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Author Topic: Question on Contraception  (Read 7545 times) Average Rating: 0
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Byzantino
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« on: September 01, 2003, 08:47:10 AM »

Which Orthodox Churches are known to take a more conservative stance on the artificial birth control issue?

Thanks!

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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2003, 09:53:10 AM »

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Which Orthodox Churches are known to take a more conservative stance on the artificial birth control issue?

Generally ROCOR, and the various Old Calendarist Churches, take a more "conservative" position on the subject.  There are also some priests (but no heirarchs that I'm aware of, at least none that make their views a matter of policy) in the "mainstream" who are against contraception, though I don't think I've heard any of them call it a sin (where as the previously mentioned Churches will call it such.)

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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2003, 04:20:14 PM »

Spiritual children of Fr. Ephraim are known generally to stand against artificial contraception.

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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2003, 10:39:23 AM »

I'm getting confused reading some of the posts here. Orthodoxy considers herself as the true Church yet I'm seeing that Orthodoxy dosen't speak with one voice. There are differing opinions of certain things like contraception, validity of Catholic sacraments etc. How can the true Church teach the faith if there are different teachings regarding certain common situations in the life of the faithfull?

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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2003, 10:48:36 AM »

Saint Polycarp,

It's nothing new. Even Rome had disputes over moral issues regarding baptism (of heretics and/or apostates) marriage (must a marriage be recognized by the state in which the couple lives to be valid?), and so forth. Actually, historically speaking, the apparent "chaos" of Orthodoxy is much closer to the "feel" or "vibe" of the early Church than the cold, forced (attempted) uniformity of Catholicism.
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2003, 10:50:11 AM »

Saint Polycarp,

Did you really expect to find heaven on earth? The Perfect Church that you speak of will be only exist in the Kingdom when the Lord comes again in Glory. On earth, the Church was only perfect when the Lord was physically present. Since that time, it has been buffeted and corrupted by man.

If you are seaching for a perfect Church in this imperfect world, you will never find it.



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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2003, 10:53:40 AM »

The Catholic Church has official teachings and the faithfull can easily find out what it is regarding matters of faith and morals. Like divorce, contraception etc. Orthodoxy is looking more like protestantism in this regard. The early Church taught with one voice. When there was a matter that need clarification a council was held and a "policy" formulated. See Acts for the first example of this ancient Church way of teaching uniformly.

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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2003, 10:57:53 AM »

Saint Polycarp,

Did you really expect to find heaven on earth? The Perfect Church that you speak of will be only exist in the Kingdom when the Lord comes again in Glory. On earth, the Church was only perfect when the Lord was physically present. Since that time, it has been buffeted and corrupted by man.

If you are seaching for a perfect Church in this imperfect world, you will never find.


Perfect? No Jesus said the wheat and tares would dwell togeather in the Church till the harvest. But the Church can't be the author of confusion. The Church is the pillar and support of the truth. So the true Church must teach the truth. Thus the Church's teaching must be uniform and it looks like Orthodoxy dosen't fit the bill in this regard.
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Polycarp


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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2003, 11:04:18 AM »

The Church is the pillar and support of the truth. So the true Church must teach the truth. Thus the Church's teaching must be uniform and it looks like Orthodoxy dosen't fit the bill in this regard.
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Polycarp[/b]

But what if what they are teaching is not the truth? How does it get modified in the culture of the RC church?

Is Papal infability a truth? I think not

Is the Immaculate Conception a truth. Once again, I think not.

Both of the above are not founded in scripture, but have been imposed by the church. They are wrong. So this church is not teaching the truth.

I refuse to trust one MAN who thinks that he has a direct line to God.



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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2003, 11:12:16 AM »

Were you a protestant at one time?
Your statement about being "found in scripture" is a protestant idea. Not everything the apostles taught is found in scripture. Even scripture says that.
How can the Church be one but speak with many seperate voices on matters of faith and morals? Sounds like Orthodoxy is giving excuses for it's lack of true unity.

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Polycarp
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2003, 11:22:26 AM »

Your statement about being "found in scripture" is a protestant idea.

That is not necessarily true.

What the Orthodox believe (at least this is my understanding of what we believe  Grin and I am sure that I am probably being way too simplistic )  is that if it is NOT found/supported by scripture, then it is usually not defined as a REQUIRED belief. But is open to interpretation by the body of the Orthodox Church Fathers.

That is why you see this "discrepency" in the teachings of certain issues by each Orthodox Church. Many are steeped in tradition, formed over time, and influenced by the period in which they were defined or interpreted. They are not infallible.

