5. I will place no commitment of the heart above my commitment to this path.
This is one of the hardest of the Principles, because we are human beings, and we are drawn to love and tend to value it more highly than almost anything else beyond mere survival. We tend to weave ourselves into a web of interdependence with others, and sometimes those webs are not easy to extract ourselves from. The hardest, of course, are those where another human or humans are dependent on you for their survival, whether that be young children or an elderly parent. These connections are not easily put aside, because they tug on twin strings - duty and love. One alone is difficult enough to remove oneself from, but those two together can enmesh one thoroughly.
However, in order to enter a House, one must be entirely free of dependents. You are giving your life over to the Gods, and it must be entirely yours to give. Once you have entered the house, you may not take on the commitment of dependents, except for those elders of the Order who can no longer take care of themselves, and possibly any children without parents that the Order agrees to foster, both of whom would be a communal responsibility.
If you have minor children who are your responsibility, you can live as a lay member outside the House, but you may not join either as a Branch or Root member and fully join the community. On the other hand, it is not ethical to attempt to dispose of your children in order to join. If the Spirit calls to you so strongly that you feel that you cannot be a parent any more, and must follow it, you cannot simply give them up to an uncertain future. You must find a place for them that is better than anything you can give them, with people who will love them more than you do, and whose love will make up for your loss. If there is no such situation, then clearly the Gods mean for you to raise these children, and put off your own quest until your responsibilities are over. The lesson of fulfilling one's moral duty while longing for something else is a hard one, but it is honorable. Pray for clarity on the matter.
Likewise, if you have the care of an elderly parent who cannot take care of themself, simply dumping them in a nursing home so that you will be free to join the Order is not acceptable. You must find and arrange the best possible place for them, with people who will take better care of them than you could, and who will care about them as people as well. You must come to the Order clean, with all loose ends tied up in an ethical manner.
Marriage, or other love relationships between adults, are a different issue and are dealt with in Principle #7. As they are between consenting adults who can theoretically take care of themselves, the needs of such relationships are different. However, the pull of loved ones on the heart is strong, and not to be denied. Whether parent, spouse or former spouse, lover or former lover, child, or close friend, we are all human beings and we all find ourselves with loving bonds. We do not believe, as some do, that these bonds should be put aside or denied when one takes on a monastic path. It is a good thing to have love in one's life, and such bonds keep one paying attention to the world outside of the House. However, it must be very clear that the Gods and the Order come first and take priority, and all other relationships come second. Sometimes that is very hard to manage, as with, for example, adult children or aging parents who are in need. Some may feel that they need to leave the Order for a while so that they can take care of commitments that come up; this is their decision and should not be gainsaid by any other member. Neither are they banned from returning, when their commitment of the heart is fulfilled.
As it would be counterproductive for monastics to become pregnant, as part of their vows members will promise not to reproduce. Branch members must vow to refrain from having children during their time in the House, and Root members must be permanently childless. Although it is not required, it would be a gesture of good faith to get sterilized before taking Root vows (especially men, for whom it is physically easier). This is not a celibate Order, although there are restrictions on sexual behavior (see Principle #8), but there will be no procreative sex in the House. On the days which celebrate procreative sex as a sacred principle, folk from outside the House will be called in to embody it.
As a lay member, you are allowed to waive this Rule, as many lay members will choose to remain in that status largely due to commitments of the heart. On the other hand, you must examine those commitments for worthiness. Obviously, caring for minor children or elderly parents is an honorable commitment, but commitments to other capable adults should be examined to make sure that they do not overly impede one's path. For instance, a love relationship with someone who is contemptuous of your attempts to follow the Principles on a lay path is not conducive to your spiritual growth. It may also be suspect in the sense that the individual clearly does not understand you, or your spiritual goals, well enough to be a true partner in any sense. Be careful who you join hands with, and think toward the future.
[Order of the Horae]