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Author Topic: Childfree Orthodox Christians  (Read 38901 times) Average Rating: 0
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accrah32
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« on: August 04, 2007, 01:06:20 PM »

Hello all,

I am relatively new to this forum although have read some things on here from time to time.

Wondering if I can get some insight into this issue.  My spouse and I are both Orthodox Christians, married for 5+ years, and are really OK with not having children.  Neither of us as kids ourselves felt a strong parental urge -- indeed, we never liked to play "mom" or "dad" when we were little and don't seem to have any burning maternal or paternal instincts. 

The issue is, we feel out of place as married adults in church.  The only other childless couples in church are the newly-married ones, and most of them are "trying" to have children anyway.  It seems to me that as married Orthodox Christians, you should either (a) have children of your own or be actively trying/planning for them, or (b) feel awful that you don't.  We don't have children, but it doesn't really bother us.  We are not interested in having in-depth medical testing done to try to figure out if anything medically is wrong.

Both of us have careers in the "helping" professions (one in healthcare, other in education), so we spend a lot of time working with other people, families, and children, and feel that this is what God wants us to be doing. 

Often I feel that if I were a better orthodox christian, not having children should bother me more. 

But do most Orthodox have children (a) because they really want them, (b) because it's what a good Christian "should" do, or (c) just because children often result from marriage?  Is it not right to be married Orthodox Christians and not be bothered by no children?  Sometimes I think that married Orthodox Christians with no children are supposed to get divorced since their marriage is not living up to the gold standard?
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2007, 01:21:13 PM »

But do most Orthodox have children...

I'd try to give you an answer, but the question makes me blush...  Shocked (That said, we never had to plan our children - everytime we started talking about having a(nother) child, we found out we already were having one!)

(Added: that is to say, it isn't something you should be worrying about. God's Providence provides for the day - worrying about the 'ifs' is only a distraction. Are you called to parenthood? If so - you'll likely become one. If you can't have children - adoption is always a wonderful option.)
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2007, 01:26:42 PM »

Hello all,

I am relatively new to this forum although have read some things on here from time to time.
First of all, welcome. Thank you for posting, and I hope this is a rewarding experience for you.

The issue is, we feel out of place as married adults in church.  The only other childless couples in church are the newly-married ones, and most of them are "trying" to have children anyway.  It seems to me that as married Orthodox Christians, you should either (a) have children of your own or be actively trying/planning for them, or (b) feel awful that you don't.  We don't have children, but it doesn't really bother us.  We are not interested in having in-depth medical testing done to try to figure out if anything medically is wrong.
I'm married and have a daughter, but I'll try to help you out. First of all, you shouldn't feel out of place or inferior just because you don't have children. Most of my friends were married before I was, and I never really felt out of place. I was simply at a different stage of my life than they were.

Both of us have careers in the "helping" professions (one in healthcare, other in education), so we spend a lot of time working with other people, families, and children, and feel that this is what God wants us to be doing. 
Then keep doing it. I'm a high school teacher, and I do enjoy being able to interact with children--especially since my daughter won't be that age for a number of years. Teaching is a rewarding experience in itself--if you're comfortable there, then learn what you can from interacting with those children and don't worry yourself too much about not having your own.

Often I feel that if I were a better orthodox christian, not having children should bother me more. 
I can understand how you would feel that way. Children have a prominent place in the marriage service, and most Orthodox Christians I know have children. Really, though, it comes down to whether you're actively preventing children from being in your life (e.g. abortion, birth control, etc.). If that's not the case, I don't see how you could be guilty of anything at all. You have no reason to be ashamed.

But do most Orthodox have children (a) because they really want them, (b) because it's what a good Christian "should" do, or (c) just because children often result from marriage?
Depends on the couple. God gives children, like he does every gift, primarily for our salvation. He gives them at the time when each person is ready. OTOH, if having children were to hinder someone somehow from salvation, I can see how He might withhold them until the time when the person would be positively affected. God never gives anything to us that will hurt us in any way. Stretch us, yes--definitely--but never hurt us.

