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mike
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« on: April 28, 2013, 09:54:27 AM »

Have you ever heard of the betrothal being performed separately from the marriage?
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 10:07:45 AM »

I'm aware of one such arrangement.
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 10:09:25 AM »

It used to be, in Greece, up to the 19th century, especially while under Turkish rule. Mainly in cases where the couple were still children and the wedding would not take place for several years.

I think (not sure, though), that such a ceremony was considered binding by Turkish authorities and could protect the boy from being drafted into the janissaries and the girl from being taken into a harem.
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 10:13:35 AM »

I'm aware of one such arrangement.

Me too. One.

It used to be, in Greece, up to the 19th century, especially while under Turkish rule. Mainly in cases where the couple were still children and the wedding would not take place for several years.

I think (not sure, though), that such a ceremony was considered binding by Turkish authorities and could protect the boy from being drafted into the janissaries and the girl from being taken into a harem.

Is it, at least seldom, practiced now?
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 10:16:23 AM »

It used to be, in Greece, up to the 19th century, especially while under Turkish rule. Mainly in cases where the couple were still children and the wedding would not take place for several years.

I think (not sure, though), that such a ceremony was considered binding by Turkish authorities and could protect the boy from being drafted into the janissaries and the girl from being taken into a harem.

Is it, at least seldom, practiced now?

I don't think so. Probably jettisoned with other customs forced by the occupation times.
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2013, 10:19:02 AM »

Probably jettisoned with other customs forced by the occupation times.

Such as?
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 10:43:09 AM »

Probably jettisoned with other customs forced by the occupation times.

Such as?

Child marriage, for one (because the betrothal thing didn't always work), or disguising boys as girls while still young, to get them past draft age.
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 12:07:55 PM »

Thank you. That's really interesting.
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 02:05:02 PM »

Have you ever heard of the betrothal being performed separately from the marriage?

It was more common when arranged marriages were the norm. After the contract between the families was drawn up, it would be confirmed with the betrothal service, since if the arrangement was called off it would need to go to court. The wedding would take place after all the family member could be brought together, and the ceremony would be arranged; usually a few weeks, rather then months or years. In theory a marriage could be arranged the first week of lent, and the betrothal would be performed, but the wedding would not be possible to take place until after Thomas Sunday.

Since arranged marriages have gone by the way side, there is no longer a need to separate the betrothal from the wedding service. There is a blessing of an engagement service that some mistakenly call the betrothal service.

I could see someone being betrothed separately from the wedding service for logistical reasons. Example, a military person is informed they are shipping out, and they want to make sure their fiance received spouse privileges, the betrothal service covers the legal aspects of the marriage. If the ship out was occurring during a fasting period, I could see the betrothal being performed to satisfy the legal marriage aspect, with the understanding that the marriage crowning would take place after the fast, and when the soldier returns.
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2013, 02:42:27 PM »

Have you ever heard of the betrothal being performed separately from the marriage?

It was more common when arranged marriages were the norm. After the contract between the families was drawn up, it would be confirmed with the betrothal service, since if the arrangement was called off it would need to go to court. The wedding would take place after all the family member could be brought together, and the ceremony would be arranged; usually a few weeks, rather then months or years. In theory a marriage could be arranged the first week of lent, and the betrothal would be performed, but the wedding would not be possible to take place until after Thomas Sunday.


This is still the practice in India, where we practice arranged marriage for the most part.
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2013, 01:39:15 AM »

I was betrothed about three months before my wedding. In my neck of the woods it's not too uncommon.
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 05:34:19 PM »

In the Coptic tradition, betrothal almost always precedes the marriage, normally by about a year.
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2013, 08:50:26 PM »

Have you ever heard of the betrothal being performed separately from the marriage?

Yup, on at least two different occasions.
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2013, 08:52:10 PM »

In the Coptic tradition, betrothal almost always precedes the marriage, normally by about a year.

Is the betrothal viewed by the Coptic Church as unbreakable, like the marriage?
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 10:12:29 PM »

I was betrothed about three months before my wedding. In my neck of the woods it's not too uncommon.

Do you mind explaining what the circumstances that required the betrothal to take place so many months before the wedding?
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 01:00:57 AM »

There was no circumstance requiring it. We chose to be betrothed after Liturgy as the engagement ceremony a couple of months after my husband proposed. Like I said, it isn't uncommon around here. Our priest asked if that's what we wanted, and we did. I wish we had done it sooner, honestly. I can't remember why we waited. A definite perk was cutting down on the time our nonOrthodox families internally flipped their lids during our wedding. 
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 06:32:53 AM »

Have you ever heard of the betrothal being performed separately from the marriage?

I've been to one in Romania that was about 1 month before the wedding. I was told at the time that it's not that uncommon in some of the villages there (Bucovina), though not exactly usual either. It's the only instance that I can personally vouch for, however.

