd that details of marital history (even a fully licit and appropriate one) could, logically, be among those requirements considered.


pax,
LP

LP said...

I've been reflecting more on this exchange this afternoon, trying to figure out if, and in what way, Fr. Hart and I are "talking past" each other. After all, that's a common danger on such internet blogs -- without the ability to quickly correct misinterpretations by in-person back and forth, often simple misconceptions can get into the discussion without anyone realizing it and then confuse all subsequent exchanges.

And I realize, as I try to think through this, that, after all of Fr. Hart's posts about his position, I have a great deal of difficulty sussing out exactly what that position is, because what one post appears to state another post appears to contradict.


So, let me make some observations on what I'm finding so contradictory -- and perhaps this will help unearth any unnoticed misconceptions and restore a more irenic and fraternal tone.


The first set of observations I raise merely to note them and then, dismissing them, move on. One way to try to suss out what Fr. Hart is advocating is to figure out what he's objecting to.

And this has been made frightfullly difficult by a repeated pattern of "criticizing" my statements by repeating points I have made myself or by attacking points which are either irrelevant to what I've actually said or, in some cases, precisely the opposite of what I've said.

For example, after I clearly and explicitly state that I think adultery does not, ipso facto, dissolve a Christian marriage and that someone who is an adulterer ought probably be denied communion (as he was in the early Church), Fr. Hart claims that I think these statements - which I had just explicitly defended - are "absurd".

Similarly, when I bring up the Quinisext - noting the very first time I do that it is, though considered Ecumenical in the East, not considered such in the West but that the point is the evidence it provides, not its Ecumenical status - as an bit of historical evidence which helps us establish patristic tradition, Fr. Hart dismisses it as having any historical value because it's not Ecumenical in the West. Or when I give a list of patristic authors who support the "do not ordain remarried widowers" interpretation and note in that very first introduction that Chrysostom, by contrast, supports the "do not marry a polygamist" interpretation, Fr. Hart argues "against" me that Chrysostom "would have traced his belief, and therefore his practice as the Ordinary (to use our word), to the Apostles of Christ" -- as if mentioning Chrysostom (whose preference for the "polygamy" reading I had already pointed out) discounts everything I've said. What, and Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Epiphanius, Gregory (to say nothing of various important local councils such as Elvirah) would not have so traced their beliefs as well?


Anyway, I don't want to belabor the point - perhaps I shouldn't even mention these examples.

Suffice to say that, given these sorts of "criticisms", I often find it very difficult to suss out, from them, precisely what Fr. Hart is objecting to in what I've actually written.



So, in attempting to figure out the position he's advocating -- and to see if there are these innocent but troublesome misconceptions disrupting a coherent conversation -- I look back over the "positive" things he has said on the issue.

And the problem I am having is that so many of these statements seem mutually contradictory. Hopefully such contradictions are simply the result of poor expression or differing contexts -- and so perhaps, by showing where I have trouble figuring out what his position actually is, he or others can clarify it.




Fr. Hart starts this conversation quoting Dr. Toon, and observes that the Continuum, like PECUSA, has suffered from an inappropriately lax treatment of marriage. He quotes with approval Dr. Toon's statement that the Church should not have
allowed divorced, and divorced and remarried persons to be ordained and engage in parish work and pastoral care

As an example, he tells us:
I questioned the wisdom and integrity of an old established jurisdiction elevating to the level of Archbishop a man who, despite his excellent theological mind, brings enough baggage to his new position to cause potential ruin to that jurisdiction's reputation and to the people in their various churches who need clarity of teaching and a strong example of godliness among the clergy

The "baggage" in question (as probably everyone reading this blog knows, despite the pro forma ommission of this recently-elevated archbishop's name) are the several annulments given to permit this bisohp's current marriage.



So, from the get-go, Fr. Hart seems to be saying that to be "divorced" from an annulled marriage and then remarried is to be a "divorced and remarried" man who ought not be ordained... else how would this example with which he introduces Dr. Toon's article (and which he says gives an example of the kind of scandalous "baggage", lack of "godliness" and confusion of "moral teaching") illustrate Dr. Toon's point about divorce and remarriage which it introduces?


Fr. Hart seems to say this same thing when, recently, he writes:
It most certainly does compromise the integrity of the Church if a number of the priests are in any sense twice married with each spouse still alive.

