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Author Topic: Artifical Birth control- RCC/Orthodox perspective  (Read 6770 times) Average Rating: 0
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Dismus
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« on: July 09, 2006, 12:42:26 PM »

I am curious as I assumed that the RCC and Orthodox agreed on this issue, but after talking to someone in my parish, she said that the RCC is the only Church in the world that has condemmed it always.
Is she right?
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2006, 01:07:23 PM »

This is a controversial subject.  Some Orthodox Christians teach that artificial birth control is never acceptable.  Other Orthodox priests teach that certain forms are acceptable with the permission of one's spiritual father.  No Orthodox priest would allow a form of abortion, such as the birth control pill, that causes abortions. 

Both sides claim that they represent the true teaching of the Church.  The Orthodox Church has no official document such as Humane Vitae condemning birth control but Orthodoxy doesn't have a centralized authority to draft documents like Roman Catholicism. 

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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2006, 03:27:35 PM »

My own personal opinion on this is that Birth control pills taken in 21 or 28 day intervals are not a form of abortion. The pill simply prevents the egg from being released. If an egg is not released, it can't be fertilized. Since the belief among Orthodox would be that Life begins at the time of conception, an egg that hasn't been fertilized can not really be called a life since it is short by 47 chromosomes. This would be most notably obvious for married couples who are trying to limit the number of children they will have. However, there could be an argument brought up that sex should only be used for procreation, but I will not get into that here. I will just say that this is my opinion and its not necessarily definate or correct.

-Nick
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2006, 05:36:34 PM »

I don't want to put my two cents in on this, the answers here are adequate for me.
I was asking since I was surprised that I had thought this was a 100% shared thing between RCC and Orthodox.
I always like to focus on the shared things in common esp. now, since I am in a "Limbo" (pardon the expression) with my choice of demomination.
Positive thoughts help me now. I'll leave this subject alone.
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2006, 11:23:59 AM »

Well, sometimes the Pill will act as a abortifacient as it doesn't always prevent the release of an egg.  However, your best bet is to talk with your priest as this is a spiritual matter as to the best direction.
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I think the French may be on to something here.
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2006, 12:16:06 PM »

There are several beautiful postings in the 'wanting to hear from former RCCs' thread in this folder about wanting a better liturgy and something more holistic and mystical, neither hating Western Catholicism nor gushing about the Pope as though he were all that mattered.

But I wanted to say 'but what about ...?'

On artificial birth control

Or the spanner in the works not only of procreation but of convert apologetics on the Orthodox side.

anastasios once correctly wrote that modern Orthodox who make excuses for it sound just like Protestants. Indeed they sound like the Anglicans' very cautious and conservative approval right after 1930.
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2006, 02:09:53 PM »

There are several beautiful postings in the 'wanting to hear from former RCCs' thread in this folder about wanting a better liturgy and something more holistic and mystical, neither hating Western Catholicism nor gushing about the Pope as though he were all that mattered.

But I wanted to say 'but what about ...?'

On artificial birth control



Or the spanner in the works not only of procreation but of convert apologetics on the Orthodox side.

anastasios once correctly wrote that modern Orthodox who make excuses for it sound just like Protestants. Indeed they sound like the Anglicans' very cautious and conservative approval right after 1930.

I am sorry- what is a "spanner"Huh Huh
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2006, 02:17:02 PM »

It's in one of those stock expressions in English like 'penny wise, pound foolish' that uses Britishisms.

A spanner is better known in North America as a wrench.

So throwing one in the works grinds the gears to a halt - it fouls up what one is trying to do.
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2006, 07:04:15 PM »

My own personal opinion on this is that Birth control pills taken in 21 or 28 day intervals are not a form of abortion. The pill simply prevents the egg from being released. If an egg is not released, it can't be fertilized. Since the belief among Orthodox would be that Life begins at the time of conception, an egg that hasn't been fertilized can not really be called a life since it is short by 47 chromosomes. This would be most notably obvious for married couples who are trying to limit the number of children they will have. However, there could be an argument brought up that sex should only be used for procreation, but I will not get into that here. I will just say that this is my opinion and its not necessarily definate or correct.