James
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 07:21:40 AM »

There was no circumstance requiring it. We chose to be betrothed after Liturgy as the engagement ceremony a couple of months after my husband proposed. Like I said, it isn't uncommon around here. Our priest asked if that's what we wanted, and we did. I wish we had done it sooner, honestly. I can't remember why we waited. A definite perk was cutting down on the time our nonOrthodox families internally flipped their lids during our wedding. 
What I find unusual about this, is that you list your jurisdiction as OCA. In America, the betrothal ceremony constitutes the legal act of marriage, meaning in the eyes of the state you were married at that point. I know both the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses in America both forbid the betrothal service from being seperated from the crowning service for this very reason. I am surprised that the OCA allows this.
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2013, 10:35:55 AM »

There was no circumstance requiring it. We chose to be betrothed after Liturgy as the engagement ceremony a couple of months after my husband proposed. Like I said, it isn't uncommon around here. Our priest asked if that's what we wanted, and we did. I wish we had done it sooner, honestly. I can't remember why we waited. A definite perk was cutting down on the time our nonOrthodox families internally flipped their lids during our wedding. 
What I find unusual about this, is that you list your jurisdiction as OCA. In America, the betrothal ceremony constitutes the legal act of marriage, meaning in the eyes of the state you were married at that point. I know both the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses in America both forbid the betrothal service from being seperated from the crowning service for this very reason. I am surprised that the OCA allows this.
Do Orthodox churches in the US conduct legal marriages, then? I don't believe any of them do here and even in Romania the priest will refuse to marry you in the Church if you don't show him your civil marriage certificate first (which is also the case in the UK so far as I'm aware).

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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2013, 11:28:37 AM »

There was no circumstance requiring it. We chose to be betrothed after Liturgy as the engagement ceremony a couple of months after my husband proposed. Like I said, it isn't uncommon around here. Our priest asked if that's what we wanted, and we did. I wish we had done it sooner, honestly. I can't remember why we waited. A definite perk was cutting down on the time our nonOrthodox families internally flipped their lids during our wedding. 
What I find unusual about this, is that you list your jurisdiction as OCA. In America, the betrothal ceremony constitutes the legal act of marriage, meaning in the eyes of the state you were married at that point. I know both the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses in America both forbid the betrothal service from being seperated from the crowning service for this very reason. I am surprised that the OCA allows this.
Do Orthodox churches in the US conduct legal marriages, then? I don't believe any of them do here and even in Romania the priest will refuse to marry you in the Church if you don't show him your civil marriage certificate first (which is also the case in the UK so far as I'm aware).

James

In America it is a state by state issue. In most states the religious bodies act as an agent of the state to perform the marriage (thus why there is the large debate over homosexual marriages in America - the real fear that the state will force religious bodies to perform these types of marriage). In some states the minister must register with the state to perform these duties, in other state just being recognized as an ordained minister is enough to perform marriages, and sign the local paperwork.

The betrothal service meets all the requirements of the state to be considered a legal marriage in the United States. Even in Orthodox church law, having gone thru the betrothal ceremony requires a divorce to be issued if a breakup occurs.
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« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2013, 03:33:38 PM »

I hadn't given much thought to that. We brought our marriage license to the church and our priest filled it out and signed it so we could mail it in. I knew we would have to be ecclesiastically divorced if we broke it off, or I could be left a widow if he died before we were crowned. I don't see why the state would *have* to be involved, though. We could have been crowned and left the state out of it completely. The legal license means nothing but tax breaks etc, it's the crowning that is important here. I'm surprised the AOC and the GOA disallow it. In my experience with the OCA-DOS it happens, it isn't necessarily the norm, but it happens with a certain degree of regularity.
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« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2013, 04:19:22 PM »

I hadn't given much thought to that. We brought our marriage license to the church and our priest filled it out and signed it so we could mail it in. I knew we would have to be ecclesiastically divorced if we broke it off, or I could be left a widow if he died before we were crowned. I don't see why the state would *have* to be involved, though. We could have been crowned and left the state out of it completely. The legal license means nothing but tax breaks etc, it's the crowning that is important here. I'm surprised the AOC and the GOA disallow it. In my experience with the OCA-DOS it happens, it isn't necessarily the norm, but it happens with a certain degree of regularity.

In most states it is illegal for the priest to perform the ceremony without that marriage license. His filling out the marriage license, is the confirmation that the marriage was performed. In some state he is required to send it in, in other the responsibility rest with the couple. Every state has some form of marriage license, and a waiting period of at least 1 to 6 days between acquiring the license and when the ceremony can be performed. When the licenses must be turned in with the signature (and how many signatures are required) varies from state to state.

Remember that marriage licenses were established in the United State to keep interracial marriages from happening, and to control polygamy amongst the Mormon population.

The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.
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« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2013, 05:06:52 PM »

In the Coptic tradition, betrothal almost always precedes the marriage, normally by about a year.

Is the betrothal viewed by the Coptic Church as unbreakable, like the marriage?

