The Mystery of Marriage

Father Spyridon offers insights to the beauty and gravity of marriage.

Readership: All;
Theme: The Integrity and Fidelity of Marriage
Length: 1,200 words
Reading Time: 4 minutes + 6:26 minute video

Introduction

A few of our blog cohorts are Orthodox, including NovaSeeker and Scott, and I know many readers are Orthodox as well. Through coauthoring posts together, and through our correspondence in private emails, I’ve found that Orthodoxy includes many teachings that are entirely absent in the Protestant church I was raised in, most notably an explanation of the mystical experience of being a Christian. So over the past year, I have taken a dedicated interest in Orthodox theology.

The content producer of the following video, Father Spyridon, is an Eastern Orthodox priest. His mini-sermon videos are absolutely beautiful. He wears his priestly garments while standing in the woods, and his elocution is filled with great inspiration, diction, and clarity. Birds, animals, and the rustling of leaves can be heard in the background. I have gotten into the habit of listening to one of his talks every day.

This mini sermon is about the mystery of marriage, which fits into our theme this month. In it, Father Spyridon gives us a riveting message about the profound beauty and eternal gravity of marriage.

Father Spyridon: The Mystery of Marriage (2021-05-20)

Full Text of the Mini Sermon

St. Basil the Great says to us, “It is natural to marry, but as Christians, we are called beyond what is natural.”

Beyond!

And here, he is not just talking about the monastic life, for to be married requires as much dedication, and involves as much struggle, as the monastic life.

It takes dedication to be married. Because when two people get married, God creates what we call a small church. They become, the family, a small church.

It is a miraculous thing. And it requires that those members of the family live out their Christian relationships.

St. Paul says, “Husbands must love their wives even as Christ has loved the Church.”

Christ laid down his life. Husbands are called to put their wives before their own very lives. And of course, both are called to faithfulness. A faithfulness that is more than just not committing adultery. A faithfulness that is placing their husband or wife before all else in the world. Before wealth, work, even their larger extended family.

Placing their spouse first in their heart after God.

A Greek Orthodox wedding

In that marvelous book, Every Day Saints, there is the story of a monk who goes to an elder and says, “How do you know what progress a monk is making in the spiritual life?”

And the elder says, “When I see two brothers who’ve fallen out, that have argued, the one who is the first to seek the other’s forgiveness, I recognize is making greater spiritual progress.”

And so it is too in our married lives. We are not there to score points or to win arguments. We must always be the first to rush to seek forgiveness of our husband or wife. To confess that we were at fault, and before judging the other.

A marriage is one of the great mysteries of the church, or sacraments.

It is not simply a contract. In the west, the couple make vows to each other. They enter into a contract. But in Orthodoxy, it is one of the great Mysteries of the Church.

And not like all the mysteries, it is a means of receiving God’s grace, God’s power.

And as a mystery like all the mysteries, it is given to us by God for our salvation. This is its first and most important purpose.

In the west, the theology took on an understanding of marriage, first and foremost, as a means of bearing children.

Not in Orthodoxy. First and foremost, marriage is there for our salvation. And not just our own salvation. When we marry, we take on a responsibility for the salvation of our husband or wife – a judgment. We will be questioned; we will be judged to the extent we have helped or hindered the salvation of our spouse.

We must take this seriously.

This is the union that we are entering into with this other human being. We grow to not only know the other person completely, but also our self. This mystery may reveal to us the depths of our self that we had no idea about.

And, part of the cross that we carry when we get married is not only the truth, the truth of our husband or wife, but also the truth of our self that we discover in that other person, and through that other person.

This is the great mystery of marriage as we become one flesh.

An Antiochian Orthodox wedding

And, in a world that is increasingly not only alien to the Christian faith, but hostile, for those of us trying to live out our Orthodox Christian faith, we must make the foundation of our lives, first the church, and then the home.


“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude.”

St. John Chrysostom

“The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love.”

St. John Chrysostom

“Marriage is more than human; it is a miniature kingdom, which is the little house of the Lord.”

St. Clement of Alexandria

“If a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on the journey from earth to heaven, then their union will bring great joy to themselves and to others.”

St. John Chrysostom

“Married life, no less than the life of a monk, is a special vocation, requiring a particular gift or charisma from the Holy Spirit; and this gift is conferred in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.”

