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Marriage, Divorce, and Singlehood

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by VincentIII, Oct 26, 2021.

  1. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    First, let's dispense with this for the sake of any readers who don't like the assertions I'm about to make: We all know that the Pope's refusal of an annulment led to the separation of the English Church from the Roman Church. There's more to that history, and it's a separate issue from the one I'm raising here.

    The Roman Church's position on marriage, divorce, and singlehood strikes me as overly prescriptive, if not inhumane.
    • Marriage: The Roman Church tends toward a prescriptive view of marriage that insists it's naturally ordered around having children and perpetuating certain predetermined roles. The Church goes as far as to say that a marriage without the intent to have children is invalid. That of course means that if a married couple who doesn't intend to have children are having sex, that sexual relationship is adulterous because they aren't in a valid marriage. It's also considered a sin because their sexual activity isn't ordered toward procreation. My view is that some people want the companionship of marriage, and they want their couplehood to have the legal protections of marriage; but they just don't feel called to have children. I don't think people who don't want children should be excluded from marriage or sexual intimacy within their marriage. They should be able to participate in their church community without being pestered about having children.
    • Divorce: The Roman Church is well known for its position on divorce; to those who aren't conservatively Roman Catholic, the right word is probably notorious. It seems to me that too many first-time newlyweds are too young, inexperienced, and intoxicated with dreams of wedded bliss. For those who have a more realistic perspective, they can still grow apart to the point of the differences being irreconcilable. I lived for several years in a country that still has quite parochial views of things like marriage and divorce, and I met many people who were crushed by their horrible marriages that they felt stuck in. They seemed to feel like they were enduring unfulfilled lives, only to eventually be on their deathbeds looking back at nothing but misery.
    • Singlehood: I mean here the choice to spend one's life single. The Roman Church doesn't explicitly see this as sinful, but there are certainly voices within the Church that imply it.
    I don't think marriage should be regarded as disposable, but there does come a time when some marriages are just dead. People in dead marriage often feel like they themselves are dead, and I don't see how it's in anybody's best interest that those people be forced to stay married. To prevent these people from freeing themselves and pursuing a second act in life is inhumane, and I don't think the Roman Church's five acceptable reasons for an annulment cover it.

    We could say that, in practice, the Church isn't always as prescriptive as the letter of its law suggests. I guess some people are comfortable swimming in those waters of "we say ABC, but [hushed tone] it's really XYZ." That doesn't work for me. It's a significant issue that impacts many people's lives, and I'd rather there be a more transparent acknowledgment of these things.

    From what I've read, the Anglican Church is much less prescriptive about these matters. What has your experience been?
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2022
  2. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Before you go on to those other things, but because you chose to refer to the above as an introduction, we should make at least one quick correction IMHO.

    The Church in England did not separate from the Roman Church. I recognize that you said "led to" the separation, but it was the Roman Church which separated from the English Church under Elizabeth when it became apparent that the various schemes which were being worked at that time by supporters of the Papacy were destined to fail.

    You are correct in making that assumption. And for what it's worth, the Eastern Orthodox depart from the Roman Catholic rules on Marriage and Divorce as well.
     
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  3. Lost4words

    Lost4words Jesus I Trust In You Supporter

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    What did Jesus say about divorce? ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  4. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Ate all the treats

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    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  5. mama2one

    mama2one Well-Known Member

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    nm
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  6. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    Thanks for the correction!

    I didn't know that. I just looked it up and found lots of discussion about it. For brief discussions, these two stood out:

    https://www.oca.org/questions/sacramentmarriage/divorce-and-remarriage

    Ecclesiastical Divorces
     
  7. Lost4words

    Lost4words Jesus I Trust In You Supporter

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  8. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    That's of course at the heart of it. The Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches are certainly aware of Jesus' words about divorce, but see the resolution to the dilemma of dead marriages differently. That's what I'd like to hear about (I should have stated that more clearly in the original post).
     
