Many people believe that it’s possible to get married only once because it’s written in the Gospel that whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Does this mean that those who remarry live in sin? And will God bless their marriage? In this article, you will find out the answers to these questions.
Orthodox Christianity and Second Marriage
Saint Nectarius of Optina said: “Happiness in marriage is given only to those who fulfill the commandments of God and treat marriage as a Sacrament of the Christian Church.” Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the modern world.
In Orthodox Christianity, marriage is considered a sacrament, a Sacred and Holy union between a man and a woman. However, if a divorce happens, the Church permits remarriage.
The Lord says that it’s forbidden to marry a divorced woman, although, in the modern world, many people including Christians don’t understand this. Marriage is unique because it is likened to the relationship between Christ and the Church, and this relationship is Holy.
However, upon entering into a second marriage, the spouses undergo a process of repentance. Also, the second rite of the wedding is the rite of repentance.
If one of the spouses is married for the second time, and for the second person the wedding is the first, then for the sake of the purity of the second, both are married as the first time.
If both spouses are married for the second time, then the wedding is indeed the second for both of them and more resembles a rite of repentance, when the newlyweds ask forgiveness from the Lord for not keeping the bonds of their first marriage, and ask for a blessing for a second marriage, thanking for a second chance to meet the Lord not alone.
If there is someone in the second marriage who marries for the first time, then a rite of a wedding is allowed. And if both marry again, there is a special rite in which there are no crowns and which is not so festive.
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What Does The Church Say
It should be noted that second marriage is perceived by the Church as an acceptable, but undesirable moment in the life of Orthodox Christians.
That is, the Church doesn’t encourage second marriage, but allows it as a necessary concession to the sinful state of things that has been created in fallen humanity and persists to this day. The Apostle Paul also spoke about this:
«So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.» (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)
That is, in the case of divorce, a person chooses the lesser of two evils, instead of mental suffering and temptations, he can get married and make a good family.
From the point of view of canon law, a person is called to one marriage and monogamy. It’s very important to live by this law, which can be formulated as “a single husband of a single wife.” And this corresponds from the point of view of the Church to the nature of a human.
Christ says that second marriage isn’t something good, but He doesn’t forbid it completely.
This is evident from a conversation with a Samaritan woman who confessed to Him that her husband, with whom she lives, isn’t her true husband. Jesus says that “you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”
«She successively had five explicit husbands, since this was not forbidden, and when the fifth died, no one wanted to explicitly take her as his wife; and she, without conquering passion, had one who lived with her in secret.
So, she had five husbands, because they were explicit husbands, and the husband who lived with her at that time was not her husband, because he was a secret one.» (Maximus the Confessor)
Thus, Christ recognizes the husbands who married this woman in accordance with the customs of society, and he calls the secret husband not a husband. He doesn’t condemn her for the previous remarries.
Divorce in Orthodox Christianity
The Church recognizes that sometimes, despite the best intentions of the people, a marriage may fail. In these cases, the Church permits divorce, but only after careful consideration and only in certain circumstances.
The reasons for divorce that are acceptable to the Orthodox Church are limited. Some of the acceptable reasons for divorce include adultery, abandonment, and abuse.
If a divorce happened for one of these reasons, the Church lets people remarry.
However, the Church also requires that the wife and husband seek reconciliation before a divorce and receive a blessing for divorce from their priest.
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Blessing for Remarriage
The Orthodox Church also requires that people who are going to remarry ask for a blessing from a priest. This blessing is important as it shows that the Church has approved the remarriage and that the couple is entering into the union with the blessing of God.
The blessing for remarriage is a process during which the couple confesses their sins and asks forgiveness from God.
The priest also helps them understand the responsibilities of marriage. Additionally, the priest says prayers for the couple and their new union, asking God to bless and strengthen their marriage.
Considerations for Remarriage
Although the Church allows remarriage, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account.
One of the most important considerations is the impact that a previous marriage may have on a person. If a previous marriage has broken up due to infidelity or abuse, it’s important that the people fully consider and resolve these issues before entering into a new union.
The couple must also be willing to work together to overcome any challenges that may arise and to maintain a strong and loving relationship.
It can be concluded that Orthodox Christianity allows remarriage after a divorce. However, the Church requires that the people seek a blessing for the remarriage from their priest, repent, and that they have fully considered the impact that their previous marriage may have had on their lives.
The decision to enter into a second marriage should be made with the blessing of God. With the right approach and attitude, a second marriage can be just as blessed and fulfilling as a first marriage.
The Church, like Christ, recognizes that a second marriage isn’t a good thing, but nevertheless, people have such an opportunity.
If the first family has broken up, then in this case a second marriage is better than coming to the temple for prayer, and instead, regretting the previous marriage. Therefore, if it’s impossible to save the first family in any way, then, of course, it is better to ask the Lord for a second chance.
CharalamposCharalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.
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