The important thing is that none of these issues are considered "required" for our salvation.
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2003, 11:51:00 AM »

Avoiding sin is required if I'm not mistaking.
So if artificial contraception is a sin then the Church must be able to teach me infallibly whether it is a sin or not! Apparently The Orthodox can't do that. That leaves a big question as to whether the claim of being the true Church is valid in my book. It's not a very deep or complex issue we are talking about. Either artificial contraception is a sin or it isn't. The Orthodox "true Church" can't give a uniform straight answer. This issue could be covered by binding a loosing in the "true Church". Hmmm Orhtodoxy isn't looking as attractive to me as it was before today.
I still accept Orthodoxy as valid and still admire it's traditions, but as being the "true Church" there is much doubt.
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« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2003, 12:07:47 PM »

It's not a very deep or complex issue we are talking about.

Really?

Gluttony is a sin, but where is the line crossed from just eating well?

Lust is a sin, but where is the line crossed from just admiring an attractive woman?

Abortion is a form of contraception. But I think we can all agree that THAT is a sin. Becasue God has already created a life.

But if you are using a condom as a form of contraception, is that a sin, even though no life has yet been created? If so, then we are back to the fundamentalist idea that any form of sex outside of intercourse is a sin.

If you want things that regimented and defined for you, there are Orthodox Churches out there that you can join. Like many of the Old Caledar churhes (i.e. ROCOR). But most Orthodox do not feel that they have all the answers.
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2003, 12:21:19 PM »

It isn't whether it is what I like or not. If one want's to go by what they like they can church shop like a protestant. From todays discussion it seems one can shop around in Orthodoxy too.
The Church is the pillar and support of the truth. Thefore the Church can and should teach authoratativly in matters of faith and morals.
To my knoweledge all branches of Christianity agreed that artificial contraception was sin untill the Anglicans changed their minds in the 1930's Lambeth conference.
Christ the same yesterday, today and tommrow. The basic moral teachings of the Church (the body of Christ) can't change to match the morals of the day.
So anyway for me, this lack of ability of the Orthodox to teach authoratatively and uniformly in simple matters of morals is a problem when it comes to their claim to be the "true Church".
The Orthodox are true apostolic churches with valid orders and sacraments but the "true Church" I'm very  much doubting it at this time.

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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2003, 01:23:42 PM »

Without diminishing our differences, Catholics and Orthodox stand firm (if not together?) on issues such as homosexual unions, abortion, and I believe euthanasia. This to me seems more important than a disparity in doctrine on ABC.
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« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2003, 01:26:41 PM »

Actually, historically speaking, the apparent "chaos" of Orthodoxy is much closer to the "feel" or "vibe" of the early Church than the cold, forced (attempted) uniformity of Catholicism.

Dear Polycarp,

Justin's remark above is a good one to keep in mind.  It sounds like you want black and white answers to certain issues.  Granted, there is a value in having such answers, but the truth is that there are a lot of grey areas, and they must be dealt with as such, at all times upholding the Gospel.  That there are Orthodox who differ on this question, even jurisdictions that differ in their approach to this question, can look troubling, but I don't think it should be.  

I was against all forms of artificial birth control, even non-abortifacient forms, and still am to a certain extent, except that before it was a black and white issue for me, and there were no two ways about it.  When I did some reading on why there are Orthodox who will allow for the use of non-abortifacient ABC, I could see it being allowed.  I don't think the Church upholds it as the standard or the ideal by any means, but a case could be made for allowing it on a couple-by-couple basis.  Coinciding with this understanding of mine is the idea that, unlike what Catholics often say, there is doubt (at least in my mind) that couples who exclusively use NFP are still open to life.  It's a complicated issue, and I don't think a black and white answer does it justice.  You say it is a matter of whether or not it is sin.  I prefer to look at it in terms of the person's (indeed, the couple's) salvation.  The role of sin and how it hampers the process of being saved plays into that, but the way I see it, viewing the issue this way is more all-encompassing.  There is a thread on the subject of Orthodoxy's view of contraception on a Catholic forum; I do not want to cross-post, but if you haven't already seen it and would like to, private message me, and I will direct you to that thread.  I am finding it interesting.    