-Nick

Some birth control pills do not prevent conception; they prevent the fertilized egg, the embryo, froim implanting in the uterine wall.  This is an abortifacient.
Barrier methods, if they work, are contraceptives.
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2006, 02:29:48 PM »

So a contraceptive, condom etc. is considered acceptable by the Church?
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2006, 03:12:23 PM »

Gene the postition of the Church is clear- artifical contraception is wrong. Indeed sex is seen by some Orthodox as a sin that is covered by the good of child bearing, now if you remove the possibility of childern being concieved by the act what are you left with?

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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2006, 06:37:17 PM »

Quote
Indeed sex is seen by some Orthodox as a sin that is covered by the good of child bearing, now if you remove the possibility of childern being concieved by the act what are you left with?

Which "Orthodox"? Surely you can back up your claim with patristic citations?   
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2006, 08:10:21 AM »

Which "Orthodox"? Surely you can back up your claim with patristic citations?   


http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/new_age_philosophy.htm

Hardly a shocking postition I would have thought?  Roll Eyes

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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2006, 08:23:39 AM »

Hardly a shocking postition I would have thought?  Roll Eyes
Well, actually, it is quite shocking, and in fact, quite heretical to say that sexual intercourse is a "sin" which is "covered up" by childbearing. Are you saying that a married couple who are knowingly infertile commit a sin every time they have sex?
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2006, 01:14:55 PM »

This is a very important topic, and it's not always clear in patristic writings because they didn't have hormonal abortificients to tend with.  However, people centuries ago were not cavemen and they did have various other abortificients and methods of birth control. 
I would love for women to truly know the physiological effects of the birth control pill.  It's simply a modern convenience that they think keeps them from becoming pregnant.  However, due to the stopgap methods of the various pills, the rate of breakthrough pregnancies is anywhere from 40-70%.  Plus, if that weren't enough, there are long term effects from having been on the pill for any length of time.  I know too many women that have had precancer and cancer scares due to being on it for more than the 5 year "recommended" period-which no one told them about.

The absolute best thing for any Orthodox Christian to do is to speak to their priest on the matter.  the church as a whole has basic doctrines about birth control, but they do not regulate the marital bedroom as a whole.  Each situation is different, and other matters must be taken into consideration.  I hear too many young women that don't want to mess up their bikini lines with an expanded abdomen or stretch marks-and I just roll my eyes.  so many are firmly rooted in this world and what the secular world has to offer.  And, since I was a protestant and there is a large contingent out there that are quiverful, I will add this:  We work in tandem with God's plan instead of being mindless little robots.  That idea of working hand in hand with our Creator gave me so much freedom at long last.  Of course, I have 7 children so the word freedom is relative.  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2006, 01:24:10 PM »

Well, actually, it is quite shocking, and in fact, quite heretical to say that sexual intercourse is a "sin" which is "covered up" by childbearing. Are you saying that a married couple who are knowingly infertile commit a sin every time they have sex?

George not necessarily- after all God can always work a miracle, look at Sts Joachim and Anna!

