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Author Topic: Other Orthodox Opinions Appreciated (Personal Rant)  (Read 1446 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: February 25, 2011, 08:34:24 AM »

A couple days ago, I had a lengthy conversation with another Orthodox Christian I know well here in Greece. I forgot how we got onto the subject, but we discussed some of my viewpoints. We talked about Roman Catholicism, and how he thinks they aren't that different, whereas I believe they are. We also discussed historical viewpoints, and how I tend to reject most movements and things coming out of the West after the Renaissance because everything is effected by their incorrect theology, and their theology was shaped by their increasing emphasis on humanism and scholastic/scientific study.

I had told him that I hold up, contrary to Western Culture, the Eastern Roman Empire, and Russia. Not because I think they were a utopia (that is, I know they weren't perfect), but because Orthodoxy dominated those nations and cultures, and the Church worked with the government, rather than having a strict separation of Church and state.
I explained to him that I appreciate that Greece still maintains that relation between Church and State, and that the State helps the Church.

He countered that he believes those times are past us and we've grown. However, I believe that while we've moved past them, we've moved down the wrong road, and that Orthodoxy should be the official state religion, and the government should never give into secularism.
Everyone in the world should be Orthodox (though I recognize this probably isn't going to happen) and every nation should be Orthodox.
He asked about everyone else that isn't Orthodox, but I don't believe the others should be persecuted, they just won't receive the same treatment the Orthodox Church receives. According to the world, this isn't fair, but the Orthodox Church is THE Church, and no other Church matches up to her on any level. We must respect other churches and religions, but that doesn't mean they are equal to Christ's Church.

We discussed many other things, but needless to say, he took a point of view much more influenced by his own research, reading, etc... He prefers to take in all points of view and consider them, whereas I may read other points of view, I only take on the point of view put forth by the Orthodox Church. If the Church says Constantine is a Saint, I trust her, I could care less what wrongs he committed in life. If the Church says Christ turned water to wine, I could care less what science says. If the Church says the Council of Florence was wrong, and the Bishops that signed it became heretics, and that only St. Mark and the laity were right, then that is how it was. I realize there were other writings back then that contradicted St. Mark of Ephesus and others, but their writings are wrong and often heretical.
If the Church teaches that Constantinople fell because God willed it due to the unfaithfulness of the apostate Bishops that signed at Florence, then that is why it fell.

Sure I can question things about the Church, and I can even doubt my own faith, but as long as I return to trusting the Church, and trusting God, then God used that doubt to improve me. What reason is there to read heretical and contrary points of view? Sure I can learn their point of view and more about what they believe. But the Church is the one who is right, and I have no reason to even consider that these other points of view are correct. I learn about other world religions, not to change my own, or to consider theirs equal to my own. I learn about them so I don't misunderstand their position and so that we avoid conflict and misunderstanding. But in the end, it is the Church who is protected by Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the Church who holds the full truth...

I don't consider myself a kind of Orthodox fundamentalist, nor do I think I'm as extreme as Old Believers or others. I do think there is a line you cannot cross. But I think that too many Orthodox are willing to be influenced by the heretical West. Western Christianity has been moving away from God ever since it split from his Church. How can we possible trust any movements/teachings that came about after that point? We need to look at THOSE with great suspicion, not our own traditions.

I felt like my friend was greatly influenced by the West. While he is Greek, he did live some time in North America. I felt like his position was too "liberal", and that my own position was more "moderate"...
What are other opinions on these issues? Or any advice to me?
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 08:37:15 AM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2011, 10:13:33 AM »

Wow!  I am very surprized at this man's views.
But then I come a Ukrainian Orthodox background, and even though my family originally came to Canada in 1890's we are still taught about the dangers of the Unia and what the Catholics did in the 4th Crusade etc.
I always thought that Greeks were the same.
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2011, 10:22:32 AM »

I would rather agree with you than with your Greek friend. I do trust the judgment of the Orthodox Church more than my personal judgment simply because I discovered that the Orthodox Church does have divine grace. I feel it and receive it. Besides, I discovered that when I follow moral teachings of the Orthodox Church, I feel happy and my life is going on much better, while when I transgress these teachings, my life becomes a mess. And I have seen quite a lot of wonderful men and women, full of grace, who belong to the Church.

At first, I often had problems with what the Bible and the Holy Fathers teach, it was so much contrary to my atheist education. But as time passed, I found out that many things that I could not believe at first, make perfect sense, while many materialist 'truths' that I used to believe did not stand the test of life.