Is it not right to be married Orthodox Christians and not be bothered by no children?  Sometimes I think that married Orthodox Christians with no children are supposed to get divorced since their marriage is not living up to the gold standard?
Not at all. There's nothing wrong with not having children, again so long as you are not actively hindering them from coming. As long as you are merely accepting of what God does/does not give you, your marriage is not a failure, nor is there any reason you should get divorced. Enjoy the marriage God has given you; you have each other to help with salvation. If children come later, they will help as well; if they don't, then God has given you all you need for salvation as it is. Don't worry about it; God knows what's best for each person.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2007, 02:14:33 PM »


But do most Orthodox have children (a) because they really want them, (b) because it's what a good Christian "should" do, or (c) just because children often result from marriage?  Is it not right to be married Orthodox Christians and not be bothered by no children?  Sometimes I think that married Orthodox Christians with no children are supposed to get divorced since their marriage is not living up to the gold standard?

Accrah,

First of all, welcome the forum.  I hope that you find much here that can help you with your journey as I have.

As to your question, let me give some background first.  I am NOT married, though I am with a wonderful woman to whom I would love to be married.  We have some time before we make that decision, though we have much to do.  One of the sticking points that has been brought up in our conversations is having children.  I never even thought I would be married, ever.  She wants kids, even if she never marries.  That is a definite for her.  I have to admit that I have come along way from my "no kids, ever" stance.  However, it is a strange thing, since both she and I both work with children in our daily lives.  She is a speech language pathologist and deals with kids as young as 10 months.  I teach high school and so I'm around 14-18 year olds every day.  We both enjoy our jobs and with whom we work so why do we need kids?  I believe that you stated a similar sentiment with what you and your spouse do for a living.

Nonetheless, let me put out a few things that you may wish to consider.  First of all, Orthodoxy is NOT Roman Catholicism (I know you know that, but sometimes it has to be restated!  Cheesy).  RC has, because of its over-reliance on St. Augustine, insisted that sex's main purpose is for procreation, a good thing, but sex is still sinful in some ways.  That is why birth control is so frowned upon and even considered an excommunicable offense, especially by radical traditionalists.   Marriage, for the Orthodox, is a spiritual battleground where the salvation of both husband and wife is fought and struggled for.  And that can take many dimensions, including the producing of children.  But as we remember that all services in the Orthodox Church, including the Rite of Matrimony, begin with "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," we remember that what is going on is a glimpse of heaven and that what transpires is for the glory of the Holy Trinity and for our salvation in this world, even for the here and now, with children or without them.

The sticking point comes with birth control.  Now, in all things, especially concerning such controversial things as this, you want to be in direct consultation with your priest and I'm not going to proffer any recommendations here.  Really, you don't want me to go there.  Grin

I will direct you to a few things I know about.  The following article http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/orthodoxchristianmarriage.aspx is written by an Orthodox Priest who is also a monk.  I think you will find that, notably in Orthodoxy, the ones who are the fierecest proponents of marriage are the monks.  It's been that way since St. Pachomios in the third century!  There is some good counsel here and much of it I have already echoed in the paragraphs above.  Consider what it says and talk with your priest. 

Whatever you two decide, remember that your marriage is a spiritual  battle for the two of you.  Never cease to fight.  Hope to see you posting more on the board!
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2007, 02:35:35 PM »

At risk of sounding like a "Cafeteria Orthodox". I simply cannot believe God wants us to pop out as many children as is biologically possible.  I had none by choice and consider it preferable to help those already in this world who need special attention.
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2007, 03:37:28 PM »

Of course the western Europeans don't have that problem - too many Moslems procreating there...
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2007, 03:55:28 PM »

While not directly applicable to your situation, the book Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom, by David Ford, might be of some interest to you. It's not available cheaply on Amazon.com, though you could probably pick one up on an Orthodox bookstore site (such as St. Tikhon's).
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2007, 04:03:44 PM »

Accrah, welcome to the forum!

First, may I just reply to the last sentence in your post by an emphatic "no, no, no." Of course you should NOT think that you need to divorce your spouse because you do not have children. I am sure any Orthodox priest would say that not having children is not a reason to look for divorce and/or another marriage. When children are born in marriage, that's great, wonderful, a true blessing; but the primary reason for getting married is not to procreate. Marriage is one of the forms of theosis, it's, essentially, about you and your spouse helping each other in your and your spouse's salvation. The question of having or not having children is, actually, very secondary. (Fathers, - please correct me if I am misrepresenting the Orthodox view on marriage here!)

