What are virtues and passions and what is the the relationship between them? I don’t find useful the idea that a passion is just a virtue-gone-wrong, i.e. into its negative mode. I’ve seen many heterodox charts displaying this idea. I prefer to think that virtues aren’t transmutable, as being solely divine energetically, incapable of losing their divine character. I think that divine virtues ground good, downstream moral actions. I’d say virtues are always divine and never human. Using this language, then one won’t make the mistake of considering those purely human, so-called ‘good’ morals (that even atheists and heretics agree upon) to be good in a divine way (that is, there is no imitatio possible in my orthopraxis.) In my orthopraxis, of course we do everything we can. That is no credit to ourselves. We don’t even notice it. It’s automatic. But I ask the Lord to do everything. I don’t even ask the Lord to help me to do things. I just do everything I can, automatically and unthinkingly. I consider my efforts to be nothing. Some people ask the Lord for help and strength in undertaking. That’s fine. I ask the Lord to do everything after I do everything that I can but account it as nothing. The Lord takes all the credit, all the glory, whatever the outcome. It’s His providence. It’s His grace, if He grants it, or grants something else I could not have imagined. The corollary is that I get all the blame if I do not do everything that I can. Immediately, I have no way to avoid this blame and am presented with the necessity to repent, regardless of the outcome. Even if I exert myself fully, repentance is still an outcome of the failure in the shortfall of my efforts exerted to their maximum degree. In simple summary, when virtues are considered to be solely and exclusively divine, and not a humanistic property, then a man will take no credit for any so-called ‘good’ he does.
The purpose of marriage is sanctification. The domestic household is a Church temple. Just as the Most-holy Theotokos was raised in a Church temple, so are all the children that the Lord grants to a married couple raised in the Church temple of the family. As a means to sanctification, marriage has many unique strengths that many religious writers and saints have already outlined elsewhere at length. A less well-known point is that a family rich in children is likely to connected to its wider family that will also be rich in children. This greater household becomes a means of shelter for all of its members. Whoever does not marry for some reason, nor seeks the monastic life, may find shelter in his greater, extended, Christian family. This in natural and good. For example, he may contribute to the well-being of his family, assisting in labour, child-rearing, and prayer. Perhaps a childless marriage can be sanctifying? I do not know. I am only a monk. I am not talking about satisfaction here, I am talking about sanctification. In the same way, perhaps a childless, married couple disconnected from wider family might be sanctifying? Again, I don’t know. On the other hand, perhaps a married couple despises each other? I have seen it many times. Sin can be found anywhere. It seems to me that families that lack sanctification are in a pointless, doomed situation. If it is by their own choice to forego the sanctifying strengths of having children, of being connected to wider family, then it seems that they are choosing to descend into eventual boredom, hatred, and resentment towards each other. I have seen it happen often. But if it is by the providence of our Lord that a married couple is living without the sanctifying strengths of an abundant and fruitful marriage that is not embedded in a viable, extended family, but crucially they give glory to the Lord for their situation, then even a marriage such as theirs might still be for their sanctification?