‘TIL MILD ANNOYANCE DO US PART

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 | Uncategorized

Susan Russell on Robbie’s split:

[Our marriages] are equally blessed and equally challenging. They are equally full of joy and equally full of disappointment. We equally love and cherish each other and we equally hurt and misunderstand each other. And, when a marriage fails, we are equally sad, scared and heartbroken. Just as the values that make up a marriage transcend the gender of the couple in the marriage, so do the challenges. And because all of our marriages are — for better or for worse — equal, they deserve equal protection under the law.

Do go on.

What I believe is that the vow “until death do us part” is absolutely binding on absolutely every marriage. And what I know is that sometimes the death that ends a marriage isn’t the death of one of the partners but the death of the marriage itself. And when that happens, the faithful thing — the honest thing, the healthy thing — is to grieve the death of the marriage. And then, from a Christian perspective, to trust the Easter promise that love is stronger than death — even the death of a marriage.

“The death of the marriage.”  The.  Death.  Of.  The.  Marriage.  Seriously, Susie?!!  Do you REALLY want to play that card?  Because if you do, you’ve just granted “spiritual” permission for every single bimbo in the entire world to sleep around on her husband and every single a-hole in the entire world to sleep around on his wife.

Good Lord.  So all that incessant Episcopalian yammering about blessing “life-long, committed relationships” actually was complete crap?

[Robbie's divorce] teaches us that even good people of deep faith with the best intentions can fail at making the marriage they hoped would be forever last forever. It teaches us that telling the truth about our lives and our challenges is not only healthy for us but can be in inspiration for others. And, most of all, it teaches us, in Gene Robinson’s own words: “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

Particularly when they can just declare the marriage “dead” and move on.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Episcopalians have retired the rationalization trophy.  Nobody else was ever in the ballgame.

Are you all interested in a little Johnson family history?  While doing genealogical research into my father’s side of the family, I sent to Ness County, Kansas for a copy of the marriage record of my paternal grandparents and discovered something that nobody in the family previously knew.

Let’s just say that the time between when my grandparents got married and when my father’s older brother was born was a good deal less than nine months.  Dad thought it had to have been a mistake but my aunt heard stories of Kansas girls who suddenly ran off to Kansas City because of wink, wink.

If anybody out in Ness City, Kansas knew, they didn’t say anything because my dad told me once that when he was a kid, his family used to go out there all the time and he actually seemed to have an affection for the place, insisting that we go out there on the car trip he and I took a year or so before his final illness.

And I was delighted to go.

Anyway, my grandparents married in 1917 and they made a life together in Kansas City.  Grandma had two other children, my dad and my uncle.  But my grandfather abruptly ended the marriage in 1957.

By dropping dead from an aortic aneurysm at the barber shop one day.

Then there was my old man.  I think I’ve mentioned here before that he and I didn’t get along all that well when I was a kid.  He was ex-military, I was a sensitive kid and he didn’t always much patience with kids who didn’t pick things up right away.

When I was a little kid, Pop had this tendency to snap at me whenever I tried to make what I thought was a contribution to the conversation (I’m pushing 60 and the words, “Don’t get smart!!” hurt as much now as they did then).  While it didn’t happen much, he wasn’t above humiliating me in front of the entire family if he was angry enough.

But do you want to know the really funny part?

My admiration for my father grows with each passing year.

The guy grew up during the Depression.  His folks didn’t make a lot of money so that meant that college was out.  He joined the Army Air Corps, flew the China-Burma-India Theater, came home, decided that he couldn’t stand the idea of living in Kansas City, went west and settled in Billings, Montana where he met my mom.

And thereby hangs another tale.

I don’t know if any of you have gone through it but when one of your parents dies, you sometimes find out things they never told you.  When my dad died in 2001, my siblings discovered that the time between my folks’ wedding and the birth of my brother was also a good deal less than nine months.

So was my folks’ marriage kind of, well, …forced?  Maybe.  But it happened.  Then my sister was born.  Then I was born which meant that my dad really needed to make more money which meant that he had to leave Montana, a place he and Mom loved, and return to Missouri, a place he basically detested.

But he made the move, getting a government job here while staying in the Reserves (Pop retired a 20-year man).  The money he invested back then is basically what I’m going to be living on for the rest of whatever life God grants me.