Also, Vicki's point is well taken.  The vast majority of us who post here are not clergy.  When in doubt, you should ask them as well, instead of letting our opinions sway your views about Orthodoxy.  Heaven knows I do enough in my daily life to give the Lord, the Gospel, and the Orthodox Church a bad name.  Imagine all of us put together.  Wink
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« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2003, 02:09:35 PM »

Just wanted to add that I know members of my family who use contraception with the blessing of their priest.  Until last year she was still in college & he was struggling to get his business started, & there was no guarentee of money in the future, & they practically didn't have anything.  The priest gave them his blessing, as he explained that it would be worse for a baby to come into the world while the parents can't even afford a crib or baby food, than it would if they could wait a while & then have children when there's enough money for more than 2 mouths.  Now that she's out of college & working, and he's got his business off the ground, they're trying to start a family, once again, with their priest's blessing.
I think it's a case by case situation, pretty much.  It might be that the woman would come into danger if she has children, it might be that they are living in poverty, it might be becuase of school.
I know of one couple that was ordered onto birthcontrol by their priest because they live on a $30,000 salery & have 7 children.  They live in a pigsty, rarely have enough food to eat, and wear the most disgusting clothing.  Unless the kids do very well in school, they'll never afford college, or even the chance to get out of the small town that they live in. When the local priest heard she was pregnant with #7, he said, that's it, that's the last one, and said it was a sin to put even more kids into this situation.  He informed the couple of his decision, & payed for the birthcontol himself.  
I think it comes down to a decision between the couple & their spiritual father.  
Of course, any kind of birthcontrol shouldn't be needed for unmarried people, but we all know how that goes.
Anyway, back to work
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2003, 02:30:51 PM »

The question then becomes: since one of the primary purposes of marriage is procreation, why would someone marry if he or she cannot afford children?

Then the other question arises: if it is morally acceptable to space children, why even bother with birth control when natural family planning is available and is just as effective? http://www.orthodoxnfp.org.

Another question to consider: wouldn't contraception be interefering with God's will?

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« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2003, 02:36:30 PM »

Anastasios,

I am sure that you get these types of questions in seminary all the time to answer: Why can't it be God's will that he puts it in our mind to use contraception if it is his will that we should not have children yet?
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« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2003, 02:43:01 PM »

A great deal of the issue here is with the form of the question itself. I'm going to walk through the old Anglican position, showing how it arrives at something similar to the position espoused by Fr. Harakas, to illuminate how I think asking about the sinfulness of artificial birth control is taking the wrong approach.

The first problem is with that word "artificial". Here we are on strictly philosophical territory and need no recourse to theology. The Anglicans flatly rejected this distinction. Contraception is artificial, because it requires artifice. Thus, we've never distinguished among methods on this basis.

So what's really at the root of it? Well, it all goes back to Genesis 1: "Be fruitful and multiply." Having children is one of the earliest commands; at the same time, we've always rejected the Thomist assertion that the purpose of sex is procreation. Therefore,  the Anglican position expressed after Humanae Vitae was that contraception could be used to regulate fertility, but not supress it entirely. Abortion as a means of birth control was denounced.

I don't mean to demand that Orthodoxy adopt the same conclusion. The point is rather that there is a whole lot of thinking going on in between the principles and the final conclusion, and either way, the original question pretty much falls by the wayside. An infallible answer to a question which (I think) is the wrong question anyway is a pretty high expectation.
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« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2003, 02:44:20 PM »

Quote
The question then becomes: since one of the primary purposes of marriage is procreation, why would someone marry if he or she cannot afford children?

Good question, and deserving of thought and discussion.  If a man and woman love each other, and want to get married and start a family, and they cannot afford children just yet, but they can get married, are they to be discouraged from marrying because they are not in a good financial situation?  Is there no way for economy to be exercised in such a situation?  

Quote
Then the other question arises: if it is morally acceptable to space children, why even bother with birth control when natural family planning is available and is just as effective? http://www.orthodoxnfp.org.

NFP should certainly be an option, and certainly the preferred option in my opinion.  But that, I don't think, will be able to do it in all cases.  For example, I know people who, for all the scientific evidence you present to them, simply do not feel comfortable with it.  "I won't believe it until I experience it", said one friend.  What do you do then?  If you're not in a position to have children, and you don't trust NFP 100%, then what?  Surely, once the couple is ready to have children, they can do so, and they can try NFP then because they obviously are ready.  Then, maybe their faith in it will increase.  But until then?  

I think that there are as many grey areas as there are persons out there, and so a black and white answer simply will not solve it.

Quote
Another question to consider: wouldn't contraception be interefering with God's will?

To my mind, there is no kind of birth control, artificial or natural, that wouldn't interfere with God's will.  NFP is the restriction of sex to when it's least likely to result in having a baby.  And, if I'm not mistaken, when done correctly, it is as effective or even more effective than using a condom, for example.  I've seen some texts/charts flat out say that if you have sex between day X and day Y of the cycle, you will not get pregnant.  So the NFP couple is open to life by practicing NFP?  Or is God prevented from bringing about the accomplishment of His Will in the conception of a child by a thin piece of latex?  If the stats I heard are right, condom use might be even more conducive to conception than NFP.  

