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Coptic Orthodox Marriage Series - Talk 2

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"Choosing a Spouse"

Coptic Orthodox Marriage Series - Talk 2 Transcription

"...also came to Him, testing Him and said to Him: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?", and He answered and answered to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said "For this reason, a man shall leave his mother and father, and shall join his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"? So, then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate." They said to Him;"Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them; "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted a few to divorce their wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. And whoever marries her who is divorced, commits adultery".  His disciple said to him; "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry, but He said them; "All cannot accept the same, but only to whom it has been given, for they are in Eunuchs who were born (like that) from their mother's wombs, and there are Eunuchs who are made Eunuchs by men, and there are Eunuchs who have made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He (...) to accept let him accept it."

 

Glory Be to God Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

Thank you!

 

Yesterday, we started  the series about marriage. We started by setting certain principles, pertaining to the mystery of love. I will review with you some of those basic principles that we saw yesterday, and then I will get into today's topic, which is the gift of God: Choosing a partner, or knowing; is my spouse (...) gift of God to me, or not. Or spouse to be, for that matter.

 

Yesterday, we started by one statement (about) how to be Christ centered; focused on Jesus Christ. Look, listen and learn from the Lord Jesus Christ how to love and live a Christian life, a Christian (...) life. And I told you, this is the center, the core of any Christian life, whether in marriage or not. To see Him in your life, to look at Him, to feel His presence, to think of Him, to listen to His words, to learn from Him, how to pursue in your life, love and the Christian living, and the Christian combat (conduct?).

This is the first principle.

 

The second principle; The mystery of Holly Matrimony was the first to be instituted by God in the history of humanity, and it was instituted... where? In the garden of Eden. That mystery, third one (third principle?) is a great mystery, as mentioned in Ephesians 5. One of the few mysteries which will lead to the great mystery, why, because it resembles to the Matrimony of Christ with You, the Church. It is a great mystery, and anyone who doubts the greatness of that mystery, will be so troubled. That is why it needs preparation, as we are going into any mystery.

How to prepare ourselves for that mystery? Yesterday we mentioned I Corinthians 11, why some of the marriages are weak, sick and (...). If we judge ourselves,  we will not be judged, from 29-31. And we mentioned that every mystery, although all of them are equal, because the Holy Spirit is one in the seven, but we have to practice, and prepare ourselves, and this preparation starts from day one, while we are living with our families; they are preparing us to be in a matrimonial relationship with Jesus Christ; he is the groom, we are his bride. Our families are teaching us that. His presence, look this, and learn, and be joined too, by baptism, through communion, through prayer, through the Bible, my life is for Jesus, and He is for me!

We grow up this way, till we reach the age of courtship; finding the proper spouse-to-be. God will find him or her for me, and then we will go  into engagement, and the engagement will end, preferable (within) six month to a year, and it will end with the wedding.

The wedding ceremony will be the beginning or the delivery of the new first born, which is the new living being, which is the marital relationship. The marital relationship starts as a living being which needs to be nourished and nurtured every day. We take care of that living being, in case it gets sick or weak, by giving or taking the first born to the one who could help, either a Father of confession, or a spiritual guide; someone who can help. I include spiritual guides, Christian counselors are spiritual guides. So we will take that first born, as long as he will feed (...) he is not healthy, but he will continue alive.

In marriage, there are phases, as we will see, sometimes up, sometimes down. Ourselves do get sick sometimes... the relationship gets weaker sometimes. Do not worry, but how to nourish and cherish that first born?

Then we went into the last basic principle, which was Leave, cleave and unite. We explained how leaving must precede cleaving. Without leaving, cleaving can't start the right way, and we said, love and commitment is the core of cleaving, and leaving continues your life, it cannot be at all a pathological umbilical cord, with pathological ties to the parents, or the original family, but we will relate to the Lord Jesus who will be between the two new spouses, who will unite both of them into one flesh.

As an application to what we said, do tell me now; if the Lord Jesus Christ is between the two spouses, joining them into one, and every day by getting closer to him, they are going to be tied more and more, through Him, and Him only. Not through any secular exercise. It is only through Jesus Christ. Even in romance; unless Jesus is going with you in that romantic trip, it will end in the wrong way. It will be temporary in its actions. It is not going to last! So, take Him with you, because He is with you anywhere!

Now, as an application; Jesus is sitting between both of you. Somebody is sited on this side, and the other on that side. If someone will think of the other spouse something wrong in his mind, this could go to Jesus? Could he perceive it, or not? Whatever idea, thought, any emotions, any behavior, has to go through Jesus Christ first. Whatever I am thinking of , I am feeling, I am behaving in actions, it will not touch my spouse at once; it has to go through Jesus first.

