Author Topic: Orthodox take on contraception  (Read 596 times)

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Offline wainscottbl

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Orthodox take on contraception
« on: July 18, 2013, 06:09:05 PM »
Since I am Catholic, particularly a traditional Catholic considering Orthodoxy what is the Orthodox view on contraception. Of course to Catholics it is a very grave sin, a mortal sin--I know that Orthodox do not have the same idea about sin, mortal and venial. Natural contraception can be justified in cases of grave need, but to marry without the intention of having children is a null marriage and is grounds for annulment. It is a mortal sin in Catholicism to use artificial contraception.

But what is the Orthodox view? I tend to think contraception has created a large problem of lowering the population. I also think that families with one child particularly often spoil that child. I understand families who cannot have more than one child, such as one family I know who had to adopt a little girl because of not being able to have children because the mother is barren. So they have one little girl, but I think parents with one child often spoil their child. I think the two child idea creates problems to and that a large family creates sacrifice. But that may be the Catholic in me speaking, so forgive me and I am not trying to make blanket statements.

Also if the Orthodox Church justifies it, what justification does this have in Holy Tradition? Just interested. Not trying to condemn anyone, so for anything I have said about selfishness and spoiling children please lay off the accusations of being romantic or simplistic. A wise person knows that general statements about human nature are not absolute statements.
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Offline spyridon

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 06:45:37 PM »
"Artificial methods of birth control are forbidden in the Orthodox Church".

K.Ware- 'The Orthodox Church'- 1963  1st edition.

"Concerning contraceptives and other forms of birth control, differing opinions exist within the Orthodox Church. In the past birth control was in general strongly condemned, but today a less strict view is coming to prevail, not only in the west but in traditional Orthodox countries. Many Orthodox theologians and spiritual fathers consider that the responsible use of contraception within marriage is not in itself sinful. In their view, the question of how many children a couple should have, and at what intervals, is best decided by the partners themselves, according to the guidance of their own consciences."

K.Ware- 'The Orthodox Church'- 1990s- 2nd edition.

Maybe by the third edition it will be compulsory?

 




Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 06:48:45 PM »
While the last line is of course silly, I think spyridon makes a good point. Over the past few decades the Orthodox have indeed softened their position on contraception, following Catholicism and, before that, Anglicanism. I don't see things progressing much further than the second quote given in the previous post though.

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2013, 07:28:48 PM »
Some of my thoughts on the subject here:

"An Orthodox Examination of Birth Control"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,52495.new.html#new


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Offline spyridon

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 07:38:47 PM »
Some of my thoughts on the subject here:

"An Orthodox Examination of Birth Control"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,52495.new.html#new


Selam

Gebre- This is excellent, clear thinking, rooted in faith and tradition. I unreservedly agree.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 07:39:01 PM »
Since I am Catholic, particularly a traditional Catholic considering Orthodoxy what is the Orthodox view on contraception. Of course to Catholics it is a very grave sin, a mortal sin--I know that Orthodox do not have the same idea about sin, mortal and venial. Natural contraception can be justified in cases of grave need, but to marry without the intention of having children is a null marriage and is grounds for annulment. It is a mortal sin in Catholicism to use artificial contraception.

But what is the Orthodox view? I tend to think contraception has created a large problem of lowering the population. I also think that families with one child particularly often spoil that child. I understand families who cannot have more than one child, such as one family I know who had to adopt a little girl because of not being able to have children because the mother is barren. So they have one little girl, but I think parents with one child often spoil their child. I think the two child idea creates problems to and that a large family creates sacrifice. But that may be the Catholic in me speaking, so forgive me and I am not trying to make blanket statements.

Also if the Orthodox Church justifies it, what justification does this have in Holy Tradition? Just interested. Not trying to condemn anyone, so for anything I have said about selfishness and spoiling children please lay off the accusations of being romantic or simplistic. A wise person knows that general statements about human nature are not absolute statements.
To the Vatican's "magisterium"-at least a significant chunk of it-it is a very grave mortal sin; to its flock-i.e. the only ones involved-not so much.

The distinction between "artificial" and "natural" contraception is itself artificial.

I'm not one for only children, but have no idea why two would "create problems."  More can create sacrifice.  They can just as well create neglect as well.

As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.

"Also if the Orthodox Church justifies it, what justification does this have in Holy Tradition?"  We ask the same of Humanae Vitae, which, except for trying to shore up its pleading for a "magisterium," contains no patristics, as it cannot-it's position has no basis in the Fathers whatsoever.  Noonan points out the irony that HV blesses the one method that the few Fathers who expressed an opinion, spoke out against.

