My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE
At the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) the following resolution on the sanctity of marriage took place: "Be it therefore resolved that the Sixteenth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America strongly commends the efforts of Orthodox bishops, clergy, and laity to bear witness to the sanctity of marriage in the public arena; commits the Orthodox Church in America to continued witness and defense of the authentic marriage of one man and one woman; strongly reaffirms the Orthodox Church's opposition to same sex marriage, and that it does so on theological and moral grounds; and stresses God's will that marriage be a lifelong commitment, monogamous, and heterosexual...
Be it further resolved that the Orthodox Church stresses that all persons tempted to act contrary to the Orthodox Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality, and all those who succumb to such temptations, are to be offered pastoral guidance and cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity and that all persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.
Why do we need this resolution?
--Our culture's view of marriage over the last few decades has departed from a traditional Christian understanding (Scripture and teachings of the Church) and has especially accelerated in the last two years with the advance of same-sex marriage laws. "
Some clergy and laity appear to not understand, are not familiar with, or wish to ignore the Church's clear teaching regarding marriage, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and same sex unions. They may also ask for dialogue. Thankfully, dialogue has already been provided to us over the past 2000 years as can be clearly seen in the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
Bishop Michael of the New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey writes on the sanctity of marriage: In the document, Affirmation on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life, written and adopted by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, we read (in part) the following summary of the teaching of our Faith on this matter:
1) God wills that men and women marry, becoming husbands and wives. He commands them to increase and multiply in the procreation of children, being joined into "one flesh" by Hi Divine grace and Love. He wills that human beings live within families (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-24; Orthodox Marriage Service).
2) The Lord went even further to declare that people who look at others to lust after them in their hearts have "committed adultery" (cf. St. Matthew 5:27-30).
3) Christ's Apostles repeat the teachings of their Master, likening the unique marriage between one man and one woman to the union between Christ and His Church which they experience as the Lord's very body and His bride (Ephesians 5:21-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2).
4) Marriage and family life are to be defended and protected against every open and subtle attack and ridicule.
5) Sexual intercourse is to be protected as a sacred expression of love within the community of heterosexual monogamous marriage in which alone it can be that for which God has given it to human beings for their sanctification.
As children of God, we are called to conform our sexual behavior to the Commandments of Christ. As Christians, whether single or married, we are called to a life of chastity, pleasing to the Lord. This means struggling against those passions that incline us to "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)--fornication, homosexual activity, or adultery. A heterosexual person has to overcome his or her inclination toward multiple partners of the opposite sex outside of the blessed union of marriage; a homosexual person has to overcome his or her inclination toward others of the same sex. We are all called to live according to the will of God and thereby partake of the way of salvation.
No matter what the prevailing pressure of the culture or the legislation of the state may proclaim, the timeless teaching of the Church echoes the rule of marriage revealed to us by the Lord, written in the Holy Scripture, and re-affirmed by the wisdom and examples of the Saints. Gay marriage or any other unblessed sexual activity is not the love that the Lord extols. Because "we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16), no matter what the government or society may say, like Saint Peter and the Apostles, "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). We need not be afraid to stand in opposition to prevailing trends, as the early Christians stood bravely and boldly, upholding heterosexual monogamous marriage in the non-Christian empire of their time."
It is imperative that we adhere to the teachings of our Holy Orthodox Christian Faith, and to protect and defend the sanctity of marriage. We must condemn all forms of physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional abuse of men, women and children. The sanctity and the harmony of the Christian marriage must be kept safe and sound. Children must not be confused as to the God given role of their mother and father within the family. In his Epistle to the Ephesians Saint Paul writes, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, the He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their own wives and as their own flesh..." Every effort must be made to protect the integrity, unity, harmony, peace, and sanctity of marriage by the Christian man and woman. Neither the man (husband) or the woman (wife) can deviate in any way from what has been ordained by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To go against God's ordinance and commandments constitutes a deliberate disobedience and rebellion against Him and the consequences of that decision brings the unavoidable destruction of the family. To defy God and His commandments is to commit a grave sin.
Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches mercy and forgiveness for all sinners, but the Lord does not justify sin. When the Son of God pronounces Divine pardon to those caught in evil He always charges the forgiven sinner to "go and sin no more" (St. John 8:11). From the very beginning of human life on earth the rebellion of men and women against God has resulted in sickness, suffering and death.
Jesus Christ has come to save the world. He has come to free human beings from the tyranny of evil, suffering and death through forgiveness and expiation of their sins by His own sinless suffering and death.
The priest blesses the crowns at the marriage ceremony and says: "The servant of God (name) is crowned to the handmaid of God (name) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The Priest does the same for the Bride: The handmaid of God (name) is crowned to the servant of God (name) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. As all of you know that the crowns symbolize the bond between the newlyweds and the glory and honor which the Church bestows upon the chaste and prudent life of the couple in the past. The couple is urged to keep the Christian moral life and living faith intact even in marriage.
The crowning is called "stepsis" which means coronation. The Christian groom and bride are coronated as the king and queen of their new home and have the obligation to rule their little spiritual kingdom with prudence, justice, love and integrity, for these duties they are directly responsible to the Almighty God and Creator. The Christian home becomes what we call a "little church" or the "home church." Everything in that spiritual Christian realm or kingdom revolves around our Savior Jesus Christ.
May our Loving God protect and bless your marriage, family and home.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in Our Resurrected Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God