Now, if I would sit with myself, Jesus is already wounded. Words of Love. If I am doing any actions, which is negative; negative thoughts, negative emotions, who are they going to first? Do say it...

I will say no, any bad ideas, any bad thoughts, any bad feelings, any bad actions or behavior will hit my beloved first. If I commit any sins, who will it hurt first? Me or Jesus Christ? "Jesus Christ, I sinned before you".

Any sins are directed to Jesus Christ first. I am the one who 's wounding Jesus Christ.  I am the one who is playing in his wounds. I am the one who is stirring his hands by moving the nails, by my actions, by my thoughts, by my negative feelings. I am the one who is putting salt and pepper in his wounds by my negative thoughts, feelings, by my sins, by my bad behavior.

 

The other spouse, sometimes we feel "This is directed to me", but no! It is directed first to Jesus Christ, and according to His honor, who am I compared to Him? Yes it is affecting me, but think first that the actions of your spouse are hurting Jesus Christ first, before you. Are you going to think of yourself more than Jesus who is hurting? From my side, I will think: All my life, how much did I play in his wounds? How much was he hurting, and forgiving me? Think about Jesus Christ! Could I be in that situation all I am doing every day, negatively, or feeling negatively or thinking negatively, will it hurt Jesus? Unless if Jesus is not in the situation! Unless if Jesus is not in the picture! Unless if Christ is not (part of) the mystery! Unless if you are only married civil marriage! This is the huge difference between civil and Christian marriage! Those who are married, are you married civil, or Christian marriage, or both? Are you living in your life, civil marriage, or Christian marriage? If you are living a Christian marriage, then everything that we are talking about applies to you. Civil marriage is not in the picture at all! Because then, what is guiding and ruling you is civil law.

If you are around Jesus, and the three of you will be one, then whatever I am doing negatively, thinking or feeling negatively, will hit Him and hurt Him first, and I have to repent for that;

"Sorry I Jesus my Lord, i did this and this to you. I did it to you. I sinned to heaven, and before you. Forgive me!"

Regarding myself, if my spouse will do whatever, he or she will repent. If he or she will not repent, if he/she will separate her/himself  from the Lord Jesus Christ, as if telling Him:

"Oh my Lord, your hand which is around me is hurting my shoulder. Would you please take off your hand, I want to go and smell something stinky; a sin, outside", well, he or she will leave Him!

The other spouse who's with Jesus, what he or she will have to do if he will see the other party going away? You are in joy with Jesus Christ, your prime husband! What you have to do if the other spouse has done something wrong?

The first thing that should come to your mind: "That poor guy is away from Jesus! Yes he has done something bad, and he is hurting Jesus and hurting me". You have to pray for him, or for her, why? Because if you both are living a Christian marriage... Sorry, but civil marriage, I am not even talking about it, because in civil marriage, of course, you will go to court and take your rights, but in Christian marriage, both of you want to live a Christian marriage, if she or he decides go away first, you pray that he/she will return. And if he or she decides to separate completely from God, you will stay married to Jesus, because who is your first spouse? You're married to Jesus Christ first, that's the principle that we saw yesterday. Our marriage to Jesus Christ will continue!

 

Today's Gospel reading from the Liturgy, was from Mathew 25, the ten virgins. You are a virgin, married to Jesus Christ, waiting for the groom to come, and let them go to the heavenly matrimony. Waiting, waiting, preparing and shaping themselves with his help, till somebody announces "the groom is coming, please come out and meet up with him". Believe me, that moment will come. It will come, and if you are ready, to meet with your groom, he himself will take you, because he is united with you, with your soul, and you with Jesus Christ will go to live in his bosom eternally. If you are away from Him, if you are only living a civil marriage, if your own concern is the money, if your own concern is materials away from Him, when the groom will come, the announcement has come (...) and one day the door will be shut! The door will be closed! Those who were ready, they went in. An those who were not ready, living their civil marriages, well, they will be left out. (...) The reading from I Peter 3, also was the (...) today, and we will read it today, in the next session, God willing.

So, by these principles, we started yesterday, were meant by the mystery of Love. And today, we will see how to start. And if you have started, what kinds of feelings do we have towards our spouse? Is he/she the gift of God to me? Am I enjoying with him/her, the blessing of the presence of God with us or not?

 

After finishing my life in my family's home, do I have a philosophy or a mission... do I have clearly a philosophy for my life? What is it? Taking a PhD? Money? Doing whatever you can to get rich, is that my philosophy or my mission? For me, life is Christ. That could be my philosophy. For me, life is Christ is to look, listen and learn from Him. That is my philosophy. What is my mission in my earthly life? Everybody must have a mission before you marry. If you have a short-term mission, it can be: I want to finish my college education, and get my PhD, I want children, get a career. That is a short-term mission, but what can be a mission that is an umbrella over all my roles and goals in life?  My roles means, I am husband, I am a son, I have brothers, I am a father, I am a servant in the church, I have a career. All these roles have missions. Whether a father, a servant in the church, a doctor, maybe, husband. What are the goals of being a husband, a father, a son, etc...? What are the goals? I should write this down. A servant in the church, what are the goals? Serving the church. What do I want to achieve? All those goals should be under the umbrella of a mission. What kind of mission can cover all those goals then? Well, if my mission is to get money, then my goals for each role are going to differ. Are you following? Everybody should discuss with themselves, what their mission is.

