Old Testament marriage

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2

How can this sacrament of 2 becoming 1 occur before the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost?


  • The Holy Spirit was there from the beginning as seen in Genesis 1 "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
    In the same way, the Logos existed from the beginning before He was incarnate on earth as we read in John 1 "1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God."

    Pray for me
  • So the idea of a sacrament existed in the OT?
  • Marriage is a divine institution which is universal in all cultures, though of course it becomes deformed and defective due to sin. But in its essence it is not a sacrament, it is part of the very nature of human life. If there were no Christians in the whole world there would still be marriage because it is instituted by God.

    The sacrament asks God to transform this human and natural institution by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit so that it becomes life to those who participate in it. It changes the nature of marriage but it does not change the institution in the sense of it being the union of a man and woman as God intended.

    An incomplete analogy is that as Christians we are taught to offer prayer before study, or before eating a meal. But the study and the eating of food are natural and created activities that take place whether or not anyone prayers. But as Christians we invite God to transform these natural activities and use them to his glory and for our salvation.

    Even baptism may be seen as a natural activity of washing, with all of the inherent symbolism, and as a natural human and created activity. This is what we do. We wash so that we are clean. But this washing becomes a sacrament because we invite God to transform this natural human activity and make it the means of a divine and life-giving grace.

    Indeed we can see that all of the Christian life and the Gospel is to some extent the taking of that which God has made and asking that it be transformed by grace. In this sense all of our life is called to become sacramental as we invite God to use and glorify each moment of our life whatever humble and human activity we are engaged in.

    The junior nurse washing a patient's wound becomes a means of grace, a sacrament in a diffuse sense, because the ordinary human activity is transformed by the presence of the Holy Spirit into a means of grace in those who have faith.
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