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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||



(H.G. Bishop Moussa)


Christian marriage is different. It has a perspective of

its own, which we need to get to know -if we want to get the

full picture, and see it in all its purity. For Christian

marriage is a sacrament: it is the Holy Spirit Who makes it

work. So we need to approach it in a different way, with

real spiritual depth. Then we will see it work out in

practice, in authentic Christian behavior.

The Apostle Paul gives us two significant insights into the

sanctity of marriage: "This is a great mystery" (Eph 5:32);

"Marriage is honorable among all" (Heb 13:4).

Christian marriage goes beyond the coupling of bodies: it

aspires to the coupling of souls. In the same way that the

Holy Spirit is active in baptismal water to create a new

person, so He is present in marriage. Just as He is at work

in Meeron oil (Holy Chrism) to consecrate a human body to

make it a temple of the Holy Spirit; just as He takes the

bread and wine and transubstantiate them into the Lord's

Holy body and blood; So he unites the bride and groom to

each other and to the Lord, through sincere prayers and


Yet, this unity is not accomplished in a magical way. The

bride and groom are aware of and participate in it by their

heartfelt prayers and positive response to the working of

grace. This means that the sacraments do not work in a

merely mechanical way: rather, they demand a spiritual

response from the person who is receiving the sacrament.

This is just as necessary as the involvement of an ordained

priest; the holding of formal prayers - and the presence of

the Spirit of God.

This divine work is the new thing in Christianity. For

since the beginning of the creation there have been marriage

rituals, agreement by both sides, and social aspects that

differ from one community to another. But the new thing in

Christianity is the work of the Holy Spirit that makes two

individuals into a couple and the couple into one entity.

The Christian understanding of marriage is seen through

specific characteristics some of which are:

1. One Partner

Christianity does not permit polygamy, i.e. getting married

to more than one partner, Monogamy, or the law of one wife,

is definite in Christianity and established in the Bible.

In this context St. Paul's words are enough:

+ "Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have

her own husband" (1 Cor 7:2).

+ "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but

the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Cor 7:4).

+ "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A

wife is not to depart from her husband" (1 Cor 7:10).

+ "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one

flesh" (Eph 5:31).

+ "He who loves his wife loves himself" (Eph 5:28).

This in fact is:

a. A restoration to the original state of affairs: "He who

made them at the beginning 'made them male and female'" (Mt


b. Keeping Christ's command: "So then they are no longer

tow but one flesh. Therefore what God had joined together,

let not man separate" (Mt 19:6).

There is no doubt that the law of one wife has many

important implications. It raises the status of the woman

from just a mere tool to a life-partner; changes the

significance of the children from sheer quantity to their

quality, and refines the instinct from sensuality to

spirituality. These three points we should consider deeply.

God has created only one Eve for Adam to make him realize

that she is a help-meet for him, i.e. a life-partner on an

equal footing. It is often said that God took Eve not from

Adam's head, so as to be superior to him, nor from his leg,

so as to be inferior. He took her from Adam's side to be an

equal counterpart to him.

Moreover, the law of one wife changes the significance of

children from their quantity to their quality. They are

limited in number and raised on the basis of a sound

Christian upbringing to become good citizens and faithful

witnesses to the Lord. This is much better than having a

big number of children who are badly brought up and have no

share either in church membership or in eternal life


The law of one wife also sublimates the instincts.

Spiritual love is the secret of satisfaction, contentment

and happiness, whereas uncontrolled, sensual love is a

regression from the human to the animal level.

2. Oneness

Christian marriage is not jus a contract between two parties

whereby each person continues to follow his or her own ego.

Instead Christianity unifies the two parties or rather the

two partners in "one entity" for "the two shall become one

flesh" (Mt 19:5). The expression "one" here is very

precise, for the one flesh has many members but all are

linked and unified in love, sacrifice, self-giving, and

harmony. The one flesh is controlled by one network of

thoughts and feelings and one will. Therefore, the true Christian marriage turns the home into a

new heaven and the family into a sacred church. There is no

more duality but one entity integrated on the levels of:

Spirit: the two are united in God.