Bishop Kallistos Ware
A Russian Orthodox wedding

Concluding Statements

Father Spyridon has presented to us, not only a description of an ideal marriage, but marriage as a sacramental covenant – a mystery to be revealed within ourselves, and to be lived out in the expression of our lives. Of note, Father Spyridon says the married person is responsible for the salvation of their husband or wife. That’s pretty heavy, and something for us to think about.

Red Pilled readers may be quick to jump on this, and certain other statements made by Father Spyridon as being unrealistic, or impractical, and so I challenge readers to square the relevant Red Pill tenets with the mystery of marriage as presented by Father Spyridon.

The truth of the matter does not waiver before the seething demands of disobedient wives, nor husband’s inability to properly manage their instances of rebellion.

As Father Spyridon says, we must take this seriously.

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Authenticity, Collective Strength, Courtship and Marriage, Cultural Differences, Decision Making, Discernment, Wisdom, Enduring Suffering, Evangelism, Faith Community, Fundamental Frame, Headship and Patriarchy, Holding Frame, International, Introspection, Leadership, Love, Male Power, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Success, Moral Agency, Mysticism, Orthodoxy, Philosophy, Protestantism, Purpose, Relationships, Sanctification & Defilement, Self-Concept, Stewardship, The Power of God. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to The Mystery of Marriage

  1. Lastmod says:

    Eh…… My cousin married into a Greek Orthodox family. I was in their wedding in 1998. The wedding was almost two hours long. Dancing around crowns. The altar. Opening and closing curtains to painted icons, lots of ritual. Is that a mystery of the faith? Of Marriage? It’s just tradition. Sure, much of it is, I guess, amazing because it has been passed down…. but my cousins husband divorced her in five years. I didn’t see any particular “holiness” by the Greek side of the family during the wedding reception (and I wasn’t practicing at that time, I was a cultural Anglican). I didn’t “hear” anything the priest saying about “the husband and wife are responsible for each others salvation.”

    Nor did I ever see that written in scripture. Was it lost in translation? Maybe? So if that is the case, anyone who isn’t Greek / Eastern Orthodox is going to hell because they didn’t know any better?

    In Protestantism… well… not in the COE, but in the Sally Army and other evangelical churches, all I ever heard was, “Jesus invented marriage” (and he did nothing of the sort). Adam and Eve didn’t have a priest read the vows, nor none were made before God in the garden. There wasn’t a reception. Nothing mentioned of “mystery”, or dances, or crowns, or tithing, or gifts, or a honeymoon, or wedding rings, or wedding dresses, or invitations….. nor icons, nor prayers on this day to this saint. It’s all man-made. All of it.

    Orthodox weddings are no more stable or better than their Catholic or Protestant counterparts. Because this sphere has said so many times……… If she doesn’t have the hots for you, you’re marriage is pretty much doomed anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    • cameron232 says:

      In Catholicism and Orthodoxy, it is believed that Jesus restored the original grace of Adam and Eve’s marriage through His sacrament of marriage. In this sense, Jesus “created” the sacrament. “I make all things new.”

      Sacramental marriage doesn’t guarantee a good marriage. Sacraments, while a means of grace, don’t override free will. And this is not a time of great faith for any group of Christians.

      Like

    • cameron232 says:

      A sacrament symbolizes the invisible grace. This is why you will see the ritual, e.g. the exchange of a small token of consent like a ring symbolizing the exchange of consent to Christian marriage.

      Like

  2. Red Pill Apostle says:

    I am going to agree with Lastmod on spouses being responsible for each other’s salvation. If you had said that God uses marriage for the sanctification of both the husband and wife then I’m all in on that. There isn’t a good doctrinal basis for being responsible for the eternal destiny of your spouse.

    Some of Lastmod’s points have scriptures that show otherwise. Hebrews 1:2 states that God made everything through Christ and John 1:3 says that through Christ all things were made. This would include marriage. Adam and Eve may not have had a modern ceremony with all it’s symbolism (more on this in a second), but you do see the Father giving the daughter He created to a man to help him fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply. This has the intent of being paired with consummation, which after Adam names woman in Genesis 2:23, they are described as being married (in verses 24-25). So while they did not have a modern marriage ceremony, they actually gave us part of what we currently use in marriage ceremonies. In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul identifies the one flesh mystery of marriage because there is a spiritual component that is more than a contractual agreement to do life together.

