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Eastern Orthodox Divorce and Annulments.

1.00 minute - 5.00 minutes.

in our previous video we had gone over the patristic evidence indicating that in certain cases remarriage after divorce while the first spouse was alive was a practice accepted by many Church fathers and thereby the Catholic position on the indissolubility of marriage was not the consensus of the church the evidence we reviewed included 

everything from Roman and Frankish cids to doctors of the church such as St basil the great St Gregory the Theologian and St Cyril of Alexandria in this video we will briefly discuss the purpose and use of annulments within both Orthodoxy and Catholicism how marriage is a Eucharistic Union and an icon of the church and whether or not marriage in the Orthodox Church is considered indissoluble but before continuing make sure to click like subscribe and ring the bell for notifications so you can see when new material comes out from UB petris in addition we depend upon you  our viewers to spread these videos everywhere you can on social media and amongst your friends and family these videos become popular because you guys post and repost them on Facebook Twitter Reddit and on your blogs because you send them to friends and because you comment under them all of those activities make these videos more visible to the general public and we thank you.

it is oftentimes assumed that only the Catholic church has annulments but that is incorrect as the Orthodox Church also has them though we utilise them far less and for far more reasonable causes the reason is that in the Catholic understanding marriage is a legal contract and as in the case of all legal contracts it is in force in so far as the participating parties are alive as Canon 1141 in the current Catholic code of canon law states quote a marriage that is ratum at consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause except death end quote ratum at consummatum means a valid and consummated marriage what this means is that those Catholics who desire to end their marriages must find some sort of defect in the ritual the consent or even the partner's pre-marriage standing that would nullify the marriage thereby releasing both Partners from it examples of what makes a Catholic marriage valid are provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and are broken down into six categories one the spouses are free to marry two they are capable of giving their consent to Mary Three they freely exchange their consent four in consenting to marry they have the intention to marry for life to be faithful to one another and be open to Children five they intend the good of each other and six their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorised Church Minister exceptions to the last requ requirement must be approved by Church Authority if any of these are not met the marriage is annulable as can be seen only numbers one and six are objective standards the rest of them are highly subjective and therefore highly manipulable a full list of reasons for an annulment are listed in title seven of the Catholic code of canon law Canon's 1055 through 1165 the problem is when something like Canon 1095 is in introduced which states quote the following are incapable of Contracting marriage those who lack the sufficient use of reason those who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted those who are not able to assume the essential obligations of marriage for causes of a psychic nature end quote


The problem with this cannon is that most people even very Pious and committed ones are incapable of realizing what they are getting themselves into when they say I do marriages are hard they're complex and no one is really ready to be married because you cannot know what it is like and what you will encounter until you're already married this Canon plays into that and is used as the catchall or coverall reason when none of the other reasons many of them legitimate reasons to an know a marriage cannot be applied case in point if one spouse commits adultery or abandons the other spouse an annulment cannot be granted because it was not a defect prior to the marriage being contracted so the annulment tribunal and person seeking the annulment will typically go to Canon 1095 and say that one or both of the persons were too immature to contract a marriage were not capable of understanding what the vows actually meant perhaps they were too impulsive and voila Canon 1095 applies and annulment can be granted but notice that it is not because of the offence that actually broke the marriage which was

1) adultery

2) prolonged abandonment


3) one's spouse trying to kill them

the idea is that if you can find a defect in the contract the contract can be annulled and both persons freed to contract new and hopefully valid marriages.


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This ultimately means that you do not know if your marriage is valid until you apply for an annulment further the loopholes present in the annulment requirements specifically Canon 1095 ensure that pretty much any marriage can be annulled and it is declared that you were never married one might refer to this phenomenon as "schro dinger's marriage" (Schrodinger's marriage??.) What is truly strange is that children of annulled marriages are still somehow considered legitimate according to Canon 1137 of the code of canon law what is incredible is that Catholics will go through all of this to avoid allowing divorce but as father Kevin shmur points out in his book on divorce and remarriage at the Council of Florence the Catholic church was fine with allowing the Orthodox Church to retain its practice of divorce remarriage in specific cases quote during the council Pope Eugene IV asked the Orthodox theologians who were present in Florence about their practice of divorce the Greek delegates did not answer and asked that the emperor should be questioned on this towards the end of the council Pope Eugene IV raised the question one more time to which the Greek Bishops replied that marriages in the East were only dissolved for valid reason and in good faith it is noteworthy that the pope and the Latin fathers did not consider the answer of the bantine Bishops to be so important as to cause the rupture of the renewed Union end quote it was actually with the Armenians not with the Greeks that the indissolubility of marriage was defined at Florence and despite that the pope was fine with allowing the Greek Bishops to continue their practice now in the Orthodox Church annulments do exist but they are granted for cases in which there truly could not be a valid marriage cases such as one partner already being married a person forced into a marriage with the threat of violence or persons who are actually relatives broadly speaking other instances that would allow for an analment would be a marriage between relatives closer than third cousins marriages that were entered into under duress marriages contracted by men already ordained and marriages between Orthodox and non-christians notable examples of canons allowing for annulments are Canon 22 of St basil the great and canons 72 and 93 of trulo.

One of The Oddities of Byzantine canon law that is regularly pointed out is that they considered Relationships by baptism to be just as if not more binding than Relationships by Blood and so any relationship by baptism was considered as being included within those degrees of consanguinity for example a godson could not marry his Godfather's daughter as she would be considered his sister even in the past this was rarely enforced but the instances we do know of were in cases in which it was used as an excuse to end an existing marriage among the royalty St Basil's cannons 68, 75, 76, 78, 79, and 87 as well as canons 53 and 54 of trulo this was not unique to Byzantine Canon Law, though as Pope Nicholas when writing his response to con Boris of Bulgaria's questions in 866 states in the second chapter of his letter that Relationships by baptism preclude marriage further Pope Nicholas even cites the law code of Justinian pointing out that if Relationships by adoption preclude marriage even more so should spiritual relationships preclude it but when we consider the Myriad of reasons for annulments in the Catholic Church reasons that all but guarantee almost all Catholic marriages can be annulled we cannot help but consider the relatively limited reasons divorces are granted in the Orthodox Church.


