Is Orthodoxy better suited for a secular world?

Now I don’t know much about the Orthodox faith and I am still learning it. But it seems to me a lot of understanding of the faith and how everything is built up is based on a political environment and culture that is more secular than the West. Take for example marriage, which is one of the few things I have learned so far. It seems that the Eastern understanding of marriage is separate from the secular understanding so much so that it can co-exist side-by-side with a secular view on marriage without affecting how Christian marriage is viewed. But in the West it seems the view on marriage is that it’s either a Christian marriage or its not a marriage at all. I think this is a product of a Church that has had a higher authority than the secular powers for a long period of time, as opposed to the East where the secular powers have never bowed down to the Church completely.

Is this an accurate understanding? And what do you guys think of my conclusion, which is the subject of the thread?

I’m not sure I agree (or understand, for that matter). Maybe you mean the Byzantine/Eastern Orthodox only? But it seems like in their case there were plenty of pious kings, who followed the dictums of the Church in addition to a set of secular laws as well, but of course not necessarily because they did not recognize church authority (since the kings themselves were Christians, too). So I think you might be right so far as the Byzantines go (based on what little education I’ve had on Byzantine Orthodox views of government, via AFR podcasts by the likes of Fr. Josiah Trenham, Fr. Andrew Damick, etc.), but maybe not for the reasons you listed.

I am of the opinion that “Christian governance” cannot really exist and is not a worthy goal in itself, and in that I am following a particular strain found in some of the writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and cognizant of certain episodes in my own church’s history (e.g., the murder of Hypatia) that show it to be problematic to attempt a reconciliation between the kingdom of God and that of man that would necessitate compromising the former for the sake of the latter.

I see your point. I don’t think your explanation is correct. We in the west are used to countries where we can bring our religous based moral views into our law. This has nothing to do with pope, bishops, priests, and or Church. This is a product of our countries belonging to the people. Look what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Did. To say that orthodoxy is better suited for a secular world vs catholicsim as you propose on grounds that they mind there own business and stay out of the ethics of their culture more, is kind of like saying that Jesus would only say “cast the first stone” if the prostitute was a Christian. We care about our fellow man kinds future weather or not they are Christians. Life is of the utmost value and the dignity of life should be upheld. The same basis for this theory, is used in the “same sex marriage” argument. The basis is, God knows best. The bible is full of God ushering people to preach to non believers. Natural law, which God formed out of his divine logos, shows us that a stable family untit provides the basis for a stable nation. Secular science confirms this. So would you agree that a secular world such as the one growing in the USA is in need of evangelization? And if you agree would a passive approach to this world, an approach that says “you do whatever you want, and we will do what we believe is right”, is a good Christian approach? Aristotle I believe, stated that the law of a nation becomes the moral norm of its people. To argue that in a free country, one which the people that populate it are responsible for each other and for the direction that the country goes, and for its laws, that these people should not try to guide their country by means of the guide they themselves adhere to is a poor argument(not that it’s your POV) I believe the Catholic church, under the influence of “The new evangelization” from PJPII, with the guidance of our bishops and arch bishops in union with the Pope IS… The Absolute, Best church suited for being in this secular world.

I’m not completely sure I follow, but I do think the Orthodox Church is better able to adapt itself to secular rule that is not Orthodox simply because it had to.

The Catholic Church has only been in this position for the past couple hundred years, and I think the first time it even acknowledged this new reality was with the Lateran Treaty, less than 100 years ago.

Basically Christians are contradiction to the world. In my view, the more you are like the world the less you are being Christians, and this certainly applies to Christianity too. Probably the title of the thread is dwelling in the relative, and if that is so, I do not want to make judgment. Generally I believe that no branch of real Christianity fits into the secular world, it just exist in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). It tries to blend in where possible and be obedient to the governing authority (1 Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1) insomuch it does not jeopardize its belief system while its ultimate objective is to convert the world. Its adherences are called not to conform to the world’s value (Romans 12:2) but to the Lord’s.

In term of marriages, Catholicism probably is the strictest in imposing its rule much to the delight of the world as it takes advantage of humans’ frailty in their faithfulness to their marriage vow. This has cut deep into the Catholics toll of apostasy and fallen faith. Yet, it is a grace to those who hold on and what incredible blessing they receive in being faithful to the commandment of the Sacrament of God.

