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The Sacrament of Marriage

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    The Sacrament of Marriage The Purpose of the Christian Family The family, as is well known, comprises the fundamental cell of the organism of society, being
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2003
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      The Sacrament of Marriage



      The Purpose of the Christian Family The family, as is well known, comprises
      the fundamental cell of the organism of society, being the nucleus and
      foundation of society. Thus also in the militant Church of Christ it is a
      basic unit of the Church body. Therefore the Christian family in itself is
      called in the writings of the Apostles a "church": Greet Priscilla and
      Aquila. my helpers in Christ Jesus... and the church that is in their house
      (Rom. 16:3, 5); Salute Nymphas and the church which is in his house (Col.
      4:15). From this it is understandable what great attention should be given
      to the family from the point of view of the Church, so that the family
      might fulfill its purpose of being a small "church."


             There is yet another way of personal life which is blessed in
      Christianity: virginity or celibacy. Celibacy for the sake of Christ has
      created another kind of Christian social unit: monasticism. The Church
      places it above married life, and in actuality, in the history of the
      Church, it has been a leading, guiding element, a support of the Church,
      bringing into realization to the greatest degree the moral law of the
      Gospel, and preserving the dogmas, the Divine services, and other
      foundations of the Church,


            However, not all can take upon themselves the vow of virginity in the
      name of Christ and the Church. Therefore, while blessing virginity as a
      chosen and a perfect form of life, the Church blesses also married life for
      the sake of those exalted, and at the same time difficult aims which are
      placed before the Christian family, and this blessing is acknowledged as a
      Mystery.


      The Significance of the Mystery


            In the Mystery of Marriage the Church invokes the help of God on
      those being married, that they might understand, fulfill and attain the
      aims set before them, namely: to be a "house church," to establish within
      the family truly Christian relationships, to raise child r e n in faith and
      life according to the Gospel, to be an example of piety for those around
      one, to bear with patience and humility the unavoidable sorrows and, often,
      sufferings which visit family life.


      The Central Moment of the Mystery


           The beginning moment in the existenceof the Christian family is the
      sacred action of Marriage. The chief part in the rite of the Mystery of
      Marriage is the placing of the crowns upon those being married with the
      words: "The servant of God (name) is married to the handmaid of God (name)
      in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," and then
      the common blessing of both with the thrice repeated short prayer, "O Lord
      our God, crown them with glory and honor."


      Marriage as a Divine Institution


           That marriage has the blessing of God upon it is said many times in
      the Holy Scripture.


      Thus, in Genesis 1:27-28 we read: So God created man in His own image, in
      the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God
      blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and
      replenish the earth. Likewise, in Genesis 2:18-24, the writer of Genesis,
      having spoken of the creation of the woman from the rib of Adam and of how
      she was led to thereon, adds, Therefore shall a man leave his father and
      his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.


          The Saviour Himself, commanding that faithfulness be preserved in
      marriage and forbidding divorce, mentions these words of the book of
      Genesis and instructs: What therefore God hath joined together, let no man
      put asunder (Matt. 19:/,-6). These words of the Lord clearly testify to the
      moral dignity of marriage. The Lord Jesus Christ sanctified marriage by His
      presence at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and here He performed His
      first miracle.


           The Apostle Paul compares the mystical character of the Church with
      marriage in these words: Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also
      loved the Church, and gave Himself for it and further: For this cause shall
      a man leave his father and and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife,
      and the  two shall be one flesh, This is a great mystery, but I speak
      concerning Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:25, 31-32). The Apostle Paul
      speaks more in detail about marriage and virginity in I Corinthians, the
      seventh chapter. Placing virginity above marriage, he does not condemn
      marriage, commanding that it be preserved and advising that one not be
      divorced even from an unbeliever, in hope of converting the other one to
      the faith. Having indicated the highest impulses for remaining in
      virginity, in conclusion he says the following: Such (those who marry)
      shall have trouble in. the flesh; but I spare you (I Cor. 7:28).


          Having in mind the Christian purpose of marriage, the Church forbids
      entering into marriage with heretics (canons of the Fourth and Sixth
      Councils), and likewise with those of other religions.


      The Indissolubility of Marriage


      The Church only in exceptional circumstances agrees to the dissolving of a
      marriage, chiefly when it has been defiled by adultery, or when it has been
      destroyed by conditions of life (for example, long absence of one spouse,
      without word). The entrance into a second marriage after the death of a
      husband or wife, or in general the loss of one spouse by the other, is
      allowed by the Church, although in the prayers for those being married the
      second time, forgiveness is asked for the sin of a second marriage. A third
      marriage is tolerated only as a lesser evil to avoid a greater evil?immoral
      life (as St. Basil the Great explains).


      (An excerpt from Dogmatic Theology by Fr. Michael Pomazansky?)
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