He came down with colitis in the early 60′s, which cost him a fair chunk of his large intestine and forced him to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.  And he occasionally had to watch his youngest son silently communicate unspoken hatred of him.

Then there was his first bypass operation.  Then there was learning that my mom had Alzheimer’s.  Then there was he and I driving her over to the nursing home one morning to put his wife and my mother in there. 

Then there was he and I visiting her every single day.  Then there was the day my sister brought her first-born child over one evening and Mom, who, if she had been right, would have been ecstatically over the moon, didn’t react at all.

Then there was her dying and her memorial service which my dad, who never went to church at all toward the end of his life, made sure to attend.  My dad took my mom from the beginning to the end.

THAT is what true marriage means, Susie Russ.

65 Comments to ‘TIL MILD ANNOYANCE DO US PART

La Vallette
May 10, 2014

Matthew 19:
3 Some Pharisees approached him, and to put him to the test they said, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?’

4He answered, ‘Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female

5 and that he said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh?

6 They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder”

Leaving aside the issue of S/S marriage, where does, “what I know is that sometimes the death that ends a marriage isn’t the death of one of the partners, but the death of the marriage itself.”

Obviously the new more knowledgeable and superior than Christ “Christian prophets of the age”, like Little Susie, has just proven that if one is capable of disregarding or deliberately misrepresenting the clear and unequivocal instructions of Christ in the gospel on one issue issues, then it is a free for all for everything else.

.

Kc
May 10, 2014

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Through the Looking Glass.

Marcel
May 10, 2014

“This blender won’t run. I want my money back.”

“Sorry, it’s out of warranty.”

“But it has a lifetime guarantee!”

“It had a lifetime guarantee, but now it’s dead.”

wm Paul
May 10, 2014

Note that Russell is getting married again, pretty quickly it seems to me after the loss of her partner, and that she had to let the world know.

Katherine
May 10, 2014

If I remember correctly, I think Susan Russell, like Gene Robinson, divorced her first spouse (of the opposite sex) to take up with her same-sex partner/”wife” who recently passed away. A fair number of these GLBT trail-blazers are already divorced.

Like your respected father, Chris, mine kept his marriage vows to my mother until her death, and then he honored his promises to his second wife, in spite of the fact that she turned out to be a pathological liar who mistreated him and lied to him when he was dying. He could be a trifle rigid in his views, but he was an honorable man, from a generation that understood honor and commitment.

Dale Matson
May 10, 2014

I wonder if Susan’s document grammar check underlined her frequent and annoying use of the word “equally”. Saying it does not make it so.

Therese Z
May 10, 2014

They sully not just marriage, but divorce. Both are trivialized.

Elaine S.
May 10, 2014

My husband and I (we’ll be hitting the 20-year mark this year!) have a running joke where, if one of us is really annoying or being argumentative with the other, he will blurt out “Will you marry me?” or “Will you have my baby?” And I will say something like “I’ll have to think about it” or “No way, you’re a cad” or “Sure… oh wait, already did that.” And then, of course, we chuckle. It’s our way of trying to remind each other to look beyond the immediate problem and remember WHY we got married and had a child in the first place.

Gregg the obscure
May 10, 2014

I was startled when I did the math about my Mom’s origins. Her folks were married in late October 1918. She was born 33 weeks later, rather than the more customary 39 weeks, and had the bad manners to clock in at nearly 9 pounds so as to make the preemie argument a tad implausible. Add to that Grandma had only turned 18 a few days before Mom was born and Gramps was a 30 year old who had been a hired hand on Grandma’s parents’ farm and the conclusion is evident. Those grandparents were married until he died, a few days shy of 56 years of matrimony.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
May 10, 2014

As our priest told us in our pre-marriage counseling, ‘equality won’t work. You each give your all to this. You hold nothing back. You don’t stop at 50% and expect the other person to meet you there. Nothing is equal. In some situations you go all the way because they can’t. Other times they will carry you.’ Wise words I think.

I always get pissed as hell when Leftists like Suzi Q have to reinterpret clear statements so that they fit personal opinion. This is no exception, but our host did a better job at skewering her than I can.

