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Author Topic: Why can't a priest marry after ordination?  (Read 2872 times) Average Rating: 0
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TruthSeeker
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« on: October 27, 2005, 03:40:47 PM »

I understand that marriage in the priesthood is allowed as long as the marriage took place before ordination, but what is the reason an ordained priest cannot marry? I find this especially confusing since I read an orthodox article that stated that in the time of the apostles this was not the case and in fact Paul even mentions bishops being married.

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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2005, 06:10:01 PM »

I think I forget the exact reasoning for this.  Anastasios or GreekisChristian or someone like that can probably give more precise answers than me.  But think about it for a second.  Do you think it would be very dignified to see a priest hitting on women or whatever?  Plus, it would be a big distraction for him, and a cause of much temptation.  Not to mention the kind of scandal that might be caused in the Church if the faithful heard stories about things going on.  A man who's single and looking for someone might well be a good deal less settled in his life, also. 

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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2005, 10:11:26 PM »

I think I forget the exact reasoning for this.  Anastasios or GreekisChristian or someone like that can probably give more precise answers than me.  But think about it for a second.  Do you think it would be very dignified to see a priest hitting on women or whatever?  Plus, it would be a big distraction for him, and a cause of much temptation.  Not to mention the kind of scandal that might be caused in the Church if the faithful heard stories about things going on.  A man who's single and looking for someone might well be a good deal less settled in his life, also. 

Bob
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Good points....but I wonder what the official reason is....your reasons are probably "in there" though.
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2005, 09:31:22 AM »

I think Bob pretty much has it right, though I don't know the exact letter of the law, but that's pretty much what I've always been told.
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2005, 03:32:26 AM »

Hi/
From what I remember in reading or asking the question myself is....(cannot remember exactly)
..... because the first choice was to become a priest rather then lead a life with a woman and have children.....
........However, if he wants to marry after ordination.....he can, but he is not a priest anymore, of-course......this is not a sin......and the church will allow this......

Im sorry if i cannot explain it better....

IX
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 06:41:30 AM »

I understand that marriage in the priesthood is allowed as long as the marriage took place before ordination, but what is the reason an ordained priest cannot marry?   

1. Marriage is permitted, according to the strictness of the canons, as long as it is done before one is ordained a subdeacon.  At the subdeaconal ordination, one is "locked in" to whatever status they have chosen (celibate or married) - again, this is according to the letter of the law; the local Churches have the ability to loosen this letter to suit the pastoral needs of their flock, as long as the other Churches don't object.

2. The prayers of ordination call the Holy Spirit to "fill what is lacking" in the candidate to prepare them for the service of God in His Church.  If one gets ordained, has the Holy Spirit "fill" the lacking parts, but then gets married later, is he saying that the Spirit didn't get everything?

3. Having the shepherd of the flock attempt to look for a bride, possibly from among the flock, becomes a definite conflict of interest.

4. I don't remember what 4 is...

I do have a fairly well-thought-out and reasoned answer to the question - I get it all the time (being the product of a priest marrying does that to me).  I'll attempt to answer later - maybe when I'm not half-asleep.

I find this especially confusing since I read an orthodox article that stated that in the time of the apostles this was not the case and in fact Paul even mentions bishops being married. 

Well, at the time of the Apostles it was the case - those "married bishops" got married before they became bishops - Paul doesn't mention bishops "getting" married.
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2010, 08:18:15 AM »

I do have a fairly well-thought-out and reasoned answer to the question - I get it all the time (being the product of a priest marrying does that to me).  I'll attempt to answer later - maybe when I'm not half-asleep.

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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2010, 09:09:40 AM »

I understand that marriage in the priesthood is allowed as long as the marriage took place before ordination, but what is the reason an ordained priest cannot marry?   

