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Author Topic: Divorce/Contraception Orthodox Style  (Read 26608 times) Average Rating: 0
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The young fogey
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« Reply #135 on: October 05, 2005, 09:08:14 AM »

Refuting the modern Orthodox opinion on contraception.
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« Reply #136 on: October 05, 2005, 03:30:31 PM »

Young Fogey,

For everyone's convenience I will include the page you are referring people to (it will take several posts due to its length).

This is how we usually do it here, when referring people to such long-winded explanations. Naturally we properly creditthe originating website as well, instead of providing a 'headline link'.This way we don't have people unnecessarily going to other websites and using up bandwidth, perhaps artificially increasing the visitor count of unsuspecting sites!

http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/OldWorldBasic/NoContraception.html

Bishop Kallistos (Ware) writes in one of the several versions of his book The Orthodox Church, now entirely online on at least two sites:


The use of contraceptives and other devices for birth control is on the whole strongly discouraged in the Orthodox Church. Some bishops and theologians altogether condemn the employment of such methods. Others, however, have recently begun to adopt a less strict position, and urge that the question is best left to the discretion of each individual couple, in consultation with the spiritual father. [Emphasis mine.]
Hmm. ‘Recently’. A lot later than the time of the Church Fathers, I reckon. Let’s see... this looks like it came from an older version of the book, and he first published it in 1963 so obviously modern Eastern Orthodox made the change sometime mid-C20.

Regarding the bishop’s last sentence, the apostolic ministry is the means by which Christians have a guarantee of forgiveness for sins against God and has power to change man-made laws, rules the church itself made for its own good order. That power doesn’t include overruling God’s or nature’s laws, which is what trying to OK contraception is.

How specific and how widely held? Enter Wikipedia, another lovely resource:

Prior to the 1930s, contraception was generally condemned by all the major branches of Christianity, including by major reformers like Luther and Calvin. This condemnation was relaxed by the Anglican Communion at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, and most Protestant groups followed suit over the course of the 20th century, though some individual Protestants adhere to the traditional view that contraception is wrong.
The only thing one should add are mock inverted commas around the word ‘reformers’ but other than that this paragraph is entirely correct.

What were the reasons cited?


The Lambeth Conference of 1930 produced a new resolution, "Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method," but if there was morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence, "the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles."

By the 1958 Lambeth Conference, contraception was an accepted part of life among most Anglicans, and a resolution was passed to the effect that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of children was laid by God upon the consciences of parents "in such ways as are acceptable to husband and wife."

The Anglicans present an excellent microcosm of what happened among Protestant churches in the 1900s.
- A Protestant site
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« Reply #137 on: October 05, 2005, 03:31:34 PM »

Second post of valuable reading:

http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/OldWorldBasic/NoContraception.html

So soon afterwards, some and soon many modern Orthodox suddenly decided that the Church Fathers gave a free pass to non-abortifacients and 1,930 years of tradition were wrong. It’s a bloody miracle! Just like when the Mormons had a revelation that polygamy was wrong just in time for the vote to admit their colony of Utah as a state in the US.

What accounts for this change? Apparently some mainline Protestants did it first which gave them the idea.

One also hears from the Orthodox the argument that ‘non-abortifacients are new’ — something their church is still deciding what to do about. False — condoms were used at least as far back as the Victorian era among the upper class.

Acquaintance Jim Coffey cites modern Orthodox theologian Fr Stanley Harakas, whose dodge to allow contraception is to separate the unitive aspect of sex from its procreative potential (yes, the naturally sterile and the old may have sex — Fr Stanley misrepresents the Catholic position in the linked article), setting up a strawman/false opposition between the two. However much Fr Stanley tries to market this as ‘sacramental’, he sounds just like mainline Protestants and, one jump removed from them, secular people:


Fr. Harakas [actually in the Byzantine Rite that should be Fr Stanley] describes the sacramental view, in its affirmative response to contraception under the appropriate circumstances, as emphasizing the close relationship of body and soul, and places the contraceptive issue in the total context of marriage and family. He describes the sexual relations between husband and wife as having an intrinsic value to unite husband and wife in flesh and soul in a bond of mutual love and commitment.