I.e. -- as in the episcopal case he started us off with -- a man remarried after an annulment whose first wife is still alive... for he is, in some sense, twice-married.


Confusing this issue, however, Fr. Hart also explicitly says, about annulments:
The divorced and remarried man, if he has an annulment, is the husband of one wife.

Nor need such a man be barred from ordination, according to Fr. Hart, who (in the other thread) says:
Nor would I say that such a man, [i.e. "a man who has been abandoned by an adulterous or even an insane wife"] abandoned long ago, granted an annulment, joined to a wife in a sacramental marriage, and then later sensing a call to the priestly vocation (to create a scenario) should be barred" from ordination.

Yet this despite the fact that he is in some sense twice-married, for that former marriage (from which he has a civil divorce and an ecclesastical annulment) is a first one "in some sense", and his new sacramental marriage "in some sense" a second.


So I find a great deal of ambiguity -- is Fr. Hart saying that any man who has remarried after an annulled marriage (and who, therefore, has gotten a civil divorce from that first marrige in order that this second one be legal) the sort of man who has been married twice "in any sense" and whose ordination thus compromises the integrity of the Church as his initial and most recent post seem to say... or is not every such man twice married "in any sense", as his other statements seem to say?


Furthermore, is Fr. Hart saying that this rejection of the ordaining of some or all such men something which should be forbidden to laity too?

After all, at times he has said that he recognizes there are
real and legitimate annulments
and that it is "licit" to remarry after an annulment. (He even, in the hypothetical given above, says in some such cases ordination is fine, even to him.)


At other times, however, he has observed that there is no "second moral law" for clergy and, furthermore, argued that the requirements in 1 Tim 3 are all moral requirements (elsewhere, e.g. he rejects the patristic practice, based on this passage, of not ordaining remarried widowers because today such remarriages aren't seen as scandalous by society and so don't fit the "immorality" bill which he says the 1 Tim 3 is all and only about establishing.) Thus:
the morality and character required of the clergy in I Tim. 3 is not a special set of rules. No Christian man should... [be] husband of more than one wife.

Hang on -- if being "husband of more than one wife" is taken to apply (as he sometimes seems to say) to the case of men remarried after an annulment (at least if the first spouse is still alive) then, it would seem, remarriage after annulments ought to be forbidden not just to ordinands but - since it is the same moral law - to laity as well.

If, on the other hand, it is permissible for laity to remarry after an annulment, then, because they share this same "moral law" (which Fr. Hart believes 1 Tim 3 is all about), likewise it is not inappropriate to forbid ordination to such men either (at least not on that count).


I could go on... but I think this gives enough indication of why I find figuring out Fr. Hart's actual "positive" position so confusing. Maybe this is because he's using the same phrase equivocally in different contexts -- maybe it's because he's making an assumption or a distinction which he hasn't made clear (or which I haven't picked up on) -- maybe it's for some other reason. I'm not sure.



So let me attempt to sort things out, for the sake of clarity, as follows:

I don't think there's ever been any disagreement that a man who has only been once-married (in any sense) isn't barred from ordination, nor that a man who has separated from a sacramental wife (i.e. without an annulment) and is now living with another woman ought not be ordained -- indeed, probably ought not even be permitted to receive communion. So we can take those cases as clear.


This, logically, leaves us with only the cases of:
(a) a man remarried after an annulled marriage
and
(b) a man remarried after being divorced from a merely-civil (and thus, necessarily, before his conversion/baptism/confirmation) marriage.

Not much has been said yet about (b), so I leave that to the side for purposes of this post ("should a man, divorced before his baptism/confirmation from a secular/civil marriage, be barred from ordination if he has subsequently remarried?") - though perhaps it is worth further examination and clarification in its own right.


But, concerning (a), given Fr. Hart's various statement, I simply cannot figure out which of the following positions he holds concerning ordination and annulments -- as he has said different things at different times that appear (at least to my best efforts to understand them), explicitly or implicitly, both to support and to reject each one.


(1) Annulments are wrong and no one - clergy or laity - should be granted them at all.

(2) Annulments are permissable to laity but not to clergy, as someone remarried after an annulment has "in some sense" been married twice and this is an impediment to ordination because such a man is not "husband of one wife"

(3) Annulments are permissiable to laity but not clergy - for even though such a man is only "husband of one wife", nevertheless there are other considerations which mean he should not be ordained. [And these considerations are.... ?]