No. The legal state marriage is done at the Sacrament, which is unbreakable. The betrothal service is done a year or so earlier (mine was a month earlier). The betrothal legitimizes the relationships as they get to know each other and prepare for marriage. The prayer focus on asking God's help in maintaining chastity. Traditionally, there was not dating. If two people were interested in each other, they would be engaged, get to know each other under supervision, and after a year or so be married. Today, it is much more common to date first, but always only with the intention of knowing God's will for marriage, not going out and having fun, then get engaged, at which point the relationship becomes public knowledge, then married. The dating phase should not last more than a few months, or on the outside a year. More than that is just having fun, not seeking God's will. Once they have agreed to marry and been betrothed, the marriage should not be too long after, just long enough to prepare, have premarital counseling, etc, since once two people have decided to marry, it becomes increasingly difficult to act with purity. If during preparation for marriage it becomes apparent that it is not an appropriate decision, then the betrothal must be broken by the bishop or council of priests. One can become engaged again with no hinderance, but only if the previous engagement is first properly broken. This helps to discourage casual dating and encourage the couple to take the decision very seriously.
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2013, 07:58:19 PM »

There was no circumstance requiring it. We chose to be betrothed after Liturgy as the engagement ceremony a couple of months after my husband proposed. Like I said, it isn't uncommon around here. Our priest asked if that's what we wanted, and we did. I wish we had done it sooner, honestly. I can't remember why we waited. A definite perk was cutting down on the time our nonOrthodox families internally flipped their lids during our wedding. 
What I find unusual about this, is that you list your jurisdiction as OCA. In America, the betrothal ceremony constitutes the legal act of marriage, meaning in the eyes of the state you were married at that point. I know both the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses in America both forbid the betrothal service from being seperated from the crowning service for this very reason. I am surprised that the OCA allows this.

It's only legal if a certificate is signed.
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2013, 08:00:34 PM »

I hadn't given much thought to that. We brought our marriage license to the church and our priest filled it out and signed it so we could mail it in. I knew we would have to be ecclesiastically divorced if we broke it off, or I could be left a widow if he died before we were crowned. I don't see why the state would *have* to be involved, though. We could have been crowned and left the state out of it completely. The legal license means nothing but tax breaks etc, it's the crowning that is important here. I'm surprised the AOC and the GOA disallow it. In my experience with the OCA-DOS it happens, it isn't necessarily the norm, but it happens with a certain degree of regularity.

In most states it is illegal for the priest to perform the ceremony without that marriage license. His filling out the marriage license, is the confirmation that the marriage was performed. In some state he is required to send it in, in other the responsibility rest with the couple. Every state has some form of marriage license, and a waiting period of at least 1 to 6 days between acquiring the license and when the ceremony can be performed. When the licenses must be turned in with the signature (and how many signatures are required) varies from state to state.

Remember that marriage licenses were established in the United State to keep interracial marriages from happening, and to control polygamy amongst the Mormon population.

The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

I know of marriages performed without certificates/state interference. I hardly think it's that much of a requirement legally. Who would prosecute a priest for performing a religious service? I think the state would have no case in court today.
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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2013, 09:22:42 PM »


The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

Forgive me for being unclear. We did not bring the license to the church before the Betrothal, we hadn't even gotten it yet. We brought it the day of the Crowning and filled it out afterwards.

It is absolutely NOT illegal to be married in a church without getting a license. If we wanted to keep the gub'ment out of our business, we could just go to the church, be married, and live our lives as a married couple in the church. Now, depending on the state, eventually we would be considered common law spouses, and would necessitate a divorce if we were to leave each other. So, divorce can happen even without a marriage license. Neither the state or the Church requires the others approval or license. Thats why polygamists can be nailed for bigamy, they have only one civil "marriage" and however many marriages in their church. Also why if my husband and I had only run down to get hitched by the JoP, we couldn't engage in marital activities and stay in good standing with the Church.

The state has no authority in the Orthodox Church, no one was breaking any laws. We were just doing something that I guess isn't practiced much anymore.
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« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2013, 09:33:46 PM »

I hadn't given much thought to that. We brought our marriage license to the church and our priest filled it out and signed it so we could mail it in. I knew we would have to be ecclesiastically divorced if we broke it off, or I could be left a widow if he died before we were crowned. I don't see why the state would *have* to be involved, though. We could have been crowned and left the state out of it completely. The legal license means nothing but tax breaks etc, it's the crowning that is important here. I'm surprised the AOC and the GOA disallow it. In my experience with the OCA-DOS it happens, it isn't necessarily the norm, but it happens with a certain degree of regularity.

In most states it is illegal for the priest to perform the ceremony without that marriage license. His filling out the marriage license, is the confirmation that the marriage was performed. In some state he is required to send it in, in other the responsibility rest with the couple. Every state has some form of marriage license, and a waiting period of at least 1 to 6 days between acquiring the license and when the ceremony can be performed. When the licenses must be turned in with the signature (and how many signatures are required) varies from state to state.

Remember that marriage licenses were established in the United State to keep interracial marriages from happening, and to control polygamy amongst the Mormon population.

The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

I know of marriages performed without certificates/state interference. I hardly think it's that much of a requirement legally. Who would prosecute a priest for performing a religious service? I think the state would have no case in court today.

It depends on the state. If you live in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Utah or Texas this is true - no prosecution for not having a license since common-law marriages are allowed. All other states require by law those who are authorized to perform marriage to have a marriage license on hand before performing the service, or risk a fine and/or forfeiture of the ability to legally perform weddings.
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« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2013, 09:50:13 PM »


The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

Forgive me for being unclear. We did not bring the license to the church before the Betrothal, we hadn't even gotten it yet. We brought it the day of the Crowning and filled it out afterwards.

