Author Topic: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?  (Read 407 times)

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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:30:43 PM »
There are canons that address remarried persons as having to repent of the sin of adultery before communion can be received, the main one being Trullo canon 87, where after separating from their illegitimate spouse they are excommunicated for seven years -

"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]."

By the way, I have tried to talk to the leading canonist in my church on this matter and have only gotten one unfortunately irrelevant reply. Does anyone else have any insight on the matter? Some documents seems to indicate that remarriage was not accepted in earlier times, so I am trying to figure out at what point Orthodoxy started explicitly accepting remarriages as valid by no longer requiring the faithful to separate from their second spouses. Also any insight into when ecclesiastical remarriages actually started being performed by priests would be helpful to me as well.

Another resource I encountered is a rather amateurish article from a Latin point of view, but it brings up a controversy surrounding adultery and remarriage in Byzantium with Patriarch Tarasios, Emperor Constantine VI and Theodore. http://catholicveritas.com/blog/very-byzantine-problem-divorce-and-remarriage

The article seems to indicate the divorce and remarriage remained controversial in the East well into the time of the schism, and in many ways, to use Orthodox polemical language, our willingness to permit remarriage seems like a type of "post-schism innovation". If the canon of Trullo assumes that remarriage must be repented of as adultery, then I fail to see how a remarried union can be sacramentally efficacious if it is indeed ongoing adultery. We cannot be healed through a sin against God, can we?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 02:30:57 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2018, 03:01:37 PM »
The idea that up to two marriages is, by dispensation, permissible seems to have more or less solidified by the 10th century, as in the case of Emperor Leo the Wise who second remarriage was grudgingly allowed by the Patriarch but whose fourth marriage was vigorously protested by Patriarch St Nicholas Mystikos. This led to Nicholas' deposition and the elevation of St Euthymius who allowed the fourth marriage by economy.
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2018, 03:14:52 PM »
The idea that up to two marriages is, by dispensation, permissible seems to have more or less solidified by the 10th century, as in the case of Emperor Leo the Wise who second remarriage was grudgingly allowed by the Patriarch but whose fourth marriage was vigorously protested by Patriarch St Nicholas Mystikos. This led to Nicholas' deposition and the elevation of St Euthymius who allowed the fourth marriage by economy.

Could this almost qualify as a "post-schism innovation"? ;) Seriously, though.

The rest just sounds like a bad telenovela.

I am wondering if there was really ever any theological reasoning or justification behind the development? All I ever hear is economia, but that's category doesn't seem to ever theologically apply to making sin itself a healing agent. Only a lessening of a discipline, as in a dispensation, which is of no intrinsic moral significance, like fasting. If there is no repentance for adultery, how can it be a healing agent? How can something sinful become good?

These are honest questions, not to be taken antagonistically.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2018, 03:30:28 PM »
I don't think the Byzantine practice implies that divorce is not a sin. Clearly breaking a marriage apart is sinful. The question is, does it make sense, after the damage is done, to therefore deny that the damage has taken place, and constrain the two parties to feign a relationship that has in reality been destroyed? The commandment against divorce is misconstrued by Catholics as a denial of its possibility. Clearly it is possible to break a marriage as the Lord himself allows for divorce on the grounds of fornication. Perhaps Saint Euthymius thought this way: The Emperor leaving his (third) wife for his mistress Zoe, in doing so, commits adultery; does it make sense though, once the previous relationship has been ruined, to treat the new one as perpetually adulterous?
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2018, 03:34:25 PM »
My jurisdiction in I believe the '90s issued some guidance on divorce that included a base length of excommunication of one year. This was waived in my case and no doubt others'. The guidance also includes "acceptable" reasons for divorce, including infidelity and abuse.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2018, 03:40:46 PM »
The idea that up to two marriages is, by dispensation, permissible seems to have more or less solidified by the 10th century, as in the case of Emperor Leo the Wise who second remarriage was grudgingly allowed by the Patriarch but whose fourth marriage was vigorously protested by Patriarch St Nicholas Mystikos. This led to Nicholas' deposition and the elevation of St Euthymius who allowed the fourth marriage by economy.