Katherine
May 10, 2014

God bless the memory of all these presumably “shotgun” marriages. This is a concept we’ve lost. In those days, people who made errors faced them and lived pretty happy lives. Their children and grandchildren loved them and were grateful to them.

Fuinseoig
May 10, 2014

“What I believe is that the vow “until death do us part” is absolutely binding on absolutely every marriage.”

And then she changes the meaning of the words so that it’s not the death of one of the spouses, it’s the death of the marriage.

Which could mean anything from “My husband is a violent drunk who beats me and the children, spends his pay packet on gambling and whores, and leaves us to starve when he’s pawned everything including my wedding ring” to “I just don’t feel we’re growing in the same way anymore and I need to leave this relationship to be me”.

Either Christian marriage really does mean something that makes a change in both parties so that they are united beyond dissolution in the flesh, or let’s skip the pretence that the retention of the traditional vows means anything more than a formula; a form of words that nobody takes seriously.

Be honest. Stop pretending that you expect any marriage held in your churches to be binding; that instead they are dissoluble at will by one or both spouses; that you won’t happily hold a second marriage ceremony with the same vows should either or both spouses want to hitch up with another partner.

And above all, stop trying to get same-sex weddings normalised as church weddings by pretending you’re serious about holding gays and lesbians to “life-long”, “committed” marriage anymore than you already demand of your parishioners that they can’t divorce and re-marry in church.

Steve
May 10, 2014

I think that a big part of this ummm divorce is the fact that Gene had enough of a drinking problem to require rehab. That is tough on any relationship. But since Gene had an active ummm drinking problem when he was elected a bishop, and he should have disclosed the same, and if he had he wouldn’t have been elected, this makes certain conclusions even more telling.

ccinnova
May 10, 2014

This post made me reflect on my grandparents’ marriages. One set of grandparents married a few weeks before my mother wad born, a fact she didn’t discover until she was helping my grandfather sort through some papers a couple of years before he died. The other set of grandparents eloped; I’ve never found out if they were in a family way at the time.

Both sets of grandparents endured their share of hardships. Both of my grandfathers battled the bottle; one of them remained an active alcoholic until a stroke left him partially disabled when I was 9. Both sets of grandparents endured the Great Depression and World War II. One set of grandparents dealt with faith issues as Grandpa was an Episcopalian while Grandma was Catholic. The other set of grandparents lost their first child in infancy while their second child was stillborn. And both of my grandmothers suffered health problems before dying young, one at age 48 and the other at 57. Yet their respective marriages endured these and other trials until death did them part.

The same was true for my parents’ marriage. My father worked long hours and my mother wasn’t in the best of health the last 15 years of her life. She had an especially rough time the last six months of her life as cancer ravaged her body. Yet my parents’ marriage also lasted until the day she died.

My sister and her husband have been married for a number of years but several of my cousins have been divorced, some more than once. How times have changed.

Miche
May 10, 2014

This “death of the marriage” idea has been around at least 40 years. My dad told me about his friend who was upset about his daughter’s divorce; the friend went to an Episcopal priest for counseling and got the “death also means the ‘death of the marriage’” theme. This was in the late 60′s or early 70′s. My dad never got over his amazement at that statement. I know more than a few Episcopal priests who have been divorced.

Gregg the obscure
May 10, 2014

I just can’t resist posting this one.

If you get into a committed same-sex relationship that lasts more than four hours, please contact your Episcopalian clergy right away.

undergroundpewster
May 10, 2014

As expected, if heterosexual divorce is tolerated, accepted, and sometimes blessed (anybody remember the liturgy for divorce?), by the Episcopal church, then gay split ups are easily rationalized as being of equal “n’import” in the eyes of the church. And in fact, the Episcopal church celebrates serial monogamy, so the yearly marriage stats might be artificially higher (or not as low) than they would if only first marriages were counted.

bob
May 10, 2014

My Irish, Eastern Orthodox priest died jhst a year ago. He would tell of his grandmother solemnly explaining “Well you know dear, the first one can come along ony-time, all the rest take nine months”.

midwestnorwegian
May 10, 2014

In the first place, you cannot “divorce” someone to whom you were never married.

These people are only fooling themselves. It isn’t, (and never will be) marriage.

Period. End of discussion.

Dale Price
May 10, 2014

Frivolous people concocting shallow reasons to do pathetic things.

