Author Topic: Contraception  (Read 3199 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline yochanan

  • Arch-laity of the Room of Supreme Awesomeness
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 185
  • O majestic aurora, how seeming did He fashion you!
Contraception
« on: April 14, 2008, 12:08:00 AM »
Orthodoxy disallowed contraception before, but now why is it allowed? We should remember the sin of Onan: how he died directly after committing withdrawal.

Only Tradition can be changed by the Church not the Moral Values! If the Faith is infallible then why was this side on contraception changed? Is not the Orthodox "Faith" contradicting itself?

I'm just askin'  :)

"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15: 28)

Offline FrChris

  • The Rodney Dangerfield of OC.net
  • Site Supporter
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,252
  • Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2008, 12:33:21 AM »
Let's just say...your blanket statement that contraception is 'allowed' is perhaps a bit excessive.

Along with many issues, this topic is being debated. There are some jurisdictions within Orthodoxy that have a more liberal spin on the issue than others. Still, how do you reconcile your statement that appears to indicate church sanction for birth control with this article, placed here as an example of a conservative opinion?

The point here is that the issue is considerably more nuanced than you describe.

Welcome to the forum, btw!

Quote
Having said all this, what exactly is the Church's teaching concerning birth control?

The practice of artificial birth control—by which is meant "the pill," condoms, or any other kind of device—is actually condemned by the Orthodox Church. The Church of Greece, for example, in 1937 issued a special encyclical just for this purpose, to condemn birth control.

Likewise, the Romanian and Russian Churches, to name just two others among many—have more than once, in former times, spoken out against this practice. It is only in recent times, only in the generation since World War II, that some local Churches (the Greek Archdiocese in this country, for example) have begun to teach that it "might" be all right to practice birth control in certain circumstances, as long as this is discussed with the priest beforehand and has his agreement.

This teaching of our Church, however, should not be construed as being the same kind of teaching as is found in the Roman Catholic Church. The consistent teaching of the Church of Rome has been and is that having children is the primary function of marriage. This is not the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy, by contrast, gives the first place to the spiritual purpose of marriage—which is the mutual salvation of the husband and wife. Each is to help and encourage the other in save his or her soul. Each exists for the other, as a companion, a helper, a friend.

But secondarily, children are the natural result of a marriage, and, until relatively recent times, they were the expected and much-desired result of a marriage. Children were sought as a fruit of the marriage union, a proof that a man and a woman had become one flesh, and this was always seen as a very great blessing on a marriage. It was considered a great tragedy, a great sorrow, if the marriage was childless; so much so that, although the Church always permitted a childless couple to continue to live together as man and wife, if a wife was barren or a husband was impotent, it was accepted by the Church as grounds for divorce, so that either would be free to enter into a marriage relationship with another, in the hope of having children.

Nowadays, of course, our society considers children more of a nuisance than a blessing, and many couples wait one, two, three, or even more years before they have a child. Indeed, some decide never to have children. And so, although in the Orthodox Church the first purpose of marriage is not merely to have children, the desire of most young marrieds today to wait before having children is considered sinful. As a priest, I must say to any couple that approaches me for marriage that, if they are not prepared and willing to conceive and bear a child, without interfering with the will of God by means of artificial birth control, then they are not ready to be married. If they are not prepared to accept the natural and blessed fruit of their union—that is, a child—then it is clear that their primary purpose in marrying is to have legalized fornication. This is a very serious problem today, possibly the most serious and the most difficult a priest has to deal with when counselling a young couple.

I've used the term "artificial" birth control because I want to point out that the Church does permit the use of certain natural methods for avoiding conception, but these methods may not be used without the knowledge and blessing of the priest, and only if the physical and moral well-being of the family demands it. These methods are acceptable to the Church under the right circumstances and can be used by a couple without burdening their consciences, because they are "ascetical" methods; that is, they have to do with self-denial, self-control. Those methods are three:

1. Total abstinence. In very pious families this is not at all as uncommon, either today or yesterday, as one might think. It often happens that after an Orthodox husband and wife have brought a number of children into this world, they agree to abstain from one another, both for spiritual and worldly reasons, living the rest of their lives in peace and harmony as brother and sister. This has happened in the lives of saints—most notably in the life of Saint John of Kronstadt. As a Church which very much cherishes and protects monastic life, we Orthodox have no fear of celibacy, and no silly ideas about how we will not be fulfilled or happy if we cease to have sexual activity with our spouse.

2. A limitation on sexual relations. This of course already happens with the Orthodox couple that sincerely tries to observe fully all of the fast days and fasting periods of the year.

3. Finally, the Church allows the use of the so-called "rhythm" or the more recently developed Natural Family Planning method, about which ample information is available today.

