→Love and morality
==Love and morality==
Biblical and patristic literature abounds with moral pronouncements, many of which are now alien to Orthodox tradition. For example, internet satirists cite Old Testament verses to the effect that[http://www.godhatesshrimp.com God Hates Shrimp] to counter similar diatribes from Protestant pastor [http://www.godhatesfags.com Fred Phelps], whose well-known opposition to homosexuality is
also based on Old Testament prohibitions. Given that not every rule in the Bible or church tradition applicable any longer, how does one distinguish those which remain in force, from those which do not? To what extent are social mores a factor? For example, we no longer accept levirate marriage, or marriage between partners who are very young. Are other moral strictures similarly subject to revision?
Christ's teaching of the [[New Commandment]] or [[Greatest Commandment]] suggests that "love" is the principle by which all other commandments are to be evaluated. (Note that ''caritas'' here refers not to romantic love, and couple perhaps be better translated as "caring.") Is it possible to love someone, and yet rape them? Surely not. Is it possible to love someone, and yet sleep with them outside of the bonds of marriage? Very likely, yet many Orthodox voices would insist that such a choice represents a fundamental miscalculation. While the act may seem harmless enough, they say, in fact it violates the Greatest Commandment by not allowing it to occur within the context of the supreme commitment and unity that is the sacrament of marriage.
Theologically, the sacrament of marriage is bestowed not by the priest upon the couple, but by the husband and wife upon one another. In that light, might a couple legitimately sleep together without benefit of clergy? On a desert island, yes. However, for those of us living amidst human society, it behooves us to arrange our lives in conformity with good order, which entails (among other things) ensuring that marriage be undertaken seriously, and with public acknowledgement. At least our hypothetical couple might take into account the opinions of the church, including their spiritual father, who would be expected to raise objections to any sort of unofficial marriage. (Some Orthodox thinkers, however, do recognize "de facto" marriages or marriages "in God's eyes" as morally binding in some circumstances, such as a couple living together.)
==The purpose of sex==