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Author Topic: Orthodox Church's teachings on marriage, romance and sexuality?  (Read 2605 times) Average Rating: 0
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PrayForUs
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« on: April 03, 2013, 01:07:46 PM »

Hello everyone,

I have two somewhat separate, but related questions. I'm trying to get to the bottom of the Orthodox Church's teachings on (1) the purpose of marriage and (2) the place that romance and sexual relations have in the lives of married couples, and engaged couples. I would appreciate any and all references to specific quotes  by the Church Fathers, etc.

1) What are the Orthodox Church's teachings on the purpose of marriage, and the place that sexuality holds in marriage? Must all intimacy be open to life?

I know that the Church as a whole is unresolved on the issue of non-abortive contraception, but maybe there are Church teachings about the purpose of sexuality that could help answer this question for me personally.

For example, from my understanding, the Catholic Church teaches that the primary reason of marriage is procreation. As such, all sexual acts must be both unitive and procreative, and a couple is required to have as many children as they reasonably can. Something about this does not seem right to me. God designed for marriage primarily as a union for two souls to come to God together, right? From Genesis, "It is not good that man should be alone". Why does procreation take precedence, and moreover, why does it have to be present in EVERY marriage act - especially if the couple wants to have children eventually, but is not  ready at the moment? (Sorry, this last question is really my doubts about the Catholic teaching - not something that needs to be addressed in the forum. My primary questions are the ones in the previous paragraph.)

2) What are the Orthodox Church's teachings on intimacy before marriage? Here, I am not asking about the marriage act itself - that is clearly reserved for married couples. I am asking more about romantic kissing, etc. I spoke to my spiritual father about this, and he said that in the stage of courtship, physical intimacy within reason is part of the bonding process that precedes marriage. I would feel more comfortable if there were some specific teachings from the Holy Fathers, canons, etc. that could back up that statement. Also, it would be good to understand what "within reason" means.

Thank you so much for your help - please pray that I become educated, enlightened and brought to peace   Grin
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 01:08:26 PM by PrayForUs » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 01:18:23 PM »

Sex is yucky, but if you're married force yourself to do it to have kids.
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 01:19:31 PM »


^...that's what I have heard.   Wink
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 02:59:46 PM »

Hello everyone,

For example, from my understanding, the Catholic Church teaches that the primary reason of marriage is procreation. As such, all sexual acts must be both unitive and procreative, and a couple is required to have as many children as they reasonably can.


Hello, PrayForUs

As far as the teaching of the Catholic Church is concerned, I dare say it contradicts St. Paul:

"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (1 Corinthians 7:5)

Well, St. Paul didn't say anything about having babies every time spouses have intimacy, but he definitely would say it, if it was necessary, wouldn't he?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 03:02:01 PM by Nikolai Sergeev » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 03:27:29 PM »

I have been thinking about it recently, in light of contemporary "romance ethics".

This romance ethics basically say that sex is ok as long as you truly love the person, all else being irrelevant, and therefore it should be part of the dating process. Marriage is just another celebration of that love, socially and religious if you happen to be religious. This, of course, is the "conservative" version. The liberal version will say that sex is ok as long as all parts involved agree, for whatever reason. Marriage is just a beautiful cerimony, just another kind of party, maybe more dignified in some senses, but that it is very unfair to prohibit it to anyone who happens to desire it.

Of course, put in such generic terms, one understands how "marriage" is felt to be a "right" for any kind of love.

On top of that, traditional family arranged marriages have been substituted by "scientific" marriages, that is, one experiments with different partners until finding either the "right one", or "one that works". Depending on how cynical you have become, some people give it up completely and find there are right "moments" with each person, and each moment, after it found its natural end, should not be prolonged, but closed to give place for new "good" moments with new people and the old ones should even be remembered with gratitude.

I find this all unworthy of human dignity. And yes, I have acted under those values, but today I find myself as an ex-pagan who fully understands the horribleness of my old "gods".

My current understanding of the whole dating/sex/marriage mess under biblical guidance is that:
1) God in His providence arranges everything. For those whose vocation is to be married, God has pre-determined who the couple is meant to be;
2) We *will* meet this person;
3) God does not force His plan unto us. Just like we can miss God Himself and end up in hell, we can miss parts of His plan as well. Sure, if we are at least trying to obey Him, He will arrange so that we don't lose salvation because of that, but the way will be harsher;
4) The wrong person may not be a bad person. It's simply not the person God's providence determined.
5) The right person may have gone bad - addictions, sins, got together with the wrong person. We are specialists in finding ways to escape God's plans.
6) Experimenting or not experimenting will not help finding the right person. It's not worth it to sin against chatisty just to "check" if this or that person is the one, or worse, just for fun. Either way you lose a lot spiritually.
7) You *have* to get to know different people before getting marriage. But guess what, genital organs are not cognitive organs, they don't help getting to know anyone better. In fact, sexual involvement tends to blur our perceptions of the other person. Sexual involvement enforces the link between two people, even if this link is toxic. That is one of the reasons why it should be avoided. It can make almost anyone be felt like "the one". The cynical response to that, is to get rid of this attachment feeling, which is to basically amputate a natural thing. Sex *is* meant to create this enforcement and this attachment, only that between the couple desired by God. It's not an illusion if the person is really the one. Our "juvenile" illusions on romance are not illusions at all. They are what things were meant to be before we and/or others around us shatter yet this aspect of the nous.
8 ) A healthy romantic life would be like: getting to know people - really know, by talking, doing things together, sharing some time - until you find the person God's providence reserved for you. One "sign" is that the relation will not be troublesome in itself. Of course, there are disagreements, arguments and everything. But not all the time. Not as a means of manipulating the other. Troubles will occur to the couple, but not from the couple. Also, we will not deceive ourselves or the other in the process, either by "manipulating" our brain chemistry with sex, or by presenting or dating a "character". We have to be open to the person as the person is, even if admitting that hurts us. Maybe the person "charms" us in so many aspects, but still has some fatal character flaws that are really unacceptable. Sometimes, they are far more troubled than we can handle. We have to be *humble* that we can't handle it and let it go. Jesus is the Saviour, not us. So, avoiding all this, the next step should be taken and a religious marriage in an Orthodox Church should be celebrated.
9) If for some reason the person God chose - or we ourselves - have done something that actually prevented or destroyed the union, that is a tragedy, no different from loosing a child. Then we can trust and have faith that He is , after all, not only Saviour but also the Comforter.
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 07:28:05 PM »

Hello everyone,

For example, from my understanding, the Catholic Church teaches that the primary reason of marriage is procreation. As such, all sexual acts must be both unitive and procreative, and a couple is required to have as many children as they reasonably can.