Against Jovinianus, Book 1, §37.  "If the wisdom of the flesh is enmity against God, and they who are in the flesh cannot please God",  I think that they who perform the functions of marriage love the wisdom of the flesh, and therefore are in the flesh.   The Apostle being desirous to withdraw us from the flesh and to join us to the Spirit, says afterwards: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.   And be not fashioned according to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.   For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;  but to think according to chastity" (not soberly as the Latin versions badly render), but "think," he says, "according to chastity".    Let us consider what the Apostle says: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."   What he says is something like this—God indeed permits marriage, He permits second marriages, and if necessary, prefers even third marriages to fornication and adultery.    But we who ought to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service, should consider, not what God permits, but what He wishes:  that we may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.    It follows that what He merely permits is neither good, nor acceptable, nor perfect.    And he gives his reasons for this advice: "Knowing the season, that now it is high time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.   The night is far spent, and the day is at hand."    And lastly: "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."   God's will is one thing, His indulgence another.   Whence, writing to the Corinthians, he says, "I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.   I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.   For ye are yet carnal."   He who is in the merely animal state, and does not receive the things pertaining to the Spirit of God (for he is foolish, and cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned), he is not fed with the food of perfect chastity, but with the coarse milk of marriage.   As through man came death, so also through man came the resurrection of the dead.   As in Adam we all die, so in Christ we shall all be made alive.   Under the law we served the old Adam, under the Gospel let us serve the new Adam.   For the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.   As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.    And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.   Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."   This is so clear that no explanation can make it clearer: "Flesh and blood," he says, "cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."   If corruption attaches to all intercourse, and incorruption is characteristic of chastity, the rewards of chastity cannot belong to marriage. . . . And by way of more fully explaining what the Apostle did not wish them to be he says elsewhere: "I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ."    But if you choose to apply the words to the whole Assembly of believers, and in this betrothal to Christ include both married women, and the twice-married, and widows, and virgins, that also makes for us.   For whilst he invites all to chastity and to the reward of virginity, he shows that virginity is more excellent than all these conditions.

St Jerome.
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2006, 03:51:40 PM »

NOt another discussion on birth control!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Cheesy LOL
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2006, 05:41:11 PM »

George not necessarily- after all God can always work a miracle, look at Sts Joachim and Anna!
Well, considering that St Anna was menopausal as was St. Elizabeth, then by your definition, the parents of the Theotokos and the parents of St. John the Baptist were "sinning" by having sexual intercourse either by the "sin" of sex itself when they couldn't "redeem" it by childbearing, or the sin of presumption if they were to assume that God would suspend the laws of Nature specifically to "legitimize" their sexual intercourse. Should all menopausal women presume that God will suspend the laws of Nature for them so that they can bear children? You have a very unhealthy view of sex if that is indeed your view.
And, btw, if you accept St. Jerome's personal opinion on this as "the voice of the Fathers", then am I to assume that you also accept his Vulgate as an accurate, God-inspired version of the Scriptures? If he couldn't even discern which version of the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, I doubt if I'm going to accept his personal opinion on anything as being "authoritative".
Our Lord Himself says:  “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning  ‘made them male and female,’ and said,  ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and  the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) Therefore, what God has joined into one flesh, you seem to call "sinful". Therefore, according to you, God has created sin.
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2006, 08:42:30 PM »

I think that Theophan is saying that some Fathers taught this, and that it is not so amazing that this is so, not that he personally thinks that the Fathers universally taught that sex was a sin in all cases and that he agrees with it.  However, I will let Theophan speak for himself.

It's interesting; I normally don't think about this issue since I am a married man and live a normal married life, while trying to be a pious Orthodox man, and don't see any contradiction.  However, I read in Evagrius (a saint in the Coptic Church; a non entity in the Byzantine Church due to suspected Origenism but nevertheless a very influential Church person) in two different places one section where Evagrius speaks of the purity of those who are virgins as opposed to those who are married, but also the case of where he brought a woman who refused to have sex with her husband and enjoy the creation of God (Evagrius even writes "as the demons taught her and she imagined the angels did" i.e., imagined the Angels did not enjoy creation, which was actually demonic) to repentance and the text says "she was reunited with her husband peacefully."

