Author Topic: Introduction and Question on Contraception  (Read 8221 times)

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Offline Sophia3

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Introduction and Question on Contraception
« on: December 19, 2008, 01:26:22 AM »
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2008, 01:48:21 AM »
One view is that Natural Family Planning is no different than the barrier method; one prevents the sperm from getting to the egg, the other prevents the egg from getting to the sperm.

Offline John of the North

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 01:52:37 AM »
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

If you click on the tag at the bottom of the thread, you will find other threads that address contraception.

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2008, 01:58:52 AM »
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

How is a missal put to the printing press in 1962 "traditional." I say 1962 because that is the year the missal the priest saying the Extraordinary Form in the Roman Catholic Church is to be using.  I have a picnic for the fourth of July I started maybe 15 years ago, I call that a tradition.  Using that line of thinking I could call my fourth of july picnic a traditional picnic. 

« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 02:02:56 AM by username! »

Offline Sophia3

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2008, 02:14:03 AM »
I apologise if I misread or mistook your statement, but the above statement seems to me like you are just trying to start a fight. I am here to learn about Orthodoxy, not to sit at a computer screen and fight.

Just so you know though, the Tridentine Mass has basically been the same for 1500 years. 1962 only changed a few prayers that had become obsolete, it was not a whole new Mass. Neither was 1955 or the Council of Trent for that matter.

Offline GiC

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2008, 02:20:58 AM »
I apologise if I misread or mistook your statement, but the above statement seems to me like you are just trying to start a fight. I am here to learn about Orthodoxy, not to sit at a computer screen and fight.

Just so you know though, the Tridentine Mass has basically been the same for 1500 years. 1962 only changed a few prayers that had become obsolete, it was not a whole new Mass. Neither was 1955 or the Council of Trent for that matter.

Actually, most the changes in the 1962 missal were to the Rubrics...but you are correct in that it was only an evolutionary change in the Tridentine Mass much similar to what has been seen over the last 1000 years to the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, albeit the process through which the latter has evolved has been far less formal.

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2008, 02:37:27 AM »
I'm well aware of the changes in the 1962 Roman Missal.  I'm just not a fan of the word "traditional." 
As far as your point in the original topic, as Ukiemeister (Go Blue and Yellow) mentioned please perform a tag search.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2008, 08:56:22 AM »
One view is that Natural Family Planning is no different than the barrier method; one prevents the sperm from getting to the egg, the other prevents the egg from getting to the sperm.

This is the same reason Irish Hermit, our own beloved Fr. Ambrose, stated why Humanaei Vitae has no patristics in it.  The same fathers who condemned one condemned the other.

That being said, studies have shown two key differences: NFP is more successful, and has a 0 divorce rate.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2008, 09:40:04 AM »
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

Hi Sophia, and welcome to OC.net!

As far as I understand, the Orthodox Church views various issues of non-abortive contraception as PASTORAL issues. It means that while the Church universally condemns abortion, She does not offer blunt, "one-size-fits-it-all" statements on the ways of family planning that do not terminate the life of a conceived human being. If you have a question about family planning, simply go to your parish priest and talk with him about it.
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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2008, 12:19:15 PM »
Quote
I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer

Well, I wouldn't put it that way. After all, there is a unified position on abortion even without a Pope. I think contraception has come back up as an issue because it was time to reevaluate the traditional stance on it.

Quote
however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct?

From my experience, that's about correct.

Quote
Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

Just what you already know, that there's a wide range of opinions on the topic amongst the Orthodox at present. I've seen Orthodox writing both for and against it. I myself have been both against it and for it, depending on when you asked me.

Contraception...
« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 12:19:51 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline Andrea

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2008, 01:39:31 PM »


This is the same reason Irish Hermit, our own beloved Fr. Ambrose, stated why Humanaei Vitae has no patristics in it.  The same fathers who condemned one condemned the other.

That being said, studies have shown two key differences: NFP is more successful, and has a 0 divorce rate.

The part about the patristics is very interesting. I haven't heard that before. I tried a search for Humanae Vitae, but no threads came up. Is there somewhere I can read more about what Father Ambrose has said?