Of course, there are still some things that trouble me. For example, it is difficult for me to understand why Emperor Nicholas II of Russia was canonised. But as I know people who are much wiser than me and who have no doubts about the Emperor's sainthood, I bow to them and accept the judgment of the Church which I hope to understand at some later point.

I would not call my faith blind, because I have always tried to check the teaching of the Church against reality and reality usually confirmed the teaching. But the most convincing thing is what people can achieve when they honestly, humbly and diligently try to lead a spiritual life in the Orthodox Church. The holiness some of them achieve is a sufficient proof.

As regards Western Christianity, I do respect it. In fact, I became Orthodox largely under the influence of Evelyn Waugh. But I do see that modern Western denominations are more and more departing from real life in Christ. They gradually become more and more influenced by the hedonistic spirit of modern Western society, they are becoming more and more worldly and tepid. They are more eager to please secular ideologists than to please God.
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2011, 11:10:06 AM »

I wouldn't say this person's views is typical of all Greeks. But this man really isn't suggesting "Union" with the Roman Catholics, he told me himself he doesn't really care about the issue. He just regards our two Churches as more similar than different.

His opinion was just that I read more than just the "Orthodox" sources. He said that he has read (I think he said this) other points of view, for example, he would read the Arian or Nestorian writings as well as the Orthodox writings. His viewpoint is that most of these "schisms" occurred because of political, rather than mainly theological reasons, and that it's the fault of the politicians (like the Emperor) and Bishops that these schisms occurred. (like saying that the Roman Schism was a power play between Rome and Constantinople)

I wouldn't think most Greeks hold this point of view. I could understand some Greeks from Athens taking this point of view, but I would think most others don't hold it. It seems to me that Athens seems to be more liberal and secular, whereas the rest of Greece is much more dedicated to a more moderate/conservative point of view.
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2011, 01:00:00 PM »

The differences between RC and Orthodoxy are there, they are real, they do matter, but I also believe that some people have a tendency to over exaggerate what the differences are and the nature of those differences.
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2011, 01:03:10 PM »

Devin, the reason that I look more to the Russian Church than the Greek is exactly what you are talking about.  The Greek Churches where I live are so liberal (using your definition) that I have even heard one non-Greek priest exclaim "I don't even know why we are in communion with those people".  However, we have to ensure that we do not paint everyone with the same brush.  There was a Greek priest in one of the towns that I have lived that was so "conservative" that even the ROCOR priest looked up to him.  And this Greek priest was a New Calendarist to boot!  If you are in Greece now, try to find one of the Greek Old Calendar Churches and talk to one of their people.  You may view Greeks in a whole new light.  I know that I sure did.
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2011, 01:31:15 PM »

A couple days ago, I had a lengthy conversation with another Orthodox Christian I know well here in Greece. I forgot how we got onto the subject, but we discussed some of my viewpoints. We talked about Roman Catholicism, and how he thinks they aren't that different, whereas I believe they are. We also discussed historical viewpoints, and how I tend to reject most movements and things coming out of the West after the Renaissance because everything is effected by their incorrect theology, and their theology was shaped by their increasing emphasis on humanism and scholastic/scientific study.

I had told him that I hold up, contrary to Western Culture, the Eastern Roman Empire, and Russia. Not because I think they were a utopia (that is, I know they weren't perfect), but because Orthodoxy dominated those nations and cultures, and the Church worked with the government, rather than having a strict separation of Church and state.
I explained to him that I appreciate that Greece still maintains that relation between Church and State, and that the State helps the Church.

He countered that he believes those times are past us and we've grown. However, I believe that while we've moved past them, we've moved down the wrong road, and that Orthodoxy should be the official state religion, and the government should never give into secularism.
Everyone in the world should be Orthodox (though I recognize this probably isn't going to happen) and every nation should be Orthodox.
He asked about everyone else that isn't Orthodox, but I don't believe the others should be persecuted, they just won't receive the same treatment the Orthodox Church receives. According to the world, this isn't fair, but the Orthodox Church is THE Church, and no other Church matches up to her on any level. We must respect other churches and religions, but that doesn't mean they are equal to Christ's Church.