I find the two extremes in today's world to both be disturbing: the idea that monks are intrinsically holier than laypeople (the monastic life is higher than the married life I find in the Church Fathers, but that does not mean that monks are automatically HOLIER than laymen, and there are several cases to show that) and that sex is always a sin--this is just strange to me; and the other, the attempt to import the "theology of the body" from modern Catholicism into Orthodoxy, teaching that sex is somehow intrinsically a holy experience. I disagree.  Sex is sex and it depends on the context, just like eating.  You eat a meal with friends and there is fellowship, or you eat to satiency by yourself like a glutton, or you eat just because that is what you have to do.  In the same way, you make love, or you indulge in passions, or you just do what you do to keep a marriage and have children; and I suspect that in most of our lives, we married people experience all these phases and we should strive to the ideal of sex being unitive and procreative--and limited (although not overlimited as St Paul warns).  This holy sex idea just kind of weirds me out; I am not a patristic expert but what I have read so far just seems to see married people sex as what married people do, not good, not bad (sometimes held in suspicion and that makes sense since monks usually write to monastic audiences!) etc.  To think that this normal activity is somehow holy though intrinscally i just don't buy it, partly because it can so easily be abused.

At any rate, that's my 2 cents and I don't claim to be an expert.

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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2006, 09:23:32 PM »

Quote
I find the two extremes in today's world to both be disturbing: the idea that monks are intrinsically holier than laypeople (the monastic life is higher than the married life I find in the Church Fathers, but that does not mean that monks are automatically HOLIER than laymen

The view that monastic or celebate life is holier than married life is one that is now challenged on valid grounds, based on tracking the idea back to Origen and his lowly view of the body. Some theologians like Gregory of Nyssa and a great Father like St. John Chrysostom picked it up from Origen and reformulated it portraying marriage as a necessity because of the sin of Adam without giving any explanation, only speculations, of how creation would have regenerated. 

It needs reconsideration. Because the question is not one that influences salvation yet casts a negative image on a valid church sacrament as inferior, maybe the Church Fathers views on this matter should be treated as their ownand not that of the Church.
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« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2006, 05:54:28 AM »

I think that Theophan is saying that some Fathers taught this, and that it is not so amazing that this is so, not that he personally thinks that the Fathers universally taught that sex was a sin in all cases and that he agrees with it.  However, I will let Theophan speak for himself.


Well yes and no.

There is support for both a rigorist and "less rigorist" postition on this issue in both the writings of the Fathers and indeed St Paul himself. Also there is a story of an Irish saint who is recognised by the Orthodox Church which backs up what you have quoated from Evargius. So while I myself tend towards a more rigorist postition I feel uncomfortable laying it down as "the law". However I think both St Paul and the writings of the Fathers, and the Lord Himself, make it clear that virginity is superior to married life.

A good discussion of these issues is found in the Banquet of Virgins by St Methodius which explores various angles and viewpoints found in the Early Church.

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« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2006, 06:06:24 AM »

The view that monastic or celebate life is holier than married life is one that is now challenged on valid grounds, based on tracking the idea back to Origen and his lowly view of the body. Some theologians like Gregory of Nyssa and a great Father like St. John Chrysostom picked it up from Origen and reformulated it portraying marriage as a necessity because of the sin of Adam without giving any explanation, only speculations, of how creation would have regenerated. 

It needs reconsideration. Because the question is not one that influences salvation yet casts a negative image on a valid church sacrament as inferior, maybe the Church Fathers views on this matter should be treated as their ownand not that of the Church.

Stavro I am sorry but that is just nonsense. The extremist "Encratist" postition which teaches that sex and salvation are imcompatible ( something I DO NOT BELIEVE AT ALL!) was around in the Church long before Origien. Indeed such people as Tertullian who cannot be considered in any way influenced by Origien during his Orthodox period held the rigorist postition.

Indeed that monasticism and virginity as superior to marriage comes directly from the Lord and St Paul.

His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

Matt. 19:10-12

"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."