Personally, I've never understood the attitude to NFP. I've seen Catholic arguments go round and round about how it's not birth control. How is it not? So it's not artificial, but you're still  "controlling" the process. I don't understand the reluctance to call it what it is. Even my OB calls it birth control. Sorry, it's just something that bugs me.  :)

Offline Sophia3

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2008, 02:25:45 PM »
Well whether or not it actually is birth control, the difference between a traditional understanding of it and most usages of birth control is that it is basically supposed to be not used very much. Traditional priests have told me that you are supposed to only use it to prevent pregnancy if the mother has a serious health problem or the family is too poor to afford to raise another kid. And by too poor its meant actually too poor, not like "well we could do it but wont be able to accord the new big screen TV we wanted."

I do agree though that it often seems like its just sort of a loophole.

Offline Thomas

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2008, 02:28:52 PM »
Sophia,

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum. As Asteriktos  notes there has been a great deal of discussion on the issue of contraceptives on this board and you should read it. Basically all Orthodox Jurisdictions are united in the belief that abortives are forbidden by Church Tradition and practice. There are differing interpretations on whether other methods of contraception are allowed.

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2008, 03:59:42 PM »
Well whether or not it actually is birth control, the difference between a traditional understanding of it and most usages of birth control is that it is basically supposed to be not used very much. Traditional priests have told me that you are supposed to only use it to prevent pregnancy if the mother has a serious health problem or the family is too poor to afford to raise another kid. And by too poor its meant actually too poor, not like "well we could do it but wont be able to accord the new big screen TV we wanted."

I do agree though that it often seems like its just sort of a loophole.

What's a traditional priest? 

Offline Nyssa The Hobbit

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2008, 06:45:44 PM »
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

I've been told that it varies from priest to priest.  When I started attending the local Greek Orthodox church, I mentioned birth control to my priest, because at the time I had medical issues which were treated using the Pill, and everything I read online suggested that the Orthodox Church opposed artificial birth control.  He said that the Orthodox Church does NOT forbid birth control.  He told me the same thing at another time as well.  I had gone off the Pill to have another baby; it's been two years and still no baby, but the medical issues have corrected themselves after many years, so I don't need to use the Pill anymore anyway.  :D  (The same thing happened to my mom.  So it may be a medical healing, but I still praise God for a miracle, whether supernatural or medical.)

I have a couple of friends who are also in the Greek Orthodox Church.  They have been struggling with poverty for a couple of years for various reasons.  Their fertility was already well established, so their priest allowed them to use artificial birth control.  They did want more kids in future (and in fact are having one); it wasn't about hating children.

Now I look in other sources, books and articles, all good sources and not dubious; they say birth control is not encouraged but may be allowed at times.  On the Internet, I find Orthodox who are rabidly against using birth control, but that's the Internet.

I don't agree with people who say, if it would be bad for you to have kids, live as brother and sister.  Not only is that a lot to ask of two people who are married and are still attracted to each other and have a youthful sex drive and sleep in the same bed, but St. Paul specifically told us not to deny each other except for prayer and fasting, so we wouldn't be tempted into adultery.

From what I understand, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church share a dislike for artificial birth control, but the Catholic Church is stricter about it.
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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2008, 03:08:53 AM »
Hello Sophia,

The Orthodox Churches don't tend to put out statements such as the Vatican does -papal encyclicals, bulls, curial statements, etc. But in the year 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church felt the need to proclaim some basic Christian principles for the guidance of the Russian people after the country's depressing 70 years of repression by the atheistic powers. A Millennial Synod was held in Moscow and it promulgated a major statement on the Church and modern society "Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church."

The Russian Orthodox Church allows non-abortive contraception and speaks of it in the Millennial Statement from the Synod of Bishops.

BASES OF THE SOCIAL CONCEPT OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

XII. 3. Among the problems which need a religious and moral assessment is that of contraception. Some contraceptives have an abortive effect, interrupting artificially the life of the embryo on the very first stages of his life. Therefore, the same judgements are applicable to the use of them as to abortion. But other means, which do not involve interrupting an already conceived life, cannot be equated with abortion in the least. In defining their attitude to the non-abortive contraceptives, Christian spouses should remember that human reproduction is one of the principal purposes of the divinely established marital union (see, X. 4). The deliberate refusal of childbirth on egoistic grounds devalues marriage and is a definite sin.