Second, I can relate to your feeling of some discomfort being a Christian adult and a spouse without child(ren). Indeed, my wife and I sometimes feel strange, awkward, because whenever they talk about "family" here in the US (in the "world" as well as in Church), they usually imply the traditional nuclear family of mom, dad, and *several* kids. We never perceived "family" this way. We both grew up in extended families (with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, second and third cousins, etc.), and we both are NOT used to families where mom and dad have several kids; my wife has only one sister, and I am the only child of my parents (and they both were the only children of their parents). While we both love children and admire parents who beget and take care of several children, we both sometimes feel somewhat "discriminated against" in that we have only one daughter, who is now 23 and out of the nest. We sometimes feel that when people talk and write about "families" - look, even here there is a "family" forum, - it's NOT about us; we, two adults living without our child, aren't a "family," we are something different...

Those are very minor "issues" though. I think it's just old traditions, nothing really characteristic of, or intrinsic to, Orthodox Christianity. Do not feel bad about yourself and your family. You ARE a family regardless of you and your spouse having or not having children, and you should be absolutely welcome and cherished in any Orthodox parish!

George
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2007, 07:00:49 PM »

Hmm. Yet again, a thread on childbirth has become about abortion. Can we get off that kick, for once, and talk about actual family issues? The OP is certainly not considering an abortion, so let's quit the politics, please.


The posts regarding abortion have been split into their own thread - "Abortion Again?"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12413.0.html

If you feel like they were a good part of the discussion, I apologize.  But I'm moving this topic into the family forum (since it deals with "family issues" as husband + wife w/ no children is still a family) and abortion talk gets too polemical. - Cleveland, GM
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2007, 07:16:16 PM »

Amen!
...although abortion isn't politics - it's a politicized issue.
My wife and I are childless and would not consider divorce (and the inevitable excommunication on these grounds).
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2007, 01:04:15 PM »

This is a somewhat confusing issue for me, though I'm not married. We were commanded to "be fruitful and multiply" and were not asked if we want to do that, but simply told we must. It seems to me that marriage is not only about kids, but kids are expected in some way. However, it also seems like the world has changed with regard to children. For example, only a few hundred years ago, a good amount of children died before they reached the age of five, and the world population basically hovered at the same point. Also, children tended to help financially, and would work from a very young age. Today, the world has a lot of people, but more importantly it is becoming harder and harder to raise a family, and then send them to college and the whole deal. I know in Orthodoxy there seems to be no unified view on this, but in my opinion a couple ought to have kids that they can afford. I know many think that this is unnatural, though, because contraception would be the only tool you could use to do this other than abstinence. I would agree that it is unnatural, but I also think the situation we live in today in the world is also artificially made; now most children grow up with man-made medicines and shots, and now most children need tons of money pumped into them to live decently in the world. I don't hold to this view dogmatically, though, and would be interested to see what others have to say.

Also, I've wondered: would adoption be a good alternative to having kids biologically? I'm not sure, but I think so.
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2007, 01:13:53 PM »

Fwiw, some Fathers said that passages like "be fruitful and multiply" could be taken spiritually, by helping fellow Christians (in essence, spiritual children). They said this mainly as a defense of monasticism, if I recall correctly, though I guess the idea could be applicable in marriages as well.
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2007, 01:37:42 PM »

Also, I've wondered: would adoption be a good alternative to having kids biologically? I'm not sure, but I think so.
Depends on the circumstance. In many cases, it can be a wonderfully fulfilling situation for both the parents and the children. I had a good friend in junior high who was adopted. Her biological mother was a teenager and could not afford to take care of her. In this case, it was a merciful thing for the mother to give her up for adoption. My brother also had a good friend when we were much younger whose parents adopted three Romanian children in addition to the two of their own. The Romanian children had a much harder time adjusting to the biological children than they did the Romanians. The biological children, though, took to the adopted children very quickly and treated them like siblings. Eventually, the adopted children came to adapt to that family's culture and acted the same as if they were biologically part of the family.