Hello, PrayForUs

As far as the teaching of the Catholic Church is concerned, I dare say it contradicts St. Paul:

"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (1 Corinthians 7:5)

Well, St. Paul didn't say anything about having babies every time spouses have intimacy, but he definitely would say it, if it was necessary, wouldn't he?

Hello Nikolai,

Thank you for responding! I think Catholics would make the argument that this means that husband and wife should be intimate, but still be open to life. Granted, they do say that natural family planning is OK - being intimate when a woman is least likely to get pregnant - but still open to life in the sense that if God wants a child to result from the union, that is His will. (A woman is least likely to, but not 100% insured against, getting pregnant.)

However, this is a good scriptural verse to indicate that, if anything, at least the primary function of the marriage act is NOT procreation. However, it would be good to know what the Church Fathers say (or Scripture, but not sure if it addresses the issue) about being open to life EVERY time a husband and wife are intimate.
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 07:30:25 PM »

Sex is yucky, but if you're married force yourself to do it to have kids.

This made me smile Smiley

No, I am not married. God-willing, I will be married soon, so I want to know everything that the Church teaches about these important issues Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 08:07:40 PM »

8 ) A healthy romantic life would be like: getting to know people - really know, by talking, doing things together, sharing some time - until you find the person God's providence reserved for you. One "sign" is that the relation will not be troublesome in itself. Of course, there are disagreements, arguments and everything. But not all the time. Not as a means of manipulating the other. Troubles will occur to the couple, but not from the couple. Also, we will not deceive ourselves or the other in the process, either by "manipulating" our brain chemistry with sex, or by presenting or dating a "character". We have to be open to the person as the person is, even if admitting that hurts us. Maybe the person "charms" us in so many aspects, but still has some fatal character flaws that are really unacceptable. Sometimes, they are far more troubled than we can handle. We have to be *humble* that we can't handle it and let it go. Jesus is the Saviour, not us. So, avoiding all this, the next step should be taken and a religious marriage in an Orthodox Church should be celebrated.

Hello Fabio,

Thank you for your thoughts! I'm quite aligned on everything you said. However, it seems like the Catholic teaching takes this even further - it is a mortal sin for spouses to engage in foreplay (not even sex!) if they are not open to life. This is the part that confuses me, and I'm not sure what Orthodoxy teaches on the subject.

Same for pre-marital relations: what does the Church teach regarding kissing and hugging before marriage? Where is that line that we are not supposed to cross? Like I said, my confessor says that physical intimacy within reason is good during the courtship phase, but I don't know of any patristic or Scriptural teachings to back that up, or what is meant by "within reason". Would be much less nerve-wrecking to finally figure out what God intended and go from there   Grin
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 10:39:45 AM »

Prayforus,

in the Orthodox Church marriage is a path to God first and foremost. Life is obviously very important, but it wouldn't be sinful for a married couple that can't have children to have and enjoy sex.

To understand how far to go and where to stop we have to understand the principle behind the recommendation, instead of trying to compile lists of "allowed or not allowed activities". Where does it stop being tenderness as starts being sexual desire? Of course it's a blurred frontier. Sometimes, with some people, even a small touch can put us on "libido mode". If you are not married to this person, you'd better avoid all kinds of physical contact. On the other hand, it does not mean that it's ok to have sex with someone as long as it's a "cold" relation. That, of course is to just live by the letter of the law.

When we are talking about chatisty, we are talking about: ascetic denial of lust, respect of human dignity, preservation of all the "naïve" feelings with have with that special person, by not banalizing touches, words and actions.

I would say that kissing and hugging, and just being cozy is not a problem. Touching erotic parts of the body or near them is not - that includes parts of people who may have unusual spots that cause sexual excitement (necks, shoulders, sometimes even hands).

Basically "know your feelings" and the partner's feelings - we can feel when tenderness and coziness is becoming sexual excitement. Just stop. Together with the obvious physical limitations I mentioned, which should be respected even when we are not feeling anything, that would be ok.

8 ) A healthy romantic life would be like: getting to know people - really know, by talking, doing things together, sharing some time - until you find the person God's providence reserved for you. One "sign" is that the relation will not be troublesome in itself. Of course, there are disagreements, arguments and everything. But not all the time. Not as a means of manipulating the other. Troubles will occur to the couple, but not from the couple. Also, we will not deceive ourselves or the other in the process, either by "manipulating" our brain chemistry with sex, or by presenting or dating a "character". We have to be open to the person as the person is, even if admitting that hurts us. Maybe the person "charms" us in so many aspects, but still has some fatal character flaws that are really unacceptable. Sometimes, they are far more troubled than we can handle. We have to be *humble* that we can't handle it and let it go. Jesus is the Saviour, not us. So, avoiding all this, the next step should be taken and a religious marriage in an Orthodox Church should be celebrated.

Hello Fabio,

Thank you for your thoughts! I'm quite aligned on everything you said. However, it seems like the Catholic teaching takes this even further - it is a mortal sin for spouses to engage in foreplay (not even sex!) if they are not open to life. This is the part that confuses me, and I'm not sure what Orthodoxy teaches on the subject.

Same for pre-marital relations: what does the Church teach regarding kissing and hugging before marriage? Where is that line that we are not supposed to cross? Like I said, my confessor says that physical intimacy within reason is good during the courtship phase, but I don't know of any patristic or Scriptural teachings to back that up, or what is meant by "within reason". Would be much less nerve-wrecking to finally figure out what God intended and go from there   Grin
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2013, 10:55:42 AM »

To understand how far to go and where to stop we have to understand the principle behind the recommendation, instead of trying to compile lists of "allowed or not allowed activities".

Excellent - and applicable to many different circumstances. Thank you, Fabio.
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 12:17:54 PM »

Just correcting:

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I would say that kissing and hugging, and just being cozy is not a problem. Touching erotic parts of the body or near them is not ok
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 12:28:02 PM »


^...that's what I have heard.   Wink
I hope the smiley is to show you were joking.
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2013, 12:36:24 PM »


^...that's what I have heard.   Wink
I hope the smiley is to show you were joking.

