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Author Topic: Autoeroticism and the Fathers: RC POV  (Read 6021 times) Average Rating: 0
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jordanz
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« on: March 29, 2011, 08:08:16 PM »

Just to put you at ease: correct forum, and a well-stated question.

In the Roman context (yes, that OT in itself), even the most morally orthodox priests will say that masturbation is one issue that should be strictly pastoral and sacramental.  That is, each case is different and should be discussed confidentially or under the seal of the confessional.  Intent and habit are also considerations.  For example, one Roman priest has told me (in general) that there's a difference between mutual masturbation to avoid pregnancy, and compulsive masturbation many times a day.  These are just two examples.  Someone who is struggling with an addiction, any addiction, might not be as culpable for his or her actions as a person who commits a sin to avoid the natural effects of a disordered act, or wishes to cause scandal, etc.  Masturbation, depending on certain contexts such as addiction, might not necessarily be an impediment to the reception of Holy Communion.

Are Orthodox priests given similar discretion both in a pastoral and penitential setting?  Fr. George, if you can talk about this without breaking the confession seal or confidentiality, I would be interested to get your take on the issue.    

Since this is a patristics thread, maybe it would be interesting to ask how patristics influences modern-day Orthodox pastoral care of people struggling with sexual issues.
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2011, 04:06:38 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2011, 04:15:51 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

That definitely sounds like something only the most scholastic of theologians would even think about, let alone posit as a theorem to solve Wink

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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2011, 04:22:42 PM »

That definitely sounds like something only the most scholastic of theologians would even think about, let alone posit as a theorem to solve Wink

This is what happens when you let Roman Catholic academics loose on OC.net! ;-)   

In all seriousness, I don't think that sexual questions are the area of lay speculation.  These questions are best left to one's spiritual advisor or confessor.  That's not to say that Christians shouldn't encourage one another to witness to the faith in the best way they can.  Sometimes, the tough questions are best left to those with the right training. 
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2011, 04:41:32 PM »

That definitely sounds like something only the most scholastic of theologians would even think about, let alone posit as a theorem to solve Wink

This is what happens when you let Roman Catholic academics loose on OC.net! ;-)   

In all seriousness, I don't think that sexual questions are the area of lay speculation.  These questions are best left to one's spiritual advisor or confessor.  That's not to say that Christians shouldn't encourage one another to witness to the faith in the best way they can.  Sometimes, the tough questions are best left to those with the right training. 

Neither lay Orthodox theologians nor married clergy are an oddity in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2011, 04:42:30 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

You mean monasticism?
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2011, 04:54:33 PM »

You mean monasticism?

No, I am referring to masturbation and conjugal sexuality in marriage.  Procreation is definitely a "natural end" for marriage (as we Latins say).
I understand that the Orthodox theology of the mystery of marriage is different than the Roman theology of the marriage sacrament.  Romans (well, up until recently) stressed procreation.  The question I posed earlier is a quintessentially Roman scholastic question precisely because it privileges procreation over the unitive aspects of marriage.
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2011, 04:56:08 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

You mean monasticism?

I've been a practicing onanastic for years.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2011, 04:58:34 PM »

Lust (I have ialmisry's definition of lust here in mind: using someone else as an instrument for masturbation, if I can paraphrase) and masturbation do not have to coincide, no matter how much they typically might.

I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2011, 04:58:40 PM »

You mean monasticism?

No, I am referring to masturbation and conjugal sexuality in marriage.  Procreation is definitely a "natural end" for marriage (as we Latins say).
I understand that the Orthodox theology of the mystery of marriage is different than the Roman theology of the marriage sacrament.  Romans (well, up until recently) stressed procreation.  The question I posed earlier is a quintessentially Roman scholastic question precisely because it privileges procreation over the unitive aspects of marriage.

How are masturbation and procreation at odds with one another?
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2011, 05:04:00 PM »

Lust (I have ialmisry's definition of lust here in mind: using someone else as an instrument for masturbation, if I can paraphrase) and masturbation do not have to coincide, no matter how much they typically might.

I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?

How frank we gonna get here? Some men are capable of ejaculation with the slightest of contact and time. And any man knows that arousal doesn't have to come from sexual stimulation. From infancy on, males have erections.

Those men mentioned, especially when younger basically ejaculate within moments upon waking without much effort. It is practically mechanical. They are also often plagued by the "problem" of extreme "premature" ejaculation when engaging in sex.