Again, excellent questions are being asked, but I don't know how much we can say about it because it does not look like a black and white issue.
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« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2003, 02:44:22 PM »

Bingo Tom.
As far as the primary reason for marriage, it is so that the couple assists each other in their salvation.  It works for both rich & poor people.
Though procration is of course a big thing in marriage, it is not the most important.  If it were, people who know that they are incapable of having children would be forbidden to wed at all.  It also becomes a non-issue if the marrying couple is beyond childbearing age.  
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« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2003, 03:29:23 PM »

Hi,
" Also, bear in mind before you judge the Church for the answers on the Forum that they are given by laity...best to ask a priest directly before making your mind up AGAINST the Church because of confusion engendered here, or lack of proof being provided here."

Now that is good advice!

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« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2003, 03:35:53 PM »

Then the other question arises: if it is morally acceptable to space children, why even bother with birth control when natural family planning is available and is just as effective? http://www.orthodoxnfp.org.

Well, first of all I would hold that there is nothing "natural" about NFP; it is simply another method of birth control. Second, it is reliable for some, not reliable for others. In the case of my wife it would have worked almost faultlessly, but not everyone is so blessed.

I'm also extremely uncomfortable with this academic discussion of these issues. I'd say offhand that people with 3+ children in their house are in a better position to appreciate the trials part of having children than, if I may be blunt, a bunch of young guys who don't have any. (Ours are available for limited test drives in the DC area.) Someone in seminary had better be darned sure that the advice they intend to give out is going to pass the "tell that to my face!" test.
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« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2003, 03:37:21 PM »

"Again, excellent questions are being asked, but I don't know how much we can say about it because it does not look like a black and white issue."

But it is a black and white issue. Either artificial contraception is sinfull or it isn't. The fact that is was universally taught as being sin till the 1930's should settle any doubt in the mind of a Catholic or Orthodox Christian as we believe that the Church couldn't have taught error for 2000 years then realized it was and error. That undermines almost everything we believe. If the Church can teach error how can we rely on anything the Church teaches?  


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« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2003, 03:50:45 PM »

Hello, Polycarp!

I believe that in EOxy, the requirements of doctrine and submission to doctrine are different. In Catholicism, we are bound by doctrine. At the very least, an "ascent" of faith is required. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in EOxy, not as much is as intricately defined as in Roman Catholicism.

So, while it may have been taught in the 30's (can you provide a source for this?) it probably was never defined. Remember, in Catholicism we have the benefit of a Pope we believe to be infallible in teaching faith and morals under certain conditions. I very much doubt that the EO's have had the equivalent of an ex-cathedra statement.

So it is quite possible that the climate changed, and having been undefined, it remains so, although with a greater plurality of beliefs.

That said, I'm going to unleash a dreaded Vatican Twoism on you. Respect for conscience. The Holy Apostle Saint Paul strived to be all things to all people. He ate swine with the gentiles, and kosher with the Jews. He exhorted us to make considerations for the consciences of others.

He is the model for inter-denominational dialogue.
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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2003, 04:01:44 PM »

I agree about Saint Paul. My reasons for the discussion is based on the realization that in spite of claiming to be the "true Church" the Orthodox have a lack of unity in teaching on matters of faith and morals.  Honesty I have considered Orthodoxy as an alternative over the past few years as they have maintained most of the ancient liturgical traditions I love and miss. The Church is entrusted with the teaching of the faithfull. The Church must beable to tell me what is sin and what isn't without equivocation. Else the Church isn't the pillar and support of the truth. It can't make known the mainifold wisdom of God etc.

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« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2003, 04:32:01 PM »

I think you are wrong to expect that sin can be defined in every case. What may be sin for me may not be sin for you. That is not relativism, it is the teaching of the New Testament.

In one sense everything I do is defective - without accepting Total Depravity as a doctrine.

When I do anything I am aware of mixed motives.

Is it sinful for me to go out tonight and have a pint with my mates? Is it sinful for you? Surely what is sinful is not the going out with the mates or having a pint, but the situation we live and grow in. I have a wife and 4 kids. Leaving my wife with the kids so that I can go out for a pint may always be a sin. But if you are a single man it may rarely be a sin.

Yet you seem to want to find a list somewhere that will define whether or not going out with your mates for a pint is always a sin or always a virtue. It may be either. It depends. That isn't the answer an RC may want to hear but it is the one the Orthodox priests would give. Sin is to do with spiritual sickness and is therefore personal and situational. It is MY sickness not a theoretical construct that we can list and categorise.

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« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2003, 04:43:21 PM »

Hello Polycarp!

I don't think that a lack of unity in EOxy necessarily implies that it is false, although I do believe that RCC unity is a great sign of its historic claim.

