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Appropriate Sexuality within a Marriage, Frequency *and* Activities

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#21 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 12:58 PM

What do you mean by western culture? The sex and immorality problem is worldwide. I hear that in Russia, they are encouraged to imitate the decadence of America, and that immorality and alcoholism are out of control.

 

By Western culture, I mean those countries/cultures whose social structure has been built around Roman Catholicism or Protestantism, and therefore their sexual "norm" has largely been dictated by the so-called Augustinian ideal (in which sex is tainted and all inherit guilt from our forefather Adam).  In those countries whose culture was inherited from the British Empire, it is referred to as Victorian sexuality, and in America we commonly use the term Puritan (or Puritanical).

 

I hear similar things about Russia, and their divorce rate and abortion rate are symptomatic of the same issue.  I have found a tremendous amount of comfort and freedom in the stand of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.  

 

In America (and I would assume Canada and Australia as well), there are large numbers of convert Orthodox who bring "baggage" into their Orthodox life from their Protestant or Roman Catholic upbringing which tends to cause difficulty in certain areas of life.  Sexuality is one big area, but certainly not the only one.  There are also common problems including respect of authority within the Church, strong tendencies to control Church activities through a "lay council," and syncretism.  On the flip side, converts tend to see financial support of the Church as a priority.

 

I am very open to comments or corrections on these observations.  I am glad there is a dialog here on the subject.



#22 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 01:02 PM

It is not a sin to have marital relations, nor to eat meat; there are the 'blameless passions'. But nonetheless, we should try to rise above these when about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. That is why we should abstain from sex and meat (and other non-fasting food) at least the day before communing.

 

I have never heard the term "blameless passions."  That is very insightful.  I know Christ's anger and overturning the tables in the Temple was a blameless passion, but I don't think I have ever heard the term... and if I have heard it, it certainly was not used in a broader context.



#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 01:20 PM

The expression is patristic and often used. The blameless passions such as hunger, thirst, tiredness, sorrow, and so forth are part of human nature which Christ assumed.

 

I do not think the term, 'Western culture' is very helpful because of the diversity which exists in so-called western countries. I see little in common between, say, Norway and Italy. Nor is Western culture - if we stick to the term - only defined by attitudes to sex.



#24 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 01:26 PM

The expression is patristic and often used. The blameless passions such as hunger, thirst, tiredness, sorrow, and so forth are part of human nature which Christ assumed.

 

I do not think the term, 'Western culture' is very helpful because of the diversity which exists in so-called western countries. I see little in common between, say, Norway and Italy. Nor is Western culture - if we stick to the term - only defined by attitudes to sex.

 

 

Well put.  Perhaps others can help me use better or more accurate terminology.  I will look for a better way to describe what I wrote in post #22.  Thank you.



#25 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 01:29 PM

I can see that western Europe may be thought to be much the same by someone who has not visited its countries but we who live here and travel around Europe see great differences between one country and another. I have never been sure whether Greece and European Russia really count as Western. I would add that ethnicity is a factor determining difference; I feel much more 'at home' as it were in Ireland than I do in Sicily.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 27 November 2014 - 01:35 PM.


#26 Christophoros

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 01:29 PM

For anyone with questions regarding Orthodoxy and sexuality, the book "There is No Sex in the Church!" by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov is quite good.



#27 Euthymios

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 05:07 AM

Euthymios, Fr David may answer for himself, of course, but you are not having regard to the distinction between man in his fallen state and the higher state to which he aspires and attempts to reach through denial of those characteristics of our fallen state which are not sinful but are the consequence of the fall. It is not a sin to have marital relations, nor to eat meat; there are the 'blameless passions'. But nonetheless, we should try to rise above these when about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. That is why we should abstain from sex and meat (and other non-fasting food) at least the day before communing.

I understand your position. The problem is that it was never taught by the apostles. The apostles never taught that "we should try to rise above these [marital sexual relations] when about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ." This view implies that sex is dirty. But Scripture doesn't teach this. You also ignored the passage I cited from Titus. Also, the Bible does not teach that sex is the result of the fall. You are listening to men, not to Scripture. Everything you are saying is man-made.



#28 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 06:39 AM

Does not the abstinence of sex before liturgy and fast days imply that sex is impure or bad? But Scripture nowhere teaches this. St. Paul taught: "unto the pure all things are pure:" (Titus 1:15).

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted." Titus 1:15

It is not clear what constitutes purity.

"Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Heb 13:4

The word "fornicators" is pornos (porneo).