 I prefer my mission to be, I reach eternity, and I will take with me, as many as I can. In my work, in my service, in my house as a husband or a father, with my co-servants, with my brothers and sisters, with my friends, indeed everywhere, my mission will be clear: I want to reach eternity, and take with me whomever I can. I want to go to Jesus Christ with as many as I can take with me, to enjoy His bosom with them. This is a (noble) mission! And this mission will control every roles and all the goals.

This is an organized way of thinking before I start the marriage, into the marriage, and to the very end of my life. It is a philosophy, a mission, goals that are governed by the bigger mission, as I told you. Don't think in short-term, for every short-term will finish. The long-term however, the mission, is to go to Heaven.

Marriage versus (...). Abuna read for us Mathew 19:3-12. The disciples, Jesus told them "There is no reason whatsoever to separate or divorce your spouse, other than sexual immorality". Master, it would be so difficult!

How could we sustain such a life? How could we live such a life? Does it mean, if you are married, there is no outlet, you are stuck, and there is not anything else? And He told them, in verse 12 "Marriage is for everybody. This is my plan for humanity. The exceptions for that plan are quite few. Those who are born from their mothers unable to marry, or those who made were made eunuchs and unable to marry, by men, and those made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Gospel, they don't want to marry Those last groups are the three exceptions, are the monks and the nuns, and anybody who want to consecrate their lives in celibacy, of course, married to Jesus Christ.  Are those the majority or minority? Is that the original plan of God for everybody? Is monastic life a mystery, one of the seven? No! Or is it? Is marriage one of the seven mysteries? "Yes" (from a young kind in the attendance, to whom he says Thanks).

Well, which one is better? Which one is suitable for me: Monastic life or marriage? Well, both of them are good ways to reach heaven. However, monastic life is not for everybody.  It is not an escape! If you're unable to achieve any goals in the world, or you are fighting temptations, and you can't, monastic life is not an escape! No! Monastic life is so precious, and so good, but it is not for everybody. You consecrate yourself  mind, heart and body for your groom Christ, and in seclusion. Monastic life means, you get into yourself, and don't get out of the monastery. This is the life that I knew. You resist and refuse to be a bishop, You escape as Saint ... did before. But, going to monastery, while planning to be a Bishop, it doesn't work. Bishop is not monastic life. To escape to the monastery because you can't fight your sexual desires in the world, that is not monastic life. It is for those who were made able by the power and the authority of The Lord Jesus Christ to overcome the temptations, but they so loved Jesus Christ, and want to enjoy their life with Him in seclusion, in solitude, not seeing anybody except Him. They don't want to see our faces. They escape from us when we go to visit a monastery. This is monastic life. Are you ready for such a life? Don't try to think of it, if it is not for you. If you are thinking, which one is better for me, is it marriage or monastic life? I am telling you, you are for marriage, not for monastic life! If you are in that dilemma, then monastic life is not for you. If God has planned monastic life for you, then you cannot think of anything else, and you are not depressed. You will go through rigorous preparation and testing, three maybe four years, before being admitted among those who are "dead to this world". During those first few years you will discover, whether you are cut for that life or not. I know many who went to the monastery, and didn't finish. They came out, they didn't want to stay, because they discovered it is not their life, but that is fine. Nothing wrong at all.

However, once admitted among the monks, you want to come out? No! You have made certain promises to God, and now you won't fulfill them! According to our church, there are certain plans for you. Marriage or monastic life: It is a very serious decision.

Do you remember during the during the transfiguration, who were seen with Jesus Christ on top of the mount Tabor? Elijah and Moses. Who of them was married? Moses. And who was living in celibacy? Elijah!

Well, which of Celibacy or marriage would take you to Sainthood, or sanctified life? None of them is better than the other. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are wrong! None of them is easier than the other. Either way, there are temptations, there are difficulties, because Satan is not going to leave you alone, only because you are married or celibate. We have to face Him, in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and His name, in His deity, in the power of His blood which was poured upon us in the (...) , we have to face Satan, and his temptations, whether in monastic life, or in our marital life. Are there any temptations or tribulations in us our marital life? Who is the number one enemy for us, in our marital life? is it the Devil, or my spouse? This was yesterday's topic. Who is my prime enemy, in my marriage? It is the devil, not my spouse. The poor spouse, maybe he/she doesn't even know what he/she is doing!

