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Author Topic: Remarriage and Mt 5:32  (Read 467 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 16, 2014, 06:10:33 PM »

Hello all. I am a Roman Catholic considering conversion to Orthodoxy. The only real doctrinal thing that is causing me confusion is the Orthodox's blessing of a second marriage for a divorcee whose original spouse is still alive. To me it seems like the RC position is closer to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:32.

My Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition) has this:

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

Footnotes:
[a]: unchastity: The Greek word used here appears to refer to marriages that were not legally marriages because they were either within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity (Lev 18.6-16) or contracted with a Gentile. The phrase except on the ground of unchastity does not occur in the parallel passage in Lk 16.18. See also Mt 19.9 (Mk 10.11-12), and especially 1 Cor 7.10-11 which shows that the prohibition is unconditional.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205%3A32&version=RSVCE;TR1550

I do not know Koine Greek, but I think the word here is πορνείας (porneia). I checked Strong's Greek Concordance and it doesn't seem to support the RSV:CE's footnote, it merely refers to sexual immortality in general: http://biblehub.com/greek/4202.htm

Could anybody cite some Patristic Fathers about this matter? Did any of them mention that Mt 5:32 is only referring to illegitimate marriages, not ones that separated on account of adultery? Or maybe if anybody's an expert in Koine Greek, could they comment on it?

Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2014, 08:09:45 PM »

Hello all. I am a Roman Catholic considering conversion to Orthodoxy. The only real doctrinal thing that is causing me confusion is the Orthodox's blessing of a second marriage for a divorcee whose original spouse is still alive. To me it seems like the RC position is closer to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:32.

My Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition) has this:

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

Footnotes:
[a]: unchastity: The Greek word used here appears to refer to marriages that were not legally marriages because they were either within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity (Lev 18.6-16) or contracted with a Gentile. The phrase except on the ground of unchastity does not occur in the parallel passage in Lk 16.18. See also Mt 19.9 (Mk 10.11-12), and especially 1 Cor 7.10-11 which shows that the prohibition is unconditional.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205%3A32&version=RSVCE;TR1550

I do not know Koine Greek, but I think the word here is πορνείας (porneia). I checked Strong's Greek Concordance and it doesn't seem to support the RSV:CE's footnote, it merely refers to sexual immortality in general: http://biblehub.com/greek/4202.htm

Could anybody cite some Patristic Fathers about this matter? Did any of them mention that Mt 5:32 is only referring to illegitimate marriages, not ones that separated on account of adultery? Or maybe if anybody's an expert in Koine Greek, could they comment on it?

Thank you.




"Amen I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 18:18



The Orthodox take this verse seriously. Either way look at the Canons of St Basil and the Quinisext Council for canons regulating penance for people who have divorced and remarried.
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2014, 12:16:06 PM »

"Amen I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 18:18

The Orthodox take this verse seriously.

That makes no sense to me. It seems unseemly that Ecumenical Council canons like kneeling on Sundays or use of the Julian-calendar Paschalion are absolute dogma and can never be altered, but the Lord's own words are subject to the binding & loosing of Mt 18:18.

Quote
Either way look at the Canons of St Basil and the Quinisext Council for canons regulating penance for people who have divorced and remarried.

May I have a link to these in English please? Thank you.
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2014, 02:05:30 PM »

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350707?eng=y

Annulments are a development.
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2014, 10:15:01 PM »

"Amen I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 18:18

The Orthodox take this verse seriously.

That makes no sense to me. It seems unseemly that Ecumenical Council canons like kneeling on Sundays or use of the Julian-calendar Paschalion are absolute dogma and can never be altered, but the Lord's own words are subject to the binding & loosing of Mt 18:18.

Well no one said those things are dogma. They certainly aren't. But either way the principle still stands. Even St Paul used this authority to make an exception in the case of the so called Pauline Privilege. If St Paul had this authority so does the Church. 

Quote
Either way look at the Canons of St Basil and the Quinisext Council for canons regulating penance for people who have divorced and remarried.

May I have a link to these in English please? Thank you.


Of course. Look at St Basil's canonical epistles and the later canons of Trullo. It's somewhere between canon 60 and 90 if I remember correctly.


http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.toc.html
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2014, 02:15:38 PM »

"Amen I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 18:18

The Orthodox take this verse seriously.