In former times, when poor parents knew nothing about contraceptions, they relied exclusively on God's will—and this should in fact be an example for us today. Children were born and they accepted the last one just as they had the first, saying, "God gave the child; He will also give what we need for the child." Such was their faith, and it often happened that the last child proved to be the greatest blessing of all.

"As the sparrow flees from a hawk, so the man seeking humility flees from an argument". St John Climacus

Offline yochanan

  • Arch-laity of the Room of Supreme Awesomeness
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 185
  • O majestic aurora, how seeming did He fashion you!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2008, 01:37:02 AM »
But Father, isn't this part of the commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery"?
Isn't contraception like masturbation with a partner?
The Faith is supposed to be firm, it is ROCK as the Orthodox say is the ROCK that Jesus talked about (not Peter as Catholics do).
Isn't this ROCK right now being soft?
Isn't the "possibility" of this rule being changed already a violation of the Moral Laws?
"Go to the earth and multiply"
"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15: 28)

Offline yochanan

  • Arch-laity of the Room of Supreme Awesomeness
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 185
  • O majestic aurora, how seeming did He fashion you!
Thanks
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2008, 01:38:18 AM »
Thanks!!!  :) P.S. sohma_hatori is trying to convert me...  ;)
"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15: 28)

Offline GiC

  • Resident Atheist
  • Site Supporter
  • Merarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,490
Re: Contraception
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2008, 04:16:34 AM »
But Father, isn't this part of the commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery"?
Isn't contraception like masturbation with a partner?

Other than the fact that I put effort into both, how exactly are masturbation and adultery related? I mean let's face it, we arn't all as talented as you may be and arn't able to bring home a new married woman EVERY night. (though some of us at least try...well, three or four nights a week anyway) ;)

Quote
The Faith is supposed to be firm, it is ROCK as the Orthodox say is the ROCK that Jesus talked about (not Peter as
Catholics do).
Isn't this ROCK right now being soft?

LOL...well, thank the gods, we do have viagra for that in this day and age. ;D

Quote
Isn't the "possibility" of this rule being changed already a violation of the Moral Laws?
"Go to the earth and multiply"

Well, returning to theology and patristics, Chrysostom did say more than 1500 years ago that the earth is already overpopulated and that that really wasn't a legitimate reason for sex (and to make an addendum to Chrysostom, it isn't the best reason either ;)) I don't really know where you're getting these 'moral laws' (other than pulling them out of your own backside)...but the reason sex is allowed in marriage us to prevent (so-called ::)) sin, not to procreate...again I refer you to the aforementioned Chrysostom and specifically his treatise 'On Virginity'.
"The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -- Patrick Henry

Offline Fr. George

  • formerly "Cleveland"
  • Administrator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *******
  • Posts: 20,210
  • May the Lord bless you and keep you always!
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Re: Contraception
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2008, 08:55:52 AM »
Orthodoxy disallowed contraception before, but now why is it allowed? We should remember the sin of Onan: how he died directly after committing withdrawal. 

I'm going to echo Fr. Chris' comment, and GiC's last paragraph (ignoring the first two...).  However, I would like to add that Onan breeched the law by not concieving with his brother's wife as was the law when his brother died - Onan's sin was pride and selfishness, for not being just and giving his sister-in-law a child as the law directed him to, which would have left her "barren" and disgraced.  Plus, there was the emphasis on continuing the lineage of the firstborn son - any child she had by the brothers would be considered the child of the First and would have continued his line and inheritance.  It has been a supreme theological stretch to claim that Onan's major sin was that of spilling the seed per se, since the scripture seems to be very clear about the situation at hand.  This is not to say that spilling the seed isn't a sin, but the chapter in Genesis focuses on the lineage question throughout the story.
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline Tzimis

  • Site Supporter
  • Archon
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,429
Re: Contraception
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2008, 09:20:22 AM »


LOL...well, thank the gods, we do have viagra for that in this day and age. ;D


Some of us don't need it though, but if your situation requires it. Than by all means. :D
Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.

Offline TinaG

  • I am not a pessimist - I'm just grimly realistic!
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 870
  • If only my family were this normal !
    • Cometh at Midnight Blog
Re: Contraception
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2008, 09:36:33 AM »
Leave it to a bunch of guys to get all manly and virile posting about contraception.  Yeah, yeah, woohoo for you.  From the mom side of things, the best contraception of all was having children.  Leave us alone - we're tired.
On the spiritual path somewhere between the Simpsons and St. Theophan the Recluse, but I still can't see the Springfield city limits sign yet.

Offline EofK

  • Mrs. Y
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,976
  • lolcat addict
Re: Contraception
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2008, 09:51:09 AM »
^LMAO!