Matt. 19:29,30

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

1Corinthians 7:32-38

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Rev. 14:3-5

Jesus answered and said unto them, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

Matt. 22:29-30

Theophan.
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« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2006, 08:59:40 AM »

This holy sex idea just kind of weirds me out; I am not a patristic expert but what I have read so far just seems to see married people sex as what married people do, not good, not bad (sometimes held in suspicion and that makes sense since monks usually write to monastic audiences!) etc.  To think that this normal activity is somehow holy though intrinscally i just don't buy it, partly because it can so easily be abused.
Forget the "holy" thing for a minute. I still think we cannot say that sex is "morally neutral", or, as you put it: "what married people do, not good, not bad", because sex is a creation of God "and God was all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." He commands us to "be fruitful and multiply;bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:7). As Orthodox Christians we know that:
1) God commands us to the Good.
2) All that God has created is Good (not 'morally neutral', but Good).
3) God commands us to multiply and fill the Earth, and therefore our generativity is Good.
4) Good cannot be acheived through evil means.
5) The only means for human generativity is sex.
Put it all together, and we cannot but conclude that sex is Good, not morally neutral. The abuse of sex is bad, but so is the abuse of Holy Orders through Simony, yet Simony doesn't render Holy Orders "bad" or "morally neutral".
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« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2006, 09:12:28 AM »

Eating is not good or bad; sleeping is not good or bad; entertainment per se is not good or bad, but God created all these things.  And besides, if you read St Gregory of Nyssa, it seems to have been a common thought during his time at least that sex was not even part of God's original plan, but a response to the fall, the original plan for reproduction being on a different scale completely.

Anastasios

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« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2006, 09:21:53 AM »

I.  Sex is sex and it depends on the context, just like eating.  You eat a meal with friends and there is fellowship, or you eat to satiency by yourself like a glutton, or you eat just because that is what you have to do. 

I think the analogy between sex and eating doesnt really work. First off we cant survive without eating (well their have been Saints who lived solely off the Eucharist but lets stay within our own sorry level...) while as we can survive without sex. Secondly sinner that I am I feel during last lent and drank milk in my coffee, I confessed this to my priest and was still allowed to take Communion even though this was an act of both gluttony and disobediance, however if I commited an act of fornication outside of fast time I would be banned from Communion for a year- possibly more. Therefore clearly the Church does not see things in the same light.

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« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2006, 09:53:16 AM »

I think the analogy between sex and eating doesnt really work. First off we cant survive without eating (well their have been Saints who lived solely off the Eucharist but lets stay within our own sorry level...) while as we can survive without sex. Secondly sinner that I am I feel during last lent and drank milk in my coffee, I confessed this to my priest and was still allowed to take Communion even though this was an act of both gluttony and disobediance, however if I commited an act of fornication outside of fast time I would be banned from Communion for a year- possibly more. Therefore clearly the Church does not see things in the same light.

Theophan.


Well if you are a cleric and you break the fast on a Friday or you commit fornication you are deposed in either circumstance according to akreveia so does your analogy really work? Wink
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2006, 11:58:21 AM »

Well if you are a cleric and you break the fast on a Friday or you commit fornication you are deposed in either circumstance according to akreveia so does your analogy really work? Wink

Okay, I didnt know that so you have a valid point.

But let me put it too you like this- I ask people about meals they have had all the time (mind you I wouldnt start discussing cuisine with a monastic but I still would do it with a married priest!) and have never offended anyone by doing so. However even though I never have enquired about the particulars of how couples relate to each other physically I can still imagine how many people would react to such questions...Therefore sex cannot be put on the same level of eating.
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2006, 06:03:51 PM »

Eating is not good or bad; sleeping is not good or bad; entertainment per se is not good or bad, but God created all these things.  And besides, if you read St Gregory of Nyssa, it seems to have been a common thought during his time at least that sex was not even part of God's original plan, but a response to the fall, the original plan for reproduction being on a different scale completely.