  9. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    Again, I'm aware of the Roman Catholic position. I'd like to hear the Anglican point of view, from them.
     
  10. Lost4words

    Lost4words Jesus I Trust In You Supporter

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    And thus, the position of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
     
  11. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    My original post was longer than it needed to be, because I was working out my thoughts as I was writing. Here's a revision that cuts out the marriage and singlehood parts and focuses on the divorce part of my original post:

    I understand that Anglicanism doesn't prohibit divorce as strictly as some other denominations. Coming from the Roman Catholic Church, for example, they don't recognize divorce at all, but just allow annulment based on one of five conditions that, according to their view, indicate that a valid marriage never existed. The Eastern Orthodox Church sees it a little differently, allowing for ecclesiastical divorce when a marriage is dead. In both Churches, there's an investigation before the annulment or ecclesiastical divorce is granted. How does it happen in the Anglican Church?

    How does the Anglican Church understand divorce in light of Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5:31-32 and Mark 10:2-12?
     
  12. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Well, Vincent, there is no "the Anglican Church" unless you are referring specifically to the Church of England.

    There are many different Anglican churches/jurisdictions/communions, and I know that the answer to your question varies somewhat depending on which one you are interested in. I think you may have The Episcopal Church in mind, so I'll let one or more of the members of that church who post on this forum take it from here.
     
  13. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    The official canon law regarding divorce and remarriage in the Episcopal Church is canon 19 of this document: https://extranet.generalconvention.org/staff/files/download/23914

    I haven't read all of the reasoning that went into this policy, so I'm going to make some guesses based on the wording itself. What I see here is the belief that marriage is to be taken very seriously, but that at the same time, civil divorce is a reality, sometimes for very good reasons. The bishop is involved in the church's acknowledgement of the divorce, to help ensure that the divorce was not undertaken lightly.

    One bit of wording that caught my eye is this:

    "When marital unity is imperiled by dissension, it shall be the duty, if possible, of either or both parties, before taking legal action, to lay the matter before a Member of the Clergy; it shall be the duty of such Member of the Clergy to act first to protect and promote the physical and emotional safety of those involved and only then, if it be possible, to labor that the parties may be reconciled."

    So the official canon law is concerned with the safety of the people in the marriage. That's unexpected to me, but encouraging. The church tradition I grew up in (not Episcopal) considered avoiding divorce to be more important than the safety of the people in the marriage.
     
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  14. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    Here's an excerpt from one Episcopal pastor's reading of Mark 10:11-12.
    The full article is at www.episcopalcafe.com/jesus-divorce-and-the-american-condition/. The author proceeds into commentary on white male power, but that's outside the scope of what we're discussing here. The excerpt quoted above sounds reasonable on the face of it, but I'd want to know if the other passages about divorce read similarly in the original language.
     
  15. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    I did some more research on the current state of the issue in the RCC, and it looks like the winds of change are blowing strong. The Pope's apostolic exhortation Amoris Lætitia seems to be making a difference.
     
  16. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    My comment would be that my experience is that the Anglican church is less prescriptive, in general. While I think that on the whole we uphold a recognisably Scriptural ideal on these matters you have raised, we are much less inclined to be prescriptive on most matters. So for questions of (for example) the use of contraception, or marriage vs. singlehood, and to some extent questions of how we understand marriage, we are much more culturally inclined to give people space to work these things out for themselves, leaving it between God and their conscience.

    In general, we do not have a process for recognising divorces which is separate from the civil process. The only time this really comes up is on the question of remarriage, and for us this remains a possibility, although always one taken seriously. As PloverWing described for TEC, here I must obtain the bishop's permission to solemnise a marriage for a divorced person, and generally the bishop will be concerned about the commitment of both parties to a new marriage being undertaken as a serious life commitment.
     
  17. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    Thank you for the detail. Yet again, it sounds like a sensible approach.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
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