Birth Control Methods

abacabb3

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I figured this video was a good recent example of conservative push back against the claim that the Orthodox Church no longer teaches against contraception. It reminds me of this quote from Palamas, because no one speaks this way anymore:

“For the physical impulse to reproduce is involuntary and does not obey the law of our mind, although some do bring it forcibly into subjection, while others chastely give rein to it solely for the purpose of betting children.” (Homily 52 Par 7)

I figured this is a worthy discussion.
 

Cody J Dunbar

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I'm not sure there is a ton to discuss. I feel like most Orthodox, including myself, agree that contraception is bad. However, for the sake of discussion, let me bring up my own anecdote.

My wife has PCOS ( PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrom), Which basically means she has cysts that grow on her ovaries and cause all sorts of issues. For one, it can prevent her from properly menstruating because the cysts obstruct the pathway of the egg. She would sometimes go five to six months without having her period. There is a lot of pain for her, both physically and emotionally, because the other part of it is that our chances of having a child are slim, not zero but quite low. One of the early treatments that were given to her was a type of birth control. Basically, the way it would work was that it would increase hormones and make it so that her period would regulate. When she was on that medication, she was fairly normal and was not in physical pain anymore however, as we know, the other side effect of the pill was that it essentially reduced our chances to zero when in combination with the cysts. After some time, she did decide to get off of it because we really wanted to try for a child. That was six years ago. We are still trying, and she hasn't been back on the pill, but that was the only thing that ever made her feel any better. I mean, it can never make her feel better emotionally, but that's what I am here for. If she elected to get back on it, I'm not sure how resistant I could be because I hate to see her in pain.

I'll watch this video though I do love Fr. Heers.
 
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All4Christ

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I'm not sure there is a ton to discuss. I feel like most Orthodox, including myself, agree that contraception is bad. However, for the sake of discussion, let me bring up my own anecdote.

My wife has PCOS ( PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrom), Which basically means she has cysts that grow on her ovaries and cause all sorts of issues. For one, it can prevent her from properly menstruating because the cysts obstruct the pathway of the egg. She would sometimes go five to six months without having her period. There is a lot of pain for her, both physically and emotionally, because the other part of it is that our chances of having a child are slim, not zero but quite low. One of the early treatments that were given to her was a type of birth control. Basically, the way it would work was that it would increase hormones and make it so that her period would regulate. When she was on that medication, she was fairly normal and was not in physical pain anymore however, as we know, the other side effect of the pill was that it essentially reduced our chances to zero when in combination with the cysts. After some time, she did decide to get off of it because we really wanted to try for a child. That was six years ago. We are still trying, and she hasn't been back on the pill, but that was the only thing that ever made her feel any better. I mean, it can never make her feel better emotionally, but that's what I am here for. If she elected to get back on it, I'm not sure how resistant I could be because I hate to see her in pain.

I'll watch this video though I do love Fr. Heers.
Prayers for you. I feel for you, as I also have struggled for years (coming on 8 years). Unfortunately, mine is undetermined for the reason of infertility.

My friend had PCOS though, and she was able to take a medicine (I think it is a breast cancer drug) that handled it and allowed her to have a beautiful baby girl, my god-daughter. Have you considered that? My priest was good with that since it was just medicine, not something like IVF or any ART procedure.
 
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Cody J Dunbar

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Cody, may God have mercy upon your wife and bless you both with many children!
Thank you!
Prayers for you. I feel for you, as I also have struggled for years (coming on 8 years). Unfortunately, mine is undetermined for the reason of infertility.

My friend had PCOS though, and she was able to take a medicine (I think it is a breast cancer drug) that handled it and allowed her to have a beautiful baby girl, my god-daughter. Have you considered that? My priest was good with that since it was just medicine, not something like IVF or any ART procedure.
Yes, she is on something new now, but they only have her take it for a week at a time, and then if she doesn't menstruate within a certain period of time then they dial up the dosage.

I guess I was trying to point out that these kinds of drugs have other uses and are being misused by society. Of course, I think that they shouldn't be prescribed as a contraceptive. And maybe, like you say they're are alternatives for people who need them. May the Lord have mercy on all those who struggle with fertility issues.

Maybe I am ignorant, but I think that the orthodox are not against treatments like Chemotherapy for cancer. However, many people who are treated that way become infertile. If people started taking chemo for the purpose of becoming infertile, then it would be a major problem. That would be a misuse of the medicine/technology.

Again I am not trying to justify the pill, just stating what I have learned about it. Perhaps it is a demonic ruse. Allowing women to feel better yet rendering them unable to reproduce.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I'm not sure there is a ton to discuss. I feel like most Orthodox, including myself, agree that contraception is bad. However, for the sake of discussion, let me bring up my own anecdote.

