Beza on Desertion

David Burchard Christian Ethics, History, Quotable Quotes Leave a Comment

Theodore Beza on desertion and divorce:

“…we know him also to be a deserter who does not refuse cohabitation, but obstinately demands impious conditions.”

“It is asked whether the faithful in turn may desert the unfaithful? … in no way is that to be permitted … But, I repeat what I said shortly before, namely that he appears the deserter not only who positively refuses a mutual living together, but also who demands intolerable conditions from the faithful [spouse], such as if the unfaithful spouse absolutely compels the faithful to attend the abominable Mass, in a word any doing or enduring of something altogether against the obligation of piety. From this, therefore, another question occurs: what should the faithful [spouse] do when indeed cohabitation is not denied, but either hazard of life is incurred or something is either to be done or endured against the true religion. I respond that these two distinctions are to be observed. First, either the unfaithful [spouse], whether intentionally or unwittingly, persecutes the faithful spouse, or the persecution arises from some other direction. If the former, the faithful spouse really has a suitable excuse for shunning her domestic enemy for no other reason than that she should consider her life and conscience, and I would decide in this case nothing other than if the unfaithful spouse himself had departed for another. To depart from someone and to drive the other away by threats or force are the same thing. But if such persecution should assail [the faithful spouse] from some other direction, the faithful spouse should act at length more moderately than if she should cherish an enemy in her home and bosom. Nor is it to be doubted that if the unfaithful spouse should attend the faithful with conjugal love, should provide for her life in every way, in this case the faithful spouse rather should bear whatever you will than that is should be her duty to abandon the unfaithful spouse. But if the unfaithful spouse does not care as is right that the faithful spouse is in peril, no one does not see, I think, not only that he is a deserter, but also that he may be shunned with a good conscience as a traitor.”

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