That’s the contemporary Episcopal communion in a nutshell.

Beautiful story about your father, Chris. Amen.

Bro AJK
May 10, 2014

Dear Chris, et al.,

I wonder if Susan Russell is onto something. Let’s play the ellipses game!

Susan Russell said, “…the death of the marriage…”
Let’s add an ellipses to the phrase: “…the death of … marriage…”

We should grieve this as well.

FW Ken
May 10, 2014

So all that incessant Episcopalian yammering about blessing “life-long, committed relationships” actually was complete crap?

You are just catching on to that? Don’t forget “faithful” and “monogamous”.

I really enjoyed the family stories. I got a dozen red roses today and put one each on my grandmothers’ graves, three great-grandmothers, and one great-great. The rest went on Mama’s grave. So it’s been a day to think about family.

Katherine
May 10, 2014

God bless your mother, FW Ken. My mother died on Mother’s Day thirty-two years ago. I still miss her.

gppp
May 10, 2014

For Susie and her homo friends it’s all about either convenience or their own desires, or both. I guess her marriage to her husband lasted until it “died,” which says really that it lasted only as long as she wanted it to last. Now, having been “married” again she claims that she’s going to be “married” a third time? She should know better, but shows all the more that she doesn’t care what God thinks, her life is all about what she wants and nothing more.

In my (almost) former parish there was a very prominent homo couple, one of whom left his wife and two daughters to shack up with a new comrade in buggery. He was so devoted to his new life that only those closest to him ever heard about his daughters (let alone his marriage), one of whom left the church altogether over being abandoned.

About four years ago, after the effects of twenty years of homoism — outwardly he was merely a very gaunt, hollow shell of what he once was — he died. His (we thought) devoted “partner” was shacked up with a new homo within about three months. Kind of shows the lie to the “devoted” relationship they had being not really devoted at all, and probably not monogamous at all (few in the parish ever thought they really were).

The Father of Lies must very happy with Vicky and Susie these days.

Allen Lewis
May 10, 2014

Susie Q sez:

…teaches us that even good people of deep faith with the best intentions can fail at making the marriage they hoped would be forever last forever.

I have to wonder how deep the faith was. Someone with a better theological knowledge can correct me, but I suspect that if an honest, contrite plea for help and grace to make the marriage work was not made.

I know there are times that marriages must be ended: abuse, severe alcoholism, fraud, deception, etc., but it just seems to me that Robbie was just too willing to pull the trigger. I am trying not to judge, but Suzie isn’t helping me with her glib reassurances that all is well.

I just think somebody was not willing to do the hard work required and rely on the Lord to fulfill his promises.

FW Ken
May 10, 2014

Thank you, Katherine. This was the second mother’s day with her, and ice been missing her this week. Doing the flowers on for generations really was a comfort. I bet no one had put flowers on my great-great grandmother’s grave in 60 years.

LaVallette
May 11, 2014

“I know there are times that marriages must be ended: abuse, severe alcoholism, fraud, deception, etc.,…..”

BUT there is a distinction between the “civil aspects” of the marriage contract, (e.g its practical necessity for distribution of matrimonial, obligations to children and all the other financial issues) and the full and permanently continuing elements of the “marriage contract before God”. (Assuming always that the “marriage contract before God” was validly entered into in every respect and there is nothing that would have rendered it null and void in the first place. e.g. same sex partners)

Allen Lewis
May 11, 2014

FW Ken – you are in my prayers. Hope your day was peaceful. sounds as if it were so.

I, too, appreciated all the stories of the “early” arrivals!

LaVallette-
I was not ignoring your point, I was talking mainly about the effort – and the help which is available – if one really wants to be faithful to the vows made before God.

Ed the Roman
May 11, 2014

Regarding the speed of finding somebody new, while I marvel at doing so in three months, I think maybe the un-bereft should be still.

The young fogey
May 11, 2014

Of course, enabling the king to flout marriage is why Anglicanism exists. And “death of the marriage,” no-fault divorce, and contraception paved the way for the legal fiction of same-sex marriage now. (If marriage isn’t really about bearing children, then why not?) Thanks for the heartfelt story: it takes character to see the good in someone you didn’t like and/or who didn’t like you.

