The Sacrament of Marriage was instituted at the creation of Adam and Eve. In the very nature of man, the tendency and desire for a bond between man and woman are a divine gift, unique in essence and sanctioned in a nble institution according to God's Design and Plan. Christ further elevated this union between man and woman as a blessed bond in wedlock. This union between man and woman is not referred to directly in the New Testament as a sacrament.
There is a similarity between the union of Christ and His Church and the husband and wife which is exalted in the Sacrament of Marriage. The New Testament concept of the union between husband and wife gives a Christian interpretation to the Old Testament institution of his union as "one flesh". The New Testament stresses the significance of the union of husband and wife as "a great mystery". Though in Scripture the institution of marriage as a sacrament is not explicit, the Tradition of the Church has interpreted the Scriptural passages on marriage as such.
The ancient Book of Needs, the Great Euchologion, contains among other things the ceremonies, prayers of marriage and ancient inscriptions which declare that the union of man and woman was blessed by the Church. The Fathers of the Church considered marriage a sacred blessing of the Church and exhorted the people to be married "with prudence, only in the Church". Christ Himself blessed the ceremony of marriage.
The perceptible signs of the Sacrament of Marriage are the consent of the man and woman and the blessing offered by the priest. Prior to marriage the consent and confession of the man and woman should be made known. The consent and confession are indispensable for the priest to perform the ceremony. The blessing offered by the priest or bishop is indispensable for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage. The Church does not recognize marriages performed without an ordained priest; so marriages by civil authorities who issue certificates are not recognized by the Church. Officiation of the Sacrament of Marriage by an ordained priest as the perceptible sign of divine Grace imparted to the couple is indispensable for the validity of the marriage in the eyes of the Church. The Sacrament of Marriage in the Church presupposes that both the man and the woman are members of the Orthodox Faith. By dispensation, though, the Church blesses the marriage between an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox Christian. It must be understood that the Sacrament of Marriage does not confirm the non-Orthodox party into the Orthodox Faith. Marriages outside the Orthodox Church are not considered valid by the Church.
The Sacrament of Marriage is sanctified by the Grace of God, which exaults the physical bond between husband and wife and assists the two to achieve the excellences of this blissful state. The union of a man and a woman is considered to be a nobel institution of God. In marriage the Grace of God and the love of man work together to fulfill God's Design for the perpetuation of the human race.
Marriage between man and woman is unique and insoluble by nature and destiny. The Church, following the teaching of Christ and His Apostles, forbids the dissolution of marriage, and exalts the institution of one marriage during life as unbreakable.