1. Marriage is permitted, according to the strictness of the canons, as long as it is done before one is ordained a subdeacon.  At the subdeaconal ordination, one is "locked in" to whatever status they have chosen (celibate or married) - again, this is according to the letter of the law; the local Churches have the ability to loosen this letter to suit the pastoral needs of their flock, as long as the other Churches don't object.

2. The prayers of ordination call the Holy Spirit to "fill what is lacking" in the candidate to prepare them for the service of God in His Church.  If one gets ordained, has the Holy Spirit "fill" the lacking parts, but then gets married later, is he saying that the Spirit didn't get everything?

3. Having the shepherd of the flock attempt to look for a bride, possibly from among the flock, becomes a definite conflict of interest.

4. I don't remember what 4 is...

I do have a fairly well-thought-out and reasoned answer to the question - I get it all the time (being the product of a priest marrying does that to me).  I'll attempt to answer later - maybe when I'm not half-asleep.

I find this especially confusing since I read an orthodox article that stated that in the time of the apostles this was not the case and in fact Paul even mentions bishops being married. 

Well, at the time of the Apostles it was the case - those "married bishops" got married before they became bishops - Paul doesn't mention bishops "getting" married.
Come to think of it, I guess that is the biblical prohibition of clergy marriage after ordination: they have to be the husband of one wife, not that they are allowed to marry once.
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2010, 11:35:47 AM »

Does the marriage of subdeacons depend on the jurisdiction? Is it from an ecumenical or local canon? Or is allowing subdiaconal marriage another weird Antiochian thing?
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2010, 12:11:39 PM »

Does the marriage of subdeacons depend on the jurisdiction? Is it from an ecumenical or local canon? Or is allowing subdiaconal marriage another weird Antiochian thing?

If subdeacons are considered to be deacons, then 1 Timothy 3, as well as Apostolic Canon 26, would come into play and they cannot marry after ordination. If however, you read either source as addressing "deacons" only, then it would be OK from a scriptural and canonical perspective. Here are the basic sources:

Apostolic Canon 26: "Of those who have been admitted to the clergy unmarried, we ordain, that the readers and singers only may, if they will, marry." Second Chance: Note that the other canons address only "bishops, prespyters and deacons).

1 Timothy 3:12 "Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."
Second Chance: Of course, there is no mention of a subdeacon in the New Testament or in the Apostolic Canons (Circa 5th Century), so that this would be a later development.
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2010, 12:18:04 PM »

There are canons that specifically name subdeacons. There is one forbidding them from touching the sacred vessels.
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2010, 12:32:54 PM »

There are canons that specifically name subdeacons. There is one forbidding them from touching the sacred vessels.

I meant the Apostolic Canons themselves, since Apostolic Canon 26 is specifically cited in the Orthodox Wiki.
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2010, 06:33:48 PM »

Does the marriage of subdeacons depend on the jurisdiction? Is it from an ecumenical or local canon? Or is allowing subdiaconal marriage another weird Antiochian thing?

There are many Readers that have a blessing to act as Subdeacons during the services and they can get married.
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2010, 06:40:17 PM »

I find this especially confusing since I read an orthodox article that stated that in the time of the apostles this was not the case and in fact Paul even mentions bishops being married.

That's actually pointing to a different issue: the fact that in the first few hundred years of the history of Eastern Christianity that bishops were allowed to be chosen from among married men. It doesn't necessarily address the issue of why clergymen are not allowed to become married after their ordination.
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2010, 01:27:29 PM »

Often times this can be a sticky situation.  It really does depend on the jurisdiction and the priest's bishop.  Widowed Priests have been allowed to remarry at least in a few instances I can think of.  It is not so much the legality of remarriage in the church but we all must be careful not to cause scandal in the church.  For some, allowing a widowed priest to remarry is just out of the question but one needs to look at the reasoning behind it.  While for others the best interest for all parties involved is diligently sought out.
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« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2010, 01:59:38 PM »

There are canons that specifically name subdeacons. There is one forbidding them from touching the sacred vessels.