(4) Annulments are permissable to both clergy and laity and are not, ipso facto, a reason to forbid anyone from ordination - though particular cases may present other particular impediments.

It would help greatly to know which of these four (or some variation thereon) he is actually proposing.



Taken as a whole, the most generally (but not universally) consistent position I can suss out of all of Fr. Hart's statements is this - which I put down to give my best good-faith effort to figure out what he's trying to say:

The Continuum is guilty of annulments on far too many -- and too many flimsy -- grounds. While there are exceptional cases in which annulments are proper (for both clergy and laity), these are far more exceptional than has been the case in practice. Many people within the Continuum -- laity and clergy alike -- have remarried after an annulled former marriage which, were it examined honestly and objectively by the norms of Scripture and Tradition, would be recognized as a genuinely sacramental marriage, one from which Scripture prohibits divorce.
This laxness has created a plethora of remarried clergy whose presence undermines the integrity of the Church's witness to orthodox and catholic sacramental theology.


However, if this is the thrust of his comments/critique, then why the continued focus on the "husband of one wife" passage -- which makes me think that this, actually, is not an accurate statement of his essential concern.

Why the many comments not just here (which may be blamed in part on reactions to things I have observed about that particular phrase) but a whole second thread in which Fr. Hart restates and elaborates his position by focusing on that phrase as the central theme?:
more needs to be said about the requirement that a clergyman be "the husband of one wife." First of all, the time to bring up this subject and its relevance to our claims that we continue the practice of traditional Anglicanism, is long overdue. It is overdue because of the questions I raised: Would men with multiple marriages have been acceptable for ordination in the universally accepted understanding among Anglicans one hundred years ago? Since the answer is "no," what are we continuing?


IF the problem is not the theory and practice of annulments per se, nor the fact that in some acceptable (and, perhaps, exceptional) cases a man, remarried after divorce from an annulled marriage, may be ordained, nor the fact that 1 Tim 3's "husband of one wife" is directly relevant to such men (for, after all, with a valid annulment, the man really is husband of only one wife) -- but, rather, if the problem is the abuse of annulments and the indefensibly lax standard to which "proof of non-sacramentality" is held, then surely the discussion ought not to be about what "husband of one wife" means in 1 Tim 3, nor should be about finger-pointing at this or that bishop, but should be, instead, about the standards and criteria for annulments themselves.


If the above is, indeed, the complaint against the Continuum, then shouldn't what we be asking and discussing be:

(a) Should annulments be granted to anyone (clergy or laity) at all? and
(b) If so, what are the proper circumstances in which such annulments should be granted?



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

No, those two questions do not cover the ground of the topic I was raising. The issue is the credibility of the clergy both before the world and as examples to the flock, and the credibility of our claim to be "continuing" the Anglicanism of past generations. The point of Dr. Toon's letter, and my point in posting it, is to relate the historical fact that we are not "continuing" anything in the matter of marriage and divorce, especially as it relates to ordination; but have ventured into new ground with only the current practice of such bodies as ECUSA for a precedent.

My objection to LP's oft repeated claim that excluding remarried widowers must be the meaning of "husband of one wife" is twofold:
1) At no time has the Anglican position excluded such men, and that is due not to ignorance, but to careful study, and 2) we really do not have a "patristic consensus." But, I thought from his expression of these things that LP was advocating making this the rule, and letting everyone else off the hook.

The issue is what I said in another article: Is the man's life an example that makes him "apt to teach" people how to live their own lives as Christians, and that is a good witness before the world? We can review the whole subject only in light of these two very real considerations.

Particulars about annulments need one point of clarification: Is the non-sacramentality of a marriage really the only issue? If so, do we mean non-sacramental marriages, or legalistic gnat straining about supposed requirements for a sacramental wedding? That goes on too much, and it is error to base an annulment simply on "incorrect form" or some other thing that has not rendered a marriage illicit. But, that is a related question, not the issue, and we covered it months ago in two posts about marriage and annulments, which was mostly a forum that brought out many good comments.

LP said...

---
No, those two questions do not cover the ground of the topic I was raising. The issue is the credibility of the clergy both before the world and as examples to the flock
---

Very well -- you do not think those last 2 questions (concerning "what constitutes a 'proper' annulment?") are releveant.

Fine -- then could you please indicate which of the 4 possibilities I raised (or provide some 5th that I"ve missed) actually represent what you're trying to say?