Katherine
May 11, 2014

Yes, Ed. “Until death do us part” is the vow. What happens to mend the heart after the vow has been kept faithfully is individual. What I pray for the bereft is that they step carefully and see clearly.

Katherine
May 11, 2014

OT: Oh, Chris, I just read that your Rams drafted Michael Sam! Fun, fun for sports pundits and idiot pundits, some of that overlapping. I hope he manages to play well and to focus on football. No hope the idiots will leave him and the Rams alone.

Heather Price
May 11, 2014

Chris, my dad was 29 and my mother 27 when they went to get married. He asked the priest about his own parents’ marriage; something odd wouldn’t let her receive Communion, or something (by their understanding).
“When were they married?” asked the priest.
“June 1934.”
The priest flipped through files. Twice. Found nothing. A third time, nothing.
“Hold on a second.” Went to the file for June, 1935. And found it. My dad, mind you, was born July 12, 1935.

A friend from college was born in February, the oldest of his family. His mother is a June bride. He was 20 before he did the math. He asked his mom why she never told him, and she replied, “We kind of thought you’d figure it out yourself!”

It’s a lot more common than people admit or realize. They just stuck with it better in the past.

FW Ken
May 11, 2014

Thank you, Katherine. Have a happy Mother’s Day. May your children rise up and call you blessed.

kb9gzg
May 11, 2014

“Bishop” Robinson’s and “Priest” Russell’s ego defenses are just that: rationalizations arrived at in order to justify their continuing adulterous relationships.

Baillie
May 11, 2014

Today is my wedding anniversary – thirty-nine years to the same man.

And Christopher, he was born in a Catholic refuge for unwed mothers. In St. Louis, Missouri, 1951.

Paula Loughlin
May 11, 2014

Regarding that “Till death do we part” bit. As I’ve told hubby, “That can be arranged.”

I would be lying if I wrote that the thought of divorce or separation had never crossed my mind. But what stops me is not just the fact that I cannot deny my love for my husband even in the worst of times but that I made a solemn vow before God.

A vow which I believe God understands I can not fully live up to unless His Grace is alive in our marriage. If I believe marriage is a sacrament I must also believe in that Grace. To turn my back on my marriage would be to doubt God is always present in our lives giving us what we need to have love for each other in all times.

Therese Z
May 11, 2014

And another thing – -

A same sex set of people is not a couple, they’re a pair.

The co-opting of language makes acceptance easier.

Brize
May 11, 2014

Nota bene: What follows is not based on personal experience. I was married young and have remained married for many years.

The indissolubility of marriage is not the universal position of the early church, nor is the concept of “the death of the marriage” a modern innovation.

This is from the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:
” The Orthodox Church permits its faithful to divorce because it maintains that marriages can and do die. In these cases, the Orthodox Church acknowledges this tragic reality and argues that the worst of two evils is that the couple remain in a destructive relationship that can have a deleterious effect on all family members’ religious, spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

Additionally, the following three historical factors have probably had the greatest impact on the Orthodox Church’s perspective of divorce and remarriage:

1. The close relationship between the church and state which existed in Byzantium had a profound impact on the formulation of marital practice and the possibility of remarriage in the Eastern Church. This is particularly the case with regard to the legislative contributions of the Emperor Justinian’s codex of law issued in 535 A.D. Justinian’s marriage legislation affirmed that marriage was dissoluble for a number of specific reasons I will not detail here.

2. Despite Justinian’s codex, the present discipline of the Orthodox Church with regard to divorce and remarriage actually dates back to the Council of Constantinople held in 920 A.D. This council recognized, without canonical punishment, remarriage and divorce.

3. Further, since the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. the specific reasons given by the Council of Constantinople in 920 A.D. were expanded further.

From an Orthodox perspective, divorce and remarriage belong to human weakness and failure. The Orthodox Church allows remarriage out of mercy and for the salvation of its faithful whose first marriage has died. Alexander Schmemann – a prominent Orthodox theologian – speaks of the “condescending” of the Church “to the unfathomable tragedies of human existence” when speaking about remarriage and divorce. As such, pastoral economia take into account the fact that Christian people are surrounded with erotic propaganda, urbanization, uprootedness and a culture that is at odds with Christian values.”