That makes no sense to me. It seems unseemly that Ecumenical Council canons like kneeling on Sundays or use of the Julian-calendar Paschalion are absolute dogma and can never be altered, but the Lord's own words are subject to the binding & loosing of Mt 18:18.

Well no one said those things are dogma. They certainly aren't. But either way the principle still stands. Even St Paul used this authority to make an exception in the case of the so called Pauline Privilege. If St Paul had this authority so does the Church.

Sacred Scripture provides us with two exceptions to the permanency of marriage. I can accept these because the Bible is the inspired word of God. However it seems like creating additional escapes is circumventing the Lord's words...

Quote
Quote
Either way look at the Canons of St Basil and the Quinisext Council for canons regulating penance for people who have divorced and remarried.

May I have a link to these in English please? Thank you.

Of course. Look at St Basil's canonical epistles and the later canons of Trullo. It's somewhere between canon 60 and 90 if I remember correctly.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.toc.html

Would this be the relevant canon?:

Quote
Canon LXXXVII.

She who has left her husband is an adulteress if she has come to another, according to the holy and divine Basil, who has gathered this most excellently from the prophet Jeremiah:  “If a woman has become another man’s, her husband shall not return to her, but being defiled she shall remain defiled;” and again, “He who has an adulteress is senseless and impious.”  If therefore she appears to have departed from her husband without reason, he is deserving of pardon and she of punishment.  And pardon shall be given to him that he may be in communion with the Church.  But he who leaves the wife lawfully given him, and shall take another is guilty of adultery by the sentence of the Lord. And it has been decreed by our Fathers that they who are such must be “weepers” for a year, “hearers” for two years, “prostrators” for three years, and in the seventh year to stand with the faithful and thus be counted worthy of the Oblation [if with tears they do penance].

So the Council prescribes seven years of excommunicated penance if one marries their mistress/master? What church follows that?


Sure, annulments are a development, not mentioned by the Scriptures or Apostolic Fathers. But that seems like the logical solution if one is unwillingly forced into a marriage. (For the record, I am firmly opposed to the modern-day Catholic practice of granting annulments for frivolous things like "emotional immaturity at the time of marriage".) But once the marriage IS accepted to be valid by all parties (i.e. there can be no annulment), I have great trouble accepting that Mt 5:32 allows for one to re-marry after a penance...
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2014, 05:49:20 PM »

It looks like this needs to transferred to Faith Issues as there will be a lot of debate about what everything measn and that is not the purpose of the Convert Issues Forum. The official answer is simple the Orthodox Church allows divorce as an economia, in order that men and women do not burn in their sin. If you need a better answer see an Orthodox priest for education on the matter. Second Marriage is not the joyful service of the first marriage and is full of repentant psalms and prayers, the third marriage is even more so. There is no fourth marriage allowed in the Orthododx Church, BTW whether divorced or widowed the second marriage is the same service.

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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2014, 09:55:44 AM »

Can anyone refute this article?: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2014/05/divorce-and-remarriage-in-case-of.html
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2014, 11:49:26 AM »



It's wrong.  Wink


I think if you look at the patristic writings and canonical literature you'll see almost all of it allows for divorce in the case of adultery and interprets the Scripture as allowing that. So the interpretation of the Greek in the article isn't the interpretation the Greek speakers themselves understood. I would expect a 4th century Greek speaker would be in a better position to understand it than a 20th Catholic apologist with an agenda. In fact these apologist are engaging in some textual fundamentalism that would make the Protestants proud. We don't go back 2000 years and glean our own understanding from Scripture. We look to the writings of the fathers to understand them. I would also point out that even the Apostles didn't interpret Christ's words as strictly as the Catholic Church does today as St Paul himself made an exception to Jesus' words.
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2014, 12:32:20 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2014, 01:22:27 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?

The historical interpretation of scripture disproves that article. In acts 15:29, when the Apostles forbid the Gentiles from blood, strangled meats, and fornication, the word used for fornication in the Greek is porneia, and I certainly can think of nobody who interprets porneia there to mean contracting invalid marriages.
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2014, 01:27:20 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?



I took the time to google a few for you.