    While Lastmod’s assertion that what occurs in marriage ceremonies are a creation of man is technically true, the reason for many of the traditions are drawn from the covenant nature of the union found in the Bible. Here are a few off the top of my head. In Genesis 15, we see a covenant ceremony between God and Abraham where animals are split in two, and one party walks between the halves, effectively saying, “Let me be rendered like this animal if I don’t hold up my vow to you.” (If you look into this passage further, you’ll find that God actually fulfills both sides of the covenant, foreshadowing his plan for people’s salvation.) This method of establishing a covenant is why husbands wait at the alter and brides symbolically walk down a center isle. The bride wears white because the church will be presented before God blemish free because of Christ’s sacrifice. The bride’s father gives her away to the husband in a transfer of headship, just as those who God has given to Christ fall under Christ’s headship.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jack says:

      “If you had said that God uses marriage for the sanctification of both the husband and wife then I’m all in on that. There isn’t a good doctrinal basis for being responsible for the eternal destiny of your spouse.”

      Yes, I agree. After meditating on Father Spyridon’s sermon, I came to the conclusion that one’s “sanctification”, or “the quality of sanctification”, is dependent on the faithful obedience to God of one’s spouse. But when he uses the word “salvation”, it really makes you stop and think. How is one’s salvation related to sanctification? It’s really part and parcel of the same thing, really. From a doctrinal standpoint, we could say that God is in control of the aspect of salvation, but on the ground, we are largely responsible for our own sanctification and that of others around us. The mystery is that we can’t really separate the two. I think what it really comes down to is not an issue of salvation (as opposed to eternal damnation), but rather, obtaining the inner peace and security of salvation (i.e. sanctification) earlier in one’s life, such that both spouses can receive more of the glory and blessings of God in their marriage for a longer period of their lifetime. As a result, more of both the husband’s and wife’s lives can be spent on service to the Lord and His Kingdom, and not wasted on years spent wrestling against the flesh and fighting daily battles to establish Headship. IOW, not just one but two people can accomplish more for the Kingdom if they have their personal issues sorted out in short order. This carries with it eternal benefits and rewards, not only for one’s self and one’s spouse, but also for their children, and all those who might be edified through their service to the Kingdom over their lifespan. So with respect to the conservation of time and the efficacy in service, Father Spyridon’s statement is more true than what we might think at first.

      Like

    • Joe2 says:

      “The bride wears white because the church will be presented before God blemish free because of Christ’s sacrifice.”

      The above explanation is simply an attempt to Christianize a secular fashion statement which became a tradition after Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding to Prince Albert.

      “The tradition before Victoria was to be as showy as possible in your fashion; gold and silver were considered especially opulent. Though she’d worn luxurious robes of red, gold, and ermine for her 1837 coronation, Victoria’s wedding was a different matter. Truly in love with her betrothed, she opted to put his masculine ego ahead of her role as the ruler of the British Empire. Her white lace gown was an unexpectedly demure choice. Especially because, in lieu of a crown, she donned a wreath of wax orange blossoms.”

      “What also helped: Victoria pushed white wedding dresses onto her daughters and daughter-in-law, Alexandra, who went on to become queen herself in 1901. And because Victoria’s family was the first royal family to be heavily photographed, their images — and therefore their fashion choices — were even more heavily circulated.

      While Victoria is largely credited with bringing the white wedding dress into fashion, it didn’t become a full-fledged Western tradition until after WWII.”

      Brides: Why do brides wear white? (2021-12-31)

      Like

      • Jack says:

        In Chinese culture, white symbolizes purity and goodness just as in the west, but it is also associated with death, mourning, and emptiness. People in Asia will wear white to a funeral. Black is a formal color, and it also represents evil, grief, and bad luck. The color red is associated with good fortune and happiness. Women wear blood red, skin-tight chi pao’s on festive occasions, including their wedding day.



        My wife and I got married in my father’s Methodist church. She wore a red chi pao with gold embroidery. It was a jaw-dropper that made everyone eye-popping speechless. Even the minister got really excited about this.

        Like

  3. Oscar says:

    “In the west, the theology took on an understanding of marriage, first and foremost, as a means of bearing children.”

    That’s not what I’ve been taught in the Western churches I’ve attended. I’ve been taught – and believe – what you find in the Anglican Common Book of Prayer, and I’ve never been Anglican.

    DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with His presence, and first miracle that He wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

    First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

    Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

    Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

    Yes, the first purpose given is “the procreation of children”, but note that before the Book of Common Prayer gives any purpose for marriage, it first establishes the fact that God instituted marriage (and yes, Jason, Jesus is God) in the beginning “signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church”. That means that “the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church” supersedes “the procreation of children” in importance.

    Second, note that marriage “is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.”

    Finally, RPA is right. Marriage is not for our salvation, it’s for our sanctification. Thus, “It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.” There’s a lot more to our sanctification than that, but that’s a good start.

    Maybe Fr. Spyridon meant “salvation” in the sense that the Bible commands us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). I don’t know. You’d have to ask him.

    If so, then there’s no contradiction between what Fr. Spyridon is teaching about marriage, and what Protestants and Catholics teach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cameron232 says:

      Fr. Spyridon doesn’t believe in “once saved always saved.” If marriage is to avoid fornication and fornicators will not inherit the kingdom, then it seems to follow marriage is related to salvation. This is why it’s one of the seven mysteries (east) or sacraments (west). I think they would say that there’s much more to the grace of the mystery/sacrament than just avoiding fornication, but that’s no small part of it.

      Wish Scott or Nova could confirm my ramblings.

      Like

      • Oscar says:

        “If marriage is to avoid fornication and fornicators will not inherit the kingdom, then it seems to follow marriage is related to salvation.”

        Yeah, but you could be unmarried, and not fornicate, and you could be married and fornicate.

        “This is why it’s one of the seven mysteries (east) or sacraments (west).”

        Protestants also believe that marriage is a mystery, because St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said so.

        Ephesians 5:31-33
        31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

        I quoted that scripture when I wrote my article for this blog. I wouldn’t have quoted it if I didn’t believe it, and I’m a Protestant.

        One of the reasons we make up different words to describe the same things — especially in spiritual matters — is precisely because we don’t fully comprehend them. They are mysteries. “We see through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). All three Christian faith traditions acknowledge that fact.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. redpillboomer says:

    The thing that jumped out at me listening to Father Spyridon is that the relationship between a man and a woman is first and foremost SPIRITUAL in nature. I believe this is in the background of everything we say on a site like this one, a CHRISTIAN red pill site. In other words, it’s the context for EVERYTHING that happens between a male and a female, and everything we talk about here. In other words, no matter what male-female relational subject we’re looking at, it is rooted in the spiritual in the background even if we’re not including it in the discussion.

    Interestingly, right after hearing Fr. Spyridon’s talk, I was listening to a podcast of two seasoned, well-respected Sphere content creators engaged in a dialogue about heart break and getting over it. One of them was sharing that when he was young man he had a three month relationship with a good looking woman who broke up with him because of him being too ‘needy.’ It took him six months to get over it. His point was that it should have taken him a month or so to get over it, not half a year. He realized the ‘math’ didn’t make sense to him. It was an early step in his journey to becoming red pilled, figuring out why this was so with him.

    An unusual thought popped into my head that went something like this, “It’s because the two of you became SPIRITUALLY one because this was a relationship along the likes of what Fr Spyridon was referring to (not a drunken ONS or something like it). You effectively consummated the relationship with this woman by having sex with her on a regular basis, like a married couple would, to include living together.”

    By contrast, my four year LTR/LDR that I’ve written about in the past, when it broke apart, I only grieved it for three months. Got me to thinking, why six months to get over it for him in a three month relationship, and three months for me to get over a four year relationship (three years of it LDR)? The difference, I didn’t have intercourse with my girlfriend, not even a BJ, just kissing and fondling with clothing on (I was trying to be a good Christian and save it for marriage). I didn’t consummate the relationship with her like he did with his girlfriend. It was a spiritual difference between his and my situations. In other words, he became ‘one with her’ where I didn’t. I suffered a broken heart, but I didn’t feel like I lost part of myself. Three months after getting dumped, I was back out there in my local SMP/MMP and my ‘grieving’ was over, i.e. I was past it and ready to get on with my life, and dating new women was part of getting on with it.