Section XII.3 of the 2000 Synodal document

"BASES OF THE SOCIAL CONCEPT
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH"
http://3saints.com/ustav_mp_russ_english.html

also here

http://www.incommunion.org/articles/the-orthodox-church-and-society/introduction

Faoi bhrat Mhuire Mhathair
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(Russian Orthodox)
« Last Edit: December 21, 2008, 03:14:49 AM by Irish Hermit »

Offline Lily

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2008, 12:14:30 PM »
Thank you for posting that, Irish Hermit. 

Offline Sophia3

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2008, 08:58:30 PM »
Indeed, thanks to Irish Hermit.

Offline Christopher McAvoy

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2009, 04:12:21 AM »
The tour de force paper for understanding almighty God's truth:
 
Thus it is manifest that the faith of the early Church regarding the evilness of contraception is well established.


V.  Application and Conclusion

   In light of this evidence, Orthodox Christians must beware lest we become worthy of the condemnation of St. Paul who warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own liking, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths”  (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  Turning away, rather, from those teaching erroneous doctrines, we must face the truth about contraception and its incompatibility with Orthodox Christianity.  Once we acknowledge it is sinful, we can consider the practical application of this doctrine in the Eastern Christian’s life.  The question is, “How do we live this truth and remain faithful to it?”  There is a clear way to do so.  To understand this, let us consider a few preliminary points.
   First, as we have seen, for two thousand years the Church of East and West, has held the same consistent doctrine on contraception:  that it is sinful.  This is the first point we must be clear on. From the consistent historical Orthodox Christian understanding artificial birth control is not legitimate.
   A second point is that among the early Fathers there were two views regarding the correct intention for engaging in marital relations.  One view stated that marital relations were lawful only if sought for the purpose of procreation.  The other view stated that marital relations were lawful not only if sought for procreation but also if engaged in for the good and communion of the couple.  In fact, it is this second view probably being taken up by those who today are trying to justify the use of contraception.  Yet, we must not make their mistake.  As it has been shown above, these Fathers who held this second view still clearly condemned contraception -as did all Church Fathers who addressed the issue.
   In this second view the marital act is for pro-creation and the salvation of the partners.  Marital relations are not to be used in a way which would isolate one of these aspects from the other.  It was not an “either/or” view, choosing either procreation or companionship, but rather a “both or neither” view which maintained the couple’s intention could be solely for companionship but the act must still be open to procreation.  Noonan gives us a further explanation of this second view from its chief proponents, the Latin Father, Lactantius and the Greek Father, St. John Chrysostom:

   “In the late third century Lactantius gave value to the Pauline purpose of intercourse as remedy for incontinence (1 Cor. 7:5).  He wrote, “Whoever cannot control his affections, let him keep them within the limits of a lawful bed.”  The passage by itself would be ambiguous, but Lactantius went on to discuss intercourse in pregnancy.  God has made other female animals reject their mates when pregnant, but He ‘has made woman suffer her husband lest, when their wives repel them, husbands be driven by lust to seek elsewhere and so doing not keep the glory of chastity” (Divine Institutes 6.23.13,26).  Based on Lactantius’ other writings, Noonan notes it is obvious that, “Lactantius would have rejected any intentional frustration of the normal purpose [of intercourse, i.e. pro-creation].”

..........................

May God give us all the strength to follow this truth given us through our Holy Fathers, from Christ Himself.  Let us pray that the many theologians who are teaching in opposition to the Fathers and the Word of God will repent and become champions of this unchanging truth.  What each of us needs is courage, faith and trust in our loving Father that by the mediation of His Only-Begotten Son and through the power and inspiration of His life-giving Spirit, we can be faithful and live the truth.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen!

