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Marital/sexual relations on feast and on fast days


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#41 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 02:00 PM

So nobody knows why sex during pregnancy is forbidden? Seems like if sex is for procreation, and sex during pregnancy is forbidden, then you're only having sex maybe a few times a year. I would just like some straight answers on this, please. I understand that some things are a matter of economia, but I just want to know why this is a restriction in the first place. It's a scientific fact that sex during pregnancy does not cause miscarriages, so why is it still forbidden?


The Church is not dependent on the vissisitudes of morphing scientific theory. What science declares fact today it calls folly tomorrow. Science cannot detect, it cannot measure, spiritual things. Just because something does not cause physical harm does not necessarily mean it is spiritually harmless. "Facts" change often. Truth does not. The Church deals in Truth and I'll stick with that for my part.

#42 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 02:18 PM

I agree with Herman and this is what I alluded to earlier.  The effect on the child in utero of sexual intercourse, particularly after the first few weeks, cannot be assessed by science.



#43 Max Percy

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 05:28 PM

I agree with Herman and this is what I alluded to earlier.  The effect on the child in utero of sexual intercourse, particularly after the first few weeks, cannot be assessed by science.

True enough but neither can a "non effect" or absence of effect, which seems to be what, in part, brought Kevin to ask the question.

It seems, as demonstrated, by Kevin's frustration, that there is no single, clear position on this?



#44 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 05:41 PM

The Church’s stance on the spiritual effect of sexual intercourse on a child in utero has not been discovered by anyone here but perhaps there is an answer that has not yet been found.  A news item today on the BBC says that a Royal Navy survey ship has returned to Plymouth after a nine-month deployment to the Middle East where the crew surveyed more than 1,200 sq km of seabed.  If those crew members can be away from their wives for that reason, cannot a practising Orthodox man restrain himself whilst his wife carries their child in her womb, at least to err on the side of caution if there is no clear teaching?  And no one has said there should be no sexual activity at all during that time.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 27 May 2013 - 05:41 PM.


#45 Anna Stickles

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 05:41 PM

I agree with Herman and this is what I alluded to earlier.  The effect on the child in utero of sexual intercourse, particularly after the first few weeks, cannot be assessed by science.

 

 

Alternatively, one thing I have heard about this is that when one has marital relations during a pregnancy that the passions of those relations are received by the child thus affecting his ability to resist those passions during his life. Having said that, I must also point out that I tend to be very cautious (not skeptical - but certainly cautious) in how I interpret those ideas in pastoral situations.  I can't say it's not true - since my own spiritual discernment is pretty rudimentary - but neither can I say that it is false.

 

Fr David

 

In support of the above statements, here is a quote from Elder Porphyrios, well known for his gift of clairvoyance.

 

A child's upbringing commences at the moment of its conception. The embryo hears and feels in its mothers womb. ... It is aware of her movements and her emotions, even though its mind has not developed. If the mother's face darkens, it (the child) darkens too. If the mother is irritated, then it becomes irritated also. Whatever the mother experiences --sorrow, pain, fear, anxiety, etc. is also experienced by the embryo."

 

Kevin, If I may be straight up, though and offer one piece of advice. Simplicity is a virtue highly valued by the saints, and it is a partner and protector of faith. Faith alone without simplicity is like a man surrounded by enemies vulnerable because he has no one to watch his back. Faith and simplicity together are like two brothers fighting back to back protecting each other.  Simplicity is not mindlessly accepting what we are told, far be it. The virtue of simplicity has to do with how we restrain the tendency to question what we don't understand, and particularly restrain the tendency to make quick judgements on things,  and instead allow ourselves time to grow in Christian maturity as a way of learning answers.  Often times verbal answers really end up being meaningless if we don't have the experience to give those words some real context.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 27 May 2013 - 05:47 PM.


#46 Anna Stickles

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 06:20 PM

Just one other comment on this topic of sex within marriage.  Both laymen and monastic's are tonsured.  Every layman is tonsured at baptism, and this is a symbol of how that person has been fully dedicated to God.

 

St Gregory of Nazianzus in his sermon on baptism says, "Let us give to God all our members which are upon the earth; let us consecrate them all; not (merely) the lobe of liver or the kidneys with the fat*. Let us bring ourselves entire. Let us be reasonable holocausts, perfect sacrifices; and let us not make only the shoulder or the breast a portion for the Priest to take away (cf Num 6:20-24) for that would be a small thing. Let us give ourselves entire, that we may receive back ourselves entire; for this is to receive entirely - when we give ourselves to God and offer as a sacrifice our own salvation." 