Fr. Harakas states a clear preference for the sacramental approach.
- Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian: Revised and Expanded, Light and Light Publishing Co., Minneapolis, 1982, pp. 78-81

Of course it’s rather blasphemous to go against the holistic view of marriage (which unites the unitive and procreative) and call mutual masturbation with your spouse (which is what deliberate contraception is) ‘sacramental’. Not exactly the holistic approach to things that those of us who like religion expect from the Orthodox!

I dare say the patriarch in Istanbul (Fr S’s boss) knows who’s paying his electric bills (the Hankses, Sarbaneses, Snowes and Stephanopouloses).

Still fuming a fortnight after I last answered him, this online adversary also writes:


Serge objected that, in essence, only converts and liberal, pro-Hollywood Greeks believed this.
Actually Serge says ‘would to Бог that only those types believed this’. But this chap disabuses us all of that notion:

I produced statements from non-Greek, non-converts to demonstrate this was not the case. Most important among these was the Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church issued by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000, which states:

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 addition to the Patriarch of Moscow, Fr. Alexander Men, the Ukrainian Orthodox, and the very conservative Coptic Church ("Oriental Orthodox"/"Monophysites") share this view. And yes, the Greeks hold this view, as well.
Well, he’s certainly cleared that up. Even more damning that the misquoted allegation of Serge! Thank you.

Sed contra:

Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, ... in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, ... proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
- Pope Pius XI, Casti conubii

Causa finita est.

Notes:

This fellow also writes:


Also, the hyper-convert Orthodox Church in America (OCA) seems to endorse this view, at least in part.
In part? Close, but for the real faith of the Church Fathers, try all. Though they get a share of the recent convert boomlet (people who would have become Anglicans or Newman-like RCs 50 years ago) the OCA aren’t hyper-convert; that’s the Antiochians. The OCA are a small, slightly shrinking denomination mostly in the US Northeast and made up of Rust Belt ethnic Slavs, about 60 per cent of whom are descended from former Byzantine Catholics from what’s now Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine.


I remember "mortal" sins encompassed the "seven deadly sins" and other major iniquities, bringing with them a de facto excommunication until forgiven in penance. (How am I doing?) "Venial" sins, on the other hand, are less important. Masturbation, as I recall, as the latter rather than the former. (My memory here is from my memories of catechism class, not, ahem, from the confessional.)
Incorrect on masturbation. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, it is objectively a mortal sin but many people (such as children) aren’t guilty to that degree. There are three criteria to commit a mortal sin: grave matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. Lots of people may fall into the first (an old joke: 99 per cent of guys do it and 1 per cent are liars*) but not the second two criteria.

*It’s just a joke: of course many saints eventually practised perfect chastity in their state of life.

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« Reply #138 on: October 05, 2005, 05:28:46 PM »

Also, the hyper-convert Orthodox Church in America (OCA) seems to endorse this view, at least in part.
In part? Close, but for the real faith of the Church Fathers, try all. Though they get a share of the recent convert boomlet (people who would have become Anglicans or Newman-like RCs 50 years ago) the OCA aren’t hyper-convert; that’s the Antiochians. The OCA are a small, slightly shrinking denomination mostly in the US Northeast and made up of Rust Belt ethnic Slavs, about 60 per cent of whom are descended from former Byzantine Catholics from what’s now Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine.

I would venture to guess that the AOAA is still majority Arab (Lebanese/Palestinian/Jordanian/etc.) while the OCA has a large and growing number of converts.
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« Reply #139 on: October 05, 2005, 06:36:01 PM »

chris:

Yes, that's quite all right.

