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Re: Moral Issues

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August 30, 2002 02:17PM
Greetings Iacov

The questions you are asking are obviously important moral issues that have become focal points for many Christians both Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant.

While the Orthodox do not have an "official position" on birth control and the death penalty, we do seem to agree that abortion is unacceptable as it is the termination of human life. The early Church always condemned the practice of abortion and infanticide. It was in large part the Christianization of the Roman Empire which led to the abolition of these practices. When it comes down to the decision of the mother's life vs child's life, I really don't know what the "Orthodox Position" would be. My guess would be that it would be a matter of decision between the husband and wife and their relationship and understanding of the Lord's will for their lives. This is indeed a really difficult situation which I believe most any priest or bishop would be hesitant to make a dogmatic statement.

The issue of birth control is a little more easy to address. The Orthodox do not condemn birth control as long as abortion is not practiced. IUD's and birth control pills are actually abortifacients and are therefore considered unacceptable means of birth control. However, diaphragms, condoms, naturally family planning do not seem to be an issue for Orthodox.

There seems to be no unified position concerning the death penalty. I have recently read a number of articles and resolutions put forth by some of the western (European and American) archdioceses that are calling for an abolition of the death penalty. At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia has come out and officially supported the reinstitution of the death penalty in Russia. I do not believe the early Church Fathers were in universal agreement about this issue. I would tend to follow our Lord's example of the woman caught in the act of adultery, it was clearly an act punishable by death under the Jewish Law, but He chose to not condemn and said to go and sin no more. This does not mean however that criminals should be allowed to walk the streets without fear of retribution by the state. St. Paul clearly teaches that the secular state is within its right to practice capital punishment. Also, our Lord Himself did not try to utilize whtat would be considered a "defense plea" in front of Pilate. At no time did He ever say that Pilate did not have the "right" to condemn Him to death. However, as Christians we should be extremely cautious in our advocacy of the death penalty. I personally do not think it is acceptable, unless there is undisputable proof that a capital crime has been committed. For me there are simply too many instances of innocent people being sentenced to prison only to be later exonerated by better forensic evidence or the recantation of "eyewitnesses".

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. I certainly know that each of the answers I have given can be refuted by any number of Orthodox Christians, both Clergy and Laity. If you still need further information I would highly suggest you contact a Priest of any ligitimate Orthodox Church in your area.

A humble servant
Subject Author Posted

Moral Issues

jake August 27, 2002 04:32PM

Re: Moral Issues

Thomas August 30, 2002 02:17PM