I genuinely cannot figure it out from your statements, given the apparent contradictions I pointed out previously.

To wit:

(1) Neither clergy nor laity should have annulments

(2) Laity may remarry after annulments but clergy may not, because such ordinations violate the "husband of one wife" requirement.

(3) Laity may remarry after annulments but clergy may not, not because such ordinations violate the "husband of one wife" requirement (which they, per se, do not) but for some other reason which invalidates all such ordinations -- e.g. the potential of a compromised witness.

(4) Laity may remarry after annulments and some clergy may as well, depending on the specific case. Such remarriage-after-an-annulment is not, per se an impediment to ordination (though it may be related, in particular cases, to considerations which are).



---
My objection to LP's oft repeated claim that excluding remarried widowers
---
I do not know why you continue to raise this irrelevant objection and avoid the substantive issues.

Beyond merely suggesting that contemporary practice may be worth reconsidering in the light of Tradition, I have focused simply on the fact that the Fathers take this passage this way (except for the few, like Chrysostom, who take "husband of one wife" merely to exclued polygamists) in both teaching and practice.

What our contemporary practice is - or should be - is a separate question to this historical observation.

I bring the historical point up to indicate that IF you are going to argue that the Scriptural passage "husband of one wife" excludes those remarried after an annulment (or, for that matter, after divorce from a purely secular marriage from before their conversion/baptism/confirmation), then you are advancing an interpretation of this passage which (at least to the best of my knowledge) is, if not contrary to the Tradition of the Church, at least indifferent to it.

You can continue to say "we have rejected that interpretation" and "our culture doesn't find remarried widowers scandalous" and all the other irrelevant (to this discussion at least) points you keep repeating. That doesn't address the chief point I am actually making -- that claiming "husband of one wife" in 1 Tim 3 forbids the ordination of men married after an annulment is advancing an interpretation of that particular passage not supported by patristic Tradition.


---
I thought from his expression of these things that LP was advocating making this the rule, and letting everyone else off the hook.
---

I'm suprised you could think this, given how frequently -- in just about ever post -- I have said there may well be other valid considerations to forbid some or all men remarried after an annulment. Why, from the very first I have explictly and repeatedly differentiated between a particular argument to support a position and that position itself.

I'm amazed that this was not crystal clear. But yes, to reiterate, I'm not "trying to let everyone else off the hook" by pointing out what the Fathers had to say about "husband of one wife" but, rather, simply pointing out that this particular word in Scripture, according to the Fathers (at least as far as I know), doesn't put them on the hook in the first place (though other passages might).

Who else is on the hook because of other passages and considerations is a completely separate question to the question "how did the Fathers understand 'husband of one wife' in 1 Tim 3?"


(... perhaps to be continued this afternoon... I have to dash now if I'm to make the long drive to church and arrive in time for mass...)

pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

How about we begin by acknowledging the historical fact that Dr. Toon brings up, however inconvenient? None of these questions would have mattered to the Anglicans whose Faith we claim to be continuing. No man with divorce or annulment would have been considered for ordination at all, nor any man married to a woman with either of these things in her history. How about we ask what is best for the Church, in terms of Pastoral witness and example? How about we think less about our legal rights,and living down to the low level of their requirements? We cannot begin until we admit that we have ventured into new territory, and there is no precedent for what we do.

A lot of gnat straining will not do. Neither can we simply lay down a rule book with neat and legal technicalities.

LP said...

I don't understand your apparent reluctance to answer my request for clarification -- which of those four positions (and I believe they cover, as categories, all the possibilities) do you support?

Is there some reason of which I'm unaware that you do not wish to give that clarity -- is there some "landmine" issue or embarassment I'm inadvertantly tredding upon by making that simple request for clarification?

I don't mean to -- I simply honestly cannot (as I indicated above) figure out from your contradictory (or so they seem to me) statements which of those four positions you're advocating.




--
to the Anglicans whose Faith we claim to be continuing. No man with divorce or annulment would have been considered for ordination at all, nor any man married to a woman with either of these things in her history.
---

Very well. This is a historical fact. I don't see that anyone here has contested that.

So too is the historical fact that the Fathers and early Church would not have ordained a man who was, after his baptism, widowed and then remarried... a practice you reject.