We have literature on this from well before the tenth century, including the famous speech of Chrysostom in the 300s.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2018, 03:44:27 PM »
I don't think the Byzantine practice implies that divorce is not a sin. Clearly breaking a marriage apart is sinful. The question is, does it make sense, after the damage is done, to therefore deny that the damage has taken place, and constrain the two parties to feign a relationship that has in reality been destroyed? The commandment against divorce is misconstrued by Catholics as a denial of its possibility. Clearly it is possible to break a marriage as the Lord himself allows for divorce on the grounds of fornication. Perhaps Saint Euthymius thought this way: The Emperor leaving his (third) wife for his mistress Zoe, in doing so, commits adultery; does it make sense though, once the previous relationship has been ruined, to treat the new one as perpetually adulterous?

I would say that it seems to make perfect sense that the secondary relationship and any others are all adulterous. Practical? No. Expedient? No. But it makes sense.

In my mind, I would agree that some relationships are just too broken to be mended. The solution in that situation then would be to remain celibate until the genuine spouse has passed. I suppose I feel that ultimately the love for the commandments of God should be the priority above seeking happiness in another marriage. In my experience those rarely work out well.

I additionally encounter anecdotes in early hagiography fairly frequently that have a person who is engaged to another (which as you know in Byzantine law requires a divorce to break), where the fiancé dies and even then the saint in question refuses to marry anyone else. Almost that concept of marriage being eternal that we find in our contemporary Orthodox theology, which is strange bedfellows indeed with the "three strikes you're out" policy on the ground. Of course, to be fair, other hagiographic episodes have men abandoning their families to go become monks in the desert. Those stories make my blood boil. I just bring it up to say that hagiography doesn't always support my working hypothesis about marriage in the first millennium.

I tend toward a view of the indissolubility of marriage, but I'm still working through a lot of the ends of these thoughts. It's a very personal topic for me for a variety of reasons, and so I might not be able to separate my own hatred for divorce and remarriage entirely from a more objective assessment, but I'm trying.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 03:47:42 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2018, 03:49:54 PM »
Why would death fundamentally alter the sacrament in your view?
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2018, 03:57:39 PM »
Maybe this canon doesn't really mention lawful divorce, but rather refers to peaceful marriages by talking about leaving a legitimate spouse?
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2018, 04:01:06 PM »
Why would death fundamentally alter the sacrament in your view?

I threw a tantrum the other day and said I wouldn't engage with you anymore, but I think you've asked a great question here so I'll have to go back on that. Sorry for my reactions to you and their lack of charity.

Chewing on your question, I guess we have to decide if marriage is eternal or not. If it is purely temporal, and no one is married or given in marriage in the kingdom to come, then it makes sense that the sacramental bond is somehow only dissoluble with the death of a spouse. Basically marriage being indissoluble while both partners are living.

But if marriage is somehow eternal, then death wouldn't alter the marriage at all. The "eternal marriage" model also extends to many images of the church and Christ, so the notion that all marriages end at death doesn't exactly jive with that analogy.

Answer: Not sure. Also a reason I started this thread; to tease out and have to explain my own ideas, and to get input.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2018, 04:11:14 PM »
Why would death fundamentally alter the sacrament in your view?

I threw a tantrum the other day and said I wouldn't engage with you anymore, but I think you've asked a great question here so I'll have to go back on that. Sorry for my reactions to you and their lack of charity.

Chewing on your question, I guess we have to decide if marriage is eternal or not. If it is purely temporal, and no one is married or given in marriage in the kingdom to come, then it makes sense that the sacramental bond is somehow only dissoluble with the death of a spouse. Basically marriage being indissoluble while both partners are living.

But if marriage is somehow eternal, then death wouldn't alter the marriage at all. The "eternal marriage" model also extends to many images of the church and Christ, so the notion that all marriages end at death doesn't exactly jive with that analogy.

