Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Theotokos and her ever-virginity


  • Please log in to reply
35 replies to this topic

#21 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 18 June 2010 - 07:52 PM

Maybe something we could keep in mind here is that bloody, painful childbirth is "fallen"-- thus, to say that any other birth is not "human" is to affirm that humanity is essentially "fallen." But we know that this is not so. Our Lord proved it, even unto death on the cross. So, we have an unfallen birth for an unfallen Man, Who assumed the condition of sinful man but knew no sin Himself and so died because it was His will, not because He HAD to. And recapitulated humanity in Himself, so that we can live a truly human life-- which, paradoxically, is a divine life, being as we are creatures made to image God and conform to His likeness.

In Christ,
Evan

#22 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,521 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:40 AM

To add to Evan's post, woman giving birth in sorrow and travail is one of the inherited fruits of ancestral sin. Christ was without sin. thus sparing the Theotokos from travail, and leaving the womb inviolate. To get graphic for a moment, The Church doesnt state that Christ passed thru the Theotokos as light, nor does it affirm or deny that 'she sustained an opening big enough' for a baby to pass thru. The Church doesnt go into such details. The Church teaches she remained inviolate only. Before the fall, in what manner would women give birth? From scripture we read, "...He said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception, in sorrow thou shall bring forth children." Gen 3.16. The hymnology of the Church says, "...And by His birth He sets the seal upon her virginity. Through his swaddling clothes, He looses the bands of sin and through becoming Child He heals Eve's pangs in travail. And in the same service of the Nativity we further hear, "God is mingled with the form of mortal men. And so He looses the unhappy womb of Eve from the bitter curse of old."

#23 Paul Cowan

Paul Cowan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,064 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 June 2010 - 02:17 AM

Christ was without sin. thus sparing the Theotokos from travail, and leaving the womb inviolate.


Just a point of clarification. ALL babies leaving the womb are without sin. As they have not had time yet to do so. So this statement is not quite reaching far enough.

Paul

#24 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,521 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 04:36 AM

Just a point of clarification. ALL babies leaving the womb are without sin. As they have not had time yet to do so. So this statement is not quite reaching far enough.

Paul


All are born with the fruits of ancestral sin the primary one is the ability to die. Another fruit is women giving birth in travail.

#25 Ruth Sammons

Ruth Sammons

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 06:04 AM

All babies leaving the womb have the ability to die. Jesus died. It didn't last, death could not hold him, but he died. An actual, bloody, death. So the point of your argument was what, exactly?

#26 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 09:30 AM

Ruth,

He died because it was His will. He laid down His life for us. Voluntarily. He would not have died had it not been His will.

In Christ,
Evan

#27 Ruth Sammons

Ruth Sammons

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:05 PM

Yes, Evan. We are not in any disagreement here.

The topic is the Theotokos and her ever-virginity and (wrt my postings) the difficulty I have in holding both this and the Incarnation at the same time.

I get the feeling that only Mr Dickens gets what I am trying to say. And thank you David. I do appreciate what you have posted and get a glimmer of truth through my thick head from your words.

What does not help me are assertions that I am anathema - I am already aware of what is said on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Nor does it help me to see attitudes such as I have seen before in "inerrant" Protestants; a sort of fear that if one bit collapses the whole lot will fall like a house of cards so don't go there.

Kosta's way of looking at it was that Jesus' birth was a sort of pre-fall birth. I freely admit that I cannot imagine what that could be like. But the way I read the part of Philippians where it says Christ humbled himself, I understand this to mean that he accepted the limitations imposed upon him by being human. Or in other words he didn't pick and choose and only take the nice bits. He did in fact die, for instance. And yes, it was his will to do so.

Do some of the post-ers here think that for the process of birth Christ suspended his human nature and was born only as God? Quickly resuming his humanity?

As I say, it is a puzzle to me.

I don't wish disrespect to the Theotokos by my posting on this topic. What I do with the words of the church is treat them as poetry for now and hope that one day it will fall into place. but at least I know that I am doing that. I'd rather that than fool myself that I was believing things that are in fact contradictory.

Ruth

#28 Ruth Sammons

Ruth Sammons

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:18 PM

Anyway, my understanding of the result of the fall is that childbirth would be difficult, painful "work". Men to sweat in tilling the ground and women to sweat in childbirth. So a pre-fall childbirth would be an easy, painfree experience but would use the same pathway. As I understand it. YMMV

#29 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:18 PM

Yes, Evan. We are not in any disagreement here.

The topic is the Theotokos and her ever-virginity and (wrt my postings) the difficulty I have in holding both this and the Incarnation at the same time.

I get the feeling that only Mr Dickens gets what I am trying to say. And thank you David. I do appreciate what you have posted and get a glimmer of truth through my thick head from your words.

What does not help me are assertions that I am anathema - I am already aware of what is said on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Nor does it help me to see attitudes such as I have seen before in "inerrant" Protestants; a sort of fear that if one bit collapses the whole lot will fall like a house of cards so don't go there.

Kosta's way of looking at it was that Jesus' birth was a sort of pre-fall birth. I freely admit that I cannot imagine what that could be like. But the way I read the part of Philippians where it says Christ humbled himself, I understand this to mean that he accepted the limitations imposed upon him by being human. Or in other words he didn't pick and choose and only take the nice bits. He did in fact die, for instance. And yes, it was his will to do so.