On the Eve of St. Levontius and fellow Martyrs, 2002

Sub-Deacon Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,

www.geocities.com/derghazar/BC_ORTH2.DOC



The true voice of Orthodox Tradition on the matter of contraception was voiced by the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in the letter that he sent to Pope Paul VI on August 9, 1968, less than two weeks after the pope had issued his anti-contraception encyclical *Humanae Vitae,* in which the patriarch congratulated hos “venerable brother” for having so nobly and vigorously defended what the Patriarch termed the “common teaching” of both churches.  If modern Orthodox theologians are falling away from that “common traching,” too bad for them, for they’re starting down the facilis descensus Averni so well trodden by the Anglicans in recent decades.

by William J Tighe (representing also the view of Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon)


9 August 1968 Telegram from Patriarch Athenagoras to Pope Paul VI expressing the Patriarch's agreement with the encyclical Humanae Vitae

We, together with the members of our Holy Synod at its last session read with deep feeling the telegram from Your beloved and venerable Holiness on the anniversary of the great historic event constituted by your visit and blessing, 25 July 1967. We thank you wholeheartedly, dearly esteemed brother, for the telegram, and all the more for the visit. We assure you than we remain close to you, above all in these recent days when you have taken the good step of publishing the encyclical Humanae Vitae. We are in total agreement with you, and wish you all God's help to continue your mission in the world. With much brotherly affection.

Fr. Stanley S. Harakas, newer editions of Fr. Kallistos Wares "Orthodox Church" and any synods that say otherwise are in heresy.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 04:16:28 AM by Christopher McAvoy »
"and for all who are Orthodox, and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith, remember, O Lord, thy servants" - yet the post-conciliar RC hierarchy is tolerant of everyone and everything... except Catholic Tradition, for modernists are as salt with no taste, to be “thrown out and trampled under foot

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2009, 04:53:03 AM »
The tour de force paper for understanding almighty God's truth:
 
Thus it is manifest that the faith of the early Church regarding the evilness of contraception is well established.


V.  Application and Conclusion

   In light of this evidence, Orthodox Christians must beware lest we become worthy of the condemnation of St. Paul who warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own liking, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths”  (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  Turning away, rather, from those teaching erroneous doctrines, we must face the truth about contraception and its incompatibility with Orthodox Christianity.  Once we acknowledge it is sinful, we can consider the practical application of this doctrine in the Eastern Christian’s life.  The question is, “How do we live this truth and remain faithful to it?”  There is a clear way to do so.  To understand this, let us consider a few preliminary points.
   First, as we have seen, for two thousand years the Church of East and West, has held the same consistent doctrine on contraception:  that it is sinful.  This is the first point we must be clear on. From the consistent historical Orthodox Christian understanding artificial birth control is not legitimate.
   A second point is that among the early Fathers there were two views regarding the correct intention for engaging in marital relations.  One view stated that marital relations were lawful only if sought for the purpose of procreation.  The other view stated that marital relations were lawful not only if sought for procreation but also if engaged in for the good and communion of the couple.  In fact, it is this second view probably being taken up by those who today are trying to justify the use of contraception.  Yet, we must not make their mistake.  As it has been shown above, these Fathers who held this second view still clearly condemned contraception -as did all Church Fathers who addressed the issue.
   In this second view the marital act is for pro-creation and the salvation of the partners.  Marital relations are not to be used in a way which would isolate one of these aspects from the other.  It was not an “either/or” view, choosing either procreation or companionship, but rather a “both or neither” view which maintained the couple’s intention could be solely for companionship but the act must still be open to procreation.  Noonan gives us a further explanation of this second view from its chief proponents, the Latin Father, Lactantius and the Greek Father, St. John Chrysostom:

   “In the late third century Lactantius gave value to the Pauline purpose of intercourse as remedy for incontinence (1 Cor. 7:5).  He wrote, “Whoever cannot control his affections, let him keep them within the limits of a lawful bed.”  The passage by itself would be ambiguous, but Lactantius went on to discuss intercourse in pregnancy.  God has made other female animals reject their mates when pregnant, but He ‘has made woman suffer her husband lest, when their wives repel them, husbands be driven by lust to seek elsewhere and so doing not keep the glory of chastity” (Divine Institutes 6.23.13,26).  Based on Lactantius’ other writings, Noonan notes it is obvious that, “Lactantius would have rejected any intentional frustration of the normal purpose [of intercourse, i.e. pro-creation].”

