Father Spyridon offers insights to the beauty and gravity of marriage.
Theme: The Integrity and Fidelity of Marriage
Length: 1,200 words
Reading Time: 4 minutes + 6:26 minute video
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
- Σ Frame: A Realistic View of Marriage (2009-10-18)
- Σ Frame: The Meaning of Marriage (2011-07-11)
- Σ Frame: The Deeper Meaning of Marriage (2011-10-18)
- Redeeming Singleness: Is the primary purpose of marriage our sanctification? (2012-02-29)
- Σ Frame: Lest we forget, Marriage was once intended to Glorify God (2019-08-08)
- Σ Frame: On the Concept of Sin and the need for Marriage (2020-04-24)
- Σ Frame: The need for Marriage Education (2020-05-15)
- Σ Frame: Only God can grant a successful marriage (2020-05-20)
- Σ Frame: Sexual competition continues after marriage (2021-02-19)
- Σ Frame: Commonalities of Successful Marriages (2021-04-14)