I would have to agree that sex could be a yucky thing at parts and times in the world where bar soap, toothbrushes, and the like were/are not available.
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2013, 12:57:03 PM »

Here are a few quotes from the Fathers:

Quote
Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Book IV, Chapter XXIV):
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.xxiv.html

St. John of Damascus says:
“But they will perhaps ask, what then is the meaning of “male and female,” and “Be fruitful and multiply?” In answer we shall say that “Be fruitful and multiply” does not altogether refer to the multiplying by the marriage connection. For God had power to multiply the race also in different ways, if they kept the precept unbroken to the end. But God, Who knoweth all things before they have existence, knowing in His foreknowledge that they would fall into transgression in the future and be condemned to death, anticipated this and made “male and female,” and bade them “be fruitful and multiply.” Let us, then, proceed on our way and see the glories of virginity: and this also includes chastity.
----
“Good indeed is the procreation of children enjoined by the law, and good is marriage on account of fornications, for it does away with these and by lawful intercourse does not permit the madness of desire to be enflamed into unlawful acts. Good is marriage for those who have no continence: but that virginity is better which increases the fruitfulness of the soul and offers to God the seasonable fruit of prayer.”

St. John Chrysostom
“For the virtue of each thing then discovers itself when it is brought to its own fitting work, but when to one that is alien, it doth no longer so. For instance, wine is given for cheerfulness, not drunkenness, bread for nourishment, sexual intercourse for the procreation of children.” (Homily XII, Colossians IV:12=13). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.iv.iv.xii.html

“For she was espoused to her husband to be his partner in life, and for the procreation of children, not for the purposes of indecency and laughter; that she might keep the house, and instruct him also to be grave, not that she might supply to him the fuel of fornication.” (Homily V, 1 Thess IV:1-3). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.iv.v.v.html

“The very benefit God has given thee by nature, do not thou mar the help it was meant to be. So that it is not for her wealth that we ought to seek a wife: it is that we may receive a partner of our life, for the appointed order of the procreation of children. It was not that she should bring money, that God gave the woman; it was that she might be an helpmate.” (Homily XLIX, Axts XXII:6-8). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf111.vi.xlix.html

“Therefore this passion indeed He did not cut off altogether, but added the words, “without a cause.” (Matt. v. 22.) Nor again did He abolish all desire, but only that which is unlawful, for he saith, “Nevertheless, because of desires, let every man have his own wife.” (1 Cor. vii. 2.) … For those passions were implanted in our nature for a necessary end; desire, for the procreation of children, and anger, for the succor of the injured…” (Homily XXII, 2 Cor XI:1). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf112.v.xxiii.html

In the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, it is stated:

“And fornication is the destruction of one’s own flesh, not being made use of for the procreation of children, but entirely for the sake of pleasure, which is a mark of incontinency, and not a sign of virtue.” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf07.ix.vii.v.html

St. Leo the Great said in his “Book of Pastoral Rule” (Chapter XXVII):

Husbands and wives are to be admonished to remember that they are joined together for the sake of producing offspring; and, when, giving themselves to immoderate intercourse, they transfer the occasion of procreation to the service of pleasure, to consider that, though they go not outside wedlock yet in wedlock itself they exceed the just dues of wedlock. Whence it is needful that by frequent supplications they do away their having fouled with the admixture of pleasure the fair form of conjugal union. For hence it is that the Apostle, skilled in heavenly medicine, did not so much lay down a course of life for the whole as point out remedies to the weak when he said, It is good for a man not to touch a woman: but on account of fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband (1 Cor. vii. 1, 2). For in that he premised the fear of fornication, he surely did not give a precept to such as were standing, but pointed out the bed to such as were falling, lest haply they should tumble to the ground. Whence to such as were still weak he added,Let the husband render unto the wife her due; and likewise also the wife unto the husband (v. 3). And, while in the most honourable estate of matrimony allowing to them something of pleasure, he added, But this I say by way of indulgence, not by way of command (v. 6). Now where indulgence is spoken of, a fault is implied; but one that is the more readily remitted in that it consists, not in doing what is unlawful, but in not keeping what is lawful under control. “ http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.iv.iv.xxviii.html

In other words, sexual union is intended by God for procreation within marriage, and to use it in another manner, for pleasure, is against the will of God. The Fathers repeatedly affirm the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:2-9 that marriage is on account of infirmity and that virginity is higher (though marriage is certainly blessed!). Marriage is permitted, but not commanded, for the weak in order to prevent fornication, which is certainly not blessed by God.  The Fathers point out that sexual intercourse did not take place in Paradise prior to the Fall, and as such it was a product of fallen humanity but is nevertheless still blessed by God for procreation and the succession of the human race. 

Naturally, if we are to be chaste in marriage and not live for the indulgence of our passions, we should be even more chaste when we are young and not yet married, lest through any form of physical contact our passions become inflamed and we fall into lust and fornication.  There are many stories of aged ascetics who became sick and accepted to be cared for by a nun.  With only the touch of the foot or hand by the nun, the passions became inflamed and the two fell into fornication.  While these teachings seem hard, this is what the Scriptures and the Fathers teach, that we are to live according to the Spirit and put to death the passions of the body so that we might be raised again with Christ and dwell eternally in His heavenly kingdom.
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2013, 01:37:44 PM »

Service of Marriage, the purpose of marriage is not only procreation:

Quote
O God most pure, Author of all creation(...) Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants (Name) and (Name) a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away.
The purposeS of marriage according to the service: 1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days (modern scientific researches show that married people live longer than single ones); 3) chastity (marriage is a form of ascetism and purification); 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring ("fame by reason of their children", meaning, it's not just about "making" them, you'd better raise them well); 7) a crown of glory (salvation).

Sex in marriage is related to (4) and (5), not only (5). Not cheating and not using each other as sexual objects is what (3) is about.

Quote
"It is not good for man to be alone upon the earth; let us make a helpmate for him‑"
 The "helpmate" was create primarily for companionship, not for procreation. Part of this is chaste sex in marriage.
http://goarch.org/en/chapel/liturgical_texts/wedding.asp


Quote
“There are two reasons for which marriage was established …to cause the man to be satisfied with one single wife and to give him children, but it is the first which is the most important…As for reproduction, marriage does not necessarily include this…the proof is to be found in the many marriages for which having children is not possible. This is why the primary reason for marriage is to regulate the sexual life, especially now that the human race has already populated the whole world". (Speech on marriage, St. John Chrysostom)

Quote
'If for a certain period, you and your wife have abstained by agreement, perhaps for a time of prayer and fasting, come together again for the sake of your marriage. You do not need procreation as an excuse. It is not the chief reason for marriage. Neither is it necessary to allow for the possibility of conceiving, and thus having a large number of children, something you may not want' (On Virginity, St. John Chrysostom)

http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/athenagoras_remarriage.htm
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2013, 03:18:29 PM »

Service of Marriage, the purpose of marriage is not only procreation:

Quote
O God most pure, Author of all creation(...) Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants (Name) and (Name) a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away.
The purposeS of marriage according to the service: 1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days (modern scientific researches show that married people live longer than single ones); 3) chastity (marriage is a form of ascetism and purification); 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring ("fame by reason of their children", meaning, it's not just about "making" them, you'd better raise them well); 7) a crown of glory (salvation).