Tertullian - "The fact that (he) who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery, makes her commit adultery"

St Augustine - "Nor may a woman who by divorce has withdrawn from her husband become your wife while her husband lives. Only because of fornication may one dismiss an adulterous wife"

St Gregory the Theologian - "Now the Law grants divorce for every cause; but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience. He allows to put away the fornicatress, because she corrupts the offspring; but in all other matters let us be patient and endure; or rather be enduring and patient, as many as have received the yoke of matrimony"

St Basil - "Our Lord is equal, to the man and woman forbidding divorce, save in case of fornication; but custom requires women to retain their husbands, though they be guilty of fornication.  The man deserted by his wife may take another, and though he were deserted for adultery, yet St. Basil will be positive, that the other woman who afterward takes him is guilty of adultery; but the wife is not allowed this liberty.  And the man who deserts an innocent wife is not allowed to marry."
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2014, 01:30:07 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?

The historical interpretation of scripture disproves that article. In acts 15:29, when the Apostles forbid the Gentiles from blood, strangled meats, and fornication, the word used for fornication in the Greek is porneia, and I certainly can think of nobody who interprets porneia there to mean contracting invalid marriages.



Yes I've never seen it understood as unlawful marriage either. Some fathers are much more strict than others but it does seem they understood the text in Matthew as referring to fornication. I would ask anyone who believes that it refers to unlawful marriage to show that was the consensus of the fathers.
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2014, 01:35:57 PM »

Also, etymologically, the argument is highly suspect. Porneia originally referred to prostitution, and porneion was a word for a brothel (much like fornication, which originally also referred to prostitution, which in Roman society was commonly advertised under an arch, fornix in Latin). Later, both words had their meanings extended to cover immoral sexual acts, but they clearly are both related to sexual acts (especially sexual intercourse). I have never seen any lexicon which records "contracting invalid marriages" as a meaning of porneia.
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2014, 01:41:11 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?



I took the time to google a few for you.


Tertullian - "The fact that (he) who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery, makes her commit adultery"

St Augustine - "Nor may a woman who by divorce has withdrawn from her husband become your wife while her husband lives. Only because of fornication may one dismiss an adulterous wife"

St Gregory the Theologian - "Now the Law grants divorce for every cause; but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience. He allows to put away the fornicatress, because she corrupts the offspring; but in all other matters let us be patient and endure; or rather be enduring and patient, as many as have received the yoke of matrimony"

St Basil - "Our Lord is equal, to the man and woman forbidding divorce, save in case of fornication; but custom requires women to retain their husbands, though they be guilty of fornication.  The man deserted by his wife may take another, and though he were deserted for adultery, yet St. Basil will be positive, that the other woman who afterward takes him is guilty of adultery; but the wife is not allowed this liberty.  And the man who deserts an innocent wife is not allowed to marry."

If I am to read these strictly, it sounds like the Fathers permit a man to remarry if his wife has sex with unmarried people (that is the definition of fornication). It does not sound like the same generosity is extended to the woman.

They seem to allow neither a man nor a woman to remarry because their original marriages failed in any other way, only if the wife in particular committed fornication.

Also, why is St. Basil referring to himself in the third person as a saint here?
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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2014, 01:46:44 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?



I took the time to google a few for you.


Tertullian - "The fact that (he) who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery, makes her commit adultery"

St Augustine - "Nor may a woman who by divorce has withdrawn from her husband become your wife while her husband lives. Only because of fornication may one dismiss an adulterous wife"

St Gregory the Theologian - "Now the Law grants divorce for every cause; but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience. He allows to put away the fornicatress, because she corrupts the offspring; but in all other matters let us be patient and endure; or rather be enduring and patient, as many as have received the yoke of matrimony"

St Basil - "Our Lord is equal, to the man and woman forbidding divorce, save in case of fornication; but custom requires women to retain their husbands, though they be guilty of fornication.  The man deserted by his wife may take another, and though he were deserted for adultery, yet St. Basil will be positive, that the other woman who afterward takes him is guilty of adultery; but the wife is not allowed this liberty.  And the man who deserts an innocent wife is not allowed to marry."

If I am to read these strictly, it sounds like the Fathers permit a man to remarry if his wife has sex with unmarried people (that is the definition of fornication). It does not sound like the same generosity is extended to the woman.

They seem to allow neither a man nor a woman to remarry because their original marriages failed in any other way, only if the wife in particular committed fornication.

Also, why is St. Basil referring to himself in the third person as a saint here?

I think he quoted an exegesis of St. Basil instead of the canon itself.
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« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2014, 02:26:48 PM »

Can you show me the Patristic quotations that supports the Orthodox view?



