By Fr. Arsenie Boca
“Jesus renders the bodily union of man and wife holy,
raising marriage to the height of great Mistery
— in Christ and in the Church.”
Fr. Arsenie Boca
For as long as all the leaders of this world are not redundant, we shall render the money printed with their names; for as long as all people are not like angels, our nations need to multiply.
The family and the government – lowly institutions when we think about the happiness that exists in heaven – are necessary during our earthly awaiting of Heaven. However, for as long as these institutions are necessary, they will have to avoid being too unclean and rickety, as much as possible.
Whoever is in a leading position (the government) should feel the responsibility just as much as the one who serves; and the union between man and woman (the family) should be eternal and non-deceitful.
Jesus Christ sees marriage above all (spiritually speaking) as the union of two bodies. Here, He strengthens the word of the Old Testament: “[…] and the two shall become one flesh.” The bride and the groom shall be one body, impossible to separate. The man shall have no other woman; the woman shall have no other man, until death does them part. Man’s union with woman, when it is not the release of a vagrant luxury/pleasure or of furtive prostitution, when it is the meeting and the “offering” of two healthy virginities, when preceded by unforced choice, by pure/good passion, by an agreement that is known and consecrated by the world, acquires an almost mystical character, which no one can remove. The choice is without change, the pure passion is consecrated, the agreement is eternal. In the two bodies that embrace each other in their longing are two souls that find one another in love. The two bodies become one body, the two souls become one soul.
The two mix their blood; but from this union, a new being is born, who is made from their life: the visible embodiment of their mergence. Love makes them similar to God: makers of the ever new and miraculous creation.
But this bodily and ritualistic vanity, which is the most perfect among all the other imperfect humanly organizations – the Christian matrimony – must not be ever disturbed or interrupted. Adultery deteriorates it; divorce puts and end to it. Adultery is the shrewd betrayal of unity; divorce is its definitive denial. Adultery is a secret divorce, based on lying and betrayal; divorce – followed by a new marriage – is legalized adultery.
Jesus always condemns – solemnly and clearly – adultery and divorce. His whole being would rebel against terrible acts, against unfaithfulness and betrayal. The day will come, He prophesies, speaking about life in heavens, when men and women will no longer marry each other (Luke 20, 34-36); however, marriage should at least be aware of all the virtues that are allowed during one’s earthly life.
Jesus, Who always goes from the visible things to the invisible things, doesn’t call adulterous only the person who steals his brother’s wife, but also the person who looks at her with lustful eyes (Matthew 5, 27-28), while she may walk past. An adulterous man isn’t only the one who meets with someone else’s woman in secret, but also the one who, after having chased away his own wife, marries another one. There seems to be only one situation in which divorce is admitted: the adulterous woman’s husband; however, the abandoned wife’s guilt would by no means justify the betrayed husband’s crime of marrying another.
Before such an absolute and reckless Law, even the Apostles get up on their feet (Matthew 19:10). Since things must be that way, why would man ever get married? Still, He answers them: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it!” (Matthew 19, 12:12).
Marriage is a favor done to human nature and to life propagation. Not everyone is able to keep themselves pure, virgin, and single, “but only those to whom it has been given.” (Matthew 19, 11). Perfect celibacy is a gift, a reward of the soul’s victory over one’s body.
Anyone who wishes to dedicate all the love s/he is capable of to great deeds shall have to “condemn” himself/herself to remaining chaste. The man who must carry out a heavy mission, which will require all of his days, up until his last one, cannot link himself to a woman.
Marriage requires you to leave your being into the will of another; the Savior will give all souls the union of two souls; but this would prove insufficient, as it would make it difficult – even impossible – to unite all souls with all the other souls. Responsibilities that follow the choosing of a woman, child-bearing, and settling one’s own small living space amidst the greater one – are so heavy, that they would raise daily obstacles to his other duties, that are extremely demanding.
The man who wishes to lead and change others cannot make a lifetime commitment to a single being. He would have to be unfaithful either to his wife or to his calling. He loves the endless world of his brothers and sisters too much to love only one of his sisters. A hero is always alone. His loneliness is punishment and greatness. He will deprive himself of the joys of domestic life while the love he has within him will multiply, to be shared with all people, in a sacrificial sublimation, which exceeds all earthly ecstasies. The man without a woman is lonely, but free; his soul, unconquered by worldly thoughts, may rise more highly. He does not bear children of flesh and bones, but helps the children of his soul [his spiritual children] to be reborn into a new life.
Yet not everyone is able to put up with abstinence. “The one who can accept this, should accept it!” The Kingdom of Heaven requires people who will dedicate all their souls; the bodily dedication, even when limited by a rightful marriage, will soften up the vigor of the person who is called upon to look into spiritual matters.
Those who will rise on the great Day of victory will no longer face temptations in the Kingdom of Heaven. Man’s union with woman, even when consecrated through the eternal bond of matrimony, will be removed. Its great goal is bearing new people; but at that point, death will be defeated and there will no longer be a need for the eternal renewal of nations. “The sons of this age marry and [its daughters] are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that Age and to the Resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the Resurrection.” (Luke 20:34-36).
By acquiring eternal life and angelic nature – the two promises and creeds of Christ – what seemed to be possible to stand becomes unthinkable; what seemed clean becomes lowly; and what seemed holy, becomes unworthy. In that supreme world, all the tribulations that humanity is required to go through will have already been negotiated.
To the sinful beastly male, his transitory union with a stolen woman is enough; a man will rise to the marriage level, to his sole union with his sole woman; whereas the saint will rise to a much higher level, reaching chastity of his own will. Yet more, the archangel-like man in heavens, who has been turned into a spirit full of love, will have defeated even the memory of his body; his love, in a world where there are no more poor, ill, suffering people and enemies, will have changed into a contemplation which is above the earthly realm.
The cycle of births will have ended. The fourth Kingdom will have been established once and for all. The citizens of that Kingdom will be eternally the same, throughout the ages. Woman will no longer bear forth in pain. The strain of the exile will have been over; the snake will have been defeated. The Father will kiss his lost child again; Heaven will be found a second time, never to be lost again.