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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    WHAT IS MARRIAGE? By Fr Michael Azkoul Always begin with the questions: what is marriage? and What is its purpose? They are virtually the same question.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2002
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      By Fr Michael Azkoul

      Always begin with the questions: what is marriage? and What is its
      purpose? They are virtually the same question. Marriage is one of
      two options, the other being monasticism. The Sacrament of Matrimony is
      the recovery of the male-female relationship from the devil and
      consecrating it to God. Only in that way is that relationship blessed
      --- only in that way is sex blessed ..."the marriage bed is honorable".

      Marriage outside the Church may be lawful and necessary for social
      cohesion, but it has not escaped the clutches of the devil and
      cannot contribute to our salvation. What is wrong with sex outside of
      marriage? It has no purpose but pleasure and escape; it is contrary
      to the Will of God Who designed it for marriage, for its unity through
      love and truth. A man and woman marry in order to assist each other in
      the process of salvation. Where there is common love and common faith
      that end can be achieved. We have children for the same purpose. Why
      else bring them into the world if not for salvation: to live with God
      forever, to become divine by sharing in the nature of God? Sex itself?
      Consecrated to God through marriage, it helps in the fight against
      temptation (St. Gregory the Theologian) of which there is so much

      But it needs to be controlled as any other appetite; hence, the Church
      calls upon us to abstain on days of fasting and days before
      Liturgy ---.body and soul must be prepared to encounter the All-Holy.
      For instance, we are wed on Sunday in order that the wedding night is
      for Monday. Normally, we have Monday, Tuesday and Friday and all days
      where there is no fasting, e.g., between Pascha and Pentecost (excluding
      days before Liturgy); and never on Sunday, because it is the Lord's, an
      image of eternity.. Do not listen to the "puritans" who think sex is
      evil and therefore look for any way to avoid it; it is blessed in
      marriage. Wrong thinking about sex always proves disastrous. Keep in
      mind that "it is natural but not necessary", as St John of Damascus
      wrote, "whereas food and sleep are both natural and necessary". We
      cannot live without food and sleep, we can live without sex. In itself
      sex is neither good nor bad. Do not be taunted by the word flesh. In
      the Scriptures, flesh it does not refer to sex but to our fallen nature
      . It is in the West that we find the extremes: either sex is wonderful
      or it is malignant, depending on whether or not you identify sex with
      "original sin".

      In the Orthodox Church, it is understood that sex, as all earthly
      things, should be transcended ---- not because they are evil but
      because they are transient. We look for another city, one whose founder
      and builder is God, an eternal city in which we shall enjoy, body and
      soul, the blessed Trinity forever. It is difficult, but the mind and
      body can be trained by prayer and fasting and knowledge. The married
      couple will come to understand that the destiny of the Orthodox family
      is the Kingdom of God where "there is no giving and taking in
      marriage". When that becomes the object of our existence, sex will be
      surrendered voluntarily. Not that we shall despise sex, but it will
      become unimportant.

      Such will never happen if we think sex is an imperative, a right of the
      body, an experience without which we cannot be happy. Rather it is a
      privilege whose basic earthly function is the propagation of the human
      race ---- no to the Christian race, of God's People.
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