Sex in marriage is related to (4) and (5), not only (5). Not cheating and not using each other as sexual objects is what (3) is about.

Quote
"It is not good for man to be alone upon the earth; let us make a helpmate for him‑"
 The "helpmate" was create primarily for companionship, not for procreation. Part of this is chaste sex in marriage.
http://goarch.org/en/chapel/liturgical_texts/wedding.asp


Quote
“There are two reasons for which marriage was established …to cause the man to be satisfied with one single wife and to give him children, but it is the first which is the most important…As for reproduction, marriage does not necessarily include this…the proof is to be found in the many marriages for which having children is not possible. This is why the primary reason for marriage is to regulate the sexual life, especially now that the human race has already populated the whole world". (Speech on marriage, St. John Chrysostom)

Quote
'If for a certain period, you and your wife have abstained by agreement, perhaps for a time of prayer and fasting, come together again for the sake of your marriage. You do not need procreation as an excuse. It is not the chief reason for marriage. Neither is it necessary to allow for the possibility of conceiving, and thus having a large number of children, something you may not want' (On Virginity, St. John Chrysostom)

http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/athenagoras_remarriage.htm

Do you have links to the quotes provided from St. John Chrysostom above?

Here is his commentary on 1 Cor 7:1-2, on "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent."
Quote
What then can this mean? “Let not the wife,” says he, “exercise continence, if the husband be unwilling; nor yet the husband without the wife’s consent.” Why so?  Because great evils spring from this sort of continence. For adulteries and fornications and the ruin of families have often arisen from hence. For if when men have their own wives they commit fornication, much more if you defraud them of this consolation. And well says he, “Defraud not; fraud” here, and “debt” above, that he might shew the strictness of the right of dominion in question. For that one should practice continence against the will of the other is “defrauding;” but not so, with the other’s consent: any more than I count myself defrauded, if after persuading me you take away any thing of mine. Since only he defrauds who takes against another’s will and by force. A thing which many women do, working sin rather than righteousness, and thereby becoming accountable for the husband’s uncleanness, and rending all asunder. Whereas they should value concord above all things, since this is more important than all beside.

We will, if you please, consider it with a view to actual cases. Thus, suppose a wife and husband, and let the wife be continent, without consent of her husband; well then, if hereupon he commit fornication, or though abstaining from fornication fret and grow restless and be heated and quarrel and give all kind of trouble to his wife; where is all the gain of the fasting and the continence, a breach being made in love? There is none. For what strange reproaches, how much trouble, how great a war must of course arise! since when in an house man and wife are at variance, the house will be no better off than a ship in a storm when the master is upon ill terms with the man at the head. Wherefore he saith, “Defraud not one another, unless it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer.” It is prayer with unusual earnestness which he here means. For if he is forbidding those who have intercourse with one another to pray, how could “pray without ceasing” have any place? It is possible then to live with a wife and yet give heed unto prayer. But by continence prayer is made more perfect. For he did not say merely, “That ye may pray;” but, “That ye may give yourselves unto it;” as though what he speaks of might cause not uncleanness but much occupation.

“And may be together again, that Satan tempt you not.” Thus lest it should seem to be a matter of express enactment, he adds the reason. And what is it? “That Satan tempt you not.” And that you may understand that it is not the devil only who causeth this crime, I mean adultery, he adds, “because of your incontinency.”

“But this I say by way of permission, not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself; in a state of continence.” This he doth in many places when he is advising about difficult matters; he brings forward himself, and says, “Be ye imitators of me.”

Here, St. John Chrysostom reiterates that the ideal is a state of continence and refrain from sexual relations, but that within marriage this should not be done unless by mutual consent.  Aside from procreation, husband and wife may come together for the sake of avoiding fornication.

Regarding some of the above quotes by Fabio, I do find it interesting that when this subject is brought up, St. John Chrysostom seems to be the only Father ever quoted in support of the belief that sexual relations within marriage are not merely for procreation or the avoidance of fornication, yet he does not express this point consistently when speaking of the subject.  Are there any other Fathers who taught that sexual relations in marriage are not solely for procreation and the avoidance of fornication?
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2013, 03:30:29 PM »

To understand how far to go and where to stop we have to understand the principle behind the recommendation, instead of trying to compile lists of "allowed or not allowed activities". Where does it stop being tenderness as starts being sexual desire? Of course it's a blurred frontier. Sometimes, with some people, even a small touch can put us on "libido mode". If you are not married to this person, you'd better avoid all kinds of physical contact. On the other hand, it does not mean that it's ok to have sex with someone as long as it's a "cold" relation. That, of course is to just live by the letter of the law.

When we are talking about chatisty, we are talking about: ascetic denial of lust, respect of human dignity, preservation of all the "naïve" feelings with have with that special person, by not banalizing touches, words and actions.

I would say that kissing and hugging, and just being cozy is not a problem. Touching erotic parts of the body or near them is not - that includes parts of people who may have unusual spots that cause sexual excitement (necks, shoulders, sometimes even hands).

Basically "know your feelings" and the partner's feelings - we can feel when tenderness and coziness is becoming sexual excitement. Just stop. Together with the obvious physical limitations I mentioned, which should be respected even when we are not feeling anything, that would be ok.

Thank you, Fabio - this was very helpful. I think this is starting to come together for me. I might have more follow-up questions, but this is definitely a good start. God bless you!
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2013, 03:31:59 PM »

Regarding some of the above quotes by Fabio, I do find it interesting that when this subject is brought up, St. John Chrysostom seems to be the only Father ever quoted in support of the belief that sexual relations within marriage are not merely for procreation or the avoidance of fornication, yet he does not express this point consistently when speaking of the subject.  Are there any other Fathers who taught that sexual relations in marriage are not solely for procreation and the avoidance of fornication?

Good question! Keep those quotes coming  Grin
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2013, 04:10:27 PM »

jah777,

I will try to find more material on that.

But before that, let me ask you something.... in sexual relations that you might have had.... was it *just* desire and lust that you felt for your partner?

Because I can say that in my experience it *never* was that. Unless I'm some kind of exception, I can induce that other human beings *also* feel the enforcement of "espousal" feelings in the sexual act. I use quotation marks, because, unfortunately, I was not married, but I can easily see how the proximity brought about by the sexual acts then was illusory in that we were not married, but would be healthy, true and natural if it were with a wife.

I really wonder if the people who say this kind of thing have ever examined their own reality in order to apply the universal principles the fathers talk about in reality.

