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Rosehip
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« on: October 18, 2008, 01:24:50 PM »

I've heard a great deal amongst the Orthodox about procreation being the main purpose of marriage. Apparently, if such a possibility is no longer feasible, one should not seek marriage. The marriage service itself includes a blessing to have many children (and I've wondered-is this blessing still recited even if the couple will obviously have no children?). I find this really a very primitive approach. In my former church there were many excellent young women who did not have the opportunity to marry because marriage outside of the church was not permitted and because of the uneven ratio of men to women. So, often these women got married later on in life-often to a widower. One case in particular I well remember. The widower was a bishop and he waited a decent period of time before remarrying a very humble, godly single woman in her 40s. This woman was a great support to this man in his ministry and life. Of course, they do not have any children together, because it was not physically possible. The man did have children from his first marriage.

What is so wrong with this? Are there any Orthodox here who married later in life, when childbirth was not possible, and who realize  and accept the importance of companionship and other reasons for marriage? Is there no hope for older single people who have waited long and patiently for a special person to enter their lives?
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2008, 01:59:32 PM »

From whom have you been hearing this? There are many reasons for marriage; children are but one of them. Not to mention that Abraham and Sarah had children in old age, as did Elizabeth and Zacharias. Who is to say when the couple will or will not have children?
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2008, 02:04:29 PM »

This seems to be the standard belief amongst the folks in my parish-it is mentioned almost constantly, and I happen to find it very depressing. Very recently, a young lady came to me and informed me that she feels that if a man and his wife cannot have children that is grounds for divorce on the side of the husband, according to the Church. I told her I did not agree. Surely love is deeper than whether or not there are children? And sometimes the infertility is on the male side. And cannot people adopt children or even have spiritual children?
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2008, 02:16:58 PM »

It's certainly not in my parish. Perhaps your priest could straighten them out--or perhaps your priest personally believes this, and he has been passing it on to your parish. In any case, it's not the majority belief of Orthodox.
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2008, 02:25:30 PM »

Rosehip,

Many of your questions can be answered with this observation:

There are two different marriage rites in the Orthodox Church. One is done if it is a first marriage, and the other is done if it is a second marriage. The "Second Marriage Rite" is more penitential in nature, and asks God for forgiveness in human weakness in that we as humans are made to seek out each other's company.

There is no different marriage rite based upon the age of the bride or groom, or whether if one or the other are past the age of child bearing. If a couple in their 80's are set to be married for the first time they would receive the same marriage rite as if they were in their 20's.
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2008, 02:45:45 PM »

Thanks for your replies! Fr Chris, forgive me for being so stubborn, but it just doesn't make sense to me to give the blessing to have dozens of children to a couple who very obviously will never have any. I suppose it's more symbolic than anything, of course. Oh well.

I am quite sure the priests all support this mentality of marriage being for procreational purposes.

Another question: I've heard about married couples beyond childbearing years who begin to live together as brother and sister. This seems very strange to me. I've heard about women who divorced their husbands so they could become nuns. Also incomprehensible to me. I read this was the case with the Romanian princess (I can't recall her first name right now). I always thought one's first responsibility if married is to remain faithful to one's spouse-that being the ministry to which God has called us, not to divorce for any reason-even a "good" reason like becoming a monastic?
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2008, 02:57:54 PM »

Thanks for your replies! Fr Chris, forgive me for being so stubborn, but it just doesn't make sense to me to give the blessing to have dozens of children to a couple who very obviously will never have any. I suppose it's more symbolic than anything, of course. Oh well.


Are you sure you know the mind of God so well that you can state that a couple will never have children?

Quote
I am quite sure the priests all support this mentality of marriage being for procreational purposes.

Not to appear too confrontational, but you could do a search in this site to several threads which indicate that not all priests support that assertion. There is a range of opinions on this matter.


Quote
Another question: I've heard about married couples beyond childbearing years who begin to live together as brother and sister. This seems very strange to me. I've heard about women who divorced their husbands so they could become nuns. Also incomprehensible to me. I read this was the case with the Romanian princess (I can't recall her first name right now). I always thought one's first responsibility if married is to remain faithful to one's spouse-that being the ministry to which God has called us, not to divorce for any reason-even a "good" reason like becoming a monastic?

I did some research when you were asking some earlier questions about the divorce process, and I think there is a significant misunderstanding regarding how this is done.

No civil divorces are rubber stamped. For an Ecclesiastical Divorce, the petitioners must appear to a meeting. At least in the GOA, a prayer is made to ask for God's discernment in what would be best for the couple's salvation.

Now, at times and upon hearing that prayer, one member of the couple has been known to stop the proceedings at that point, and the couple then reconciles. Other times the divorce may not be given. Still other times the divorce may be granted, because the Spirit has led those clergy present to know that this is what is needed for the couple at that time.

Can I explain why it seems odd that some divorces seem to be needed and others do not? No. Neither can I explain how bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. But, if you have faith in the Church, and know that when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name then the Spirit of Truth will also be present, then somehow in faith we also accept this.




edited to add the last few paragraphs, once my foggy mind remembered it!
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 03:14:46 PM by FrChris » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2008, 03:08:44 PM »

Thanks for your replies! Fr Chris, forgive me for being so stubborn, but it just doesn't make sense to me to give the blessing to have dozens of children to a couple who very obviously will never have any. I suppose it's more symbolic than anything, of course. Oh well.