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The Catholic priest father Kevin shm writes, quote: "In Orthodoxy the grounds for divorce are grouped in categories on the basis of analogy, that is on their similarity to one of the main causes of Separation mentioned in the scriptures."

end quote.

father shambry breaks them down into

1) death

2) adultery


3) iniquity

and all of these find their root in Nolla 117 of the emperor St Justinian in the 6th Century but these nine or so points from the mid 500s form more or less the same list of reasons the Orthodox Church currently uses for recognizing divorces quote in 542

Justinian promulgated Nolla 117 which according to Scholars constitutes the

basic element of the future Byzantine Nomo canonical synthesis eventually the grounds for divorce outlined in this legislation acquired recognition in the Eastern Church and were introduced in the Byzantine Nomo canon in the 9th century end quote when father shambry mentions the Byzantine Nomo Canon of the 9th century he is referring to the Nomo Canon of St Fus the great patriarch of Constantinople, a saint not only in the Orthodox church but also in numerous Byzantine Catholic churches.

St fius acted primarily as a general editor publishing the new Nomo canon in 883 even had these laws been purely secular as father shm points out there was little to no protest from the church concerning most laws per committing remarriage after divorce and the church. was want to protest at the drop of a hat about immorality in the legal code quote while both church and state were of one Accord concerning the illegality of a dorium ex consens there was no  dissension between them regarding other justifiable grounds for divorce

jishman writes that if such grounds were offensive to the church and were a disregard to the ecclesial practice Emperor Justinian with his regard for the church would not have promulgated Nolla 117 and other Emperors would not have increased the number of causes of divorces without any fear yet the clergy did not oppose such promulgations and neither Pope vilus nor patriarch menus protested to Nolla 117"

end quote


The pertinent section of the law code of Justinian offers the following reasons for divorce quote we clearly enumerate the causes of of repudiation by this most salutary law for as we forbid marriage to be dissolved without good cause so that where one of the parties is compelled by necessity or the other is oppressed by some Misfortune we desire that he or she shall be liberated by our Aid when this becomes necessary therefore if a woman should ascertain that her husband is an adulterer a homicide a poisoner or one who is plotting anything against our government or has been convicted of perjury or forgery or is a violator of supplers or has stolen anything from sacred buildings or is a robber or a harborer of robbers a cattle thief or a kidnapper or in contempt of his house and of her or in her presence has consorted with dissolute women which is especially exasperating to females who are chased or if he has attempted to deprive her of Life by poison or by the sword or in any other way or if she should prove that he had beaten her which is not allowed in the case of Freeborn women we then Grant her permission to Avail herself of the necessary Aid of repudiation and to present legal reasons for divorce end quote we added numbering in the previous quote for clarity but as can be seen the reasons to dissolve a marriage can be gathered into nine or so points that are further reduced to three further when one understands the Byzantine saw their government as a manifestation of God's Kingdom on Earth the logic behind reasons such as treason becomes clearer likewise perjury and forgery would result in undermining the validity of the legal system which causes the decay of society when compared with the reasons for divorce in the Russian Orthodox Church the connection is plain.


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For example the Russian Orthodox Church includes the following reasons for divorce:

1) apostasy from Orthodox Christianity

2) adultery

3) sexual perversion

4) permanent impotence existing prior to marriage

5) leprosy and syphilis

6) absent spouse for 3 years due to war or disaster

7) criminal sentence that removes Civic rights from the spouse

8) life threat on the spouse or children

9) incest

10) prostitution or abuse of the dependent spouse.

Contracting another marriage

11) Insanity

12) intentional and total abandonment of a spouse

13) alcoholism or drug addiction that is medically confirmed

14) abortion committed without the consent of the husband (it should be noted that an abortion committed with the consent of the husband is not a cause for divorce but will simply Garner both husband and wife and excommunication).


other Orthodox Churches


have almost identical requirements and when One Compares them to the legal code of Justinian and Nomo Canon of 883


note: (Nomocanon of Photios in 883)

Code of Justinian, collections of laws and legal interpretations developed under the sponsorship of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I from 529 to 565 ce.


it can be seen that our practice is ancient and was well known to the West specifically Rome for most of the first Millennium and the West never saw it as a reason to break communion but one must wonder what is the use in going through the dishonest mental gymnastics Allowed by the annulment tribunals rather than just honestly admitting one partner broke the marriage bond and married life is therefore no longer possible with them but that the first Millennium Church allowed for remarriage in certain circumstances wouldn't it just be better to do away with an nments in all except those cases where a marriage was actually invalid and then allow divorce

in situations in which there had been a grievous crime between the spouses in the Catholic line of thinking it would be better to continue on with the charade of annulments while having marital indissolubility on paper but this is a symptom of a larger issue within the Catholic Church regardless of how long the traditional Catholic mass is banned by the person whom they have to be obedient to regardless of how the reasons for an annulment have proliferated to a point at which nearly anyone can receive one regardless of how poorly clerical celibacy is working out in reality they don't care that the system isn't working it does not matter that the building is on fire what matters to them is the architectural prints say the building is fine in other words they are in Love with a Church on paper that is stripped of its traditional liturgy and is SW SW one way and then the other by the whims of an autocrat who answers to no one.


