Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

On Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life

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Celibacy and Virginity



Together with the most positive affirmation of marriage and family life, the Orthodox Church also affirms that the Lord calls some men and women to a life of celibacy and virginity. The "angelic way" of monastic life is especially blessed for men and women "able to receive this" as those so "assigned" and "called" (cf. Matthew 19:10-12; 1 Corinthians 7).

The monastic vocation is identified in Orthodox tradition with the "good portion" of Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to his teaching and contemplating his truth in purity of heart. It is the calling to men and women to live in singleness, solitude, stillness and spiritual struggle in service to God; the way which the apostle Paul practically recommends as the "better" way, if God so wills, in this fallen world filled with temptations and trials.

Beginning with Mary the Virgin Mother of God and St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord- not to speak of the Lord Jesus Christ himself- the Orthodox Church’s liturgical calendar of saints is filled with righteous celibates, virgin martyrs, and men and women who followed the monastic way in purity and holiness of life.

Convinced of these God-revealed truths, we offer the following affirmations and admonitions for the guidance of the faithful: Celibacy and virginity are also to be defended and protected from vilification and ridicule.

Monastic life is to be defended, protected and promoted in witness to life in God’s coming kingdom where all holy men and women will be "like angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).


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