I do agree, though, that a family should only have as many children as they can afford. I realize that sometimes a child comes unexpectedly, but there are reasonable, non-chemical, non-abortive methods of birth control than can help families to plan to have children when it is economically possible. I do not believe the "be fruitful and multiply" means to have as many children as possible or to spend one's entire adult life pregnant. We always must consider God's commandments and fulfil them in the best way possible (which I have found is very rarely the most literal way, if ever).
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2007, 01:47:51 PM »

This is a somewhat confusing issue for me, though I'm not married. We were commanded to "be fruitful and multiply" and were not asked if we want to do that, but simply told we must. It seems to me that marriage is not only about kids, but kids are expected in some way. However, it also seems like the world has changed with regard to children. For example, only a few hundred years ago, a good amount of children died before they reached the age of five, and the world population basically hovered at the same point. Also, children tended to help financially, and would work from a very young age. Today, the world has a lot of people, but more importantly it is becoming harder and harder to raise a family, and then send them to college and the whole deal. I know in Orthodoxy there seems to be no unified view on this, but in my opinion a couple ought to have kids that they can afford. I know many think that this is unnatural, though, because contraception would be the only tool you could use to do this other than abstinence. I would agree that it is unnatural, but I also think the situation we live in today in the world is also artificially made; now most children grow up with man-made medicines and shots, and now most children need tons of money pumped into them to live decently in the world. I don't hold to this view dogmatically, though, and would be interested to see what others have to say.

Part of what is left out of the command "be fruitful and multiply" but what is reinforced in the service and in the Fathers is that marital relations in the Orthodox perspective are good (not just for procreation).  If one is not having children because they're not "with" their spouse, then the couple should examine why they're not "with" each other... If one person is dictating when marital relations can/not happen, then it may be a defilement of the marital bed (read Chrysostom's On Marriage and Family Life as published by SVS Press).

The other situations (contraception, NFP, only having kids one can afford, etc.) I'll leave either as they have been covered already, or for someone else to comment on.

Also, I've wondered: would adoption be a good alternative to having kids biologically? I'm not sure, but I think so. 

I would think so as well.  We are commanded to treat children very well (through direct command, and through warnings against the converse - i.e. millstones and whatnot); when they are left without a family, I would think that it is a good and holy thing to adopt them to bring them into a stable and loving environment (and I'm sure my dogmatics professor would argue that there is a sacramental quality to this).
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2007, 02:06:01 PM »

Could it not as well be a good and holy thing to avoid having them if you not only cannot provide for them, but - honestly - do not want any?
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2007, 02:47:36 PM »

Thanks all for your feedback.

Not sure what to say about the "have as many children as you can afford" point.  I wonder if some hard-liner positions are tempered by reality and non-judgmentalism.  We know a couple who are both physicians and have 2 children -- clearly they can afford more, but they don't have them.  Should they be judged by us for this?

Likewise, we know a family with 5 children who probably can't afford them.  Should they be labeled irresponsible?

We also know a young, Orthodox Christian woman who is married and who knows that she never wants children.  She never felt any maternal instinct and (apparently) has no burning maternal desires (per her own admissions).  I guess her husband is OK with this.  Is she an "inferior" Orthodox Christian?  She still communes at our church, so I guess our priest is OK with this too (or maybe is not aware of the situation).

I guess there are some hard-line dogmatists who think that if you know you don't want children, you should not be married in the Orthodox Church.  The only "acceptable" reason to not have any is if you physically cannot, and then you should consider adoption.  I suppose I am more lenient.  Also, if this were the case, then ALL Orthodox priests should refuse to marry people unless it is crystal clear to them that the couple wants to have children.  (The priest who married us did not do this.... in fact, he seemed uncomfortable talking about reproductive issues and children altogether.)
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2007, 03:31:29 PM »

About the "have as many children as you can afford" idea: my comments were directed mainly against the idea that God commands us to have as many children as possible, with no thought as to how we are to care for them, assuming that God will provide. Such thinking is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

The couple who have five children but are in a tight spot financially and are simply trusting God to provide for them I have no quarrel with. Essentially, "you shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Deut. 6:16).
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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2007, 03:53:16 PM »

About the "have as many children as you can afford" idea: my comments were directed mainly against the idea that God commands us to have as many children as possible, with no thought as to how we are to care for them, assuming that God will provide. Such thinking is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

The couple who have five children but are in a tight spot financially and are simply trusting God to provide for them I have no quarrel with. Essentially, "you shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Deut. 6:16).