This brings to my mind "Father forgive them, because they not know what they are doing". Therefore, my position in my marriage, or in the monastic life, my prime enemy, is the devil. He wants to snatch me, from the bosom of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and I will be tucked in him! I will tell Him, "Please Hug me, keep me in you, cover me up! I am for you, and you are for me", and this goes whether I am married or living in celibacy. It is all the same! Satan is not going to leave you to enjoy your relationship with Jesus. So, you will choose, but be sure, both are roads that will lead you to eternity. According to the directions of your father of confession, your spiritual guide, you will know.

But if you hear one of the monks telling you, "You are going to quit your monastic life before the prayer, and go to the world, you are not going to be counted among the 144 000 celibates in heaven (as if heaven is only for the monks) ..." I have heard many youths have been told that, but it is wrong theology. Remember the transfiguration, and remember marriage is a Holy mystery, it is not less than monastic life, but it depends on our readiness and preparation for whichever kind of life.

 

Now, what  are our motives for marriage? Why do we marry? (...) I want to get out of my family home, as fast as I can (...) Is that a motive? Because, there is no other choice, I am doomed. It is better to stay single than to marry the wrong person. Keep that in your mind! Be wise. Some people did not learn that early in their lives. They learned it when it was too late! Again; It is better to stay single and live with Jesus Christ, than to marry the wrong person. So, what are my positive motives for marriage? As St Jean Chrysostom mentioned, in his book about marriage and family. I wish the first book was here in the store, for everyone to read it. Hopefully it will be published again. He has also another book about Christian parenting. It was written in the Fifth century, but  it was translated from Greek to English. He said, "completion of the flesh, first goal. Complementing me, I feel that whatever I have of skills and talents, I need to be complemented by the gift from God, who will join me". If I feel that I am complete, I don't need anybody, please don't marry! You don't need marriage! However, if you feel that you need complementation; you are missing certain characters, and you wish that God will complement you, by giving you the one who could complement you, to complete you, to complete you into one, to complete your flesh, as Adam when God took Eve out of him, they became one, after He joined her back to him, and the two became one flesh. If you feel (...) you need someone to complete you, because you are still missing, part of your flesh or your bones, then get married!

Those who are so independent, they feel that they are on top of the world, and they don't need anybody; chauvinists or feminists, please don't marry! You will only cause for yourself and for others!

 

Goal number two; if you want to have a family. If you want to raise saints, if you like to father saints, if you like to share in bringing to the world, saints, soldiers and officers, in the army of saints of God, if you like to have a family, if you like to have a spouse with children, as a sanctified holly family. If you feel lonely, and you want to have a family, then marriage is for you.

 

A third goal; If you cannot live pure... you can't, you are resisting. I Corinthians 7:9 "Marriage is better than burning with passion". If you are burning with passion, and you fear that you will be unable to control yourself, please marry!

I am not marrying to be involved in fulfilling and satisfying my sexual desires, not, but it is a protection. I am living protected by God and my spouse, to live a pure and Godly and righteous life

Three main motives: Continuation of your sanctified life; spiritual virginity will continue  within the marriage. Your heart, which is for Jesus Christ, your senses, your organs, your members, are all members of the Christ, will continue into marriage, you will not going to lose any of these.

 

What are negative motives? Endless! Because they are from Satan, and he is very creative! If I ask about negative motives, everybody will tell me many many negative motives for marriage. I don't know if you had some of them before you married or not. There are so many! My spouse's dad has a company, he will hire me!  She/he is richer than me, I will use his/her money! He/she has a business! He  will get me out of my home, where I am abused, where I don't feel free, and I am oppressed, please just get me out of my home. Permanent residence of the United States, the papers, a visa. And many other reasons.

To satisfy and enjoy eating and drinking for the flesh, it is wrong, because marital life is not sexuality. It is not only sexuality, as we are going to see. It is full of responsibilities.

If you feel that you had a wrong start in your marriage (started your marriage for one of those wrong reasons), and you are married now, please try to correct it. There are places to correct it. "I prayed and prayed, I fasted, I took the guidance of my father of confession, and everybody told me that she/he was the best, but after I married the person, I discovered that it was all a myth! He/she was the wrong person!" Some people come to me after fifty years, and tell me, "I married the wrong person". Fifty years of marriage!!! Actually he had fifty-six years of marriage behind him! He told me, "I think I married the wrong person".  (Joking in Arabic). You've already  passed eighty! He was insisting to divorce her, and marry another one! I told him, how many years are left? You are going down soon! Sure, all of us are going down, but... come on! Fifty-six years of marriage! He had seen children, and children of his own children! His grand children are married! And all of a sudden, he discovered that he married the wrong person!