MODS, I dunno how you all handle frank, adult, clinical discussions surrounding sex. As always feel free to mod and my apologies if I have caused offense.
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2011, 05:05:53 PM »

Lust (I have ialmisry's definition of lust here in mind: using someone else as an instrument for masturbation, if I can paraphrase) and masturbation do not have to coincide, no matter how much they typically might.

I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?

Yeah, this was brought up before obliquely and I snickered. This is what happens when thinking everything through goes too far, IMHO.
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2011, 05:48:20 PM »

You mean monasticism?

No, I am referring to masturbation and conjugal sexuality in marriage.  Procreation is definitely a "natural end" for marriage (as we Latins say).
I understand that the Orthodox theology of the mystery of marriage is different than the Roman theology of the marriage sacrament.  Romans (well, up until recently) stressed procreation.  The question I posed earlier is a quintessentially Roman scholastic question precisely because it privileges procreation over the unitive aspects of marriage.

So, monasticism doesn't suppress procreation?

This is the dilema of natural law justifications of marriage to privilege procreation, is that it leaves no excuse for monasticism.
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2011, 05:50:09 PM »

Lust (I have ialmisry's definition of lust here in mind: using someone else as an instrument for masturbation, if I can paraphrase) and masturbation do not have to coincide, no matter how much they typically might.

I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?
What section is that?
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2011, 09:14:13 PM »

MODS, I dunno how you all handle frank, adult, clinical discussions surrounding sex. As always feel free to mod and my apologies if I have caused offense.

Sorry, I didn't know I was getting too explicit.  Look, my mom was an ICU nurse for decades.  Our "sex talk" was about as exciting as talking about geriatric renal failure.  

----------------

You mean monasticism?

No, I am referring to masturbation and conjugal sexuality in marriage.  Procreation is definitely a "natural end" for marriage (as we Latins say).

I understand that the Orthodox theology of the mystery of marriage is different than the Roman theology of the marriage sacrament.  Romans (well, up until recently) stressed procreation.  The question I posed earlier is a quintessentially Roman scholastic question precisely because it privileges procreation over the unitive aspects of marriage.

So, monasticism doesn't suppress procreation?

This is the dilema of natural law justifications of marriage to privilege procreation, is that it leaves no excuse for monasticism.

Good point.  You've tripped over one of the most contradictory points in Christianity: the irreconcilable conflict between "eunuchs for the kingdom" and the need to propagate and perpetuate life and the Faith.  It is paradoxical to exalt the sexless monk or nun for his or her sublimation of the sexual drive towards the "more pure" state of celibate life, and the exhortation that married couples practice the less privileged sexual state to produce life.  St.Paul couldn't get a bead on Stoicism, neither St. Augustine; and the Eastern Fathers also struggled with the potential, passion, and power of the libido.  Perhaps it's best to say that the juxtaposition of celibacy and marital procreation produces not only status and caste in Christianity, but also a tension that rightly channels all human desires towards consensual and ethical sexuality.

-----------------------
  
I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?

What section is that?

CCC 2352.  Scroll down.  The javascript isn't working, so I couldn't directly link.

Don't know where the heck I heard that not having fantasies was worse than having fantasies. CCC doesn't say that.  However the CCC does say that masturbation is foremost a pastoral issue, so its a moot point really.
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2011, 09:32:18 PM »

and compulsive masturbation many times a day.

Is masturbating many times a day viewed significantly differently than, say, once a week?
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2011, 09:34:09 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

This is a question I have tried to ask in the forum before but it was deemed too "risque" and my thread was deleted.

And BTW, I started it on the basis that there is already science to indicate that regular usage of the prostate is connected to prevention of prostate cancer.
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« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2011, 09:36:13 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

You mean monasticism?

Possibly causing sterility through lack of sexual exercise is a problem much easier to digest that possibly causing prostate cancer through lack of sexual exercise. That is why I try to focus on the latter to render the question more potent.
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« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2011, 09:39:21 PM »

Lust (I have ialmisry's definition of lust here in mind: using someone else as an instrument for masturbation, if I can paraphrase) and masturbation do not have to coincide, no matter how much they typically might.

I really don't see how a man could masturbate without lust.  I couldn't do it.  Interestingly, the CCC condemns masturbation without lustful thoughts more strongly than masturbation with lustful thoughts!  huh?