It is true that many rules in the East, as in the West, were Christian or have become Christian. But it seems that in the West the rulers were beneath the Church. Usually the Pope is needed to validate the rule of a king. While in the East there seems to be a clear separation of the secular power and the ecclesiastical power. In many cases the rulers (emperors, kings, etc) exert influence over the local Churches, such as appointment of bishops or even calling of synods.

As Nine_Two has said, Orthodoxy has been dealing with this issue for a while. In the West since Christianity took over Rome, secular policy was always driven by Church policy until recently.

I just find that the approach to faith of Orthodoxy seems to assume that the world is secular. The West still thinks that the governments should be implementing Christian values.

Far from the truth. Politicians are erratic lots. Many of them strategize their policies according to popular demand and those who are steadfast in their principle may not succeed politically.

Popes validating kings were thing of the past. It is not relevant to this thread.

Of course it is relevant. Its because in the past as I said public policy is driven by Church teaching. Let’s take the definition of marriage for example. The Eastern understanding of marriage seems to be independent to what the secular government identifies as marriage. While the West has hardly any distinction and therefore an infringement on the definition of marriage in the secular world infringes upon the definition in the Church.

Ok. One more time. Your simply arguing that orthodoxy is passive in its evangelization.
How could that be a better thing then the catholic position. That’s like Jonah saying “I’m not gomna go to nineveh and tell those people what to do because they don’t believe in you anyways Lord”
Did all the martyrs die because they practiced “live and let live”

“The Eastern understanding of marriage seems to be independent to what the secular government identifies as marriage”

For example how so and where? And what makes you think this isn’t true in the West?

Did Jonah go to Nineveh and pay powerful aristocrats to force the people into repentance? Did the ante-nicene Christians have lobbyists in Rome, attempting to change secular law? Were they deficient because they didn’t do that?

I have honestly have no idea how powerful aristocrats have anything to do with what I said.
Also, the antenicene Christians had no say in basicky any government, they were perpetually persecuted. My case states that in the USA alone, we each have a responsibility to vote. And I believe Edmund Burke says it best “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.”
In comparison with the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church is proactive in defending human dignity and natural law.

The sin of usury by banks has ruined whole countries, including some in the east, and inspired much evil. Something that was not able to happen until the influence of the Catholic Church was cast aside.

Can you detail for me the activities of the Orthodox Church in those fields? If not, I can hardly see how you are qualified to make that judgment. That being said, it is strange that you fixate upon those things, as the Church’s function never was to preserve human dignity or natural law. Both of those are merely means to a greater theocentric end, not ends unto themselves. The Church’s purpose is for the deification of man in Christ, not for the promotion of human dignity nor for the promotion of natural law.

Why must we pit one against the other???
Even the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church have agreed that they must work together against the secular world, even while not having worked out their theological differences.

That is probably an indicator that the Russian Orthodox Church does not take the same grim view of the Catholic Church (and vice versa) that many people pontificating on the internet have. :slight_smile:

[quote=ConstantineTG;9427704 . But in the West it seems the view on marriage is that it’s either a Christian marriage or its not a marriage at all.

Could you elaborate on this view? It is not my understanding of Western or Eastern theology of marriage at all. The West has the concept of natural marriage. A natural marriage, which is between two unbaptized persons, or a baptized person and an unbaptized person, is considered a true marriage, but it is not a sacramental marriage. Western theology most certainly respects the marriage of two Jews, or athiests, or Hindus, etc, and considers them to be married, in the eyes of God and the State. The only case in which a true marriage is considered not to have occurred is when a Catholic marries outside the Church. All other marriages are considered either Sacramental (between two Christians) or Natural. Catholics must enter into marriage with the blessing of the church, either in the Catholic Church, or with a dispensation (by economy, if you will) from the Bishop to be married outside of the Church. Orthodox Christians must be married by the priest, to a baptized individual, in an Orthodox ceremony. It is my understanding that it is not considered a “true marriage” otherwise. I could be wrong on that, but I do know that they are not permitted to receive Holy Communion if they have not been married in an Orthodox ceremony.

:slight_smile: I absolutely agree. I’m afraid that we can get a very unbalanced view of things if we only pay attention to what we read online.

For Catholics, the promotion of human dignity is not separate from other aspects of our deification in Christ.

Your post made me think twice about my answers. You are right. And there are times when I lose sight of what’s realy important, and this was one of them.
Thank you.

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