On Divorce

30 July, 2007

A recent comment has been added to my post on mixed marriages about how it pales compared to allowed divorce and especially re-marriages in many Orthodox churches today.

Christ and the Fathers are quite clear about divorce in that unless for reasons of fornication a man or woman may not leave his/her spouse. St Paul does permit a separation, wisely, but not a re-marriage, and even the separation should be reconciled if possible. Also, the Fathers in case of divorce for unfaithfulness permit a man to remarry but generally prohibit a woman from doing so. Why?

Marriage being a Mystery manifesting the union of the Church, woman, with Christ, man, provides the reason for these things. There is one Christ and one Church. Once a woman marries then her husband is Christ to her, as long as he lives. Even, if he proves a brute or unfaithful to her, he is still the only Christ for her, she cannot have another. For the man, Christ, there is only one Church and even if she is disobedient and troublesome, he nevertheless remains with her, loving her and giving all of himself for her as his own body. However, if she proves unfaithful, as a Church in heresy, he is free to find another as the church because the first wife has failed to remain his church. Christ does not cease to be Christ but a Church can cease to be the Church in unfaithfulness.

Permitting divorce and remarriage is a grievous sin against the Mystery of marriage and fails to recognise the full implication of the Mystery. Such remarriages, except a man after the unfaithfulness of the wife, are not marriages because they fail to manifest or contradict the Mystery of the relation between Christ and the Church. They are rather acts almost amounting to that of heresy and schism because a different Christ is chosen or a different Church. Marriage is not just a symbol of the union of Christ and the Church but a participation in the very reality of this union.

Bishop’s are not free to do as they please in this regard but to carefully maintain the Traditions of the Church and the commandments of Christ. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy for our weaknesses.