Holy Church celebrates the Conception of Saint John the Baptist. Again and again this festal day prompts reflections that inevitably yield a gentle thought about how comprehensive our Holy Church is in its understanding of sexuality and human nature. By celebrating the Conception of Saint John the Baptist, we really celebrate the arrangement of this beautiful, God’s world and a deep human yearning for love and continuation of existence.
Unfortunately, in our Church we avoid talking about the love between two human beings, the relationships between sexes and God’s Law that regulates these relationships. Seeing all this madness around us, the deviant flood of sin and the tragic fiest of death that flutters around throughout the sinful world, we have to get back to God’s word on moral standards, delivered to us by God, if we intend to survive and leave healthy offspring and descendants behind.
God is not some horrible and cruel old man, just waiting to catch our mistakes and writing down our shortcomings in some notebook. He is our all-merciful and infinitely kind Father, who created us out of love and invited us to love. “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis, 2:18) So, to end man’s solitude, God created a woman for him, to be his companion in their travels and efforts, and to be his joy in life. That is the reality and we have no reason to be timid about it. I assure you that to the best of my knowledge, the most beautiful words of love that could ever have been carved out by a human heart can be found in the Holy Scripture. Take it, read it and see for yourselves. The Holy Scripture, Word of God, invites the man to “rejoice in the wife of his youth”, so that she may be “a loving doe, a graceful deer” to him… “May you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:18,19) is what we read there.
We have to marvel at the extent of love that God expresses for His children back in the Old Testament. One of the rules that entered the Old Testament codex was that whoever recently married would be exempted from the military service. “…Or have any other duty laid on him.” – says in Moses’ law, handed to him by God – “For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) And should there be a war and the enemies approached his doorstep, he who became pledged to a woman, but did not marry her, would be sent back home, “…Or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” (Deuteronomy 20:7)
God has planted a deep urge for companionship and love into human’s nature, so deep that it overpowers all other human instincts. It is God’s will that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31) As per this, Apostle Paul demands from husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies,” as “He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28) And when there were, among the Christians, those “greater” than the Apostle himself, who had loaded their brothers with burdens too heavy to bear, the Apostle restrains and limits them and gives broad liberties to the brothers. The former ones wrote to the Apostle: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” (1 Corinthians 7:1), convinced that the ascetic Apostle would support them. Instead, he tears down the restraints relentlessly. He writes to them that “since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” And then the Apostle continues: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Knowing that relationships between people are complex and unfathomable, the wise Apostle dares not put these words in the framework of a command, but rather offers them as his advice (1 Corinthians 7:6).
So far, all this, and an abundance of other verses that we can find and read in the Holy Scripture on the topic of love, is good, righteous and agreeable to our dear God. Over and above, however, there are many issues.
Man has abandoned the wide, vast fields of God’s love, God’s law and order, and has wandered off into the forest of vice and perversity. God patiently put up with this, but when it went too far, and the godly patience burst, God’s wrath poured onto the sinful mankind through these strange illnesses and various adversities. Be sure about it, let us not doubt and let us not fool ourselves: until man returns to God’s order, there will indeed be no salvation for him. All his wizards and doctors are in vain. It seems that, since we will not willingly do it, we will have to be forced to turn to the fundamental values, given and assigned to us by God: family, virtuous marriage, loyalty and devotion; and to “drink water from our own cistern, running water from our own well.” (Proverbs 5:15); and not to visit someone else’s well, as strangers may come and visit ours. These are serious things and should not be taken lightly. “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27) Will he himself not be scorched? – wise Solomon asks all of us.
In these deceptive times everything is at work to tear down the few moral fences that we are left with. Some evil forces are after this world to break it and push it into some disaster. It is the most fundamental things in life and what is most deeply rooted in it that those forces are attacking most impudently. We watch as they are removing God from man, as they obscuring God from man, so that they would lure him, godless and confused, into sin.
Let us not fool ourselves, God sees every step we make and tries all our deeds; there is no darkness that can hide us from God. “Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?” – asks wise Solomon – “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.” (Proverbs 5:20,21) Even if there should be no-one else, nor any of the misfortunes and sufferings that follow an adulterer, there is God who “will be quick to testify against adulterers.” (Malachi 3:5) God has no mercy for such people, nor does he accept their prayers.
If man – especially the western man – intends to heal and survive, he has to return under the powerful hand of God and His law, so that he may become dear to God again and God may love him.