The Holy Father has called the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches "the Two Lungs." So, if EOxy is false, useless, or to be easily dismissed, the Holy Father is also wrong, and therefore Latin Christianity is also suspect.

I'm not a relativist, but I acknowledge along with the patriarch of Rome, that both our Tradition and theirs belong to the Apostolic Church. That's something not easily dismissed, and another thing that requires ascent of faith from Catholics, but not Orthodox.
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« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2003, 05:00:31 PM »

I think you are wrong to expect that sin can be defined in every case. What may be sin for me may not be sin for you. That is not relativism, it is the teaching of the New Testament.

In one sense everything I do is defective - without accepting Total Depravity as a doctrine.

When I do anything I am aware of mixed motives.

Is it sinful for me to go out tonight and have a pint with my mates? Is it sinful for you? Surely what is sinful is not the going out with the mates or having a pint, but the situation we live and grow in. I have a wife and 4 kids. Leaving my wife with the kids so that I can go out for a pint may always be a sin. But if you are a single man it may rarely be a sin.

Yet you seem to want to find a list somewhere that will define whether or not going out with your mates for a pint is always a sin or always a virtue. It may be either. It depends. That isn't the answer an RC may want to hear but it is the one the Orthodox priests would give. Sin is to do with spiritual sickness and is therefore personal and situational. It is MY sickness not a theoretical construct that we can list and categorise.

Peter Theodore

Hi Pete,
I agree with you that in some situations there may be actions which are sin to one person and not to another. But there are certain moral behavours that are acceptible in God's eyes and other which aren't. It seems the Orthodox are equivocating on some issues and issues that in the past they wouldn't have.
Anyway I think we beat this subject down enough for now. Wink
 The real issue for me is what is becomming more obvious in my talks with Orthdox is there isn't true unity in Orthodoxy. It's more of a confederation of Churches not all that much different from the claims of unity the protestants make.

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Polycarp
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« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2003, 05:15:57 PM »

The real issue for me is what is becomming more obvious in my talks with Orthdox is there isn't true unity in Orthodoxy. It's more of a confederation of Churches not all that much different from the claims of unity the protestants make.

Hi Polycarp

The reason I don't think this is true, is that my own communion has walled itself off from the Eastern Orthodox for 1500 years since we considered them infected with Nestorianism, yet it now seems, to me certainly, that the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox have substantially the same faith, practice, spirituality, tradition etc etc.

There are NO Protestant churches that have such a coherence of faith over 50 years let alone 1500 years.

My bishop is a Metropolitan of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate but he often ministers to the Eritrean Orthodox in London when their bishop, who lives on the continent, cannot travel over. I have worshipped with Armenian Orthodox in Constantinople when my bishop helped consecrate the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II. There were bishops from every Oriental Orthodox Church helping to consecrate him. My church regularly worships with Eritreans and Ethiopians. I have no sense of being part of an affiliation. The people I communicate with constantly on the net, from every local Church are really and truly my brethren, members of the same church.

The model for the church from the earliest times was EXACTLY a communion of communities with their bishops. What you seem to be looking for, on the Roman Catholic model, is a deviation from the constant practice of the Church. I am sure that Leo of Rome, when he started trying to impose his authority on the christian world, thought that the church was a mess and needed organising under him. But it didn't and doesn't.

Best wishes

Peter Theodore

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« Reply #31 on: September 04, 2003, 05:16:03 PM »

The real issue for me is what is becomming more obvious in my talks with Orthdox is there isn't true unity in Orthodoxy. It's more of a confederation of Churches not all that much different from the claims of unity the protestants make.


Dear Polycarp,

I am sorry if this offends you, but if you think that Orthodoxy is disunified, then perhaps it would be profitable for us to start a thread where you discuss where you see disunity in Orthodoxy and unity in Catholicism.  Because as one who seriously contemplated converting to Catholicism, I feel I can say with a good amount of certainty that the "unity" in Catholicism is no real unity at all; in fact, in some respects, there is more disunity in Catholicism than you could ever pin on Orthodoxy, in my opinion.
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« Reply #32 on: September 04, 2003, 05:38:18 PM »

Anastasios,

I am sure that you get these types of questions in seminary all the time to answer: Why can't it be God's will that he puts it in our mind to use contraception if it is his will that we should not have children yet?


Tom,

We actually haven't discussed this much in seminary thus far.  Basically the dogmatics professor gave the basic OCA instruction on the issue, which is contraception is not the best thing for Christians to be using but that if there is a really darn good reason then you and your spiritual father after prayer *might* consider it and only then if it is not abortofacient (i.e. the pill is out since although most of the time it prevents fertilization, sometimes it prevents the implanation of a fertilized embryo which is already an ensouled human being).

