|| Trenham’s book is a very poor effort; it doesn’t add anything of value Historically or Theologically. Trenham’s work is severely lacking in it’s placing of Chrysostom in any honest historical context and is more worryingly, very theologically flawed about key elements of Christian Life.
This work is not unlike JP2’s ‘Theology of the Body’ quite ironically, not only in those ways mentioned above but in it’s incredible academic hubris and naivety.The ideas around birth control are anachronistic and lacking when compared to the more multifaceted understandings among serious Moral Theologians.
There are much better, much more orthodox options out there relating to Marriage, ‘Eros’ , Agape, Philia, sexuality and the purposes of monasticism, ascetism, etc.
Much prayer and rigorous exegesis is essential in any work on Marriage and Virginity beausethey’re so complex and you’re safer looking at the work of Fr Meyendorff, Fr John Behr, Evdokimov, Sherrard, Dr Richard M Davidson, Fr Ed Vacek, WB Zion, Evgeny Lampert, Samuel Terrien, Tremper Longman, Werner Neuer, Fr R. McCormick, Dr Guroian et al for that. Even crazy old fools like BP Mitchell and V Moss do a better job than Trenham (Each with serious problems of their own though).These and others offer much more enlightening and nuanced approaches. A deep understanding of exegesis is needed to show how shallow works like this are, which unfortunately is something that most Lay People wont have and that’s why books like this are so dangerous. There are unjustified underlying assumptions which lend themselves to an unorthodox clericalism and the idea that the virginal state is superior to the Marital state shows an incredible misinterpreting of both the Old and the New Testament, especially Paul. Moreover, since Genesis is key to any Marital Theology, see Peter Bouteneff’s, John Walton’s, Jordan Peterson’s, Robert Alter’s, Fr Louth’s, Bill Arnold’s, Alice Linsleys etc books, articles and talks on Genesis to see just how complex our relationship with Scripture is in reality.The liberal Adrian Thatcher or Patricia Beattie Jung, even with their heretical elements, offer a great alternative from that end as well and by listening to people like them we can see just how ‘orthodox’ a lot of those claims, like those in this book, actually are.
Thatcher’s Exegesis of Song of Songs and recognition of its Liturgical significance should add another nail to the coffin of the argument for virginity as a higher state.
Other Liberals, such as Timothy Johnson, when read charitably (as Alan Jacobs would put it) have good points in their work, which should not be dismissed because they’re proclaimed to be ‘liberal’ or ‘heterodox’; things are not nearly so simple.
Mark D Jordan’s work on Aquinas is worth considering to place the tone of works like this in historical context. There is no place for an Eastern Orthodox Manualism to replace the old Catholic one. (See Alvin Rapien’s article on The Church Fathers as well, to show how hard it is to read’ them.)
I suggest one should avoid this pseudo- orthodoxy and read the Bible and Fathers collectively and directly instead or else look for a more capable scholars, or better, a collection of scholars. (Fr Behr, Fr Florovsky, Martin Thornton, Peter Leithart, Alice Linsley, N.T Wright etc)
Let’s Hope and Pray for a Pentecostal Way of Exchange as Alan Jacobs calls it or a balance of the schools and the wilderness as Martin Thornton calls it. Ascetism and Mysticism, Marriage and Monasticism.
So, I came across a few articles and threads on Marriage being eternal, pretty typical in many of the questions asked, and wanted to answer a few of the questions over time, building on my previous posts on Marriage where I’ve answered many of them or others have answered them, implicitly or explicitly. There is a lot of confusion out there, amongst all Christians and these questions are a failure to see Marriage with ‘Kingdom eyes’, where all things will be rightly ordered in Christ and which can be done to an extent in The Kingdom now.
Many strains in Marital Theology have preserved important truths about Marriage but even in the Orthodox Church they’ve failed to recognise the proper place for this great Mystery in Christ by bringing them all together.
I’ll answer a few of this persons questions, because they are very much answerable; with the help of Metropolitan Ware and co. It’s clear, from them comparing the Orthodox Marital Theology to that of the Mormons, just how big the misunderstandings are even amongst the Orthodox.
The Orthodox Theology of Marriage as Eternal fits perfectly into the Theology of The Church in toto however and this is not merely the opinion of Fr John Meyendorff (who doesn’t even articulate it as well as he should or as well as others), as can be seen from my previous posts.
Metropolitan Ware answers the question about Second Marriages and this can be seen in Adrian Thatcher’s books- Celebrating Christian Marriage or Postmodern Christian Marriage. Also, if we view the Sacrament of Marriage as a coming together and maintained in Christ/ The Spirit in The Church, rather than merely focusing on the service for the Marriage, as a piece of magic at that, then the criticisms of second marriage don’t hold. There are good questions to be asked about the cermonies and why one’s sacramental and the other’s not, etc.