If one does not have an active imagination (I will include myself in this group; I do not do a lot of sexual fantasizing and have a low libido), the sexual system will eventually (at less frequent intervals, say perhaps every few days) generate arousal on its own to test its functionality, exercise the system, and release stress. This is how masturbation can and does occur without lust.
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« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2011, 09:52:23 PM »

Is masturbating many times a day viewed significantly differently than, say, once a week?

That's between you and your priest.  Can't help you there.

And BTW, I started it on the basis that there is already science to indicate that regular usage of the prostate is connected to prevention of prostate cancer.

Possibly causing sterility through lack of sexual exercise is a problem much easier to digest that possibly causing prostate cancer through lack of sexual exercise. That is why I try to focus on the latter to render the question more potent.

Remember, it's not conclusively proven that not masturbating will render a man infertile or less fertile.  Who knows?  The effects of masturbating or not masturbating probably differs with each individual man.  A doctor friend of mine once remarked that half or more of the sperm that men produce daily are "dead" or non-viable.  Conception's a miracle, really, considering that the male body does a pretty poor job making useful gametes.

I'm chill about all this since I've chosen not to reproduce.  Completely non-religious reason: I'm an insane genetic cul-de-sac, so bringing rugrats into the world to perpetuate the horror isn't that civic-minded.  Seriously, none of these questions are important, especially at a young age.  If you've got concerns, see a doctor.  Prostate cancer is often slow-growing and effectively treated in old age.  All of this is really nothing to worry about.    
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« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2011, 09:59:01 PM »

MODS, I dunno how you all handle frank, adult, clinical discussions surrounding sex. As always feel free to mod and my apologies if I have caused offense.

Sorry, I didn't know I was getting too explicit.  Look, my mom was an ICU nurse for decades.  Our "sex talk" was about as exciting as talking about geriatric renal failure.  

jordanz,

I hope you don't think I was rebuking you. I dunno the rules around here about this sorta stuff. This is all vanilla to me.

I was just pointing out the MODs that I meant no offense, if I happened to be stepping over some line.
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« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2011, 10:00:42 PM »

And BTW, I started it on the basis that there is already science to indicate that regular usage of the prostate is connected to prevention of prostate cancer.

Your "science" here ain't science.

Not that it might not be truth. But usually this stuff is from meta analysis, and thus sketchy at best.

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« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2011, 10:00:57 PM »

That's between you and your priest.  Can't help you there.

You seemed to describe the frequency in your example "compulsively masturbating many times a day", for a reason. So I was asking more trying to learn about your reasoning. If you can't answer the question, it would seem to suggest that you didn't have any such intent in defining the frequency, which leaves me confused.

Remember, it's not conclusively proven that not masturbating will render a man infertile or less fertile.  Who knows?  The effects of masturbating or not masturbating probably differs with each individual man.  A doctor friend of mine once remarked that half or more of the sperm that men produce daily are "dead" or non-viable.  Conception's a miracle, really, considering that the male body does a pretty poor job making useful gametes.

I'm chill about all this since I've chosen not to reproduce.  Completely non-religious reason: I'm an insane genetic cul-de-sac, so bringing rugrats into the world to perpetuate the horror isn't that civic-minded.  Seriously, none of these questions are important, especially at a young age.  If you've got concerns, see a doctor.  Prostate cancer is often slow-growing and effectively treated in old age.  All of this is really nothing to worry about.    

That's not what I am talking about. Fertility and sperm is a different issue from the health of the prostate and risk of prostate cancer.
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« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2011, 10:02:20 PM »

jordanz,

I hope you don't think I was rebuking you. I dunno the rules around here about this sorta stuff. This is all vanilla to me.

I was just pointing out the MODs that I meant no offense, if I happened to be stepping over some line.

No, it's all good.  Mature adults can talk about these things without matters getting out of hand.  I got to watch it though -- I've only been here a week and I've already been squashed by a mod once.  

Also, my humor is sort of strange, so maybe I should tone that down.  Some people here are mad serious.
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« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2011, 10:06:05 PM »

jordanz,

I hope you don't think I was rebuking you. I dunno the rules around here about this sorta stuff. This is all vanilla to me.

I was just pointing out the MODs that I meant no offense, if I happened to be stepping over some line.

No, it's all good.  Mature adults can talk about these things without matters getting out of hand.  I got to watch it though -- I've only been here a week and I've already been squashed by a mod once.  

Also, my humor is sort of strange, so maybe I should tone that down.  Some people here are mad serious.