Answer: Not sure. Also a reason I started this thread; to tease out and have to explain my own ideas, and to get input.

So you're second-guessing the rationality, theology, and consistency not just of the Fathers but of the Apostle.

How will you react to the following?

Quote
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ... All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2018, 04:12:01 PM »
Maybe this canon doesn't really mention lawful divorce, but rather refers to peaceful marriages by talking about leaving a legitimate spouse?

That would be a very important distinction.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2018, 04:14:11 PM »
How will you react to the following?

Quote
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ... All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

The last part seems to me to refer to the possibility of abstaining from marriage altogether. I'll consult St Theophylact's commentary tonight and see what he says.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2018, 04:18:54 PM »
That aside, the clause "except it be for fornication", would seem to rule out any absolute indissolubility of marriage.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2018, 04:20:03 PM »
How will you react to the following?

Quote
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ... All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

The last part seems to me to refer to the possibility of abstaining from marriage altogether. I'll consult St Theophylact's commentary tonight and see what he says.

The full passage, restoring the words of others:

Quote
"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." -- His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." -- But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given."

In my opinion, you'd have to be quite the mental contortionist to believe "this saying" refers to some tacit answer to the disciples' question rather than simply answering it straightforwardly by referring to the subject of their query.

But what I'm really wanting to hear is Alveus' answer to Christ allowing divorce here (for sexual sin). Is this something you can trust Christ on? Or, as you haven't been able to trust the Apostle and the rest of the Church, are you going to second-guess Christ's rationality etc. etc.?
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2018, 04:25:23 PM »
Alveus isn't here to gainsay the Lord, the Apostles, or the Fathers. He has honest questions and uncertainties like everyone else.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2018, 04:36:51 PM »
How will you react to the following?

Quote
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ... All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

The last part seems to me to refer to the possibility of abstaining from marriage altogether. I'll consult St Theophylact's commentary tonight and see what he says.

The full passage, restoring the words of others:

Quote
"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." -- His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." -- But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given."

In my opinion, you'd have to be quite the mental contortionist to believe "this saying" refers to some tacit answer to the disciples' question rather than simply answering it straightforwardly by referring to the subject of their query.

I remembered that Chrysostom's homilies on Matthew are available online. It seems he is of the opinion that "this saying" refers to "it is good not to marry."
Quote
Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star spawn— whatever they had been, they were men!
- Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

Online Asteriktos

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2018, 04:45:41 PM »
The idea seems to be that while divorce is a sin, it would be a penalty too great to take to completely exclude someone forever from the Church for it. Instead the Church recognizes that, as a fact, a divorce has taken place, and it gives a penance for that sin, and after the penance is finished (including exclusion from communion), if accompanied by repentance, the sin is forgiven and the person readmitted to communion. St. Basil speaks in his 4th canon of those who have been married 2 or 3 times, finishing with:

"But it behooves us not to exclude them entirely from the Church, but instead to entitle them to listening in some two years or three, and thereafter to permit them to be co-standers, though obliged to abstain from communion with that which is good (i.e., the Eucharist), and then after exhibiting some fruit of repentance, let them be restored to the status of persons entitled to communion."

It's also possible for a second marriage to happen apart from divorce, as with widows, of which St. Paul said: "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39)

This bit about widows getting married again is something that many early Christians would have considered out of bounds, showing a lack of piety. But this isn't theology, this is pious custom based on theology. In the Gospels Jesus said that Moses allowed divorces, but it was not the will of God. Did Jesus then forbid divorces? Nope. Same situation in 800bc Israel and 800ad byzantium: divorce isn't a good thing, and it's not according to the will of God, but if it happens then that shouldn't make someone perpetually and permanently dis-graced. It's not the unforgivable sin.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 04:47:02 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2018, 04:55:23 PM »
Alveus isn't here to gainsay the Lord, the Apostles, or the Fathers. He has honest questions and uncertainties like everyone else.

First, my remarks are meant to illuminate something in Alveus' posts, not to spotlight the person. (This in spite of the fact that the person for several days now has produced posts that could be interpreted as a crusade against Orthodoxy in favor of Catholicism.)