Ytterbiumanalyst, that's pretty much how I think, too. We should not be judgmental. If these parents have five kids and are experiencing some material trouble, but still care for their kids the best they can - great, wonderful! Generally, I think, the question how many children to have is so personal, so unique to each individual family. I admire families that have many children, both mothers and fathers. The only thing I am uncomfortable with is setting some "one size fits it all" standard and judging others who do not fit. That goes both ways; I think it is equally wrong to leap into the conclusion that all moderate- or small-income families with many children are "irresponsible," AND to leap into the conclusion that all families with no children or just one child are "selfish." We don't know other people's histories and circumstances.
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2007, 03:57:45 PM »

Of course there is another avenue one can take instead of procreating, an important one involving many parental aspects---sponsoring a new Christian as a Godparent. Properly done this is much more than a simple symbolic task. It is an active, necessary function.
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2007, 07:30:11 PM »

Could it not as well be a good and holy thing to avoid having them if you not only cannot provide for them, but - honestly - do not want any?

Well said, it is indeed a greater sin to raise children you never wanted to have. Just live your married life the way you want it, if its your not having children that keeps you united with your wife then, just let things stay the way they are.
Dont feel out of place...
Im not really married but just wantd to help in any way I can.

Good luck and God bless...
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2007, 07:39:02 PM »

While I would never tell a married couple to not have children, as I see the having of children (if one is able) as the fulfilling of the "two becoming one flesh" in a very literal sense. However there are cases of Orthodox Saints who married and lived as brother and sister (without sexual intercourse)  because they did not feel called to have children (a recent example is Saint John  of Kronstadt) and this was a mutual decision.

A couple who is childless can make wonderful Godparents and share in some of the joys of the domestic church and the  educating of children in the ways of the Lord.

if you choose to live fully as husband and wife however and choose to have no children then you enter the arena that you need to speak with your priest frankly as the issue now becomes one of birth control and what that means in the life of the Orthodox Christian. As the Orthodox jursidictions  have various stands on this matter and it is best dealt with in consultation with your spiritual  father and priest.

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« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2007, 10:13:54 PM »

It should also be noted that in his treatise 'On Virginity', Chrysostom (perhaps the first person to notice the problem of overpopulation in the world, 1600 years ago) essentially argued that the commandment 'be fruitful and multiply' was moot today and was reserved for a time when the human race was very few in number, in essence this commandment was intended only to preserve the race of men at a time when its continuation could have been in doubt. He went on to suggest that this was not even a legitimate reason to engage in sexual intercourse, even within marriage, rather that the only legitimate reason for intercourse in marriage was the one given by St. Paul, to prevent fornication and preserve chastity.

I would argue that if one wanted kids that adoption is better than having one's own, why bring additional children into the world if we are unable to care for the ones already here?
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« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2007, 10:25:03 PM »

It should also be noted that in his treatise 'On Virginity', Chrysostom (perhaps the first person to notice the problem of overpopulation in the world, 1600 years ago) essentially argued that the commandment 'be fruitful and multiply' was moot today and was reserved for a time when the human race was very few in number, in essence this commandment was intended only to preserve the race of men at a time when its continuation could have been in doubt.

If anyone can help, isn't there a church father who said something along the lines that the command was given so humanity would continue until it saw the Saviour?  Afterwards, procreation was no longer a necessary commandment.  Does anyone know what I'm talking about or am I out in left field again?  Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2007, 10:31:54 PM »

GIC,

What you say about Chrysostom's comments concerning the population of his time is true (he also says this in On Those Words of the Apostle, 'On Account of Fornication'... I always had to chuckle when I ran across ancient comments about the earth being filled). However, in other places Chrysostom says--or at least implies--that procreation is a valid justification for sexual relations within marriage  (e.g., Homily 12 on Colossians and Homily 20 on Ephesians). He also speaks of children as a "bridge" that helps "two become one" (though he allows exceptions for couples that don't have children, so it's largely symbolic).
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2007, 02:20:31 PM »

here in our society "not being able to provide" hardly means the same thing it does in a third world country.  We are far too materialistic and selfish in the US to be using that "out"  My children don't need the Nike's I bought, I just liked them and they were at outlet prices.  They could just as easily have worn some off brand.  They don't need the new xbox, the old one causes enough fights-and I didn't buy it.  'need' is a subjective term to many of us.