    I could be off on this, and I’m certainly open to other thoughts and ideas about it, but it does seem that both of us were obviously in a relationship with a woman, but his was more like a marriage and mine was more like a courtship. There was a difference in the two situations, even though I had known my girl for 48 months and he had known his for only three months. I’m not saying mine was better, like in I was the ‘better, more righteous man’ or something like that, but maybe I recovered from a four year situation faster because it wasn’t spiritual, as in ‘like a marriage’ spiritual, aka two becoming one flesh spiritual, and his was. What do you all think?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Cliffton Adams says:

    Can we at least pause for a moment and reflect on how bad ass of a name like Father Spyridon is?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jack says:

    I received an insightful email from a reader about this post. He writes,

    “If I understand correctly, the Orthodox use the word “salvation” to indicate something different than evangelicals do. For the former, it has more to do with having peace with God in this life, and simply assumes the effects are eternal. […] New Testament passages [can be interpreted to] use the word “salvation” that way, roughly equivalent to shalom. It’s not a reference directly to spiritual birth, unless the context indicates that. Thus, I would more or less agree to the notion that a solid marriage does contribute to our shalom, and we do help to bring our spouse a greater measure of God’s peace.”

    “At some point I would break with Fr. Spyridon in that marriage does come before secular work, but it does not come before your divine mission and calling. Indeed, the decision to even have a romance at all must serve to enhance the mission. The choice of spouse starts within the Covenant, because marriage is a subsidiary covenant in itself.”

    So this reader is reaching a similar conclusion as I did in my earlier comment about how “salvation” refers to the quality of sanctification or obtaining the peace and security of salvation in a timely manner, and not the surety thereof. His remarks about marriage being a covenant reflect what Red Pill Apostle wrote above.

    Father Spyridon never used the word “covenant” in this mini-sermon, but from his description about marriage, it is quite evident that he’s referring to a covenant relationship. RedPillBoomer picked up on this when he wrote about how “the relationship between a man and a woman is first and foremost SPIRITUAL in nature”, as this is a characteristic of a covenant relationship.

    Like

    • redpillboomer says:

      My understanding is that marriage between a man and woman is a Covenant relationship. It seems that everything between an adult male and female is spiritual in nature, eventually supposedly to result in a marital covenant. So, in light of that, everything we talk about in Christian red pill regarding intersexual dynamics is in the background of the spiritual. The SMP/MMP is spiritual in nature, not secular, even though it is almost universally treated as such. Maybe that is what Fr. Spyridon was getting at in his sermonette.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oscar says:

    A covenant is a contract. The two words are synonymous.

    https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/covenant

    There is a spiritual component to every contract, though most people ignore this fact.

    Leviticus 6
    1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor, 3 or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely—in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins: 4 then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. 6 And he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. 7 So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.”

    Got that? When a man lies about a pledge (contract) he “commits a trespass against the Lord”. He not only has to make good on the contract he violated – plus interest – he has to offer sacrifice to the Lord.

    You may have heard that a contract is conditional, and a covenant is not. That is false. God made many covenants that contained “if, then” statements. For example:

    Exodus 19:5
    Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

    There’s a conditional covenant right there.

    Not every covenant God made is conditional. Some are unconditional.

    Covenants and contracts are the same things. Both contain a spiritual component. Both can be conditional. Both can be unconditional.

    Like

    • Jack says:

      Oscar, et al.,

      “A covenant is a contract. The two words are synonymous.”

      Growing up in a Protestant church, I often heard the idea of a covenant being explained by comparing it to a contract, so I used to think as you do. However, one of the most important things I’ve learned in my walk of faith is that there is a significant difference.

      — Contracts are transactional agreements between two parties whose identities remain separate and unchanged by the contract. Covenants transform both parties to have a new combined identity.
      — Contracts require certain measures of willing performance by both parties. Covenants are renewed through faith, communion, and sacraments.
      — Contracts involve the commitment and exchange of goods and services. Covenants are a commitment of the self, entirely personal in nature.
      — Contracts are enforced by law and/or the judicial system. Covenants are enforced by the power of God.
      — Contracts are concerned with what you do or what you offer. Covenants focus on who you are.
      — Contracts can be revised and changed by mutual agreement. Covenants endure for life.
      — Contracts require volitional Head Trust. Covenants produce spontaneous Heart Trust.
      — Contracts are written on paper. Covenants are sealed with blood.
      — Contracts expire. Covenants are eternal.

      Now, I have the opinion that Protestants doesn’t really know what a covenant is because time and again, I see it being likened unto a contract.

      The dictionary is useful for defining words and forming simple arguments, but in this case, the dictionary is inadequate. We cannot rely on a secular dictionary to fully explain the nuances of spiritual concepts. This is why I often go to the trouble to explore the meanings of such words on this blog.

      If a contract and a covenant are the same thing, then why would we have different words for it? It’s because they’re not the same thing.