Sometimes it does hit us; "I married the wrong person". Maybe I am not thinking right, but do you think God could deceive us, and give us a bad person, and I prayed, and I did my homework... what is the homework to do before marriage... No science at all, and no nothing wrong, and she used to be the best. My father of confession said, "Go ahead", my parents gave us their blessing, everybody was OK with (our union). So, God, why did you give me... a question which I am sure does come to some of you at some point in your life!

God does not deceive anybody. I may have had a bad start, maybe I disobeyed, but if, and this is important; if I did my homework, and followed the direction of God through the Bible, and followed the advice of my father of confession, and of my family, everything, yet something wrong happens, the I am telling you, Stick to your marriage, for there is a plan for you!

What is the plan of God in our marriage? What is the plan of God for everybody, all Christians? To complete their life of salvation. Maybe (...) for everyone of us, there are two lines; life on earth is going, and with it, your spiritual life.  Don't be shortsighted, and only see down on your feet. What is happening to you could be for your benefit!!! All of us, do need a tap on the shoulder (from time to time), a (gentle) twist of our arm, so we can kneel and worship, and raise our hands and eyes to God. What is the benefit of staying in such a marriage? I am not talking about extreme sins, and (...) this is between you and the church. But think for yourself; is it good for me to stay? I did everything, but still discovered that he/she was the wrong person. I am not psychotic, I am not bipolar, I have no severe depression, I have nothing on my mind. What to do?

Come with me, to see what homework (...) which I have to do before I choose.

Is your mate, your spouse, whether present or to-be, a gift of God to you? What do you think?

There are four important keys in the process of choosing a mate. I do sympathize with those who are living here now, yet when they look around, they can't find somebody for them. My heart is really aching for them, I don't want you to return to the days of Abraham, when he had to send someone to get a wife from his own land, because that is the land where they were worshiping the One True God, to get a wife for his only son Isaac. Because the land where we worship God is right here in the church! If you want to look for a spouse outside of the area of Christianity, outside the life of spirituality (I will raise him/her), you are mistaken. Don't go look in a bar, or a nightclub, or a striper club, for a mate! Don't go chatting sexually on the internet looking for a mate! It is not going to work! Of course you could marry, but it may end the bad way! Where can I find? In a Christian convention! Do I go shopping for a spouse?

Do you know (...) have you heard about it? By the way, somebody in Texas started one for the Coptic Orthodox Church, for a small fee (how much?) He is a good businessman, but he wanted to help! I know priests, in our Church, the Coptic church, here in the United States, they are seriously considering to start a website like that, because they can't resolve the issue of finding the proper one. So many are so dispersed everywhere. Those who are living, say, in one small state, two or three families Coptic families, their children are like brothers and sisters. And people in the Church look at them like brothers and sisters. We grew up together, I can't marry from those. Go to the other church, no I know they are families, they are like cousins... so I will leave Chicago, and go to Los Angeles, go to new York, go to Canada, or maybe on the internet I will find someone from another church; a Coptic church in Japan, or Aswan, or Australia, whatever, and we will get connected through the internet, and they are chatting. It is much cheaper than the phone. I have seen at least four marriages that already took place through the internet, between Coptic Orthodox congregation members, but I cannot judge the quality before at least ten years of marriage, I don't know, maybe just after six months, or one year, they will discover that it was the wrong choice! Now they have created innovative ways, which differ from the traditional ones, about knowing one another face to face. OK, we will email each other our pictures, for the second time... we don't know! I could be sending the picture of someone else, and it has happened! I am expecting "mister Right", and eager to find out what he looks like... It has happened! Somebody from Los Angeles, expected the other from New Jersey to be looking this way, and he was totally different from the picture! The intentions were wrong from the persons themselves, and of course it didn't work!

Surely enough, some of you from the Christian Coptic Orthodox community, they went undercover on the internet, and they are in jail right now. Do you understand me? So, chatting is not safe. I remember one week, there was five cases of our congregation members, the Coptic Orthodox church in Germany, five women, wives, chatting with other men than their husbands, getting emotionally involved with them, and some of them met, because they were close by. By spiritual efforts, they were turned back to the correct path. It is quite serious business, and not fun at all! If you have trouble in your marriage, do not rush to chat with anybody, and if you are in trouble, do not counsel anybody. Do you understand me? If your marriage is in trouble, do not go counseling others.

 

Four keys;

1. Number one; The  father of confession, a necessity! The spiritual guide.

2. Bible reading and fasting. Number three... and all of you will ask me, "Is number three really important?"

3. Parental blessing! The parents will say "Yes!" But, so many youngsters will say "my mom, my dad do not agree, so what". Number four:

4. Circumstantial evidences. This means, if everything is opening in front of you, no obstacles, then it is God's blessing!

