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Author Topic: Contraception: an observer's view  (Read 33228 times) Average Rating: 0
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Tamara
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« on: January 10, 2008, 08:33:20 PM »

I have read many opinions over the last few years from young married or almost married MEN about the use of contraception in a marriage. Many of these idealists have proclaimed or vowed not use it in their marriage. But be prepared for the consequences of how multiple pregnancies will affect the long-term health of your future wife. I have many friends who followed this path and I admire their large families. But most, if not all of these mothers in these families (age range mid 40s) have long-term or debilitating illnesses (ex:crippling rheumatoid arthritis, severe anemia, hormonal imbalances, stress-related disorders, etc.) due to caring for large families. The stress alone can be immense especially when all of their children are very young and then again when most of the children reach  their teen years. Their husbands end up shouldering more of the child-rearing duties as their wives succumb to various long-term, chronic illnesses. In comparison to the families who have two to four children, the wives are still in good health and can function as a wife and mother. Just something to think about as you prepare for the future.
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 10:13:20 PM »

What a depressing post.  I mean seriously, what a dumper.

I personally know mothers of 5,6,7, and 9 kids, one of whom is going to be my mother-in-law; while they have often had hormonal imbalances (Thyroid seems to be the most common), (a) they're not "debilitating."  None of the mothers in the above category have been "debilitated" by their condition; (b) the stress is shared between husband and wife, and once you get to the 6+ kids category, the older kids are quite well able to help care for the younger ones (which often, in my experience, makes them more responsible than their peers), and (c) they chose the have whatever families God would provide them knowing that it would lead to some hardship, but infinitely more joy.

As for hormonal imbalances, they can occur with the first child (as is common in my mother's family), let alone the 5th or 10th.  Painting a bleak picture of having many kids seems a bit overdone.  Yes, it is good to warn people to the risks involved, and not allow them to get caught up in some sort of idyllic dream.

But I repeat... what a downer!
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 10:15:34 PM »

As a post-married man on this issue: the statistics on divorce are what they are.  The statistics on couples that depend on natural family planning divorce: 0%.

Something to think about while you prepare for the future.

Btw, the stats on success rate for NFP is better than others.
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 10:18:02 PM »

My faith is, if it is good for your family, use contraception. Period. End of discussion. All who say otherwise are idiots or, worse, hypocrites.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 10:25:19 PM »

As a post-married man on this issue: the statistics on divorce are what they are.  The statistics on couples that depend on natural family planning divorce: 0%.

Something to think about while you prepare for the future.

Btw, the stats on success rate for NFP is better than others.

What statistics?
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 10:47:28 PM »

My faith is, if it is good for your family, use contraception. Period. End of discussion. All who say otherwise are idiots or, worse, hypocrites.

I'd like to hear you expand on this.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 11:01:34 PM »

I'd like to hear you expand on this.

Why? What's unclear? You are a man, a father, you have a one year-old child, and your wife is a scientist like yourself (like it was in my case), and works crazy hours. And you live in a 13 square meter one-room apartmnent. Another child good for your family? NO. You need to ask a "holy father," what's his enlightened opinion on that (him being a monk)?

NOOOOO!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or else, of course, I am not Orthodox. I'm willing not to be, I don't care.
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2008, 11:07:42 PM »

Why? What's unclear? You are a man, a father, you have a one year-old child, and your wife is a scientist like yourself (like it was in my case), and works crazy hours. And you live in a 13 square meter one-room apartmnent. Another child good for your family? NO. You need to ask a "holy father," what's his enlightened opinion on that (him being a monk)?

NOOOOO!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or else, of course, I am not Orthodox. I'm willing not to be, I don't care.

Hey George, no need to defend yourself or feel like you're being attacked.  But your POV was unclear in your earlier post.  You're saying that if it's too much of a strain on the family, then you should use contraception, rather than strain the family and risk people's health and sanity.  Your earlier post wasn't as clear as the example that you've used.