in Pagan Roman and Greek society marriages were a private affair much like a business transaction marriages were more often than not celebrated in homes and were not performed by Pagan religious figures though Pagan rituals infused the marriage celebrations themselves even within the Jewish Community marriages were an affair between families and though religious figures could be present to part blessings they were not required in all it appears as though the general Trend in the ancient world was that the agreement between the two parties and the transfer of the woman to the man's home were what made a marriage the evidence indicates that the early Christians simply utilized the same system present to them in their cultural millu but without the overtly Pagan practices quote fragmentary comments characterized Christian communities in the first three three centuries of the Faith's existence rather than a developed Theology and practice of marriage if we confine our search for evidence to the area of the Mediterranean world that was part of the Roman Empire we must conclude that marriage was still thought of in Roman legal terms as being contracted by parties the prior knowledge and consent of the bishop as head of the particular church was also regarded as expected such a practice constitutes little more than an extension into a Christian community's life of the common expectation in Roman law that regarded marriage not as a public or state Affair but an ordering of relationships in families end quote this is backed up by Reynolds who in his groundbreaking study marriage in the western church States,


quote:  "There is no evidence that the church required any special right or even that Christians customarily observed one thus persons who were already married before they converted to Christianity entered the body of Christ as married persons by becoming baptised they committed themselves to do whatever the gospel required in respect of marriage including Jesus teaching against divorce and remarriage a teaching that was markedly at variance with contemporaneous judaic and Roman law end quote even after the conversion of Constantine little if anything changed in the direction of Christian marriage on a legal level until the Codex Theodosianus of 438 which stated that in order for a couple to be considered married they had to State before a group of witnesses that they wanted to be married.


Reynolds points out that at roughly the same time in the west the first evidence of nupal liturgies appear first in its earliest form the nuptial Liturgy of Rome involved the veiling of the bride and groom together. This Veil which the priest applied with his Blessing was distinct from the veil that the bride wore to her wedding in due course the practice of veiling the couple spread throughout the Latin West an early witness to it is Paulinus of Nola, who describes how the bishop joining the heads of them both under the conjugal peace veils them with his right hand and sanctifies them with a prayer.

note: Paulinus of Nola born Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, was a Roman poet, writer, and senator.

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Isidor of Seville as we have seen notes two distinct nuptial veils the maor worn

by the bride to signify her subjection to her husband and the Vita that the priest placed upon the couple after blessing them end quote in the east by the mid 6th Century Nolla 74 and 117 of Emperor St Justinian the great presented an outline for a church ritual that would fulfil the state's requirements for a marriage the Nolla prescribed that the ritual had to be celebrated before a cleric inside of a church and include promises to live together as husband and wife at which point the prospective spouses would kiss a Bible but this was still not the only way for Christian couples to the form of marriage it was simply One Way among many nearly two centuries after St Justinian's law code approved this ritual as fulfilling state requirements for a marriage Emperor Leo III (known as Leo the Isaurian) published the eoa in 726 in which a marriage could be contracted with merely a church blessing prior to this that was allowed simply for the wealthy while the commoners had to go through the legal system the emperor Constantine V in the mid 8th Century allowed marriage to be considered valid by four different forms one of which was a church blessing Leo the 6 known more commonly as Leo the wise at the end of the 9th century and beginning of the 10th Century published the isogi which allowed a Christian marriage to be contracted either by the signing of a contract a blessing or even a crowning this differed little from previous legislation and really only recognised what was the norm this is despite the fact that Greek missionaries in Bulgaria seem to have been insisting that all marriages be blessed it is not clear why they were insisting on this but there are likely two different reasons the first is that the Bulgarian bureaucracy was not nearly as developed as the Byzantine one and therefore marriages were rarely registered with any governing Authority that could enforce them in the mind of the Greek missionaries a church blessing would probably have meant that the marriage would be recorded in the church records second in a culture that was in the very early stages of conversion to Christianity a marriage in a church would have meant a marriage celebration under the eye of a Christian cleric who would have forbade any openly and obvious Pagan elements being used in the ceremony in the eyes of the Greek clerics Greek culture had been so thoroughly christianized that such a

precaution was not necessarily mandatory among Greeks while it was among a group

that still had one foot in the Pagan world if that was the case it went over the head of Pope Nicholas who when he wrote a reply to the questions posed by the Bulgarian con Boris Pope Nicholas in the third chapter States a blessing is not necessary as the Greek missionaries were according to con Boris insisting on further Pope Nicholas gives a brief description of what constituted a marriage service in Rome stating it included the wearing of crowns for both spouses and the wearing of a veil for the wife but only if it were her first marriage as as well as some form of vows but Pope Nicholas makes clear this ceremony is not needed rather he emphasizes all that is required to form a marriage is consent between the two after the betrothal is celebrated which is the promised pact of future marriage made with the consent of both those who contract The Pact and those under whose power they are the betrothed man joins the bride to himself with vows


through the finger marked by him with the Ring of faith and the bet trro Man Hands over to her a dowy pleasing to


both people along with a document containing this agreement in the presence of those invited by both


parties then either soon after or at an appropriate time namely in order that no


such thing be presumed to be done before the time defined by law both are brought to the wedding first they are stationed


by the hand of the priest in the Church of the Lord along with offerings which they should offer to God and so at last


they received the bless in and the celestial Veil on the model namely of the Lord who after placing the first


people in Paradise said to them increase and multiply Tobias before he had come


together with his wife is also described as having prayed to God with the same prayer the person who passes into a


second marriage however does not receive the veil when they leave the church after this they wear crowns on their


heads which are always kept by custom in the church and so after the wedding is celebrated they are directed to lead


their own life with God disposing over the rest these are the wedding vows


these are the solemn agreements of married people as well as those which at present do not come to mind but we do


not claim that it is a sin if all of these things do not occur in a marriage agreement as you say the Greeks told you


especially since so great a lack of wealth usually oppresses people that it offers them no help in preparing these


things and for this reason according to the laws the consent alone of those whose


