On Divorce

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.


5 Responses to On Divorce

  1. Sophocles says:

    Dear Father Patrick,

    So good to see you posting again. I enjoyed this post and I read Mr. Likoudis’ comment.

    On another note, please visit me at my blog. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on my post about Norman Vincent Peale.

    In Christ and in fellowship,

  2. Sophocles says:

    Dear Father Patrick,

    Perhaps I should clarify that what I’m really interested is in if you have any thoughts to share on Freemasonry/Illuminati/and the such. Or if this is not a good subject to discuss?

    I ask these questions as I believe the issues involved may have a direct bearing on many of the issues discussed on these blog sites; perhaps especially related to the Orthodox/Catholic separation.

  3. Well said Father!

    I fear Pope Benedict XVI is right, we the Orthodox have practically (if not officially) allowed remarriage after divorce to become the norm. Sadly, this is even often the case for the adulterous spouse.

    You are right, bishops are not free to do whatever the wish to this issue (or many others for that matter). Since becoming Orthodox 15 or so years ago, I have been increasing ill at ease with the lack of standards in our pastoral practice especially on issues of sexuality.

    Please Father, your prayers.

    In Christ,


  4. Sophocles says:

    Dear Father Patrick,

    I thank you for responding on my site. I’m not certain if you will be checking in on a regular basis so I thought I would let you know here that in resonse to your response I posted in the comments again.
    Just let me know if you intend to every once in awhile check in and I will cease contacting you here for that purpose.
    Of course, as you write your wonderful posts I will continue to respond as I feel moved to do so.

    In Christ and in fellowship,

  5. Hieromonk Ambrose says:

    Dearest Monk Patrick,

    I cannot speak for the norms and the regulations operative in your own Church since I do not know your Church membership but certainly the bishops of the Russian and Greek Churches are at odds with you…

    Grounds for divorce in the Russian Church (I have a list somewhere of the Greek Church’s regulations which are essentially the same.)

    adultery and a new marriage of one of the parties
    a spouse’s falling away from Orthodoxy,
    impotence which had set in before marriage or was self-inflicted,
    contraction of leprosy or syphilis,
    prolonged disappearance,
    conviction with disfranchisement,
    encroachment on the life or health of the spouse,
    love affair with a daughter in law,
    profiting from marriage,
    profiting by the spouse’s indecencies,
    incurable mental disease,
    malevolent abandonment of the spouse,
    chronic alcoholism or drug-addiction,
    abortion without the husband’s consent.

    See the 2000 Synodal document

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