Quite frankly, I don't know why your polemical language is necessary - you don't need to use words/phrases like "idiots" and "or else, of course, I am not Orthodox."  No one is attacking your faith, and no one is saying that your faith is void because of contraception.  Take a deep breath.  I am not your enemy, and hopefully no one else here is, either.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2008, 11:30:57 PM »

Cleveland, thank you. I do believe that you aren't my enemy. But there are a lot of others who claim that they know "God's will," and who say that if you use a condom, you are sinning, etc. As I wrote previously to this forum, I had been attacked and maligned by these people for a good number of years, for admitting that I had, indeed, used contraception in my marriage and also for expressing my belief that sex in marriage is sacred ("whaaaat? seeeex??? that caaaaaarnal thing?Huh) You guys here in the civilized USofA have no idea how vicious is the polemics on Ukrainian "religious" Web sites and how awful are "Christians" there.
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2008, 12:30:49 AM »

As a post-married man on this issue: the statistics on divorce are what they are.  The statistics on couples that depend on natural family planning divorce: 0%.

Something to think about while you prepare for the future.

Btw, the stats on success rate for NFP is better than others.
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Natural Family Planning is simply a non-issue.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States has published figures.  The estimate is that less than 3% of Catholics use NFP.  A whopping 97% of young married Catholics are using birth control methods forbidden by their Church!


Speaking gf "success" rates, condoms win out by far over NFP.   Condoms have a failure rate of 7%  (i.e. result in pregnancy.)  By contrast NFP has a failure rate of 1%.  So your chances of an accidental pregnancy with condoms are much higher than with NFP.

But, as I said, with a miniscule 3% of Catholics using NFP, it's hardly an issue to debate or take much notice of.

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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2008, 12:49:57 AM »

I guess I don't really understand the point of what you are saying Tamara. There are a great number of women that suffer those issues that have no children whatsoever. They key is to take care of yourself, whether you are a parent or not. In fact, women that have fibromyalsia (sp?) tend to do BETTER while pregnant and breastfeeding then when they are not pregnant or breastfeeding. So there are actually benefits for some women in pregnancy. Not that I would say that is a good reason to have children! But to say that all the effects are bad is a bit of an overstatement.

I love large families. I have three kids, I would love to have more. I will readily admit that having children can be (and often is) difficult. I will be a single mom of three for about a year starting in August. To say it will be difficult is an understatement. But the difficulty is nothing compared to the joy. If you try and be a "perfect" mother you will fail, miserably. But if you live each day and try to do better it is suprisingly easier.

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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2008, 12:58:35 AM »

Cleveland, thank you. I do believe that you aren't my enemy. But there are a lot of others who claim that they know "God's will," and who say that if you use a condom, you are sinning, etc. As I wrote previously to this forum, I had been attacked and maligned by these people for a good number of years, for admitting that I had, indeed, used contraception in my marriage and also for expressing my belief that sex in marriage is sacred ("whaaaat? seeeex??? that caaaaaarnal thing?Huh) You guys here in the civilized USofA have no idea how vicious is the polemics on Ukrainian "religious" Web sites and how awful are "Christians" there.

Whether or not it's a sin, I won't speculate.  IMO it doesn't qualify as Onanism, so I don't think the case is clear-cut.  And who am I to speculate about my brother's sin?  I can see where you find people to be hypocritical in their arguments against sex being blessed in marriage.  And I'm glad that you find this site to be a "safe haven" compared to other places.
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2008, 01:05:20 AM »

I guess I don't really understand the point of what you are saying Tamara. There are a great number of women that suffer those issues that have no children whatsoever. They key is to take care of yourself, whether you are a parent or not. In fact, women that have fibromyalsia (sp?) tend to do BETTER while pregnant and breastfeeding then when they are not pregnant or breastfeeding. So there are actually benefits for some women in pregnancy. Not that I would say that is a good reason to have children! But to say that all the effects are bad is a bit of an overstatement.

I love large families. I have three kids, I would love to have more. I will readily admit that having children can be (and often is) difficult. I will be a single mom of three for about a year starting in August. To say it will be difficult is an understatement. But the difficulty is nothing compared to the joy. If you try and be a "perfect" mother you will fail, miserably. But if you live each day and try to do better it is suprisingly easier.