If an appeal to "historical precedent" and "what we are continuing" is, per se, a sufficient argument, then you can hardly accept the practice of 19th century Anglicanism while rejecting the practice of the undivided Church of the 2nd-6th century.


Of course, you give reasons why that 2nd-6th century patristic practice should be rejected. (Whether or not "oh, early Anglicans decided to do something else" and "we don't think it's a scandal today" and "it was never said by an Ecumenical Council" are adequate reasons to reject the explicit and consistent practice of the early Church is a separate question.)



Well, this is exactly what those have done who advocate a more lenient approach to the ordination of those remarried after an annulment (or divorce from a non-sacramental civil union) have done -- they look at that 19th century precedent and reject it based on Scripture and Tradition, just as you look at the 2nd-6th century precedent of not ordaining remarried widowers and reject it.... or looking to Rome's discipline of not ordaining married men and reject it.

After all, while our society has certainly erred far on the liberal side of issues of divorce and remarriage (and, I would agree with you, from all I hear our churches have erred far on the liberal side by granting annulments for specious and theologically indefensible reasons), it is possible to err too far in the other direction. The Donatists did it. The early Church -- according to you -- did it by refusing to ordain remarried widowers. And so perhaps the same logic that you appeal to the 19th century -- perhaps Fr. Kirby is right when he observes above:
I think it's worth noting that we should NOT "continue" aspects of the Anglican tradition that were uniquely rigid.


So if there is a problem with our contemporary practice (and my own impression -- albeit doubtlessly less informed on the nitty-gritty details than yours -- matches yours that there is a problem), the solution cannot be solved simply by unsupported appeal back to the "golden age" of choice. Otherwise, frankly, I think my appeal to the 2nd-6th century undivided patristic Church trumps your appeal to 19th century Anglicanism. ("My 'golden age' can beat up your 'golden age'... nyah nyah!" :-> )


It may be that careful reflection upon Scripture and Tradition would show your solution ("no man with any sort of divorce whatsoever should be ordained") to be the best one.

But, if so, it's going to have to be shown (and ought to be able to be shown) to be so by considerations of the very issues of sacramental theology, Tradition and Scripture raised here -- not by mere hand-waving or cherry-picking of some historical moment as a 'norm' which magically trumps all past teaching and practice.


To examine and defend a practice by careful consideration of what support it has in Scripture and Tradition is not "a lot of gnat straining"... it is an attempt to be obedient, as a catholic Christian, to the authorities outlined in the Affirmation... and to shape teaching, practice and polity accordingly.




Now, let us look at the possible import of the practice you seem to be approving -- that a man with a divorce of any kind (even one which occured before his conversion and baptism) and remarriage can't be ordained -- on the "pastoral witness and example" consideration which you again raise.

What would the laity be taught, by the "example" and "witness" of this policy?

* That such remarriages are sinful... for why else are such ordinations a scandal. [You yourself have defended this policy by saying such men are not the "husband of one wife" and thus violate 1 Tim 3 -- which passage you say raises moral considerations which are equally binding on laity... that no Christian should be "husband of more than one wife" either.]

* That the Church, therefore, tolerates sin -- indeed tolerates adultery -- among her laity in permitting such remarriages... that she only actually enforces her own teaching for clergy.

* That the Church actually doesn't take her teaching on marriage all that seriously, because of this "wink and nod" treatment of the laity.


Fr. Hollister started off our discussion here with a similar consideration of what the laity would actually be taught -- what the implicit witness of the church would actually be -- with your proposed policy.

Now, presumably you would reply that this would be a false impression and that the laity simply need to be taught otherwise. That the practice is right, that the laity would just need an explanation preventing the misconceptions above.

Fair enough.

But exactly the same argument can be applied to say that the lay misconceptions caused by ordaining men remarried after valid annulments are just as much the result of misconceptions about the theology of marriage... and should be solved, equally, by education and catechesis, not by a change in polity.



In short, while I think you rightly point out that this issue needs to be confronted by the Continuum, and while I think it safe to say that every serious member of the Continuum shares your concerns about sacramental theology and the witness of the Church, you fail to give any reason or consideration why your proposed solution to the present situation should be prefered over any other thoughtful solution -- particularly when many of those others seem to have even more support from Scripture, Tradition and Reason than yours does.




Now, before continuing, could you please give the clarification I"ve asked for twice already now -- or at least give some reason for refusing to clarify your position in public.