Union is at issue is enough to make a marriage yet if this consent alone is


per chance lacking in the wedding all the rest even if it is consummated with intercourse itself is in vain as the


great teacher John chrisam attests who says not intercourse but will makes


marriage end quote what pope Nicholas is stating outright is that even as late as the


year 866 a Christian marriage was typically a secular Affair done between two


Christians this was not due to any breakdown in Christian Society in the west as it was a similar situation in


the East according to none other and Pope Nicholas's contemporary and arch nemesis St fius the great quote the


well-known legal collection known as epano go describing in detail the relations between church and state and


whose author is most probably the great patriarch fius still offers to Christians three alternatives for


concluding marriage marriage writes fius is an alliance between husband and wife


and their Union for their entire life it is accomplished by a blessing or by a


crowning or by an agreement end quote so we see that even in the East it was a


variety of practices as opposed to one consistent practice it was not until the


year 893 that the Byzantine Empire legislated that only a church wedding


would be counted as a legitimate wedding but what this means is that prior to 893


the church's position in regards to marriage was largely to ratify civil marriages for its members the earliest


possible indication of this is in the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch to St polycarp of Smyrna quote but it becomes


both men and women who marry to form their Union with the approval of the bishop that their marriage may be


according to God and not after their own lust let all things be done to the honor


of God end quot notice it does not state it is formed by the bishop but rather with the


approval of the bishop which indicates it is not something the bishop does but something he ratifies regardless of


whether or not this is the first instance of the church ratifying civil marriages the scant documentation of


marriage ceremonies for Christians almost assures us of it as father Kevin shmur points


oute with the passage of time the early church began to take on the role of


ratifying civil marriages this ratification took place in various ways


such as the custom of exchanging the marital consent with the consent of the bishop the presence of members of the


clergy at Christian weddings and The Newlywed couples partaking of the Eucharist end


quot there is almost no record of what this ratification consisted of in terms of lurgical Acts only random mentions


here and there of it have come down to us and none of those mentions corroborate the others which indicates


the practices were local and probably specific to each bishop or even each Parish father shmur later provides


further Insight writing over time the consent of the bishop the simple blessing which Bishops


and priests imparted during the wedding feast and the ordinary participation of the newlyweds in the Eucharist developed


into a public and solemn right with longer prayers and hymns other customs


and rituals such as the crowning of the spouses the imposition of the veil and the joining of hands were given a


Christian meaning and began to be included in the ceremony and conducted by the clergy this development


intensified when these rituals were transferred into the Divine Liturgy and Bishops began to freely add and


incorporate various lurgical form formulas in a peculiar passage Clement


of Alexandria admonished ornamental fake hair during weddings because it obstructed the blessing from falling


directly on the head in the 4th Century basil of cesaria spoke of a blessing


given to the spouses at the beginning of their conjugal life while Timothy the of Alexandria condemned Priestly blessings


that were bestowed upon unlawful marriages a letter of Gregory of nanus


shows that Psalm 128 which is still sung nowadays during the nuptial Liturgy was



already being used at that time in two of his letters Theodore of Studios


spelled a marriage blessing which was said during The Divine Liturgy thus Christian marriage obtained a Priestly


character and began to be perceived and experienced as a Eucharistic event the


link between these two sacraments grew so deep that by the 9th century the Eucharist had become the measure of a


marriage that was celebrated in the Lord and the church did did not know of any right of marriage separate from the


Eucharistic liturgy end quote what father shm is referring to when he


speaks of the 9th century witnessing the link between the Eucharist and wedding is the issuing of Nolla 89 in the year


893 which stated that only those marriages conducted by the church were valid marriages no longer was a mere


contract blessing or crowning appropriate but an actual church wedding performed by a priest had to take place


in order for the state to recognize it it is worth noting that for almost the entirety of the first Millennium


marriage ceremonies were ritually specific to localities and the church nor was one insisted upon as father


mondorf States quote this new reality was not originally expressed in any


specific and independent marriage ritual and its nature did not consist in suppressing the laws which secular


society had set Christians understood the value of the Roman order they


appreciated the progress which some aspects of Roman law were introducing in human relations but while accepting all


that they never forgot the specific and totally new experience and commitment which they accepted in baptism and the


Eucharist What mattered therefore was not the particular ceremony used to


conclude the marriage but who was accepting the marriage contract if the parties were Christian their marriage


was a Christian marriage involving Christian responsibility and chrisan


experience for them marriage was a Sacrament not simply a legal agreement


end quote father mondorf later continues quote if as we have seen above marriage


was conceived by the early church as a Sacrament anticipating the joy of the kingdom of God how can we explain the


fact that this church did not use any particular ceremony or right to sanction marriage instead it recognized as normal


a marriage concl uded according to the laws of secular society it never tried to abolish these laws nor to destroy the


social order which instituted them the answer to this question is that the


difference between a non-Christian and a Christian marriage lies in the fact that the first was concluded between two


pagans while the second involved two Christians it did not lie in the manner in which it was concluded end quot so as


we have seen for most of the first Millennium CHR Christians partook of secular marriages but often had them


blessed or ratified by the church this was not simply the case in remote Villages that might only be visited by a


priest every few years but even within cities that then begs the question how


could marriage be a Sacrament if no service for it was conducted is this a case of doctrinal development in which


the church slowly sacralized marriage the answer is no and for several reasons


we will discuss throughout this video during every Orthodox wedding service


Ephesians 5: 20-33 is read in it the


marriage of husband and wife is compared to the union between Christ and the church giving thanks always for all


things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and the father being


subject one to another in the fear of Christ let women be subject to their


husbands as to the Lord because the husband is the head of the the wife as Christ is the head of the church he is


the savior of his body therefore as the church is subject to Christ so also let


the wives be to their husbands in all things husbands love your wives as


Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it that he might sanctify it cleansing it by the


Laver of water and the word of life that he might present it to himself a glorious church not having spot or


wrinkle or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish so


also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies he that loveth his wife


loveth himself for no man ever hated his own flesh but nourisheth and cherisheth


it as also Christ doth the church because we are members of his body of


his flesh and of his bones for this cause shall a man leave his father and


mother and shall cleave to to his wife and they shall be two in one flesh this


is a great Sacrament but I speak in Christ and in the church nevertheless


let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself and let the wife fear her husband end


quote it is read at the Orthodox marriage service precisely because it demonstrates how marriage is an icon of


the church but the church expresses itself most fully in the Eucharistic celebration it is perhaps for this


reason that the early church implicitly accepted the Civil marriages of its members by their joint partaking of the


