Do the Man and the Woman Remain One Flesh After Their Breakup?

‘We broke up because’ by Naomi Wilkinson

Question: Hello. I’m curious, if I had a sexual relationship in the past, I was “one flesh” with that woman, but we had a breakup now. Are we still “one flesh” or not?

Answer: Apostle Paul says with all certainty, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:16,17).

Even a physical contact devoid of any attachment leaves a trace in the person’s soul forever. Sexual sins are considered mortal by the Church. That is neither an abstract remark nor a metaphor, but a statement of fact. Something dies forever, something becomes impossible after such sins are committed. It is more apparent in the case of murder, although even this issue may cause confusion in the modern age. Many people are quite comfortable with the idea that abortion is permissible and legal. In the case of fornication, the modern world often does not even see why it is such a big deal. Has anyone died? There is no “mortal sin”, is there?

Even if a person feels some emotional discomfort after such sins, he often tries to convince himself that there is nothing wrong with it. After all, he will find someone else to love, marry her, she will wear a white dress and everything will be as if for the first time and for real. It won’t be. Ever. It sounds sad, very unpopular, too tough and intolerant, but it is true.

The thing is, a human being is a very strange creature. He belongs to two worlds: the spiritual one and the physical one. A person’s soul is not a complete person yet. A human being is a mental and physical alliance of the soul and the body. His body is not just some tool for the soul, it is a part of himself. Therefore, true love does not boil down to feelings, emotions, sensations or shared memories or activities. True love is the level of unity in which the boundary of this mental-physical reality is undone and the other person becomes a part of it with both the soul and the body. Apostle Paul says: “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:4-5). That’s why according to Church canons, marriage is considered as consummated not at the moment of the wedding but only after the first sexual intercourse.

That is why fornication is called a mortal sin: a part of a person’s soul dies as a consequence. One’s ability to achieve complete unity with another person is lost forever, because part of that bond was given to someone else, and that bond is a persistent one.

What should a man who, of his own will and desire, has killed the ability to truly love in his soul, do? We can only hope for a miracle. The most amazing thing is that miracles do happen. Any priest will confirm that he has seen and known people who managed to rise above their past transgressions, who have been able to learn how deep this tragedy of sin is and how to overcome it. Of course, this is possible only thanks to a certain graceful action of God, which is why the Lord has given us the Sacraments of the Church. When such a miracle happens, it turns out that true love overcomes everything, even death.

King Solomon also said, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death” (Song of Solomon 8:6).

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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  1. This article is just a rehash of the old black and white mentality, so notorious and hence not helpful to anyone other than hardline conservatives.

    First, the concept mortal vs. venial sin stems from corrupted Roman Catholic theology. It Orthodoxy, all sins are potentially mortal depending on the severity, habitualness and consequence of each sin.

    Secondly, true Christianity does not offer one-size-fits-all solutions, but seeks compassion in various situations and circumstances. There is the ideal of sexuality being placed behind the bars of marriage, but the essence of sexuality is not a marriage bond, but a commitment of the couple to each other and their life together. To compare sex outside of marriage for committed couples to fornication (which is loose, uncommitted and hence abusive sex) is simply judgmental and a turn-off to Christianity. Besides, are all civil and heterodox marriages (both of which are not recognized by the Orthodox Church, as all other sacraments are neither) now fornication? — Other examples range from solders killing others in battle (which is technically murder, but no one would dare to call it that) to the multitude of social injustices (all of which are against the Orthodox faith).

    To approach the challenges in our broken world is not some medieval labeling, but compassion, as Christ so well has shown us.

    Finally, it is “The apostle Paul says”, not “apostle Paul says”, since the word “apostle” is an attribute, not a title. Watch for good English:

  2. We don’t need Monophysites lecturing us on the Orthodox Faith. The good priest who wrote this article presents some very hard truths that we need to hear these days and there is nothing heretical in this writing. It is quite Patristic.

  3. Question re this phrase: “Even a physical contact devoid of any attachment leaves a trace in the person’s soul forever.” This stays true even after going to Confess the sin? I thought confession wipes away all sins.

  4. Hello: Could someone please help me understand this particular sentence: “Even a physical contact devoid of any attachment leaves a trace in the person’s soul forever.” It was my understand, as a former Roman Catholic but also as an Orthodox Christian that the sacrament of Confession wipes away sins. So that quoted phrase strikes me as being errorneous…unless I’m just confused?

    1. Dear Sabrina, yes, sincere confession and repentance wash away any sin. We receive God’s forgiveness; however the consequences of sin can be felt for a very long time, it depends on the severity of sin and the further spiritual life of a person. It’s like a wound: it may be healed, it may no longer hurt, it may not leave a trace, or it may still leave a scar. But in any case, sin is forgiven; there is no need to confess it twice.

  5. It’s really amazing article.
    I am really thankful to your community which is invariably working on social evils .
    It’s my humble request to make all these articles searchable through search engine e.g if I ever have to search any article I can not search it by putting key words in search directory. If I want to read any article of 2018 I will have to go back . This is hectic process.

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