I honestly cannot figure out, from what you've said, which position you're advancing... and I assume that you don't intend to be unclear or to obfuscate, and so have no reason not to answer.


Are you saying that you believe remarriage after an annulment is...

(1) unacceptable for both laity and clergy.

(2) acceptable for laity but always unacceptable for clergy because, for clergy, it violates the "husband of one wife" requirement.

(3) acceptable for laity but always unacceptable for clergy because, for clergy, though it doesn't violate the "husband of one wife" requirement, it necessarily violates other requirements.

(4) acceptable for laity and for clergy, at least in particular and appropriate cases. (And perhaps far fewer cases than some portions of the Continuum now permit... but that's a subsequent question.)


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I wonder if LP has actually understood any portion of my two articles at all. He misrepresents my position with the skill of a trained lawyer, or the zeal of an ideological propagandist.

What the people need is not just to have clergy with some sort of legal justification for what their private lives represent. They need pastors who can demonstrate in their own lives, which includes the witness of their families, an example to follow. If a man wants to know how to be a husband and father, he does not need an Archbishop with four marriages between himself and his current wife, or a priest in the parish who is not much better. A couple with a troubled marriage do not need anything less than a priest who, as pastor, provides a godly example by his own life. A man facing temptations does not need the example of clergy who have left their own wives for a different choice, and managed to finagle annulments as desired.

Any man who wants to be a good husband or father can look at me and my house. This is what the norm ought to be everywhere.

(On the other matter, I have not rejected the practice of the ancient Undivided Church. Anglicans in general have been content, from the start, to look deeper to the Primitive Church and Scripture in this particular matter.)

LP said...

---
He misrepresents my position with the skill of a trained lawyer, or the zeal of an ideological propagandist.
---

I fail to see how - when I say I am confused to what your position is, explain precisely why I am confused, and ask for a clarification of it -- I am "misrepresenting" your position.

To the contrary, I'm doing my best to try to figure it out, and stating quite clearly that I am confused -- how can I misrepresent your position by saying "I'm not sure what it is"? -- and asking for you to state things more clearly. This is a far cry from "misrepresenting" your position -- I have not, for example, claimed that you have called "absurd" the very positions you are defending. That would be misrepresening... saying "I'm confused" is not.


I fail to see, too, how a response to my genuine questions with nothing more than accusations of legalistic deceit or of being a zealous ideologue (with its implications of dishonesty) accomplishes anything to provide that clarity, preserve charity, or advance the discussion.




In your latest "response" you again return to a statement with which, I dare say, everyone in the Continuum agrees:
They need pastors who can demonstrate in their own lives, which includes the witness of their families, an example to follow.
Well and good. I'm sure we all agree. Certainly I have said, repeatedly that I agree with this general caution and share your general concerns.

And the immediate response to such a statement of shared concern is to ask "what should be done about it?"


Merely repeating this statement of shared concern doesn't make your proposed solution the correct one any more than it would make anyone else's proposed solution the correct one -- it simply states the concern.


Some propose that we need to live out this ideal by not ordaining any man whatsoever who has remarried after an annulled marriage.

This is what I take to be your at-least-implicit solution, as it is the clear import of your various statements... such as encouraging a return to the practice of:
no man with divorce or annulment would have been considered for ordination at all
or stating your opinion that:
it most certainly does compromise the integrity of the Church if a number of the priests are in any sense twice married.



Others say that, in some cases, a man remarried after an annulment may be ordained, provided that the reasons for that annulment were sound and the man's present situation and family provides a healthy example.

Still other say that the issue of remarriage after an annulment is irrelevant -- that the fact an annulment was granted means that the previous relationship was duly found non-sacramental and that such men should be treated no differently, in their current marriage (which is, according to the annulment, their first sacramental one) than should a man married only once in the eyes of the State as well as of the Church.


The only way to ascertain which proposed solution is best way to meet that shared goal is to look at the specific arguments and rationals, weigh them against Scripture, Tradition and Reason, and compare the different suggestions... as I have been attempting to do.

And the first step to do so - after expressing the shared concern - is for people to be clear about what they're actually proposing.



I do not disagree with your statement of general principle and concern. Nor do I disagree with you that annulments given for specious and unsound reasons are scandalous. Nor do I disagree with you that this is an issue which the Continuum must confront in a substantive and considered way, and that such discussions will necessarily form a part of discussions about reunion between jurisdictions. I doubt anyone reading this blog disagrees with you on any of these points.


