Our Faith It is our faith that all of the Sacraments were instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, but marriage is as old as the human race. It goes all the way back to creation. It was founded by the Creator Himself when He said: It is not good for man (male) to be alone [Genesis 2:18] Then He created woman (female), and He blessed them saying; Increase and multiply and fill the earth
What did Our Lord Jesus Christ teach about Marriage? Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed these words when He said, Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason Man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one! So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder [Matthew 19:4-6]
Marriage in The Coptic Orthodox Church In our Coptic Orthodox Church, the purposes of marriage are numerous; high on the list is the procreation of children. The couple Male & Female is understood to be co-workers with God, not only in the perpetuation of human life through the conception, birth and physical care of children, but also to take care of the spiritual nurture of new members of Gods kingdom.
Marriage as a Sacrament In the early church, marriage was considered a Mysterion or a Sacrament, Tertullian wrote in the second century telling us that; A Christian couple who desired to be married applied for a civil license and then went to church on Sunday to receive communion during the liturgy and the blessing of the Bishop or the Priest. Just as God blessed that first marriage, so He blesses ours today when we stand before His Holy Altar. This is why marriage is a Sacrament in the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is a way by which Christ comes to us to bless us.
In our Coptic Orthodox Church, marriage is not simply an agreement of a man and woman to share their lives together. It is not performed by the bride and the groom with the clergyman and the congregation as witnesses to their decision.
Their union based on their freely willed decision to join their lives together as husband and wife becomes sacramental because: they are joined together as Orthodox Christians who are sharing the Body and the Blood of Christ and receiving the grace of God for their union through the ministrations of the church in the person of the clergyman in the presence of the gathered people of God.
Marriage is the single most important relationship in life next to ones relationship with God. In his book Magnificent Marriage G. MacDonald says The relationship of a man and a woman in marriage is the prime relationship of all mankind, superseded only by that relationship which man/woman establishes with his/her God.
What the Sacrament says about Sex?What the Sacrament says about Sex? The fact that Matrimony is a Sacrament tells us much about God views sex! After creating man and woman and ordering them to multiply, God not only said that it was good as He has said of all His previous creations. He now said that it was very good [Genesis 1:31]
He created sex for a very special relationship called MARRIAGE which He had blessed then and still blesses now.
If God surrounds sex with many commandments, He does so not because it is something evil, but because it is precious that He builds a fence around it to protect it.
Spiritual Attraction: By spiritual attraction, we mean two young people can talk about God and agree. They can talk about the goals of life and agree. No wall exists between them when they talk about the purpose of life. Spiritual love is the gift God comes to give through the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is Gods kind of love.
Mental Attraction: By mental attraction, two young people are interested in each others personality. We call this friendship love
Physical Attraction: By physical attraction, a boy and a girl are attracted to each other physically. Physical attraction should not be the only attraction. We call this beautiful (Eros) love.
Ideal Christian Home: Unity of Marriage: One man and one woman as God created them at the beginning. Independent Living: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife to have a separate stable life, to avoid troubles and contacts between his wife and his parents. However, the man shall continue loving and caring for his parents and supporting them to have their blessing according to the commandment.
Ideal Christian Home (Cont.) One Flesh: They are no longer two, but one flesh, one spirit, one heart, and one life. Stability and Continuity of Family: As there is no divorce in Christianity except for adultery, whoever encourages divorce is breaking a divine law placed by God Himself when he wedded Adam and Eve, and blessed them as What God has joined together, let no man separate. (Matthew 19:6).
Before the Ceremony The time of the original rite of the Sacrament of Matrimony is Sunday morning, after the morning raising of incense, right before the Liturgy. In the past, the tradition was that the bride and the groom stay up during the wedding night in a special hall attached to the church praising and praying. Each one accompanied by one of their friends. In front of St. George Church in Old Cairo, Egypt, this hall still exists in its original form.
The Pauline Before reading the Pauline, deacons chant [TAY SHORY] the Pauline Hymn, which specifically for Saint Mary, so the Bride should resemble and behave like her mother the Virgin St. Mary in Her purity, modesty and spirituality. St. Paul writes about marriage in his letter to the Ephesians. Before we look at it, however, we need to remember that Paul lived in a pagan world where the views on marriage were much like ours today. The world at Pauls time held a low concept of marriage. All kinds of sexual immorality prevailed. Paul called on Christians to disassociate themselves from those prevailing attitudes.
The Ephesians [5:22-33] Husbands and Wives 1.Wives to submit to their Husbands as the church submits to Christ (5:22-24) 2.Husbands to love their Wives as Christ loves the Church (5:26): Christ died for the Church (5:25) Christ lives to make the Church Holy and Clean (5:26) Christ will someday present the Church to Himself as a glorious Church without Stain and wrinkle (5:27) 3. Husbands are to love their Wives as they love their own bodies (5:28-33)
Psalms and Gospel Readings Psalm 18:5, 6: Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. This is a prophecy about Christ rising from the dead in victory, strong and happy like the bridegroom coming out of his chamber filled with happiness. Psalm 128: 3, 4: Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, in the very heart of your house. Your children like olive plants all around your table…. This Psalm finishes by Blessings of those who fear the Lord. Matthew 19: 1-6: What God has joined together, let no man separate. The Gospel that is read from Matthew 19: 1-6 includes some important principles for a stable marriage and the formation of an ideal Christian Home.