My own opinion is that divorce should be seen in much the same light as amputation; never desirable in and of itself, always leaving one to some degree scarred and diminished, but sometimes the lesser of the available evils.

LaVallette
May 12, 2014

See my first comment. And the “sub heading” of this very blog!

billnotib
May 12, 2014

Much like Paula Loughlin, I have come to realize that marriage is not a “Garden of Eden”, in which everything is easy, positive-feeling, and supportive of *my* personal needs.

Marriage is a partnership, which requires effort on behalf of both parties to succeed. Those who think it’s just “an extension of one person into the reality of two people” will be (much to their surprise) disappointed, and left wondering what to do.

Marriage requires effort to succeed; both partners must be willing to make concessions and to accept that without a joint commitment and effort at making the relationship succeed, it’s bound to fail. If you can’t understand that you must love someone else more than yourself for a marriage to succeed, then you’re better off finding a bar where you can pick up cheap dates than you are looking for a real, loving relationship.

William Tighe
May 12, 2014

Brize wrote:

“The indissolubility of marriage is not the universal position of the early church, nor is the concept of “the death of the marriage” a modern innovation.”

Well, it depends (as your posting demonstrates) what you mean by “early” as in “the early church.” One important additional factor was:

1. The requirement that all legally-recognized marriages on the part of Orthodox Christians be celebrated in churches, first promulgated by the Emperor Leo III in ca. 726.

The Council of Constantinople of 920 was one of the fallout effects of the four marriages of the emperor Leo IV (Leo the Wise). It is important, as well, in the story of the division between the East and the West, because up to that date Rome (in all previous conflicts between Constantinople, down to, and including the Photian conflicts) always had a party of supporters among the zealous in general and the monks in particular there, but Rome’s declaration when appealed to by the emperor to give its judgment whether he might marry a fourth time after being widowed three times (in the face of strong opposition amongst the monks and clergy of C’ple) that there were no limits on the number of times that a widowed Christian might remarry (provided there be no “former spouse” alive) alienated those supporters.

Right down to the 920 Council of C’ple there was a strong sentiment in the East that remarriage under any circumstances for one who had a “former spouse” alive was sinful and impossible, and many bishops acted on that assumption. Indeed, until church marriage became a legal requirement for Orthodox Christians ca. 726 it appears that whatever the attitude of a bishop to such remarriages, they did not take place in church, or with an ecclesiastical blessing.

If one searches eastern canonical collections from the first, say, five centuries, they allow what we might call “divorce” in varying circumstances, and they make judgments about what to do in the cases of marriages between unbaptized persons, one of whom subsequently becomes a Christian (i.e., is baptized); or if a married couple with previous marriages wishes to become Christian, but in the case of married couples, both of whom are baptized Christians whose marriages “fail” I can think of no cases in which they allow for remarriage of one of the parties in the lifetime of the other. Even in those canons which set the number of years which must elapse before allowing a person whose spouse has “disappeared” to remarry, most of them go on to state that the spouse so remarrying must return to his or her original spouse if the latter should return — or, in any case, must separate from the “additional spouse.”

I would contend, that the earlier one goes in Church History the more dominant is the view that (to put it in later terms) a valid Christian marriage is indissoluble during the lifetime of both of the parties to it. It seems also to be the most obvious and straightforward reading of the Lord’s words on the subject, whatever one makes of the “Matthaean Exception” (Matthew 5:32 and 19:9) of “me epi tes porneias.”

steve
May 12, 2014

Thanks for the family history, Chris.

I think Susie Russell and friends, when they write such things, are really whistling past the graveyard and desperately trying to find words to reassure themselves, that they haven’t all collectively and maybe individually messed up big time. Of course they have to support VGR and intone that this is all for the best, in today’s world that is what commitments mean, etc. On that side, if there is any soul searching going on, it won’t be made public.

Jacob Morgan
May 12, 2014

The Catholic Priest from my old parish would speak of a tradition he observed in an Eastern European country: the Priest would have the bride and groom both hold onto a crucifix, and he would tell them that so long as they both held onto it that their marriage would prosper.