I took the time to google a few for you.


Tertullian - "The fact that (he) who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery, makes her commit adultery"

St Augustine - "Nor may a woman who by divorce has withdrawn from her husband become your wife while her husband lives. Only because of fornication may one dismiss an adulterous wife"

St Gregory the Theologian - "Now the Law grants divorce for every cause; but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience. He allows to put away the fornicatress, because she corrupts the offspring; but in all other matters let us be patient and endure; or rather be enduring and patient, as many as have received the yoke of matrimony"

St Basil - "Our Lord is equal, to the man and woman forbidding divorce, save in case of fornication; but custom requires women to retain their husbands, though they be guilty of fornication.  The man deserted by his wife may take another, and though he were deserted for adultery, yet St. Basil will be positive, that the other woman who afterward takes him is guilty of adultery; but the wife is not allowed this liberty.  And the man who deserts an innocent wife is not allowed to marry."

If I am to read these strictly, it sounds like the Fathers permit a man to remarry if his wife has sex with unmarried people (that is the definition of fornication). It does not sound like the same generosity is extended to the woman.

They seem to allow neither a man nor a woman to remarry because their original marriages failed in any other way, only if the wife in particular committed fornication.

Also, why is St. Basil referring to himself in the third person as a saint here?



It's from the Canons of St Basil that were formally received at Trullo. Either way you didn't ask about remarriage. You asked me to refute the translation from the article of porneia as "unlawful marriage." I said the fathers for the most part did not interpret it that way. And honestly I only say for the most part because I haven't read all of the fathers. I've never once seen that verse in Matthew as referring to unlawful marriage.

Either way I would think the only father we would need to cite would be St Paul himself who allowed divorce and remarriage under certain circumstances.
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« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 08:46:43 AM »

I concede that I am wrong and you are right.

Thank you for your help.

God bless you.
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« Reply #18 on: Yesterday at 11:01:14 AM »

I concede that I am wrong and you are right.

Thank you for your help.

God bless you.



You're welcome but I don't think it's a matter of being right or wrong. I'm wrong all the time.  Wink

I certainly would try to avoid looking at your inquiry as conceding who is right and wrong. You are just following what you have always been taught. There is no fault in that at all.
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« Reply #19 on: Yesterday at 11:27:23 AM »

I concede that I am wrong and you are right.

Thank you for your help.

God bless you.
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« Reply #20 on: Yesterday at 11:28:58 AM »

I concede that I am wrong and you are right.

Thank you for your help.

God bless you.
We have a first for OC.NET.......wow....so....is it snowing in hell now? Dogs and cats living together?

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And don't misunderstand Inquirer. This is not making fun of you. None of us ever admit when we are wrong.  Cheesy
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« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 01:36:51 PM »

I concede that I am wrong and you are right.

Thank you for your help.

God bless you.
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And don't misunderstand Inquirer. This is not making fun of you. None of us ever admit when we are wrong.  Cheesy
Yeah dude. Im not bashing. This just really....never happens (although I did change a position I had in the politics section, but that doesnt count.

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« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 10:18:24 PM »

Hello all. I am a Roman Catholic considering conversion to Orthodoxy. The only real doctrinal thing that is causing me confusion is the Orthodox's blessing of a second marriage for a divorcee whose original spouse is still alive. To me it seems like the RC position is closer to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:32.

My Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition) has this:

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

Footnotes:
[a]: unchastity: The Greek word used here appears to refer to marriages that were not legally marriages because they were either within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity (Lev 18.6-16) or contracted with a Gentile. The phrase except on the ground of unchastity does not occur in the parallel passage in Lk 16.18. See also Mt 19.9 (Mk 10.11-12), and especially 1 Cor 7.10-11 which shows that the prohibition is unconditional.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205%3A32&version=RSVCE;TR1550

I do not know Koine Greek, but I think the word here is πορνείας (porneia). I checked Strong's Greek Concordance and it doesn't seem to support the RSV:CE's footnote, it merely refers to sexual immortality in general: http://biblehub.com/greek/4202.htm

Could anybody cite some Patristic Fathers about this matter? Did any of them mention that Mt is only referring to illegitimate marriages, not ones that separated on account of adultery? Or maybe if anybody's an expert in Koine Greek, could they comment on it?

Thank you.