Are you sure you know the mind of God so well that you can state that a couple will never have children?

Yes, we don't know, of course. Miracles are possible. I must remember that.
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2008, 03:10:54 PM »

Thanks for your replies! Fr Chris, forgive me for being so stubborn, but it just doesn't make sense to me to give the blessing to have dozens of children to a couple who very obviously will never have any. I suppose it's more symbolic than anything, of course. Oh well.


Are you sure you know the mind of God so well that you can state that a couple will never have children?

Or adopt any...
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2008, 03:17:25 PM »


Quote
Not to appear too confrontational, but you could do a search in this site to several threads which indicate that not all priests support that assertion. There is a range of opinions on this matter.

In no way are you being confrontational! To clarify, I didn't mean all priests-I was referring mostly to my own jurisdiction. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2008, 03:25:52 PM »


Quote
Not to appear too confrontational, but you could do a search in this site to several threads which indicate that not all priests support that assertion. There is a range of opinions on this matter.

In no way are you being confrontational! To clarify, I didn't mean all priests-I was referring mostly to my own jurisdiction. I apologize for the misunderstanding.



Please accept my apologies for my part of this misunderstanding!
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2008, 09:31:45 PM »

Quote
I've heard about married couples beyond childbearing years who begin to live together as brother and sister. This seems very strange to me.

Some saints did this, even before old age. Obviously that's not the path that most couples would take, but it is one that can be taken.
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2008, 09:34:29 PM »

Thanks for your replies! Fr Chris, forgive me for being so stubborn, but it just doesn't make sense to me to give the blessing to have dozens of children to a couple who very obviously will never have any. I suppose it's more symbolic than anything, of course. Oh well.


Are you sure you know the mind of God so well that you can state that a couple will never have children?

Quote
I am quite sure the priests all support this mentality of marriage being for procreational purposes.

Not to appear too confrontational, but you could do a search in this site to several threads which indicate that not all priests support that assertion. There is a range of opinions on this matter.


Quote
Another question: I've heard about married couples beyond childbearing years who begin to live together as brother and sister. This seems very strange to me. I've heard about women who divorced their husbands so they could become nuns. Also incomprehensible to me. I read this was the case with the Romanian princess (I can't recall her first name right now). I always thought one's first responsibility if married is to remain faithful to one's spouse-that being the ministry to which God has called us, not to divorce for any reason-even a "good" reason like becoming a monastic?

I did some research when you were asking some earlier questions about the divorce process, and I think there is a significant misunderstanding regarding how this is done.

No civil divorces are rubber stamped. For an Ecclesiastical Divorce, the petitioners must appear to a meeting. At least in the GOA, a prayer is made to ask for God's discernment in what would be best for the couple's salvation.

Now, at times and upon hearing that prayer, one member of the couple has been known to stop the proceedings at that point, and the couple then reconciles. Other times the divorce may not be given. Still other times the divorce may be granted, because the Spirit has led those clergy present to know that this is what is needed for the couple at that time.

Can I explain why it seems odd that some divorces seem to be needed and others do not? No. Neither can I explain how bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. But, if you have faith in the Church, and know that when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name then the Spirit of Truth will also be present, then somehow in faith we also accept this.
You make divorce sound like a holy mystery. Shocked



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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2008, 08:54:05 AM »

This seems to be the standard belief amongst the folks in my parish-it is mentioned almost constantly, and I happen to find it very depressing. Very recently, a young lady came to me and informed me that she feels that if a man and his wife cannot have children that is grounds for divorce on the side of the husband, according to the Church. I told her I did not agree. Surely love is deeper than whether or not there are children? And sometimes the infertility is on the male side. And cannot people adopt children or even have spiritual children?

If the person lied about being barren, before they got married, then as far as I have read the canons, it would be grounds for divorce.  Also, if one person refuses to have children, that is also grounds for divorce.  Now, you must also realize that these things are not just given out like candy.  there is counseling involved, and basic testing just to see whether or not the differences are irreconcilable.  But like other posters said, you could adopt, you could pray, there are many options in these things.  We don't always have to resort to just divorcing each other. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2008, 09:43:37 AM »

I don't know...in my former denomination, Christ's words were taken very seriously, and folks did not get divorced, except in the case of adultary, and even then, it was encouraged to forgive and reconcile (which did happen, and the marriage survived). There were always those couples who could not have children, and I don't know of any who divorced for this reason. Most of these couples adopted but  others did not, and simply were happy to enjoy one another,live for the Lord, and help others out. There were sad occasions where a man would have an affair, leaving his wife for his mistress, while the injured party would remain in the church,usually raising the children on her own, with the church's help, but living, of course, in celibacy the rest of her life (unless her husband would return to her). So, that's the teaching I'm used to.
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« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2008, 01:05:28 PM »

I don't know...in my former denomination, Christ's words were taken very seriously, and folks did not get divorced, except in the case of adultary, and even then, it was encouraged to forgive and reconcile (which did happen, and the marriage survived). There were always those couples who could not have children, and I don't know of any who divorced for this reason. Most of these couples adopted but  others did not, and simply were happy to enjoy one another,live for the Lord, and help others out. There were sad occasions where a man would have an affair, leaving his wife for his mistress, while the injured party would remain in the church,usually raising the children on her own, with the church's help, but living, of course, in celibacy the rest of her life (unless her husband would return to her). So, that's the teaching I'm used to.