Eucharist quote early Christian writers the same ones who otherwise give full


recognition to the legal validity of civil marriage according to the laws also affirm that it is the Eucharist


which gives to marriage its specifically Christian meaning thus tertullian writes


that marriage is arranged by the church confirmed by the oblation


sealed by the blessing and inscribed in Heaven by the Angels every Christian


couple desirous of marriage went through the formalities of civil registration which gave it validity in secular


society and then through their joint participation in the regular Sunday


liturgy in the presence of the entire local christian community they received the Bishop's blessing it was then that


their civil agreement became also Sacrament with with eternal value


transcending their Earthly lives because it was also inscribed in heaven and not


only in a secular registry end quote Father Anthony Rober a professor


emeritus of religious studies at Penn State University writes quote in order that the purely secular legal dimensions


of marriage not overshadow its quality as an integrated dimension of the Mysteries of the church at whose Center


stands the community celebration of the Eucharist the blessing of the overseer


of the Christian Community confirmed this expectation of what Christians believed about the nature and purpose of


marriage end quote mondorf offers what is the strongest and most obvious proof


that the Eucharist is what makes a marriage sacramental when he points out that even when a non-Christian couple


converts to Orthodox Christianity the church does not nor has it ever


remarried them quote a non-Christian couple admitted into the church through


baptism crism and communion is not remarried their joint reception of the


Eucharist is the Christian fulfillment of a natural marriage concluded outside the church end


quote one might attempt to counter argue that any of the other sacraments would create the same effect that cannot be


the case as we have various modes of receiving converts some are received by baptism some are received by chrismation


While others are received by confession of faith yet none of them are required


to be married again mondorf expands on this writing quote now the meaning of


marriage as Sacrament cannot be understood outside of this same Eucharistic context the church since


it's very early days considered the legal or social institution of marriage as being transformed into a reality of


the Kingdom only if it was concluded between two members of the body of Christ it is in the flesh of Christ that


two Christians can be come flesh of each other in a truly Christian way and it is


in the Eucharist that they become Christians by partaking of the body of Christ This is why originally marriages


were blessed during The Divine Liturgy at which the bridegroom and the Bride partook of Holy Communion and this was


possible only in the case of a first marriage which both sides were able to accept as an eternal Bond indestructible


by death itself end quot in Catholicism the two persons confer the sacrament


onto one another and the role of the priest is primarily that of leading the service and being a witness within the


Orthodox Church though the priest confers the sacrament on the couple thereby marrying them to one another it


is that emphasis on contract that appears to be a leftover from paganism that has worked its way into Catholic


theology as my andorf points out quote Western medieval theology on the


contrary has created a series of confusions by adopting as in so many


other points Roman legalism as the basis of sacramental theology marriage being a


contract is concluded by the husband and wife themselves who are therefore the Ministers of the sacrament the priest


being only a witness as a legal Contract Marriage is dissolved by the death of


one of the partners but it is indisoluble as long as both are alive


broken by death assimilated with the human agreement marriage in the prevailing Western View is only an


Earthly Affair concerned with the body Unworthy of entering the kingdom of God


one can even wonder whether marriage so understood can still be called a Sacrament but by affirming that the


priest is the Minister of the marriage as he is also the minister of the Eucharist the Orthodox Church implicitly


integrates marriage in the Eternal mystery where the boundaries between Heaven and Earth are broken and where


human decisions and action acquire an eternal Dimension end quote this is


important one of the reasons marriage is a Sacrament is because it is conferred at the hands of a priest or Bishop


recall that the priesthood is an extension of the episcopate and therefore Bishops are the only true


priests and the job of the priest is sacramental they perform the sacraments for the community anyone else can manage


the finances and the properties of a church or a dicese anyone else can manage the charitable Outreach the


catechizing of converts or the maintenance of the church building itself but only a bishop or by extension


a priest can perform the sacraments as that is their primary and unique role in


the community the only exception to this is baptism which can be performed by a


layment only in cases of emergency even in that case if the person lives it is not uncommon for the


person to be given a proper baptism in case the Layman had not performed the baptism


correctly but because marriage mirrors the union between Christ and the church adultery takes on the form of an act of


apostasy the imagery used in the New Testament to express our membership in the church is one of Flesh as it


describes us as members of the body of Christ likewise the union between a


husband and wife is described as being one flesh in his commentary on a Ephesians


5:31 ambrosiaster writes for this reason shall a man leave father and mother and


cleave to his wife and they shall be two in one flesh to commend this Unity he


supplies an example of unity just as a man and a woman are one in nature so


Christ and the church are recognized as one through faith this is a great mystery I mean in reference to Christ


and the church he means that the great sign of this mystery is in the unity of


man and woman just as a man forsakes his parents and Cleaves to his wife so too


he forsakes every error and Cleaves to the church and subjects himself to her head which is Christ end quote when one


of the partners commits adultery they introduce a new flesh into the relationship much as Israel introduced


New Gods into their worship or an apostate abandons the body of Christ for a new body in the words of Reynolds


quote we know why adultery is a special case in as much as marriage is in


essence a union in one flesh the spouses should endure most kinds of tension and


Discord but adultery from this point of view vitiates the very essence of


marriage for the adulterous becomes one flesh with another man end quote this is


why so much of the Christian witness in the first Millennium States a husband can divorce a wife guilty of adultery


and that he can Remar so strong is this link that in the Holy scriptures and writings of the church fathers often


times they speak of apostasy as a form of marital infidelity in fact we see


this in such places as Jeremiah chter 3 Ezekiel chapter 16 and chapter 23 Hosea


1 Matthew 12:39 and CH 16:4 as well as in Mark


8:38 all of these scriptural references are places in which unfaithfulness to God is described as adultery St


hippolytus of Rome makes this comparison and even points out that the punishment for an adulteress is death quote now sin


is the death of the soul and especially the sin of adultery for when the soul that is united with Christ forsakes its


faith it is given over to Perpetual death these a Eternal punishment and in


confirmation of this in the case of the transgression and violation of marriage unions in the flesh the law has decreed


the penalty of death end quote marriages between Orthodox Christians and other trinitarian