 

I understand your position. The problem is that it was never taught by the apostles. The apostles never taught that "we should try to rise above these [marital sexual relations] when about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ." This view implies that sex is dirty. But Scripture doesn't teach this. You also ignored the passage I cited from Titus. Also, the Bible does not teach that sex is the result of the fall. You are listening to men, not to Scripture. Everything you are saying is man-made.

We are to partake of the body and blood of Christ in a worthy manner or it will damage our health (both physical and spiritual).  Part of what it means to partake in an unworthy manner is that we have not fasted prior (abstained from food, drink, and marital relations), have not prayed the prayers of preparation prior to approaching, and have not confessed our sins before Christ so that we partake with an undefiled conscience.

 

Marital sexual relations are not sinful in and of themselves, just as food is not.  Participating in the act of sexual intercourse or eating prior to partaking of the body and blood is a sin because you are not purging yourself of the passions at that time so as to have the eucharista fulfill of those passions.


Edited by Seraphim of the Midwest, 28 November 2014 - 06:40 AM.


#29 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 07:51 AM

I understand your position. The problem is that it was never taught by the apostles. The apostles never taught that "we should try to rise above these [marital sexual relations] when about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ." This view implies that sex is dirty. But Scripture doesn't teach this. You also ignored the passage I cited from Titus. Also, the Bible does not teach that sex is the result of the fall. You are listening to men, not to Scripture. Everything you are saying is man-made.

 

Euthymios, you just don't get it, do you? You are consistently denying the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church and the activity of the Holy Spirit in it. You are like a stuck gramophone record: 'the Bible does not teach that', 'the apostles never taught that' to everything people here say. These are Protestant ideas.



#30 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 07:12 PM

For anyone with questions regarding Orthodoxy and sexuality, the book "There is No Sex in the Church!" by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov is quite good.

I obtained and read the outstanding book!  Thank you for the recommendation.

 

For anyone who wishes to read about this topic, a significant amount of the content of the book (perhaps two thirds of it) is included in the published paper http://atijournal.org/Vol4No1.htm (one third of the book addresses sexuality within marriage, while the rest addresses homosexuality and gender specific roles).  Father Sergei does not minimize or ignore the problems I have described in my previous posts.  In fact, as I read, I felt that he was giving very good answers for the questions I have posted on this forum.  I felt that he gave a very good treatment of the subject!

 

I would also recommend it to clergy, as they may not understand where many of the faithful are coming from, specifically people who grew up in a sexually repressive culture like that of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (and to be frank, clergy can have hang-ups as well).



#31 Ben Johnson

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 07:57 PM

I can see that western Europe may be thought to be much the same by someone who has not visited its countries but we who live here and travel around Europe see great differences between one country and another. I have never been sure whether Greece and European Russia really count as Western. I would add that ethnicity is a factor determining difference; I feel much more 'at home' as it were in Ireland than I do in Sicily.

Where is a good place to get a print copy from?



#32 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 08:15 PM

Where is a good place to get a print copy from?

The book info ISBN-10: 1484184181 and ISBN-13: 978-1484184189

I have found it a few places on the web.  Amazon.com, Amazon.com.uk, and betterworldbooks.com

 

I don't know if posting links here for book sellers is allowed.  However, if you search the ISBN number, you should find a copy on those websites quickly.



#33 Kosta

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 12:15 PM

Kosta, I wonder, would you elaborate a bit on your culture?   I speculate that in your culture, the older women indeed do teach the younger how to be proper wives.

 

In reality, women who do not suffer from Victorian type repression indeed do have higher libido than their prudish counterparts.  Sexual pleasure is inherent in the female anatomy (as they have an organ which serves only one known purpose - the experiencing sexual pleasure).  The male lacks such specialized anatomy.

 

I cant really answer this question, I'm not married or anything and I live withing the same culture as you do.  I can tell you that my great grandmother was greek Orthodox as is my sister, but in reality they may as well be from two different planets.  Different generation, different life, different epoch.  My great grandma born in Greece came from a christian culture, the new generation comes from a post christian culture.  Personally I think the west has morphed into a female utopia, hence for guys like you and me its like a dystopia. 


Edited by Kosta, 17 December 2014 - 12:16 PM.


#34 Rick H.

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 07:00 PM

"Personally I think the west has morphed into a female utopia, hence for guys like you and me its like a dystopia."

 

This is very thought provoking for me.   I would think unless one is young and/or inexperienced, or stays home all the time, this would be thought provoking for many. 