      Another example includes concepts like sin, iniquity, and transgression. If it’s the same thing, then why do we need three words? It’s because they’re not the same thing.

      Love is one concept that has gotten some traction in Protestantism. It is recognized that there are four different kinds of love in Greek. But in English, there is only one word.

      Ed Hurst has written a lot about covenants, and I have found this information to be very insightful and edifying. Here are a few.
      The Covenant of Noah (2009-05-19)
      A Little More on Covenants (2019-04-29)
      Radix Fidem Curriculum: Covenants (2019-05-30)

      Like

      • Oscar says:

        “If a contract and a covenant are the same thing, then why would we have different words for it? It’s because they’re not the same thing.”

        Can you think of any other case in which we have different words for the same thing?

        Like

      • Jack says:

        Oscar, et al.,

        “Can you think of any other case in which we have different words for the same thing?”

        Yes of course, but we’re not talking about synonymous words like delighted, glad, happy, mirthful, and overjoyed. We’re talking about metaphysical phenomena that are difficult to apprehend with the natural mind. I used to believe that many theological terms had simple meanings that were equivalent to other words, but I’ve found that for many of these concepts, there is a world of ideas behind these words that constitute some noteworthy differences — differences that everyone glosses over because they cannot comprehend the world of ideas behind the words. I’m digging into this because understanding these differences can result in our personal advancement.

        “One of the reasons we make up different words to describe the same things — especially in spiritual matters — is precisely because we don’t fully comprehend them.”

        I’m sure this is true in many cases, but the important thing is for each man to come to his own understanding of these things. I know it’s difficult for Protestants to take in Catholic or Orthodox teachings, and vice versa, but looking at the same concepts through another theological lens is bound to be insightful and edifying. I know it is for me. I hope that readers can see through the different terminologies and grasp hold of the underlying truths that are bound therein.

        Like

      • Oscar says:

        “Yes of course, but we’re not talking about synonymous words like delighted, glad, happy, mirthful, and overjoyed. We’re talking about metaphysical phenomena that are difficult to apprehend with the natural mind.”

        Which we’re describing using severely limited words (invented in our severely limited minds) which oftentimes end up meaning the same thing.

        “I know it’s difficult for Protestants to take in Catholic or Orthodox teachings, and vice versa, but looking at the same concepts through another theological lens is bound to be insightful and edifying.”

        I find it fascinating, and kind of sad, because I often come away thinking, “why have we been fighting over this for centuries? We’re all saying the same thing using different words.”

        Liked by 1 person

  8. cameron232 says:

    This is in response to what several readers (Jack, Oscar, etc.) wrote above. I don’t think the Orthodox make the sharp distinction between justification and sanctification that Protestants do (very much a Reformation thing). They speak of theosis and this is a lifelong process. Nor do they assume that the Bible is the complete source for the faith. I’m not sure the original Protestants did either. Norma normans didn’t mean that, but over time moved in that direction.

    The east criticizes both Catholicism and Protestantism as being excessively focused on knowing with certainty ones spiritual status. There is an element of mystery to this too they will say. They will tell you Protestants inherited this from western Catholicism’s preoccupation with theological and soteriological precision. I guess “work out your salvation….” could be cited in favor of this.

    I hope I didn’t misrepresent Orthodoxy. Nova could correct me.

    [Jack: Link added for more information.]

    Like

    • Oscar says:

      “They speak of theosis and this is a lifelong process.”

      Sanctification is a lifelong process. It’s how we “work out our salvation” by God’s grace. It’s almost as though we have (gasp!) different words to describe the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        Oscar, I think the Orthodox and Catholic understanding is different. Salvation isn’t something we have gotten “out of the way” (once saved always saved), where that verse means working out the sanctification part of your secured salvation.

        Theosis/justification/sanctification don’t have the sharp distinctions as they do in classical Protestantism. I realize there are different Protestant soteriologies (Lutheran/Arminian/Calvinist/other).

        Boy, I hope I got that right on behalf of the Orthodox — would be embarrassing.

        How’s the new baby?

        Like

      • Oscar says:

        “How’s the new baby?”

        She’s doing great, and plumping up on breast milk. Still not sleeping through the night, though. Thanks for asking!

