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Orthodox Church Marriage: Does it require a Civil Marriage?

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#1 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 04:19 AM

Does an Orthodox Church Marriage have to be accompanied by a civil ("legal") marriage?

 

I would think the Church Fathers would not have addressed such a topic because it probably was an absurd notion in their time to have a marriage in the Church but not be civilly recognized.  I could be wrong on that.

 

I have also heard of "common law marriage" where if you live as a married couple for a given time (like 7 years) then you are treated as if you are married.  However, in other topics, divorce has been brought up.  However, if you have had a civil marriage but no Church marriage, then the civil marriage is not recognized.  This happened a lot with married couples from the former Soviet bloc from what I understand.

 

I have heard people saying that Church marriages should be separate from civil marriages.  This also touches on the subject of homosexual "marriages" or so-called civil unions, as the Church would not recognize such, so civil marriage does not equal Church marriage.



#2 Kosta

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 05:25 AM

Civil marriage is a new concept amongst Greek and Arab Orthodox. These countries (greece up until the early 80s) marital customs was patterned after the millet system of the Ottomon empire. Each community governed itself based on the customs of their self identity. This is how its still practiced in Israel and Palestine and Lebanon. Theres was also a similar system used in Egypt up until recently where they have changed there divorce laws, this has caused alot of conflict in the Coptic community which does not recognize these reforms of the Civil society.

Edited by Kosta, 03 December 2014 - 05:28 AM.


#3 Kosta

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 05:32 AM

There really is no reason for a civil marriage anymore. It's an obselete archaic relic costing taxpayers a fortune. Everything can be worked out in a law office with the marriage contract even tweaked where necessary.

#4 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:25 AM

A civil marriage is required under the law in Greece and Australia A religious marriage is optional.

#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 07:42 AM

A prior civil marriage is necessary in England.

 

 

There really is no reason for a civil marriage anymore. It's an obselete archaic relic costing taxpayers a fortune. Everything can be worked out in a law office with the marriage contract even tweaked where necessary.

 

I don't know about the USA (and I don't know why civil marriage there should cost 'taxpayers a fortune'), but in England being legally married can make a huge difference to the parties, notably on separation. There is no such thing as 'common law marriage' in England (in the USA it probably depends on which state you are in though I have read that it is not recognised in NY). Parties who cohabit and then separate have entirely different rights in relation to property from spouses who divorce. Pre-nuptial agreements, which I think is what Kosta refers to, are not legally binding in England (though a court may have regard to them). But since, as said, a prior civil marriage must precede the Orthodox marriage, the cohabiting situation could not arise for an Orthodox couple.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 03 December 2014 - 07:54 AM.


#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 08:56 AM

With regard to civil marriages in Russia in Soviet times, church marriages were not available. The Church today treats couples, now mostly elderly, who had a civil marriage only say fifty years ago as married and does not require them to have a church marriage.



#7 Kosta

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 09:16 AM

A civil marriage is required under the law in Greece and Australia A religious marriage is optional.

 

Not in Greece before 1983.or so. The powers that be (EU) forced them to introduce them. And No such thing as civil marriages in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. 

Roma people have never applied for civil marriages in the entire existence of their history. No civil marriages in any village or small town in Latin America or Africa or in most places in Asia.  No civil marriages for centuries within the Orthodox Churches under the Ottomons and in the latter day byzantine empire. It really is a new concept that works well in a capitalist society where financial incentives are tied with it, completely meaningless otherwise.


Edited by Kosta, 03 December 2014 - 09:24 AM.


#8 Kosta

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 09:20 AM

A prior civil marriage is necessary in England.

 

 

 

I don't know about the USA (and I don't know why civil marriage there should cost 'taxpayers a fortune'), but in England being legally married can make a huge difference to the parties, notably on separation. There is no such thing as 'common law marriage' in England (in the USA it probably depends on which state you are in though I have read that it is not recognised in NY). Parties who cohabit and then separate have entirely different rights in relation to property from spouses who divorce. Pre-nuptial agreements, which I think is what Kosta refers to, are not legally binding in England (though a court may have regard to them). But since, as said, a prior civil marriage must precede the Orthodox marriage, the cohabiting situation could not arise for an Orthodox couple.

 

 

You can still be legally married but it shouldnt involve public officials making a spectacle of themselves.  When you buy or lease a property or enter into any legally binding contract you can either fill out and file the paperwork yourself or you get a laywer to handle it.  This way you can even custom tailor the contract.  



#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 10:06 AM

Definitely, you should hire a lawyer!



#10 Olga

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 12:32 PM

A civil marriage is required under the law in Greece and Australia A religious marriage is optional.

 

Correct.

 

Religious marriages in Australia include the completion of the "paperwork" required to register the marriage with the state authority. There is no need for a separate civil marriage "ceremony". The registry papers are signed by the couple and their witnesses after the end of the religious ceremony.



#11 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 02:49 PM

There is nothing in the service of the sacrament of matrimony that speaks of requiring a secular or state approved union prior to or even after the Church marriage.  That being said, because we are citizens of our respective nations, we should respect the laws and cultural expectations of our governing authorities and so afaik all bishops require that a legal marriage license issued by the state must be in place for the Orthodox marriage to take place.  In fact, given the necessity to "post the bans" (that is in the service books) for 3 weeks before the wedding and the less formal but nearly universal requirement by priests for some kind of premarital counseling, it is easier and quicker to get a civil marriage than a Church marriage so that shouldn't be a problem.