Now, the point as I see it is the method of argument in our posts. It is one thing to ask questions -- we all should be so humble and diligent -- and another to sweep the table clean of the Church and the Apostle with some giant Cartesian shrug. As Orthodox in a subforum for laying out Orthodox beliefs, we don't have to "chew on" St. Paul, "tease out [our] own ideas" as counter-arguments to him, and otherwise dedicate space to weighing whether he is right or wrong. We also don't have to decide "it makes sense" or it makes "perfect sense" to side against the Church on issues such as marriage, to ascribe to ourselves a greater "love for the commandments" than the Fathers, or to doubt their will or ability to "theologically reason or justify" their teachings and canons.

All this goes beyond asking questions, in my opinion. If you don't agree, then I respect that, and you may well be the one in the right; however, my own posts are likely to reflect my own observations.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2018, 04:59:57 PM »
How will you react to the following?

Quote
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ... All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

The last part seems to me to refer to the possibility of abstaining from marriage altogether. I'll consult St Theophylact's commentary tonight and see what he says.

The full passage, restoring the words of others:

Quote
"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." -- His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." -- But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given."

In my opinion, you'd have to be quite the mental contortionist to believe "this saying" refers to some tacit answer to the disciples' question rather than simply answering it straightforwardly by referring to the subject of their query.

I remembered that Chrysostom's homilies on Matthew are available online. It seems he is of the opinion that "this saying" refers to "it is good not to marry."

Thanks. I see that what he does is group it with the following verses and make the whole a teaching of the superiority of celibacy. I've heard this interpretation before from various sources, if not a Father.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2018, 05:04:51 PM »
... In other words, per St. John:

Quote
His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry."

But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this [the following] saying, save they to whom it is given[:] 'For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.' He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

Obscured, then, would be some nod or assent on Christ's part to "It is not good to marry," and then the ensuing proverb to clinch it. Presumably, "δε" would be interpreted not as "but" in contrast to their question, but as some other transitional meaning.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 05:10:04 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Rohzek

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2018, 01:00:59 AM »
Meh, not sure if you will find this interesting Alveus Lacuna, but I you might perhaps find these of some use. I wrote them some time back, but they indicate that the so-called "Latin" point of view was far from unanimous prior to the schism. Aside from complicating historical paradigms or narratives, perhaps you will find them of some sort of theological illumination:

https://shamelessorthodoxy.com/2016/09/17/divorce-remarriage-in-the-latin-west-a-forgotten-history/

https://shamelessorthodoxy.com/2017/05/09/divorce-remarriage-in-the-latin-west-an-addendum/
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Online Hawkeye

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2018, 01:26:17 AM »
I don't think the Byzantine practice implies that divorce is not a sin. Clearly breaking a marriage apart is sinful. The question is, does it make sense, after the damage is done, to therefore deny that the damage has taken place, and constrain the two parties to feign a relationship that has in reality been destroyed? The commandment against divorce is misconstrued by Catholics as a denial of its possibility. Clearly it is possible to break a marriage as the Lord himself allows for divorce on the grounds of fornication. Perhaps Saint Euthymius thought this way: The Emperor leaving his (third) wife for his mistress Zoe, in doing so, commits adultery; does it make sense though, once the previous relationship has been ruined, to treat the new one as perpetually adulterous?

The only wife that the Emperor Leo set aside was his first, St. Theophano, and even then it's questionable whether he divorced her as he only married his mistress following her repose. His second and third marriages were short and ended in his wives' deaths. St. Euthymius' economy, some five years after the death of the third wife, was solely on the matter of a widower's remarriage and had nothing to do with divorce, and came with the stipulation that going forward three marriages under whatever circumstances was to be the absolute limit.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 01:29:07 AM by Hawkeye »
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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2018, 09:10:41 AM »
You're right- I misremembered the details there.
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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2018, 02:23:57 PM »
It is not a sin to divorce one's spouse in the case of adultery, for Christ Himself does not condemn divorce in this instance (Matthew 19:9).  The person who divorces their adulterous spouse and then marries another also does not commit a sin worthy of penance.  The canons that do require penance for divorce and remarriage apply when a couple divorces without the cause of adultery and when a spouse that divorced without this cause marries another.  St. Nikodemos addresses this in his commentary on canon 48 of the Holy Apostles found in the Rudder. 