There is a sense in that sex is "for procreation". And that is the strict biological sense. Obviously, from an evolutionary point of view sexual pleasure and attachment is just a trick of nature to make us reproduce more. Also, there is a clear uninterrupted organicity from the sexual act until conception. In strictly biological sense, sex and procreation are the same thing. And that is what the Fathers are saying, although in theological terms. When St. John Chrysostom and possibly others comment that, on top of that, men and women were made for each other as companionship, they are merely adding a layer of complexity. Sex is part of our animal nature, no doubt. But this animal nature has received the breath of God, there is a human soul here, united with it. It's logical, and evident from experience, that this animal act also comes with a spiritual and psychological baggage. It brings us closer, and that is precisely we don't do it with anyone, because we're not meant to be *that* close to everybody. Just to one person.

We really don't have to go much far to understand that sex is, for humans, more its biological theleological purpose. Throughout the Scriptures sex is referred by the word "know". "He knew her", "they knew each other". Whether our libertine or sex-hating moods like it or not, despite the fact that sex is part of our animal nature, in sex we *know* each other in a sense that obviously isn't intellectual, but that is strong enough for the Apostle to say that we are one flesh with every single person with whom we had sex, and because they too are one flesh with everybody they had sex with, we are basically in a big spiritual mess until we repent from each of those relations and confess them as sins.
It's this knowing that brings us together, because we are always closer to what we know. And that is where that feeling of closeness comes from, the "brain chemistry" being just a reflection of that.
From all this, it is automatic to see that this feeling of closeness to a human being is exactly what God was saying in Genesis about not being good that man remained alone.
Sex abstinence in marriage *is* good, just like fasting. Actually it is a kind of fasting. But the fact that some people manage to live with grashoppers and honey, does not mean that normal food is wrong. And just like fasting, we must remember all the time the tough challenge God puts before us: chaste virginity all life, but also be kind enough to understand that, just like normal communal meals may enhance friendship, normal sex between espouses will be a joyful blessed event.
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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2013, 04:14:54 PM »

Plus noticed that I have quoted the prayers of the Service of Matrimony as well. There, procreation is just one among many of the purposes of a marriage.

Sex therefore, will be either good or bad in that it helps or jeopardizes the other objectives.
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2013, 04:56:36 PM »

It's all bad, horrible and highly frowned upon basically, as is anything fun in the CHurch.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2013, 05:08:09 PM »

Fun? Something from where children "sprout" is nothing more than fun? Smiley

Take the image of wine. The Church does not say: Wine is bad. She says: getting drunk with wine is bad *and* this wine may turn into something far more incredible than you can imagine; treat it with dignity, but, by all means, you may have a cup.

It's the same for everything else: our emotions, our ideas and sex.

It's not the Church's fault that people have become so insensible they can't enjoy wine *unless* they get drunk. Smiley


It's all bad, horrible and highly frowned upon basically, as is anything fun in the CHurch.
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« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2013, 06:57:40 PM »

I would seriously doubt the authenticity of an "ascetic" who fell into lust with a nun after one touch. Today there are people who live chastely during their hormonal adolescence in our pornographic culture, and I'm supposed to believe that an elderly man with a lifetime of prayer and ascesis behind him would instantly melt after touching a nun? If anything that's more of a warning against false asceticism than anything else, because lust is not that powerful in normal, healthy humans.

I also have a bit of a problem with certain Fathers and St. Paul telling chaste and faithful Christians they're "weak" for desiring companionship. I don't want to be married just so I can be allowed to have sex. And I don't constantly fall into fornication because of my weak desire to be married.
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« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2013, 07:15:18 PM »

I would seriously doubt the authenticity of an "ascetic" who fell into lust with a nun after one touch.

Why doubt the authenticity of such a story?  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41 OSB)

Today there are people who live chastely during their hormonal adolescence in our pornographic culture, and I'm supposed to believe that an elderly man with a lifetime of prayer and ascesis behind him would instantly melt after touching a nun? If anything that's more of a warning against false asceticism than anything else, because lust is not that powerful in normal, healthy humans.

Ascetics are not necessarily normal, healthy humans.

I also have a bit of a problem with certain Fathers and St. Paul telling chaste and faithful Christians they're "weak" for desiring companionship. I don't want to be married just so I can be allowed to have sex. And I don't constantly fall into fornication because of my weak desire to be married.

You want to be an ascetic?
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« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2013, 08:42:51 PM »

Sex is yucky, but if you're married force yourself to do it to have kids.

This made me smile Smiley

Anybody who knows their patristics knows that this is not a joke.
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« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2013, 10:44:36 PM »

Service of Marriage, the purpose of marriage is not only procreation:

Quote
O God most pure, Author of all creation(...) Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants (Name) and (Name) a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away.
The purposeS of marriage according to the service: 1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days (modern scientific researches show that married people live longer than single ones); 3) chastity (marriage is a form of ascetism and purification); 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring ("fame by reason of their children", meaning, it's not just about "making" them, you'd better raise them well); 7) a crown of glory (salvation).

Sex in marriage is related to (4) and (5), not only (5). Not cheating and not using each other as sexual objects is what (3) is about.

Quote
"It is not good for man to be alone upon the earth; let us make a helpmate for him‑"
 The "helpmate" was create primarily for companionship, not for procreation. Part of this is chaste sex in marriage.
http://goarch.org/en/chapel/liturgical_texts/wedding.asp


Quote
“There are two reasons for which marriage was established …to cause the man to be satisfied with one single wife and to give him children, but it is the first which is the most important…As for reproduction, marriage does not necessarily include this…the proof is to be found in the many marriages for which having children is not possible. This is why the primary reason for marriage is to regulate the sexual life, especially now that the human race has already populated the whole world". (Speech on marriage, St. John Chrysostom)

Quote
'If for a certain period, you and your wife have abstained by agreement, perhaps for a time of prayer and fasting, come together again for the sake of your marriage. You do not need procreation as an excuse. It is not the chief reason for marriage. Neither is it necessary to allow for the possibility of conceiving, and thus having a large number of children, something you may not want' (On Virginity, St. John Chrysostom)

http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/athenagoras_remarriage.htm

Do you have links to the quotes provided from St. John Chrysostom above?

Here is his commentary on 1 Cor 7:1-2, on "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent."
Quote
What then can this mean? “Let not the wife,” says he, “exercise continence, if the husband be unwilling; nor yet the husband without the wife’s consent.” Why so?  Because great evils spring from this sort of continence. For adulteries and fornications and the ruin of families have often arisen from hence. For if when men have their own wives they commit fornication, much more if you defraud them of this consolation. And well says he, “Defraud not; fraud” here, and “debt” above, that he might shew the strictness of the right of dominion in question. For that one should practice continence against the will of the other is “defrauding;” but not so, with the other’s consent: any more than I count myself defrauded, if after persuading me you take away any thing of mine. Since only he defrauds who takes against another’s will and by force. A thing which many women do, working sin rather than righteousness, and thereby becoming accountable for the husband’s uncleanness, and rending all asunder. Whereas they should value concord above all things, since this is more important than all beside.