I. MATTHEW'S USE OF PORNEIA

The later RC interpretation of porneia as "invalid/illicit marriage" is not patristic. Whereas the former is a state existing from the past and not an action that could be committed in the present or future, the early fathers invariably regarded porneia in the Matthean exceptive clause as an ACTION that could be committed, by a married person.

Examples:
"...Even in this case he [Christ] makes one exception: 'for the cause of fornication.' One who does not look with unchaste eyes upon another woman will certainly not commit fornication [porneia]. By not committing fornication he will give no occasion that they should become alienated. -St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of Matthew, 17.4   Porneia here is an act one may commit.

And again:
"Thus you see Jesus presses His point without reserve and builds up this fear as a bullwark, urging on the husband great danger, who if he does cast her out, makes himself accountable for his adultery." -St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of Matthew, 17.4 A legitimately married person should guard against committing the porneia Christ spoke about.

Similarly whereas the paradigm of porneia as "invalid marriage" is a state existing from the past that was not avoided, the fathers regarded porneia in the context of the exceptive clause as something that one could and should avoid within the context of an already existing marriage. The possibility of divorce on the grounds of porneia as a present or future action shows that marriage can be destroyed by sin.

"Through these things he clearly teaches that it is not unreasonable divorce which dissolves a marriage in God's sight. Rather, irresponsible action dissolves a marriage, even if the divorce is legal. For the whole teaching of Christ judges things according to one's disposition." St. Theodore of Heraclea, Fragment 34. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theodore_the_Stratelates
Irresponsible action may dissolve a marriage.

At least on St. John Chrysostom's understanding porneia is acknowledged as having an element of sin which would require avoidance and/or later penance; on the medieval "invalid marriage" paradigm porneia is primarily an unfortunate error of initial choice, no repentance required and nothing immoral to be avoided. Just get your "legal invalidation" and move on to the next woman or man with no sense of wrongdoing, even in a marriage of decades long duration with children and grandchildren... I cannot see this as morally superior to anything in Christendom nor can I view it as consonant with patristic interpretation of porneia in the exceptive clause as a sinful act that can be committed in the present or future which can and should be avoided by an already married person and which is morally blameworthy requiring penance.

It is always amusing when amateur apologists know more about what the language of the ancients "MUST" entail (Jesus HAD to be talking about the late paradigm of annulment) even in the face of the fact that those ancients who actually spoke that language as their mother tongue such as St. John Chrysostom cited above, believed the language to say something else entirely contradictory to what the apologist demands MUST be the case (and on grounds commonly rejected by contemporary scholars no less). Very post hoc and anachronistic.



II. THE "CHRIST WOULD HAVE USED MOICHEIA ("ADULTERY) ARGUMENT

A common lexical argument also widely used among amateur apologists is the claim that Christ would have used moicheia (adultery) if anything other than illicit marriage as the Western medieval canonists inferred was intended.  This argument is rejected outright by major scholars. e.g.:

 "...while there is a distinction between the two words, it is one of specificity. Moicheia is a specific term and means adultery; porneia is a much more inclusive term and means any unlawful sexual act. These terms are not synonyms, but porneia includes moicheia. In other words 'adultery' is a subspecies of 'unchastity' [or 'sexual immorality'] which unless qualified refers to sexual immorality in general. Because 'unchastity' in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 is unqualified, it ...refers to any and all unlawful sexual activity. Unless qualified, Matthew's audience would have interpreted this term broadly as 'sexual immorality' and included not only adultery, incest, premarital infidelity, but also homosexuality (Lev 18:2), bestiality (Lev 18:23), and any other sexual conduct condemned in the OT" R. H. Stein, "Divorce," in J. Green, S. McKnight, and I. H. Marshall, eds., Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (1992), p. 195).

The "Moichea counter" is not self-evident and denied by major contemporary scholarship. The later RC interpretation of porneia as "invalid/illicit marriage" is not patristic, which it would obviously have been and without any variation of interpretation among the Greek-speeking fathers whatsoever if linguistically it HAD TO BE. Apologists claim the Greek language can ONLY be understood in the medieval canonists sense of denoting a null marriage, but the fathers regarded porneia in the Matthean exceptive clause as a sin which could be committed by a married person. Though frequently seen as not just another argument, but one of the strongest arguments for RC, this IMO is one of the worst arguments ever for the alleged superiority of RC morality. The facts argue, rather for the decisive inferiority of RC pontifications about Matthew's exceptive clause.

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