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As in the time of Arius and Athanasius, the nature of marriage is being questioned today, and so there needs to be a more carefully-worded and clearly worked out statement of the theology of marriage. This paper is merely an attempt to draw together some strands of what the Orthodox Church has taught about marriage up till now.
The Orthodox sacrament of holy matrimony does not carry the meaning of a legal contract.
It was only when the divinity of Christ was questioned by Arius that the need was felt for a clearer statement, and it was one of our own African bishops, St Athanasius the Great, who helped to formulate the Nicene Creed that was produced by the council.
The Orthodox Church understands marriage as a holy mystery (sacrament); the union of two human persons, one male and the other female, as a sign of the love of Christ for the Church, fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.In other words, it was a juridical and legal question.But Jesus does not answer the question in a juridical and legal manner, but rather in an ontological one: “But from the beginning God made them male and female.By considering the institution of marriage as a legal contract, one begins the process of transforming the whole sacrament into a juridical issue, and transforming the Church into a mundane legislator.The starting point for understanding marriage can be seen in Mark , when the Pharisees came to our Lord Jesus Christ and asked him about the lawfulness of divorce.