My wife has PCOS ( PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrom), Which basically means she has cysts that grow on her ovaries and cause all sorts of issues. For one, it can prevent her from properly menstruating because the cysts obstruct the pathway of the egg. She would sometimes go five to six months without having her period. There is a lot of pain for her, both physically and emotionally, because the other part of it is that our chances of having a child are slim, not zero but quite low. One of the early treatments that were given to her was a type of birth control. Basically, the way it would work was that it would increase hormones and make it so that her period would regulate. When she was on that medication, she was fairly normal and was not in physical pain anymore however, as we know, the other side effect of the pill was that it essentially reduced our chances to zero when in combination with the cysts. After some time, she did decide to get off of it because we really wanted to try for a child. That was six years ago. We are still trying, and she hasn't been back on the pill, but that was the only thing that ever made her feel any better. I mean, it can never make her feel better emotionally, but that's what I am here for. If she elected to get back on it, I'm not sure how resistant I could be because I hate to see her in pain.

I'll watch this video though I do love Fr. Heers.

Lord have mercy on you! not that it’s a guarantee and I don’t want to give any false hope, but try to go to St Tikhon’s if you can and pray before She Who Is Quick To Hear and St Anna. both icons are wonderworking and help with these issues.
 
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Cody J Dunbar

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Lord have mercy on you! not that it’s a guarantee and I don’t want to give any false hope, but try to go to St Tikhon’s if you can and pray before She Who Is Quick To Hear and St Anna. both icons are wonderworking and help with these issues.
Thank you, Fr. Yes, I have wanted to visit St. Tikhon's. It's about 2 hours from me, only slightly further than Holy Protection. There is a wonderworking Icon there as well. My spiritual Father also mentioned a sash or belt that had something to do with the Theotokos. Forgive me though, because I forget what he called it.
 
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ArmyMatt

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Thank you, Fr. Yes, I have wanted to visit St. Tikhon's. It's about 2 hours from me, only slightly further than Holy Protection. There is a wonderworking Icon there as well. My spiritual Father also mentioned a sash or belt that had something to do with the Theotokos. Forgive me though, because I forget what he called it.

yes, they have belts at St Tikhon’s that were blessed on the belt of the Mother of God.
 
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abacabb3

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I'm not sure there is a ton to discuss. I feel like most Orthodox, including myself, agree that contraception is bad. However, for the sake of discussion, let me bring up my own anecdote.

My wife has PCOS ( PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrom), Which basically means she has cysts that grow on her ovaries and cause all sorts of issues. For one, it can prevent her from properly menstruating because the cysts obstruct the pathway of the egg. She would sometimes go five to six months without having her period. There is a lot of pain for her, both physically and emotionally, because the other part of it is that our chances of having a child are slim, not zero but quite low. One of the early treatments that were given to her was a type of birth control. Basically, the way it would work was that it would increase hormones and make it so that her period would regulate. When she was on that medication, she was fairly normal and was not in physical pain anymore however, as we know, the other side effect of the pill was that it essentially reduced our chances to zero when in combination with the cysts. After some time, she did decide to get off of it because we really wanted to try for a child. That was six years ago. We are still trying, and she hasn't been back on the pill, but that was the only thing that ever made her feel any better. I mean, it can never make her feel better emotionally, but that's what I am here for. If she elected to get back on it, I'm not sure how resistant I could be because I hate to see her in pain.

I'll watch this video though I do love Fr. Heers.
I think intent goes into a lot of this. Taking an opiate during a surgery is different than recreational use. Using a birth control pill for valid medical reasons I'd think is okay. As for what that means for relations, that depends upon intent as well. Saints Joachim and Anna, Abraham and Sarah, continued relations past the point of barrenness but with the faith that God would bless them with children. So, if relations continue with that *sincere* intent, who are we to judge?

Good questions could be posed over the question whether "the pill" effectively kills zygotes. Ironically, there is some science that says in fact, due to it most of the time preventing the formation of zygotes, that in fact default marital relations result in more dead zygotes. In effect, on a theoretical basis, the pill can be saving lives (I question this science, but not being a scientist, I have to be open to these studies being valid).

Anyway, my $0.02.
 
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ArmyMatt

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The most serious consequence of contraception is the removal of responsibility attached to sex.

Contraception opens the door to men objectifying women and visa versa.

Men become beast

and women ride the beast.
it certainly has helped lead to a lot of that nowadays.
 
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abacabb3

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The most serious consequence of contraception is the removal of responsibility attached to sex.

Contraception opens the door to men objectifying women and visa versa.

Men become beast

and women ride the beast.
I think I understand the theological point being made here, but given the subject matter, the language is ironically a little too descriptive...
 
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Cody J Dunbar

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I think intent goes into a lot of this. Taking an opiate during a surgery is different than recreational use. Using a birth control pill for valid medical reasons I'd think is okay. As for what that means for relations, that depends upon intent as well. Saints Joachim and Anna, Abraham and Sarah, continued relations past the point of barrenness but with the faith that God would bless them with children. So, if relations continue with that *sincere* intent, who are we to judge?

