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Author Topic: Artificial Birth Control  (Read 18420 times) Average Rating: 0
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The Caffeinator
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« on: December 19, 2003, 03:07:45 PM »

Which Eastern Orthodox Churches forbid artificial birth control, and which don't? What about Oriental Orthodox Churches?
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2003, 03:22:03 PM »

My take on ABC "just don't do it!"*

anastasios

(*when she's fertile! [crude reference to natural family planning Wink sorry, I couldn't resist!])
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2003, 03:26:42 PM »

Technically no one allows abortofacient contraceptives like the Pill although some -- and I think this is the only way I can describe this -- morons think that it "is a-ok" even though it can cause abortions by preventing implantation!!

Any use of contraceptives other than the pill must be for grave reasons and in consulatation with a spiritual father.

The ROCOR and Fr Ephraim monasteries in the GOA will not generally allow their people to use contraceptives.  The OCA and GOA have a somewhat loose opinion.  You can get their rulings on their respective websites.

My wife and I think that contraception is nasty and would never want to "go there" but in cases of necessity (whatever that is defined as) I would definitely urge someone to try try out natural family planning as it really does work (no it's not your old rhythm method).  Interested parties seeking an Orthodox point of view on NFP should check out

http://www.paratheke.net/stephanos/
http://www.orthodoxnfp.org/

anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2003, 04:12:56 PM »

I'm against artificial birth control and of the 3 Orthodox priests I directly asked about it, two said it isn't permissible. Unfortunately the third said it was okay, even use of the pill.

Here is a good article by Father Patrick Reardon of the  Antiochian Orthodox Church on abortion, contraception and the link between the two.

http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.1docs/16-1pg3.html

In Christ,
Anthony

Which Eastern Orthodox Churches forbid artificial birth control, and which don't? What about Oriental Orthodox Churches?
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2003, 04:19:43 PM »

I see nothing wrong with ABC.
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2003, 04:57:34 PM »

I see nothing wrong with ABC.

Have you read about why the Church tradtionally rejected it (it has been around for a long time before 1960!) and why it is not a good idea, Tom?  When I was a Protestant I thought "how can those dumb Catholics be against contraception?!" Then I read why they are against contraception and prayed about it and BAM it hit me.  I would suggest you check out the Stephanos Project just to find out what other Orthodox are saying on the issue.

I can say that not using ABC has been a real blessing in my marriage.

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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2003, 05:12:56 PM »

I see nothing wrong with ABC.

I can say that not using ABC has been a real blessing in my marriage.

anastasios

I can say the same thing.
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2003, 05:13:54 PM »

What about barrier methods such as condoms or diaphragms?  Those aren't "abortifacient".  (I'm less certain about typical OCP's)
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2003, 05:27:36 PM »

Forgive me if this is review for you DT Wink but the reasoning behind prohibiting artificial birth control is theological and extends beyond abortion.

The reasoning is that the purpose of the "conjugal act" is procreative. When that is manipulated or obstructed, so is God's will. I'm not sure I understand it, but I know I agree with it!  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2003, 05:35:13 PM »

So what your saying is that people who medically can't have children shouldn't have sex?
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2003, 05:36:09 PM »

I see nothing wrong with ABC.

I can say that not using ABC has been a real blessing in my marriage.

anastasios

I can say the same thing.


Can you guys give me the short version of what you mean to say there? I'm curious...
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2003, 05:45:41 PM »

Tony, excellent article by Father Patrick.  What he says below really struck:

"This utterly rebellious attitude, the "contraceptive mentality," is surely a serious moral failing characteristic of the present culture. The relationship of this "contraceptive culture" to abortion itself lies much deeper than a first comparison of the two things might suggest, nor is there any logic, we think, in opposing the terrible sin of abortion while in other respects promoting the selfishness and materialism that give rise to it."  Sad

The selfishness of mankind is the root of the the evil. hmmm, sounds familiar.

Thank God for Him who is the lover of mankind.
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2003, 06:00:45 PM »

Dear Fotina,

Yes, Father Patrick truly does get to the heart of the matter and I agree with every word. He is a wonderful priest.

In Christ,
Anthony


Tony, excellent article by Father Patrick.  What he says below really struck:

"This utterly rebellious attitude, the "contraceptive mentality," is surely a serious moral failing characteristic of the present culture. The relationship of this "contraceptive culture" to abortion itself lies much deeper than a first comparison of the two things might suggest, nor is there any logic, we think, in opposing the terrible sin of abortion while in other respects promoting the selfishness and materialism that give rise to it."  Sad

The selfishness of mankind is the root of the the evil. hmmm, sounds familiar.