This requires much more thought but here goes- My personal view at this time is that, like the Roman Catholic annulment, a Marriage that is ‘spritually dead’, prompting a divorce was not really an eternal sacramental Marriage because it lacked the coming together of the Love that lasts, Divine and Human. The ideal would therefore be to have all the elements of a good marriage together and all the elements of a good, fitting Marital service but not one of these in isolation seals the bond for eternity of itself. It nvolves a long obediance in the same direction, borne of God’s two great commandments. For, it is a Mystery and The Holy Spirit blows where He wills. Consequently, non-Orthodox Marriages may be sealed for Eternity in Christ’s Love and I’d be humble about saying too much on that- people like John Wooden come to mind as living icons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tySxPue9Dmw
The misinterpreation of ‘… the angels in heaven.’ verse has been addressed in previous posts.
The coming together in Marriage, Transfigured by Christ and eternally sustained by Love is not the same as sinful ‘one flesh’ unions which are not sealed for eternity in The Church, The Eucharist and Christian Love.
Mixed-Marriages is an interesting question based on some Ecclesiologies, but if both partners make it into God’s Kingdom then of course what God has joined together will stay together.
The ‘purpose’ of ‘carnal relations’ has been dealt with in the previous posts.
The differences between people will be like Pentecost, a miracle of God. Both/And.
Regarding the ‘triangle’, in the Kingdom and in Christ both will be in His eternal bliss and ther won’t be holding one another back, as there shouldn’t be now when we’re following our Holy Vocation.
It is apparent from the nature of The Liturgy, the outline of The Scriptures, the practice of Christian Love and God’s Good Creation in general that ‘eternal’ here is not merely a metaphor for a really long time but is conditional on Christ, The Church, Love, etc coming together in consummate fullness as The Good Lord sets it out.
You also get incessant bickering between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox which unfortunately wastes so much time chasing wind, each accusing the other of introducing secular elements into their respective Theology and making wild unfounded claims about ‘the east’ ir ‘the west’ in toto.
A few of the comments which perked my intrigue in relation to this and which I’ll have to research further are
”The Roman Catholic “legalist” conception is based on the Roman Law as codified by Justinian, the Eastern Roman Emperor and its interpretation by the school of Bologna interpretors. The fact is that the fall of the Constantinople destroyed the Byzantine Roman Law tradition; but the tradition of Justinian continued in the West up to today, being the basis of Western Canon Law and the modern Civil Law tradition.
The fact that the Orthodox, maintaining their Greek identity, deny their own Roman legal tradition as “legalism” is funny.” and
”After he codified the pagan Law, Justinian began the process of the reinterpretation in the light of the higher Law of Christ. That process was completed by the Basilika, and passed on and lives on in the Nomocanons. Even after the fall of New Rome, it still remained the law of the Rum Millet, as the Slave version, the Zakonopravilo of St. Sava remained the law of Ottoman occupied Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, as implemented by the Code of Dushan. With independence, they became the basis of the Constitutions of the new nation-states.
What is funny is that the Ultramontanists, clinging to the pagan notions of Caesar, think that is theology.”
The quoted StaurtK comment, is more helpful than many of the uninformed comments made across these boards but probably needs loked at in some detail.
”The oldest stratum of Tradition in both the East and the West saw marriage as an eternal bond that transcended death. For that reason, the early Church refused to bless second marriages for any reason. In the West, the view of marriage as a life contract eventually emerged, probably because remarriage was a virtual necessity at a time of low life expectancy. In the East, until the 9th century, the Church did not bless second marriages, but civil marriage was available for those who wanted to remarry after divorce or widowhood, and the Church focused instead on reintegrating those who did into the Body of Christ. In the West, with the collapse of civil authority, civil marriage did not exist, and the Church became the de facto regulator of marriage.
In the 9th century, the Emperor Leo VI abolished civil marriage and made the Church responsible for all aspects of marriage. The Church now had to deal with the social and legal aspects of marriage, as well as the sacramental aspect. It had to recognize that marriages do break down, and that men and women may feel the need to remarry, either after divorce or widowhood. But it did not want to compromise its understanding of Christian marriage as a sacrament that perdures in the divine kairos. The compromise solution was the “Rite of Second Marriage”, open to those who are widowed and the innocent parties in a divorce, which was not sacramental but merely contractual, and highly penitential in nature. There is no crowning, there is no Dance of Isaiah, there is no sealing with the Eucharist. In fact, those who remarry are excluded from communion for a period of 3-5 years, which in itself means that second marriage ceremonies are not sacramental.” (This is probably Stuart Koehl, who often provides greeat clarity on Eastern Christianity, on FaceBook and fits with the Orthodox Pastoral Theology which recognises a Marriage as Spiritually dead and the Churches act a recognition of what is already the case. The ‘Sacramental’ element of the first Marriage is integral but I think there will be cases, as I pointed to above, whereby a second Marriage is actually the eternal one, based on living spiritual love. Say for example, the first marriage was ‘spiritually dead’.