It's not like you've proved anything.
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« Reply #140 on: March 09, 2013, 11:58:34 PM »


If our society is amoral, the churches bear a lot of responsibility for getting it that way. Not because they have acceded to that moral indifference, but because they spent their moral capital unwisely. The Catholic hierarchy in particular allowed itself to painted as a legalistic and often cruel institution; they made themselves easy to rebel against.

(Warning...I'm going to introduce feminism into the discussion.)  Not are they seen as "legalistic" and "cruel," they are also seen as celibate men.  I think the typical American Catholic doesn't think that the hierarchy even begins to understand their life so why should they listen to them?  

It's easy to say that celibate male bishops is tradition and only "liberals" challenge it but that glosses over legitimate criticisms.  I think we've seen from the sex abuse scandals that our bishops are completely out of touch with the laity.  I think we see the truth about them (the little man behind the curtain), that they are mediocre middle management.  The harsh criticism they've received is unfair.  Americans, with our puritanical streak, always want to burn sinners at the stake.  Their secular counterparts aren't much better (see ENRON, etc.).  They were not chosen for their brillance.  They were chosen because they were bureaucrats and like most bureaucrats, they're mediocre.  It's always been that way.  How bishops have become saints?  It's a lot easier to become a saint as a monk or a simple priest than as a bishop.  

But the fact remains that they are celibate men.  What can they possibly know about family life?  I admit that this is a 'stupid' argument on my part.  It's always simplistic and stupid to argue that people who've never been in a situation can't understand it.  But it's still true.  

Also (sorry for introducing my anecdotal evidence which of course is subjective) when the NFP message is preached by a layperson, it's always from people who aren't a realistic representation of the 'average' Catholic family.  My old church brought in a deacon to preach about NFP.  He made the rounds of all of the parishes in the diocese.  But he came from a wealthy family.  During Mass when he was preaching on NFP, I was watching his wife and children and it struck me that they were the epitome of the upper middle class family.  The wife and kids were well dressed.  They had an SUV.  The kids attended Catholic schools.  The wife didn't work.  My parish was very working class.  Most of the fathers worked at American Airlines as mechanics.  The mothers worked part time at Wal-Mart.  The kids went to public school.  Honestly, what does a wife with a wealthy husband so she doesn't have to work have to say to lower middle class wife who has to work regarding family planning?  And these people were really sincere Catholics.  They tried really hard to follow the tenants of the Church.  They tried much harder than I did, certainly.  I'm sure some of them gave up the pill after that sermon.  But I'll bet it caused financial problems for their families.  But I'll bet they wouldn't complain.  I'm the one, who isn't even in their shoes, who's complaining on their behalf.  

My other concern is that I don't see the causal link between contraception and sexual immorality and 'libertine' behavior.  I agree that we live in amoral times.  I also agree that reliable artificial birth control is largely responsible for the 'sexual revolution.'  My mother says that in her day (pre-pill) good girls didn't have sex before marriage except if they wanted to force a guy to marry them.  In my generation, nice girls certainly had sex outside of marriage.  The 'three-date' rule was always the rule of thumb in my circles, e.g. you're supposed to sleep with them after three dates.  If we thought that we'd get pregnant and wouldn't be able to have an abortion, we probably would have been much more careful.  My sorority sisters doing the 'walk of shame' (sneaking in early in the morning wearing the clothes they'd worn out the previous night) were sure that sex didn't have to equal motherhood for them.  

However, I'm less convinced that the use of articial birth control by married couples has lead to immorality.  My own parents (sorry for the anecdotes again) used birth control during their entire marriage and had four children.  They had my sister then my dad went to graduate school and 7 years later I was born.  I was actually born three days before my father received his PhD.  That's family planning for you!  They waited a few more years and had a son than another few more years and had another daughter.  They decided they didn't want to have more children because they didn't want to be sending a kid to college when my dad might be considering retirement.  I don't see how this is 'evil.'  

One could argue that couples would use birth control to prevent conception alltogether which would supposedly be immoral because it goes against the command to "be fruitful and multiply."  But maybe some couples shouldn't have children.  What if they're both carriers for Tay Sachs?  Or more likely they're narcicists or the wife has borderline personality disorder.  What if mom has serious depression?  These things happen and I don't think "God will take of everything" mentality is the only answer.  