 

Whatever my father of confession, when I go to him, and I pray before I go to him, then God is speaking through him. Whatever he is going to tell me, even if it is wrong, I am will follow it. And because of my obedience, according to my heart, God will give me the right advice.

If you pray and fast, and read the Bible, and you feel "I am so comfortable with that person", please go and tell your father of confession, for, it may just be an impression.

If your parents, either both, or from one side, do not agree, and they do not give the blessing, please wait, and postpone the decision, and the father of confession will go and talk to them. Because if you marry, against their will, trouble will happen to you. There is even secular counseling! If one or both of them, do not agree with the marriage, well, one day you will have to meet with them, won't you? The two families will meet! There are phone calls! What will happen when you get a child? What will happen after the wedding events? There has to be acceptance and blessing. If you postpone for a time, God may change! In any case, it is a sign, a key! These are circumstantial evidences, as I were saying. "Doors opening, not closing". These are just keys, not criteria, something that is helping you, directing you.

 

Now, what are the criteria for me, in the process to know if this is God's gift to me? This plan that I am going to give you, has helped so much the perfectionist personality. Do you know that personality? If he/she sees something, a small black dote, the whole field of vision will be blackened. You look only for what is wrong, you don't look for what is good. The eyes catch only the negatives. For those ones, this criteria will help. For anybody, this criteria can help.

 

A good fiifty percent of your decisions, at least should be centered on Christ.

Is he a Deacon? Good. Is he a servant in Sunday school? Good! He reads the Bible regularly. Good! He eats communion, and makes confession regularly? Thank God! But is he Christ centered? For he can do all these things as simply routine!

But how can we tell if he is Christ centered? In his thoughts, his emotions that are showing, his decisions, his behavior, dealings with others, I am observing! Before engagement and during engagement is an important time to be observant. Don't be blinded by emotions! And please, forgive me; the main blindness for your mind and spirit, will be through physical involvement. Do not be blinded by your emotions through physical involvement, for it will stop you from proper assessment and evaluation. Christ centeredness! Is he Christ centered? The way he thinks about taxes, about business, about dealings with his friends, the way he behaves outside the Church, not only in the church, outside the circle of service; in real life. Who is he/she? If that person feels that he looks, listens and learns from Jesus Christ, how to act, how to behave, how to love, centers his life, his decisions around Christ, his behavior... when he knows he is thinking bad, he asks his forgiveness. Jesus Christ tells me, what are you telling me now? Please give me a verse, from one of the songs. He will get him, through meditation he will remind him, he is always in communication and connection with Jesus Christ. How much do you give him out of fifty percent? Not less than forty-five percent, if that person is like that, even if he takes communion once a month. If that person is in a state where there is no church; no Coptic Orthodox church, he can still be Christ-centered, and coming, maybe every six months, and taking his communion. The hermits can take communion everyone year, but they are still good people. The hermits!

So, do not be deceived by routines, rather check whether the person is living the Bible, if he is living the mysteries, if he is living in prayer with Jesus Christ, if he is living with his decisions. When he is praying, when you see him praying in the Church, he is not looking around; he is not distracted by others during the prayer. Look carefully; do you see Christ in and around him/her, or not? (...) as I told you, forty-five percent. Now, look for the other fifty percent. 

I will give you other criteria, but not in order of priority. You can do that yourself .

There are seven/eight of them, make each one of them out of the fifty you take how much percentage. Equally distributed about seven percent each. If you want to give one ten, the others will be five or four, according to the order of priority you chose by yourself.

Here are the criteria, but the priority, you chose for yourself.

 

After spiritual life, the next one is family.  Did you visit his/her family? Have you seen them? Maybe they are in another state. Maybe they are in Egypt. Don't make your decision before you meet with them! What is the relationship between him and his/her mother and father? His/her relationship with brothers and sisters, how is it? Did you see them? Did you go out (hand out) with them ? Did you see the respect of the husband to his wife and vice versa? The way they are dealing with their own son/daughter? Could that family mix with your own family? "No, they speak different language". Maybe another religion, another denomination. Speaking languages not understandable. They are Asian, and do not speak English, but your family speaks Arabic and English, what to do then? They are going to meet each other, but how are they going to mix? By sign language? Regarding their habits; could they mix? "My father in law is a gambler. My mother in law is only interested in the material. She is materialistic. My mother and father are so involved in the Church. They don't meet anyone outside of the Church". Could they mix? Probably not. I have to see, if I am not going to marry two families together, not just you and your partner!

 

Number three; Communication ability and skills. is he/she a good listener? Does he/she understand, empathize, put himself/herself in your shoes? Think, and feel what you feel? How does he/she express him/herself, and deliver messages? Is  there a lot of misunderstandings, miscommunications, misjudgment, misinterpretations between the two of you? How is communication going on between the two of you? This doesn't  depend on the level of education.