We discussed many other things, but needless to say, he took a point of view much more influenced by his own research, reading, etc... He prefers to take in all points of view and consider them, whereas I may read other points of view, I only take on the point of view put forth by the Orthodox Church. If the Church says Constantine is a Saint, I trust her, I could care less what wrongs he committed in life. If the Church says Christ turned water to wine, I could care less what science says. If the Church says the Council of Florence was wrong, and the Bishops that signed it became heretics, and that only St. Mark and the laity were right, then that is how it was. I realize there were other writings back then that contradicted St. Mark of Ephesus and others, but their writings are wrong and often heretical.
If the Church teaches that Constantinople fell because God willed it due to the unfaithfulness of the apostate Bishops that signed at Florence, then that is why it fell.

Sure I can question things about the Church, and I can even doubt my own faith, but as long as I return to trusting the Church, and trusting God, then God used that doubt to improve me. What reason is there to read heretical and contrary points of view? Sure I can learn their point of view and more about what they believe. But the Church is the one who is right, and I have no reason to even consider that these other points of view are correct. I learn about other world religions, not to change my own, or to consider theirs equal to my own. I learn about them so I don't misunderstand their position and so that we avoid conflict and misunderstanding. But in the end, it is the Church who is protected by Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the Church who holds the full truth...

I don't consider myself a kind of Orthodox fundamentalist, nor do I think I'm as extreme as Old Believers or others. I do think there is a line you cannot cross. But I think that too many Orthodox are willing to be influenced by the heretical West. Western Christianity has been moving away from God ever since it split from his Church. How can we possible trust any movements/teachings that came about after that point? We need to look at THOSE with great suspicion, not our own traditions.

I felt like my friend was greatly influenced by the West. While he is Greek, he did live some time in North America. I felt like his position was too "liberal", and that my own position was more "moderate"...
What are other opinions on these issues? Or any advice to me?

It probably is no surprise to you that I would not place your opinions within the 'moderate' category of Orthodox thought.

But while I do not not share your absolutist views regarding the 'heretical West', you would be surprised that many parts of what you state are in accord with the thoughts of most of us Orthodox. There are no Orthodox hierarchs, scholars, laity or clergy who would endorse a Unia model of reconciliation with the Catholic Church based upon the principals of Florence.

However, the subservience of the Church to the State in lands, both East and West, where the Church  was 'established' as a state Church did not, IMO, create a dynamic where the Church was strengthened in non-temporal, earthly terms.(This held true whether the state church was Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Anglican.)

That is not to say that the good and pious faithful within Russia or the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere who staffed schools, hospitals, orphanages, ran parishes and so on were not good Christians. Certainly, many saintly people emerged from within their ranks. (Frankly, this is true as well in Western countries where Catholicism or Protestantism were established as state religions.)

The institutional Church inevitably became corrupted by its proximity to temporal power and its need for the ruler's patronage and financial support. More often that not it became part of the oppressive elite to which it was linked. (While this may from time to time have been more of a perception by the subjects of a King or Emperor, perception often becomes reality, or at least indistinguishable from reality. After all, Henry the Second had to arrange for the murder of Thomas Becket to get his way. Within Orthodox history there are similar examples of conscience coming into conflict with the crown.) It has been argued by contemporary historians, and I would agree, that the rapid collapse of the Orthodox structure of Russia following the Bolshevik revolution bears this out.

The survival of the Faith within both of the fallen  ancient Orthodox empires was accomplished by the pious faithful and clergy to whom I earlier mentioned - not by the established 'state' church.

Anyway, your zeal and desire to learn is admirable and I hope that your current trip continues to be spiritually fruitful to you. Good luck.
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2011, 03:37:42 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I would just like to play devil's advocate here for a minute..

To be sure, I am an Orthodox Monarchist, and I faithfully affirm the righteousness of the Orthodox Church working with our governments directly in our mutual histories.  However there are some fundamental problems that arise with this according to our purely religious sentiments of Orthodox, all secular politics aside.

 a) We have all addressed issues of simony and corruption in the Orthodox Church in several places on this forum, that being said, at some level doesn't the Orthodox Church being involved with the State, in its historical place as  landholder and tax collector, represent a kind of spiritual conflict of interest considering the distaste many Orthodox have expressed when it comes to collecting finances and the Church? When the Church was a large stakes landholder, it was quite a secularized institution which collected secular dues, labor, and taxes from the populace.  Now to be sure, I would trust my priests and the Church with these matters much more so than I would trust the local politicos who do this now, however, when the money and the Church mix I sometimes get a bad taste in my mouth.  So I would say there is a benefit to the Church separating from the State in that the Church is no longer directly implicated in all the Stately things, such as corruption, taxes, and war.