 

How else do we offer our sexual members as a sacrifice except to offer them in obedience to the laws of the Church?  We get married in the Church not in order to satisfy our own longings or desires, but rather as a sacrifice first to God, and then to our spouse and children.  Church life in its essence is not about being good people who don't harm others, but about denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ with the hope of somehow attaining to the resurrection. I don't think that the grace in the Church to accomplish this is any less present then it was in the early Church and I know a lot of faithful marrieds who are struggling just as valiantly along this path as the monastics are along their own. The rules for how that sexuality is offered to God is different for monastics and marrieds, (the monastic is concerned with pleasing God alone, but the married is concerned about pleasing God and their spouse) but the same sacrifice is required - no one belongs to himself.

 

 

*The references to the kidneys and the liver, the breast and the shoulder refer to the part of the sacrifices given to the priest, the person making the sacrifice could take the rest for themselves.

 

** Num 6 is the chapt on the OT vow of the Nazarite which is the historical roots of the Christian tonsure. Notice in 6:20 that these portions are referred to as the elevation offering, which again St Gregory would have been relating this to the elevation during the Liturgy, "Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee" which is referring not only to our offering up of the Lamb, but also to our offering of ourselves in Christ. This is why the faithful always bring the prosphora that the Lamb is taken from rather then the priest bringing it.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 27 May 2013 - 06:27 PM.


#47 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 09:43 PM

Lakis Papis, that still does not answer my question. I am not speaking of abstinence on fast days or marital chastity in general. I specifically want to know the reasonings, and the relevant canons behind the idea that sex during pregnancy is forbidden. So far nobody has been able to give a straight answer, only 'Well I heard from so-and-so' or lectures about my lack of intellectual humility. I don't think what I'm asking is unreasonable.


Edited by Kevin T. Wall, 27 May 2013 - 09:45 PM.


#48 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 09:57 PM

Whatever the mother experiences --sorrow, pain, fear, anxiety, etc. is also experienced by the embryo.

This is not a Christian tradition, but a superstition held all around the world -- it was believed by many, and probably still today, that what a mother saw shortly before childbirth would determine the appearance of her baby. This reasoning was commonly invoked to explain deformities.

Regardless, since we can agree there is nothing sinful about married intercourse, I don't see how an 'awareness' of this could morally harm the baby (or embyro as the case may be). As I've already said, that's how the baby was conceived! Moreover, if it is true that the mother's experiences are transferred to the embryo, why stop there? Why not say that her experiences affect her child well into the toddler years, or perhaps for life? Perhaps sex should only be allowed once or twice for procreation, and then total abstinence for the sake of the children, as was the case in some Byzantine 'spiritual marriages' (a gnostic idea, and quite literally -- the chief sacrament of the Valentinians was that of the bridal chamber, a spiritual wedding of sorts)?

Edited by Kevin T. Wall, 27 May 2013 - 09:57 PM.


#49 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 10:02 PM

The Church is not dependent on the vissisitudes of morphing scientific theory. What science declares fact today it calls folly tomorrow. Science cannot detect, it cannot measure, spiritual things. Just because something does not cause physical harm does not necessarily mean it is spiritually harmless. "Facts" change often. Truth does not. The Church deals in Truth and I'll stick with that for my part.

Miscarriage is physical, not spiritual. Surely science is capable of 'detecting' it, yes?

#50 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 10:28 PM

Miscarriage is physical, not spiritual. Surely science is capable of 'detecting' it, yes?


I'm not talking about the physical. We are more than merely physical. That is the whole point that is being missed.

#51 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 10:53 PM

This is not a Christian tradition, but a superstition held all around the world

 

Elders such as Fr Porphyrios do not deal in superstition.  He was a great clairvoyant elder and his sayings are not to be dismissed.

 

Perhaps sex should only be allowed once or twice for procreation, and then total abstinence for the sake of the children

 

No one has argued for this so it is disingenuous to say so.



#52 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 11:09 PM

Andreas Moran, you didn't address my argument. Please stop cherry-picking. I'll repeat what you ignored:

Regardless, since we can agree there is nothing sinful about married intercourse, I don't see how an 'awareness' of this could morally harm the baby (or embyro as the case may be). As I've already said, that's how the baby was conceived! Moreover, if it is true that the mother's experiences are transferred to the embryo, why stop there? Why not say that her experiences affect her child well into the toddler years, or perhaps for life?