Listening abilities, in particular...  women, when choosing a husband, please look for someone who is a good listener! You will know the benefit of this later in your life! Those who are married know that by now. (Not audible question), no, now we are talking about communication abilities. Obedience, leadership and submission will come later on.

 

Now, emotion expression. It is not only about expressing love through hugs and kisses, and good touches, showing compassion to you. How about him/her with others? How about with other members of family? Of course, you are in love, so everything is dandy and rosy, love, emotions, compassion, but when you see him dealing with others, is there any anger problems, any anxiety, any signs of depression? See, look and find these negative emotions. If he has positive emotions, look how he applies these onto others. If he only loves you, and not others, he will (...) after marriage; only compassionate with you, and not with others, he will not be compassionate with you when you marry. Don't be deceived during the engagement. And of course, if he is uncompassionate during engagement; well, what you see is that you get! Don't expect him to be better, for he will be worse! If he listens to you anxiously, seven hours on the phone during engagement, as it happens; phone bills piling up, tell me, after five years into marriage, what will happen? You will catch him snoring while you are talking. Seven hours he would listen to you, he wasn't sleeping (during engagement), but all of a sudden sleep sickness catches him, what happened???  All kinds of fatigue will come onto him! (If it was a girl observing her dad in this situation, she would be like "dad, it is a tsetse fly"). Not every  has that disease of course, but sometimes it hits! Therefore, emotional expression, and then;

 

Social abilities and skills. Is he introvert? Extrovert? Very social? I don't mind if he is more social with the new, or less, but look for something else, look at self-control disorders, look at him/he with him/her friends; gambling, drugs, bad friends, pornography, any kinds of addiction. "How could I find that?" You can! You can see signs and smell those things, if you are careful enough, and not blinded by emotions and the mere physical. Pornography is very serious!

 

Questions for girls, you have to ask your grooms to be, and notice any hesitancy in the answer, ask them "If I gain one hundred pounds more, will you still accept me?" If he says, "Hmmm... let's see... but why a hundred? Isn't twenty sufficient? How about thirty, then after pregnancy (you lose it again)" If he says that, be suspicious of pornography! Because not anybody who's involved in pornography would like someone who is overweight! What are the (usual weight of porn stars) on the internet? Ninety pounds, ninety pounds max, (combined with make-ups and spotlights). They are unrealistic models! You can't find a normal woman like that! They pay her million for implants etc... for her to look like that. And the poor guy is living (a fantasy life) with those models. He will look only for those who are skinny. Now, if you add a hundred pounds, that will be a disaster! I have seen many of them coming to me saying "Disgusting!" And the man is so disgusted! He can't continue to live with her, why? "She is disgusting, she added a fifty pounds more! Can you imagine, my wife has one ...?" And the poor woman will go do Liposuction, just to please him, but he will never be pleased! From the beginning, did he say he would accept you if you would add two hundred or more? If not, then forget about it! Of course, don't add two hundred on purpose! This is the Temple of God, and you need to take care of it! Next criteria:

 

Is he/she responsible and reliable? What kind of work is he doing? Is he successful in his work? Is he changing jobs/careers? Is he reliable, could you rely on him/her as the mother/father of your children, responsible? Can you lean on him/her to get support, or not? Responsibility and reliability, is it important or not, for the one you are going to find? Someone who can't keep a job, someone who always feels like everybody is against me! I have too much skills, I am overqualified for anybody, jobs and girls alike! Is such a person reliable? The one before the last:

 

Features and figure! You can put them as number one if you like! How big a percentage would you assign to features and figure? Here's a question for those who've been married for thirty years and more: is the figure the same as the day you (got married)? They asked  someone about the wrinkles as a sign of aging, they said, "The wrinkles of the skin are not a sign of aging, but the wrinkles of the mind are". Wrinkles of the skin are not important, but the wrinkles of the inside means much more! We need to focus more on the inner person than the exterior features. You can change the color of your eyes, you can change your nose, your face, your mouth, whatever! You can put implants anywhere in your body. After pregnancy, what will happen? Is she going to put on make-up for you before she sleeps, so when you wake up in the morning, you see her the prettiest one with make-up? You can find something (negative) in her face, but still, this is the prettiest of them all, the miss universe for you, because you are looking for the person who is inside, and also you love her as she is. Any man, after sixty, will show some projections around his waist, his hair receding, bold, pot belly, it is natural! If a man will keep the size of his waist same, when he was teenage, till he dies, that would be unusual. Same with the woman. It is so typical for the superficial (to be most in focus).  Number one; feature and figure, even before spirituality! Someone told me, "Doctor Nabil, what you are saying is textbook! Of course, I will be attracted first to someone who is pretty, and cute, then I will see if she/he is spiritual or not", well, good for you! I am not saying, be attracted to the ugly, but at least, be careful! Not everyone who is pretty is Christ centered. Not everyone who is pretty's family fits your family. The communication, the emotional expression, the sociability, responsibility and reliability... Stick to the figure and the features, fine! Give it fifty percent, we will see your marriage later!