We will, if you please, consider it with a view to actual cases. Thus, suppose a wife and husband, and let the wife be continent, without consent of her husband; well then, if hereupon he commit fornication, or though abstaining from fornication fret and grow restless and be heated and quarrel and give all kind of trouble to his wife; where is all the gain of the fasting and the continence, a breach being made in love? There is none. For what strange reproaches, how much trouble, how great a war must of course arise! since when in an house man and wife are at variance, the house will be no better off than a ship in a storm when the master is upon ill terms with the man at the head. Wherefore he saith, “Defraud not one another, unless it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer.” It is prayer with unusual earnestness which he here means. For if he is forbidding those who have intercourse with one another to pray, how could “pray without ceasing” have any place? It is possible then to live with a wife and yet give heed unto prayer. But by continence prayer is made more perfect. For he did not say merely, “That ye may pray;” but, “That ye may give yourselves unto it;” as though what he speaks of might cause not uncleanness but much occupation.

“And may be together again, that Satan tempt you not.” Thus lest it should seem to be a matter of express enactment, he adds the reason. And what is it? “That Satan tempt you not.” And that you may understand that it is not the devil only who causeth this crime, I mean adultery, he adds, “because of your incontinency.”

“But this I say by way of permission, not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself; in a state of continence.” This he doth in many places when he is advising about difficult matters; he brings forward himself, and says, “Be ye imitators of me.”

Here, St. John Chrysostom reiterates that the ideal is a state of continence and refrain from sexual relations, but that within marriage this should not be done unless by mutual consent.  Aside from procreation, husband and wife may come together for the sake of avoiding fornication.

Regarding some of the above quotes by Fabio, I do find it interesting that when this subject is brought up, St. John Chrysostom seems to be the only Father ever quoted in support of the belief that sexual relations within marriage are not merely for procreation or the avoidance of fornication, yet he does not express this point consistently when speaking of the subject.  Are there any other Fathers who taught that sexual relations in marriage are not solely for procreation and the avoidance of fornication?

btw, sex in marriage to avoid fornication =/= loving making for marital union.
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« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2013, 11:15:14 PM »

Sex is yucky.

Especially for the married. Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?
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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2013, 12:22:07 AM »

But guess what, genital organs are not cognitive organs, they don't help getting to know anyone better.
Both statements are untrue, Fabio.
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« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2013, 12:43:39 AM »

Plus noticed that I have quoted the prayers of the Service of Matrimony as well. There, procreation is just one among many of the purposes of a marriage.

Sex therefore, will be either good or bad in that it helps or jeopardizes the other objectives.

The question, I think, is not whether marriage is only for procreation, but whether sexual relations within marriage are permitted for any reason other than for procreation.  In the marriage service, as you point out, prayers are said for those marrying that they would have
Quote
1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days; 3) chastity; 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring; 7) a crown of glory.

Now, prayers are said that these things may characterize, or be the fruit of, one's marriage; but they do not all define the "purpose" of marriage.  Certainly, 5 & 6 directly depend on sexual relations, but these prayers do not indicate that the purpose of sexual relations is to prolong life or give peace to life.  Sexual relations within marriage are not even an indication of the depth of love or quality of companionship shared in marriage.  If the absence of sexual relations implies a lack of love within marriage, one would have to conclude that the Lord lacked the fullness of love in that he never had sexual relations with another person, which would of course be blasphemous.  As Eve was given to Adam as his helpmate prior to the Fall, and sexual relations did not enter in until after the Fall, sexual relations are also not intrinsic to the woman serving as man's helpmate in marriage.  However, if a husband is burning with passion and desires to have relations with his wife in order to avoid a greater fall, and she "defrauds" him without his consent, she does in fact fail in this instance to serve as his "helpmate". 

For the record, I have been happily married for 13 years and have four wonderful children, so these issues are not merely theoretical.  The OP wishes to know the Church's teaching, which can only be shown by demonstrating the consensus of the Fathers.  The quotes from St. John Chrysostom indicating that sexual relations within marriage are acceptable for reasons aside from procreation are the only ones I ever see expressing this view.  Since he seems to say otherwise in other quotes I provided above, and since other Fathers seem to disagree with this teaching of his, it is important to demonstrate what other Fathers taught that sexual relations within marriage are not just for procreation. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2013, 02:03:45 PM »

Plus noticed that I have quoted the prayers of the Service of Matrimony as well. There, procreation is just one among many of the purposes of a marriage.

Sex therefore, will be either good or bad in that it helps or jeopardizes the other objectives.

The question, I think, is not whether marriage is only for procreation, but whether sexual relations within marriage are permitted for any reason other than for procreation.  In the marriage service, as you point out, prayers are said for those marrying that they would have
Quote
1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days; 3) chastity; 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring; 7) a crown of glory.

Now, prayers are said that these things may characterize, or be the fruit of, one's marriage; but they do not all define the "purpose" of marriage.  Certainly, 5 & 6 directly depend on sexual relations, but these prayers do not indicate that the purpose of sexual relations is to prolong life or give peace to life.  Sexual relations within marriage are not even an indication of the depth of love or quality of companionship shared in marriage.  If the absence of sexual relations implies a lack of love within marriage, one would have to conclude that the Lord lacked the fullness of love in that he never had sexual relations with another person, which would of course be blasphemous.

Only if one thinks He was married in the conventional sense. 

As Eve was given to Adam as his helpmate prior to the Fall, and sexual relations did not enter in until after the Fall, sexual relations are also not intrinsic to the woman serving as man's helpmate in marriage.
"Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"..."for this reason a man shall cleave to his wife..." that all came before the Fall.

However, if a husband is burning with passion and desires to have relations with his wife in order to avoid a greater fall, and she "defrauds" him without his consent, she does in fact fail in this instance to serve as his "helpmate". 