With you there.

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« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2011, 10:09:10 PM »

That's between you and your priest.  Can't help you there.

You seemed to describe the frequency in your example "compulsively masturbating many times a day", for a reason. So I was asking more trying to learn about your reasoning. If you can't answer the question, it would seem to suggest that you didn't have any such intent in defining the frequency, which leaves me confused.

What I meant is this: the Roman consensus is that issues such as sex addiction are best left to confidential pastoral care and confession.  I suspect it's the same model in the Orthodox tradition.  It's up to a confessor to determine the gravity of a penitent's sins.  This thread shouldn't be about our personal problems or questions.  Some things should be kept private and discussed one-on-one with a priest or maybe even in the context of therapy.  
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« Reply #26 on: March 30, 2011, 10:12:28 PM »

That's between you and your priest.  Can't help you there.

You seemed to describe the frequency in your example "compulsively masturbating many times a day", for a reason. So I was asking more trying to learn about your reasoning. If you can't answer the question, it would seem to suggest that you didn't have any such intent in defining the frequency, which leaves me confused.

What I meant is this: the Roman consensus is that issues such as sex addiction are best left to confidential pastoral care and confession.  I suspect it's the same model in the Orthodox tradition.  It's up to a confessor to determine the gravity of a penitent's sins.  This thread shouldn't be about our personal problems or questions.  Some things should be kept private and discussed one-on-one with a priest or maybe even in the context of therapy.  

Sounds like quality advice to me.
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« Reply #27 on: March 30, 2011, 11:52:15 PM »

Just to throw another aspect out there, how are we to understand nocturnal emissions in light of all this? Is it "okay" because the person didn't will it to happen, but it happened on its own? Is a sexual dream that causes a release different than fantasizing and making it happen on your own, because of being conscious?
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« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2011, 11:58:06 PM »

Just to throw another aspect out there, how are we to understand nocturnal emissions in light of all this? Is it "okay" because the person didn't will it to happen, but it happened on its own? Is a sexual dream that causes a release different than fantasizing and making it happen on your own, because of being conscious?

This has been dealt with here. I believe the consensus including Patristic sources found this to be a non issue. If I weren't just getting ready to sleep, I would google-fu it for you. If I get a minute at work tomorrow and no one has provided the sources again, I will give it a whirl.
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« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2011, 12:17:05 AM »

Just to throw another aspect out there, how are we to understand nocturnal emissions in light of all this? Is it "okay" because the person didn't will it to happen, but it happened on its own? Is a sexual dream that causes a release different than fantasizing and making it happen on your own, because of being conscious?

Thus I have read- If it happens the night before communion, one must refrain from communion that day OR one can get up, say Psalm 50, and do a certain number of metanies (I forget the number.)
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« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2011, 01:11:48 PM »

Thus I have read- If it happens the night before communion, one must refrain from communion that day OR one can get up, say Psalm 50, and do a certain number of metanies (I forget the number.)

I don't get this.  Nocturnal emission is an involuntary psychosomatic function.  How could something that can't be controlled be a sin and require penance?  I don't see any issues of volition here.

Y'know, a lot of these penitential manuals &c. were written at a time when psychosomatism and affective states were unknown.  Augustine thought the same as the confessor cited above.  I'm not a priest so I can't say, but I can't see why a penance would need to be assigned for a bodily function that is probably on a par with renal voiding.
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« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2011, 01:16:11 PM »

Thus I have read- If it happens the night before communion, one must refrain from communion that day OR one can get up, say Psalm 50, and do a certain number of metanies (I forget the number.)

I don't get this.  Nocturnal emission is an involuntary psychosomatic function.  How could something that can't be controlled be a sin and require penance?  I don't see any issues of volition here.

Y'know, a lot of these penitential manuals &c. were written at a time when psychosomatism and affective states were unknown.  Augustine thought the same as the confessor cited above.  I'm not a priest so I can't say, but I can't see why a penance would need to be assigned for a bodily function that is probably on a par with renal voiding.

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 
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« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2011, 01:17:48 PM »

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 
So a nocturnal emission is a sin?
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« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2011, 01:23:14 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
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« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2011, 01:31:34 PM »

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 

Wow, Schultz -- thanks.  Your statement unlocks a lot of questions I've had about sin and penance in Orthodoxy.

