Dialogue with an Eastern Orthodox Theologian on Contraception
Part of an ongoing discussion between Mark Bonocore and an Orthodox Christian included contraception. Our Orthodox friend writes:
On contraception: “For the Health of Body and Soul: An Eastern Orthodox Introduction to Bioethics: General agreement exists among Orthodox writers on the following two points: since at least one of the purposes of marriage is the birth of children, a couple acts immorally when it consistently uses contraceptive methods to avoid the birth of any children, if there are not extenuating circumstances; contraception is also immoral when used to encourage the practice of fornication and adultery. Less agreement exists among Eastern Orthodox authors on the issue of contraception within marriage for the spacing of children or for the limitation of the number of children. ...Most authors, however, emphasize the sacramental nature of marriage and its place within the framework of Christian anthropology, seeing the sexual relationship of husband and wife as one aspect of the mutual growth of the couple in love and unity. This approach readily adapts itself to an ethical position that would not only permit but also enjoin sexual relationships of husband and wife for their own sake as expressions of mutual love. Such a view clearly would support the use of contraceptive practices for the purpose of spacing and limiting children so as to permit greater freedom of the couple in the expression of their mutual love." http://www.goarch.org/catholic/ourfaith/articles/article8076.asp
Compare this bio-ethics statement with the Catholic teaching of Humanae Vitae. We inbvite you to read Humanae Vitae and see which is truly of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The reality is that until 1933, ALL Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) taught that ALL forms of contraception were disordered and sinful. The Church Fathers are VERY clear about this. The first Christians to abandon this tradition were the Anglicans (in 1933) soon followed by all the other Protestants. Then, in the 1960’s, the Orthodox bowed to the voice of the secular world and began to give your blessing to contraception as well. This is a MAJOR departure from the Apostolic Tradition on this matter; and, at the moment, we Catholics are the ONLY Christian group which has held fast to the Apostolic Tradition on this matter. It is a tragedy that the Orthodox have abandoned Tradition in this way. Consider the witness of the Eastern forefather, St. John Chrysostom:
"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before conception? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. . . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with His [natural] laws? . . . Yet such turpitude . . . the matter still seems indifferent to many men--even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks" (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).
Charis kai eirene / Slava Isusu Christu!
This article was by Mark Bonocore, edited by Hugh