Canons 3 and 6 of Penthekte (Quintisext).  I'm quoting Canon 6 below:

6. Inasmuch as it has been declared in the Apostolic Canons that of those being promoted to the Clergy only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry, we too, in keeping with this prohibition, decree that henceforth no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter at all, after the ordination bestowed upon him, has permission to contract a matrimonial relationship for himself: if he should dare to do this, let him be deposed from office. But if anyone wants to contract a legal marriage with a woman before being admitted to the Clergy as a Subdeacon, or a Deacon, or Presbyter previous to ordination, let him do so.

(Ap c. XXVI; cc. XIV, XV of the 4th; c. XIII of Ancyra; and cc. XIX, XXXIII of Carthage.)

Interpretation.

Since Canon XXVI of the Holy Apostles decrees that only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry after being ordained, the Fathers of this Council confirm that Canon by means of the present, and decree that from now on no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter, after being ordained shall be permitted to marry. If he should do so anyhow, let him be deposed. But if any of these wants to marry, let him marry before being ordained a subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter.
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2010, 03:06:20 PM »

Is this Canon accepted by the Eastern Orthodox?

Father Ambrose has stated on other threads that the Quinisext is not a valid council and its canons are not accepted?

Quote
Btw, I am not saying that Trullo is not an important local Council for the Eastern Orthodox; I am saying it is false and unhistorical to put it foward as an Ecumenical Council.  Some Orthodox do that, there's no denying it.

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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2010, 08:27:59 PM »

There are canons that specifically name subdeacons. There is one forbidding them from touching the sacred vessels.

Right, but there is also Trullo Canon 13 which enumerates subdeacons among those "who handle the Mysteries" together with priests and deacons, quoting the council of Carthage which likewise stated that the subdeacons "wait upon the Holy Mysteries."   There was a difference of local praxis in the 4th and 5th century regarding the role of subdeacons.   
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2010, 08:31:25 PM »

^As there was a difference in praxis with regard to the role of subdeacon, so also with regard to marriage after ordination.  In some localities, like the readers, subdeacons were allowed to marry after ordination.   Canon 10 of Ancyra even permitted a deacon who announced intention to marry ahead of time to be married after ordination, but not a priest or bishop, although, as we know, later canons would curb this practice.     
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« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2010, 11:28:31 PM »

Is this Canon accepted by the Eastern Orthodox?

Father Ambrose has stated on other threads that the Quinisext is not a valid council and its canons are not accepted?

Father,

It is important for me to correct this. I did NOT say that.

Here is what I said:

Quote
Btw, I am not saying that Trullo is not an important local Council for the Eastern Orthodox; I am saying it is false and unhistorical to put it foward as an Ecumenical Council.  Some Orthodox do that, there's no denying it.


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« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2010, 11:42:13 PM »

The tangent on the Quinisext Council has been split off and made the subject of its own thread.  If you wish to discuss this council apart from the subject of why priests can't marry after ordination, please do so HERE.
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« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2010, 03:26:42 PM »

In answer to the op question, I think this is an application of the following: 

1 Corinthians 7.24:  "Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called."

Although the context is not ordained ministry, certainly if this is applicable to calling in general, it is likewise applicable to the calling of ministry.

The other point, already mentioned but worthy of expansion, is that Scripturally the bishop or deacon must be (already at ordination) the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3.2,.12).   The reasoning is simple:  either one is avowed to celibacy, or one is still a bachelor.   A bachelor looking to marry in the future is untested as to how he rules his own house.  The one who is to be appointed as a leader within a local Church therefore must be "one who rules his own house well...for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?" (1 Tim. 3.4).   

In Titus it is stated as a clear prerequiste for a Presbyter that those who are to be ordained to community churches must already be "the husband of one wife" if they are to be considered as candidates for the Presbytery/Episcopacy, and not "bachelors" looking to marry but untested with marriage: 

Titus 1.5ff  "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint presbyters in every city as I commanded you—if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."   


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