#53 Olga

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 11:27 PM

Kevin, allow me to cut to the chase:

 

Have you spoken to your priest about your concern? If not, why not? As your spiritual guide, he, and only he, is qualified and capable of giving you sound advice.



#54 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 12:11 AM

Furthermore, what does the local bishop say?

 

As to the part of Mr Wall's post he says I ignored, I felt that it did not make a great deal of sense and did not warrant a repsonse.  I find it telling that he rejects what has been said by a bishop and by an elder who is regarded as a saint.  It seems he knows better than they.



#55 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 12:26 AM

It does make sense, Andreas. If the reasoning is that sex during pregnancy is forbidden because the sinful acts, or passions, participated in by the mother are transmitted to the baby, or embryo, then this implies that sex is sinful. Yet we know that it isn't. But this is the reasoning that I have seen given above by Herman and others.

#56 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 12:29 AM

It does not imply that sex is sinful.  It is not not. 



#57 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 12:49 AM

It does not imply that sex is sinful.  It is not not.

Now you're being illogical. Let me break it down for you:

1. The passions of the mother are passed on to the embryo
2. These passions disrupt the in utero child's spiritual development, or affect it in negative ways
3. These passions are sinful and should be avoided
4. Intercourse during pregnancy is a form of sinful passion
5. Therefore, one should refrain from intercourse during pregnancy for the sake of the child's spiritual development

I would add that given 1-5, marital intercourse should therefore be limited as much as possible. This is, in fact, what is taught by some elders (including Elder Ephraim of St. Anthony's monastery) and many historical church authorities. So tell me Andreas, which of the above premises do you dispute?

#58 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:15 AM

One cannot extrapolate from your 1 to 5 that 'marital intercourse should therefore be limited as much as possible'. That is illogical.  The Holy Fathers say that marital sexual intercourse is not sinful, but there times when it is not appropriate. How can you be sure that sex during pregnacy is not detrimental to the child in the womb?  If you cannot be sure, is it not better avoided? 



#59 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:27 AM

One cannot extrapolate from your 1 to 5 that 'marital intercourse should therefore be limited as much as possible'. That is illogical.  The Holy Fathers say that marital sexual intercourse is not sinful, but there times when it is not appropriate. How can you be sure that sex during pregnacy is not detrimental to the child in the womb?  If you cannot be sure, is it not better avoided?

Let's look again at the reasoning. Elder Paisios says this:

When the women is pregnant, then the best thing is to stop relations immediately or, if they aren't able, to limit them. From the sixth month on, however, they should definitely stop having relations because aside from the danger to the child (miscarriage etc.) spiritual harm also occurs. The embryo, you see, is forced to participate also in the pleasure which the mother feels and already from the womb develops a passion.

In other words, intercourse -- because it is pleasurable -- leads to passion, and since passion is sin, and sin is to be avoided, then intercourse should be limited to avoid passion. It could not be clearer, Andreas. Logically, if one wanted to avoid passion altogether, one would live in a 'spiritual marriage', i.e. more or less celibate.

And remember folks, it's the Protestants who are 'gnostics' (as another thread here claims). Orthodoxy? No way!

#60 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:33 AM

How can you be sure that sex during pregnacy is not detrimental to the child in the womb? If you cannot be sure, is it not better avoided?

This is also profoundly illogical. Can we be sure that the evil eye does not exist? Can we be sure that whistling or yawning or sneezing does not attract demonic temptation? Yet no doubt many pious yiayias, and perhaps some elders, believe these things. Are we then bound to believe them? And is not believing them a sign of pride?

You see, here is the problem with Orthodoxy. On the figurative brochure handed out to Protestant converts, it is promoted as 'experiential', which is contrasted to 'legalism', 'rationalism', and all kinds of naughty Western things. But what this mean in practice is that anyone who seems outwardly pious and humble, particularly elders, are to be submitted to without question. Because, you see, they have experience. I know of several cases, including my own, where this approach led to manipulation and despair. I can tell you of some rather shocking things that 'holy' elders have told to others, including some rather graphic apocalyptic predictions. I won't here, because that's off-topic. But I am getting tired of people here appealing to authority in the face of God-given reason.

Edited by Kevin T. Wall, 28 May 2013 - 01:35 AM.





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