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Actually, I would say eating, sleeping, and entertainment are all good things that are required for a healthy human life. I believe that God created us with these needs and the drive for these things because they are good. However, they can be done in the wrong context or without moderation; then such acts become disrordered.
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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2006, 06:05:35 PM »

Forget the "holy" thing for a minute. I still think we cannot say that sex is "morally neutral", or, as you put it: "what married people do, not good, not bad", because sex is a creation of God "and God was all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." He commands us to "be fruitful and multiply;bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:7). As Orthodox Christians we know that:
1) God commands us to the Good.
2) All that God has created is Good (not 'morally neutral', but Good).
3) God commands us to multiply and fill the Earth, and therefore our generativity is Good.
4) Good cannot be acheived through evil means.
5) The only means for human generativity is sex.
Put it all together, and we cannot but conclude that sex is Good, not morally neutral. The abuse of sex is bad, but so is the abuse of Holy Orders through Simony, yet Simony doesn't render Holy Orders "bad" or "morally neutral".
AMEN! Preach it brother!!! LOL. In all seriousness, as a Catholic, I totally agree with everything that you have said in this post. Good job.
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« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2006, 06:14:02 PM »

Eating is not good or bad; sleeping is not good or bad; entertainment per se is not good or bad, but God created all these things.
I say they are all Good, or as Scripture says, "kalo". Moden philosophy would call them morally neutral, but I disagree. All creation is inherently "Good" according to the Holy Scriptures.

And besides, if you read St Gregory of Nyssa, it seems to have been a common thought during his time at least that sex was not even part of God's original plan, but a response to the fall, the original plan for reproduction being on a different scale completely.
Yes, Heaven forefend that reproduction should be pleasurable.....
This is heresy, plain and simple, since Our Lord says in the Gospel:
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning  ‘made them male and female,’ and said,  ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and  the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) .
If some "Platonic" unity was meant, then why didn't He say "one Nous" or "one spirit"? Instead, Our Lord says that male and female were created so that when they marry, they become "one flesh". Victorian views of sex therefore have no place in Orthodoxy.

There is nothing "morally neutral" in the sphere of Creation. Even inanimate substances are not "morally neutral" according to Orthodoxy. Every created thing contains it's "logos", and it is these "logoi" which render them Good. Even wine is not morally neutral, but Good, since "wine maketh glad the heart of man".
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« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2006, 08:52:15 PM »

I love how I always get sandwiched between two sides and smacked down from both--in this case I'm between Theophan and George Smiley  But I think that in the middle is often the best place to be, because these issues are not as simple as they are made out to be by us amateur theologians (and let's face it, we are all amateurs, and I say that even with my advanced degree in theology, because really, earning a theology degree only showed me how much I still DON'T know!)

At any rate, to answer you George:

I'd really hesistate if I were you to call St Gregory and other Fathers' teaching on reproduction and the fall to be heresy, especially since the writings in which they make these claims are considered patristic writings.  And for the record, I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying sex, so don't get the idea that I am arguing it is wrong to enjoy it.  I just don't think as highly of it as you seem to, George.

As far as your question "if it was Platonic unity" that really doesn't make any sense in the context of what we are saying because no one suggested it meant a platonic unity.  Only that St Gregory of Nyssa and some other fathers taught that procreation would have been on an ENTIRELY different level had the fall not happened. Let's face it--Adam didn't even know he was naked for a hundred something years if we follow Genesis literally (or he was innocent of bodily things if we take it allegorically).  If that is the case, certainly the pre-fall world was an ENTIRELY different framework and criteria.

As far as the idea that it is Orthodox teaching that all things created are good, not morally neutral, I find that hard to swallow and well, I'm sorry to say, don't think that's Orthodox teaching, unless I misunderstand you, which of course could be entirely possible.  I think that God created a good world, and so yes inannimate things are good, but actions are not a creation of God per se but rather our response in FREE WILL.  God did not create Adam deified--he created him with the POTENTIAL for deification.  So in the same way sex can be used for good or evil, but it's not inherently "good" as an act.  As an abstract process sure it's good since God designed it but each act has to live up to the uncreated logos of the act that is in God's nous or else it falls--it is not guaranteed to be good before it is accomplished.

