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Talk:Birth Control and Contraception

6,168 bytes added, 20:06, July 10, 2018
Hayward article: reply
:The Roman Catholic Church does classify NFP as contraception (see Humanae Vitae), however classifies it as the only acceptable form of contraception (for casuistic reasons which defy my understanding – again, see Humanae Vitae) aside from total abstinence.
:To summarise the argument to date, I’ve offered Fathers’ views either condemning contraception and/or emphasising the essentiality of the procreative aspect of sex within sexual acts. You’ve tried to dismiss each of these, either by claiming that they’re not Fathers (Clement), that they’re too “Western” (Jerome, Augustine, Caeserius) or Western-affiliated (Epiphanius, Nicodemus), or that they don’t actually mean what they say (Nyssa, Maximus, Chrysostom). At the same time you haven’t produced a single Orthodox voice pre-20th century which endorses a single form of contraception. If I haven’t persuaded you on this basis (even regarding the ridiculousness of Evdokimov’s comment on the issue of birth control not being raised in the age of the Fathers), then I’m not sure I have much hope at this stage. Consequently, I’ll have to change tack. I’m assuming that we both agree that heterosexual anal intercourse within marriage is not good for a couple (please correct me if that is not the case). What exactly is it that is wrong about this kind of sex in your view? I ask this to find out the rationale behind your picture of sexual morality.--[[User:Gmharvey|Gmharvey]] ([[User talk:Gmharvey|talk]]) 10:32, July 10, 2018 (UTC)
 
Rabbinical commentary from the time of Jesus and before is certainly relevant to understand the context of the NT. The two leading schools, those of Shammai and Hillel, are clear that the duty "to be fruitful and multiply” was considered met by a couple’s having had two children. The Hebrew religion that was the setting for the teaching of our Lord and his Apostles did not believe that sex within marriage not aimed at procreation was wrong. Nothing in the NT suggests any change in thinking in the direction that sex within marriage was only for procreation. Read St Paul in 1 Cor 7 — he clearly believes (as Chrysostom will also believe centuries later) that marriage is primarily about avoiding fornication.
 
What scholarship I recall says that the levirate law of marriage preceded the Mosaic covenant; the later merely codified it. The more obvious sin attributed to Onan is greed. If he were to provide his late brother with a son, then his father’s estate would go to Er’s son and not to Onan himself. It seems to be about inheritance, just as with the struggle between Jacob and Esau. Instead of that, you want to read into the Genesis account of Onan a view that not only isn’t found elsewhere in Scripture, but which also contradicts what we do find in Scripture (such as the rules in Lev 16 previously discussed, the celebration of sexual love with no mention of children that we find in the ''Song of Songs'', and St Paul’s account in 1 Cor 7).
 
I have found your use of patristic sources quite unconvincing. Firstly, you read into them more than is found in the text and misrepresent what they actually say in some cases. You hold up Hayward’s citation of Nyssa, which you mischaracterize as emphasizing that “the procreative aspect of marital sex is essential” and saying that Nyssa “clearly expresses it as his ideal.” Even Hayward acknowledges that Nyssa is extolling virginity and contrasting it with “marriage, which he bitterly attacks…” Nyssa indicates that Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca was “not the deed of passion,” but that is because he “was past the flower of his age” (although I don’t think of 60 as being past the flower of my age!). But that meant Isaac and Rebekah had been having sex for 20 years before she conceived. I would add that Nyssa’s claim that Isaac "cohabited with her till the birth of her only children, and then, closing the channels of the senses, lived wholly for the Unseen…” does not reflect the biblical account, which says nothing to suggest Isaac abandoned the marriage bed to concentrate solely on God. IF Maximos is saying that procreation is the “only" purpose for sex, then I would venture to say that the Church has not accepted his opinion on the matter. But I’m not convinced that is what he is saying, as he is criticizing in that passage the person who seeks intercourse “only” for the purpose of sexual pleasure, and since to say that the purpose of intercourse is to have children is NOT to exclude other purposes (i.e., the unitive), I think it is more likely that you are trying to make more of what he said than his words warrant. Chrysostom is clear that procreation is not the primary purpose of marriage, and that it isn’t necessary, as we have already filled the earth. Secondly, you seem to treat the Fathers (and Scripture, judging by the emphasis you place on the Onan account) as proof texts. You find some isolated quotations from some Fathers and then imagine that you have established the mind of the Church Fathers. You take quotations where individual Fathers are talking about abortion and sterilization and people having sex outside of marriage or with prostitutes and then imagine that you have established the patristic view on whether a married couple, not acting for any unworthy motive, may avoid conception in order to limit the number of children they have or the timing of those children. I believe that this is why you fail to accept Evdokimov’s point about birth control not having been raised by the Church Fathers. Thirdly, you act as if the Fathers all have equal weight and on all issues, when that is not the traditional Orthodox view. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware writes, “with the Fathers the judgement of the Church is selective: individual writers have at times fallen into error and at times contradict one another. Patristic wheat needs to be distinguished from Patristic chaff.” It is not surprising that an Orthodox press prints homilies of Chrysostom on marriage and family life, but not Augustine or Jerome on marriage and family life! I am not surprised that there are a number of writers in the Church's history, mostly monastic, that express a rather dismal view of marriage as something inferior to celibacy and who can tolerate sex within marriage only for the sake of procreation.
 
And you argue this despite the fact that the Church has never condemned limiting the number of births except for abortion. No conciliar decree, no canon. Even the one local Church that has rejected artificial contraception, the Church of Greece, has not forbidden NFP. But somehow even they do not meet your personal, individual standard of what is Orthodox.
 
Evdokimov cites this definition of marriage from the ''Orthodox Dogmatic Theology'' of Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow: "Marriage is a sacred rite. The spouses promise reciprocal fidelity before the Church; the grace of God is bestowed through the blessing of the minister of the Church. It sanctifies their union and confers the dignity of representing the spiritual union of Christ and the Church." And then from Evdokimov himself: "The account of the institution of marriage, found in the second chapter of Genesis, speaks of 'one flesh' without mentioning procreation at all. The creation of the woman is an answer to the statement, 'It is not good for man to be alone.' The nuptial community constitutes the person, for it is the 'man-woman' that is in the image of God. All the New Testament passages dealing with marriage follow the same order and do not mention offspring (Mt 19; Mk 10; Eph 5)" (''The Sacrament of Love'', p. 120).
===Is NFP rightly considered to be a form of "contraception"?===
You are mistaken. Nowhere in ''Humane Vitae'' does the Pope refer to NFP as contraception. The only occurrences of a form of the word "contraception" refer to prohibited techniques. And, "Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process" (sec. 16). Moreover, it is clear that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops believe that NFP is not a form of contraception. See http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/what-is-nfp/why-nfp-is-not-contraception.cfm/ The same is true of Pope John Paul II who, in his Apostolic Exhortation on marriage, ''Familiaris Consortio'', wrote: "In the light of the experience of many couples and of the data provided by the different human sciences, theological reflection is able to perceive and is called to study further '''the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle''': it is a difference whichis much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality." Moreover, this is also the explicit teaching of the ''Catechism of the Catholic Church'', which approvingly quotes the distinction between NFP and Pope John Paul II in its Sec. 2370. Also, it adds in Sec. 2399 "The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)."
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