..........................

May God give us all the strength to follow this truth given us through our Holy Fathers, from Christ Himself.  Let us pray that the many theologians who are teaching in opposition to the Fathers and the Word of God will repent and become champions of this unchanging truth.  What each of us needs is courage, faith and trust in our loving Father that by the mediation of His Only-Begotten Son and through the power and inspiration of His life-giving Spirit, we can be faithful and live the truth.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen!

On the Eve of St. Levontius and fellow Martyrs, 2002

Sub-Deacon Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,

www.geocities.com/derghazar/BC_ORTH2.DOC



The true voice of Orthodox Tradition on the matter of contraception was voiced by the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in the letter that he sent to Pope Paul VI on August 9, 1968, less than two weeks after the pope had issued his anti-contraception encyclical *Humanae Vitae,* in which the patriarch congratulated hos “venerable brother” for having so nobly and vigorously defended what the Patriarch termed the “common teaching” of both churches.  If modern Orthodox theologians are falling away from that “common traching,” too bad for them, for they’re starting down the facilis descensus Averni so well trodden by the Anglicans in recent decades.

by William J Tighe (representing also the view of Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon)


9 August 1968 Telegram from Patriarch Athenagoras to Pope Paul VI expressing the Patriarch's agreement with the encyclical Humanae Vitae

We, together with the members of our Holy Synod at its last session read with deep feeling the telegram from Your beloved and venerable Holiness on the anniversary of the great historic event constituted by your visit and blessing, 25 July 1967. We thank you wholeheartedly, dearly esteemed brother, for the telegram, and all the more for the visit. We assure you than we remain close to you, above all in these recent days when you have taken the good step of publishing the encyclical Humanae Vitae. We are in total agreement with you, and wish you all God's help to continue your mission in the world. With much brotherly affection.

Fr. Stanley S. Harakas, newer editions of Fr. Kallistos Wares "Orthodox Church" and any synods that say otherwise are in heresy.


Still stuck on the issue of contraception being THE defining issue of the Orthodox Faith of today, aren't we?  What about the Holy Trinity or the Incarnation or the Nicene Creed, considering that you'd make a church's stance on contraception the Number One criterion for church selection?

Additionally, this article does nothing to provide the patristic position on contraception.  It merely claims to present the patristic viewpoint, but it doesn't quote any Fathers on the issue.  So how do we know?

BTW, one correction:  Fr. Kallistos Ware is not a mere priest; His Eminence is a Metropolitan bishop.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 04:54:09 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2009, 04:53:22 AM »
Christopher McAvoy

Frankly, I can't agree with what you have posted. For one thing, Humanae Vitae permits birth control, albeit limited to a certain form:

"If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained." - Source

The Fathers did not differentiate between artificial and natural forms of birth control, nor did they differentiate between active and passive forms. Those who spoke against birth control spoke against the very intention of having sex while simultaneously taking steps to not get pregnant. If that method was planning your hanky panky during times when you believed that you couldn't get pregnant, well that was considered contraception as well. It didn't matter whether you used the rhythm method, a barrier method, or whatever else. As Noonan put it in his oft-quoted work:

"'Contraception is a term which could be applied to any behavior that prevents conception. Sexual continence is contraceptive in effect; sexual intercourse when an ovum will not be fertilized avoids procreation as much as intercourse where a physical barrier is used to prevent the meeting of spermatozoa and ovum." - John T. Noonan, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment By the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, (Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 1

And as I quoted recently elsewhere on the forum, Noonan explicitly points out that NFP would have been considered contraceptive by Augustine:

"In the history of the thought of theologians on contraception, it is, no doubt, piquant that the first pronouncement on contraception by the most influential theologian teaching on such matters should be such a vigorous attack on the one method of avoiding procreation accepted by twentieth-century Catholic theologians as morally lawful." - John T. Noonan, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment By the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, (Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 120

Back in the day I read quite a bit on the subject, all that I could get my hands on in any event. I would concede that every father who explicitly mentioned birth control, spoke against it's usage. However, I will freely admit that I think it's time for a change. I won't beat around the bush, I'm in favor of innovation in this case. Innovation is not unknown in the moral life of the Church. The commands of Jesus Christ regarding divorce, for example, are not followed by the Orthodox Church. Why? Because we live in a fallen world, and it was decided by the Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that whatever our Lord might have said, economia was necessary in certain cases. Allowing divorces as we do was an innovation. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as it's an innovation that comes through the guidance of God.

