Transcript of part of a homily by Protopresbyter Fr. Constantine Strategopoulos, during the summer of 2003 for an audience of young people with related queries.
Question: Why aren’t premarital relations permitted?
Fr. Constantine: Look, my child, all things possess a lovely use, so I can’t use them the way that I want, right? Everything has a lovely use. So, we use our body the way that God allows. Simple as that, right?
No-one can be joined to another without the Grace of God. What have we already said? What is the tragedy of Humanism? A society without God!
How can people be joined together? Well, take two objects for example… How can this microphone be joined to this watch if I don’t hold them both in my hands? More so two people. How can they be joined to each other if God doesn’t join them? Just by wanting each other? Wanting isn’t enough…. that’s Humanism: I want you, you want me, but who will join us together?
It is extremely easy for them to part eventually; to have believed that they were joined to each other and then break up… Well, that’s exactly why they break up!
I’m just telling you in simple terms now; although… for me, this isn’t the big deal… I mean, how will you be joined? With whom? The other person is a body AND a soul! Where will you be joined with the other? Just because you joined your bodies, during a lame thing called “sex”? That’s right – without God’s Love and without the union of two souls, sex is just a lame thing… there’s no meaning to it… it doesn’t lead anywhere!
How can you have a union without the Grace of God? How will you function? Even the Scriptural text says so. Observe… it is the second chapter of Genesis. That’s where God begins. And what does He say about the man? «…and the rib that he had taken from Adam the Lord God fashioned into a woman and brought her to Adam. And Adam said, “this now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of her husband she was taken. Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.». (Genesis 2:22-24)
Do you hear what He says? He says “will be joined to” and “will become one flesh”. Well, the “joined to” pertains to their souls, then follows the joining of their flesh. Man is composed of two things: body and soul. You see? What a succinct text! First, man is “joined to” in soul, then the two of them “become one flesh”. How can their flesh “become one”, without the existence of love, of the union of their souls?
A clinging to one another? Well, it is self evident: from there on, it is just a matter of using the other person bodily… you use the other person physically, in order to satisfy your needs… Does that mean the other person is merely a consumer item? A kebab?
What is the meaning of “prostitution”? It is the inopportune, the unlawful use of another’s body. You are using it. You regard that person as mere flesh, therefore you too are mere flesh. And when everything is only flesh, the Grace of the Holy Spirit is not there, therefore everything is futile!
That is precisely why the Mystery of Marriage exists. It is where the whole person is illuminated and becomes the recipient of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore not a matter of simply being joined by means of plain ordinary sex. That’s the whole deal: woe betide, if a marriage ends up being just that. Of course that (sex) is involved too, but there is also another kind of union – a very profound union – in which union (if you embark on it properly) all those supposed “marital problems” and those pseudo -excuse the expression- pseudo “sexual problems” will not exist, if your basis is that profound point, where the other is seen as a body AND a soul, and where everything is joined together by the Grace of the Holy Spirit. All the other issues are just a selfish regard of the other. That is, you look upon the other as only flesh – as only an object. Keep these things in mind!
The elders here are ascetics, but they are nevertheless preoccupied by these matters. They too had been subjected to carnal temptations. Keep that in mind also!
Our era is living the tragedy of sex and erotic relations… that is, the culmination of the tragedy of Humanism – that’s what it is! It tells man “do whatever you want!” But man isn’t all about “do what you want”; Man has a body AND a soul. How are they both supposed to function? And they have dulled the minds of our children… literally, with the subject of erotic relations! They are oblivious! The youngsters can’t think straight! They can’t see anything else! The role models are entirely incorrect! And it is truly imperative that we turn to another understanding of things – be it only a human -so to speak- understanding, that the other person is NOT an object. Period! The other person is NOT an object! It can’t be otherwise! Just because I have the opportunity to exploit that person or lead them on?
So I’m saying things very simply. It is not just the words of the Scripture; it is about showing respect to the other person!
So many young girls come to me and tell me… I’m saying this quite sincerely – it’s a central theme during confession – She has met a young man, and so she tells me that he wants to have sex with her. (I’m saying this quite bluntly):
So I ask her: “Does he love you?”
She replies “yes, he loves me”.
So I say to her: “Just because he said so? It sounds like he’s good at advertising. If it’s true, he should prove it.”
She then asks “How can he prove it?”
“I’ll tell you all the tricks” I reply; “we’re full of tricks here.”
“Tell me, father, what the trick is” she replies
“Look, the trick is tried and true” I tell her. “I have tried it for a whole thirty-two years. And it’s “high-five”!
That is, for those who have tried it, there has been a 100 percent success.”
She then says “Well, please tell me! I’m on fire!”
“It’s quite simple” I tell her. Just wait and see. It’s so simple. He said he loves you? “Loving” someone means doing something for them without expecting any payment in return. I mean, if I love a poor person, I won’t say to him “now give me ten dollars”. Why should he pay me? So now, you tell the boy “look. my friend, do you love me?” “Yes”, he’ll reply. “OK, that’s great! Then you should love me free of charge. What does that mean? It means you should love me for free, without getting anything from me in return.” If he starts to say “but this… but that….but why…. and, you know… I’m a man and I have needs etc..” then we will have a case of consumerism, right? Therefore, he should love you without seeking something in exchange.”
“But that way I’ll lose him” she replies.
“So? What good is he? He is a merchant. He will leave you as soon as he has used you. Like eating a kebab: you simply throw away the wrapping and you’ve put your mind at ease, right? AND you litter the grounds. Am I wrong? Well, this method – which is the Church’s method – is so simple! Tried by me, for thirty two years! With a success rate of one hundred percent! And all the little men “hit the road”, because they can’t do without consumerism. Right?”
“So” I say to her “that way, you won’t be stuck with a nuisance, eh? Because he would have left you later on! So be careful! If he loves you, he’ll stay on. After that, we’ll see how things go. We’ll take the matter up accordingly; we’ll discuss it then. It will be a great discussion afterwards. A really great discussion!”