Thank God for Him who is the lover of mankind.
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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2003, 06:00:54 PM »

Quote
So what your saying is that people who medically can't have children shouldn't have sex?


I'm saying people should leave it in God's hands.
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2003, 06:16:44 PM »

So what your saying is that people who medically can't have children shouldn't have sex?  

No, we are not saying that, because they are not willfully avoinding the possibility of life.  If God would bless them with children, they would accept it, hence their acts of love are open to life.

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« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2003, 06:44:36 PM »

Don't be so harsh Vicki....

I mean just hating our Patriarch with a passion because he had the audacity to live in the city where his floack is (hate to break it to you Tom, there still are Orthodox Christians living in Asia Minor and if the Patriarch leaves, he is leaving them).  

Or... saying that one of the geatest saints and apostles in the Church, Saint Paul was wrapped up in sexism and carried baggage.

Or dismissing the entire ascetical tradition of the church...or simply being a deist

just minor things...just minor things


TAKE BACK THE GOA!!!!
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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2003, 06:47:00 PM »

Peter,

Some of the blessings are that I feel truly free when in those intimate moments to give myself over to my wife and her to me, to share each other, and know that our love might create life if God wills.  To not be regulating this love, to not be using a barrier method to put some piece of plastic between us, or any of that nastiness.

In the beginning of the marriage (first 6 months) we tried NFP because our situation is one where we can legitimately put off children (extreme poverty being another, or serious medical condition).  NFP is great because it is basically fasting from sex. Instead of "going for it" and using all sorts of methods to avoid conception, the couple restrain themselves for 5-7 days while the woman is fertile, knowing that as God wills, they could still become pregnant.  One really learns the woman's cycle and it leads to very deep intimacy.  One might ask how NFP differers from ABC and I would say that even NFP can be used like ABC and thus become sinful itself; the method itself is neutral though, whereas with ABC the method is intrinsically evil.  With NFP there is restraint, with ABC there is articifical adjustment of the body.

The last year though my wife and I have not even used NFP.  Children are a blessing and we await God's decision.  I do wonder, "well maybe we just can't have kids" because it has been a year, but at the same time, it could come at any moment.  It is all rather exciting.

Some might say that "well just wait until you have 5 or 8 kids" but I know several families in my Byzantine Catholic parish back in NC that had that many kids and were truly blessed.

I don't claim that I can adequately express all the reaons and theories about contraception, but I will add two things: 1) I was shocked by the lack of children in some of the "modernist" Orthodox churches I attended, after having been at a BC parish with over 40 children, and 2) I have noticed that usually those who use contraception and are happy about it are more selfish.  Sorry to anyone that is offended by this, this is just my observation and is not scientific. Maybe you are the exception.  I do recall a friend of mine arguing with me quite forcefully that "contraception does not make people selfish or hurt a marriage!"  1 year later, this dude was having marriage problems totally. I pray for him, he is a great guy, but it can affect a marriage, my friends!  You know the divorce rate of people not using ABC is only 5%.

anastasios
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« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2003, 06:47:52 PM »


TAKE BACK THE GOA!!!!

Tom,

I think Nektarios is reacting to a month of being off the forum for school, all at one time Wink
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« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2003, 06:48:46 PM »

C'mon guys, I disagree with Tom a lot but the guy is asking a lot of good questions.  When he makes some of his more strong statements I sometimes am surprised but hey, he's trying to live Orthodoxy and learn more.

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« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2003, 06:54:59 PM »

Quote
I think Nektarios is reacting to a month of being off the forum for school, all at one time

Plus it takes a few days to get the meds just right when I get home from rehab
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« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2003, 07:40:54 PM »

Don't be so harsh Vicki....

I mean just hating our Patriarch with a passion because he had the audacity to live in the city where his floack is (hate to break it to you Tom, there still are Orthodox Christians living in Asia Minor and if the Patriarch leaves, he is leaving them).  

I never said I hated the EP. I said that I don't think that he should be under the domination of Muslims.

Or... saying that one of the geatest saints and apostles in the Church, Saint Paul was wrapped up in sexism and carried baggage.  

I said that the writing of St. Paul reflected the period in history in which he lived . EVERYONE was a sexist back then. My argument was that his views reflected societys views on women at the time and that is to be expected.