That said, the Church, out of condescension, has expanded the list of justifiable causes for divorce to include such things as drug or alcohol abuse, abandonment, physical abuse, etc.  In the case of a person who is divorced prior to their reception into the Orthodox Church, a spiritual father may not recognize such a previous marriage since it was not a marriage which took place in the Church as a Holy Mystery. 

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Canon 48 of the Holy Apostles

“If any layman who has divorced his wife takes another, or one divorced by another man, let him be excommunicated”

Interpretation of St. Nikodemos

Inasmuch as the Lord decreed in His Gospel that “Whosoever shall divorce his wife, except on account of fornication, is causing her to commit adultery; and whoever marries her who hath been divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32; 19: 9), therefore the divine Apostles too, following the Lord’s decree, say in their present Canon: If any layman who insists upon divorcing his wife, except on the ground of fornication, which is to say adultery (for the Evangelist here used the word fornication instead of adultery. Concerning this point see also Canon IV of Nyssa), and takes another woman that is free to marry, let him be excommunicated. Likewise let him be excommunicated if, after being divorced from his wife without the ground of fornication, he takes another woman who is one also divorced from her husband without the ground of fornication, or, in other words, of adultery. These things, which we have said with reference to the husband, must be understood to apply also to the wife who leaves her husband, except on account of fornication, and takes another man as her husband. As for any man or any woman who separates from his or her spouse without a reasonable cause and remarries or is remarried, he or she shall be canonized to have no communion for seven years according to Canon LXXXVII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod, Canon XX of Ancyra, and Canons LXXVII and XXXVII of Basil. Read also Canon XLIII of Carthage which prescribes that if a married couple separate without the commission of fornication on the part of either spouse, either they must remain unmarried or they must become reconciled and be reunited, as St. Paul also says in Chapter 7 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians.

The Form of Canonical Divorce, found in the Rudder, reiterates this teaching that divorce is allowed in the case of adultery, and when such a divorce occurs, the innocent party is blessed to marry again while the guilty party is not blessed to remarry:

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And reflecting that this is the only legal and reasonable excuse for separating a husband from his wife – the ground, that is to say, of adultery, just as the Lord declared; yet at the same time exercising due foresight lest anything more terrible may result hereafter from their cohabitation, seeing that adultery engenders jealousy in most cases, and that jealousy leads to murder: on this account and for this reason our humbleness pronounces the said George to be divorced and set free from his wife Mary, in accordance with the decision of our Lord and the divine Canons, Apostolic as well as Synodal; and furthermore gives him permission to take another woman to wife, whereas with regard to his aforesaid wife Mary our humbleness will never give her permission to take another man to husband, on the ground that she has become the cause of this separation and divorce. For she ought, instead of having another wedding and enjoying nuptial pleasures, to continue thus weeping and mourning throughout her life over her sin, since what God had joined she put asunder (Matthew 19:6), and since otherwise too, she committed adultery while her husband was living, whom she herself divorced by reason of her licentiousness, a fear subsists lest she become an adulteress again in case she is allowed to become a wife to another man (Romans 7:3), according to St. Paul, who elsewhere says that “if a woman be divorced from her husband, let her remain unmarried” (I Corinthians 7:11).
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 02:25:02 PM by jah777 »

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Re: Church canons regarding remarriage and penance?
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2018, 02:35:54 PM »
The understanding has definitely changed. When the widower Nikephoros Phokas became emperor he decided to marry empress Theophano to seal his connection to the Macedonian dynasty. Patriarch Saint Polyeuktos penanced him for a year because he considered a second marriage sinful(the penance was extended when it came out that Nikephoros had been godfather to Theophano's sons).
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