It is absolutely NOT illegal to be married in a church without getting a license. If we wanted to keep the gub'ment out of our business, we could just go to the church, be married, and live our lives as a married couple in the church. Now, depending on the state, eventually we would be considered common law spouses, and would necessitate a divorce if we were to leave each other. So, divorce can happen even without a marriage license. Neither the state or the Church requires the others approval or license. Thats why polygamists can be nailed for bigamy, they have only one civil "marriage" and however many marriages in their church. Also why if my husband and I had only run down to get hitched by the JoP, we couldn't engage in marital activities and stay in good standing with the Church.

The state has no authority in the Orthodox Church, no one was breaking any laws. We were just doing something that I guess isn't practiced much anymore.

If you are in one of the 9 states that allow common-law marriage, no license is required for a church wedding. In the other 41 there are differing levels of fines or punishments that can be placed on the officiant or couple if a license is not present. In fact Louisiana requires that all "ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society" must complete a marriage certificate and file it with the clerk of the court (aka the old European way) after every wedding they perform.
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« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2013, 09:54:01 PM »

I used Louisiana as an example of the extreme because there is no "civil marriage" in that state.  You either get married in a church or you write up a contract that states you are married.
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« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2013, 10:00:21 PM »


The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

Forgive me for being unclear. We did not bring the license to the church before the Betrothal, we hadn't even gotten it yet. We brought it the day of the Crowning and filled it out afterwards.

It is absolutely NOT illegal to be married in a church without getting a license. If we wanted to keep the gub'ment out of our business, we could just go to the church, be married, and live our lives as a married couple in the church. Now, depending on the state, eventually we would be considered common law spouses, and would necessitate a divorce if we were to leave each other. So, divorce can happen even without a marriage license. Neither the state or the Church requires the others approval or license. Thats why polygamists can be nailed for bigamy, they have only one civil "marriage" and however many marriages in their church. Also why if my husband and I had only run down to get hitched by the JoP, we couldn't engage in marital activities and stay in good standing with the Church.

The state has no authority in the Orthodox Church, no one was breaking any laws. We were just doing something that I guess isn't practiced much anymore.

If you are in one of the 9 states that allow common-law marriage, no license is required for a church wedding. In the other 41 there are differing levels of fines or punishments that can be placed on the officiant or couple if a license is not present. In fact Louisiana requires that all "ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society" must complete a marriage certificate and file it with the clerk of the court (aka the old European way) after every wedding they perform.

No laws were broken. Even if I did live in one of the other 41 states, a betrothal is not a marriage. At best in the eyes of the law, it is a prelude or partial service. At the completion of the wedding service we are married, the Betrothal ceremony is not the entirety of the service. Any legal action would fall on its face. It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.
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« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2013, 10:48:28 PM »


The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

Forgive me for being unclear. We did not bring the license to the church before the Betrothal, we hadn't even gotten it yet. We brought it the day of the Crowning and filled it out afterwards.

It is absolutely NOT illegal to be married in a church without getting a license. If we wanted to keep the gub'ment out of our business, we could just go to the church, be married, and live our lives as a married couple in the church. Now, depending on the state, eventually we would be considered common law spouses, and would necessitate a divorce if we were to leave each other. So, divorce can happen even without a marriage license. Neither the state or the Church requires the others approval or license. Thats why polygamists can be nailed for bigamy, they have only one civil "marriage" and however many marriages in their church. Also why if my husband and I had only run down to get hitched by the JoP, we couldn't engage in marital activities and stay in good standing with the Church.

The state has no authority in the Orthodox Church, no one was breaking any laws. We were just doing something that I guess isn't practiced much anymore.

If you are in one of the 9 states that allow common-law marriage, no license is required for a church wedding. In the other 41 there are differing levels of fines or punishments that can be placed on the officiant or couple if a license is not present. In fact Louisiana requires that all "ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society" must complete a marriage certificate and file it with the clerk of the court (aka the old European way) after every wedding they perform.

No laws were broken. Even if I did live in one of the other 41 states, a betrothal is not a marriage. At best in the eyes of the law, it is a prelude or partial service. At the completion of the wedding service we are married, the Betrothal ceremony is not the entirety of the service. Any legal action would fall on its face. It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.

This is not what the church teaches. The betrothal is the legal part of the marriage. The crowning is the theological completion. This goes back to the Justinian Code. To be using the betrothal service as a formal engagement service is just plain wrong. The betrothal is the start of the marriage ceremony, and at the completion the rings are exchanged. So the legal aspect of the wedding in completed before the sacrament (mystery) of the crowning take place. Under the common law principle you were married in the eyes of the legal system at the conclusion of the betrothal, no if, ands, or buts about it.
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« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2013, 10:49:27 PM »


The fact that your priest required you to bring the license before the betrothal services just confirms what I have been saying. Once the betrothal happens you are "legally" married. The crowning makes you one flesh.