Godly children raised in the faith are a type of offering to God.  Certainly doesn't mean you can't make another type of offering to Him.  If you aren't having children because you don't want to marr your bikini line or don't like pain,  or don't want to mess up your self based schedules,then you could probably figure out your reasons are selfish.  However, that isn't what I read in the OP.    As long as you aren't using abortive birth control methods, and you sound quite intelligent enough to read the inserts on those, then I would not worry about it.  You don't have children just because everyone else is, or because people expect you to do so.  You may eventually find that as you grow in your faith, and with each other, that God impresses upon you to have children.  Who knows?  But please don't have children simply because it's expected.  Yes, it's part of the marital relationship and there are many that do believe it is an expected part.  I do take the role seriously, obviously, but not because it's something anyone has placed on my shoulders.
I have been married over 15 years and dh and I didn't start having children for 4 or 5 years.  Life changes, dont' worry about anyone else's take on the matter.  you don't answer to them. FWIW, I said I would never have any children and never marry....
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« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2007, 02:29:20 PM »

calligraphqueen rules!  Very well said indeed.
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« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2007, 02:43:44 PM »

here in our society "not being able to provide" hardly means the same thing it does in a third world country.  We are far too materialistic and selfish in the US to be using that "out"  My children don't need the Nike's I bought, I just liked them and they were at outlet prices.  They could just as easily have worn some off brand.  They don't need the new xbox, the old one causes enough fights-and I didn't buy it.  'need' is a subjective term to many of us.

It means exactly the same thing everywhere. Food, clothing, housing, love. I would argue that if you can give your children an Xbox, you have enough to provide for them. Those things are $480 now for the newest one (though I imagine you can find an older one cheaper). Xbox certainly is no "need." Note the last item on my list costs no money, only energy.
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« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2007, 12:04:41 PM »


I read your inquiry it seems that you are not "preventing" (ie using birth control) but have not conceived for one reason or another.  There is nothing at least that I have read that indicates that you MUST find out WHY you have not conceived.  This is a choice you and your spouse must answer. NOBODY ELSE.

Based on observation,  I have seen very little good that has come from so called fertility treatments. The fertility work up is simple unto itself and answers why one cannot conceive. However, I have seen more people come out on the losing end of "fertility treatment" than winning. The early "simple" solutions of taking hormone pills will snowball into treatments that are even more costly and based on what I know morally wrong.  You are right to avoid this.

The simple answer is, if you are actively preventing children because you simply "don't want them" and find them a "nuisance" and "expensive" This is wrong. Any priest and most reputable books on Orthodox Christian family life will tell you that.
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« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2007, 12:17:50 PM »

I read your inquiry it seems that you are not "preventing" (ie using birth control) but have not conceived for one reason or another.  There is nothing at least that I have read that indicates that you MUST find out WHY you have not conceived.  This is a choice you and your spouse must answer. NOBODY ELSE.

Based on observation,  I have seen very little good that has come from so called fertility treatments. The fertility work up is simple unto itself and answers why one cannot conceive. However, I have seen more people come out on the losing end of "fertility treatment" than winning. The early "simple" solutions of taking hormone pills will snowball into treatments that are even more costly and based on what I know morally wrong.  You are right to avoid this.

The simple answer is, if you are actively preventing children because you simply "don't want them" and find them a "nuisance" and "expensive" This is wrong. Any priest and most reputable books on Orthodox Christian family life will tell you that.

'Any priest'? Let's not add misinformation to this propaganda spiel.
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« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2007, 02:35:56 PM »

'Any priest'? Let's not add misinformation to this propaganda spiel.

Can you find me at least 5 Orthodox priests who advocate using artificial birth control simply for "preventing" children?  I understand there are other good reasons why a couple may not want to bring a child in the world. Those reasons could include health of the mother or if both parents are carriers of some dreadful genetic disease.
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« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2007, 02:52:10 PM »

Can you find me at least 5 Orthodox priests who advocate using artificial birth control simply for "preventing" children?  I understand there are other good reasons why a couple may not want to bring a child in the world. Those reasons could include health of the mother or if both parents are carriers of some dreadful genetic disease.

