Does marriage make one a second rate Christian? (Byzantine Christianity)
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Does marriage make one a second rate Christian? (Byzantine Christianity)
The word Byzantine is a word given to denote of an inferior mind state and spirit which was first used by Carolingian officials when Charlemagne, their King was denied the Emperor of the Romans title by Constantinople. This word Byzantine represents a Christian culture of a Christian Empire and contained Eastern, Latin, Nordic and Greek influences.
In Byzantine Christianity, the joining of a man and woman to be one flesh was constituted in marriage, as is quoted as “what God has joined let no person separate.” (Matt 19:6).It is also important to note that it is in human nature for man and woman to seek to be one flesh in marriage since “Woman was created from Adam side as recorded in the book of Genesis and thus man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and become one flesh.”(Genesis 2:24). In man and woman, the spirit is not only what ought to be sanctified and kept clean but behavior, lifestyles and the physical body should be kept clean as Paul the apostle said in, I Corinthians 7:14, that a wife is sanctified by the husband and the husband sanctified by the wife. Christ did not marry as the Church was what he perceived, to be his bride. Being an extra ordinary man, he did not harbor earthly desires to bear children as he lives forever and the only Son of God. Marriage is directed towards meeting necessary goals and a man enters into marriage to bear children must practice continence lest he be filled with desire for his wife whom he ought to love but have children with a virtuous and disciplined will (Dolton& Chadwick, 1954).
Virginity is a vow regarded with great honor in Benzynite Christianity, and upholding of this vow was respected to be above the law, the same law that provides for the sanctity of a union of man and woman in marriage. Thus, in Byzantine Christianity, neglecting the virtue of marriage and leaning towards upholding vows of virginity was protected from be accused and condemned by law. This perceived as having surpassed human character and likened to Angels earnestly cleaving to the Holy word of God to become one in spirit with Him. However Prophets like Elijah, Elisha, and Jeremiah all practiced virginity and became like Angels even so did John the Baptist who was called “Great among those born of women.”(Matt 11:11).
Byzantine Christianity believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came down to earth and born of a virgin to become human. (Brake, 1995). This raised the value that people had put into the vow, to greater heights and faith in God was magnified by events and miracles manifested in the life of Jesus Christ.
As Mary was a virgin, then the body of Christ came purely from Mary, and Byzantine Christianity maintains that Christ bore the body of God. Christ the Savior taught that Mary his mother, held on to her vow of virginity forever. (Brake, 1995). At the cross Christ said to John the disciple, “Behold your mother.” and to Mary, “Behold your son.” (John 19:26-27). In so doing Christ taught that Mary bore no other children other than Him and gave Mary to the disciple John relative to the great purity of her intelligence and untarnished nature of her vow of virginity. Those who claimed Mary got married, do so to cover themselves from any blame as the Pharisees did to increase the pleasures of marriage. This they did to ensure virginity did not gain recognition in its holy nature and bring shame to their profitable choice of marriage. (Brake, 1995).
Jesus taught that if a woman sought to remain a virgin and a bride of Christ, the Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ is the appropriate role model and the edification of Mary’s destiny will suffice to establish her own vow.
Nicolaus, after the succession of Christ, when accused before the apostles of jealousy, brought his wife to the concourse, offered her to anyone desiring to marry his wife. This he did to abuse and fight the flesh, continence, a commitment held to deny the body in connection with confession of faith in God. There is no record of him having relations with other women other than his wife and his daughters remained unmarried to old age and his son was never corrupted. Not allowing for wicked pleasures, the soul grows by faith and in knowledge (Dolton& Chadwick, 1954). A young Phoenician orphaned at an early age, dropped out of school, wore tattered clothes and retreated to the mountain to live a solitary life. By so doing he demonstrated great degree of Christian philosophy of continence. Corrupt men lured him back into worldly living so much so he could not live soberly. This caused him great shame and Holy men who had from past experiences got to arm themselves with hope that God despaired not in people like the young orphan. At first he was reluctant to their audience but patience towards the young man bore fruit and with respect and humility was granted their audience. He gave his wealth to the needy and kept off those who sought to corrupt his way and arrived to a great virtue of continence (Chrysoston). So is it with Byzantine Christian faith, where repentance and assimilation of different people from different parts of Europe were accepted and lived as neighbors, learning from one another for the Glory of Christ the Messiah.
As much as Jesus did value the virtue that Mary her mother held towards virginity, Byzantine Christianity did not disregard marriage as second rate but promoted harmonious, holy and fulfilling lives as the apostles did.
All through the Holy Scriptures’ virginity was regarded with the highest regard and teachings of Byzantine priests were to consecrate all views sanctified by scripture. Upholders of such a vow were regarded as the coworkers of saints and were allowed to chastise those who did not abide to the law. This vow enhanced spiritual maturity among Byzantine Christians strengthening congregations of married and unmarried people. Numerous traps were laid for them, for their wise counsel, made war against them as they walked meekly, lived quietly, rejoiced in the lord and were glad to rejuvenate the faith of fellow Christians (Brake, 1995).
There is nothing meritorious concerning abstinence from marriage as long as it is from the love of God, but Paul taught that man should marry lest he be tempted by Satan
The church cannot marry another, having got a bridegroom in Christ. But all followers of Christ have the right to marry the woman he so desires according to the law, in the first marriage to evade the craftiness of the serpent deceived Eve, so those thoughts are not corrupted from the simplicity that is towards Christ (Dolton& Chadwick, 1954). Byzantine Christians were influenced by many philosophies from different cultures and schools of thought.
Brakke, David, Athanasius and Politics of Asceticism. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1995.
Dolton, John and Chadwick Henry, on marriage. Clement of Alexandria. Strom III. Philadelphia: Westminster press1954.
Chrysoston, John. An exhortation to Theodore af
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