Forgive me for being unclear. We did not bring the license to the church before the Betrothal, we hadn't even gotten it yet. We brought it the day of the Crowning and filled it out afterwards.

It is absolutely NOT illegal to be married in a church without getting a license. If we wanted to keep the gub'ment out of our business, we could just go to the church, be married, and live our lives as a married couple in the church. Now, depending on the state, eventually we would be considered common law spouses, and would necessitate a divorce if we were to leave each other. So, divorce can happen even without a marriage license. Neither the state or the Church requires the others approval or license. Thats why polygamists can be nailed for bigamy, they have only one civil "marriage" and however many marriages in their church. Also why if my husband and I had only run down to get hitched by the JoP, we couldn't engage in marital activities and stay in good standing with the Church.

The state has no authority in the Orthodox Church, no one was breaking any laws. We were just doing something that I guess isn't practiced much anymore.

If you are in one of the 9 states that allow common-law marriage, no license is required for a church wedding. In the other 41 there are differing levels of fines or punishments that can be placed on the officiant or couple if a license is not present. In fact Louisiana requires that all "ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society" must complete a marriage certificate and file it with the clerk of the court (aka the old European way) after every wedding they perform.

No laws were broken. Even if I did live in one of the other 41 states, a betrothal is not a marriage. At best in the eyes of the law, it is a prelude or partial service.

The law normally does not care about religious ceremonies.  If the OCA Diocese of the South views the Betrothal as a glorified engagement ceremony, then that is another problem that the OCA has to deal with.

At the completion of the wedding service we are married, the Betrothal ceremony is not the entirety of the service. Any legal action would fall on its face.

Really?  Then again, church law does not apply to civil law except that others may not see things the way you do.

It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.

What if another widow didn't agree with you and felt that she was married after the Betrothal service was complete?

Why do you think other Orthodox Jurisdictions make do without separating the Betrothal from the Crowning?
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« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2013, 11:35:28 PM »

I know our clergy friends are busy this week, but I don't think that the betrothal by itself constitutes the marriage in the eyes of the Church. Perhaps one of them could weigh in.

In New York State a clergyman must attest to the wedding, have at least one competent witness also attest, both under penalty of perjury and the cleric must return the completed marriage form within five days to the issuing municipal clerk. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months and a five hundred dollar fine.

Performing a ceremony without a marriage license results in there being no recognized legal state of marriage in non common law states.Children of such ceremonial marriages are deemed illegitimate. Although bastardy laws have little practical effect these days they MAY effect inheritance rights, custody, child support and Social Security survivors benefits.

Consult a lawyer if you are unsure of your rights or legal status.
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« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2013, 12:06:34 AM »

I know our clergy friends are busy this week, but I don't think that the betrothal by itself constitutes the marriage in the eyes of the Church. Perhaps one of them could weigh in.
In the eyes of the Church the entire ceremony must be completed before a marriage can be consummated. If the betrothal is completed, it is at this point the couple would need an ecclesiastical divorce. So it is possible to not be married and still require a divorce.

The marriage ceremony that we have today comes out of the Justinian Code. The Church, especially during the Ottoman period, took on the civil roles of marriage, and our ceremony reflects this. For all purposes of ecclesiastical law, there becomes a point where the couple is consider legally married, and that is at the end of the betrothal service. If you go through the betrothal, you would need a church divorce before you could get married to someone else. This would also count against you if you ever pursued ordination. You might not be required to get a civil divorce through the civil court system, but the church would require you to get a ecclesiastical divorce through spiritual court.
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« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2013, 12:07:23 AM »


I've never been married/betrothed....so, I may have completely misinterpreted what I have seen at weddings...

During the betrothal, does the couple not exchange rings - slipping them on an off each other's fingers until they rest on the correct fingers?

Is this not an outward symbol that the two are joined in marriage?

They aren't exchanging a pretty diamond engagement ring (that only gets placed on her finger)....but, wedding rings.
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« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2013, 12:09:19 AM »

In New York State a clergyman must attest to the wedding, have at least one competent witness also attest, both under penalty of perjury and the cleric must return the completed marriage form within five days to the issuing municipal clerk. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months and a five hundred dollar fine.

In New York City, the clergyman must also be registered with the clerk.
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« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2013, 01:15:23 AM »

Well that escalated quickly. Bottom line is we didn't break any laws, and there is a distinction between civil and ecclesiastical law.


I'm not arguing that we didn't begin the marriage process. I'm just saying we didn't complete it.

I also don't see how a betrothal separated from the rest of the ceremony would at all concern the civil authorities. I'm not really sure why everyone is jumping on me for this. We do not live in a theocracy and, Thank God, the civil authorities have no say in the way we run our church. There is a complete disconnect. We didn't need to file the license at all if we didn't want to. We were not common-law spouses after the betrothal because we neither lived in the same house nor publicly stated that we were married. The fact that our wedding followed the betrothal by not even three months also isn't enough time to establish a common-law marriage. This was not a "glorified engagement," either. Engagements can be broken off with little consequence other than a few lost deposits, perhaps. We entered into our betrothal fully aware of what it meant, and that we were "locked-in" so to speak.