Yes, I can, with relative ease...possibly even as many bishops...it's amazing what you learn at seminary. Wink

However, I'm not going to post names on a public message board. PM me if you want more details.
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« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2007, 02:54:33 PM »

Can you find me at least 5 Orthodox priests who advocate using artificial birth control simply for "preventing" children?  I understand there are other good reasons why a couple may not want to bring a child in the world. Those reasons could include health of the mother or if both parents are carriers of some dreadful genetic disease.

I would emphasize too that these 5 priests have to be selected using some sort of unbiased random methodology and not subjectively selected.   Wink
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« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2007, 03:03:58 PM »

I would emphasize too that these 5 priests have to be selected using some sort of unbiased random methodology and not subjectively selected.   Wink

Actually, my objection was in response to the claim that 'Any priest' will tell you that using birth control because you don't want children is wrong. Logically, I only have to find one priest, anywhere in the world, who disagrees, to disprove such a claim. Wink

Now, if we're talking about majorities that's another issue, but the majority of priests are uneducated peasants in third world countries...so go figure. If you limit your discussion to priests with doctorates from secular institutions the demographics may change a bit.
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« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2007, 03:17:50 PM »

It's as if GiC has morphed into TomS
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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2007, 03:41:22 PM »

It's as if GiC has morphed into TomS

It was a shame to see him go, he was, by far, one of the best posters here.
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« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2007, 03:49:06 PM »

Now, if we're talking about majorities that's another issue, but the majority of priests are uneducated peasants in third world countries...so go figure. If you limit your discussion to priests with doctorates from secular institutions the demographics may change a bit.

As Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said in a recent homily,

Education is an ambiguous word. It guarantees nobody’s humanity. It’s quite possible to be very well educated in a modern sense and at the same time to be shallow, smug, credulous, bigoted, and even murderous. Historian Niall Ferguson notes in his latest book, The War of the World, that when Poland fell to the Germans in 1939, the SS sent in five special units to murder Jews and political opponents. Of the twenty-five top leaders in those units, fifteen had doctorates.

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=843

A doctorate does not a moral authority make.
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« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2007, 04:01:01 PM »

As Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said in a recent homily,

Education is an ambiguous word. It guarantees nobody’s humanity. It’s quite possible to be very well educated in a modern sense and at the same time to be shallow, smug, credulous, bigoted, and even murderous. Historian Niall Ferguson notes in his latest book, The War of the World, that when Poland fell to the Germans in 1939, the SS sent in five special units to murder Jews and political opponents. Of the twenty-five top leaders in those units, fifteen had doctorates.

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=843

A doctorate does not a moral authority make.

However, such a degree, especially in the sciences, does indicate that one is more likely to view the world in an objective manner. They will be less influenced by folk customs and past prejudices. They generally have an understanding of the world that exceeds the narrow experience of the masses. Furthermore, they are more likely to understand the depth and complexities of issues and dismiss simplistic understandings. As for the commanders in the SS, they were military officers following orders, what would have had them do? Betray their country, disobey direct orders, and undermine the chain of command inorder that they may uphold your moral code? I'm sorry, but that's not how war works...at least not if you want to have any chance at victory. The Archbishop's simplistic approach to this issue is the very thing I am taking issue with.

Of course, I question anyone who claims to be a moral authority; more often than not they are using it as a pretext for the establishment of ther personal power.
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« Reply #37 on: September 14, 2007, 04:06:05 PM »

Scholasticism run amok...
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« Reply #38 on: September 14, 2007, 06:12:50 PM »

Can you find me at least 5 Orthodox priests who advocate using artificial birth control simply for "preventing" children?  I understand there are other good reasons why a couple may not want to bring a child in the world. Those reasons could include health of the mother or if both parents are carriers of some dreadful genetic disease.

I am wondering, both parents (mom and dad) being committed scientists who spend crazy hours at work, and who live in a 13-square meter one-room apartment in the former USSR, and have one toddler living in this apartment with them, and no perspective of improving their housing conditions, ever  - still not a good reason to use birth control when they have sex? That was my wife and me in the 1980's...