It was a pastoral issue in the 1st century.  It is a pastoral issue now.

The issue has been discussed before.e.g.:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29748.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21230.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,50787.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2892.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,48034.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,31512.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14252.msg592543.html#msg592543
For a taste:
The marital fast has absolutely NOTHING to do with spacing births  and so called "NFP."  Nothing.

I would like to see some data on a dramatic drop in the birth rate 9 months after one of the prolonged fasts, for instance.  Because, looking at the birth dates of a number of saints, such is not the case.

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

At the same time, spouses are responsible before God for the comprehensive upbringing of their children. One of the ways to be responsible for their birth is to restrain themselves from sexual relations for a time. However, Christian spouses should remember the words of St. Paul addressed to them: «Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency» (1 Cor. 7:5). Clearly, spouses should make such decisions mutually on the counsel of their spiritual father. The latter should take into account, with pastoral prudence, the concrete living conditions of the couple, their age, health, degree of spiritual maturity and many other circumstances. In doing so, he should distinguish those who can hold the high demands of continence from those to whom it is not given (Mt. 19:11), taking care above all of the preservation and consolidation of the family.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in its Decision of December 28, 1998, instructed the clergy serving as spiritual guides that «it is inadmissible to coerce or induce the flock to… refuse conjugal relations in marriage». It also reminded the pastors of the need «to show special chastity and special pastoral prudence in discussing with the flock the questions involved in particular aspects of their family life».
http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/3/14.aspx

Perry Robinson somewhere made the astute observation that the Scholasticism of the Vatican looks at contraception as an issue of essences, while Orthodoxy sees it as an issue of persons.

And Fr. Roman Braga advises that monks should not make a habit of giving marital advice, not living in and having families.

Since "natural law" is created and then imposed on creation by other creatures, its results vary-Aquinas might have a problem with contraception but I don't think Aristotle did.  Nor do I think that the logoi mandate Aquinas' conclusion.

The ascetic approach to the spiritual life of a married couple as endorsed by monastics often leads to a marriage like St. John of Kronstadt and his wife.  Not a role model for family life.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 07:41:13 PM by ialmisry »
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 07:50:09 PM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 08:38:22 PM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
That was within the last two centuries, no?
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

Offline augustin717

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 08:43:24 PM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
That was within the last two centuries, no?
Yes, of course, i wasn't disputing what you said. The beginning of the 20th century.

Online TheTrisagion

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 12:23:08 AM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
She sounds like a real peach!  :angel:
Will we all have to prove our Orthodoxy by adopting St Nicholas avatars now?

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 12:39:28 AM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
She sounds like a real peach!  :angel:
You saying the peach doesn't fall far from the tree?
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

Online TheTrisagion

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 07:27:40 AM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
She sounds like a real peach!  :angel:
You saying the peach doesn't fall far from the tree?
I would say no such thing about our dear augustin.  :angel:

He doesn't strike me at the type to try to manipulate babies into dying.
Will we all have to prove our Orthodoxy by adopting St Nicholas avatars now?

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 08:49:27 AM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
She sounds like a real peach!  :angel:
You saying the peach doesn't fall far from the tree?
I would say no such thing about our dear augustin.  :angel:

He doesn't strike me at the type to try to manipulate babies into dying.
I have the feeling many would be surprised (in a good way) to know augustin in real life.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 08:49:55 AM by ialmisry »
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

Online TheTrisagion

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Re: Orthodox take on contraception
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2013, 08:54:05 AM »
Quote
As to blanket statements, the large family is mostly a phenomena for the most part of the last two centuries, when infant mortality went down such that you could expect to keep all the children you had, not bury half or more of them.
Grandma and her sister would oftentimes tell us how their own grandmother  practice of what you'd call post-birth control ( she wasn't liberal or humanist, peace) but she had a son she baptized John that died (that after already having like 5 children). Then she gave birth to a few other children that she successively named John, in the (superstitious) hope they'd die. And so they did, they say.
She sounds like a real peach!  :angel:
You saying the peach doesn't fall far from the tree?
I would say no such thing about our dear augustin.  :angel:

He doesn't strike me at the type to try to manipulate babies into dying.
I have the feeling many would be surprised (in a good way) to know augustin in real life.
Just for clarification, I was not being sarcastic, he is thought provoking and a good contributor even if I don't always agree with him.
Will we all have to prove our Orthodoxy by adopting St Nicholas avatars now?