Neither my priest, the priest who married us, the bishop, nor my very old-school monastic spiritual father (who belongs to another jurisdiction) had any concerns. So maybe, just maybe (?) you're mistaken. Maybe. But, forgive me if I have offended you, that's not what I want to be doing - especially during Holy Week. If you really have concerns about this, and don't want to lambast me and tell me how wrong I am, meesage me. We can go over it and see what comes of a civil discussion.

Maybe it's the fact we're coming up on Pascha and the temptations are especially strong, but gosh this site seems unwelcoming and inhospitable. Again, it could be I'm reading too much in and mistaking the tone of the posts. If that's the case, I'm sorry. I've just never seemed to meet with so much sarcasm and lack of charity when differing opinions or disagreements arise. Sad
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« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2013, 01:25:54 AM »

It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.

What if another widow didn't agree with you and felt that she was married after the Betrothal service was complete?

Why do you think other Orthodox Jurisdictions make do without separating the Betrothal from the Crowning?

If a widow disagreed she would be, imo, mistaken. If she wanted the civil benefits of marriage, then get a quickie civil "marriage" before pursuing marriage within the Church. The facts are facts, betrothal =/= marriage. If it did, all of the trappings of marriage would go along with it. I could not only engage in marital conversations with the man I was betrothed to, but bear children. It would also pose a problem with the fact that the Panagia was NOT married to Joseph of Nazareth, they were betrothed. Thus making her a widow when he died, but also disallowing them to have children, even if defiling the vessel that carried Christ wasn't an obvious issue.

I don't see a problem with having the two together, I never took that stance. I just shared my experience because it was relevant.
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« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2013, 01:33:43 AM »

I'm not arguing that we didn't begin the marriage process. I'm just saying we didn't complete it.

What is the ecclesiastical divorce process in the OCA if such a process exists?  As others have mentioned, once the betrothal is complete, an ecclesiastical divorce is required to undo it.  Plus, what if your Priest completed the marriage certificate and gave it to the civil authorities.  Now, you're married in civil law without the Crowning.
 
I also don't see how a betrothal separated from the rest of the ceremony would at all concern the civil authorities. I'm not really sure why everyone is jumping on me for this. We do not live in a theocracy and, Thank God, the civil authorities have no say in the way we run our church.

Like I said, you may not feel that way; however, what stops someone from presenting a civil marriage license and the Priest who performs the Betrothal signs the license; in effect, creating a civil marriage with all the obligations mentioned by podkarpatska?

There is a complete disconnect. We didn't need to file the license at all if we didn't want to. We were not common-law spouses after the betrothal because we neither lived in the same house nor publicly stated that we were married.

You may feel that way, but others may not agree with you.

The fact that our wedding followed the betrothal by not even three months also isn't enough time to establish a common-law marriage. This was not a "glorified engagement," either. Engagements can be broken off with little consequence other than a few lost deposits, perhaps. We entered into our betrothal fully aware of what it meant, and that we were "locked-in" so to speak.

Were you told that an ecclesiastical divorce was needed to undo the Betrothal?  Goes back to my first question about how the OCA Diocese of the South, with no current Bishop, is handling ecclesiastical divorces?

Neither my priest, the priest who married us, the bishop, nor my very old-school monastic spiritual father (who belongs to another jurisdiction) had any concerns. So maybe, just maybe (?) you're mistaken. Maybe. But, forgive me if I have offended you, that's not what I want to be doing - especially during Holy Week. If you really have concerns about this, and don't want to lambast me and tell me how wrong I am, meesage me. We can go over it and see what comes of a civil discussion.

I'm not saying you're wrong.  What I'm saying is that people's experiences vary.  Some people believe that the Betrothal creates a legal marriage especially if the Priest signs the marriage certificate.

Maybe it's the fact we're coming up on Pascha and the temptations are especially strong, but gosh this site seems unwelcoming and inhospitable. Again, it could be I'm reading too much in and mistaking the tone of the posts. If that's the case, I'm sorry. I've just never seemed to meet with so much sarcasm and lack of charity when differing opinions or disagreements arise. Sad

I believe in following through.  If I want to marry my fiancee, I want the entire process done "by the book" rather than splitting things and creating room for error and inconvenience.  I don't want to be married in the church without my marriage being recognized by civil authorities.  We have religious freedom in this country to do as we please.  However, I don't know what the OCA does.  At least with the GOA, I can easily find out information about how they handle marriage and divorce.  My cousins went before spiritual courts when they were divorced.  Not every Orthodox Jurisdiction has a spiritual court.
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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2013, 01:44:29 AM »

It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.

What if another widow didn't agree with you and felt that she was married after the Betrothal service was complete?

Why do you think other Orthodox Jurisdictions make do without separating the Betrothal from the Crowning?

If a widow disagreed she would be, imo, mistaken. If she wanted the civil benefits of marriage, then get a quickie civil "marriage" before pursuing marriage within the Church.

Some people don't want to be married in a courthouse or by a Justice of the Peace.  The Betrothal is equivalent to legal marriage as long as the Priest signs the marriage certificate and the couple files the certificate with the country clerk.  In MD, in the divorce documents I've seen, one statement in a divorce reads "the parties were married in a religious ceremony."  The Betrothal counts as a religious ceremony.