b) The Church is not a political source of power, rather it is a spiritual source of Grace.  However, when the Church takes on political powers and auspices, there arises this conflict of interest, between the spiritual needs of a communion and the political needs.  The Church for many years straddled this line and honestly, I have been happy with the changes as it separated from the secular, political world.  Bishops and clergy can focus purely on spiritual matters and not have to delve into politics as deeply as before.  When the Church operated in tandem with the government, surely the Church in God's Grace spiritualized the government, however conversely we can be sure that in many instances the government secularized the Church.  Now, we know that God is at the helm, be it the politics or the Church, so we really don't even need the Church to necessarily be political or involved with government, so long as we remain faithful to the Church.  God will operate through us, who work in the government, who work for the government, or who work under the government.

The Church doesn't have to be the government for the Grace of God to have its influence, and if anything, the Church separating from the government has only strengthened this process,as the Church is free as an outsider to make purely spiritual decisions and criticisms, whereas politics by nature requires so many compromises and concessions that the Church, speaking only as a spiritual authority, no longer has to subject herself to.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2011, 04:48:26 PM »

If you are in Greece now, try to find one of the Greek Old Calendar Churches and talk to one of their people.

... and take Communion there and apostate.
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2011, 05:59:50 PM »

I would not go that far.  A good conversation, however, with these people should rapidly dispel any notion that all Greeks are rabid, foaming at the mouth liberals yearning for union with Rome.  Not that anyone here believes that, but I have heard it often enough outside of this forum. 

If you are in Greece now, try to find one of the Greek Old Calendar Churches and talk to one of their people.

... and take Communion there and apostate.
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2011, 10:10:54 PM »

I would not go that far.  A good conversation, however, with these people should rapidly dispel any notion that all Greeks are rabid, foaming at the mouth liberals yearning for union with Rome.  Not that anyone here believes that, but I have heard it often enough outside of this forum. 

If you are in Greece now, try to find one of the Greek Old Calendar Churches and talk to one of their people.

... and take Communion there and apostate.

I really don't know where you folks get your information, or what kind of Greeks you know, but almost all of the Greeks (of several generations) I have known over the years will literally start 'foaming at the mouth' when you speak of the Franks, the Second Crusade, the Venetians and the fall of Constantinople. I would hardly categorize them as apologists for or boosters of the papacy.
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2011, 05:37:36 AM »

I would not go that far.  A good conversation, however, with these people should rapidly dispel any notion that all Greeks are rabid, foaming at the mouth liberals yearning for union with Rome.  Not that anyone here believes that, but I have heard it often enough outside of this forum.  

If you are in Greece now, try to find one of the Greek Old Calendar Churches and talk to one of their people.

... and take Communion there and apostate.

I really don't know where you folks get your information, or what kind of Greeks you know, but almost all of the Greeks (of several generations) I have known over the years will literally start 'foaming at the mouth' when you speak of the Franks, the Second Crusade, the Venetians and the fall of Constantinople. I would hardly categorize them as apologists for or boosters of the papacy.

I would agree... They generally don't have excellent views of the Franks, the Second Crusade, the Venetians, etc... As you say. Remember, this was just 1 person's view. That 1 person doesn't speak for the millions of Greek Orthodox.

If I could, I would have conversations with more, especially Priests, but alas, I can't speak Greek, and most Priests don't speak English. (except for some of the younger ones)

In fact, much of Greece (I've learned) was actually conquered by the Venetians before it fell to the Turks. In some cases, like Thessaloniki, it was the Venetians that lost the city/region to the Turks.
Personally, I think it was better that the Turks conquered as much as they did. It essentially removed the Venetians and Franks from the area, and hence helped to isolate the Orthodox from the Roman Catholics and eventually the Protestants. If the Turks hadn't conquered Greece, it might be Roman Catholic today, simply because the Venetians/Franks would have forced them to convert. We must remember that the Spanish Conquest of Mexico would begin just 50 years after the fall of Constantinople. I doubt they would have showed more mercy to the Orthodox.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 05:43:01 AM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2011, 06:19:34 AM »

Quote
In fact, much of Greece (I've learned) was actually conquered by the Venetians before it fell to the Turks. In some cases, like Thessaloniki, it was the Venetians that lost the city/region to the Turks.
Personally, I think it was better that the Turks conquered as much as they did. It essentially removed the Venetians and Franks from the area, and hence helped to isolate the Orthodox from the Roman Catholics and eventually the Protestants. If the Turks hadn't conquered Greece, it might be Roman Catholic today, simply because the Venetians/Franks would have forced them to convert. We must remember that the Spanish Conquest of Mexico would begin just 50 years after the fall of Constantinople. I doubt they would have showed more mercy to the Orthodox.

