Wrestling with marriage

              Celibate lifestyle was generally a part of wandering-charismatic existence in the Jewish revival movement, the ancient Christian missionary movement as well as in Irish missionary monasticism, at the same time there are few traces of any compensational activity, which the Christians call wrestling. This was invented by the founder of the movement, G. Holic, and it continued after his expulsion[1].  Albert described it as follows: “At the time this appeared to be completely innocent. Everyone accepted that this can only be done in a pure way. When we met we hugged each other too. It was a good point scored if someone wrestled a lot. Many of the members thought it was too much. Even I contemplated that the girl I was wrestling with was not only a brother but also an attractive woman. If any abuse occurred we discussed it. In many cases it was truly a very good, pure game. The problem was that this was considered a part of spiritual obedience, even though on many occasions it was conducted instead of spiritual activity, such as the evening discussion. “Visitors were indeed appalled by the wrestling. In my opinion even Paul the Apostle himself would have been surprised at this sight. We tempted many male brothers to evil with this”, admits Ági. According to Aranka “The fight for purity failed in the case of many. In the course of the wrestling numerous male brothers abused the girls, and there were some female brothers who tempted the boys. There were many who instead of restraining themselves continued the wrestling. Was it right to place young boys into such embarrassing physical closeness to girls? In consideration of the guests should not we have avoided shocking them?” The others were on the same opinion: “I do not consider the congregation honest in connection with the wrestling. They told me to wrestle when I had just arrived. There was a girl who wanted to wrestle with everyone” (Antal).

              In the reflection of the accounts of the ex-brothers, the primary reason for leaving and expulsion was the - rather malleable and unclear - view of the Christians regarding marriage, according to which it “was not prohibited for them at all, just not timely yet”. Their stories reveal that it was not clear at all to a new member what the view of the community was about male-female relationships, about celibacy, sexuality, love and marriage; and it was also unclear what the “oath” really meant. For example, one of the expelled older brothers does not remember if he was present at a single oath. In his opinion, it would have been a more honest view and practice that “it is better not to get married today, but you may marry if you wish”.

              Despite the fact that marriage was a frequent topic, more precisely what Jesus said about it, how it appeared in the letters of Paul, many feel that the related teachings of Jesus and Paul were never sufficiently discussed. For many “marriage or the congregation” became an “either - or” question when they still felt very comfortable in the congregation. The case of Norbert (Aranka’s later husband) is a characteristic example for this. “I firmly restrained myself from marriage for thirteen years. When they questioned me about what happened, referring to my oath, I responded that the situation had changed, but they did not accept this as an adequate reason. We did not want to leave, we were expelled, and this became the single cause of our expulsion. It is important that they never considered us a couple, rather as a person who was a bad influence on the other person, in my case on Aranka. I was the first to be expelled, so I would not influence her any longer. When I told my walking partner that I was in love, he said that this was not love. For a year and a half I discussed marriage with several people, and I also experienced that in this subject the community’s opinion was not uniform. They were afraid that if one couple got married others would follow. In reality the community did not give an answer, just: rather not”. Antal swore that he would never get married, at the time of his conversion, long before entering the community, punishing himself with this because he had been unfaithful to a girl. He even told this story in the community when the oath was mentioned, stating that he had already done this. But when he fell in love with a girl he understood that his anti-marriage feeling was mistaken. However, he could not get his brothers to understand this, they were afraid that this would lead to “uncertainty”. Aranka admits they concealed from visitors that the only married couple among the 180 brothers were “already married when they joined”, and they did not make it clear (even to those who researched them) that marriage was never allowed in the congregation, because they feared that the example would spread, thus many had to walk the narrow road of self-restraint without conviction or a personal calling. Violation of the oath meant failure. We did not teach that sexuality was evil, but we could not truly educate each other regarding correct relations. This is where the disadvantage of a largely one generation community is clear: the lack of experience. We could not really handle our emotions, especially if we were attracted to someone, or fell in love. This is also shown by language usage: »She is dependent on him«, »She has a problem with him«. They saw the solution to the problem in that they should not even speak to each other”, Aranka expresses the dilemma, in a  very refined way. Others spoke more sharply: “It is not Biblical! It is insane! There were many who burned with desire and fell spiritually ill because of this. (M. Ausztria), „If in the current situation marriage was not advisable then this sacrifice should have created some benefit, rather than cause the community to lose members” (Ági), and an Estonian female ex-brother [2] referring to Diogenes and Ignatius proves that the ancient Christians and early churches who were mentioned as examples did not prohibit marriage.


[1]             Presumably this originated from his unusual (perhaps not completely healthy) personality. When he was asked if he had a girlfriend, he responded that he was very shy about this subject. In his opinion this is a sport, moreover a sport where we can get into an intimate relationship with the other person.

[2]             She is now a mother, her husband is her ex-brother.