One of the things that attracted me to the Orthodox Church was its willingness to apply economia for the salvation of her children.  Rigid standards upheld without love often lead to  people breaking the law and commiting worse sins. Economia as it applies to divorce allows for one to remarry  and "not burn", it is an example that the church recognizes that man is weak and allowances are made to keep them from falling intio grievous sin. It especially allows the innocent partner in the case of divorce to start anew without having to be alone.  Note this is coming from a man who has been married for over 35 years to the same sweetheart he met in college and has no twinking of ever getting a divorce or remarrying.  It is just nice to know that the Church is a good pastor to the  people the Church serves.

Thomas
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« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2008, 03:46:28 PM »

But why the big concern to allow divorced people to marry so they won't "burn", when there are those of us who have NEVER had the chance to marry or even have any sort of relationship with the opposite sex, although we have struggled and cried out to God for years, and this state has totally and utterly and devastatingly gone against our desires, our wishes? For us, there is no option to marry even, and yet we must bear our cross and give these things up without fornicating or anything even though the agony has been extreme. I think in the end a stricter standard may seem harsh, but it may prevent someone from committing an even greater sin-disobeying Christ's very words and teachings.

I guess I'll have to say, it totally bewilders me that everyone seems to urge divorced people on to remarry, but no one cares in the least for the person who has waited for years in great sadness and loneliness.
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« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2008, 04:40:57 PM »

I've heard a great deal amongst the Orthodox about procreation being the main purpose of marriage.
As other posters have said, and from what I've read from such books as The Mountain of Silence and Gifts of the Desert by Kyriacos Markides (quoting bishop ATHANASIOS under the name Fr. MAXIMOS), marriage obviously cannot be just about procreation. 

I'm quoting from memory now, but he went on to say that marriage is about sacrificing your will and desires by putting your partners' above your own.  In marriage, one constantly tempers their own selfish desires, their own ego's, their own needs.  Sometimes it's great fun and sometimes it's very very difficult work.  I seem to recall that marriage in Orthodoxy is a type of martyrdom for this very reason.  Out of a myriad of examples, let's say you're dog tired and really would like some sleep.  But your spouse is very sick; vomiting, etc... You must forego sleep and help him/her through it; even if you need to get back up early for work again. 

Here is how Archimandrite AIMILIANOS of the Holy Mountain explains it:

"What then is the purpose of marriage?  I will tell you three of its aims.  First of all, marriage is a path of pain.  The companionship of man and wife is called a 'yoking together', that is, the two of them laor under a shared burden.  Marriage is a journeying together, a shared portion of pain, and, of course, a joy.  But usually it's six chords of our life which sound a sorrowful note, and only one which is joyous."

He says a lot more regarding marriage here-
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/marriage.aspx

Are there any Orthodox here who married later in life, when childbirth was not possible, and who realize  and accept the importance of companionship and other reasons for marriage? Is there no hope for older single people who have waited long and patiently for a special person to enter their lives?
Hope?  Of course there is always hope, and faith and love.  Don't despair dear sister.  Giving in to these thoughts and feelings might not necessarily be from Satan, but he'll sure use them to try and destroy you.  If I were single, I'd write to several priests in your state, and introduce yourself.  Let them know that you're Orthodox and single and would like their help in finding a God-fearing mate.  Explain that there aren't many single men in your parish and you would like their help.  Ask them if they'd be willing to keep their ears and eyes open for you.  My guess is they will be more than willing.

Just a suggestion. Undecided Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2008, 06:10:21 PM »

Quote
Hope?  Of course there is always hope, and faith and love.  Don't despair dear sister.  Giving in to these thoughts and feelings might not necessarily be from Satan, but he'll sure use them to try and destroy you.  If I were single, I'd write to several priests in your state, and introduce yourself.  Let them know that you're Orthodox and single and would like their help in finding a God-fearing mate.  Explain that there aren't many single men in your parish and you would like their help.  Ask them if they'd be willing to keep their ears and eyes open for you.  My guess is they will be more than willing.

Just a suggestion. Undecided Smiley

Thank you, Gabriel, for the kind words. If only it were that simple. I've tried this approach before, and it really doesn't work. Furthermore, it's very humilitating to be in such a situation where you are at someone's mercy to "find" you a spouse, and then if you really do not care for them, you risk offending the person who made the suggestion. Anyhow, it simply amazes me how easily divorced people find someone and yet if you've never been married and furthermore, as a christian, took all this purity stuff seriously, it's nearly impossible to find anyone.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2008, 06:11:17 PM by Rosehip » Logged

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