Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eastern Orthodoxy is Counter Cultural

What follows is an excerpt from Get Serious: The Church's Stand on Contemporary Culture, by Peter and Helen Evans. They are the authors of a new book Get Serious: Who Ever Said Christianity Was Nice?

Helen: Does the Church consider birth control to be abortion?

Fr. Tom: No.

Helen: Does it allow birth control?

Fr. Tom: I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Church 'allows' birth control. I think it's one of those lesser evils. In any case, I do not believe you can 'control' conception by killing the fetus. Any abortifacient or any birth control that kills the fetus is absolutely unacceptable. However, for whatever reason the people want to express their love sexually without actually creating a conception in the first place, it may be blessed as a lesser evil, under certain circumstances. For example, you have a man and a woman in prison and they are both going to be killed or they are both going to suffer; and they are married and they want to express their love for each other, they might do something that prevents conception. You can't say that's a heinous sin. I knew a young couple who came to the theological seminary where I was a professor. They came with three little kids, the youngest about four years old. They sold their house in order to come. They spent all their money in order to come. They were dis-owned by their parents for deciding to come. Do you think we would tell them, morally, that they can't make love with each other in the seminary except that they want to make another child? That doesn't seem to be sensible at all from even the deepest Christian perspective. However, should the wife find out she's pregnant, then she cannot abort the childHelen: Can that sort of argument be used for unmarried couples?

Fr. Tom: No, unmarried couples cannot engage in sexual activity, period.Helen: Is it the Orthodox Christian teaching that sex is only for procreation?Fr. Tom: No, the teaching is that the sexual expression of love is between a man and a woman who have committed themselves to each other totally, forever, no matter what. They offer their relationship to be blessed by God and they want their relationship to be a witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Helen: When you say forever, isn't there a "til death do you part" in there?

Fr. Tom: No. The expression "til death do you part" doesn't even exist in the Orthodox service. In fact, the opposite is true. The prayer is that you will receive your crowns into the Kingdom. Then they will enter into the Kingdom faithful to each other through death itself. Saint John Chrysostom wrote a letter to a young widow and he said to her, "If you were faithful to your husband when he was alive on earth and did not share your bed with any other man, why would you share your bed with another man now that your husband is at the right hand of the Father in the Risen Lord?" So we believe we're supposed to be faithful to our spouses right through death and we will be reunited with them in the age to come.

Peter: So there is no diminishment in the bonds of fidelity. Perhaps it's even augmented.

Fr. Tom: Yes, according to the Christian view, that's accurate. The Christian marriage is supposed to mirror the fidelity of God to His creation, Yahweh to Israel and Christ to His Church. That commitment is complete and total and unbending and exists right through death.

Helen: Are there any ideas about abortion that you've encountered in your many travels that you'd like to address?

Fr. Tom: Having been a professor at Seminary - I didn't teach ethics, I taught dogmatics and spiritual life and prayer - and having been a priest for 44 years and being a church teacher and traveling around, I would say that my position would simply be that of the Church and the Scriptures and of the saints. Abortion is a sin. It's condemned in the Mosaic law and by the early Christian saints.

Peter: In the Sixth Mosaic law that says, "Thou shall not murder"?

Fr. Tom: Killing in the womb is also forbidden in Leviticus. And we have canons that say that any attempt, by any means, to kill the child in its mother's womb is equal to the crime of murder.


Our culture is infected by false, diluted values from Socialism to New Age Spiritualism and seems to have turned its moral code upside-down. Peter and Helen Evans are culture warriors inspiring their audiences that they can make a difference. They believe that our politics are a reflection of our cultural values, and those cultural values grow from our belief or disbelief in God. In our democratic system, we get the leaders and government we allow. As culture warriors they inspire audiences political, secular and Christian. They are the authors of the book, "Get Serious: The Church's Stand on Contemporary Culture."
The Evans are available to talk on many subjects: How the New Age Spirituality has invaded our politics and culture and of course their book.
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