#35 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 08:16 AM

I cant really answer this question, I'm not married or anything and I live withing the same culture as you do.  I can tell you that my great grandmother was greek Orthodox as is my sister, but in reality they may as well be from two different planets.  Different generation, different life, different epoch.  My great grandma born in Greece came from a christian culture, the new generation comes from a post christian culture.  Personally I think the west has morphed into a female utopia, hence for guys like you and me its like a dystopia.

Kosta, Greek woman, especially the older generation, are very realistic. When I first came here I was shocked at some of the things the old women said. Why? Because I had been brought up in puritan Australia. There were many sex crimes in Australia back then. Things that were unheard of here. Now, of course, because of the ridiculous things young people see on TV, sex is everywhere but "agape" is missing.

We have had discussions about this subject in the past. God made our bodies. Seraphim of the Midwest wrote : " "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted." Titus 1:15" Father Paisios was so right when he said that some people are like butterflies, they will settle on flowers growing next to manure. Some people are like flies, they will see only the manure.


I found this helpful http://www.roca.org/...55-156/155h.htm

Edited by Effie Ganatsios, 18 December 2014 - 08:22 AM.


#36 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 10:37 AM

Australia is puritanical? But then why would there be many sex crimes? I think its because the feminists who control the west file false reports, all political.  Australia is not exactly India.
 
Well its all fine, I just dont fit into this culture, the fact is western values are simply not my values.

Kosta, in the 50's and 60's it used to be puritanical. And there were many abductions of small girls who were then raped and sometimes killed. I believe that this was the result of a repressive view of sex in general. Australia has many, many good qualities, but I am being truthful. Last time I visited I found that it was safe to walk the streets of Melbourne in the middle of the night. This was not possible back in the 60's. I don't believe though that this is the point I was making. I was trying to explain that while the Orthodox were very close to their religion - not in a social way but with a deep love of God - they were also very comfortable with intimate relations within marriage. This has not changed over the years.

What do you mean by western values? And what are they exactly? I believe that we make our choices in life. We decide how we will live and what we believe.

Effie

#37 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 07:44 PM

What is being referred to as "Western" values was mentioned as unhelpful in post 23.  I propose White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) as a better term, as that is what I am mostly referring to, which is really what "Puritanical" refers to.

 

In all fairness, "puritanical" culture was even present in ancient Greek and Roman culture, although it may not have been as pervasive as it became in Puritanical and Victorian culture.

 

I think it would be very helpful to distinguish between the WASP/puritanical and Orthodox understandings for the purpose of this discussion.  Because of modesty, it is usually not discussed.  However, as a result, there are many married individuals who do not have a good sense of how to understand what is "normal" because it seems that it is mostly passed from mother/grandmother to daughter and father/grandfather to son.  In a society where there are a lot of converts, the model breaks down.



#38 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 07:59 PM

What was described in posts 35 and 37 are very helpful, especially the part about agape and healthy marital relations.  White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture is very repressive.

 

Saint Paul says it is better to marry than to burn and that in being married one does not sin.  However, it is very common in WASP culture for the female to withdraw once she has secured a husband.  Now days, there is no incentive in those cultures to even work at that aspect of the marriage.  If the female finds money and comfort "sexy" then all she has to do is divorce and "marry up" to get her way.  She can destroy her husband in the process.

 

Greece/Greek culture is very different from what I can gather.  I wonder what it is that makes the difference?  It seems pretty clear that you are not taught to be repressed from the time you are very young.  From what you have written, there was frank discussion between the older and younger women, so as to make it clear what was healthy.  I suspect this might really be the key.

 

I don't even know what questions to ask.



#39 Kosta

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 08:04 PM

True historically that's how it was passed along, the church was also the center of life and the communities tended to have more cohesive values. There was less variations. Now our social circles are more expanded, they are more diverse, the church as a center of life has receded. The workplace, the local pub, secular institutions, media, politics, now shape how we think moreso than family and customs.

#40 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 08:21 PM

I can speak to the US, as that is where I live... many of the Orthodox outside of the major urban areas are converts from Protestantism or Roman Catholicism.  They do not have the family support in these areas that the Ethnic Orthodox do.  And in my experience, the clergy do not adequately address the issues.

 

It is not like sexuality is the only issue in life.  To pretend that it is not an important one that should not be discussed (especially when one is married) is really denying reality.  While it has been suggested to discuss the subject with a priest, the reality is that it is very often inadequate.  Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov in his book "There is No Sex in the Church!" talks about why that often does not work.

 

Can a solution be offered where the older Orthodox Christians more effectively teach the younger, especially the converts?  I think that is probably the best way.  It is also what Saint Paul says should happen (Titus 2:3-5 for example).






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