Hi Quinault,

I guess it has been hard for me to watch all of my church friends with large families suffer from health ailments over the last few years. When they were young, they were able to bounce back easily but now, as they are reaching menopause many of them are falling apart physically. Many of them look years older than their husbands. I look around at my female neighbors and girlfriends who do not attend church and have smaller families. They are all so much healthier than my church friends. My one girlfriend at church always has deep, dark circles under her eyes. She just found out she is severely anemic and most of her boys are teenagers right now (she has six children). Its been very stressful for her with her boys. They are good kids but they put her through the ringer emotionally. Her husband is very supportive but he works all day. I guess I just want men to appreciate the sacrifices women make to bear large families.
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2008, 01:16:06 AM »

Tamara; I have seen just as many moms of one or two that are run down appearing. I think a great deal of that has to do with how much we take care of ourselves. And how much our husbands MAKE US take care of ourselves. Anemia has little to do with children though. You can become anemic while pregnant or breastfeeding. But anemia isn't from raising children really. And it is readily fixed and you feel better nearly INSTANTLY. On the days I am anemic (I have been breastfeeding or pregnant all but 2mths of the last 7 years) and I take liquid iron, I feel better within minutes.

But it is a good thing to note that if you want a large family Dad has to be SUPER involved. And even MORE importantly, you have to take care of your relationship with each other. If your marriage is in good shape then parenting is MUCH easier. (not that I am saying any of your friends are having marital issues, I am merely speaking from experience).
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2008, 01:18:09 AM »

My sister-in-law is so stressed by having two kids that she had her husband get "fixed." So it is also open to how much parenting effects you stress-wise. Having three I am less stressed than she is with two. Not that she is a bad mom/woman/wife. She merely has a different "threshold" than I do. (the sister-in-law is Mennonite, not Orthodox).
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2008, 01:20:09 AM »

One more thing; it is actually LESS stressful for me to have three kids than two. The other two play while I care for the third, they help clean up, they watch their brother so I can take a shower ect. So it depends upon how you "utilize" your kids too.
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2008, 01:39:21 AM »

Cleveland, thank you. I do believe that you aren't my enemy. But there are a lot of others who claim that they know "God's will," and who say that if you use a condom, you are sinning, etc. As I wrote previously to this forum, I had been attacked and maligned by these people for a good number of years, for admitting that I had, indeed, used contraception in my marriage and also for expressing my belief that sex in marriage is sacred ("whaaaat? seeeex??? that caaaaaarnal thing?Huh) You guys here in the civilized USofA have no idea how vicious is the polemics on Ukrainian "religious" Web sites and how awful are "Christians" there.

The reality is the church overall has a highly negative stance towards sex, even in marriage.  What I have read in patristic sources has basically shown me that while there are a few exceptions, the most common view is that sex in marriage is for procreation only.  In other words the unitive aspect of sex is not recognized.  St. Augustine for instance said that sex not intended for procreation was lust.  Most would probably say that marriage itself and sex are products of the Fall, they didn't exist as such in man's initial perfect state.  Typically consecrated virginity is seen as the highest state of being.  The song of songs was interpreted purely non literal terms and so on.  I attended a marriage class at a mission we used to go to and the main Orthodox book used in the class stated that husbands and wives are called to basically live as celibates in marriage.  My opinion after soaking all of that up was "wow, this is pretty f$$%'d up stuff."

The main debate now is I guess is there a philosophical distinction between the various means of controlling conception (natural vs. artificial, etc.).  I think it's kind of a pointless argument myself.  Basically as far as I can tell the churches have caved in to the fact that people are going to limit their family sizes, probably by normally simply looking the other way.  Whether or not it's actually ethical or responsible to keep having kids until your wife hits menopause in this day and age is a different story.

I have two kids I love very much by the way, and always wanted to be a Father.
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2008, 01:41:38 AM »

One more thing; it is actually LESS stressful for me to have three kids than two. The other two play while I care for the third, they help clean up, they watch their brother so I can take a shower ect. So it depends upon how you "utilize" your kids too.

Well, I would say all the moms with large families in my parish do expect their children to pitch in and help with all the household chores. Most of the moms were homeschoolers when they were younger. Two of the moms still are but the rest have given up with the younger ones. They couldn't handle the load as they got older. I only have two children and I don't homeschool so I know from talking to my friends that my life is much easier than theirs. I admire their sacrifices on behalf of their families.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2008, 01:41:55 AM »

My faith is, if it is good for your family, use contraception. Period. End of discussion. All who say otherwise are idiots or, worse, hypocrites.