This understanding also helps answer questions about ‘which wife a man would be married to’. God knows better than we do and will not sell anyone short- you’ll be Married to the one you Love and who loves you, in Christ; the attempts to do away with Mystery are futile but a lot more Pastoral clarity is clearly needed, as these forums suggest.) For insight into how hard it is to understand or be The Church, see Martin Tornton’s wonderful work* 1. or Florovsky’s, Behr’s, etc
There are long tedious arguments about what makes it a Sacrament and many miss the point completely about Marriage, trying to pass off this wonderful Gift of God by suggesting it is only Meyendorff’s opinion. Certainly not, as is made clear in my previous posts.
Moreover, the argument over whether the Priest’s blessing or the couple’s consent ‘make it a Sacrament’ is a non-issue essentially, as I hope is clear from above and the previous posts, and while many make the assumption that it’s not the Eucharist that ‘makes Marriage a Sacrament’, they do not understand the Integral nature of The Kingdom or central it must be- in actual fact it’s the coming together of these and other elements in The Church which manifests The Kingdom and the eternity of Marriage; beyond the service, by God’s Grace.
*1. Parochial theology is concerned with giving some sort of unity to the parish body without which its individual members cannot really exist; while facing the facts of modern society, it seeks to reduce a prevalent confusion to some ordered pattern. As one would expect from this, many modern parishes will contain much real devotion, deep Prayer, sound knowledge and a host of other good things; but they will tend to lack shape and form, which real creativity demands. Thus the problem of parochial theology begins with the problem of cure of souls, and the ambiguity of this term itself supports the validity of our criticism. It is significant that we must spend some time in finding out what so common a phrase really means.
When a priest is instituted to a parish he is said to acquire “cure of” or “care for” souls, he accepts a stewardship and he undertakes a responsibility. The first difficulty arises when, assuming a responsibility to God, we ask precisely whom the priest is responsible for. Superficially there seem to be two possible answers. (1) The Priest with cure of souls is directly responsible to God for the spiritual well-being of each and every individual soul within his parish; or (2) he is responsible only for the flock of Christ, for the members of his parish church at any given time. It is argued that despite the duty of evangelism, no one can be held responsible for the unresponsive, for those of other religious persuasion, or even of other Christian denominations.
But theories are unsatisfactory. The first, if consistently applied, would lead to such a lowering of Christian standards as to admit as many possible to the fold consistent with the existence of a Church at all. The emphasis is numerical, membership is nominal; which inevitably means convention, respectability, Pelagianism, apathy, and spiritual sterility. The sole pastoral function is ostensibly evangelism, which would be more truthfully described as recruitment. Such an approach finds little room for ascetic, creative Prayer, or objective worship. More serious still is what might be called the futurist element inherent in such an outlook; its only ideal is a population of one-hundred-per-cent churchpeople. This means that every activity and every detail looks forward to an ideal never to be achieved; the parish, as such, never worships, intercedes, or appears before the throne of God. All human worship is inadequate, but parochially speaking we are to suggest that it can be, and indeed must be, complete. The Father’s House on earth is necessarily sin-stained, leaky, ramshackle, jerry-built, and generally inadequate to his transcendent glory; but it can still be in a real sense whole. The parochial system under review never gets beyond the ideal blue-print, its house only exists in an hypothetical future. Ironically, a scheme of things aiming at complete literal, individual representation of all souls in the Divine stream, ends with no Church at all. And no good purpose is achieved by imputing Christian hope to what is only impracticable nonsense. The world may end to-morrow, and although the priestly plea before Christ’s judgement seat must be “guilty,” there may yet be a more worthy defence than “I have not had time to begun.” This theory may be called multitudinism; an ugly and unwieldy word, but no means inappropriate.
The second position, that pastoral priesthood’s responsibility ends with the Christian element at any given time, is more obviously unsatisfactory, yet it has the unqualified pastoral advantage of facing facts. Before the multitudinist priest has been instituted a day he is forced to make reservations; Jews, Baptists, Papists, and Hindus if there are any, are best left alone, the heathen nonagenarian and the lunatic boy are unconvertible: one such case and his system, as system, collapses. This second theory is unshaken and untroubled by such contingencies, for which it becomes a policy of purposeful exclusion, and we are down to a complacent satisfaction with the “nice little nucleus.” Here is plain dualism, for any exclusive spiritual élite, whatever the depth of its devotion and purity of its Prayer, is just not a parish. If we are rid of recruitment, we have left no place for true evangelism.