But vague statements or repetitions of those shared concerns accomplishes nothing beyond showing that you share them.

And accusing people who disagree with you on some point of being "legalistic" or "ideologues" -- rather than actually addressing the points they raise or providing the clarifications they genuinely request -- does nothing to answer the questions or concerns... indeed, all it really accomplishes is to imply (hopefully wrongly) that your own position actually can't bear close scrutiny and so you must turn to these ad hominem techniques to prevent such examination.



You have raised a valid concern which all posters here have expressed sympathy with.

Fine.

And you have at least implicitly proposed changes to polity -- changes which will avoid "compromising the integrity" of the Church as you believe a particular archbishop (to whom you have repeatedly referred) does.

Clearly you have strong feelings on the issue. Clearly you have thought about it. Clearly you think things need to change. Well and good.

Tell us precisely what those changes are -- do you propose that:
(1) no remarraige after annulments for anyone;
(2) no remarriage after annulments for clergy because it violates "husband of one wife";
(3) no remarriage after annulments for clergy because it necessarily presents some other impediment to ordination;
(4) remarriage after annulments may be appropriate for clergy depending on the particulars of the case.

As pointed out above (with quotes), I cannot tell which of these four positions you are urging, as things you have said at different times appear to support each of them in turn.




No need to repeat the general principles and concerns -- we all agree with those; no one has ever posted anything to the contrary. No need to stoop again to veiled insults or ad hominem asides with presuppositions about others' characters or motivations. That doesn't advance the discussion.

Please, no misrepresentations, no insults, no irrelevancies here -- just a simple, straight-forward answer to a simple, straight-forward question:

What, Fr. Hart, is your position on whether or not men, remarried after an annulment, should be ordained?



pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have posted the above comment even though I do not understand why I am being asked to answer questions I have already answered. Nor am I aware that I have proposed a solution.

See my other post, A Bishop Then Must be Blameless, a consider that my answer to that last question has not changed.

Dr. Toon has pointed out a historical fact about the Canterbury Anglicans, and the sad truth is, the same problem exists in the CC. Our only precedent is the new version of Anglicanism. In this version we are not continuing something.

I do not have time to repeat these things over and over.

Perhaps, LP, you have some thoughts about a solution.

poetreader said...

LP,

I'll say this a gently and lovingly as I can, but I have to say it. I am not condemning you or criticizing you personally in any way. I assume that your intentions are golden, and, in any event, do not know you well enough to say otherwise.

However, I will speak of the style of argumentation you have been displaying in this thread. I frankly think Jesus would recognize it, and not with high approval. To the Pharisees the written word was primarily a code of laws, to be interpreted and handled in a very lawyerly fashion, in order to determine the fine lines of division between good and evil, thus marking how far one could move in the darker direction before one was actually sinning. Not all Pharisees were bad guys. Scripture tells us that many of them came to Christ. But Our Lord was very distinct in asserting that, even when they were right ("they sit in Moses' seat") there was something seriously wrong with the way in which they applied their correctness.

Both Jesus and St. Paul addressed sin and the law with great seriousness, but neither of them applied the law with this kind of hairsplitting rigidity. The law is intended to lead us to grace.

In the matter at hand, St. Paul's advice to St. Timothy does not concern sin, nor does it concern legal details of what is technically permissible, but comes under the rubric of 'apt to teach' - a bishop (or presbyter) is called to teach not only with words and courtroom reasonings, but also and primarily with the example of his living.

Your badgering of Fr. Hart for precise answers to questions you have formulated from a legal viewpoint misses the point entirely. NONE OF THAT IS AT ISSUE! Those questions simply shouldn't be answered. By this kind of reasoning you have pulled this thread, probably irretrievably away from the vital question it addresses, which is this:

What precisely is it that our clergy are teaching, both within the church and to those outside, about the Christian life -- particularly, here, as concerning marriage?

Rather than haggling over whether it is legally permissible to ordain so-and-so, we need to be expending our effort in discerning whether he will indeed teach the Faith and the Life by his own words and actions. Does his marriage accomplish this, or does it raise questions that will detract from the message?

I found your tendentiousness to be very difficult to read through (but I did, with close consideration) and seriously regretted that it was there. Frankly the net result has been to derail the discussion so badly that it should cease entirely for the time being.

ed