Hear, hear!

Always glad to see you chime in George.
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2008, 08:03:03 AM »

My sister-in-law is so stressed by having two kids that she had her husband get "fixed." So it is also open to how much parenting effects you stress-wise. Having three I am less stressed than she is with two. Not that she is a bad mom/woman/wife. She merely has a different "threshold" than I do. (the sister-in-law is Mennonite, not Orthodox).

I always love that expression: fixing what isn't broken, which is why you are getting it "fixed," because you want it broken.
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2008, 08:10:11 AM »

Whether or not it's a sin, I won't speculate.  IMO it doesn't qualify as Onanism, so I don't think the case is clear-cut.  And who am I to speculate about my brother's sin?  I can see where you find people to be hypocritical in their arguments against sex being blessed in marriage.  And I'm glad that you find this site to be a "safe haven" compared to other places.

Thank you again.
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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2008, 08:20:14 AM »

The reality is the church overall has a highly negative stance towards sex, even in marriage.  What I have read in patristic sources has basically shown me that while there are a few exceptions, the most common view is that sex in marriage is for procreation only.  In other words the unitive aspect of sex is not recognized.  St. Augustine for instance said that sex not intended for procreation was lust.  Most would probably say that marriage itself and sex are products of the Fall, they didn't exist as such in man's initial perfect state.  Typically consecrated virginity is seen as the highest state of being.  The song of songs was interpreted purely non literal terms and so on.  I attended a marriage class at a mission we used to go to and the main Orthodox book used in the class stated that husbands and wives are called to basically live as celibates in marriage.  My opinion after soaking all of that up was "wow, this is pretty f$$%'d up stuff."

The main debate now is I guess is there a philosophical distinction between the various means of controlling conception (natural vs. artificial, etc.).  I think it's kind of a pointless argument myself.  Basically as far as I can tell the churches have caved in to the fact that people are going to limit their family sizes, probably by normally simply looking the other way.  Whether or not it's actually ethical or responsible to keep having kids until your wife hits menopause in this day and age is a different story.

I have two kids I love very much by the way, and always wanted to be a Father.

Exactly. You see, that's why I am in such a crisis right now. I just can't read these so-called "fathers" of the Church, and exactly because of their rabid hatred (yes) of human sensuality, and because of their complete ignorance of the unitive aspect of marital sex. I can't fool myself and pretend that they are my great "spiritual teachers."

I am also still, after that evolution debate on this site, completely unable to reconcile with the idea of "Adam" being real actual physical "first man" in whom all of the human race originated. Again, this mythical story is so tightly connected with this idea that humans were created immaterial and asensual, and that they began to "do this monkey business" after falling from God's grace (see "father" Gregory of Nyssa's horrible, inhuman, perverted meanderings about humans gradually acquiring "heavy cattle-like bodies" as compared to innocent, light, ethereal asensual pre-lapsarian bodies).

I feel like I am falling into some kind of abyss. I can't pray right now, I can't look at icons, I can't listen to liturgical music. It's all hypocricy to me. Yesterday night, my wife and I - still mourning for our deceased kitty - listened to the song from "Les Parapluilles de Cherbourg," and I thought, now THAT'S honest, real, human... and I cried. I don't cry often. 
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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2008, 08:29:01 AM »

Hear, hear!

Always glad to see you chime in George.

Thank you, GreekIsChristian. I wish I had your calm confidence.
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« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2008, 09:20:06 AM »

I'd like to respond as a mother of a large family who also uses contraception and a homeschooler. 

I have read many opinions over the last few years from young married or almost married MEN about the use of contraception in a marriage.

First off, I so appreciate this Tamara.  I get rather annoyed at these young newlywed men (and a few women) who think they've figured it all out AND feel the need to strong arm the rest of us into agreeing with them.  Its one thing to have your own convictions, quite another be consider oneself to be an expert on the matter.   It reminds me of teaching my son how to drive.  He had all of 2 hours under his belt but still wanted to argue with me about how to do it properly.  Uh, "hello??" 