High five from the moms section.   :laugh:
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams

Offline GiC

  • Resident Atheist
  • Site Supporter
  • Merarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,490
Re: Contraception
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2008, 10:17:07 AM »
Some of us don't need it though, but if your situation requires it. Than by all means. :D

Not yet, but who knows if either of us will someday...I just thought it was a good suggestion if the 'ROCK right now [is] being soft'. ;)

Leave it to a bunch of guys to get all manly and virile posting about contraception.  Yeah, yeah, woohoo for you.  From the mom side of things, the best contraception of all was having children.  Leave us alone - we're tired.

And you wonder why your method doesn't catch on amongst men? ;)
"The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -- Patrick Henry

Offline Heorhij

  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 8,576
    • Mississippi University for Women
Re: Contraception
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2008, 11:50:18 AM »
Orthodoxy disallowed contraception before, but now why is it allowed? We should remember the sin of Onan: how he died directly after committing withdrawal.

Only Tradition can be changed by the Church not the Moral Values! If the Faith is infallible then why was this side on contraception changed? Is not the Orthodox "Faith" contradicting itself?

I'm just askin'  :)



Yochanan,

The way I understand it... The Church firmly believes that "the Sabbath is for the man, not the man for the Sabbath." The Church should not be legalistic, pursuing a certain legal code for its own sake and it isn't. All issues of contraception should be viewed from this viewpoint, and, as far as I understand, in the Orthodox Church they are.

Unmarried people are taught to fast from sexual relations, so for them there is no special instruction about contraception. Married couples are taught to seek their priest's guidance and blessing in these issues. The priest knows them, understands them. We trust that he will always give them the right direction.
Love never fails.

Offline The Iambic Pen

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 123
Re: Contraception
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2008, 12:01:00 PM »
Let's just say...your blanket statement that contraception is 'allowed' is perhaps a bit excessive.

Along with many issues, this topic is being debated. There are some jurisdictions within Orthodoxy that have a more liberal spin on the issue than others. Still, how do you reconcile your statement that appears to indicate church sanction for birth control with this article, placed here as an example of a conservative opinion?

The point here is that the issue is considerably more nuanced than you describe.

Welcome to the forum, btw!
 
I've read that article several times before.  Back on CAF, this article was referenced more than once, particularly the part about the Greek Encyclical of 1937.  Fr. Ambrose (Irish Hermit over here) requested several times to see a copy of this encyclical, but I don't remember anyone ever finding it.

The article, while perhaps a good source of information about Orthodoxy, does seem to sell Catholicism short.  It contains the following statement: "This teaching of our Church, however, should not be construed as being the same kind of teaching as is found in the Roman Catholic Church. The consistent teaching of the Church of Rome has been and is that having children is the primary function of marriage."

This may very well be true, but I think one should add that the Catholic Church sees great value in the unitive aspect of sex.  The Church allows a husband and wife to engage in sex even when they are quite sure the act will not be fertile.  However, they must always be open to the possibility that it will be.

People can toss out patristic quotes about Petrine primacy all day long, and it doesn't really convince me.  However, I do believe the Catholic Church holds the moral high ground on the contraception issue.  To be sure, some traditional Orthodox Christians agree with the Catholic Church on this, but if this forum is any indication, there is a variety of thought on the matter within the Orthodox Church.

Offline Marc Hanna

  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 319
Re: Contraception
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2008, 12:46:35 PM »
What is this "contraception" thing you all speak of?  You say it can prevent children form being born?

I've got to tell my wife about this - we can stop at four kids if we want to.   Woo-hoo!!! (not that I don't love my four daughters but it pains me that the possibility exists that I could become further out numbered by the female persuasion :))

Offline lubeltri

  • Latin Catholic layman
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,795
Re: Contraception
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2008, 01:46:41 PM »
This may very well be true, but I think one should add that the Catholic Church sees great value in the unitive aspect of sex.  The Church allows a husband and wife to engage in sex even when they are quite sure the act will not be fertile.  However, they must always be open to the possibility that it will be.

Quite true. The most beautiful and comprehensive statement of Catholic teaching on this is SOG Pope John Paul the Great's series of reflections together called the Theology of the Body. His encyclical Evangelium Vitae and SOG Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae are also good guides.

Offline Quinault

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,518
  • What about frogs? I like frogs!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2008, 02:01:00 PM »
There are several other threads on this subject. But I will reiterate what I have said before. A celibate man saying that witholding sex in order to prevent procreation, sometimes for YEARS at a time, is WAY off to my mind.

Your wife is sick and she should not get pregnant. You can't use a barrier method. So you should "live as brother and sister" until you can be "open to life." Ridiculous.....

Offline Quinault

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,518
  • What about frogs? I like frogs!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2008, 02:01:51 PM »
Then EVERY sexual act after menopause is a sin because it CAN'T be open to life since you are incapable.