I think it's also time to revisit the usage of birth control. Or rather, many have already revisited the issue, and decided to begin allowing it's usage in certain circumstances. I believe that the rest of the Church should not condemn this application of economia, much less call it "heresy," but should also examine whether it is not time for a change. If they decide that it's not time for a change, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with diversity of practices. But IMO we should not refuse to even face the subject because it's always been done a certain way. This is especially true if forms of birth control (e.g. NFP) are going to be snuck in the back door and be allowed.

EDIT--In the interest of full disclosure, my wife uses a (non-abortifacient) contraceptive, because her health problems prevent her from being able to have another baby. And fwiw, we have had both ROCOR and Antiochian priests instruct us to use contraception in our case, so this isn't just a case of those crazy Antiochians allowing it.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 05:00:10 AM by Asteriktos »
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2009, 10:49:12 AM »
The tour de force paper for understanding almighty God's truth:

Well, I guess the Vatican can put Humanae Vitae away.

Although I find the reduction of Orthodoxy to contraception and divorce a reductio ad absurdum (especially as triumpalism from the Vatican, where its differentiation between NFP and ABC is not supported by Patristics, and annullments ARE "Catholic divorces, just with Corban), I do agree with most of the conclusions.  I disagree with the conclusion that the case is so clear.

Nor do I think that Orthodox views on divorce or contraception are innovations, as Asteriktos asserts.  There is Patristics on divorce for adultery, for instance, and there are Churches and Priests that enforce the canons on divorce.  That hypocrisy is rampant in the Church doesn't change that (nor is hypocrisy new).

I was also curious about the writer: a Armenian name, but quoting EOs.  A search turned up a post (I'd link, but it's not allowed I believe):

Quote
To close I'd like to mention how I pray you some day consider me. I have read that Orthodox Saints are recognized as saints by the Catholic Church as long as they never attacked the Pope or Catholic teaching. The Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek is one example that this is true (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2678). Although St. Gregory was "post-schism" (meaning he belonged to an Orthodox Church after the split came about with Rome) he is still acknowledged by Rome as a Saint. This is the way I pray you some day consider me: not as a Saint, but rather as a faithful Orthodox Christian and deacon who has no animosity whatsoever for the Church of Rome; but rather as one who has great love, respect and veneration for the Church of Rome and her great moral leadership in a world crumbling away with sin. Please know that I spend a good amount of time every week defending Catholic teaching to Protestants and some Orthodox.
I am married to a Catholic. I want my kids to be close to Catholics. I work for the Archdiocese of Detroit (at Sacred Heart Major Seminary). I may even attend classes at a Catholic Seminary. So you may occasionally see me around somewhere in the Archdiocese, attending conferences and even worshipping with my brethren of "the other lung of the Church" (following H.H. Pope John Paul II's metaphor on the Eastern and Western Churches as two lungs of the same Church). If and when you see me, I want you to at least know that this is what is in my heart. Thanks for reading this and please feel free to write me and offer your forgiveness. It will be spiritually therapeutic for me to say the least.

So I'm less impressed from the Vatican line being spread by an apologist for it.

Btw, your paper praised Origen as a Biblical scholar.  He castrated himself on the basis of Matthew 19:12 (the Church canons castigate that, and it caused a scandal in Origen's day).  Talk about birth control.  Your source also fails to mention that the Fifth Ecumenical Council anathematized Origen.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 10:58:31 AM by ialmisry »
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2009, 08:46:32 PM »
Here is my personal opinion, which I believe has much Orthodox support:

Let us be for LIFE, not against it ("contra"). Natural Family Planning is natural, and does not seek to artificially prevent conception.