Or dismissing the entire ascetical tradition of the church...or simply being a deist

 Roll Eyes I don't reject the Creed or the faith. But yes, I do question Praxis in certain instances.

You know, I went to confession tonight and asked my Priest about some of these issues and he told me that as long as I accepted the basic tenents of the faith, that I was okay. That Canons of the church were made by men and sometimes some of these were made for certain specific reasons not related to "the Faith" and that as long as I tried to live right that that is all Jesus asks. That he came to release us from the law, not to put a heavier yoke on our backs.

And he also warned me about the "wholier than thou" people out there who are always looking for the speck in someone else's eye.

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« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2003, 07:45:33 PM »

From what he says off post, his priest is one of those embarrassments to the GOA who provides incorrect information to people who ask for it.

This is a man who has dedicated his life to Orthodoxy. Who has been an Orthodox Priest for 50 years.

How dare you judge him. There is not a sliver of Christianity in your ignorant, spiteful post.
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« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2003, 08:23:22 PM »

I would probably be among the first to agree about the GOA needing to shape up a bit; this just after I shape up myself first.
But, in fairness to TomS about ABC please read the current GOAA site's position and give TomS a break on this one at least.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7101.asp

 Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley

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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2003, 08:29:32 PM »

Forgive me if this is review for you DT Wink but the reasoning behind prohibiting artificial birth control is theological and extends beyond abortion.

The reasoning is that the purpose of the "conjugal act" is procreative. When that is manipulated or obstructed, so is God's will. I'm not sure I understand it, but I know I agree with it!  Grin

But is that the sole purpose of the "conjugal act"?  Scriptures seem to indicate otherwise.

Some of these arguments remind me of those who oppose medicine and technological advances in general, that such things aren't "natural".  Or the attitude that "if God wanted man to fly He would have given him wings".   Of course, this is coming from someone who is yet a Protestant and who has never examined any specific Church canons prohibiting artificial contraception.   Also this is coming from one who is a family physician and who may have a lot to answer for if indeed prescribing OCPs or advising condom use is a sin.   :-  

The bottom line is that I've changed my mind before, and I certainly am not opposed to the idea that I could be wrong on this issue...
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« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2003, 08:33:22 PM »

I would probably be among the first to agree about the GOA needing to shape up a bit; this just after I shape up myself first.
But, in fairness to TomS about ABC please read the current GOAA site's position and give TomS a break on this one at least.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7101.asp

 Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley

Demetri

Interesting, especially this quote:
"The possible exception to the above affirmation of continuity of teaching is the view of the Orthodox Church on the issue of contraception. Because of the lack of a full understanding of the implications of the biology of reproduction, earlier writers tended to identify abortion with contraception. However, of late a new view has taken hold among Orthodox writers and thinkers on this topic, which permits the use of certain contraceptive practices within marriage for the purpose of spacing children, enhancing the expression of marital love, and protecting health. "

That sounds reasonable to me....
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« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2003, 08:33:43 PM »

My post isn't ignorant, but correct.

Ignorance referred to your lack of history of the church relating to canons, traditions, and other such things.

And no, I am not going to get into a back and forth with you about it. I hate it when TWO people do that (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, hint, hint). I mean they should take those silly one sentence posts to PM, don't you think?

Go to the GOA site and read about when Confession came into the church? Read church history about canons that were created and then later ignored.

THINK FOR YOURSELF!
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« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2003, 08:34:49 PM »

Father Stanley Harakas cites Orthodox writers, not Orthodox priests. The article is not convincing.

Right Vicki. It is POSTED on the GOA site, but you reject it.

Picking and choosing are we?
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« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2003, 08:37:58 PM »

Of course, this is coming from someone who is yet a Protestant and who has never examined any specific Church canons prohibiting artificial contraception.

