church of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ is made up of both married and
celibate people; they can be celibate as monks and nuns, or as
consecrated deacons and deaconesses. In this topic I wish to concentrate
on Salvation in both marriage and in celibacy. The love of our Lord
Jesus Christ was explicit in saving us:
"...You taught us the way of salvation..." (Liturgy of St. Basil)
SALVATION : In our Orthodox concept, we are saved through three
important pillars -
baptism and Myron
? repentance and good deeds
? 12 \h transfiguration of the body
three, salvation cannot occur, because in salvation we are freed from
the penalty of eternal death, and from our spoiled nature which occurred
as a result of our sinning. Our responsibility now in this process is to
continue practicing repentance and good deeds.
The bride of Christ, which is the church, is composed of both married
and celibate people, and both are holy. The Lord blessed the wedding at
Cana of Galilee, and blessed celibacy by being celibate. And He taught
us that all people who believe in the Lord, and are baptised, and are
repenting and have good deeds, and are awaiting the day of
transfiguration and resurrection, will be saved.
In our church,
marriage differs from any other kind of marriage, whether civil or
otherwise, because we believe it is a very holy sacrament. Never think
that because we hear so much of saints like St. Bishoy and St. Mina, and
so many other celibate saints that marriage is secondary. God created
both as gifts, and gave some people the gift to remain celibate, and
most people the gift to be married, and both are holy.
"It was once
revealed to St. Anthony the Great in his desert that there was one who
was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he
had beyond his needs he gave to the poor and everyday he sang the
Sanctus with the angels" (Sayings of the Desert Fathers).
Marriage in our church has five important goals :
Love - In a
Christian marriage you are going to experience love; not sensual love
(EROS), which is lust, or natural human love (PHILIA), but holy,
spiritual love which is baptised by the Holy Spirit. This love is called
'AGAPE'. It is a sacrificial love which unites the two partners through
the Holy Spirit. This union is very different to the body to body
relationship of adultery. Marriage is a person to person relationship
where not only the bodies meet, but also the psyches, the emotions, the
minds and the spirits. The Lord is blessing this union and is in the
midst of the two partners. Christian marriage is a union in the Spirit
and not out of the Spirit. It is a union through God and not outside of
Co-operation - God
created us to lead social lives and for this reason, in marriage,
couples must co-operate with each other in all aspects of life. Life has
many hardships, and also many joys, so when you share your joy with your
partner, your joy is multiplied, and when you share your sorrow with
your partner, your suffering is divided.
Salvation - Marriage enables the partners to satisfy their sexual
instincts and their instincts of motherhood and fatherhood in a holy,
pure way, and for this reason marriage helps them in the process of
Children - Children are the
fruit of marriage and are essential for the continuance of the human
Increasing the number of
saints - When these children are brought up in the fear and love of God,
they will be saints, not only in the church on earth, but also in the
Kingdom of Heaven.
Marriages fail when they are the result of lust, for eventually the
partners begin to feel monotonous towards one another, and so leave each
They do not feel there is any need for children because they are selfish
and greedy, living only for themselves and their egos. They are not
ready to give, they only want to take. This is not Christianity and this
anti-human, for if there are no children, there will be no future
generations, and no saints created for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Celibacy is a spiritual gift, just like marriage. Those that are
inclined towards celibacy feel that this type of life is their need and
their satisfaction - to be totally belonging to the Lord; in mind, body,
psyche and spirit. Your all is for the Lord and therefore you do not
want to commit yourself to the responsibilities of the world. However,
this gift is only for a minority, "...each one has his own gift from
God, one in this manner and another in that" (1 Corinthians 7:7).
Many people imagine that those living in a holy place such as a
monastery are secure and safe from all temptation, which come to those
living in the world. However, this is not the case. The temptations and
spiritual wars are much greater for those living a monastic life, for
Satan always wants to tempt them and struggle with them, because they
are living a life of prayer, desiring to be totally consecrated and
devoted to the Lord.
the Great once said, 'He who wishes to live in solitude in the desert is
delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech and sight; there is only
one conflict for him, and that is fornication'" (Sayings of the Desert
The monastics are the fence of the church; always praying for the
church and for the world at large. An example of this is when St.
Anthony went to visit St. Paula the hermit who had been living in
complete solitude for eighty years in constant praying and fasting. St.
Paula asked him, "How is Pope Athanasius and his dealing with
Arius...and how is the Nile? Is it flooding regularly and providing for
all its people?" St. Paula felt what was happening in the church because
he is a member in the body of Christ and each member knows what happens
to the other members through the Holy Spirit, and he was concerned with
what was happening in the world because he cared for everyone and prayed
? Even though the celibate person has
devoted his life totally to God, he is still giving himself for everyone
inside the church and outside the church. He is united to all of them
through the holy body of the church, "...for we are all members of one
another" (Ephesians 4:25).
? Not only do the monastics pray, but
they also study, research, write theological papers, and so on. Our
greatest example of this is how His Holiness Pope Shenouda, despite his
tremendous responsibility, still writes many spiritual books for us.
Every monastery has libraries containing books on church dogma, biblical
interpretations, and theology. Therefore the monasteries can be
considered the research centres of the church.
Finally, monasticism gives the church servants, for some of the monks
are chosen to be monk-priests, others are chosen to be bishops and one
is chosen to be the Pope.
three goals of monasticism are :