It seems to me that nocturnal emission is not "sin of omission".  If, say, someone is being discriminated against and an observer does not speak up about the injustice, the observer could have committed a sin of omission.  Psychosomatism isn't omission, since there's no reflection (unless one thinks that dream thoughts are consciously reflexive.)  I don't, so I would say that psychosomatic acts outside of the "natural order" are neither sins of commission or omission. 

So Orthodoxy has a third "fallen-ness" that's outside of commission or omission?  This reminds me of certain commandments of observant Judaism, specifically niddah (commandments that concern the interaction of menstruating women with other people).  Today we know empirically that menstruation is not pathological.  Still, observant Jews observe the rabbinical social protocols that concern menstruation even if the rabbinical commentary or the Mosaic prohibition contradict current empirical knowledge.

Is the Orthodox evaluation of involuntary emission of semen akin to niddah?  Is the production of a life-generating substance outside of life-generation the occasion for penance?  Or, is this a matter of ritual purity?  Fascinating topic.     
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« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2011, 02:22:56 PM »

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 

Wow, Schultz -- thanks.  Your statement unlocks a lot of questions I've had about sin and penance in Orthodoxy.

It seems to me that nocturnal emission is not "sin of omission".  If, say, someone is being discriminated against and an observer does not speak up about the injustice, the observer could have committed a sin of omission.  Psychosomatism isn't omission, since there's no reflection (unless one thinks that dream thoughts are consciously reflexive.)  I don't, so I would say that psychosomatic acts outside of the "natural order" are neither sins of commission or omission. 

So Orthodoxy has a third "fallen-ness" that's outside of commission or omission?  This reminds me of certain commandments of observant Judaism, specifically niddah (commandments that concern the interaction of menstruating women with other people).  Today we know empirically that menstruation is not pathological.  Still, observant Jews observe the rabbinical social protocols that concern menstruation even if the rabbinical commentary or the Mosaic prohibition contradict current empirical knowledge.

Is the Orthodox evaluation of involuntary emission of semen akin to niddah?  Is the production of a life-generating substance outside of life-generation the occasion for penance?  Or, is this a matter of ritual purity?  Fascinating topic.     

I am wondering of Schultz is not, at the moment, pondering the law of unintended consequences?
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« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2011, 03:49:04 PM »

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 

Wow, Schultz -- thanks.  Your statement unlocks a lot of questions I've had about sin and penance in Orthodoxy.

It seems to me that nocturnal emission is not "sin of omission".  If, say, someone is being discriminated against and an observer does not speak up about the injustice, the observer could have committed a sin of omission.  Psychosomatism isn't omission, since there's no reflection (unless one thinks that dream thoughts are consciously reflexive.)  I don't, so I would say that psychosomatic acts outside of the "natural order" are neither sins of commission or omission. 

So Orthodoxy has a third "fallen-ness" that's outside of commission or omission?  This reminds me of certain commandments of observant Judaism, specifically niddah (commandments that concern the interaction of menstruating women with other people).  Today we know empirically that menstruation is not pathological.  Still, observant Jews observe the rabbinical social protocols that concern menstruation even if the rabbinical commentary or the Mosaic prohibition contradict current empirical knowledge.

Is the Orthodox evaluation of involuntary emission of semen akin to niddah?  Is the production of a life-generating substance outside of life-generation the occasion for penance?  Or, is this a matter of ritual purity?  Fascinating topic.     

There are rules governing menstruation and emissions and Holy Communion, and as well one often avoids communion if bleeding or if there is a possibility of vomiting.

There is a prayer rule for what to do after emissions, which may or may not result "from habit, thoughts, immoderation in hurtful things or food and drink, or overbearing presumption."

As for masturbation, it is a sin, is penanced in the Examologitarion, and one instance is considered an impediment to ordination as a loss of spiritual virginity. Obviously, it is at the same time a pastoral issue, but no one should say it is not a serious sin. If one reads the Desert Fathers, one finds they struggled mightily against this.
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« Reply #37 on: March 31, 2011, 03:51:40 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I often wonder if those who speculate on what life would be without the Fall have decided if women would  or would not menstruate (another issue of grave concern to some). Sort of like, in another threa, where we have been told that man wouldn't have to eat and wouldn't defecate.

The point at issue, however, may have another dimension-how involunatry is it, breaking the fast etc.
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« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2011, 03:55:51 PM »

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance".  

Wow, Schultz -- thanks.  Your statement unlocks a lot of questions I've had about sin and penance in Orthodoxy.

