4 August 2022

ETERNAL LOVE

For reasons which are obvious ... and boring ... I performed, in my Anglican days, very few "blessings" of Marriages.

But I did conduct one such event. Having satisfied myself that the couple had aready lawfully contracted the state of Matrimony, I allowed them to devise their own 'vows' for the subsequent 'Blessing' ... subject to my own scrutiny and appoval. (This devisal seemed to matter to them a great deal; I think they saw it as agreeably personal and individual ... unlike the official, formal, goings-on.)

When I saw their draft, I made clear that there was one element that I could not sanction, because it contradicted the Church's teaching on Marriage.

They were surprised when I revealed which piece of wording I deemed unacceptable.

It was the bit where they wished to speak about their love and their marriage being "eternal".

I explained that, in the Church's doctrine, their marriage would terminate when one (or both of them) died.

Matter here for thought ...

19 comments:

Anthony said...

Some Eastern Orthodox theologians also claim that marriage is eternal. At the same time they allow divorce and remarriage which contradicts their claim that marriage is eternal. In any case both divorce/remarriage and so called eternal marriage are contrary to the clear teaching of Christ in the Gospels.

Michael Ortiz said...

Quite right!

I used to say to myself whenever my Episcopalian mother-in-law (God rest her soul) would say "Catholics believe marriage is forever"--No, not at all, thank goodness. :)

Zephyrinus said...

Oh, dear Reverend Father Hunwicke.

You will now be accused of being “Rigid”.

Your Penance, of course, will be to watch, “ad nauseam”, the video of “The Lionesses” beating other ladies at Footie.

And, then, to vote for said “Lionesses” in the BEEB's “Sports Thingies Of The Year”.

Fr Edward said...

I often felt the edge of that problem when singing, "Adoremus in aeternum Sanctissimum Sancramentum".

Stephen said...

I've heard it said that this is an understanding of marriage that did not develop in the east, where, if memory serves, the teaching is that the marriage is indeed eternal, to the point that the couple and the crowns will be reunited in the hereafter (each spouse having his (her) crown buried with him (her)- my, but English is funny with the pronouns sometimes). Certainly one sees rarely, and then only scandalously, a widowed priest remarrying. It's part of the same approach that a man with a missing finger (say, from a accident or any such thing) is not encouraged to enter the seminary and become a priest, forbidden even in some jurisdictions (the same applies if one has committed murder or killed a man in self-defense or as part of the armed forces), as he no longer physically and from his life experience resembles the wholeness of Christ, the body and all things, including spousal bonds, being glorified in the Resurrection.

Could be just old wives tales one picks up over the years and never investigates too, of course. That's what you get when you end a post with ....

Gaius said...

@ Stephen,

You say it's an understanding of marriage that "did not develop" in the East, implying it's a later thing, but doesn't Matthew 22.23-33 imply that "No marriage after death" is in fact the original view, and the view of marriage as eternal the later development?

Colin Spinks said...

I played at a wedding recently when the Officiant, entirely accidentally and unwittingly I hasten to add, omitted the word “both” when asking the Bride to affirm her consent. “Will you…..remain faithful to him as long as you shall live?” In her understandable enthusiasm to reply “I will”, has she committed herself to a chaste widowhood?

Stephen said...

And the ideal of marriage as eternal is indeed fairly normative teaching among the Eastern Orthodox, as per here: https://www.oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-sacraments/marriage
Still checking on the "no-Frodos-in-the-priesthood" angle.

Michael Leahy said...

That marriage does not extend into Eternity does not necessarily imply any loss. Could it be said that we do not love our spouse any less, but that we love everyone else up to that level-something unimaginable in this world-rembering of course, that love does not equal sex? There can be no loss of goods in Heaven, surely.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

The legal/sacramental bond is only temporal, but the love cannindeed be eternal. There are good reasons why the legal bond should not be eternal -due to original sin, improvident marriages are sometimes contracted. I mean, imagine poor St Thomas More being hooked to Alice Middleton for ever and ever ...

AvB.

Stephen said...

@Gaius, certainly guilty as charged with the implication that "it's a later thing". As a general rule of thumb, the first millennium saw all the great controversies occur and be debated where you had relatively(!) greater civil order,transportation and communication infrastructure, food supplies, and tranquility, which was in the east; the second millennium saw a reversal of fortunes, as the east became more dicey from a safety and civil order POV and the west had relatively(!) greater civil order, infrastructure and peace, and the bulk of controversy that goes with it. It's a lot easier to have arguments, debates and councils when there aren't barbarians at the gate.

