The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
On Divorce, Remarriage, and Divine Economy
The following has been expanded upon and adapted from Economia and Pastoral Guidance by Bishop Athenagoras (Peckstadt) of Sinope, presented at International Congress, Catholic University of Leuven (18-20 April 2005).
Peace be with you.
The institutional western church has created rules and regulations, policies and procedures that are distinctly different in emphasis from those of the institutional eastern church. It is the policy of the White Robed Monks of St. Benedict to follow the guidance of the eastern church in most instances and the mind/heart set of the Apostolic Church. The WRMOSB find that the eastern church's disciplines express more the love and compassionate side of institutional Catholicism than its legalistic, moribund western counterpart. The WRMOSB lean to the East recognizing that Christianity did not emerge in human consciousness in the west, but in the east. Christianity is an eastern religion.
What is primary in marriage? The love of the individuals or the sexual coupling of the individuals. We might note that the New Testament makes no reference to marriage couple with reproduction. The eastern church recognizes that it is the love of the individuals that is primary. The western church places its emphasis on sexual coupling and, by extension, reproduction. It is commonly understood that in all cases, the marriage relationship does not necessarily produce offspring as is the case of one of the parties being infertile. We might read in the Old Testament that a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh Gen. 2, 24. Is there mention of reproduction? There is only reference to the reciprocal love of the partners in the contact of marriage.
Is marriage universally indissoluble? From scripture, the answer is NO. An exception is allowed as we find in Matt. 19:9: I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. If there is an exception to the rule, then that rule is not absolute. Given the Human Condition, humans make mistakes, sometimes even what might be considered grievous mistakes, errors in judgement, and the like. Hence, given compassion (Divine Economia), exceptions are accepted as the norm of forgiveness.
Given the teaching that a marriage may be not be dissolved does not say that dissolution cannot occur. Human error and the like breaks the bond and, hence, the divorce.
Furthermore, it may be understood that a marriage bond may be broken in two ways. First, a marriage bond may be broken by adultery and its components and second, by the distinctive absence of one of the parties. Conjugal Love (aka companionate love), by common understanding, involves intimacy and commitment without necessarily passion. If either is absent in a heartfelt way (trust in the other is irreparably broken, for example), then ipso facto that so-called indissoluble bond is broken. When married life has no content and the couple remains together, even greater disparity and human suffering may ensue due to the Human Condition. Hence, divorce becomes the only viable, compassionate option to resolve an unfortunate situation.
Out of compassion, a second marriage becomes a viable possibility given, again, the Human Condition. St Paul alludes to the Human Condition by saying If (widows) can not control themselves, they should marry 1 Cor. 7, 9. More aptly, recognizing that in the Apostolic Church did not assume any control over marriage, St. Basil remarked that if a person committed adultery, that person is excusable if he or she remarries.
What is Economia? Generally, economia has never been defined a such as it is a matter of experience. Ecclesial economia at best images God's love and compassion for Creation in general and Christ's own compassionate presence to The People He served as depicted in Acts 16:3 so He circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. On the practical side, economia means the suspension of legalisms created/interpreted by Children of God in favor of The Father's love and compassion for His Children reflecting that The Sabbath is made for man, and not man for the Sabbath Mark 2, 27. Accordingly, following the practice of the Christ of Apostolic Church the essence of economia is found in one's experience of The Good Shepherd: What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14
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