Many of these idealists have proclaimed or vowed not use it in their marriage. But be prepared for the consequences of how multiple pregnancies will affect the long-term health of your future wife. I have many friends who followed this path and I admire their large families. But most, if not all of these mothers in these families (age range mid 40s) have long-term or debilitating illnesses (ex:crippling rheumatoid arthritis, severe anemia, hormonal imbalances, stress-related disorders, etc.) due to caring for large families. The stress alone can be immense especially when all of their children are very young and then again when most of the children reach  their teen years. Their husbands end up shouldering more of the child-rearing duties as their wives succumb to various long-term, chronic illnesses. In comparison to the families who have two to four children, the wives are still in good health and can function as a wife and mother. Just something to think about as you prepare for the future.

I have not seen this like you have stated.  Yes, moms can get frazzled and frustrated and I can completely relate that it gets much harder when they become young adults (teen years have been great for us so far - college a bit more frustrating).   My husband did most of the shouldering of child-rearing during my pregnancies, which left me almost completely bed-ridden with all-day sickness (hyper-emesis).  Now that my children are older they are great help to us - especially since we are in that busy stage of life when kids are going in several different directions at once.

I think the problem comes when as I stated above, people feel compelled to have many many children, without regard to their health.  I do know some people who already have some of the health issues you have mentioned above but still feel that they are not obedient Christians unless they don't use birth control.  This is more inside the "Quiver full" community of homeschoolers.

I am not comfortable saying someone shouldn't have a large family because they may have health issues in the future, or their children may be rebellious, difficult teens.  Most (not all!) women I talk to who are are past the child-bearing age say they regret not having more children.  I like the way the Orthodox Church seems to take the issue, which is to help the individual.

I think you have cast an unfair light on moms who no longer homeschool.  Perhaps they were ready for a new challenge or a new "career".  I've been homeschooling for 16 years.  I know I'm ready to move on and am planning to put the last two into school within the next two years (I already have an older one in school).  Some of my kids have special needs and I know my limits.  I've also been hoping to get involved with Hospice care after I'm finished with this phase of life for a very long time.  But, to me you make me sound like a homeschool dropout.  It doesn't mean I've become overwhelmed with homeschooling or because my large family has run me down.  Its just time.  If I had 3-4 kids widely spaced, I might feel the same way.

Kindest regards.
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« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2008, 09:27:07 AM »

Exactly. You see, that's why I am in such a crisis right now. I just can't read these so-called "fathers" of the Church, and exactly because of their rabid hatred (yes) of human sensuality, and because of their complete ignorance of the unitive aspect of marital sex. I can't fool myself and pretend that they are my great "spiritual teachers."

I am also still, after that evolution debate on this site, completely unable to reconcile with the idea of "Adam" being real actual physical "first man" in whom all of the human race originated. Again, this mythical story is so tightly connected with this idea that humans were created immaterial and asensual, and that they began to "do this monkey business" after falling from God's grace (see "father" Gregory of Nyssa's horrible, inhuman, perverted meanderings about humans gradually acquiring "heavy cattle-like bodies" as compared to innocent, light, ethereal asensual pre-lapsarian bodies).

I feel like I am falling into some kind of abyss. I can't pray right now, I can't look at icons, I can't listen to liturgical music. It's all hypocricy to me. Yesterday night, my wife and I - still mourning for our deceased kitty - listened to the song from "Les Parapluilles de Cherbourg," and I thought, now THAT'S honest, real, human... and I cried. I don't cry often. 

Dear George,

Sometimes we simply have to take a step back and say; "I simply don't care about anyone else's opinions; I'm doing the best with what I have and no one - and I mean NO ONE - can tell me what is best for me in my situation." Sometimes, George, we really shouldn't care what someone else is thinking.

I have found the creation/evolution threads very frustrating. It's like the people on either sides are speaking a different language from each other, but I have found these same frustrations when discussing literature - especially fantasy literature. In the end, what the heck does it matter? So we are all wired differently. Let's rejoice in the diversity! Don't let the failure of others to see your point of view or that you can't get theirs push you to the edge. For myself, reading your posts on evolution have been of tremendous benefit.