The facts are facts, betrothal =/= marriage. If it did, all of the trappings of marriage would go along with it. I could not only engage in marital conversations with the man I was betrothed to, but bear children. It would also pose a problem with the fact that the Panagia was NOT married to Joseph of Nazareth, they were betrothed.

In the eyes of the law at that time, St. Joseph was legally her husband.

I don't see a problem with having the two together, I never took that stance. I just shared my experience because it was relevant.

The OCA doesn't bless engagements like the GOA.  I've been to these "blessings of engagements" where the couple stands before an icon of Christ and a patron saint of the couple and the Priest blesses the engagement.  In Greek, this is called αρραβώνα (ar-ra-BO-na = engagement).
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« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2013, 02:50:03 AM »

SolEX01, my first post was primarily directed at arimethea. I don't play the "what if" game. No priest will fill out a marriage license after just the betrothal ceremony. The marriage has not been preformed, to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

It is an engagement ceremony which happens to carry more ecclesiastical responsibility, not civil. If my husband had died before the wedding, I wouldn't be legally entitled to anything, even if I were a widow in the eyes of the Church.

What if another widow didn't agree with you and felt that she was married after the Betrothal service was complete?

Why do you think other Orthodox Jurisdictions make do without separating the Betrothal from the Crowning?

If a widow disagreed she would be, imo, mistaken. If she wanted the civil benefits of marriage, then get a quickie civil "marriage" before pursuing marriage within the Church.

Some people don't want to be married in a courthouse or by a Justice of the Peace.  The Betrothal is equivalent to legal marriage as long as the Priest signs the marriage certificate and the couple files the certificate with the country clerk.  In MD, in the divorce documents I've seen, one statement in a divorce reads "the parties were married in a religious ceremony."  The Betrothal counts as a religious ceremony.

If they don't want to be married by the JoP, then they can be married in the Church. I don't understand why you have an issue with that. The fact remains that a betrothal IS NOT a marriage. It isn't. End of story. A widow who has not been crowned cannot claim the civil benefits from her late husband unless they had previously had a civil marriage. I feel we're talking past each other, because I don't see where this can be debated.

Also, by that logic, a double baptism could marry two people. It is, in fact, a "religious ceremony," is it not?

The facts are facts, betrothal =/= marriage. If it did, all of the trappings of marriage would go along with it. I could not only engage in marital conversations with the man I was betrothed to, but bear children. It would also pose a problem with the fact that the Panagia was NOT married to Joseph of Nazareth, they were betrothed.

In the eyes of the law at that time, St. Joseph was legally her husband.[/quote]

They were not married, however. Again, civil law and ecclesiastic law are not tied today. You have to seek both out independently from the other. So I'm kind of missing your point here. Can you clarify?

I don't see a problem with having the two together, I never took that stance. I just shared my experience because it was relevant.

The OCA doesn't bless engagements like the GOA.  I've been to these "blessings of engagements" where the couple stands before an icon of Christ and a patron saint of the couple and the Priest blesses the engagement.  In Greek, this is called αρραβώνα (ar-ra-BO-na = engagement).
[/quote]

I've seen plenty, I lived in Greece for a time and was a member of the GOA. I'm well versed in the multitude of services and differences between the Russians and Greeks. Does my user name look very slavic? Wink also, the "β" is the equivalent of an english "V" if you needed an english "B" u would write "μπ".
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« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2013, 03:51:13 AM »

I'm not arguing that we didn't begin the marriage process. I'm just saying we didn't complete it.

What is the ecclesiastical divorce process in the OCA if such a process exists? 

I'm not sure what the requirements or processes are within the OCA, actually.

Quote
As others have mentioned, once the betrothal is complete, an ecclesiastical divorce is required to undo it.

Correct.

Quote
  Plus, what if your Priest completed the marriage certificate and gave it to the civil authorities.  Now, you're married in civil law without the Crowning.

No "what ifs," that game could go on forever. Simply put, no priest would do it because no one has been married yet. To have a civil "marriage" before crowning one would need to do that outside of the church.


 
Quote
I also don't see how a betrothal separated from the rest of the ceremony would at all concern the civil authorities. I'm not really sure why everyone is jumping on me for this. We do not live in a theocracy and, Thank God, the civil authorities have no say in the way we run our church.

Like I said, you may not feel that way; however, what stops someone from presenting a civil marriage license and the Priest who performs the Betrothal signs the license; in effect, creating a civil marriage with all the obligations mentioned by podkarpatska?

It wouldn't happen because no one has been married. I "feel" that way because it's not an issue that can be up for debate. It would not happen with out the priest being in grave error.

Quote
There is a complete disconnect. We didn't need to file the license at all if we didn't want to. We were not common-law spouses after the betrothal because we neither lived in the same house nor publicly stated that we were married.

You may feel that way, but others may not agree with you.

I really don't see how this is a matter of opinion. Civil law and ecclesiastical law are not tied. Period. I'm well versed in what does and does not constitute common-law in my state. We had to prove my stepmother was my father's common-law wife after he died because of a dispute. Everything I said in the above quote is fact, and cannot be debated.


