Natural Philosophy: Dilemma


#1

A little background, I am recently coming out and away from Eastern Orthodox.

I am going to summarize what I have learned from my Eastern Orthodox (EO) priest. We had been speaking about ethics for quite some time, but in regards to abortive birth control, condoms, synthetic hormones, and other birth control methods to prevent pregnancy for non health related reasons, one of the replies he said to me about birth control, was that Orthodox teaching is to “stay out of the bedroom.” And he closed the conversation, about birth control and any moral issues with it. This is a red flag to me and goes against my very ethics, as I have a NaPro Dr OBGYN, and even she confirms that yes, chemical abortion may result from birth control. Plus I have learned A LOT from the Roman church, about the ethics surrounding birth control and abortion.

So far, I have learned that the EO focus is more on the mystical approach to life, and it’s been explained to me that the focus of the spiritual life for an EO, is on what is called the “nous” within the noetic life, “where every Christian should know right from wrong within their own heart”. That is exactly what confuses me so very much, because I am also learned in the Latin theology, and I’ve learned that if God is truth, then anything that is not of God is not; and conversely, anything that is of truth, is in some small way of God. If 1+1=2 and this tells us in an infinitesimal way about the beauty and truth of God expressed through mathematics, isn’t science supposed to be complementary in expressing the grandeur of our Almighty God? Isn’t logic that birth control having moral issues, or that it may cause a full on abortion, considered going against the way creation is made? Doesn’t this go against the deposit of the Christian faith?

Without making harsh generalizations, it seems as if the EO does not teach that both logical and mystical is part of who we are as humans. The noetic life within EO teaches that the nous is the organ of understanding, the center of Christian mysticism. Further explained as the center of all understanding, which lies in the heart. Doesn’t the Bible say that the heart is deceitful? Roman Catholic on the other hand seems extremely developed and current with ethics, as I see the church places a high value on human reason and how this is reconciled by logic, developed sciences, complementary through what Christ gave His followers.

I feel like there is confusion now, because no formal education is available nor wanted about current issues in ethics within EO, and instead I’m left with a confirmation bias… to base decisions on my own deceitful heart; leaving me confused as to figuring out what is sin/is it not sin or is it? This is truly a quandary, am I wrong to think this way?


#2

The Western part of the Church has gone through the Reformation and Enlightenment periods and has, in a way, been forced to explain the faith. The question “When exactly does the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?” has been asked in the West and there is an answer while in the East the reply is “It is a mystery.” and that answer is enough. I am pretty sure a saint like St Thomas of Aquinas would not appear in the Eastern part of the Church. He and several other saints were needed during the 13th century in the West.

The Western part of the Church uses the philosophical language of Aristotle while the East uses the language of Plato. Latin in the West and Greek in the East. Different ways of expressing themselves that could mean the same thing.

If a woman and her husband were talking about “bedroom questions” together with the priest, I am sure he would answer a little bit differently than when speaking with a woman or man who is not yet married.


#3

No, your not wrong to think this way and to look for moral guidance and truth which is one reason why Christ founded the Catholic Church as well as the Israelite people in the Old Testament and why he gave them the Ten Commandments and the Law. St Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:3 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” and in Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. The Christian life and God’s Law covers all human actions in thought, word, and deed and they are either good and in accordance with God’s will, divine revelation and Law, and the natural law or evil and out of accord with God’s will, divine revelation and Law, and the natural law.

Humans don’t invent truth and reality but discover it as all of us and the whole of creation were created by God out of nothing. The foundation of reality is God and the reality of creation is what God has caused it to be. Humans are prone to error in regards to their own thinking which is my own experience and in regards to natural philosophy, we see this in the history of the human race and the many different philosophies that have been offered and put forth. The fathers of the Church and especially the scholastic theologians made use of the natural philosophy of Plato and Aristotle in explaining the catholic faith according as their philosophy was conformable to divine revelation, the christian faith, and natural reason. God created us with an intellect or reason according to his own image and likeness and so it is only natural that we use it.

But, in regard to various moral questions such as birth control methods, it is possible that we can be in error if we rely simply on our own judgement and we would be in error according to the catholic faith if we think that contraception is morally good. This question is not all that difficult to discern using our reason if we simply take into account the purpose of the sexual act which is evidently for the procreation of human beings. So, according to God’s plan and purpose, to prevent what the sexual act is evidently for is unnatural, not according to nature and the natural law and what is against nature and the natural law is a bad human act which is a sin. Contraception is either morally right or wrong but for the EO to leave such an important moral act up to each person’s individual conscience so that one person thinks it is morally good and another person thinks it is morally bad at one and the same time doesn’t make any sense.


#4

I was rethinking
using the analysis of Bp Kalistos Ware, Re: education level of the EO, in his book Eastern Orthodoxy

[/quote]


#5

steve-b,
Hello, yes I have this book… which part in regards to current moral concerns regarding BC?
Thank you, M


#6

HeDa,
Thank you for this info, esp with Aristotle and Plato/13th century needs. It has also been explained to me about Latin vs Greek, and I could see how it’s possible to understand each faiths as different ways of expression… but is that also true if there is no moral stance/guidance on a current ethical issue, I would wonder?

Also, the questions about birth control I was asking in general with concern about abortifacients, which under Rome states is strictly forbidden my local Roman priest confirmed because of ethical concerns (married or single).
Thank you, M


#7

Strictly forbidden if used as wanting to have sex but not a possible child.

Some of the birth control methods can also be used when a woman has severe problems with their periods or an illness called endometriosis. Endometriosis is a relatively new diagnos but women have had the symptoms for decades and unfortunately most of the women are not taken seriously when they finally seek medical aid. Another example is a woman who menstruates 20 days/ month and therefor has severe health problems and the pill or any other hormone, or surgery might help in those cases. For some illnesses, the cure will be when the woman reaches the age when she stops menstruating. Sometimes it is only possible to treat the symptoms but not what is causing the health issues. In these cases it is not the aim to prevent pregnancy but to help the woman (live).


#8

@HeDa, sorry, I had stated in my original post that my questions are in regards to BC for non-health related reasons.

Thank you!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.