You leave out a lot before this: immediately preceeding your quote:
....But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment….
I did not quote this portion of the letter from St. Athanasius because I did not find them relevant to the two subjects I was attempting to focus on, the question of an eternal bond of marriage in the light of the Lord’s words concerning the hypothetical woman who was married seven times on this earth, and the subject of the superiority of the virginal life over the married life as St. Paul emphasizes in 1 Corinthians. The words I quoted showed St. Athanasius affirmation of the superiority of the virginal life. The words you quoted, while not directly pertaining to these two subjects, showed that while St. Athanasius considered the virginal life to be higher, he nevertheless did not despise marriage as detestable or sinful, but rather affirmed marriage as honorable, giving the married state its due praise and its proper position after the virginal life in order of superiority.
Btw, just being single doesn't transform you into a monastic.
Obviously. When the virginal life is advocated, this is not spoken of by the Fathers as simply a life free from physical union with another person, or a life free from marriage, but a true virgin is one who is pure in both body and soul. The Fathers speak of this constantly. It is the ideal of virginity, and not the sole fact of physical virginity, that is advocated, just as when St. Paul advocates virginity to the Corinthians he speaks thus:
I Cor 7:32-33
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife.
In other words, it is not the unmarried state alone that is praised above marriage, but the virginal and unmarried state enables one to be without earthly cares and focus on eternal and heavenly matters, giving thought only to pleasing God and not man. We should all strive to be without cares and to please God in everything, so that we can take part, even while married, in the blessed state described by St. Paul.
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness; ….
How does all of the text you are quoting pertain to the issues at hand? It is not clear what you are attempting to convey regarding the state of marriage versus the state of virginity, or the concept of an eternal bond of marriage, by these quotes.
Many other such passages are found in the Fathers. Do you wish to ridicule them?
Only those who remove the landmarks which the Fathers have set (see below), and thereby burst their bonds and set themselves up for ridicule.
Please point out passages from the Fathers that you claim remove the landmarks which the Fathers have set. Is this not a contradictory assertion?
but I have no problem believing that monastic life is a greater calling.
Is an orange greater than an apple?
The Scriptures and the Fathers clearly state that the monastic, virginal, and angelic state is superior to that of marriage. We are not talking about apples and oranges, but a God revealed hierarchy of honor.
How can you read St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and come to a different conclusion?
Because I read his letter to the Ephesians, where he calles Marriage, not Tonsuring, a Holy Mystery. In fact, Marriage is the only Holy Mystery named as such by the whole New Testament.
Does St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians clearly state that the virginal life in the full meaning of the word is not higher than the married state? Is the monastic ideal not an embodiment of the ideal St. Paul describes in his description of virginal or unmarried life?
This humbles me but doesn’t infuriate me. Why does it seem to infuriate others?
Zeal for the canons (see below).
I’m afraid you are not interpreting or applying the canons correctly. Zeal is good if properly applied and virtuously directed. Zeal is also good if it is fed with proper understanding. Zeal without understanding is dangerous.
What about the following?
"For… there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
The Church canonized that (Canon I of the First Ecumenical Council etc.) with penalties of deposition.
The Lord is not here advocating bodily mutilation which the canons forbid. Read St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on these versus and you will see that he
St. John Chrysostom, Homily LXIIhttp://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.LIX.html
For as there, when the Jews had been put to silence the disciples were troubled, and came unto Him with Peter and said, “Declare unto us this parable;” even so now also they were troubled and said, “If the case of the man be so, it is good not to marry.”
For now they understood the saying more than before. Therefore then indeed they held their peace, but now when there hath been gainsaying, and answering, and question, and learning by reply, and the law appeared more clear, they ask Him. And openly to contradict they do not dare, but they bring forward what seemed to be a grievous and galling result of it, saying, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” For indeed it seemed to be a very hard thing to have a wife full of every bad quality, and to endure a wild beast perpetually shut up with one in the house.
[/u] And that thou mayest learn that this greatly troubled them, Mark said, to show it, that they spake to Him privately.
3. But what is, “If such be the case of a man with his wife?” That is, if to this end he is joined with her, that they should be one, or, on the other hand, if the man shall get to himself blame for these things, and always transgresses by putting away, it were easier to fight against natural desire and against one’s self, than against a wicked woman.What then saith Christ? He said not, “yea, it is easier, and so do,” lest they should suppose that the thing is a law; but He subjoined, “Not all men receive it, but they to whom it is given,” raising the thing, and showing that it is great, and in this way drawing them on, and urging them.
But see herein a contradiction. For He indeed saith this is a great thing; but they, that it is easier. For it was meet that both these things should be done, and that it should be at once acknowledged a great thing by Him, that it might render them more forward, and by the things said by themselves it should be shown to be easier, that on this ground too they might the rather choose virginity and continence. For since to speak of virginity seemed to be grievous, by the constraint of this law He drove them to this desire. Then to show the possibility of it, He saith, “There are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother’s womb, there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men, and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake,” by these words secretly leading them to choose the thing, and establishing the possibility of this virtue, and all but saying, Consider if thou wert in such case by nature, or hadst endured this selfsame thing at the hands of those who inflict such wanton injuries, what wouldest thou have done, being deprived indeed of the enjoyment, yet not having a reward? Thank God therefore now, for that with rewards and crowns thou undergoest this, which those men endure without crowns; or rather not even this, but what is much lighter, being supported both by hope, and by the consciousness of the good work, and not having the desire so raging like waves within thee.