Thessaloniki if I recall, was 'sold' to the Venetians by the Byzantines in 1423(?) or so because of difficulties defending it from the Ottomans.  It was not just the Franks or the Venetians, but on many of the islands, the Genoese were present as well, due to their 'commercial interests'.  Some islands, like Chios, as a result of the Treaty of Nymphaeum (as both Byzantium and the Republic of Genoa were enemies of Venice) was ruled by the Genoese from 1261 until 1566.  Lesbos was under the Genoese Gattilusi family from 1355 until 1462. Though the Venetians did rule some islands, such as their 'Duchy of Naxos' complete with a Latin archbishopric.
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2011, 06:54:21 AM »

I would be curious to know if Greeks still hold to the Megali Idea and the saying: "Πάλι με χρόνια με καιρούς,
πάλι δικά μας θα 'ναι!"...
Wikipedia says it's died out, but of course,, thats Wikipedia.
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2011, 07:16:32 AM »

The disastrous Greco-Turkish war of 1920-22, and its consequences, finally put paid to the Megali Idea.
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2011, 07:40:05 AM »

The disastrous Greco-Turkish war of 1920-22, and its consequences, finally put paid to the Megali Idea.
huh?
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2011, 07:52:11 AM »

It means that this war and its fallout resulted in the disappearance of the Megali Idea from Greek political policy.
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2011, 08:18:05 AM »

It means that this war and its fallout resulted in the disappearance of the Megali Idea from Greek political policy.

Agreed.  The Treaty of Lausanne, subsequent population exchanges, removed a lot of the irredentist core from the Megali Idea.  However, I would say that the Megali Idea turned from an external to an internal goal, that of national economic development. It was Metaxas and his regime (1936-41) that attempted to create a new national myth, that of the 'Third Greek Civilization', after Sparta and Byzantium
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2011, 09:40:18 AM »

What about the predictions by Elder Paisios and others?
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2011, 12:43:39 PM »

In my experience, the Megali Idea might not be part of Greek politics but it is alive and well among some Greeks, at least here in America. Pretty much all the Greek men at my parish long for a revived Greek/Byzantine Empire. It might be dead in Greece, but it is alive in some sectors of the Church.



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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2011, 03:37:06 PM »

I would recommend a trip to Athos. I have been there twice, both times only for 4 days, but it has been an incredible experience. Not that I witnessed anything manifestly surpernatural or had any specially deep spiritual conversations with anyone, but the very fact of being immersed in the authentic Orthodox atmosphere changes something in you. And not just in Greek monasteries: I have been also to the Russian and the Serbian ones, they are equally wonderful. St Andrew's and Iviron also made a very strong impression on me. At Iviron, I remember a young English-speaking monk who, it seemed to me, had a very sober and intelligent approach to spiritual life (I had to translate his conversation with an over-enthusiastic miracle-seeking pilgrim from Russia).

When, after my first visit, I came to Thessaloniki, I went from one universe into another. I turned on TV in my hotel room and tried to watch BBC news. I couldn't. I was still full of the Athonite spirit, and the spirit of a secular news programme simple hurt me - it was so hostile to Christian spirituality! And being a tourist in the city turned out to be difficult. It was hard to switch from the pilgrimage mode into the sightseeing one.

To be in Greece and to miss Athos would be too great a shame!
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« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2011, 11:05:20 PM »

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To be in Greece and to miss Athos would be too great a shame!

It should be remembered, that the Athos option is only available to males. The only females allowed to set foot there are cats. Of course.  Grin
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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2011, 09:24:48 AM »

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To be in Greece and to miss Athos would be too great a shame!

It should be remembered, that the Athos option is only available to males. The only females allowed to set foot there are cats. Of course.  Grin

I had read that female cats originally weren't allowed, but then were given an exception because the snakes and mice didn't obey the no-female rule..

It also may not be known to some on here why the no-female rule exists... It has nothing to do with chastity (though thats a part of it), but rather, because the Theotokos is the patroness of the Mount, it is believed there should be no females, as she should have no rival/equal on the Mount.
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