Relationships Questions

Why are pre marital relationships unacceptable? Won't they assist in helping to choose future partners? 

The definition of 'pre-marital' differs. Pre-marital sex differs from pre-marital group friendships, in a pure Christian atmosphere. Have as many male and female friends inside the church in a holy, pure way, and through this type of relationship, and through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the guidance of your confession father, you will correctly select your partner. 

However, in society, people commit many sins through having premarital sexual relations. To follow in this path leads to many grave sins : 1. you are going to change your partner many times, because after a while you will feel monotonous with the same partner, and statistics show that in the USA, the average teenager changes their partner twelve times. Hence, it becomes impossible to choose the correct partner. 2. you will consider marriage to be a body to body relationship, and this is not marriage at all but adultery. Marriage is person to person relationship, and it encompasses the whole being of the person; intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and psychologically. In considering marriage to be body to body relationship, you will enter marriage through the wrong door of senses and lust. For sure, sex is not everything in marriage, it is only one component. 3. by committing premarital sex frequently and changing partners often, you will become addicted to sex. People who are sex addicts commit adultery before as well as after marriage, because they can't keep holy. And you see many people now in society with sexual disorders, and the divorce rate is increasing all the time. These problems result from them being sex addicts during their teenage years. 4. And the final thing is that sex addiction leads to drug addiction, and this is a scientific fact, for too much sex creates tension in the nervous system, and so this addiction can result in the need to take drugs. And the result of drug addiction is crime.

My dear friends, pre-marital sex is not the correct way to choose your partner in life. If you want the right way of choosing your partner, come to the church and have good, holy relationships with those inside of the church, and participate in church activities. Through group relationships, and prayer, and spiritual guidance, you will be able to select your future partner in a correct way.

It is also important to bear in mind that the teen years are considered the stage of 'general heterosexuality', whereby teenagers look towards the opposite sex generally. Therefore it is impossible to choose a partner during this time. But the 20's are considered the stage of 'selective heterosexuality', and it is during this period that one is able to concentrate on choosing their partner. 

Abide inside the church, have as many girlfriends and boyfriends in a group atmosphere, and grow in a way that is not only physically, intellectually and spiritually, but also psychologically, in order to choose the correct partner when you are in the stage of selective heterosexuality.
Please abide by these three mottos : group relationships, holy relationships, limited relationships ('limited' meaning being aware of your boundaries and not crossing them).


Is there anything wrong with dating?

Dating is acceptable during the engagement process, but outside of this process, dating may lead to sexual practices. Do not deceive yourselves by the culture around you, for it is a culture that has resulted in broken families, broken marriages, and many distraught children who have lost their parents through the malpractice of family life.

How can we choose our partner in life?

* Pray a lot, * Think a lot, * Feel a bit, * Ask for spiritual guidance. We are asking you to 'feel a bit' because the sound of the emotions can be very loud, and they can dominate the spirit and the mind. For example, because of emotions, one may enter into a relationship with a non-Christian person because they are intelligent, good-looking, and so on, but they do not think about the future of living with and raising a family with a non-Christian partner. Therefore if we rely on our emotions, it may cause our thinking to stop and our spiritual life to be minimum.

What is the preferred age difference between married couples?

The younger the couple, the narrower the gap, and the older the couple, the wider the gap in age. We do recommend that the age difference should be a minimum of one year and maximum of 15.

How long should an engagement period be? 

Between seven months to one year. It is preferable not to extend the engagement for longer than a year, for when the engagement period is prolonged, problems may start to occur.

What is the best way to know one's partner during the engagement process? 

The best way to know your partner is through prayer only, because in this way, you are inviting God into your relationship and your situation. Do not rely on the emotions because they change all the time, do not rely on your intellect, for your mind is limited and you may be deceived, and do not rely on the physical, for you may commit sin. Prayer is the priority and the most important aspect. Pray and ask for spiritual guidance, for the spiritual aspect is the decisive one. Pray, and God will enlighten your mind.

