Love Will Keep Us Together

by Fr. Chris Metropulos of
Come Receive the Light National Orthodox Christian Radio Network

For years Christian leaders in America from all different denominational backgrounds have been warning us about the dangers of our “disposable relationships” culture of divorce. Volumes of books have been written on how to keep your marriage strong, but still the divorce rate in this country continues to hover around 50%.


Well, I don’t want to reduce a complex issue to a few sound bites, but I would like to go back to some first principles that are preserved in the Orthodox Christian understanding of marriage. It may surprise you to hear that the Orthodox understanding of the divine mystery of marriage has little to do with personal fulfillment or even personal happiness. It has everything to do with the salvation of the human person.

One of the ways to get to the proper starting point in this discussion is to first dispel some prevailing myths about love and marriage. The current ideas about love are based on a false notion of sentimentality. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as sentimental as the next man, but sentiment is simply too weak to withstand a lifetime of troubles and challenges. It may be a nice feeling, but sentiment will not last a lifetime, especially with the modern challenges to modern marriage.

Another modern myth about marriage is that we should look for someone to “complete” us. This is an unreasonable expectation that can have disastrous results. Another human being is a created being just like you. No created being is strong enough to “complete” another, and it is both unreasonable and unfair to expect that of another created being. Only the Uncreated can complete you, and you will either find your completeness in Him or you will not find it at all. Now, to be sure, you may find someone uniquely compatible with you and another who is strong where you are weak, but that will not lead you to completeness. It will only lead to a measure of contentment, and that only temporary, instead of the fullness of Christian marriage preserved for us in the wisdom of the Orthodox faith.

Here are three first principles in regard to an Orthodox understanding of a life-long Christian marriage.

First, the Principle of Communion. At the very beginning of creation, our loving God saw “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”(Genesis 2:18) We were made for communion. We were made for the hard work of relationships. But that makes sense in light of the revelation that God Himself is not alone. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Made in His image, it is no wonder that we, too, are meant for communion and relationships. So Orthodox Christian marriage is first and foremost about putting us in the place where we can do the hard work of communion in relationships.

Second, the Principle of Conversion. Following right on the heels of Communion is the Principle of Conversion. Marriage was given to us to help us become converted to the new life of Jesus Christ. There is nothing like the crucible of a life-long relationship to bring to the surface all the ways we are selfish and self-centered. Our spouse sees us at our best and at our worst, and everything in between. With a firm commitment to a life-long relationship, we are afforded a unique opportunity to allow God to transform our selfishness to love for another and see our own lives converted to the unconditional love God has shown toward us in sending us His Son to defeat our enemies – sin, death, and Satan.

Finally, the Principle of Completeness. Orthodox Christian marriage does offer a path to completeness in the sense that when marriage isn’t burdened with self centered desires for “happiness” or “personal fulfillment” then the relationship between husband and wife can produce a completeness that draws each person toward Christ. This attitude concerning marriage also allows the husband and wife to become father and mother of children who in turn witness the mature and Christian lives of their parents. This wonderful model of Christian marriage relieves the marriage relationship of the false expectations of a self centered life, and passes on to the children of this marriage the healthy spiritual life of one committed to Christ.

These first principles of Christian marriage are not meant to suggest that every person is meant to be married. Not at all. Marriage is just one ascetical path wisely guided by the Church to achieve spiritual maturity. Singleness is another path that has its own set of wise counsels preserved in the Church to reach communion with God. It isn’t about which path is better, as much as it is which path has God placed before you. As we approach the holy season of Great Lent, let us, with courage, embrace the spiritual path and commit ourselves to the hard work of communion.

Please listen this week as I spend some wonderful minutes with Fr. Stanley Harakas. He helps us see the power and theology in the Orthodox Divine Mystery of Marriage.

Yours for the spread of Orthodoxy,
Fr. Chris Metropulos

P.S. Thank you so much for your emails and phone calls about our web site. We are working diligently to get everything up and running again and appreciate your patience. If you have any questions email me at mailto: .

(Posting date 17 March 2007

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