Or, a woman who gets pregnant and miscarries with awful bleedings every single time her husband decides to be "good" and not to use those "ungodly" birth control things, but, rather, rely on the "godly" "rhythm" method - does that, er, ... fit? Again, my wife and me... in the 1980's and -90's...
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« Reply #39 on: September 14, 2007, 06:28:19 PM »

I am wondering, both parents (mom and dad) being committed scientists who spend crazy hours at work, and who live in a 13-square meter one-room apartment in the former USSR, and have one toddler living in this apartment with them, and no perspective of improving their housing conditions, ever  - still not a good reason to use birth control when they have sex? That was my wife and me in the 1980's...

Using birth control for economic reasons? I'm sure the fundamentalists would send you straight to hell over that one. Roll Eyes

Fortunately, most modern Orthodox, at least in the west, don't have these adverse reactions to scientific advancements in the field of reproductive health. Thank you for your very pragmatic (and personal) examples.
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« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2007, 07:17:10 PM »

Birth control is an economy.  In my experience, most people have an economy of one kind or another.  Doesn't matter to the Lord - he just wants to save us.
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« Reply #41 on: September 15, 2007, 09:00:39 AM »

Using birth control for economic reasons? I'm sure the fundamentalists would send you straight to hell over that one. Roll Eyes

Fortunately, most modern Orthodox, at least in the west, don't have these adverse reactions to scientific advancements in the field of reproductive health. Thank you for your very pragmatic (and personal) examples.

You are most welcome. Unfortunately, on the Ukrainian forum "Maidan" that I mentioned earlier, I got hammered for these pragmatic and personal examples so badly that I had angina pectoris and lost my last non-gray hair. Mostly by Evangelicals and (especially badly) by Eastern Rite Catholics, but also by Orthodox. I was repeatedly called a hypocrite and a servant of Antichrist.
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« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2007, 08:14:06 PM »

You are most welcome. Unfortunately, on the Ukrainian forum "Maidan" that I mentioned earlier, I got hammered for these pragmatic and personal examples so badly that I had angina pectoris and lost my last non-gray hair. Mostly by Evangelicals and (especially badly) by Eastern Rite Catholics, but also by Orthodox. I was repeatedly called a hypocrite and a servant of Antichrist.

Dear George,

You seem like a really sweet man who takes everything to heart. Don't let the judgemental non-contraceptive folks get to you. Don't even bother arguing with them...it is a waste of time. Many of them are so stressed out and exhausted from having six or more children that most likely their bad behavior is a reflection of their mood of the moment. Or it is possible many of these hardcore fellows are lonely bachelors that could never attract a woman even if they tried because of their zealous and outrageous attitudes.

I would just like to note that I have many good friends with large families who would never dream to lay a heavy burden of guilt on me and my smaller sized-family. Not every family can be a large one for various reasons. What is important is how we raise our children, not how many children we raise.


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« Reply #43 on: September 15, 2007, 08:29:39 PM »

Hi,  since Phoszoe is my wife, I can say that the examples that you gave, Heorhij, are not what she had in mind.  She was simply reiterating what we were taught, and that which we believe:  marriages have to be eventually open to children if biologically possible.  There are reasons to delay (which we did while I was in grad school), or to avoid (health of the mother, overwhelmingly oppressive economic conditions, etc.). 

Those who are married and are healthy (biologically and economically), who wish to put off children indefinitely so that they can more easily afford to drive an Escalade and live in a McMansion would seem to be shirking one of the most important responsibilities of marriage.

GiC:  Since you are convert to cultural Orthodoxy with Transhumanist leanings, I think that I would be wasting my time engaging you on this issue. 
 
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« Reply #44 on: September 15, 2007, 08:33:46 PM »

I am wondering, both parents (mom and dad) being committed scientists who spend crazy hours at work, and who live in a 13-square meter one-room apartment in the former USSR, and have one toddler living in this apartment with them, and no perspective of improving their housing conditions, ever  - still not a good reason to use birth control when they have sex? That was my wife and me in the 1980's...

Or, a woman who gets pregnant and miscarries with awful bleedings every single time her husband decides to be "good" and not to use those "ungodly" birth control things, but, rather, rely on the "godly" "rhythm" method - does that, er, ... fit? Again, my wife and me... in the 1980's and -90's...

 Heorhij,

What you had mentioned would be probably considered a good reason for using birth control. Situations like this should be handled by a priest. 
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