With regards to Matthew 22.23-33, there's a lot on the internet regarding how that's been interpreted by the Church Fathers, and canon law, all above my pay grade. To deduce from that passage that a conflict exists between marriage in the Church before the Final Judgement and people getting married after Our Lord returns seems quite a bit of stretch to me, but if you've found references in support of your thesis, I'd certainly like to see them. Questions I would ask of you are, What does it say about the power of Christ and His Church in the here and now, if a sacrament does not endure through time and space? Is baptism less or eradicated after the Last Judgement? Whatever holds true for baptism, would it not also hold true for marriage and other sacraments?

Gaius said...

@ Stephen,

I'm not sure what you mean by "a conflict between marriage in the Church before the Final Judgement and people getting married after Our Lord returns". Given that the Pharisees had just asked Our Lord "If a woman marries seven people, which one will she be married to in Heaven?" I think it's pretty clear that Jesus' response means that people who are married in this life won't be in the next, otherwise his reply is a non sequitur.

Questions I would ask of you are, What does it say about the power of Christ and His Church in the here and now, if a sacrament does not endure through time and space?

Re: Christ's power, the fact that he chooses to make a sacrament's effect terminate at death doesn't imply that he couldn't have made it eternal, only that he chose not to.

Re: the Church, she can only perform the sacraments as Christ instituted them, so if Christ chooses to make a sacrament terminate at death, the Church can't overrule him.

s baptism less or eradicated after the Last Judgement? Whatever holds true for baptism, would it not also hold true for marriage and other sacraments?

No, why would it?

Stephen said...

@Gaius,
First, let me thank you for the civility you bring to the exchange, a testimony to our host. Second, I really enjoy this sort of back and forth, but am hesitant to go further, as my exegesis of Scripture is nothing that I would position as being normative for any communion, and is merely just the opinion one relatively uneducated soul. So if you're willing to accept that caveat (as I shudder typically when I - or anybody else for that matter - pontificates on snippets of Scripture as if my opinion is universal, when in fact I may be completely divergent from the mean as expressed by the Church over the ages and first noodled on by the Church fathers), then take my response below for what it is:
I think the distinction our Lord is making to this group who do not believe in the Resurrection of the body is that marriage will not happen after the Parousia; but He says nothing about whether or not what happens before the Parousia will continue thereafter. Ergo, the prospect that marriages (and other sacraments) before the Parousia will exist after it is completely Scriptural. That is why I said your thesis is a stretch, but certainly am open to being convinced otherwise if you have some references to patristic thought to the contrary on the subject.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

There is no reason why, assuming spouses died in the state of grace, and they really were the best match for each other, they wouldn't love each other more than anyone other rhan God in the next, immortal life.


AvB.

John Vasc said...

You'll be telling us next that people can't be reunited with their pet doggies in Heaven, Father H. What a stern Pelagian you are! :-)

Josh Hood said...

@Anthony,

I'm not sure the acceptance of divorce under certain circumstances and the idea of eternal marriage are necessarily exclusive. It is the Orthodox position that marriages can "die" under certain circumstances, adultery being the obvious one (and the Orthodox understanding of the Matthean exception). At the same time, a man and woman united in Christian marriage, who live and struggle in lifelong fidelity to one another, their marriage lives on in some sense, namely in love, not the earthly concerns of intercourse, money, property, etc. This is the reason Orthodox tradition prizes not remarrying after the death of a spouse, though it is permitted to human weakness to do so for laity; a cleric who remarries must leave the ministry.

Albertus said...

No. For only three sacraments imprint an indelible character upon the soul: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders. Only these three sacramental signs will be recognised in Heaven, to the greater glory of the Triune God. Penance, Extreme Unction, The Blessed Eucharist, and Marriage imprint no such character upon the soul. Since God the Son is Himself the substantial reality of the Blessed Sacrament of tnheAltar, we shall indeed "adore Him in eternity" and commune with Him, but no longer veiled iunder the outward signs of bread and wine. Penance and Extreme Unction and Marriage have no reason to exist in Heaven. We shall no longer sin in Heaven, nor shall we marry, as Our Lord so ver clearly explained.

Arthur H. said...

To Sir John Leahy and Lord von Brandenburg, I second your assertion that what we will be, as St. Paul says, in Heaven, we do not know, but we will be like Him! Therefore, such an interesting conversation must rise to contemplation of the glassy sea of the throne of Heaven, and Our Lord with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in Glory. We must confide our temporal loves to God's Good Will.

Stephen said...

Whence the concept of an imprint of indelible character on the soul for just three sacraments? And, the question is not whether or not people will get married in the afterlife, but will people who are already married before the Second Coming remain married for eternity? Our Lord does not seem to address that, only that new marriages will no longer happen.