Mind: the two now have the mind of Christ.

Emotions: since the spiritual self-sacrificing love is their

motto. "It is more blessed to give than to


Will: the Holy Spirit is the leader of each of their wills and unifies the two into one.

Therefore we call the individual a couple and the couple

one. This is true as they are united in God. Each partner

bears the other in the depths of his or her being. He or

she is no longer one individual but a couple. Each thinks,

moves or acts with the other partner hidden deep in the

heart. At the same time, the couple becomes one, i.e. their

behavior flows from a spring of profound unity created by

the Holy Spirit.

That is why it is very important for the bride and groom to

pay attention to the prayers and commandments recited in the

celebration of the sacrament of matrimony. They need to

rise to that Christian level where their marriage goes

beyond social and physical coupling to a sacred spiritual


3. Continuity

This is a third important characteristic of the Christian

marriage. In fact, it is - as the Lord Jesus said - the

principle on which Adam and Eve originally lived.

Therefore, when the Jews tested the Lord on divorce saying:

'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any

reason?' He replied: 'Have you not read that He Who made

them at the beginning 'made them male and female' .... For

this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be

joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.'

When they asked him: 'Why then did Moses command to give a

certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He answered:

'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted

you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not

so' (Mt 19:3-8).

From this text we can clearly see two facts:

a. Marriage was originally based on continuity, i.e. the

idea of divorce is completely rejected.

b. Moses allowed the Jews to trespass over this boundary -

with God's permission - because of the hardness of their


But Christ Who marked a new covenant of salvation and

restored us to our original image and first nature, also


restored marriage to its original state, i.e. continuity and

prohibition of divorce. God has not allowed divorce except

for adultery because the guilty partner - by the nature of

his or her sin - breaks the original marriage bond by

uniting himself or herself by a new partner. However, if

the innocent partner is willing to go on with the marriage

and accepts the other partner's return, marriage can

continue on the basis of the sinful partner's sincere

repentance and rededication to the first marriage covenant.

The second reason for divorce is spiritual adultery, that is

to say denial of faith and giving up Christianity. In this

case the Christian partner is no longer bound by the

marriage covenant and has the right to divorce the other


As for the kind of reasons Christians are now putting

forward to divorce, such as ill-treatment, separation,

frequent absence and chronic diseases, they cannot set one's

conscience at peace. For they are a mere veneer, to cover

up for a basic selfishness and lack of love.

On the other side, the nullity of marriage is allowed in

cases of cheating, impotence, and some other cases specified

by the church. The nullity of marriage is a sound principle

as there has to be basic elements to guarantee a sound

marriage, such as full physical and mental maturity ... etc.

An overall view of the reasons for divorce today shows us

how shallow the spiritual life is and how rare genuine love

has become. It shows us the extent of selfishness and selfcenteredness,

and disobedience to Christ's commandments.

May the Lord restore to the Christian family its ideal

cohesion and unity; the cohesion and unity with which the

Christian family has so long testified to Christ, its


4. Bearing Fruits

The Christian family - by the work of the Holy Spirit -

bears the following fruits:

a. Christian Virtue: reflected in the life of its


b. Children: when God grants - they are blessed and

raised in the fear of God and firmly at one

with the church.

c. Services: the family offers to everyone it deals

with, in a true Christian love which knows

neither discrimination, hatred, nor


The family is a small, lively, active church that testifies

to its Lord Jesus Christ. Children are not an end but just

fruits. How wonderful it is when the parents' hearts are

enlarged to include a wider circle of love instead of

confining their emotions to their children. How wonderful it is when the couple, whom God has not granted children by

the flesh, enlarge their hearts to adopt by the spirit a

bigger number of children. At the same time, within God's

church they look after thousands of children in true

parental love. These are some characteristics of the Christian marriage. May God give us the joy of seeing more marriages that

witness to Christ.

||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

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