For the record, I have been happily married for 13 years and have four wonderful children, so these issues are not merely theoretical.  The OP wishes to know the Church's teaching, which can only be shown by demonstrating the consensus of the Fathers.  The quotes from St. John Chrysostom indicating that sexual relations within marriage are acceptable for reasons aside from procreation are the only ones I ever see expressing this view.  Since he seems to say otherwise in other quotes I provided above, and since other Fathers seem to disagree with this teaching of his, it is important to demonstrate what other Fathers taught that sexual relations within marriage are not just for procreation. 
I think Fr. Ambrose (Many Years!) pointed out, that so few Fathers speak of it that it is rather hard to speak of a "consensus."
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« Reply #30 on: April 05, 2013, 02:03:45 PM »

But guess what, genital organs are not cognitive organs, they don't help getting to know anyone better.
Both statements are untrue, Fabio.
one can know someone one hasn't slept with better than someone one has.
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« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2013, 03:06:01 PM »

A few more relevant quotes:

Quote
St. Clement of Rome
The Recognitions, Book VI, Chapter XII – Importance of Chastity

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.vi.iii.viii.xii.html
But this kind of chastity is also to be observed, that sexual intercourse must not take place heedlessly and for the sake of mere pleasure, but for the sake of begetting children.  And since this observance is found even amongst some of the lower animals, it were a shame if it be not observed by men, reasonable, and worshipping God.

St. Jerome
Letter to Furia

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.v.LIV.html
All other sins are external, and what is external can easily be cast away. Desire alone, implanted in men by God to lead them to procreate children, is internal; and this, if it once oversteps its own bounds, becomes a sin, and by a law of nature cries out for sexual intercourse.

St. Jerome
Apology, Book 1

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf203.vi.xii.i.xxx.html
But you may say, I am staggered by what follows:
“Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies, in such a way as that wives may be turned into men and bodies into spirits, and that there may be no difference of sex, but that, as among the angels there is neither male nor female, so we, who are to be like the angels, may begin to be on earth what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.”

You might justly be staggered, if I had not, after what goes before, said “We may begin to be what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.” When I say, “We shall begin to be on earth,” I do not take away the difference of sex; I only take away lust, and sexual intercourse, as the Apostle does when he says, “The time is short; it remaineth therefore that those who have wives be as though they had none;” and as the Lord implied when, in reply to the question of which of the seven brothers the woman would be the wife, he answered: “Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage: but they shall be as the angels of God.” And, indeed, when chastity is observed between man and woman, it begins to be true that there is neither male nor female; but, though living in the body, they are being changed into angels, among whom there is neither male nor female.  The same is said by the same Apostle in another place: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

St. John Chrysostom
Homily LXXXV, John 19:16-18

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.iv.lxxxvii.html
Our soul hath by nature the love of life, but it lies with us either to loose the bands of nature, and make this desire weak; or else to tighten them, and make the desire more tyrannous. For as we have the desire of sexual intercourse, but when we practice true wisdom we render the desire weak, so also it falls out in the case of life; and as God hath annexed carnal desire to the generation of children, to maintain a succession among us, without however forbidding us from traveling the higher road of continence; so also He hath implanted in us the love of life, forbidding us from destroying ourselves, but not hindering our despising the present life.

St. John Cassian
On the Eight Vices, Philokalia, Vol. 1

Movement in the sexual organs was given to us by the Creator for procreation and the continuation of the species, not for unchastity; while incensive power was planted in us for our salvation, so that we could manifest it against wickedness, but not so that we could act like wild beasts towards our fellow men.

St. Maximos the Confessor
Four Hundred Texts on Love, Second Century, Philokalia, Vol. 2

17. Again, vice is the wrong use of our conceptual images of things, which leads us to misuse the things themselves. In relation to women, for example, sexual intercourse, rightly used, has as its purpose the begetting of children. He, therefore, who seeks in it only sensual pleasure uses it wrongly, for he reckons as good what is not good. When such a man has intercourse with a woman, he misuses her. And the same is true with regard to other things and our conceptual images of them.

33.  There are also three things that impel us towards evil: passions, demons and sinfulness of intention. Passions impel us when, for example, we desire something beyond what is reasonable, such as food which is unnecessary or untimely, or a woman who is not our wife or for a purpose other than procreation, or else when we are excessively angered or irritated by, for instance, someone who has dishonored or injured us.
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« Reply #32 on: April 05, 2013, 04:07:06 PM »

jah777, on further reflection, I don't think any of the fathers you have quoted are at odds with what St. John Chrysostom is saying. From what I understood, neither are they saying that sexual relations within marriage are solely for procreation. All they are saying for sure is that sexual relations are NOT for lust or incontinence. None of them mention that sexual relations should not be used as an expression of love. This is especially true since most of the fathers you have quoted were really talking about sexual relations in general, including those outside of marriage, and their audience was monastics (the "Philokalia" texts in particular).  St. John is talking about sexual relations exclusively within marriage.

Here are some quotes I found from an interesting article, located at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Sex

The goal of sex in marriage is spiritual union. Through the joining of two physical bodies in marital love comes a unique oneness of soul. Saint John Chrysostom instructs us: 'Their intercourse accomplishes the joining of their bodies, and they are made one, just as when perfume is mixed with ointment" (12th Homily on Colossians)

And two more quotes, where St. John specifically mentions that procreation is not the sole purpose:

"And how become they one flesh? As if you should take the purest part of gold, and mingle it with the other gold; so in truth here also the women as it were receiving the richest part fused by pleasure, nourishes it and cherishes it, and throughout contributing her own share, restores it back to the man. And the child is a sort of bridge so that the three become on flesh, the child connecting, on either side, each to each… What then? When there is not child, will they not be two? Not so, for their coming together has this effect; it diffuse and commingles the bodies of both. And as one who has poured ointment into oil has made the whole one; so in truth is it also here" (St. John Chrysostom, On Marriage and Family Life).

 'If for a certain period, you and your wife have abstained by agreement, perhaps for a time of prayer and fasting, come together again for the sake of your marriage. You do not need procreation as an excuse. It is not the chief reason for marriage. Neither is it necessary to allow for the possibility of conceiving, and thus having a large number of children, something you may not want' (On Virginity).

(I agree with you, jah777 - it would be really interesting to read the full text of this last work, but I can't seem to find it online. Anyone know where I can find it?)


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« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2013, 04:20:12 PM »

Sorry, everyone - I was trying to edit my previous reply but accidentally created another one instead - can't figure out how to delete this one yet.
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« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2013, 05:29:04 PM »

But guess what, genital organs are not cognitive organs, they don't help getting to know anyone better.
Both statements are untrue, Fabio.
one can know someone one hasn't slept with better than someone one has.
that's true, isa.

But my statement also stands.
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« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2013, 06:31:44 PM »

despite the fact that sex is part of our animal nature
Man is above and supercedes the beasts of the earth. Sex is part of our fallen nature, yes, but we're not animals.
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« Reply #36 on: April 05, 2013, 06:35:43 PM »

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it".
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« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2013, 06:39:02 PM »

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it".