        Liked by 4 people

  9. Lastmod says:

    Covenant, contract, salvation, sanctification…. In the Orthodox culture and church, this word means this, and that word means that…… Splitting an animal sacrifice in two now is “clear as day” that this somehow meant a wedding covenant or contract…. and Orthodoxy uses marriage as a mystery, and unlike the west, its main focus is not to produce children, but as the Bible says, “He created woman for man to help him fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply.”

    Somehow Orthodoxy just takes us all deeper. The priest who married my cousin called sin “a disease you have to live with or deal with”, so I guess that is why divorce is okay, premarital sex is okay….. everything is okay because “it’s a mystery.”

    That’s any and all faiths. Please stop making this faith into something it isn’t. It’s man made. I believe there was a man named Jesus, who said some pretty profound things. Revolutionary things, and I am not talking about the political.

    But then along came a guy named Paul, then bishops, priests, icons, temples, rich and fine clothing, money… lots of money pretty much ruined it. No one was and will ever be held accountable. Plenty of believers got divorced over the centuries and they are all convinced they are going to heaven. Adulteresses too. It’s okay, it’s just the “mystery” of the faith, and scripture is only used like Mao’s “little red book”, and used in “context” to make it look infallible.

    Like

  10. Lastmod says:

    Listened to the whole thing again. For a very “simple” and “humble” faith called Christianity, it sure is very complex. How on earth did a medieval man in feudal Europe who was illiterate, tied to the land and his lord understand a conversation like this?

    He didn’t.

    And millions upon millions didn’t either, nor did they have to because what was taught was pretty easy to grasp. These churches and traditions slowly made it incomprehensible for anyone to understand unless they were a priest, held a position in society of authority or prestige. Everyone else was pretty much doomed. Luther came along and tried to simplify it again, and of course the results of that over the ages to modern America….. horrible praise music, and “I’ll pray for you” sloppy evangelism, and more concern over pre-trib, mid-trib, post trib conversations…. getting saved and still treating people like dog-sh!t…… and then of course………. “We’re going to start a new building program to reach out to this community. We just need $1.5 million to start.”

    But Christianity was already cucked and feminized by the time the feudal age started, so this whole conversation is moot anyway. (Right???)

    Like

    • cameron232 says:

      I didn’t listen but the medieval peasant would have learned the gospel stories of Jesus by word of mouth and by artwork showing the tales he’d heard. He would have participated in the days of the church calendar and the sacraments relevant to his station in life. Also folk customs sometimes, peculiar to his locality.

      He would have no interest in or capacity for theology. My guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. feeriker says:

    “sloppy evangelism”

    What evangelism? I’ve always marveled at churches that label themselves “evangelical” when they do no “evangelism” whatsoever. I think I’d be happy to see them doing even sloppy evangelism. Better than the “no evangelism whatsoever” that they do now.

    OTOH, given what they do teach, especially in Anglophone North America today, maybe that’s not such a good idea. Spreading the contagion of heresy and apostasy certainly doesn’t advance the mission of the Kingdom.

    Like

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  16. Scott says:

    In the confessional traditions, we believe that the priest opens a window into the transcendent, takes the hearts of the bride and groom, sticks them through the window, God sews them together and then they are placed back into the couple. The transcendent window is a portal into the eternal where all the souls, past present and future, are in perfect communion and worship and witness and celebrate the marriage being formed. It takes two otherwise totally unrelated people and makes them next of kin. That is the beginning of the mystery. It only gets more awesome after that.

    Like

  17. Scottt says:

    I’ve been away for minute. Hope everyone is well.

    https://ibb.co/hLcbYL6

    Like

  18. Jeff Barnes says:

    Hi Jack, great post!

    I have been away for more than a minute, thought I would drop by again.

    Glad to hear of your greater interest in Orthodox teaching.

    I am sure you’re aware of the story of Roosh, but he is part of a larger internet movement he describes here:

    Roosh Valizadeh: The Rise Of The Orthosphere (2021-7-12)

    This website, Patristic Faith, features many of the popular online Orthodox creators.

    By the grace of God, I have been able to share the Orthodox faith with my former Reformed community. My best apologetic may be being a witness, and discipling others. But also, creatively, I have shared the Orthodox faith and my own story.

    My change in faith and community has dramatically turned my life for good and God’s glory. But like St. Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14…

    Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)
    …but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    My preparation and time as an apologist might be almost over, as I sincerely desire to answer the monastic calling I have received. Like Abraham, I will obey the call to, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…” (Genesis 12:1-2).

    Liked by 1 person

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