Good questions could be posed over the question whether "the pill" effectively kills zygotes. Ironically, there is some science that says in fact, due to it most of the time preventing the formation of zygotes, that in fact default marital relations result in more dead zygotes. In effect, on a theoretical basis, the pill can be saving lives (I question this science, but not being a scientist, I have to be open to these studies being valid).

Anyway, my $0.02.
I agree here. The intent is always the issue. and unfortunately based on what we see in general society for them ill intent is just as good as anything. As long as someone wants something, it seems some doctors don't mind facilitating it.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I agree here. The intent is always the issue. and unfortunately based on what we see in general society for them ill intent is just as good as anything. As long as someone wants something, it seems some doctors don't mind facilitating it.
yep
 
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abacabb3

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I agree here. The intent is always the issue. and unfortunately based on what we see in general society for them ill intent is just as good as anything. As long as someone wants something, it seems some doctors don't mind facilitating it.
Or priests for that matter (in some quarters). Economia for everything!
 
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Cody J Dunbar

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Or priests for that matter (in some quarters). Economia for everything!
Fortunately for me, I haven't experienced much of that. All of the priests in my area are incredible. I go to a Serbian parish, but I frequently visit the Greek, Rocor, and OCA parishes that are within an hour of me and have had nothing but "based Priests" excuse my slang.
 
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abacabb3

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Fortunately for me, I haven't experienced much of that. All of the priests in my area are incredible. I go to a Serbian parish, but I frequently visit the Greek, Rocor, and OCA parishes that are within an hour of me and have had nothing but "based Priests" excuse my slang.
In NY, it appears that birth control methods are openly tolerated as "economia." One priest told me he thinks homosexuality will eventually be. Outside of maybe Jordanville (literally in the middle of upstate NY) no one holds the line. Honestly, it seems to all align with infrequent confession--because, if people actually had to talk to priests frequently about these things, they'd happen less. A "based" parish (I won't say jurisdiction but its not OCA, GOA; think ROCOR/Bulgaria/Georgia) has a priest that not only refuses to take confession (he thinks the Church did not automatically teach it), he openly blesses the use of the birth control pill and male sterilization strictly for the sake of not having more children or timing them out--not based on health concerns or some extreme situation like one spouse is so sex obsessed and so closed off to more children he/she will abandon the family or some other desperate measure to keep a family intact.

Now this is all anonymous stuff, so I'd appreciate that no one reply with "we don't know all the detail, don't judge this or that" because in reality I am not here--there is no explicit accusation against any given individual. Rather, I think we need to address that in some corners there is a real problem and not stick our heads in the sand. Being that all the priests nationwide tend to go to the same seminaries, it is interesting there is such regional diversity on this issue (i.e. NY parishes are awful on moral issues). If one reads the Orthowiki article on the topic, it is also transparently accommodating to birth control. So I think this is a real problem in our time.
 
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Cody J Dunbar

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Again I haven't directly experienced any of that, but they definitely exist. I hear the stories from others who left their old parishes because of these reasons. Our current Deacon basically fled New York to get away from that sort of thing.

I do think regular confession would help deter that behavior. From what I gather, a lot of Russian churches require weekly confession. Otherwise, you can't partake in communion. If you have a good spiritual Father and god parents they will keep you in line. You know there is a problem when people treat confession as if it is a punishment. It should be a relief. We should thank God for his mercy and forgiveness.
 
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people don’t like the traditional Christian answers because they can be hard to hear and to live by. To see that “the Church no longer teaches“ anything, is an absurdity. Either its teachings or constant or they’re not, and if they’re not, then it’s not the Church.

I think pretty much all of us would agree that an extreme medical situation could call for legitimate use of a preparation to prevent destruction or death of the person taking the preparation. Of course, that is not what 99% of all efforts to get these things promoted are about. The Lambeth conference in 1930, approving the general use of contraceptives by Christians in the Anglican church, and subsequently in Protestantism in general, put an end to any hopes of Orthodox and Anglican unification. I think it is helpful to know what forces are especially interested in promoting birth control among the general population, especially the poor and to see that as a general movement, birth control really means birth prevention, and it is entirely antithetical to what we believe. As Chesterton said, it is used to filch the pleasure from a natural process while simultaneously thwarting that process, And that’s what most people want it for. They want to act and live as if the babymaking act was primarily for pleasure and bonding, and not really for the making of babies. But people don’t want to hear that, so they are going to do what they are going to do, and “Orthodox Christians” are going to seek Economia, and priests are going to give it even if it is countermanded by our tradition, generally speaking. Generally speaking, such priests do not know what they do.

Oh, and can somebody get these stupid pilgrim hats off our heads? The pilgrims and Puritans were extreme forms of Protestants that we actually have a serious theological problem with, and it actually bugs me to see them dancing on our images of icons.
 
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