 

Fr David Moser



#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 03:42 PM

There is also the point, already mentioned, that without a civil marriage, one spouse in a Church-only marriage could be seriously disadvantaged when it comes to property allocation. In England, a woman can live with a man in his house for many years and she can then be thrown out and not get a penny.



#13 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 03:44 PM

There is also the point, already mentioned, that without a civil marriage, one spouse in a Church-only marriage could be seriously disadvantaged when it comes to property allocation. In England, a woman can live with a man in his house for many years and she can then be thrown out and not get a penny.

In America, that happens all the time now.  Only it is usually the man who is left penniless.



#14 Michał

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 05:16 PM

 

Does an Orthodox Church Marriage have to be accompanied by a civil ("legal") marriage?

 

I asked about that, and it seems in this part of the world it's not required.

 

 That being said, because we are citizens of our respective nations, we should respect the laws and cultural expectations of our governing authorities and so afaik all bishops require that a legal marriage license issued by the state must be in place for the Orthodox marriage to take place.  

 

But why? Being unmarried is not against the law so there is nothing about disrespecting laws in that problem. Being legally married have some benefits (that's why homosexuals also want to get ones) however why the Church wouldn't marry a couple that decided it would be more beneficial for them not to be legally married (because of taxes, places in kindergartens or some other reasons)?



#15 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:10 PM

...That being said, because we are citizens of our respective nations, we should respect the laws and cultural expectations of our governing authorities and so afaik all bishops require that a legal marriage license issued by the state must be in place for the Orthodox marriage to take place...

 

Fr David Moser

 

Father, the Lord's blessing.

 

US law does not require that a civil marriage accompany a Church marriage as far as I am aware.  There may be fewer tax benefits, but those are becoming irrelevant given civil unions and homosexual "marriage".  One would think that if Bishops were to require a civil marriage, then they would also have to accept civil homosexual "marriages" as well.  I am pretty sure they do not accept them regardless of the legality within the culture.

 

In the USA, a civil marriage is effectively forcing the husband to sign an "indentured servitude" agreement because he is under almost complete legal economic control of the bride for at least the next 1-2 decades, especially when children are involved.  And if he has supported her as men traditionally have, in many places he is indentured for the majority of his life (through alimony).  Unless the bride is trustworthy, it is a very unwise decision.  Most brides are not, as evidenced by divorce rates and the fact that most divorces are initiated by women (a statistic that is not in question within the US, the UK, Australia, or Canada for certain).

 

If bishops indeed do require civil marriages in addition to a Church marriage, then has this been consistent in the past, i.e. have they forced the faithful to enter into feudal agreements, sell themselves into slavery, or submit to other forms of subjugation?  I know that bishops have taken stands on slaveholding, but that was a precondition (in the case where a slave becomes a believer, not actually being forced by the Church to enslave himself).

 

I am very open to the fact that Orthodox bishops require self enslavement if that is the truth.  I just think that should be made clear up front.



#16 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:39 PM

There is also the point, already mentioned, that without a civil marriage, one spouse in a Church-only marriage could be seriously disadvantaged when it comes to property allocation. In England, a woman can live with a man in his house for many years and she can then be thrown out and not get a penny.

Given this argument, then Orthodox Christians should in fact NOT have civil marriages, at least in the US.  Because in those cases, the man can live with a woman in her house for many years and he can be thrown out and not get a penny (or worse, be penniless and have his wages garnished for life).

 

Correction: I forgot to mention the instances where a man can live with a woman in his house for many years and he can be thrown out, not get a penny, and have his wages garnished for life.


Edited by Seraphim of the Midwest, 03 December 2014 - 06:40 PM.


#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:46 PM

Wow! Not in England!

 

But surely the law varies from state to state.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 03 December 2014 - 06:47 PM.


#18 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:47 PM

Correct.

 

Religious marriages in Australia include the completion of the "paperwork" required to register the marriage with the state authority. There is no need for a separate civil marriage "ceremony". The registry papers are signed by the couple and their witnesses after the end of the religious ceremony.

In that instance, the couple can travel to a foreign country and have a Church marriage, can they not?

 

In the case where there is an argument, can a couple not get a civil marriage and a Church marriage, then immediately get a civil divorce?  In that case, their Church marriage remains but the civil marriage is dissolved.  In the US, a couple can do that for the first 6 months to 1 year, then dissolve the civil marriage.  Their life together would not be co-habitating because they would be married in the Orthodox Church.  Of course, this would strip away the master-slave relationship in favor of the woman.  But if she really wants to be married for the right reasons, that should be irrelevant, should it not?

 

Given acceptance of sharia law in Western countries (England and France to name just a few) the concept is not without precedent, nor without merit.  The affairs of the Church would just be independent of the civil affairs.



#19 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:50 PM

Wow! Not in England!

 

But surely the law varies from state to state.

Well, then England is way behind the times.  The law does vary from state to state.  In some states, alimony is now limited to a time frame, say 3 years or 5 years.  So that is less severe slavery.  However, in many states are very severe indeed.  This situation has existed since 1906 in the US.



#20 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:52 PM

Please note: sharia law is not 'accepted' in the UK.







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