No. It is coming from somene who knows how to utilize the brain that GOD provided him with. Too many people on this board have forgotten how to THINK logically, or more importantly, how to use deduction in forming opinions.
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« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2003, 08:46:50 PM »

<inserts the obligatory "we're all friends here' and "this type of argument is exactly what the enemy desires, sewing seeds of discord.">  We do have disagreements about important issues, and it right and good to discuss and even debate them.  As I moderator, I would ask that we *ALL* be a bit more charitable than we have been.  May God forgive our excesses as we fervently desire to defend and articulate His Will as found in the Holy Orthodox Church!
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« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2003, 08:47:20 PM »

What a scary world if the GOA website is the criterion of all truth :-";"xx
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« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2003, 08:47:22 PM »

Father Stanley Harakas cites Orthodox writers, not Orthodox priests. The article is not convincing.
I am not arguing the point. I am not "for" ABC. If you disagree with this priest, tell him, not me. Or better yet, tell the GOA itself. I do know the GOA properly condemns ABC outside marriage (of course), but defers its use within a family to an issue to be discussed with their priest for guidance. If it were OK outright, there would be no need for spiritual "guidance", would there be?

Demetri

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« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2003, 08:50:27 PM »

What a scary world if the GOA website is the criterion of all truth :-

Can't fault that reasoning, Nektarios. It is one of the reasons I am a big supporter of Fr. Ephraim's work here. But the stuff is on the website; what are the new converts to think?

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« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2003, 09:05:04 PM »

+ö++++++-ä-ü+¦+¦,

I don't know what a convert is supposed to do.  I guess I was lucky to meet a few families that were very traditional and could "take me under thier wing" to show me traditional Orthodox life.  You are very right about Geronda Ephraim's work being so important here...  alas it is an uphill battle.  

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« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2003, 09:11:12 PM »

Visitor Comments concerning Father Ephraim's Monastary --

"I entered one of Fr. Ephraim's monasteries, with the firm intention of staying to become a monastic. But I was shocked by some of what was being taught there, it just felt wrong. It seemed exactly like a cult! And once you're in with Ephraim's disciples, they may make it quite difficult for you to ever leave them. Thank you for bringing this more out into the open on your website. I think that the 'Christ' of the Epraimites is quite different from the loving Jesus Christ we know from our Orthodox parishes."

"I recently visited Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Texas, one of elder Ephraim's very contoversial monasteries. Having completed about 60 hours of undergrad sociology, I have studied cults. I am also very well read on Orthodox monasticism, and I left because this place met more critera of a cult than of a monastery."

"There is a ultra-Orthodox Ukraninan group in West Palm Beach Florida that in our opinion is a very dangerous cult group. They are connected with the Greek Orthodox Church. We have seen first-hand what they are doing it is totally non-Orthodox. This group gives Orthodox a bad name.
--A concerned Orthodox priest

"Elder Ephraim's monasteries' are flush with cash and property, but when I was there a small group of teenagers, many of whom didn't seem to have a well-defined intention of becoming monks, were doing the bulk of the hard manual labor (although the actual monks did contribute somewhat). The big thing that really made me nervous was that every single question I had was met by the same reply: "You'll have to ask Geronda." Geronda is a Greek term for abbot. Even very simple, non-esoteric questions such as "how often are you allowed to bath" were met with that same response. I'm nervous about the whole thing also because the monk running it refers to himself as the bishop of the monastery, which means he answers only to one man, who is almost never there, and who in turn answers to no one.


"A lot of the stuff they said down there was new to old monk-priests I talked to in my parish. If you understand that in Orthodoxy, nothing is new, this is frightening. The property is off in the middle of nowhere, and if something went wrong, it could go very wrong. It was a strange form of residence (over 3 months) free labor, and the talk was of Elder Ephraim rather than Jesus or "normal" Orthodox Christian topics."

"I don't think what Ephraim has are monasteries, but rather 13 small cults. This guy was [demoted (others say he 'willingly stepped down')] on Mount Athos and made to leave, but now is 'marketed' as a guru from the mountain. The abbot that I talked to didn't seem to have much interest in the Philokalia (the monk's handbook for hundreds of years) or any literature, but that relating to Ephraim."

---

Hmmmm. Remember to drink the Kool-aid when offered!
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« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2003, 09:15:20 PM »

That's a well-known article, previously referenced on this forum; don't believe everything you read TomS - it isn't logical to do so Smiley

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« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2003, 09:18:23 PM »

That's a well-known article, previously referenced on this forum; don't believe everything you read TomS - it isn't logical to do so Smiley

Demetri

But that's not the only article.

(Oh, Oh. A one sentence post - Vicki gonna yell at me for that!)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2003, 09:19:06 PM by Tom+ú » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2003, 09:23:57 PM »

Tom, I thought you said you get all your opinions from the GOA website?  The latest issue of the Orthodox Observer on the webpage has Metropolitan Anthony saying very positive things about Elder Ephraim's monasteries.  