Then there is the couple that only has two children because they're 'careerists.'  Maybe education and pastoral counseling is the solution for these couples.  But they think that Father will say they can't use the pill and they'll have 10 kids so they won't even ask for advice.  And yes of course smaller families leads to less vocations.  And it breeds selfishness.  But what about legitimate parental concerns to give their children the "best" of everything.  We can complain about 'secularism' and say that it's worldy to want to give children the 'best' of everything.  However, I would speculate that most of us had at least the 'medium' of everything.  I had ballet lessons, a pair of Guess jeans and a college education.  Clearly 'secular' 'worldly' things, but I'm still grateful.  

Obviously it's easy to attack my "10 kids or artificial birth control" argument because supposedly NFP is effective.  But I'd rather not take the chance.  I'm an American, I believe in pills and science.  I say this as a not particularly "religious" person.  I went through a "religious" phase a few years ago but that's through.  Now I'll pray, but I'm still going to go the doctor.  My argument is simplistic (and probably "silly" and "irrelevant" and "tainted with secularism" and all that) but the way I think is the way the average American Catholic thinks about this argument.  And I'm yet to be convinced by the hierarchy that I'm wrong.  And I'm not likely to be convinced by (please forgive me for saying this) a bunch of single men who don't have sex.  And I'm also not convinced by the intellectual arguments either.  Admittedly because I don't want to be convinced.  But it doesn't strike a 'moral' chord with me.  Abortion horrifies me.  That's an easy one.  Birth control doesn't cause the same kind of moral outrage.  


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« Reply #141 on: March 13, 2013, 04:41:35 AM »

However, there is a story from the Bible, about a man who used "withdrawal contraception," and God slew him...

God killed him because he was ordered to impregnate the woman for someone, but the man only wanted sex and didn't fulfill his promise. Not because he used contraceptive.
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« Reply #142 on: March 14, 2013, 11:02:44 AM »


If our society is amoral, the churches bear a lot of responsibility for getting it that way. Not because they have acceded to that moral indifference, but because they spent their moral capital unwisely. The Catholic hierarchy in particular allowed itself to painted as a legalistic and often cruel institution; they made themselves easy to rebel against.

(Warning...I'm going to introduce feminism into the discussion.)  Not are they seen as "legalistic" and "cruel," they are also seen as celibate men.  I think the typical American Catholic doesn't think that the hierarchy even begins to understand their life so why should they listen to them?  

It's easy to say that celibate male bishops is tradition and only "liberals" challenge it but that glosses over legitimate criticisms.  I think we've seen from the sex abuse scandals that our bishops are completely out of touch with the laity.  I think we see the truth about them (the little man behind the curtain), that they are mediocre middle management.  The harsh criticism they've received is unfair.  Americans, with our puritanical streak, always want to burn sinners at the stake.  Their secular counterparts aren't much better (see ENRON, etc.).  They were not chosen for their brillance.  They were chosen because they were bureaucrats and like most bureaucrats, they're mediocre.  It's always been that way.  How bishops have become saints?  It's a lot easier to become a saint as a monk or a simple priest than as a bishop.  

But the fact remains that they are celibate men.  What can they possibly know about family life?  I admit that this is a 'stupid' argument on my part.  It's always simplistic and stupid to argue that people who've never been in a situation can't understand it.  But it's still true.  

