Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Church Fathers on Divorce and Remarriage

Byzantine Wedding Ring (6th century)

St. Justin Martyr (c. 100 - 165)

According to our Teacher, just as they are sinners who contract a second marriage, even though it be in accord with human law, so also are they sinners who look with lustful desire at a woman. He repudiates not only one who actually commits adultery, but even one who wishes to do so; for not only our actions are manifest to God, but even our thoughts.
-First Apology, 15

Athenagoras of Athens (c. 133 - c. 190)

For we bestow our attention, not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions, - that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. "For whosoever puts away his wife," says He, "and marries another, commits adultery;" not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again.
-A Plea for Christians, 33

St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - c. 215)

Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, "Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except for the cause of fornication;" and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion, while she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling. "He that taketh a woman that has been put away," it is said, "committeth adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an adulteress," that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her husband.
-Stromata, 2:24

St. Jerome (347 - 420)

Do not tell me about the violence of the ravisher, about the persuasiveness of a mother, about the authority of a father, about the influence of relatives, about the intrigues and insolence of servants, or about household [i.e. financial] losses. So long as a husband lives, be he adulterer, be he sodomite, be he addicted to every kind of vice, if she left him on account of his crimes he is still her husband still and she may not take another.
-Letters, 55:3

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)

Neither can it rightly be held that a husband who dismisses his wife because of fornication and marries another does not commit adultery. For there is also adultery on the part of those who, after the repudiation of their former wives because of fornication, marry others.
-On Adulterous Marriages, 1:9:9

Bonus: St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)

By the intention of nature marriage is directed to the rearing of the offspring, not merely for a time, but throughout its whole life. Hence it is of natural law that parents should lay up for their children, and that children should be their parents' heirs (2 Cor. 12:14). Therefore, since the offspring is the common good of husband and wife, the dictate of the natural law requires the latter to live together forever inseparably: and so the indissolubility of marriage is of natural law.
-Summa Theologica, Supp., Q. 67, Art. 1

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