The Rite of the Ceremony The marriage ceremony of the Coptic Orthodox Church is ritual and full of symbolism. Each of the acts has special meaning and significance, see the following:
The Rings: The exchange of rings gives the expression to the fact that the spouses in marriage will constantly be complementing each other. Each partner will be enriched by each other, and by their union. Placing the two rings in a red ribbon, as red denotes the bond of the couple to the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Third Partner in every Christian family. The ribbon is made from silk, as silk is a very expensive material. Likewise, matrimony is valuable and precious.
The Candles: The candles are like the lamps of the five wise maidens of the Bible. The candles symbolize the spiritual willingness of the couple to receive Christ, who will bless them through this sacrament. The Joining of the Right Hands: The right hand of the bride and the right hand of the groom are joined when the priest reads the prayer that beseeches God to join these them servants, unite them in one mind and one flesh. The hands are kept joined throughout the service to symbolize the oneness of the couple.
The Crowning: The crowns are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns the couple during the sacrament. The groom and the bride are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom, the home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. The Cloak: The cloak is a priestly vestment. The groom wears it here because he becomes a leader of the house, and he leads his family in prayers at the family altar.
Rites and meaning, cont.. Anointing with the Holy Oil: Anointing the couple with the holy oil has many advantages: It is oil for sanctification and blessing as the Bible says, You anoint my head with oil. (Psalm 23:5). It is an anointment of purity and incorruption and a strong weapon against all lustful thoughts. The holy oil is a sign of gladness and joy, as the Bible says, Your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions (Psalm 45:7). Reciting the Orthodox Creed: To remind the couple that their wedding is founded on the Holy Orthodox Faith of the One Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church to keep it in their life and hand the same faith over to their children.
The Commandments The priest takes the bride and the groom before the altars door facing the east, he recites for them the commandment before the altar to become a witness that they are married before the Lord and must keep what the Church commands/advises them. It is important that the priest recite the commandments slowly and married couples must listen carefully, because it is very important for married couple to know each others rights and fulfill it completely before asking for his/her rights.
The Grooms Commandment: My blessed son (name), take (name) your wife, in purity of heart and sincerity. Do all that good for her. Have compassion on her and always hasten to do what gladden her heart... This commandment is an invitation of love, sacrifice and giving in to live happily, also it is warning him against selfishness and uncaring which are the basis of troubles.
The Brides Commandment And you, blessed daughter and happy bride (name)… You must honor and respect him, do not disagree with him but increase your obedience to him… You must receive him with joy and cheer. Do not ignore any of his rights upon you and fear God in all your deeds with him… It is important for the bride to humble herself and practice this commandment
Commandment for Both Now since you have been present at this blessed time before the sanctuary of the Lord of Hosts and His Holy Altar, you (Bride & Groom) have been joined together and united in the blessedness of matrimony…So you (Bride & Groom) must submit yourselves to one another in LOVE & PURITY.
After the Ceremony The traditional which was derived from the book of Tobit, that the newly wed spend the first three days in prayers and spiritual readings to start their new marital life with a holy beginning as a strong foundation. When Tobit the righteous man married to Sarah, he said to her; Rise up my sister, let us pray to God today, tomorrow and after tomorrow. As in those three days we join God. After the third night we consummate our marriage, as we are children of saints and can not marry like Gentiles who do not know God. So both rose up, prayed fervently for God to bless them (Tobit 8:4-6)
Birth Control The question of birth control can only be solved by individual Christian couples. They can make the right decision only if they accept their Christian commitment with ultimate seriousness. In any case, the advice of a good father of confession could help much in taking the right first step in married life. Fr. Stanley Harakas, Professor of Orthodox Ethics at Holy Cross Seminary, writes, In the Orthodox Church, the purposes of marriage are numerous. High on the list is the procreation of children. The couple is understood to be co-workers with God. Not only in the perpetuation of human life through the conception, birth and physical care of children, but also in the more profound sins of the spiritual nurture of new members of Gods kingdom. That is why many Orthodox theologians believe that Birth Control methods may be used by Orthodox couples when the other purposes of marriage are also respected.
Marriage outside the Church An Orthodox Christian must seek the blessing and grace of Christ for his/her marriage through the Church. An Orthodox Christian who excludes his marriage from this gracious union with Christ in the Church certainly excludes himself from the communion of the Church. Fr. Stanley Harakas writes again in Guidelines for Marriage…. Orthodox Christians, who have not been married in the Church and have been married civilly, or by a clergyman of another Church or Faith, should have their union sanctified in Christ through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Orthodox Church. Otherwise they are not in good standing with their church and may not receive Holy Communion and other sacraments of the church. A devout Orthodox Christian will not exclude Christ from such a vital and important area of life as marriage.
Divorce !!? The view of the Coptic Orthodox Church on divorce: If a man divorces his wife, for any cause other than unchastity, and marries another, he commits adultery. One point must be clearly understood: from the point of view of Orthodox theology, a divorce granted by the State in the civil courts is not sufficient. Remarriage in Church is only possible if the Church authorities have themselves granted a divorce and issue an authorization to re-marry.
The Second Marriage The Coptic Orthodox Church permits the second marriage and does not prohibit it, BUT does not prefer it. Saint Paul said; But I say to the unmarried and to the widows. It is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they can not exercise self control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 COR 7:8-9), the ceremony of the second marriage is different than regular wedding ceremony.