MODS: Is there a way to do a “multiple quote” function on this board? On other boards I can collect the quotations from multiple questions just by clicking on one button next to each post. Then I press the “reply” button and all the selected quotations appear in one reply box. Here, I have to cut-n-paste quotations to a word processor one by one before re-arrangement. Other internet board interfaces have multi-quote. Is it possible to request this?. Thank you.
The question of gender, sexism, and the porosity of the body is very important in questions of sin and volition.
ialmistry has aready noted:
It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?
While involuntary emission might not be a taboo, it is based on “limits”: certain people are impeded from ritual because of certain bodily attributes or functions. Perhaps it would be better to recategorize involuntary emission as “fencing”, or the delineation of ritual participation based on certain variables.
This concept is very prominent in anthropology. Victor Turner's discussion of initiation rituals among the Ndembu of Zambia discusses the structure of ritual around circumcision in great detail. (1) Among the Ndembu, a man who is not circumcized is still considered a child and cannot participate in certain adult male activities. Non-circumcized adult men aren't “taboo” per se, but rather limited in who they may eat with, socialize with &c.
(1) Victor Turner. “Chapter VII: Mukanda: The Rite of Circumcision.”
The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. (Ithaca, N.Y.; London: Cornell UP, 1967.) 151 – 279
I agree with bogdan and HandmaidenofGod that the question of involuntary emission in the moral sphere is not dependent on menses, or any gender specific question of ritual limitation. Questions of pre-lapsarianism involve persons or events in salvation history that are outside of normal existence.
I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium. Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.
It's not dogma, but I think a number of the Fathers would indeed say this. Especially in the case of the Theotokos, it would stand to reason, if she was ever-virgin.
The questions of Eve/Mary, Fall/Incarnation, do not have an immediate
relevance to fencing in the celebration of divine liturgy. This will probably become important as the conversation moves from immanent/mortal questions to epistemological/theological questions. File this one.
But all this is not sexist. Traditionally if a man has an involuntary emission during the Eucharistic fast, he also must abstain. (IIRC, there are even prayers for a priest to say if this happens, since he must partake when he celebrates the liturgy.)
How much or whether these standards are held, I have no idea.
Quite agreed, bogdan. Both men and women in Orthodoxy appear to be fenced from ritual because of different involuntary emissions. There are connections (the emissions might be related to life or procreation), but the boundaries are the same. “Sexism” isn't the case.
However, a male-only discussion of menses is
inappropriate, as this conversation so far is lopsided towards men. That's why I'm trying to move away from specific instances of involuntary emissions towards the idea that aspects of the body create conditions of ritual limitation.
It's very important to keep in mind FatherHLL's quotation for St. Athanasius of Alexandria:
(...) ...But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment. Even the children of physicians (to be ashamed of their externals) might counter to this that certain necessary passageways have been given to the animal for the purpose of enabling each of us to eliminate superfluous humors that accumulate in our members. (...)
(Canon 1 of St. Athanasios of Alexandria; from his letter to the monk Amun)
Indeed. So perhaps we should move from the discussion of particular types of emissions towards the idea that the body, and its processes and conditions, can be a barrier to ritual participation.