For the excision of a member is not able to quell such waves, and to make a calm, like the curb of reason; or rather, reason only can do this.
For this intent therefore He brought in those others, even that He might encourage these, since if this was not what He was establishing, what means His saying concerning the other eunuchs? But when He saith, that they made themselves eunuchs, He means not the excision of the members, far from it, but the putting away of wicked thoughts. Since the man who hath mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul saith, “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” And very reasonably. For such a one is venturing on the deeds of murderers
[/u] , and giving occasion to them that slander God’s creation, and opens the mouths of the Manichæans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves amongst the Greeks. For to cut off our members hath been from the beginning a work of demoniacal agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the work of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security, as being irresponsible; and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members, and by impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds.
These are the ordinances of the devil… Having spoken then of the eunuchs that are eunuchs for nought and fruitlessly, unless with the mind they too practise temperance, and of those that are virgins for Heaven’s sake, He proceeds again to say, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it,” at once making them more earnest by showing that the good work is exceeding in greatness, and not suffering the thing to be shut up in the compulsion of a law, because of His unspeakable gentleness. And this He said, when He showed it to be most possible, in order that the emulation of the free choice might be greater.
Do not these words from the Lord, and those of St. Paul to the Corinthians, clearly establish what is the higher or better way? Now regarding virginity in marriage, one only has to read “Marriage as a Path to Holiness” to see many examples of saints who have chosen this way and been blessed by God
Besides the example you give, who else is given?
Was the example of St. Innocent, the Apostle to America, Enlightener of Alaska, and Metropolitan of Moscow, given?
I don’t have the book with me, but if you open the Synaxarion, Synaxaristes, or Prologue, you will find numerous examples of those who were married, often because of family pressure, but agreed amongst themselves to live as brother and sister. Most recently on the Old Calendar, we read the life of the Holy Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria (March 19). The Prologue describes how Chrysanthus was coerced by his father to marry a pagan girl named Daria, and Chrysanthus “counseled Daria to embrace the Christian Faith and to live together with him as brother and sister, although pretending to be married.” This is very common in the lives of the saints.
St. John of Kronstadt is one more recent saint who was married and yet lived with his wife as “brother and sister”.
Btw, there was a practice of monks and nuns living as "brother and sister." It was stamped out by the Church authority.
If you want to consecrate your virginity, you do that with the tonsuring, not a wedding.
We are not talking about monks and nuns living as “brother and sister”, but of married couples living as such. Often the decision to live as “brother and sister” has been made by those who wished to live as monastics but who were heavily pressured by family members to marry, or perhaps after some years of marriage such a decision is taken after the children are grown up or after the couple has had a number of children.
I'm glad you brought up the damnable propaganda of the "white marriage" created by the why-soil-yourself-with-a-daughter-of-Eve-when-you-can-live-the-life-of-angels crowd. Although there can be extenuating circumstances, and grace can work in spite of the recipient:
I didn’t. Why are you introducing these topics and canons in response to my message which had nothing to do with the subjects covered in these texts? Why are you inventing scenarios that have little relevance to the discussion?
Someone who enters the baptismal font without any intention of living out his baptismal vows is damned….
What’s with the litany of condemnations? For someone who claims to have “zeal for the canons” it is shocking how you disregard them in favor of your own condemnation formulas. What does your discussion of damnation have to do with this subject?
So what are we to make of a couple, or worse yet, one spouse, who go to receive the Church's blessing to "wed them into one flesh," when they have no intention of doing so? Does the priest say all those prayers for children for his health? Would you have no problem with the couple who has been living together and intend to not have children (perhaps even intent to abort if necessary), coming for a Church wedding? Why should you?
You obviously have a problem with married people living as brother and sister for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. God has no such problem, but rather he has richly blessed and glorified many saints who have chosen such a life voluntarily.
And then series of interesting canons of the Council of Gangra, confirmed by canon 2 of the Pentheke Council (5-6 Ecumenical Councils)
1. If anyone disparages marriage, or abominates or disparages a woman sleeping with her husband, notwithstanding that she is faithful and reverent, as though she could not enter the Kingdom, let him be anathema. (Ap. cc. V, LI; c. XIII of the 6th; cc. I, IV, IX, XIV of Gangra.)
The voluntary decision to live as virgins, even within marriage, has nothing to do with the disparaging of marriage, something which is condemned in the canons and which St. Paul refers to as a “doctrine of demons”. Monks, in forsaking marriage and in esteeming virginity as a greater state, do not therefore consider marriage inherently sinful and detestable just by virtue of its inferiority. Again, these canons are not applicable because they deal with the detesting of marriage as a sinful or unclean state, not with the superiority of virginity or monasticism over the married state.
If we aren’t able to do that, or simply don’t want to, we should be humble about this and not try to condemn those who can, simply because we are offended by our weaknesses.
The canons are quite clear: not only are we NOT to be humbled about this, but those who are offended and condemn us as "simply don't want to" and try to humble us should be DEPOSED and EXCOMMUNICATED.
I’m afraid you are very confused about what the canons say about this matter. Did you read them before you pasted such a large mass of text? Read them again and you will see that the canons do not at all forbid a husband and wife to agree between themselves to live a virginal life within the married state. Nor do the canons have anything to do with the rightfulness of declaring virginity to be of greater value than marriage. They also do not refer to an “eternal bond” of marriage (why haven’t you touched on this subject?). They do condemn those who abandon their spouse for the sake of piety, or who choose a virginal life because they consider marriage detestable and inherently sinful, but again, this is not relevant to the subject at hand.