Compared to maintaining an Orthodox relationship (i.e. courtship or marriage), secular relationships are easy. They’re so easy that even I was able to maintain many for varying lengths of time even though I was a narcissistic wretch with not a drop of love in my soul. As long as you are able to pursue various amusements and sins while in a relationship, it’s not hard to have one that is “successful” by worldly standards, but the truth is those relationships are spiritually dead and will not lead to salvation. Here are three reasons why secular relationships are relatively simple for modern couples…
They can pass the time and grow old with endless amusements and Jewish media programming
Think of a secular couple you know and imagine what they do in their spare time. Do they pray together? Do they go to church services regularly? Do they go on pilgrimages to monasteries instead of the beach? The whole point of a secular relationship is that of comfort and pleasure. Outside of the bedroom, that means endless travel, concerts, movies, and good eating. Couples must always go on trips, catch up on the latest Jewish cinema offerings or internet programming, and they must eat and eat and get fatter and fatter. This is the template that almost all couples participate in, because if they didn’t, their supposed love would be revealed as a shrewd business transaction, of using each other to escape boredom, loneliness, or decreased social status, of desiring merely a sexual roommate to help forget that they were created in the image of God.
Look at what a secular couple does in their spare time, the utterly meaningless amusements they subject themselves to in the name of being “in a relationship,” and quickly you realize that a hermitic life with God where you are tempted by loneliness is much preferable, because the former has a foot in darkness while the latter a foot in paradise. It seems to be that the entire point of a secular relationship, from the standpoint of Satan, is to keep two individuals in a state of somatic indifference until he asserts rights over their souls upon death.
“There is no happiness anywhere except in Christ. So-called ‘happiness’ outside of Christ is incorrectly called happiness, since it is obtained with reprehensible means and since it ends quickly and leads man to the eternal unhappiness.” —Elder Ephraim in Counsels of the Holy Mountain
They occupy the flesh with unlawful sex alongside varying degrees of cheating and infidelity
Sex outside of a marriage is a sin, and yet this is the main way that secular couples initiate and maintain their fleshly bond. If they couldn’t have sex with each other up to marriage, pleasing each other in the flesh, usually under the influence of alcohol, would they stay together? What percentage of secular couples would even have become a couple if they couldn’t have sex with one another? Five percent, maybe, though probably less. I can’t speak for women, but I have known many men who only stayed in a relationship with a woman because of the fornication, and had not a concern for her soul, and used her as a ride in the amusement park until the line for another ride cleared. Remove sex from the equation and you’ll quickly see how much a couple “loves” each other.
Also consider that the Orthodox Church forbids oral and anal sex, for this is a gross violation of the natural law. Heterosexuals adopt the sinful behavior of homosexuals when they participate in these acts, for the mouth is meant to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and the rear end is to eject foul waste.
Besides the sex act, secular couples engage in “pre-cheating”—inappropriate flirting and communication with the opposite sex, especially through the smartphone. I’m afraid that it has become normalized in a woman’s mind to be in a relationship with a man while simultaneously chatting with numerous other men who obviously want to sleep with her. There is also outright cheating, where someone has a main boyfriend or girlfriend but fornicates on the side to maximize their bodily pleasure. Secular people say they are “in a relationship,” but with how many people, exactly?
“The fornicator is not unclean on account of the intercourse, but on account of the manner of it, because it injures the woman, and they injure one another, making the woman common, and subverting the laws of nature. For she ought to be the wife of one man… Here then is injustice, and therefore the act is wicked.” —Saint John Chrysostom
They avoid most demonic attacks because Satan already has a grip on their souls
If you begin to pursue truths of the physical world, the demons may attack you. If you begin to pursue the truth of Lord Jesus Christ, the demons will definitely attack you. And if you begin to pursue the Church that Lord Jesus Christ created when He was God-Man, the Orthodox Church, you will be attacked to the maximum up to your breaking point that only God knows. Demons don’t need to wage spiritual warfare against secular couples because, as the quote “don’t interfere with your enemy when he’s making a mistake” goes, these couples already voluntarily commit the type of sins that will condemn them. Why would the demons interfere unless their moral faculty is ignited upon having children or being struck by the grace of repentance? Most of the problems they experience are not demonic interventions but simply a consequence of their carnal sins.
Orthodox couples, on the other hand, are attacked so strongly by the demons, as I’ve observed through my parish acquaintances, that I doubt I could maintain such a relationship. The reason is that, within an Orthodox family home, there are many souls on their way to Paradise. It would make sense for the demons to devote more resources to their destruction than, say, a single Orthodox man, and certainly much more than a secular couple who prefer to spend their Sunday mornings in bed after a night of lawlessness.
I can testify that it is not pleasant when waves of demonic attacks come, for the demons are crafty and find ways into your soul that are impossible to defend against with your own measly strength, but a sign that I’m on the path of salvation is that I’m actually being attacked, so how many more blessings will Orthodox couples receive if they maintain their faith and make it through the gauntlet? If you don’t perceive the spiritual in your life, then I’d wager you’re at great risk to weep and gnash your teeth on the Day of Judgment, and this can certainly be said of secular couples who look at each other for a means to their earthly salvation instead of Lord Jesus Christ, who must be put first in their relationship.
“For if someone, heeding the call of God, has taken on the beginning of a new life through God’s grace, providing for his own part all diligence (II Peter 1:5), then he must not expect to rest on his laurels, but rather to struggle. He has left the world, and for this the world will begin to press him. He was saved from the power of the devil and the devil will chase after him and set snares before him, to throw him off the path of good and drag him back this domain. He has denied himself and denied selfishness, along with a whole horde of passions. But this sin which lives in us will not suddenly relinquish its free and self-pleasing existence, and every minute it will attempt, under various pretexts, to establish once more the same routine of life that so richly filled and fed it earlier.” —Saint Theophan the Recluse in Thoughts for Each Day of the Year
If you remove the ability for secular couples to travel, receive attention from orbiting admirers, participate in unlawful sex, consume entertainment (including pornography), and eat without restraint, I posit that they would not be in a relationship, revealing the phony character of their supposed bond. In fact, secular couplings are “easy mode” when it comes to relationships, but it’s far worse than that: they’re in hell mode, because unless the nature of their relationship changes to serve Christ instead of their need for distraction and fleshly desires, they will not have a good defense before our Lord on the Day of Judgment.
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