I do not think it is a sin at all to engage in sexual relations within the context of marriage for purposes other than procreation. But let us not fall prey to an anti-life consciousness, you know like Barack Obama demonstrates when he refers to babies as "punishment."

And in being consistently Pro-Life, let us oppose all intentional killing- be it war, capital punishment, or euthanasia, etc.

Just my humble thoughts (although I do think the Church Fathers would approve of my comments!)

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Online Asteriktos

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2009, 09:26:53 PM »
Quote
although I do think the Church Fathers would approve of my comments!

Actually, I think they'd condemn you for supporting contraception (NFP)... see my post(s) above ;)
"The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you." (Isa. 28:20)

"For because they wronged the simple, they shall be slain; and an inquisition shall ruin the ungodly." (Prov. 1:32 LXX)

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2009, 10:58:28 PM »
Quote
although I do think the Church Fathers would approve of my comments!

Actually, I think they'd condemn you for supporting contraception (NFP)... see my post(s) above ;)

I am not as holy as the Fathers. But I think it's best to err on the side of LIFE and procreation. So, I will accept their condemnation and rebuke if I am in error by advocating Natural Family Planning.

Selam
"Whether it’s the guillotine, the hangman’s noose, or reciprocal endeavors of militaristic horror, radical evil will never be recompensed with radical punishment. The only answer, the only remedy, and the only truly effective response to radical evil is radical love."
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Online Asteriktos

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2009, 01:42:08 AM »
But they would argue that you aren't promoting life, that you're thwarting the potential production of a new life. I don't buy that for a second myself, but that'd be their position, so far as I understand it.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 01:42:37 AM by Asteriktos »
"The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you." (Isa. 28:20)

"For because they wronged the simple, they shall be slain; and an inquisition shall ruin the ungodly." (Prov. 1:32 LXX)

Offline LakaYaRabb

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2009, 01:50:44 AM »
Quote
Hey all,
I am a college freshman who has been interested in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy since my Sophmore year of high school. Right now I am a Roman Catholic who mostly attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was wondering what the Orthodox position on contraception is. I remember reading somewhere that since the Orthodox have no Pope to issue a Humanae Vitae or something like that it is a heavily debated topic without a clear cut answer - however the traditionalist/old calendarist types tend to forbid it and the more "modern" church usually accepts it. Is this correct? Is there anything I need to know about the Orthodox position on contraception?

The spectrum in Holy Orthodoxy basically is as follows

On the one side: Contraceptive methods that are non-abortive are permissible at the discretion of one's Priest (or spiritual father, but as I understand it, a spiritual father is usually a monk and I have never heard of a monastic supporting the use of contraception)

IN between: "Not all unions between husband and wife are demanded to be 100 percent possible of producing children" with pastoral guidance
Ex: It is okay to come together when you know that your wife is 100 percent infertile (As some use NFP for)

Other side (which I have heard referred to as the ultra-traditionalist/Athonite position): Include marital unions in the fasts and no contraception, ever, under any circumstance

Offline LakaYaRabb

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2009, 01:53:15 AM »
Quote
He castrated himself on the basis of Matthew 19:12 (the Church canons castigate that, and it caused a scandal in Origen's day).


I have heard that this is completely and utterly a fabrication and smear on his person. Completely without veracity.

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction and Question on Contraception
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2009, 08:46:57 AM »
I am not as holy as the Fathers.

How do you know? :) Only God is perfect. The Fathers of the early Church made mistakes, contradicted each other... It is my understanding that we call them Holy Fathers not because each view expressed by each of them was 100% correct.

But I think it's best to err on the side of LIFE and procreation. So, I will accept their condemnation and rebuke if I am in error by advocating Natural Family Planning.

Well, then I am totally different from you, because I would not even listen to what they had to say about marriage and sexuality, at all. My marriage is my marriage, and what my wife and I are doing in our marital bed is entirely between the two of us and God. If I think that something that I do in my marriage is sinful, I'll go to my priest and talk with him about it. Otherwise, I'll just keep trying to be the best husband I can be, with God's help, not listening to any "advisors."
Love never fails.