Nature, Celibacy and Marriage

bptheophan1by St. Theophan the Recluse

The Lord says that originally God Himself blessed the marriage union, and put this law into our nature. About those who do not want to get married He said:

“He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”.

It is clear that although He admitted that marriage is a natural law, it is not so indispensable and inescapable that there is no room for celibacy.

He allows celibacy, but guards it with a condition which brings it nearer to the law of nature.

A eunuch from birth is celibate according to a natural law; but he who by his own will puts himself in the same state as that of the natural eunuch’s by birth without the participation of will, moves onto one level with him in relation to natural needs. Consequently, in this sense, both the former and the latter are natural celibates.

Why is the state of a spiritual eunuch—self-imposed celibacy—considered unnatural?

Because people do not understand nature.

For them “natural” means what is natural for the body, but what is natural for the spirit, and what becomes natural [for the body] as a consequence of the spirit’s influence, people do not want to consider natural.

It would be a different matter if these were all materialists, but this is not so. Discuss some other subject with them and they will speak reasonably.


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About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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