Regarding shotgun weddings, my impression is that people back then did not expect fairy tale romances. They did not see marriage as some sort of aid for self-actualization. They saw it as part of becoming an adult. And they saw it as something that they had to make work, and usually it did. So even the shotgun marriages stayed together more than modern marriages made later in life, after years of cohabitation.

SouthCoast
May 12, 2014

The woman is a cheesy greeting card from the Hellmark store.

Lina
May 12, 2014

Thank you Brize for your comments on marriage and divorce. As one who has been divorced for quite a while, I have often thought that divorce often is treated as an unforgiveable sin, a stain that you have to live with for the rest of your life. In my experience, it takes two to make a marriage, but one to walk out of it. As a matter of fact I almost gave up on God and the Church after being divorced. There didn’t seem to be a place for a sinner like me and I was not the one who broke the vows. Ironically the one who did, was remarried in the Church and even became senior warden, living a life of respectability while being constantly in arrears of child support and etc. and literally abandoning his children. But that is his problem with God not mine.

Paula Loughlin
May 12, 2014

SouthCoast,

Thank you for my morning guffaw.

dominic1955
May 12, 2014

“Frivolous people concocting shallow reasons to do pathetic things.

That’s the contemporary Episcopal communion in a nutshell.”

Somebody quick! Change out this phrase to that pic of KJS with “Don’t believe that crap? Neither do we!” written on it. Comedic gold-yet so very, very, true!

“The woman is a cheesy greeting card from the Hellmark store.”

Man, there certainly are some humdingers on this board today!

Whitestone
May 12, 2014

“So even the shotgun marriages stayed together more than modern marriages made later in life, after years of cohabitation.”

Statistics show that cohabitation before marriage is correlated with much greater incidence of divorce. Guess folks who don’t respect and obey God’s Commandments and Biblical teachings also don’t respect marriage as an institution or a sacrament (Paula Loughlin’s comment is profound) or their promises to each other.

They also are not likely to recognize their need for the essential glue of marriages that Paula also mentions – the miracle of God’s Grace. Not many marriages can survive or thrive through years, frustrations, aggravations, inconveniences, tragedies, betrayals, the thick and thin of human life on this fallen dart, without it.

Jim from Wisconsin
May 12, 2014

Garrison Keillor in telling one of his stories said about a young couple’s new baby that everyone marveled at how a 2 month premature baby boy could weigh 8 pounds, 10 ounces. “You see, it wasn’t that he was born out of wedlock, it was that he wasn’t born far enough into wedlock.”

FW Ken
May 12, 2014

The family story has always been that my grandfather literally held the shotgun at his sister’s wedding. I don’t know it that was true, but it could have been.

Deacon Michael D. Harmon
May 12, 2014

I want to thank Brize for pointing out (as I have in the past) the Orthodox view of this contentious issue. While I understand that many here hold to the Roman Catholic position, others of us do not.
But then, I belong to a church that once elevated a convicted murderer (who had received a gubernatorial pardon due to his prison evangelism) to the episcopacy — and he was a marvelous minister to prisoners, a cause close to my own heart.
I am not condemning the Catholic view, though I consider it harsh — but my experience with Catholic friends who have been through the annulment process shows me that even the Church will bend from its absolute prohibition from time to time and case to case, and I see mercy there.
That does not mean that divorce is always (or even often) justifiable, or that the cases cited above are not egregious abuses of the faith, or that absolute fidelity in marriage no matter what the provocation is not an apex of Christian commitment.
But tarring all divorced people with the same brush, including those suffering from physical and emotional abuse (and both happen to both men and women), is also an error, in my view. So, the Orthodox (and other long-established communions) pick mercy over justice. Unless Jesus does the same, we are all lost.

Ed the Roman
May 12, 2014

The issue is not whether civil divorce is always bad. THe issue is whether a valid sacramental marriage ends except in the death of one spouse.

Lina
May 12, 2014

I suppose the key word here is ‘valid.’ Who determines what is a valid marriage? In the past there have been many loopholes.

Deacon Michael D. Harmon
May 12, 2014

I agree with you, Ed. The point is, as a matter of theology, the RCC has come to one conclusion and (in my view, equally ancient and valid) Orthodoxy has come to another. As I noted above, however, in my experience the annulment process has in some cases allowed marriages that anyone would consider to be sacramentally valid had the couple stayed together been deemed “invalid” once they determined to divorce. I am not critical of that fact; I am in favor of it as an act of mercy tempering the strict (and very real) demands of justice.