How can I know my partner or fiance without having pre-marital sex? 

Pre-marital sexual relationships are wrong and harmful, because you are not going to know your partner but your failure. You are going to enter marriage from the door of lust and not love. In the Bible, there are three Greek words for love: EROS, which is the sensual love; it is lust rather than love. It is turning the holy, sexual love into something materialistic - sex has become body to body instead of person to person. And if you are dealing with sex in such a way, you will be living in lust and you will be lost. This is because once you marry, you will feel monotonous toward your partner, and you will feel annoyed and frustrated, searching outside for another, and leaving your spouse within a few years. The result is that your marriage will be broken, unsuccessful, will not be eternal, and will not give you happiness. As a Christian, and practically, if you enter marriage through the door of lust, you will leave from the door of lust also. The second kind of love is PHILIA, the love you have towards your family and friends. It is the human love that is giving and taking. The third kind of love is AGAPE - this is the most pure, spiritual love, baptised by the Holy Spirit, and this is the kind of love we should aspire to, in order to have successful marriages.
A journalist once asked His Holiness Pope Shenouda, "What is the difference between love and lust?" He replied, "Love is always giving, lust is always taking." The people living in lust are not happy, they are suffering because they are committed to pleasures rather than happiness. Their children turn out stressed, rebellious, lonely, in despair, and longing for family life and love.
Therefore, we are not pressuring you when we say keep yourself holy and pure, and to have spiritual strength and struggle, but you should accept with love and freedom, and according to your own conviction. You must be freely convinced that this kind of living is wrong, and that purity is right. If you don't put limitations in your life, you will end up destroying your life. If you commit yourself to lust, your conscience will be troubled, and you will feel you are not able to confess or take Holy Communion, and you can't enjoy Christian life and love. Please keep yourself pure so that your marriage will have fruitful results.

Is it important to be sexully compatible before marriage? 

In society they consider that knowing your partner is only through sex, but this is a very dangerous consideration, because for sure you can be compatible with many from the opposite sex, not just one. Also this gives the idea that society thinks marriage = sexual relationships only. As Christians, we know that this is wrong, because marriage is love, and sex should be a medium for love, and even in the absence of sex, love is still growing, as is unity and happiness. We see this in old age when sexual desires weaken, yet the marriage is still stable, unified and lovely. Therefore, this sex-oriented concept of marriage, present in society is very harmful, because if you enter marriage through the door of sexual compatibility, you will also leave this marriage from the same door, because they will feel compatible with their partner for a year or so, and then they will start to feel monotonous; thereby searching for another sexually compatible person, outside of marriage. This compatibility is selfish - never giving but always taking. This selfishness can be seen today in the examples of married couples disliking to have children - they are greedy, only living for themselves, and the result will be the disintegration and collapse of the new civilisation, because of the malpractice of sex.

Is there anything wrong with mixed marriages? 

It is preferable to have both partners belonging to the same culture and denomination, because if it is mixed, there may be some differences in opinion, for example, you want to hold fast your Coptic traditions; he doesn't understand the need for it, you want to fast; he doesn't believe in fasting, you want to baptise your children Orthodox; he wants to baptise them in his own church. Therefore it is best to be the same so there can be equality in belief and traditions, and no confusion for the children.

What is the purpose of getting married? 

In our church, marriage differs from any other kind of marriage, be it civil or otherwise, because we believe it to be a holy sacrament. Marriage, in our church, has five important goals: 1. Love - in a Christian marriage you are going to experience 'agape' love which is the holy, spiritual love baptised by the Holy Spirit. It is a sacrificial love which unites the two partners through the Holy Spirit. 2. Co-operation - in marriage the couples must co-operate with each other in all aspects of life. When you share joy with your partner, your joy will be multiplied, and when you share sorrow with your partner, your suffering will be divided. 3. Salvation - marriage enables the partners to satisfy their sexual instincts and instincts for parenthood in a holy, pure way, and for this reason marriage helps them in the salvation process. 4. Children - children are the fruit of marriage and are essential for the continuation of the human race. 5. Increasing the Number of Saints - when these children are brought up in the fear and love of God, they will be saints, not only in the church on earth, but also in the kingdom of heaven

In the Bible, what is the meaning of the married couple being referred to as, "the two will become one (Matt.19:5)?" 

