MARRIAGE GOD BLESSES – BUT HE CONDEMNS FORNICATION
Our Creator’s ultimate plan for creation, is to form a man and men in His own perfect image and likeness. However this did not take place with Adam and Eve who were only in His image. Falling into sin, they did not attain the likeness of God. The Lord created Adam first and later from one of his ribs, he created Eve as a wife to Adam. Here is the account of the creation of Adam: “And God formed man out of the clay of the earth, and breathed into Him the breath of life, and the man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Body and soul came from the earth, but life came from the breath or spirit breathed into him by God.
GOD MARRIED ADAM THE MAN AND THE WOMAN
“And God made man, according to the image of God He made him, He made them male and female. And God blessed them, saying, Increase and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and flying creatures of heaven, and all the cattle and all the earth, and all the reptiles that creep on the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28).
* Only in the Orthodox Church does God continue the same marriage blessing of one man and one woman which He instituted when He first married Adam and Eve. For in Orthodoxy the Priest calls on God to unite in sacred marriage the man and woman into one mutually loving couple, who with His blessing, are able to bear children and produce a family and thus help to replenish the earth. He established that the main purposes of marriage is to:“Be fruitful and multiply” that is to know each other and bear children together, raising them in the fear and love of God. God issued laws which true believers need to follow, not out of fear alone, but because His laws are good and lead to piety and happiness in this life and everlasting joy in the world to come. Pious and God-loving parents produce like children and the mutual happiness that ensues makes a happy family. On such a family God bestows many blessings.
However, God severely punishes those who, defy His law, and replace marriage with fornication * by marital relations outside of marriage. Any form of sexual relations before marriage or deviations both inside and outside of marriage are strictly forbidden by the Lord, as Holy Scripture says.
“The body is not made for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, an make them the members of a harlot? May this not be . . . Flee fornication. Every sin that man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is within you, which you have from God, and you are not your own, for you were purchased with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:13-20).
“It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” ( 1 Cor. 7:1-2)
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor not in concupiscence” (1Thes.4:3-5).
* Sexual pleasure out side of marriage is fornication according to Orthodox teaching, the Holy Scripture and the Fathers. The few previous passages are among many more which forbid fornication or sexual relations outside of marriage, including the modern custom of living together enjoying marital pleasures without God’s marital blessing. If anyone is caught in such a trap and desires to be free and avoid condemnation, there should first be a correction by a change in lifestyle, followed by sincere repentance for breaking the law of God, and then an honorable marriage which God will surely bless.
“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman for it is an abomination” (Lev.18:23) Man with man and woman with woman are condemned by God, as is bestiality and every other deviation. Introducing marriage to this situation is an insult to the author of marriage – God. Sadly those who commit these things are blind and deaf to the Lord’s commandments.
NOT ONLY ILLICIT SEXUAL RELATIONS
BUT MUCH MORE TAKES FOLLOWS
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like corruptible man, and birds, a four-footed beasts and creeping things. For this reason God gave them up to uncleanness through the desires of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves . . . for even their women changed the natural use for that which is against nature; and in the same way, the men, leaving the natural use of a woman, burned in their desire toward one another, men with men working that which is shameless . . . God gave them over to a worthless mind, to do those things which are not proper. . . being filled with all injustice, fornication, greed, filled with envy, strife, treachery, malice, talebearers, slanderous, hated by God, violent and insolent, arrogant, boasters, contrivers, disobedient to parents, disobedient, foolish, lacking understanding, and without love, unmerciful, who, knowing the judgment of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but approve of those that do them”
( Rom. 1:22-32).
In the Old Testament it is written, that Abraham heard that God will send angels to execute judgment upon the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He intercedes with God asking for the lowest number of righteous people required to save the cities. God agrees that he will spare the cities in their entirety if only ten righteous people are to be found therein. Two angels go to Sodom, where they are hospitably received by Lot. The men of the city, however, pound on Lot's door, demanding to have sexual relations with the visitors. Having thus shown that they deserved their judgment, Sodom and Gomorrah were totally destroyed by fire and sulfur, while Lot fled with his daughters.
The main purpose of marriage is the mutual salvation of the husband and wife, living in fear of God, im mutual love, striving to keep His commandments and supporting each other in mutual faith. In On fasting days and seasons they abstain from certain food and marital pleasures, in non fasting seasons, they enjoy mutual and spiritual love, in a union blessed by God, which removes any form of sin, for both husband and wife are sanctified in such a marriage. St. Paul writes that the husband is the head of the family and the wife ought to fear her husband. Fear? Yes, the fear of committing adultery, for if she should lose the fear of God, then let her at least fear her husband’s wrath! This fear is important as it defends the marriage bed.
In a blessed Orthodox marriage the husband’s relation to his wife is like Christ’s relation to His Church. Christ honors the Church and sacrificed himself for it. The Church honors Christ her Head and that same honor reflects back upon the Church and the also Church sacrifices itself out of love for Christ. Although the husband is the head, he is not the dominator, for both husband and wife must submit to Christ as their head, then they will reign as king and queen. A blessed Orthodox marriage is a taste of paradise on earth, and such marriages are what God meant them to be. What makes such a divine and holy marriage possible is the bestowal of divine grace in the blessing of marriage, something only possible in Orthodoxy. Here we can see the beauty in one of the heart warming Orthodox Marriage Prayers:
“Lord our God, who in your saving Providence did promise in Cana of Galilee to declare marriage honorable by your presence, do you yourself preserve in peace and oneness of mind these your servants (name) and (name) whom you have well decided that they should be joined to one another. Declare their marriage honorable. Preserve their bed undefiled. Grant that their life together be without spot of sin. And assure them that they may be worthy to attain unto a ripe old age, keeping your commandments in a clean heart. For you are our God, the God that has mercy and saves, and to you we send up all glory, to your eternal Father, and your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
Marriage is for ever! Marriage is designed by God to be holy and beautiful! A holy marriage is a foretaste of heaven. Affairs that lead to divorce never enters the minds of those in a marriage blessed by God. For in honoring their Creator and God, husband and wife continually rejoice in each other and in gladness they celebrate with their children gathered around the table.