Christians are tolerated though not encouraged one very famous marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a


non-orthodox Christian was that between the emperor St Justinian the great and his wife St Theodora who appears to have


been a monophysite despite this marriages to non-orthodox are canonically prohibited


the Council of laia's 9th Cannon extends this to everyone when it statesthe members of the church shall


not indiscriminately marry their children to Heretics end quot later on


the 31st Canon which is attributed to the council repeats this injunction stating quote it is not lawful to make


marriages with all sorts of Heretics nor to give our sons and daughters to them


but rather to take of them if they promise to become Christians end


quot despite this and perhaps because of a growing sense of laxity that came with the early fth Century only the sons of


clergymen are specified by the Council of Carthage in


419e that the sons of clergymen are not to be joined in marriage with Heretics


end quot later in 451 the Council of Caledon even specified that readers en


chanters as well as their children are not to marry outside the faith since in


certain provinces it is permitted to the readers and singers to marry the holy Senate has decreed that it shall not be


lawful for any of them to take a wife that is heterodox but those who have already begotten children of such a


marriage if they have already had their children baptized among the Heretics must bring them into the communion of


the Catholic church but if they have not had them baptized they may not Hereafter


baptize them among Heretics nor give them in marriage to to a heretic or a Jew or a heathen unless the person


marrying the Orthodox child shall promise to come over to the Orthodox faith and if anyone shall transgress


this decree of the Holy Cate let him be subjected to canonical censure and quote


by the time the quinex council or commonly known as trulo met in 691 it


went back to the stricter interpretation of laa ruling an orthodox man is not permitted


to marry an heretical woman nor an orthodox woman to be joined to an heretical man but if anything of this


kind appear to have been done by any we require them to consider the marriage null and that the marriage be dissolved


for it is not fitting to mingle together what should not be mingled nor is it right that the Sheep be joined with the


wolf nor the lot of Sinners with the portion of Christ but if anyone shall


transgress the things which we have decreed let him be cut off but if any who up to this time are unbelievers and


are not yet numbered in the flock of the Orthodox have contracted lawful marriage between themselves and if then one


choosing the right and coming to the light of truth and the other remaining still detained by the bond of error and


not willing to behold with steady eye the Divine Rays the unbelieving woman is


pleased to cohabit with the believing man or the unbelieving man with the believing woman let them not be


separated according to the the Divine Apostle for the unbelieving husband is Sanctified by the wife and the


unbelieving wife by her husband end quote despite mixed marriages being


relatively common now they have traditionally been canonically forbidden it was only with the ruling of 920 in


which the church was made responsible for all marriages in the Empire that a marriage right had to be invented that


took into account that one partner might not be an Orthodox Christian and that is reflected in the fact it did not include


the act of partaking of the Eucharist as marriage ceremonies previously


had in August 886 the emperor Leo v 6 surnamed the wise became emperor of the


Byzantine Empire he brought with him his wife the now canonized St theophano with


him but in 897 St theophano died she had previously retired to a monastery and


the emperor Leo proceeded to then marry Zoe zut Z but Zoe died shortly thereafter in 899


and there was still no male heir to the Byzantine Empire now for those who


watched our video divorce and remarriage in the church fathers they will know the Greek patristic tradition led by figures


such as St basil the great and St Gregory the Theologian limited marriages to three even considering a third


marriage not even proper marriage itself this is then repeated in texts such as


the apostolic Constitution for them a fourth marriage was out of the question but the Emperor who had


previously legislated against even third marriages was well aware that the well-being and unity of the Empire


relied upon having a male Heir and so he was granted permission by patriarch


Anthony of Constantinople for a third marriage the emperor took okia bayana as


his third wife but she died during child birth in 901 Leo then took a mistress


Zoe carbano Cena and in 905 she bore him a son when he approached the patriarch


of Constantinople St Nicholas myos to baptize his son the patriarch agreed so


long as he ended his relationship with his mistress Zoe kbop Leo initially


agreed but now in January 906 and several days after the son was baptized


Leo pressured a priest into marrying him and Zoe the clergy were outraged and St


Nicholas mystios half-heartedly attempted to find a middle ground whereby the fourth marriage could be


legitimized but the emperor fearing the decision would not be in his favor sent out appeals to Rome Alexandria Antioch


and Jerusalem when the answers returned stating that it was best to Simply allow an exception in this special case St


Nicholas mystios resigned his sea in 907 and was replaced by EOS celos who had


been the emperor's Confessor by 912 Leo had died and his brother


Alexander took the throne Alexander had patriarch Emos deposed and reinstalled


St Nicholas as patriarch of Constantinople once again in his holy sea St Nicholas anathematized the Roman


popes anastasius III Lando and John I 10th for their support of the fourth


marriage but avoided anathematizing Pope sergius III who had lent the initial


support mystico then ironically had to recognize the fourth marriage of Leo I 6


and even Crown Zoe carbina as empress finally in a reunion Council in 920 the


various factions within Constantinople came together and issued the Tomos of 920 which laid out definitively the


position of the Orthodox Church on remarriages and accepted the Nomo Cannon of St fodos the great which repeats the


reasons for divorce that are found in the law code of Justinian listen of our previous video will recall hearing the


Tomos of 920 in its entirety so it is not necessary to go over it again but


the general outline of it is thate one a man must be under the age of 40 have no


children and he will be excommunicated for 5 years before being able to receive the Eucharist once per year at Easter


due to the fast beforehand purifying him two a man who is at least 30 years of


age but less than 40 and does have children from either of his previous two marriages will be excommunicated for


four years before being able to receive communion at Easter Nativity and the DM


Mission due to the prior fasts purifying him end quote now St Nicholas mystios


headed that Council but prior to it he expressed the patristic attitude towards


second and third marriages in various pamphlets entitled on the tetr gami


quote when the creator of the universe says of Adam let us make a help meet for


him this is not permission for more than one marriage but for one only therefore


he also creates one woman having taken one of Adam's Ribs out of which he forms


a woman to bring her to him as his bride consequently marriage as instituted by


God knows one Union only and further unions do not derive from Divine Law


even though they are permitted from Human considerations end in Another


Place St Nicholas writes the words therefore shall a man leave his father


and his mother also apply to monogamy or is it not for their first marriage that


people leave their parents and marry so as to become one flesh it is evident then that only she can be the spouse


properly socalled for whose sake the man who becomes her husband actually leaves


his father and mother end qu in yet another place he reiterates this


stating the great Apostle Paul admonishing men to love their wives as their own bodies as Christ loves the


church makes it manifest to those who are not totally blinded that a man should wed one wife only there are not