Trust God to see you through the present fog. Read and listen only to that which uplifts your spirit; you probably need a well-earned break from the trivia of "was Adam the first human being?" If you don't see the need for him to be, if you see the Genesis account of creation as allegory or metaphor, shrug your shoulders and forget it for a while. Spend some time with your wife, comforting each other and remembering your kitty - all in the hope that there's somewhere on the other side where you will meet again.

God be with you.

P.S. Sorry for going off topic.




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« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2008, 09:49:19 AM »

Exactly. You see, that's why I am in such a crisis right now. I just can't read these so-called "fathers" of the Church, and exactly because of their rabid hatred (yes) of human sensuality, and because of their complete ignorance of the unitive aspect of marital sex. I can't fool myself and pretend that they are my great "spiritual teachers."


A lot of what the fathers writings are, are for ascetics. When a married man reads them they became confused.
 Do yourself a favor. Go to a real Church and see how Orthodox people live. They are no different than you and I. I'm not judging your life, but from what you have posted in the past tells me that you don't have a church life and that most of what you know is gathered from internet sources. It's best if you live the experience of being a church member. Orthodox people aren't ritualistic fanatics as you believe.
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« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2008, 10:36:06 AM »

The reality is the church overall has a highly negative stance towards sex, even in marriage.

What are you reading?  Jeez oh man.  Chrysostom is considered the pre-eminent father on the subject (even though he was a celibate), and he considers sex in marriage to be blessed.  Yes, anyone who can live without lust should be encouraged, but he says that sex within marriage is not only a means to unity, but a means to stay out of sin.  He and other Fathers have expressed something very practical: is the celibate way blessed?  Yes - only if you can stand it.  But if you are going to burn for lust, then it is a road to damnation, not salvation, and your intended path is marriage, which will be your road to salvation.

In fact, St. John goes so far as to say that procreation is not even the primary purpose of sex in marriage (since the command to "be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" had already been accomplished in his opinion back in the 4th century).  Read his stuff carefully.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why don't I like these debates about sex, procreation, homosexuality, etc.?  Because people become too emotionally charged, and when you become emotionally charged temptation and sin come into life.  We become tempted to hate God and the Church because we think that they're against "normal" life, or against "normal" marriage, or whatever.  We become tempted to hate our brethren for "knowing it all," or "not knowing anything," for sounding arrogant or condescending or whatever. 

What does it boil down to?  I'll quote Yoda.  Substitute "dark side" for "sin and death."  Or you can leave it alone.  But they're quite apropos.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”  "Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they." 
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« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2008, 01:23:14 PM »

What are you reading?  Jeez oh man.

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles5/TrenhamSexuality.php
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« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2008, 02:32:33 PM »

What a depressing post.  I mean seriously, what a dumper.

I personally know mothers of 5,6,7, and 9 kids, one of whom is going to be my mother-in-law; while they have often had hormonal imbalances (Thyroid seems to be the most common), (a) they're not "debilitating."  None of the mothers in the above category have been "debilitated" by their condition; (b) the stress is shared between husband and wife, and once you get to the 6+ kids category, the older kids are quite well able to help care for the younger ones (which often, in my experience, makes them more responsible than their peers), and (c) they chose the have whatever families God would provide them knowing that it would lead to some hardship, but infinitely more joy.

As for hormonal imbalances, they can occur with the first child (as is common in my mother's family), let alone the 5th or 10th.  Painting a bleak picture of having many kids seems a bit overdone.  Yes, it is good to warn people to the risks involved, and not allow them to get caught up in some sort of idyllic dream.

But I repeat... what a downer!

Of course, the Pill messes with women's hormones too.

The kids in large families I know seem much better behaved than only children or pairs.

My maternal grandmother had 7 kids and my paternal grandmother had 6. The maternal one had thyroid issues, but it runs in the family (my mother and aunts have it too, and most of them had 2 kids only)
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« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2008, 02:33:35 PM »

My faith is, if it is good for your family, use contraception. Period. End of discussion. All who say otherwise are idiots or, worse, hypocrites.

But do we always know what is good for ourselves?
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« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2008, 02:39:03 PM »

*
Natural Family Planning is simply a non-issue.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States has published figures.  The estimate is that less than 3% of Catholics use NFP.  A whopping 97% of young married Catholics are using birth control methods forbidden by their Church!

Right. The latest statistics indicate that 100% of American Catholics commit sins of various kinds.