Do some of the post-ers here think that for the process of birth Christ suspended his human nature and was born only as God? Quickly resuming his humanity?

As I say, it is a puzzle to me.

I don't wish disrespect to the Theotokos by my posting on this topic. What I do with the words of the church is treat them as poetry for now and hope that one day it will fall into place. but at least I know that I am doing that. I'd rather that than fool myself that I was believing things that are in fact contradictory.

Ruth


Ruth,

I don't mean to press you too hard on this point, but Jesus wasn't conceived in a way that any other "post-Fall" human was conceived, either. Does this bother you?

In Christ,
Evan

#30 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 June 2010 - 01:06 PM

When Christ became incarnate, He did not give up being God, it is not an "either/or" situation. He became both God AND man. He did not have to "become God and not be man" for an instant. And in some ways that IS contradictory to our way of thinking, but then, so is quantum physics. And yes that can be puzzling, but whatcha gonna do?

As an engineer, I have been trained to examine and analyze data and reach conclusions, hopefully impartially. If I simply choose to ignore inconvenient data because it results in an answer I don't like, then millions of dollars may be wasted and people may die because the system we bought doesn't do what it should. I have to account for ALL the data, even if I don't "like" it. I may set a particular data set aside, but I had better have a good defensible reason for doing so. That is the mindset I bring to any discussion and I do so in a non-apologetic manner, because poor engineering leads to people dying and poor theology leads to people perishing.

No individual here has been directly accused of "anathema", but the clear (at least in the small brain of this particular pooh) teaching of the Church has been presented. That is the data, one can choose to ignore it if one likes, but be aware how that might affect one's conclusions.

Fr. Hopko seems to indicate that perhaps the hymen was torn and then perhaps quickly "healed". Some people may find that "easier" to accept. I do not think that is what the Church consistently teaches. "Ever-virgin" means just that, she was a "virgin" before, DURING, and after giving birth, and there never was a time when she wasn't. I don't think a medical explanation of "how" this was achieved is possible or necessary but I am happy to admit that might just be me (it evidently is not a problem for Fr. Thomas). That is the conclusion I reach from reading the Fathers, and particularly from the hymnody of the Church, from examining all the data, not just that which happens to lead me to a preconceived conclusion. Even hard science (quantum physics) backs this up because it says that contradictory states can actually exist simultaneously in the physical world, so we should not be unable to accept them in light of the knowledge that "in God all things are possible".

We all have reasons (I hope) for believing what we believe. And I believe that God does not want us to be puzzled, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Herman the engineer Pooh

#31 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 June 2010 - 01:13 PM

One additional thing. I do not believe anyone here is putting forth the idea that the Christ was born via a "divine C-section". It was, indeed, a "natural" childbirth, no alternate path was taken. But just like God allowed the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea, Divine intervention was present. We do acknowledge and accept that we are NOT holding a "modalist" view, that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit did not cease to exist, that they were also present and acting, so there was no need for Christ to "suddenly become God" for a moment to make anything happen right?

#32 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 June 2010 - 03:12 PM

Anyway, my understanding of the result of the fall is that childbirth would be difficult, painful "work". Men to sweat in tilling the ground and women to sweat in childbirth. So a pre-fall childbirth would be an easy, painfree experience but would use the same pathway. As I understand it. YMMV


Exactly. And nobody is saying any different.

#33 Anthony G. Peggs

Anthony G. Peggs

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 55 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 07:25 PM

thank you all for your resonses, but i must say, i didn't mean to start a debate or any such thing. so please forgive me. i must say that i do in fact believe that The Most Holy Theotokos IS EVER VIRGIN, as The Church (who is far more wise than i'll ever be) says, Before, during and after giving Birth, all the way until Her Dormition and for all eternity. and as The Hymns of our Church say that Christ who IS Fully God and Fully man, did in fact not "harm" His Most Pure Mother in anyway, but indeed left Her Virginity intact. it doesn't seem to me that this is hard to accept, when we realize that "with God all things are possible". As Herman mentoned the crossing of the red sea, the burning bush, how can we explain these? we can't, yet they did happen. so i definately believe that God can indeed become fully man, also being Fully God, inheriting Flesh and Blood from The Holy Virgin, while indeed keeping her Virginity intact. for me, nothing more needs to be said.

i a NOT accusing anyone of anything. again, please forgive me a, not so wise sinner.

#34 Ruth Sammons

Ruth Sammons

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 07:32 PM

Apologies, Anthony. After your question was answered I hijacked your thread. And I don't feel accused, not by you or anyone. People have been most polite and generous.
Ruth

#35 Anthony G. Peggs

Anthony G. Peggs

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 55 posts

Posted 19 June 2010 - 09:40 PM

ruth please forgive me. it's totally fine. i didn't mean it that way. after all this IS a discussion board right? i didn't mean for it to come out that way. if i offended anyone, please forgive me a sinner. i don't feel you hijacked my thread, anyone can post on it :)

#36 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 June 2010 - 12:53 PM

I think one should first address the question of the meaning and importance of virginity in Christianity. What does it symbolize? What does it represent? Why is it important? And let's not forget that Jesus was also a virgin. Much of Christianity (and Judaism) is symbolic in nature. Thou shalt not commit adultery is not a symbolic statement. But the virginity of Mary is. Its literal truth has no significance whatsoever apart from its symbolic meaning. So we don't fixate on its literal truth. We explore its symbolic meaning for spiritual guidance and inspiration.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users