In Christianity, marriage results in the couple becoming one in many aspects : physically, through the union of their bodies, spiritually, mentally, and psychologically. And it is this oneness which the Lord refers to.

What is your opinion about sex?

Sex is the most spiritual thing in life, and the holiest of holies in human nature. But in society today, it has become distorted, corrupted, substantialised and humiliated. Originally when God created Adam and Eve, He developed a triangular relationship : God, man, and woman. In this relationship, love passes from God to man, man to God, God to woman, woman to God, man to woman, woman to man. This is the holiest relationship, and the one which represents Christian love and marriage. If, however, man/woman separate themselves from God, there will be no spiritual union, only ego and selfishness. The result, in this case, will be that the four components present in humans, (body, mind, psyche, spirit) will be disturbed because there is no discipline: the body will be crying, the psyche is sorrowful, the soul is agonising, and the mind is trying to philosophise the sin. In such a situation, much sexual deviations will occur, but without happiness, because sex is no longer unifying, but dividing, and this sin will always be present because there is no grace inside such people. 

Sex, as God planned it, was to be the medium for love, happiness and unity. But sadly society has corrupted this by emphasising that lust is love. According to the Bible, there are three Greek words for love: EROS, which is the lusty, sensual love; PHILIA, which is the human love without desire or spirituality, as occurs between people generally; and AGAPE; which is the Christian, spiritual love, unifying and unselfish. Today, however, non-Christians are living in Eros, thinking that this will lead to marriage, but what it results in is a broken marriage. Therefore, as Christians, we refuse this erotic love because it is body to body, instead of person to person. What you are seeing around you is not sex as God meant it to be, but uncleanliness. And you always notice how they are never happy or satisfied; but always thirsty and greedy for more. For this reason, sex today divides the people because it is not spiritual, but deviated and negative. This is why Christians never enter into sexual relationships outside of marriage.

How can there be understanding between two partners? 

Understanding comes through having a spiritual home, and by praying together. It is also important to have a spirit of love and humility and self sacrifice, when dealing with each other, and always have the Lord abiding between you.

How can I deal with my in-laws? 

Problems usually occur when the husband, for example, is very attached to his mother, and finds the transition from his parents to his wife a difficult move. It is important for him to be mature, however, and independent - not in a way that causes him to neglect his parents, but to establish balance in his love towards his parents and his wife. Pray, and ask the Lord to bless your relations with both.

In marriage, is it wrong not to want children? 

In the western world generally, this deficiency in giving birth to children is something very negative, that implies that the partners are not willing to give; they only want to give and take between themselves, and at times, in the occurrence of an unexpected pregnancy, the partners may abort, or divorce, or give their child up for adoption. However, within Christian marriage, child bearing is holy. The Lord said, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, I will be in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). The two can signify the parents, and the three, the child

If a couple are unable to have children, does it mean their marriage is not blessed by God? 

Not at all. If the Lord has not granted the blessing of child bearing to the couple, it is because He wants them to be parents for many, many spiritual children, such as the orphans

What ┬áis the church's view on birth control within marriage? 

The church never stands against birth control within marriage as long as the means of achieving this purpose is not killing the embryo or hurting the partners. The Church permits contraception for the purpose of planning the family, which you will support spiritually, educationally, psychologically, physically, socially and financially.

If someone has had sexual relations before marriage, would the words of the ceremony be different from those said for virgin couples? 

If they have not been married before, and have repented from their sins, then the ceremony proceeds as usual.