It seems to me that nocturnal emission is not "sin of omission".  If, say, someone is being discriminated against and an observer does not speak up about the injustice, the observer could have committed a sin of omission.  Psychosomatism isn't omission, since there's no reflection (unless one thinks that dream thoughts are consciously reflexive.)  I don't, so I would say that psychosomatic acts outside of the "natural order" are neither sins of commission or omission.  

So Orthodoxy has a third "fallen-ness" that's outside of commission or omission?  This reminds me of certain commandments of observant Judaism, specifically niddah (commandments that concern the interaction of menstruating women with other people).  Today we know empirically that menstruation is not pathological.  Still, observant Jews observe the rabbinical social protocols that concern menstruation even if the rabbinical commentary or the Mosaic prohibition contradict current empirical knowledge.

Is the Orthodox evaluation of involuntary emission of semen akin to niddah?  Is the production of a life-generating substance outside of life-generation the occasion for penance?  Or, is this a matter of ritual purity?  Fascinating topic.      

There are rules governing menstruation and emissions and Holy Communion, and as well one often avoids communion if bleeding or if there is a possibility of vomiting.

There is a prayer rule for what to do after emissions, which may or may not result "from habit, thoughts, immoderation in hurtful things or food and drink, or overbearing presumption."

As for masturbation, it is a sin, is penanced in the Examologitarion, and one instance is considered an impediment to ordination as a loss of spiritual virginity. Obviously, it is at the same time a pastoral issue, but no one should say it is not a serious sin. If one reads the Desert Fathers, one finds they struggled mightily against this.
They were monks.  They were struggling a lot of things normal in life. IIRC, most of their writings talk about gluttony, far, far, FAR more than topics of this sort. Not that gluttony is normal, but eating is.

It is about as serious as drinking.

Btw, as to the Examologitarion, it is based on the canons of St. John the Faster, which, although St. Nikodemus the Athonite was fond of them, never received Ecumenical authority, something I recall the English translator and commentator (an Old Calendar type before the Calendar became an issue) being quite apopletic about: his comments on this topic are quite amusing too.
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« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2011, 04:07:09 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I often wonder if those who speculate on what life would be without the Fall have decided if women would  or would not menstruate (another issue of grave concern to some). Sort of like, in another threa, where we have been told that man wouldn't have to eat and wouldn't defecate.


And I wonder the same thing.  In the end, such speculation is NOT for the good of my soul so I rarely indulge in it. 

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The point at issue, however, may have another dimension-how involunatry is it, breaking the fast etc.

Agreed.

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« Reply #40 on: March 31, 2011, 04:11:59 PM »

The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that masturbation is a sin.  The same text indicates that some sins are mitigated by the spiritual maturity of the person engaging in the behaviors.  Again it is something for discussion with ones confessor.  It's hardly the worst of all possible voluntary acts.

Just adding this to justify the topic being under the heading here.
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« Reply #41 on: March 31, 2011, 04:15:03 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?



That definitely sounds like something only the most scholastic of theologians would even think about, let alone posit as a theorem to solve Wink



Ghandi spent a good bit of time thinking about the benefits of the Vedic practice of conservation of sperm.

http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?topic=5682.0
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« Reply #42 on: March 31, 2011, 04:17:21 PM »

The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that masturbation is a sin.  The same text indicates that some sins are mitigated by the spiritual maturity of the person engaging in the behaviors.  Again it is something for discussion with ones confessor.  It's hardly the worst of all possible voluntary acts.

Just adding this to justify the topic being under the heading here.

Agreed, and yet people freak out about it. 
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« Reply #43 on: March 31, 2011, 04:24:03 PM »

The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that masturbation is a sin.  The same text indicates that some sins are mitigated by the spiritual maturity of the person engaging in the behaviors.  Again it is something for discussion with ones confessor.  It's hardly the worst of all possible voluntary acts.

Just adding this to justify the topic being under the heading here.

Agreed, and yet people freak out about it. 
Indeed, there are those who argue how it is worse than adultery.
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« Reply #44 on: March 31, 2011, 04:26:58 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?



That definitely sounds like something only the most scholastic of theologians would even think about, let alone posit as a theorem to solve Wink



Ghandi spent a good bit of time thinking about the benefits of the Vedic practice of conservation of sperm.

http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?topic=5682.0

LOL. Ending with this bit of wisdom:
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"A wise man should avoid married life as if it were a burning pit of live coals...
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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