Also (sorry for introducing my anecdotal evidence which of course is subjective) when the NFP message is preached by a layperson, it's always from people who aren't a realistic representation of the 'average' Catholic family.  My old church brought in a deacon to preach about NFP.  He made the rounds of all of the parishes in the diocese.  But he came from a wealthy family.  During Mass when he was preaching on NFP, I was watching his wife and children and it struck me that they were the epitome of the upper middle class family.  The wife and kids were well dressed.  They had an SUV.  The kids attended Catholic schools.  The wife didn't work.  My parish was very working class.  Most of the fathers worked at American Airlines as mechanics.  The mothers worked part time at Wal-Mart.  The kids went to public school.  Honestly, what does a wife with a wealthy husband so she doesn't have to work have to say to lower middle class wife who has to work regarding family planning?  And these people were really sincere Catholics.  They tried really hard to follow the tenants of the Church.  They tried much harder than I did, certainly.  I'm sure some of them gave up the pill after that sermon.  But I'll bet it caused financial problems for their families.  But I'll bet they wouldn't complain.  I'm the one, who isn't even in their shoes, who's complaining on their behalf.  

My other concern is that I don't see the causal link between contraception and sexual immorality and 'libertine' behavior.  I agree that we live in amoral times.  I also agree that reliable artificial birth control is largely responsible for the 'sexual revolution.'  My mother says that in her day (pre-pill) good girls didn't have sex before marriage except if they wanted to force a guy to marry them.  In my generation, nice girls certainly had sex outside of marriage.  The 'three-date' rule was always the rule of thumb in my circles, e.g. you're supposed to sleep with them after three dates.  If we thought that we'd get pregnant and wouldn't be able to have an abortion, we probably would have been much more careful.  My sorority sisters doing the 'walk of shame' (sneaking in early in the morning wearing the clothes they'd worn out the previous night) were sure that sex didn't have to equal motherhood for them.  

However, I'm less convinced that the use of articial birth control by married couples has lead to immorality.  My own parents (sorry for the anecdotes again) used birth control during their entire marriage and had four children.  They had my sister then my dad went to graduate school and 7 years later I was born.  I was actually born three days before my father received his PhD.  That's family planning for you!  They waited a few more years and had a son than another few more years and had another daughter.  They decided they didn't want to have more children because they didn't want to be sending a kid to college when my dad might be considering retirement.  I don't see how this is 'evil.'  

One could argue that couples would use birth control to prevent conception alltogether which would supposedly be immoral because it goes against the command to "be fruitful and multiply."  But maybe some couples shouldn't have children.  What if they're both carriers for Tay Sachs?  Or more likely they're narcicists or the wife has borderline personality disorder.  What if mom has serious depression?  These things happen and I don't think "God will take of everything" mentality is the only answer.  

Then there is the couple that only has two children because they're 'careerists.'  Maybe education and pastoral counseling is the solution for these couples.  But they think that Father will say they can't use the pill and they'll have 10 kids so they won't even ask for advice.  And yes of course smaller families leads to less vocations.  And it breeds selfishness.  But what about legitimate parental concerns to give their children the "best" of everything.  We can complain about 'secularism' and say that it's worldy to want to give children the 'best' of everything.  However, I would speculate that most of us had at least the 'medium' of everything.  I had ballet lessons, a pair of Guess jeans and a college education.  Clearly 'secular' 'worldly' things, but I'm still grateful.  

Obviously it's easy to attack my "10 kids or artificial birth control" argument because supposedly NFP is effective.  But I'd rather not take the chance.  I'm an American, I believe in pills and science.  I say this as a not particularly "religious" person.  I went through a "religious" phase a few years ago but that's through.  Now I'll pray, but I'm still going to go the doctor.  My argument is simplistic (and probably "silly" and "irrelevant" and "tainted with secularism" and all that) but the way I think is the way the average American Catholic thinks about this argument.  And I'm yet to be convinced by the hierarchy that I'm wrong.  And I'm not likely to be convinced by (please forgive me for saying this) a bunch of single men who don't have sex.  And I'm also not convinced by the intellectual arguments either.  Admittedly because I don't want to be convinced.  But it doesn't strike a 'moral' chord with me.  Abortion horrifies me.  That's an easy one.  Birth control doesn't cause the same kind of moral outrage.  


BUMP

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Based on my memory of Stanley123 at CAF, he might have some comments, but it is in the Faith section.

Hope that helps.

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