And having children as birth control? It isn't so much as a lack of energy or mood as a lack of TIME. Or rather a lack of time without little hands pounding on the door asking to come in. Or a baby that wants to eat, is gas-y, breaking a tooth, wants to attain world domination...... ::)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 02:04:19 PM by Quinault »

Offline Quinault

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,518
  • What about frogs? I like frogs!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2008, 02:08:10 PM »
Under the age of 1 our children have the nickname "The benevolent (or not so benevolent) dictator."

Offline lubeltri

  • Latin Catholic layman
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,795
Re: Contraception
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2008, 02:08:59 PM »
Then EVERY sexual act after menopause is a sin because it CAN'T be open to life since you are incapable.

That doesn't hold. We are only accountable for what God has made possible for us. Couples must be open to life whenever God makes life possible. Menopause, something over which we have no control, is a very different thing than a hysterectomy.

Offline Veniamin

  • Fire for Effect!
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 3,372
  • St. Barbara, patroness of the Field Artillery
Re: Contraception
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2008, 02:16:13 PM »
Menopause, something over which we have no control, is a very different thing than a hysterectomy.

I'm sure women who have had hysterectomies due to cancer just love to hear that one.
Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl. ~Frederick the Great

Offline Quinault

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,518
  • What about frogs? I like frogs!
Re: Contraception
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2008, 02:21:25 PM »
Or how about a mother in her early 30's that has such severe scoliosis that she MUST have surgery in order to live? But she keeps getting PREGNANT because she is using NFP? You would say that she should just be celibate until she can have the surgery. Then her husband is left to what? Porn for a couple years?

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

  • Professor Emeritus, CSA
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 8,790
Re: Contraception
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2008, 02:42:01 PM »
I would advise those embroiled in this debate to take a moment and visit our friendly little tags at the bottom of this thread. There you will find a wealth of information about this topic, both supporting and opposing your opinion. So go read it. Yep, right now. Go ahead; I won't get in your way.




Welcome back. You've read all those threads? You haven't? Well, go spend some more time reading then. The tags are right there at the bottom of this page. Go on; they won't bite.





All right. You've read those threads now, have you? Good. Now you may post here.
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline GiC

  • Resident Atheist
  • Site Supporter
  • Merarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,490
Re: Contraception
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2008, 04:40:16 PM »
I would advise those embroiled in this debate to take a moment and visit our friendly little tags at the bottom of this thread. There you will find a wealth of information about this topic, both supporting and opposing your opinion. So go read it. Yep, right now. Go ahead; I won't get in your way.




Welcome back. You've read all those threads? You haven't? Well, go spend some more time reading then. The tags are right there at the bottom of this page. Go on; they won't bite.





All right. You've read those threads now, have you? Good. Now you may post here.

Heck, I wrote half the stuff on many of those threads. ;)
"The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -- Patrick Henry

Offline Cleopas

  • Bible Thumping, Tongue Talking, Faith Walking Christian
  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 445
  • If I'm my own Pope then I claim infalliablity. Ha!
    • World May Believe
Re: Contraception
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2008, 03:46:25 AM »
I'm going to echo Fr. Chris' comment, and GiC's last paragraph (ignoring the first two...).  However, I would like to add that Onan breeched the law by not concieving with his brother's wife as was the law when his brother died - Onan's sin was pride and selfishness, for not being just and giving his sister-in-law a child as the law directed him to, which would have left her "barren" and disgraced.  Plus, there was the emphasis on continuing the lineage of the firstborn son - any child she had by the brothers would be considered the child of the First and would have continued his line and inheritance.  It has been a supreme theological stretch to claim that Onan's major sin was that of spilling the seed per se, since the scripture seems to be very clear about the situation at hand.  This is not to say that spilling the seed isn't a sin, but the chapter in Genesis focuses on the lineage question throughout the story.

Well stated Cleveland. I applaud you exegeted conclusion.

If I may offer my additional reflections...

God struck Onan dead, not for "primitive birth control" itself but for refusing to raise up seed for his brother (beside enjoying the pleasure of his wife despite his refusal to grant his brother an heir).

However, the command to do no murder clearly forbids any type of "birth control" that would serve an abortive function to a pregnancy. To willing terminate, or proceed on a course known to terminate a fertilized egg is to willfully murder conceived life.

That being said, there are methods of birth control that do not function as an abortive tool, one of those would be the withdrawal method.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 03:51:38 AM by Cleopas »
Cleopas
Christopher Hart

"Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees” -- John Wesley

Offline lubeltri

  • Latin Catholic layman
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,795
Re: Contraception
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2008, 10:10:13 AM »
That being said, there are methods of birth control that do not function as an abortive tool, one of those would be the withdrawal method.

Ask the Fathers and virtually every Christian voice until the 20th century what they thought about that practice. I can imagine a priest instructing a married couple: "Keep a towel standing by." :P