 

Last but not least: Physical and emotional diseases. Be careful! We have to declare to our future spouses to be any disease which could affect our marital life or else marriage will be annulled, as if it never started, if someone intentionally hid a disease which could affect marital life, and it was discovered within the first year, and in the second year, I have to tell the church, if it is affecting the marital life. So, everything must be disclosed with honesty and openness.

 

How many criteria have I mentioned? Spiritual life, we gave fifty percent, then family, communication, emotions, sociability, responsibility, features and figure, and diseases. Seven of them, plus Christ centerness. Now, from family to diseases, you can sort them out as you like, put priorities, but they only count for fifty percent of the decision. If you want to give one of them forty percent, then the rest will share the ten remaining.

Now, for the perfectionists, say, features and figure deserve ten, not seven, and she/he will take three. And everything is good, it will be over eighty percent. Anyone who is around seventy-five or more, it is an extremely good choice. Now, after you do that, apply the same criteria to yourself. How much do you get? If you are seventy, and he/she is eighty, fine! You are a winner! But this is the way, because sometimes I see one defect. For the perfectionist, it is all bad; no it isn't! "No I can't live with someone who has this difficulty", OK! But remember, you can't find anybody who is perfect. In no marriage will you find any spouse who is perfect. You will try your best, with the four keys; the father of confession, with prayers, with fasting, your Bible, your parent's blessing, all doors openings, you will see that... go through these criteria, if you find that Christ is still in your prayer, you are feeling comfortable, but you are not getting even fifty percent, then thing twice! There has to be something really big! Most probably in the area of spirituality.

Is Christ centerness important for marriage?  I am saying, look, listen, and learn Jesus. He is all! He is the center. Am I aching Him, or pleasing Him? Am I living with him? When I sleep I am with him. When I am up, I am with him; with my Christ! If your spouse to be is like that, you are blessed by your marriage. If Christ's presence in your life is so important and valued in this way, I am sure, no conflicts will affect your life, and if it happens, it will be temporary. Conflicts will lead to better communication, and to more understanding, for those who are centered around Christ.

 

These are criteria for choosing a partner.

Some questions; what is the best age to marry? What is the best difference of age between the two? Social ranking; do I marry someone who is highly social ranking than me? Someone who is richer, more educated than me? These are the questions that I hear more often.

The preferable age difference, between five and ten. Could it be twelve? OK. Could it be one? OK. Could it be the same? OK. Could she be older than me than one or two years, OK. Could she be older than me by twenty years, No! I have to think! Generally, women get more mature quicker than men. She has to be convinced by your wisdom, and your ability so she can respect you. Twenty years difference, no! I have seen five, six year's difference, the woman is older, and it is alright, but in later years of life, she always feels like she is older. Some women they show age more than men. In some case, men can show more, but the usual difference between five and ten years, where the man is older, but so many are the same age, or with one or two years difference either way, it is alright. Big difference between the two, twenty years, even if it is the man who is older, you have to be careful. Jealousy may happen one day; she is so your, and he is getting old. At the time of my parents, thirty years of difference, and they are married, but not now! Unless if they have the same characters as my parents, in which case, good for you!

Every case is unique of course, but these are general rules.

 

Now, what age is the best age to marry, with regard to financial situation? Responsibility and economy. Are you responsible, mature enough? When girls reach twenty-three, they feel it is too bad that nobody is with them. Because they finish college at twenty-two, and one year later, nobody has approached them, they start to worry. Twenty-five, worrying! Then they get thirty, because I can't find the proper one.

A few months ago, I was involved in a marriage between a girl who was forty-eight, and someone who was of the same age, and they are really happily married. You don't know what (the future holds). Don't lose hope and get depressed. There is somebody of the same age waiting for you too. Also, there are different situation. Usually, I prefer marriage between twenty-two and thirty years of age. For men, over twenty-four, twenty-five. Girls can be twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, whatever. Those who are in their thirties, fine! Forties, even better! By the way, women mature, and get well rounded when they reach forty! Take it from me! Even physically! They are well rounded at age forty, not twenty! At nineteen, they are like "I am reaching twenty..." Anything with zero! Twenty, thirty ... Those who are now in their eighties they are like "when I was twenty, thirty, forty...". Any age is right with Jesus Christ. Believe me, you will really enjoy marriage, and you will not regret one single day, in marriage, if you are really seeing Christ in your marriage, and you are judging yourself through your actions toward Him.

 

 

 

 

Transcribed by jeanounou (May 2017)