Anastasios
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« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2006, 08:53:42 PM »

And by the way, agreeing more with George on this part, I would say to Theophan that sex is indeed necessary just like eating, for God created sex as a way to multiply and multiplication is an express commandment of the Lord.  However, it is necessary for humanity as a whole and not for any one man or woman in particular, yes.  Maybe I am making distinctions that are unecessary though.

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« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2006, 10:23:12 PM »

I love how I always get sandwiched between two sides and smacked down from both--in this case I'm between Theophan and George Smiley  But I think that in the middle is often the best place to be, because these issues are not as simple as they are made out to be by us amateur theologians (and let's face it, we are all amateurs, and I say that even with my advanced degree in theology, because really, earning a theology degree only showed me how much I still DON'T know!)

Such a degree in theology may have taught you how little you really know about the subject...however, it should also have taught you how little the so-called professional theologians or experts know about the subject as well Wink Orthodox theology is in a pretty sorry state at least within the United States.
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« Reply #33 on: October 10, 2006, 10:23:28 PM »

I was thinking about this a different way. I can see where you are coming from George with "all that God creates is good."  How a spider is good is still troubling to me, because I am mildly arachnaphobic (sp) but anyway Wink  However, while God may have created the world good, it is a fallen world now because of sin. Sin affects all of our relationships. God created Lucifer, but he is now the devil. God created eating, we made gluttony. God created sex, we created lust.  So sex per se is good, but the reality of what sex is now is somewhat more netural or gray, even bad oftentimes--for instance, it is very difficult for me to believe that every time one makes love with their spouse they are always behaving in a chaste lovemaking. I won't go into details since this is a public forum, but I am sure you get my point.  The problem is not with God's creation (I am assuming St Gregory was wrong above) but rather with our reaction or are use of it. So these acts are now neutral because they only are good or bad when they are acted on in a good or bad way by man.

Anastasios
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« Reply #34 on: October 10, 2006, 10:25:15 PM »

Such a degree in theology may have taught you how little you really know about the subject...however, it should also have taught you how little the so-called professional theologians or experts know about the subject as well Wink Orthodox theology is in a pretty sorry state at least within the United States.

Some of my professors have been known to read what I write here so.... Smiley  I had some good professors and some bad. Fr John Behr is definitely the kind of intellectual we need in Orthodoxy in America.

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« Reply #35 on: October 11, 2006, 03:31:12 AM »

As far as the idea that it is Orthodox teaching that all things created are good, not morally neutral, I find that hard to swallow and well, I'm sorry to say, don't think that's Orthodox teaching, unless I misunderstand you, which of course could be entirely possible. 

"Kai eiden o Theos ta panta osa epoiese, kai idou, kala lian."
"And God saw all the things that He had made, and behold, they were very good."
(Genesis 1:31 LXX)

And isn't what is blessed by God not only good but holy too? Well then, after the Flood:
"...God blessed Noe and his sons and said to them:'Increase and multiply and fill the Earth and have dominion over it.'" (Genesis 9:1 LXX)

Now Noe and his sons were not in Paradise, but living under the conditions of the Fall, so how exactly were they to multiply in the way God blessed them to? Surely God wasn't blessing them to have sex?  Shocked Goodness, that would mean that sexual love between a man and a woman in marriage is not only good, but holy! Wink
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« Reply #36 on: October 11, 2006, 03:39:56 AM »

God created Lucifer, but he is now the devil.
Yes, but even now, the created nature of the evil one is not evil in itself, but good. It is his misuse of his nature which is evil. The demons are evil by choice, not by nature.

