The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marriage, an alternative to the Orthodox Church

Marriage makes it more difficult to be Stranniki, but not impossible. The Stranniki recommended against marriage. According to the Apostle serving Christ alone was better.

From the book: Old Believers, Religious Dissent and Gender in Russia, Chapter 4 The Sacrament of the heart: marriage, family and gender in Pomorian discourse. Here we find a subsection titled, Old Believer marriage as an alternative to the Orthodox Church - “ the Orthodox Church from the seventeenth century there was a contradiction between the doctrinal view of marriage and canon law. According to doctrine, the sacrament of marriage, as one of the seven sacraments of the Church, had to be sanctified by the priest; while according to canon law, the Church ritual was one element but not the main condition of the sacrament.”

[From] “the second half of the eighteenth century, following the secularization of church properties by the state, the Orthodox Church focused on the ‘spiritualization’ of marriage. Putting more emphasis on the sacrament of matrimony, the Church [then] insisted on a Church wedding as the only condition for legitimate marriage.”

“However, as we can see, in the age of Enlightenment the priestless Old Believers also emphasized the spiritual and sacramental aspects of marriage. But in contrast to the official Orthodox writers such as Feofan Prokopovich, who believed that the Church sacrament was the essence of matrimony, Old Believer leaders played down the role of the ordained priesthood in the Church marriage, emphasizing mutual consent as the core of the sacrament...”

In a following subsection we read, “The Pomorian fathers instructed a newly married couple: ‘You my son, must love your wife but don’t be angry with her. If she does not obey you punish her slightly with a rod without anger.’ Taking into account the widely spread practice of wife beating among the lower classes in Russia, the elder’s advice to the husband to exercise his power with reason could be considered a tactical attempt to put limits on domestic violence.”

“...some women exercised public influence in communal affairs. As far as we can judge from the early twentieth century debates, there were two tendencies present in the community: one that encouraged women to take public roles and the other, more conservative, that resisted women’s participation. ...women were traditionally active members of the Old Believer community who carried out social, economic and religious duties...the 1911 conference resolved that women over the age of 18 could participate and vote in the communal assemblies.”