Two Churches of Christ either since tradition acknowledges one Catholic and


Apostolic church he expresses himself thus men ought to love their wives as


their own bodies for no man ever yet hated his own flesh but he nourishes and


cherishes it even as the Lord the church and the sequel too this is a great


mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church obviously dissuades the


step of a second marriage but if there is no place for the second marriage what


can there be for more end quote now first listening to these one


would think that St Nicholas mystios would have been against divorce and remarriage while the first partner is


still alive but we know that this is not the case because as mentioned the Nomo


Canon of St fius was approved at the Council of 920 that Nomo Canon


incorporates as legitimate all of the causes of divorce found in the law code of Justinian and those are the same


grounds for divorce used by the Orthodox Church to this day as father shm notes


in his Nomo Canon of 883 patriarch fius included the list of causes of divorce


that had been proclaimed by Emperor Justinian in Nolla 17 around 40 years later following the


conflict with Emperor Leo I 6 the Senate of Constantinople met under patriarch


Nicholas the Mystic and adopted the Nomo Canon of patriarch fius as an official collection of the laws of Byzantium end


quote second in those quotations from St Nicholas mystios he is writing specific


specifically on the tetragram controversy so this specifically has to do with remarriage after the death of a


spouse not after divorce even in this case the first marriage is the only real


one we see this in various patristic writers such as St basil the great who is speaking about remarriage in general


and States quote in the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same


rule in proportion as in the case of diamy namely one year for diamy some


authorities say two years for trigamy men are separated for three and often


four years but this is no longer described as marriage at all but as polygamy nay rather as limited


fornication it is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria who had five husbands he whom thou now


Hast is not your husband he does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits


of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife End quot St


basil later doubles down on this writing quote there is no law as to trigamy a


third marriage is not contracted by law we look upon such things as the defilements of the church but we do not


subject them to public condemnation as being better than unrestrained fornication end quote the words of St


Gregory nanus who in the larger Passage Mage appears to be speaking specifically about remarriage after divorce also goes


with the general distaste for the third marriage for I think that the word here


seems to deprecate second marriage for if there were two christs there may be


two husbands or two wives but if Christ is one one head of the church let there


be also one flesh and let a second be rejected and if it hinder the second


what is to be said for a third the first is law the second is Indulgence the


third is transgression and anything beyond this is swinish such as has not


even many examples of its wickedness end quote we also see it in the highly


influential Apostolic constitutions for you ought to know this


that once marrying according to the law is righteous as being according to the will of God but second marriages After


the Promise are wicked not on account of the marriage marriage itself but because of the falsehood third marriages are


indications of incontinency but such marriages as are beyond the third are manifest


fornication and unquestionable uncleanness end quot even the


influential 4th Century Western writer ambrosiaster points this out in this


commentary on 1 Corinthians stating when he says let her marry he is speaking


with regard to the natural law although while the first marriage is from God the


second is merely permitted accordingly the first marriage is celebrated in


heaven but the second lacks Glory even in these times end quote other


authorities who attest to the fact that second marriages were celebrated in a much more somber way are the seventh


Canon of the Council of neoc cesaria in 3:15 and the 9th century Canon 2 of St


Nikki foros of Constantinople further those who have contracted a second marriage cannot be


counted worthy of the clergy even if their first spouse died we see this in the 17th and 18th Cannons of the


apostolic cannons quote he who has been twice married after baptism or who has


had a concubine cannot become a bishop preser or Deacon or any of the other


sacerdotal list end quote quote he who married a widow or a divorced woman or


an Harlot or a servant made or an actress cannot be a bishop preser or


Deacon or any other of the sacerdotal list end quote whether one is himself on his


second marriage or marries someone who is on their second marriage even a widow this disqualifies him from entering the


clergy even within the ranks of widows only those women who have been married once are counted as


widows but the true widows are those which have had only one one husband having a good report among the


generality for good works widows indeed sober chaste faithful Pious who have


brought up their children well and have entertained strangers unblamable which are to be supported as devoted to God


end quote notice that widows are those which have had only one husband there is a


famous quotation by St John chrisam in a letter he writes entitled letter to a young Widow in it he attempts to console


her but also encourages her to remain unmarried saying but if you wish to Behold Him


face to face for this I know is what you specially long for keep your bed in his


honor sacred from the touch of any other man and do your best to manifest a life


like his and then assuredly you shall depart one day to join the same company with him not to dwell with him for 5


years as you did here nor for 20 or 100 nor for a thousand or twice that number


but for infinite and endless Ages end quote similarly we see this in the life


of St macrina the sister of St basil the great and St Gregory of Nissa even though she was only betrodd when her


betroth died she dedicated herself to living a celibate life and refused marriage part of this is because betral


at that time was a promise to marry and was essentially marriage without cohabitation or sexual activity her


reasoning was that the relationship she had with her betrodd was eternal now one


might say that this is a few writers within the patristic Corpus but the Cannons of St basil the Great and the


apostolic cannons as well as the apostolic constitutions were all accepted at trulo 691 and 692 and Canon


3 of trulo repeats these injunctions for the clergy so is a marriage indisoluble in


the Orthodox Church the answer is no we know this because for one in our


previous video we saw numerous statements from church fathers and councils that stated a marriage could be


quote dissolved second those Saints canons and


councils that allowed for remarriage could only do so with the understanding that marriage in certain conditions and


due to certain actions was dissolvable otherwise they would have been understanding themselves to be


legalizing polygamy what the position of the church can be understood as is not that marriage is


indisoluble so much as that both marriage and the sexual activity that accompanies it leaves an indelible mark


on the persons we should think of marriage much like baptism or ordination


both of which are sacraments that cannot be repeated but that also leave an indelible mark on their


recipients this is why so many canons stipulated a Penance for remarriage regardless of whether or not the person


had been divorced or widowed it is also why only the first marriage receives a


proper marriage service while if either of the betrodd has been previously married a different and more solemn


service is in fact used properly speaking and in line with what is said by such sources at St basil the great St