So sex per se is good, but the reality of what sex is now is somewhat more netural or gray, even bad oftentimes-
But the Nature of sex (that is, it's created Nature, and it's "logos") remain unchanged. Sex has not changed, but the way we choose to use it has. We are blessed when we come to understand the "logoi" of created things and use them according to God's will. Every leaf, flower and rock (and yes, even every spider) carries it's "logos" within it. And He Who created the ear and the eye also created the male and female genitalia and innervated them.To despise any Creation is to despise their Creator and to misuse them is to misuse the Creator.
We are called to the way of ascesis, not because we should reject or despise creation. A Fast in which one despises food is not a fast, but rather, annorexia nervosa. The days on which fasting is forbidden are just as holy as fasting days. And, in fact, on the holiest days of the year, the Church forbids us to fast.

-for instance, it is very difficult for me to believe that every time one makes love with their spouse they are always behaving in a chaste lovemaking.
I want you to write out a hundred times:
"Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)

Sex itself does not make us unchaste. Rapists commit something much worse than unchastity, and that is, objectifying another human being. There is nothing more morally reprehensible than objectifying another.
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« Reply #37 on: October 11, 2006, 10:42:39 AM »

George,

I've read all the quotes you've cited and thank you for trying to provide evidence to back up your assertions.  I think you're reading a little too much into those quotes, and not taking the patristic witness seriously (calling St Gregory's opinion heretical was a bit much for me to swallow) but remember, I am not saying sex is sinful per se, that is Theophan. At this point I think everyone's POV is clear and so I'll be bowing out of this discussion, which for me is a little too theoretical, since as I said, I enjoy my normal married life Smiley

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« Reply #38 on: October 11, 2006, 09:25:58 PM »

Well, actually, it is quite shocking, and in fact, quite heretical to say that sexual intercourse is a "sin" which is "covered up" by childbearing. Are you saying that a married couple who are knowingly infertile commit a sin every time they have sex?

Very Augustinian wouldnt you say?
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« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2006, 05:33:13 AM »

Very Augustinian wouldnt you say?
Another Father who taught heresy.
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« Reply #40 on: October 13, 2006, 11:47:40 AM »

AMEN! Preach it brother!!! LOL. In all seriousness, as a Catholic, I totally agree with everything that you have said in this post. Good job.

And I thought the John Paul II had restated the Traditional Roman Catholic teaching that sex outside of procreation was indeed sinful! However it is a definite that post-Vatitican II Roman Catholicism is a new religion which is something that a lot of Orthodox critiques tend to forget.

But seriously there are military saints and yet we would all agree that war is a product of the fall and is in itself evil, though sometimes indeed a necessary and "lesser" one. That's my problemn with modernism in general- that it "tends to forget" that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, or at least just how messed up on all levels things really are.

Theophan.
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« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2006, 11:53:45 AM »

George,

, I am not saying sex is sinful per se, that is Theophan.


Anastasios with due respect I wrote I tend towards that postition but it is not something I would lay down as fact that people have to believe.

Theophan.
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« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2006, 11:57:25 AM »

I want you to write out a hundred times:
"Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)

Sex itself does not make us unchaste. Rapists commit something much worse than unchastity, and that is, objectifying another human being. There is nothing more morally reprehensible than objectifying another.


Yeah, fine.  But you can't convince me that it is not possible to objectify your spouse - and I'm not even in a relationship.
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« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2006, 12:29:08 PM »

Very Augustinian wouldnt you say?

Blessed Augustine might have been in grevious error but his opponents tend usually to have a string of their own. This is worth noting. Many believe that the troubles "Patriarch Gregory" of Colorado has brought on himself may indeed to the fruit of his misplaced zeal aganist that great Orthodox Bishop.

Theophan.
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« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2006, 12:40:18 PM »


Anastasios with due respect I wrote I tend towards that postition but it is not something I would lay down as fact that people have to believe.

Theophan.

And I did not insinuate you did; merely stated that is what you believe.

A.
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