Anyway, this is more of an issue that I struggle with terribly--not because I waver back and forth myself, but because I just get very emotional about it.  I will try and keep emotions out of the discussion, but I can't promise I will be able to.  Apologies in advance if I say anything judgemental and hurtful; if I offend anyone please anyone let me know.

Basically my opinion follows, and I would urge anyone swayed by my words (here I am already assuming what I say is important, forgive me!) to speak with their priest and do further reading, don't just buy my version of the story.  A lot of my opinion is founded on Catholic thought, which I believe is a little better developed in this regard than Orthodox thought at this time, which is not in any way a slam on the Orthodox, but rather just "the way things are right now."  Orthodox thought on the matter I believe is developing, and I again ad nauseum forward anyone interested in such matters to the Orthodox NFP (Natural Family Planning) website at http://www.orthodoxnfp.org.  They have a message board fully about this, several articles, and the webmaster, Fr. John Schroedel, wrote an excellent thesis showing the history of contraception in Christian thought and up until the modern day.

All of that preface aside, I believe that:

1) God would not put the thought to use contraception into one's mind because contraception encourages sex without responsibility.  If one cannot have children they should abstain from sex.  This is because:

2) Sex is both for unifying the couple and for procreation.  God instituted sex to join the "two as one" and in order that man might "be fruitful and multiply".  Now one does not have to rely only on scholastic theology to come to these conclusions, although Fr. John in his thesis (which I am going to ask him to put online or publish in book form) shows pretty well that there is not a good reason why a natural law argument would be foreign to Orthodoxy.  Merely looking at Genesis shows these two things closely connected.

3) Contraception is a barrier.  It prevents the completion of the beautiful sexual encounter which is to *always* end with the man and woman in intercourse etc etc etc (won't go into detail on the internet).  Any other form of sex or masturbation is a sin precisely because it is inward turned, whereas the vaginal copulation of a loving couple ends in a sharing.

4) Contraception leads to selfishness.  My observation, my judgement, I accept the criticism that surely will come.  I do not judge contraceptors nor do I ask people generally if they do such, however from those who tell me they use it vs. those who do not use it I see a difference; I sense a difference.  I can't put it so much into words, but I offer my observation which could be wrong and off base.

5) The reason I believe that a natural family planning routine is more acceptable is the goal of NFP is not to not have children but rather to space them, while always remaining open to the possiblility that pregnancy might come as God wills.  With NFP you are recognizing the woman's natural signs of fertility that God gave the woman, and using that to gauge it and abstain from intercourse.  Abstaining from sex cannot be bad except if it is for too long as St. Paul tells us, so it cannot be sinful to space children by not having sex.

6) Even NFP could be sinful if one tried to do it forever, etc.

7) In the case where the mother will SURELY die from a pregnancy I will defer to the spiritual father.  As long as everyone admits that it is sinful no matter what the circumstances, but the thought its we are just trying to do the lesser sin.

8 ) My whole point is that children and marriage go hand in hand, so hence my thought is God would simply NOT will you not to have children, unless you were sterile.

Sorry for the long ramble!

anastasios
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« Reply #33 on: September 04, 2003, 05:50:52 PM »


I'm also extremely uncomfortable with this academic discussion of these issues. I'd say offhand that people with 3+ children in their house are in a better position to appreciate the trials part of having children than, if I may be blunt, a bunch of young guys who don't have any. (Ours are available for limited test drives in the DC area.) Someone in seminary had better be darned sure that the advice they intend to give out is going to pass the "tell that to my face!" test.


I would tell it to your face.  This is a case where I most certainly practice what I preach, maybe even beyond (I preach NFP as an option but my wife and I do not even do that, leaving it totally up to God).  I also base it on my experience at my parish where hardly anyone used birth control, and I know families with anywhere from 3 to 7 children who and who I was around enough to see what the dynamics of the situation was.  In addition, the whole argument is not about experience but about objective truth, which doesn't change no matter how hard the situation is, and the issue is anything BUT academic since this affects real people and this is one of the major issues of applying faith in God to every intimate detail.

I will say again that among people whom I know who contracept and those who do not, the non-contraceptors tend to be less selfish.  I notice this often, and it's one of the reasons I changed my formerly pro-contraception stance.

I flatly deny that NFP is the same as artificial birth control, and I believe the Catholics have sufficiently argued that in their literature.

I also note that all Christian denominations denounced contraception until 1930.

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« Reply #34 on: September 04, 2003, 05:52:08 PM »

One more point Keble, many of the people the influenced me to become anti-contraception were not "young guys in their 20's" but older married women with 5-7 children.