Sin is a non-issue.
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« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2008, 02:40:58 PM »

Of course, the Pill messes with women's hormones too.

The kids in large families I know seem much better behaved than only children or pairs.

My maternal grandmother had 7 kids and my paternal grandmother had 6. The maternal one had thyroid issues, but it runs in the family (my mother and aunts have it too, and most of them had 2 kids only)

I have two children and they are well-behaved. I would never use the pill because it messes with a woman's hormones.
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« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2008, 02:43:25 PM »

But do we always know what is good for ourselves?

Our primary guide is our own conscience, sometimes even in the face of what the church says.
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« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2008, 02:48:53 PM »

Exactly. You see, that's why I am in such a crisis right now. I just can't read these so-called "fathers" of the Church, and exactly because of their rabid hatred (yes) of human sensuality, and because of their complete ignorance of the unitive aspect of marital sex. I can't fool myself and pretend that they are my great "spiritual teachers."

I am also still, after that evolution debate on this site, completely unable to reconcile with the idea of "Adam" being real actual physical "first man" in whom all of the human race originated. Again, this mythical story is so tightly connected with this idea that humans were created immaterial and asensual, and that they began to "do this monkey business" after falling from God's grace (see "father" Gregory of Nyssa's horrible, inhuman, perverted meanderings about humans gradually acquiring "heavy cattle-like bodies" as compared to innocent, light, ethereal asensual pre-lapsarian bodies).

I feel like I am falling into some kind of abyss. I can't pray right now, I can't look at icons, I can't listen to liturgical music. It's all hypocricy to me. Yesterday night, my wife and I - still mourning for our deceased kitty - listened to the song from "Les Parapluilles de Cherbourg," and I thought, now THAT'S honest, real, human... and I cried. I don't cry often. 

I'm sorry to hear what you are going through lately, George. I'll keep you in my prayers.

You are right that many of the Fathers saw sex in general as dirty and ungodly.

I think the heart of the problem is the tendency to separate the unitive and procreative purposes of sex. Some of the Fathers improperly excised the unitive purpose, and I think many today are mistaken in excising the procreative aspect. I believe both extremes are not in God's design.
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« Reply #34 on: January 11, 2008, 02:51:18 PM »

Our primary guide is our own well-formed conscience, sometimes even in the face of what the church says.
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« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2008, 02:56:57 PM »

I have two children and they are well-behaved. I would never use the pill because it messes with a woman's hormones.

I'm glad. So many people think the Pill is like candy.
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« Reply #36 on: January 11, 2008, 02:57:18 PM »

Our primary guide is our own well-formed conscience, sometimes even in the face of what the church says.

And this is probably one of those instances.

I will second the remarks made by Demetrios however earlier.  I think most priests and people out there in parish life have realistic approaches to this issue.
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« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2008, 03:40:43 PM »

But do we always know what is good for ourselves?

No, but I think it's safe to assume that we better understand what is good for us than some dusty old cleric steeped in 2000 years of ignorance.
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« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2008, 06:22:36 PM »

Right. The latest statistics indicate that 100% of American Catholics commit sins of various kinds.

Sin is a non-issue.
Lubeltri,

You response has no connection with what I wrote.  I never even addressed sin.

I was pointing out that when it comes to people'e preferences and practices of birth control, any discussion on NFP is about as useful as discussing green chocolate from Mars.  I was pointing out that even in the Roman Catholic Church which disallows all other forms of birth control, a mere 3% of married people use it.   In that case, how many people do you imagine are using it outside the Catholic Church?

So I was not interested in sin but in what amounts to the wholesale rejection of NFP.
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« Reply #39 on: January 11, 2008, 07:21:50 PM »

I don't have the time right now to split the homeschooling tangent off this thread, so if you want to continue this side discussion, please start another thread in the Orthodox Family section for this.  Thank you.  - PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #40 on: January 11, 2008, 07:40:21 PM »

Per Peter's advice, I've split off the side discussion about home-schooling and moved it to the Family Forum:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14272.0.html
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« Reply #41 on: January 11, 2008, 08:39:34 PM »

Right. The latest statistics indicate that 100% of American Catholics commit sins of various kinds.

Sin is a non-issue.