Gregory the Theologian and the Tom of Union 920 regardless of why someone is


now single only the first marriage is a proper marriage that fact that a second


or third marriage bars one from the clerical state by making them Unworthy of ordination is further Testament to


the indelible sense of marriage as clergy who serve at the altar must have lived a spotless life and if one is a


participant in a marriage that is not marriage in the fullest sense then they are not spotless but as mentioned


earlier the fact that the second marriage is given a different and more somber right of Celebration than the


first is not just true of the Eastern church but was once the practice of the western church too Reynolds in his


Monumental work marriage in the western church points that oute it is not until the 9th century


that we find anyone declaring that a marriage is invalid unless a priest has joined and blessed the man and woman and


even then the position was undermined by the denial of nupal benediction to


remarrying widowers and widows and even to those who had not preserved their ch


custody before marriage the marriages of such persons while perforce unblessed


were not invalid the medieval Church tried to ensure that persons married in fi Ecclesia but this was not a condition


for validity end quote Reynolds later expands on this point demonstrating that


the position dated to the 4th century and that it eventually spread to the Frankish realm quote in the Roman


tradition only those who were marrying for the first time could be blessed by a


priest ambrosiaster is our earliest witness to this practice and Pope Nicholas I mentions it in his reply to


the bulgarians written in 866 cesarias of ARL is a witness to the Roman custom


whereby not only widows but also persons marrying for the first time who had not preserved their Chastity were precluded


from benediction and he seems to have introduced this practice in his dicese Jonas of Orleans and Benedictus levita


test testify to the fact that by the 9th century these Roman Customs had become generally adopted in frania end quot now


one might wonder why somberness and penances were attached to a second marriage even in the case of the death


of a spouse but when we consider that the penances were almost a fine or user fee for Contracting a second marriage


when the ideal is to stay celibate to a spouse even after death it makes more sense as father shm


describes in the 14th century the syntagma highlighted two types of


excommunication from the church one is permanent and results in an eternal


expulsion which was known as anathematization and defined as complete


separation from Christ and Consignment in turn to Satan the other was temporary


in nature and was remedied through repentance viscuso observes that the latter kind of excommunication is


involved in the Penance of second and third marriages and remarks that the eventual communion of digus spouses


implies that gradually through Penance they were considered worthy of the Eucharist and their Union was


accordingly placed on the same level as the first married end quote there are


two other historical occurrences related to divorce and remarriage in the church the first is the so-called moan


controversy now moan comes from the Greek word Momi meaning to commit


adultery and the controversy centered around the marriage of emperor Constantine II to


theodote the patriarch of Constantinople St tasos refused to officiate at the


wedding because Constantine v 6 had divorced his previous wife Maria of amnia in 795 for reasons not covered in


Orthodox canon law quote patriarch tasos refused to officiate at this wedding


even though Imperial Mar marriage ceremonies were typically performed by the patriarch because a divorce without


proof of adultery on the part of the wife was illegitimate end quote in other


words she had not committed adultery tried to kill her husband apostasis Etc


in fact Constantine v 6 retired Maria to a Convent and in less than a year he


married his mistress theodote under pressure and in a move he would later regret St teras allowed a


hro monk named Joseph to officiate at the wedding but would not bless it himself further St terasos did not


excommunicate the emperor shocked St Theodore the studite and his monastics


immediately broke communion with the patriarch and the emperor and demanded the Abbott Joseph be defro in reaction


Constantine v 6 arrested the monks and exiled them where they stayed for two years until he was deposed and blinded


by his mother the empress St Irene with Constantine v 6 out of the way St


Theodore the studite and his monks were allowed to return to Constantinople and St terasos defrocked the Abbot Joseph


for his role in the marriage despite the fact that terasos had allowed him to perform it when St tasos died in 806 he


was succeeded by patriarch Nikki foros I first who then allowed the Abbott Joseph to resume some of his duties which


caused the studyes to break communion yet again for which they were condemned


at the same time the new emperor annuled the marriage of the now dead Constantine v 6 it was only under the following


Emperor Michael I that Pope Leo III acted as an intermediary and on


condition that the Abbott Joseph be defro it was then that the studyes and


patriarch of Constantinople made peace likewise patriarch alexios refused to


perform the marriage ceremony for zoeie porur genena and Constantine monakos in


1042 because it was Zoe's fourth marriage even though she had been widowed three times over instances such


as the moan controversy the tetramer versy and the fourth marriage of Zoe


porur jenita show that the church was very vocal when it saw the government as


infringing on the church's territory the reason is the government policy typically copied church practice


not the other way around Father John mondorf notes this here writing quote


throughout all that period divorce with right of remarriage was granted not only


on the grounds of adultery but also on such grounds as political treason


planning of murder disappearance for 5 years or more unjustified accusation of


adultery and finally monastic vows of one of the partners no father of the


church ever denounced these Imperial laws as contrary to Christianity there


was an evident consensus of opinion that considered them as inevitable Emperors like Justinian I


sincerely tried to issue legislation inspired by Christianity and when


formulating it used competent advice of Bishops and theologians among the latter many


opposed Imperial will when it infringed upon Christian Orthodoxy but none opposed their legislation on divorce end


quote in conclusion we believe it is ultimately the Eucharist that brings the spouses


together in sealing their marriage it is not that we hold to a doctrine of marital indissolubility per se so much


as we believe marriage leaves an indelible mark on one's Soul much like baptism or ordination further we believe


that one's marriage continues into the Hereafter unless something on Earth definitively breaks it such as adultery


one spouse attempting to kill the other prolonged abandonment Etc even in those cases the sacrament is


not repeatable despite the bond being



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