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« Reply #35 on: September 04, 2003, 06:00:52 PM »

"I also note that all Christian denominations denounced contraception until 1930."

This is my point! How can the true Church say something is a sin for 1900 years then turn around and say it isn't anymore?
Peace,
Polycarp

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« Reply #36 on: September 04, 2003, 11:06:46 PM »




I don't see it this way. I think the Orthodox teaching on artificial contraception is merely becoming fainter because of the exceptions priests and bishops are making, which is no different in Roman Catholicism (opinions in Roman Catholicism range from "Humanae Vitae wasn't infallible and artificial contraception is no big deal, to Humanae Vitae was infallible and artificial contraception is forbidden).

I too am slightly disturbed at the prevailing attitude in Orthodoxy, but it’s one thing saying a church openly embraces the contraceptive mentality and another saying that a church allows some exceptions under certain conditions. As one reader pointed out, there certainly are exceptions and it isn't so clear cut, black and white (the Just War theory comes to mind here).  Can you honestly expect a married couple to refrain from all sexual activity for life because the wife suffers from a condition of anaphylactic shock from seminal contact? Rigorist Roman Catholics would say yes (I know this for a fact). Orthodoxy would, per St Paul (1 Cor 7:5) allow for the use of condoms. If Roman Catholicism is inflexible on this point yet blesses a war, which will inevitably leave innocent civilians dead, as just, then there's something very wrong, not so much with Roman Catholicism as with the Vatican rigorists.

Orthodox attitudes towards contraception would probably be overhauled if more money and awareness was invested in NFP, which is not, as I often need to point out to some of my RC friends, an exclusively RC phenomenon. Orthodoxy can go hand in hand with Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae, as Patriarch Athenagoras (of blessed memory) affirmed: “I absolutely agree with the popeGǪPope Paul VI could not have spoken otherwise. Holding the Gospel in his hand, he seeks to protect the morals as well as the interests and the existence of the nationsGǪI am at the pope’s side, in all that he is doing and saying.” Ultimately I’m more swayed by comments such as these rather than what’s generally found in present-day circles.

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« Reply #37 on: September 04, 2003, 11:56:55 PM »




I don't see it this way. I think the Orthodox teaching on artificial contraception is merely becoming fainter because of the exceptions priests and bishops are making, which is no different in Roman Catholicism (opinions in Roman Catholicism range from "Humanae Vitae wasn't infallible and artificial contraception is no big deal, to Humanae Vitae was infallible and artificial contraception is forbidden).

I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Artifical contraception is a sin and is the "official" Catholic belief is based on the principals and traditons of the Church going back to the apostolic times. Humane Vitae is simply the Pope's (beautifually written)explaination for the Churchs' position and consistant teaching on this subject.

I too am slightly disturbed at the prevailing attitude in Orthodoxy, but it’s one thing saying a church openly embraces the contraceptive mentality and another saying that a church allows some exceptions under certain conditions. As one reader pointed out, there certainly are exceptions and it isn't so clear cut, black and white (the Just War theory comes to mind here).  Can you honestly expect a married couple to refrain from all sexual activity for life because the wife suffers from a condition of anaphylactic shock from seminal contact? Rigorist Roman Catholics would say yes (I know this for a fact). Orthodoxy would, per St Paul (1 Cor 7:5) allow for the use of condoms. If Roman Catholicism is inflexible on this point yet blesses a war, which will inevitably leave innocent civilians dead, as just, then there's something very wrong, not so much with Roman Catholicism as with the Vatican rigorists.

Orthodox attitudes towards contraception would probably be overhauled if more money and awareness was invested in NFP, which is not, as I often need to point out to some of my RC friends, an exclusively RC phenomenon. Orthodoxy can go hand in hand with Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae, as Patriarch Athenagoras (of blessed memory) affirmed: “I absolutely agree with the popeGǪPope Paul VI could not have spoken otherwise. Holding the Gospel in his hand, he seeks to protect the morals as well as the interests and the existence of the nationsGǪI am at the pope’s side, in all that he is doing and saying.” Ultimately I’m more swayed by comments such as these rather than what’s generally found in present-day circles.

My real point was that it is inconsistant with the Orthodox claim to be the " true Church"  and to change the teachings on matters of faith and morals which are consistant regardless of the times or social morals. Something that is inherently sinfull is always sinfull and can't be subjected to human opinion. The fact that the Orthodox now claim contraception is ok would be inconsistant with how the "true Church" would act in teaching matters of faith and morals.
Peace,
Polycarp



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« Reply #38 on: September 05, 2003, 02:43:38 AM »

I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Artifical contraception is a sin and is the "official" Catholic belief is based on the principals and traditons of the Church going back to the apostolic times. Humane Vitae is simply the Pope's (beautifually written)explaination for the Churchs' position and consistant teaching on this subject.


