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Sacrament of Matrimony

I. Definition

         The Sacrament of Matrimony is the holy service through which the bridegroom and the bride are united together and bestowed with divine grace. This grace sanctifies their matrimonial union, rendering it perfect and spiritual, akin to the unity between Christ and the Church. This sacrament is significant, affecting not only the lives of two individuals but also influencing the home, state, Church, and the kingdom of God. It demands to be approached with reverence and not to be undertaken lightly or indiscriminately.

II. Institution of the Sacrament

        Matrimony was instituted by God at the creation of the world, as indicated in Genesis 1:27-28 when God created male and female and commanded them to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth.
        In the New Testament, Christ confirmed this sacrament by attending the marriage at Cana and through His teachings. He referenced the original creation of male and female, emphasizing that marriage is a divine union not to be separated by man (Matt. 19:4-6).

III. Ends of Marriage

Marriage serves three primary purposes:

  1. The preservation and growth of mankind, as originally intended by God.

  2. Mutual support and companionship between husband and wife, as stated in Genesis 2:18.

  3. Post-fall, marriage also aims to protect individuals from carnal lusts, offering a legitimate means of expressing human sexuality within the bounds of matrimonial unity (1 Cor. 7:1-9).

IV. The Outward Sign

        This sacrament involves three outward signs:

The mutual consent and declaration of the bridegroom and bride to marry each other, pledging loyalty for life. The matrimonial service is performed by the priest, invoking divine grace upon the couple. The anointing of the bridegroom and bride with oil during the matrimonial service.

V. The Invisible Grace

        The sacrament sanctifies the matrimonial union, making it spiritual and binding like the union of Christ with the Church. It ensures loyalty and fidelity between the husband and wife and aims to keep them united and inseparable.

VI. Obligations of the Husband & Wife

        Before Marriage: Both parties must be Christians and members of the Orthodox Church, not related by blood or spiritual affinity that prohibits marriage, and must willingly consent to the marriage.

  • At Marriage: Matrimony must be conducted through the Church to be recognized and valid.

  • After Marriage: Monogamy is emphasized, with the Church permitting remarriage only upon the death of a spouse and disallowing separation except on grounds of fornication.

VII. Who Has the Right to Celebrate the Sacrament

        The right to perform the Sacrament of Matrimony is reserved for priests, although bishops may also officiate the sacrament.

Rev. Marcos Daoud, The Orthodox Church Sacraments,
Tinsae Ze Gubae Printing Press, Addis Ababa 1952.

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