Quote
The fact that our wedding followed the betrothal by not even three months also isn't enough time to establish a common-law marriage. This was not a "glorified engagement," either. Engagements can be broken off with little consequence other than a few lost deposits, perhaps. We entered into our betrothal fully aware of what it meant, and that we were "locked-in" so to speak.

Were you told that an ecclesiastical divorce was needed to undo the Betrothal?  Goes back to my first question about how the OCA Diocese of the South, with no current Bishop, is handling ecclesiastical divorces?

We were both fully aware of what our betrothal entailed. We were not forced or coerced into separating the two ceremonies. Many marriages happened in that summer - winter at our church and several had the betrothal immediately before the crowning. The DOS does have an acting bishop, we're not just floatin' free down here. I have no idea how it is handling divorce, I hope it's not at all, actually. Divorce is serious and I genuinely pray, extremely rare.


Quote
Neither my priest, the priest who married us, the bishop, nor my very old-school monastic spiritual father (who belongs to another jurisdiction) had any concerns. So maybe, just maybe (?) you're mistaken. Maybe. But, forgive me if I have offended you, that's not what I want to be doing - especially during Holy Week. If you really have concerns about this, and don't want to lambast me and tell me how wrong I am, meesage me. We can go over it and see what comes of a civil discussion.

I'm not saying you're wrong.  What I'm saying is that people's experiences vary.  Some people believe that the Betrothal creates a legal marriage especially if the Priest signs the marriage certificate.

Well, it's not up to a person's belief system or not. It is quite clearly not a marriage. Because of that fact, a priest wouldn't sign a marriage license.

This specifically was not directed at you, though. I was speaking to arimethea, I should have been more clear. Forgive me for causing confusion.

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« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2013, 07:55:40 AM »

SolEX01, my first post was primarily directed at arimethea. I don't play the "what if" game. No priest will fill out a marriage license after just the betrothal ceremony. The marriage has not been preformed, to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

Forgive me, my issue is not with you personally. Your situation presented an interesting case study. Canon Law, and how it interacts with the American Justice system, is something that I have taken an interest in.

I went to an OCA seminary and in the Canon Law class (and other classes), when marriage was discussed, it was made clear that for all practical purposes a couple is legally married after the betrothal. It is for this reason that you should not separate the betrothal from the crowning. The fact that you say this is common, and not just a pastoral accommodation for some awkward position, raises a red flag to me. My issue is not with you, or what you did. My issue is with your priest, and the priest who are practicing this. I am not someone for openly being critical of priest, especially if I do not know the whole situation, but everything you have presented here makes me very uncomfortable.

I am also all for understanding local practices, but in this case, I would not call it a local practice, but a local corruption. My attack is not directed at you personally, please do not take it that way, I think you did nothing wrong here. I think you were given bad pastoral advice, and that makes me very angry. What your priest did, if he was in another jurisdiction, would be grounds to be brought forth to spiritual court to have his presbyterhood questioned.
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« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2013, 01:53:56 PM »

I've seen plenty, I lived in Greece for a time and was a member of the GOA. I'm well versed in the multitude of services and differences between the Russians and Greeks. Does my user name look very slavic? Wink also, the "β" is the equivalent of an english "V" if you needed an english "B" u would write "μπ".

Thank you for the correction.   Smiley  Forgive me if I have caused any offense.   angel
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« Reply #44 on: May 01, 2013, 03:03:06 PM »

"Legally married" is not an absolute. One is only "legally married" if local law deems those people to be legally married. There may or may not be parts of the world at different times in history that considered a betrothed couple "legally married", but that is irrelevant. A couple is only married in the Church after the crowning, regardless of local law.

The Apostles, and the Church after them, has often used marriage as a means of describing the life of the Church, and that is why marriage is seen to be sacramental (notice that the betrothal service does not begin with "Blessed is the Kingdom", but the crowning service does). A wedding is very much like our baptism. Just as one is baptized and fully part of the Church only after the actual baptism has taken place, one is married and one flesh with one's spouse only after the actual marriage ceremony has taken place (from "Blessed is the Kingdom..." to the crowning).

However, before a marriage takes place there are a few steps. First, a couple meets for the first time. Eventually a courtship begins (or "dating" or whatever you want to call it). After that period of time the two agree that they want to be married, and they commit to being married. After that, they prepare for the wedding, followed by the wedding itself. Similarly, a person encounters Christ for the first time. Eventually that person begins to love Him and seeks after Him more and works with the Church to learn about Christ as much as possible. Eventually that person decides that he wants to commit to being united to Christ in baptism, and he goes through a period of preparation (the catechumenate) before his baptism.

All those steps correspond to each other. Just as the marriage service is akin to the baptism service, the betrothal is akin to the cathecumenate. While there are some who are catechized immediately before their baptism, people are often catechized long before their baptism so that they can have God's grace during their period of preparation. Similarly, there are many who are betrothed immediately before their marriage (that way if one dies before the crowning service the other won't be a widow), but the purpose of the betrothal is so that the couple can have God's grace while they prepare for their wedding.
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