FW Ken
May 12, 2014

Lina,

That is precisely the issue: by what authority is anything determined?

William Tighe
May 12, 2014

Re: my comment above, see:

http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/sbjt/sbjt_2002spring3.pdf

and especially its first section, “The Early Church Context.”

Brize
May 13, 2014

@ William Tighe – That’s a very good article. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

William Tighe
May 13, 2014

In 1985 two Scripture scholars, William Heth (a Southern Baptist) and Gordon Wenham (an Ulsterman Calvinist Anglican) co-authored a book, *Jesus and Divorce: the Problem with the Evangelical Consensus* (second edition 1997). The “evangelical consensus” against which they argued strenuously was that (1) life-long marriage as prescribed by the Lord was more like “an ideal” than “a law” (a stance first formulated by Erasmus of Rotterdam) and (2) divorce followed by permission to remarry for the “innocent party” (or even both parties) should be seen as permissible in a variety of circumstances. Heth and Wenham argued that the relevant NT passages, properly interpreted, do not allow for remarriage after divorce during the lifetimes of both parties to the divorce under any circumstances.

Since that time, Heth has changed his mind, and now defends the “Evangelical consensus” view which he once opposed; cf.:

http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/sbjt/sbjt_2002spring2.pdf

whereas Wenham remains of their former opinion (cf.: the article to which I linked above).

Their book (as well as the two linked articles) is worth reading. It is a scriptural study rather than an historical one, but, still, one may regret the total lack of even the slightest consideration of the history of Eastern Christian thought and practice on the subject: the focus, insofar as it is historical at all (and the authors bend over backwards to an almost comic extent to profess their indifference towards Roman Catholic teaching on the subject and their refusal to ascribe any authority to “church tradition”) is entirely Western/Latin.

Lina
May 14, 2014

I am old enough to remember among other things, the Frank Sinatra saga. Married in the RCC, 3 children, a philanderer multiple times over, 2 secular marriages, and then lo and behold, another RCC marriage. For me and for a lot of my protestant friends, that constituted a farce and an annulment was something any rich person could buy.

From my limited point of view, historically at any rate, a divorce represents a failure to make a go of married life, whereas an annulment is a loophole process whereby the marriage is considered null and void even after years of life together and perhaps several children.

I can understand how God can make good come out of our worst decisions, but when our worst decisions are considered as never happening, He has nothing to work with.

Meanwhile greed, avarice, vengeance, hate and other sins continue rampant through out the world but they are not tied to a sacrament.

and as I finished this up I remembered the words of Jesus who said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, Mark 2:27. I venture a question, Could the sacraments be made for man and not man for the sacraments? Just curious.

The young fogey
May 14, 2014

“Frivolous people concocting shallow reasons to do pathetic things. That’s the contemporary Episcopal communion in a nutshell.”

Rather like the British didn’t like Benedict Arnold, mainstream society has no use anymore for the mainline.

FW Ken
May 14, 2014

You have to wonder what happened when Sinatra stood before the throne and sang “I did it my way.”

CarolynP
May 14, 2014

Brize, thank you for that post. It is comforting to see that the early Church was indeed compassionate for the mere mortal sinners who inhabit the world. The RCC’s here who are fortunate enough to never have had to deal with divorce find it easy to scold.

William Tighe
May 14, 2014

“It is comforting to see that the early Church was indeed compassionate for the mere mortal sinners who inhabit the world.”

Who can be against “compassion,” particularly if what the word means in any particular situation is left genially vague? But so far, in the matter of divorce-and-remarriage, Brize has made an assertion, to which I have provided counter evidence. What is clear, though, is that the Eastern Byzantine Church had a different marriage discipline than the Western Church from the Tenth Century onward. An innovation, if innovation it be, of the Tenth Century hardly counts as evidence of the stance of the “early Church.” That case is still open.

William Tighe
May 14, 2014

And, for those who are interested, another view on the belief and practice of “the Early Church” with respect to marital in/dissolubility:

“The History of the Indissolubility of Marriage,” by Anthony J. Bevilacqua; *Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America* (1967):

http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ctsa/article/view/2633/2281

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