Just one other comment on this topic of sex within marriage. Both laymen and monastic's are tonsured. Every layman is tonsured at baptism, and this is a symbol of how that person has been fully dedicated to God.
St Gregory of Nazianzus in his sermon on baptism says, "Let us give to God all our members which are upon the earth; let us consecrate them all; not (merely) the lobe of liver or the kidneys with the fat*. Let us bring ourselves entire. Let us be reasonable holocausts, perfect sacrifices; and let us not make only the shoulder or the breast a portion for the Priest to take away (cf Num 6:20-24) for that would be a small thing. Let us give ourselves entire, that we may receive back ourselves entire; for this is to receive entirely - when we give ourselves to God and offer as a sacrifice our own salvation."
How else do we offer our sexual members as a sacrifice except to offer them in obedience to the laws of the Church? We get married in the Church not in order to satisfy our own longings or desires, but rather as a sacrifice first to God, and then to our spouse and children. Church life in its essence is not about being good people who don't harm others, but about denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ with the hope of somehow attaining to the resurrection. I don't think that the grace in the Church to accomplish this is any less present then it was in the early Church and I know a lot of faithful marrieds who are struggling just as valiantly along this path as the monastics are along their own. The rules for how that sexuality is offered to God is different for monastics and marrieds, (the monastic is concerned with pleasing God alone, but the married is concerned about pleasing God and their spouse) but the same sacrifice is required - no one belongs to himself.
*The references to the kidneys and the liver, the breast and the shoulder refer to the part of the sacrifices given to the priest, the person making the sacrifice could take the rest for themselves.
** Num 6 is the chapt on the OT vow of the Nazarite which is the historical roots of the Christian tonsure. Notice in 6:20 that these portions are referred to as the elevation offering, which again St Gregory would have been relating this to the elevation during the Liturgy, "Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee" which is referring not only to our offering up of the Lamb, but also to our offering of ourselves in Christ. This is why the faithful always bring the prosphora that the Lamb is taken from rather then the priest bringing it.
Edited by Anna Stickles, 27 May 2013 - 06:27 PM.