I can tell you from spending a great deal of time at St. Anthony's Monastery that what you posted simply isn't true.  For example your article implies Geronda was forced out of Philotheou.  If that was the case why is he STILL the spirit father of the monastery (which in case you didn't realize is different from the abbot of a monastery)?  

Elder Joseph will most likely be glorified a saint and he is in the same school of Orthodox monasticism of countless saints, so there is nothing novel here.  But much like the Optina Elders they simply weren't understood by secularists within the church.
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2003, 09:26:16 PM »




Hmmmm. Remember to drink the Kool-aid when offered!


Fr. Ephraim's monasteries are probably the best thing to happen to the GOA in the last 75 years. Perhaps you should ask fellow board member Nektarios about his experiences there.  I can't imagine you're much of a fan of monasticism in general though, after having read some of your recent posts.
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« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2003, 09:27:31 PM »

Hi gang,

Obvious snitty sniper posts aside....

I was told by someone whom I consider to be one of the most humble and holy people I know that a man and woman are crowned king and queen of their household with Christ at the center.  If that man and woman in conjunction with their spiritual father or mother decide to use ABC to avoid children with the blessing of their spiritual father/mother then it is between them and God and we should keep our noses out of it.

I am not hoping to start a flame war, simply passing on something I had been told and thought was interesting.  Obviously I have not done a great deal of research on the Canons or patristic thought on the matter.

-Pavlos

edit: to shore up some really entertaining spelling options.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2003, 09:29:50 PM by Pavlos » Logged
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« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2003, 09:32:45 PM »

Yes, Pavlos, that is the current advice being given often in the GOA. Essentially a man and woman, now bound as one by the sacrament must decide with guidance what is best.
It does sound pretty "iffy" to me and not Traditional. Eventually they'll get it right, I hope.

Demetri
« Last Edit: December 19, 2003, 09:33:22 PM by +æ-ü+¦-â-ä+++¦+++«-é » Logged

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« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2003, 10:26:48 PM »

DT,

Think about artificial birth control from God's point of view, if you dare. God says, "you're pregnant." And I say, "that's okay God, I don't want a baby. I think I'll abort." So, abortion is man's rebuttal to God's will. God says, "you've got terminal cancer. You are going to share in Christ's suffering, and then you are going to die." And I say, "that's okay God. I don't want to suffer. I think I'll just go ahead and die now." So, euthanasia is also man's rebuttal to God's will.

God says, "it's that time again, are you ready to be a father? Are you ready to win a soul for Christ? Hmmm. Maybe I'll make him the first Orthodox president of the United States. I don't know, what do you think?" And I say, "that's okay. I don't want any children."

Soooo...euthanasia, abortion, and ABC are all man's technological means of turning his back on God.

As far as the scriptures go, DT, it is true, there is more to sex than just bringing new life into the world, but God sold us the whole package, and it is sinful and selfish to say, "okay, I want all the pleasure, but I don't want to pay the price!" The same reasoning is behind the gay rights movement, et al.
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« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2003, 10:41:58 PM »

DT,

Think about artificial birth control from God's point of view, if you dare.

I am quite willing to do that if one were to establish definitively what His point of view about it is.  I'm not sure that has been done.  I don't think trying lump it in with abortion or euthanasia constitutes proof of how God feels about ABC.  Murder is clearly against God's revealed will, as is homosexuality.  The question is if ABC is also wrong and in the same category as the others.  That has been asserted but, AFAICT, has not been proven. (But I'm willing to concede I haven't paid that close attention to this entire thread)
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« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2003, 11:06:11 PM »

Studies have shown that the availability of birth control in extreme situations like Africa has little effect because if you adopt a contraceptive mentality, then you become very careless about sex, you are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than before, etc.  The key is restraint.  You can't get around it any other way...

anastasios
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« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2003, 11:16:40 PM »

In Uganda they adopted a chastity education program (rather than throw condoms at the villagers, which clearly doesn't work) and Uganda dramatically reduced it's number of AIDS victims.
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« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2003, 01:05:44 AM »

Aside:
The new AIDS relief to Africa program that the US has started is teaching abstinence as a main method of protecting oneself from AIDS. I was recently listening to the liberals on NPR bash the program because of this, saying it's too far fetched to expect people to restrain themselves. Hmmm....
« Last Edit: December 20, 2003, 01:06:39 AM by Bogoliubtsy » Logged

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist". - Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara
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