100% of them are committing mortal sin?

No, but I think it's safe to assume that we better understand what is good for us than some dusty old cleric steeped in 2000 years of ignorance.

Oh?

Why do you assume a) it's a cleric, b) dusty, c) old?

As for 2000 years of ignorance, how much of masters and johnson has had to be revised?  How much will be revised as the dust from the "sexual revolution" settles down?
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« Reply #42 on: January 11, 2008, 10:39:28 PM »

Oh?

Why do you assume a) it's a cleric,

If one is avoiding the use of contraceptives because of some religious prohibition, then it's clearly some cleric making the decision (the Pope, perhaps, lubeltri is a catholic afterall; and as for dusty and old, how old is Ratzinger?); and even if not, I don't remember whether the cliché response of 'talk with your spiritual father' was mentioned in this actual thread, but we have had so many discussions on this matter and related matters it has been given and those discussions at least provide a context for this discussion.

Quote
b) dusty, c) old?

Stereotyping for rhetorical effect; I have several friends who are priests and they are great people, but with no offence intended, though they are great people and wonderful priests, I don't believe this makes them qualified to dictate my sex life, just as I am not qualified to dictate theirs. It's ultimately a decision that must be made between the two partners involved and no one else.

Quote
As for 2000 years of ignorance, how much of masters and johnson has had to be revised?  How much will be revised as the dust from the "sexual revolution" settles down?

Considering that over 95% of people are sexually active prior to marriage (Reference), it may be safe to say that the sexual revolution is over; but not because it's been reversed, rather it's over because we've won.
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« Reply #43 on: January 11, 2008, 11:30:06 PM »

I'm sorry to hear what you are going through lately, George. I'll keep you in my prayers.

You are right that many of the Fathers saw sex in general as dirty and ungodly.

I think the heart of the problem is the tendency to separate the unitive and procreative purposes of sex. Some of the Fathers improperly excised the unitive purpose, and I think many today are mistaken in excising the procreative aspect. I believe both extremes are not in God's design.

Thank you so much, Luberti. I am a mess right now, so all prayers will be really appreciated.

From the little I read of the "fathers" (sorry, in my current state of mind I just cannot write this word starting with a capital and without the quotation marks), I understood that they simply had no clue about the "unitive" aspect, and it is so, so sad.
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« Reply #44 on: January 12, 2008, 01:50:12 AM »

If one is avoiding the use of contraceptives because of some religious prohibition, then it's clearly some cleric making the decision (the Pope, perhaps, lubeltri is a catholic afterall; and as for dusty and old, how old is Ratzinger?); and even if not, I don't remember whether the cliché response of 'talk with your spiritual father' was mentioned in this actual thread, but we have had so many discussions on this matter and related matters it has been given and those discussions at least provide a context for this discussion.

Plenty of evangelical protestants avoid contraceptives because of some religious prohibition, and they have no cleric to make the decision.  I'm talking about the evangelicals who are each and every one a pope unto himself.

Quote
Stereotyping for rhetorical effect; I have several friends who are priests and they are great people, but with no offence intended, though they are great people and wonderful priests, I don't believe this makes them qualified to dictate my sex life, just as I am not qualified to dictate theirs. It's ultimately a decision that must be made between the two partners involved and no one else.

I remember someone from NAMBLA saying something similar when I was working in D.C.

Quote
Considering that over 95% of people are sexually active prior to marriage (Reference),

LOL.  A statement without substantiation, on a web site riddled with inconsistencies (they don't like moral absolutes, but say genicide is wrong.  Sorry, you can have the cake or eat it, but you can't have both).  Was it ex cathedra?


Quote
it may be safe to say that the sexual revolution is over; but not because it's been reversed, rather it's over because we've won.

Won what?  for one thing, will you chorttle if the muslims outbreed us into oblivion? Look at Eurabia.

I'm a bit amused from the smugness. A decade or so ago I was reading a study on demographics in early America.  The data showed a rise in newly weds having children less than 9 months after the wedding and other indications that the revolution against the king didn't stop there.  You didn't think that debauchery began in the 60s, did you?

And then there's the Romans.  You guys are pikers compared to them.  (that context, btw, is responsible in part for the viewpoints of the Fathers on this issue).
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