Yeah, just as the Theotokos had always been Immaculately Conceived?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always had Supreme Universal Jurisdiction?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always been infallible when speaking ex cathedra?  ...just as the Holy Spirit has always proceeded from the Father and the Son (filioque)?

I don't buy it.  Maybe you can enlighten us on how you're the penultimate modern Roman Catholic theologian as well.
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« Reply #39 on: September 05, 2003, 03:08:12 AM »

I found this article to be very informative:

http://www.geocities.com/wmwolfe_48044/Bc_ortho.doc
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« Reply #40 on: September 05, 2003, 03:12:39 AM »

"I feel I can say with a good amount of certainty that the "unity" in Catholicism is no real unity at all; in fact, in some respects, there is more disunity in Catholicism than you could ever pin on Orthodoxy, in my opinion. "


Mor,

Could you please elaborate further on this point?

Thanking you!

Byz
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« Reply #41 on: September 05, 2003, 09:39:21 AM »

Friends:

Discussion of Roman Catholic doctrines other than contraception need to be moved to new threads.  All further posts in this thread need to be about contraception only.

Thanks!

anastasios
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« Reply #42 on: September 05, 2003, 11:40:28 AM »

I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Artifical contraception is a sin and is the "official" Catholic belief is based on the principals and traditons of the Church going back to the apostolic times. Humane Vitae is simply the Pope's (beautifually written)explaination for the Churchs' position and consistant teaching on this subject.


Yeah, just as the Theotokos had always been Immaculately Conceived?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always had Supreme Universal Jurisdiction?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always been infallible when speaking ex cathedra?  ...just as the Holy Spirit has always proceeded from the Father and the Son (filioque)?

I don't buy it.  Maybe you can enlighten us on how you're the penultimate modern Roman Catholic theologian as well.

Hello Elisha,
I can't claim to be the "penultimate" modern Roman Catholic theologian. I'm just a layman with no formal training in theology or anything regarding the Church. What I know is based on 52 years of expierenceing my faith and around 20 years of studing Church history and apologetics. Mostly protestant claims and Catholic answers to them. I have had only minimal study regarding the Orthodox. That is why I am here on this forum. To learn. And I have been supprized by a couple of things I have learned so far. That is why I have raised the points we are discussing. It is part of my learning process and perhaps because of some of my questions it will be part of a learning proces for others who participate in the discussion.

As for your questions;


Yeah, just as the Theotokos had always been Immaculately Conceived?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always had Supreme Universal Jurisdiction?  ...just as the Bishop of Rome had always been infallible when speaking ex cathedra?  ...just as the Holy Spirit has always proceeded from the Father and the Son (filioque)?

The quick answer is yes. Why do I say that? Because all of these teachings are based on development of doctrine. This is a process which started with the apostles and has continued through Church history. See Acts for the first example of development of doctrine.
Jesus and the apostles left the Church with a rich deposit of teachings and principals to guide her. The Holy Spirit was sent to remind the Church and to help guide the Church. Doctrine didn't just develop and then stop developing in the first century or so of the Church. Untill the great schism in 1054 AD the Church developed doctrines togeather, East and West. Since the schism the West continued many aspects of the Church's mission alone. Evangelization went out to all the world and doctrine continued to develop, some times in response to specific errors and sometimes as a natural expansion of an ancient belief or practice. For whatever reasons it seems the Eastern part of the Church stopped developing doctrinal understandings of the ancient deposit of the faith and left it where it was at the time of the great schism.
But before the schism the Church developed doctrine and we share many of these beliefs.
Take for example the Trinity. This is a developed doctrine which is based on tradition and scripture but was not specifically develped by the apostles. The Church had to take what they left us with and come to a clearer understanding. Mainly because of certain heretical ideas being introduced into the Church. Thus the Trinity doctrine.
The subjects you listed above all fall into the development of doctrine catigory. There is neither time or space to explain each of them here however with very little effort you can find the answers right here on the internet at various Catholic apologetic web sites.
Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2003, 12:28:09 PM »

I am against birth control as well. I was alarmed when the priest that was to originally receive me into Orthodoxy told me that not only were barrier methods okay, but the pill was okay to use as well. He compared it with taking an aspirin when you get a headache. I think that it terrible to equate a baby with a headache. I let him know the pill causes early abortion in many cases, but there was no change in attitude. Needless to say that is one of the main reasons I didn't enter the Orthodox Church back then.

In Christ,
Tony
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« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2003, 01:37:05 PM »

You're right, Tony, that's horrible!!
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