You're such a literalist *shakes head*  Thankfully there is no question that St. John of Damascus cannot answer, and he clearly gives a vague answer about how God didn't mean sex in this instance Wink
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« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2013, 06:50:37 PM »

You're such a literalist *shakes head*  Thankfully there is no question that St. John of Damascus cannot answer, and he clearly gives a vague answer about how God didn't mean sex in this instance Wink

Thank God, He brought St. John of Damascus to The Bosom of Abraham before the era of Internet - had He not, we'd all be screwed Smiley.
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« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2013, 07:50:49 PM »

despite the fact that sex is part of our animal nature
Man is above and supercedes the beasts of the earth. Sex is part of our fallen nature
So is our soul and spirit.
but we're not animals.
they only have sex to make little animals.
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« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2013, 10:20:30 PM »

You're such a literalist *shakes head*  Thankfully there is no question that St. John of Damascus cannot answer, and he clearly gives a vague answer about how God didn't mean sex in this instance Wink

Thank God, He brought St. John of Damascus to The Bosom of Abraham before the era of Internet - had He not, we'd all be screwed Smiley.

Hah, you think you can escape, but St. John sent Isa.
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« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2013, 10:30:47 PM »

Plus noticed that I have quoted the prayers of the Service of Matrimony as well. There, procreation is just one among many of the purposes of a marriage.

Sex therefore, will be either good or bad in that it helps or jeopardizes the other objectives.

The question, I think, is not whether marriage is only for procreation, but whether sexual relations within marriage are permitted for any reason other than for procreation.  In the marriage service, as you point out, prayers are said for those marrying that they would have
Quote
1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days; 3) chastity; 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring; 7) a crown of glory.

Now, prayers are said that these things may characterize, or be the fruit of, one's marriage; but they do not all define the "purpose" of marriage.  Certainly, 5 & 6 directly depend on sexual relations, but these prayers do not indicate that the purpose of sexual relations is to prolong life or give peace to life.  Sexual relations within marriage are not even an indication of the depth of love or quality of companionship shared in marriage.  If the absence of sexual relations implies a lack of love within marriage, one would have to conclude that the Lord lacked the fullness of love in that he never had sexual relations with another person, which would of course be blasphemous.

Only if one thinks He was married in the conventional sense. 

As Eve was given to Adam as his helpmate prior to the Fall, and sexual relations did not enter in until after the Fall, sexual relations are also not intrinsic to the woman serving as man's helpmate in marriage.
"Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"..."for this reason a man shall cleave to his wife..." that all came before the Fall.

However, if a husband is burning with passion and desires to have relations with his wife in order to avoid a greater fall, and she "defrauds" him without his consent, she does in fact fail in this instance to serve as his "helpmate". 

For the record, I have been happily married for 13 years and have four wonderful children, so these issues are not merely theoretical.  The OP wishes to know the Church's teaching, which can only be shown by demonstrating the consensus of the Fathers.  The quotes from St. John Chrysostom indicating that sexual relations within marriage are acceptable for reasons aside from procreation are the only ones I ever see expressing this view.  Since he seems to say otherwise in other quotes I provided above, and since other Fathers seem to disagree with this teaching of his, it is important to demonstrate what other Fathers taught that sexual relations within marriage are not just for procreation. 
I think Fr. Ambrose (Many Years!) pointed out, that so few Fathers speak of it that it is rather hard to speak of a "consensus."

Do you know what context or about when this was said? I'm feeling up to searching the depths of the forum for this conversation. If I don't find it I guess I'll just ask Father over FB.
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« Reply #42 on: April 06, 2013, 04:11:06 AM »

Hah, you think you can escape, but St. John sent Isa.

LOL, made my day!
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« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2013, 07:03:23 AM »

Plus noticed that I have quoted the prayers of the Service of Matrimony as well. There, procreation is just one among many of the purposes of a marriage.

Sex therefore, will be either good or bad in that it helps or jeopardizes the other objectives.

The question, I think, is not whether marriage is only for procreation, but whether sexual relations within marriage are permitted for any reason other than for procreation.  In the marriage service, as you point out, prayers are said for those marrying that they would have
Quote
1) a peaceful life; 2) length of days; 3) chastity; 4) love for one another; 5) Offspring; 6) the success of the offspring; 7) a crown of glory.

Now, prayers are said that these things may characterize, or be the fruit of, one's marriage; but they do not all define the "purpose" of marriage.  Certainly, 5 & 6 directly depend on sexual relations, but these prayers do not indicate that the purpose of sexual relations is to prolong life or give peace to life.  Sexual relations within marriage are not even an indication of the depth of love or quality of companionship shared in marriage.  If the absence of sexual relations implies a lack of love within marriage, one would have to conclude that the Lord lacked the fullness of love in that he never had sexual relations with another person, which would of course be blasphemous.

Only if one thinks He was married in the conventional sense. 

As Eve was given to Adam as his helpmate prior to the Fall, and sexual relations did not enter in until after the Fall, sexual relations are also not intrinsic to the woman serving as man's helpmate in marriage.
"Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"..."for this reason a man shall cleave to his wife..." that all came before the Fall.

However, if a husband is burning with passion and desires to have relations with his wife in order to avoid a greater fall, and she "defrauds" him without his consent, she does in fact fail in this instance to serve as his "helpmate". 

For the record, I have been happily married for 13 years and have four wonderful children, so these issues are not merely theoretical.  The OP wishes to know the Church's teaching, which can only be shown by demonstrating the consensus of the Fathers.  The quotes from St. John Chrysostom indicating that sexual relations within marriage are acceptable for reasons aside from procreation are the only ones I ever see expressing this view.  Since he seems to say otherwise in other quotes I provided above, and since other Fathers seem to disagree with this teaching of his, it is important to demonstrate what other Fathers taught that sexual relations within marriage are not just for procreation. 
I think Fr. Ambrose (Many Years!) pointed out, that so few Fathers speak of it that it is rather hard to speak of a "consensus."

Do you know what context or about when this was said? I'm feeling up to searching the depths of the forum for this conversation. If I don't find it I guess I'll just ask Father over FB.

I think it has come up a number of times, for one thing on the absence of patristics in Humanae Vitae to back up its assertions (or much of anything else-except an assertion for the authority of their "magisterium," of course).
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« Reply #44 on: April 06, 2013, 06:32:30 PM »

From the Matins canon of the feast of the Annunciation:

Childbirth comes from mutual love: such is the law that God has given to men. So replied she who is above reproach. I do not know at all the pleasure of marriage. How then do you say that I shall bear a child? I fear that you are speaking in guile. But behold, you cry out: All works of the Lord, bless the Lord.
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