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Female Altar Servers??

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FULK NERA

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If you say "Russian" as "ruskiy" and not "rosiskiy" (sorry for terrible transcription) - ok, but if the latter one, no, as Ukrainians are not Russians.
I am aware that it was a Ukrainian clergyman who suggested the name Russia (Россияа) to Tsar Peter when he set about rebranding his nascent Eurasian empire since Muscovy was no longer sufficient for it; the name was chosen for its resonance with Rus’. I am no Russian imperialist and see Muscovite church life as a derivative of Kievan in most dimensions. Русский not Российский. I’ve never posted anything here that would suggest the latter.
 

Ainnir

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Good post (and the relevant canon regarding meat is Q.99), though one point about menstruation. While there is an element of ritual purity involved (eg, canon Dionysios.2), specifically regarding blood (and in that, it is "genderless" in application), the prohibition during menstruation extends not just to the altar/Liturgy/etc but to *all public, communal, liturgical prayer*. This is because being cut off from liturgical communion, as discussed in another thread, is not necessarily an "evil", but is first public iconography. In this case, the menstruation normally begins around the time the Birthgiver Mary became pregnant (her early teens) and ends about the time Jesus Christ was crucified (her mid 40s to early 50s, giving the usual Patristic spread of about 33–40 years old for Jesus). And blood signifies life, obviously.

So menstruation itself is iconic, not just of St Mary but also of Jesus Christ's Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection (and Ascension—menopause ends menstruation). And it forms a holy basis for partaking (not just of the flesh, but in *one's own flesh*) in a different way (not "liturgical" Eucharist) of Jesus Christ and His holy mother. Given this partaking, there is a double problem (on top of any concern about blood) of participating in a liturgy: one has already clearly partaken (liturgy would be a *2nd* communion in the same day!), and the liturgy is itself just one anamnesis, not the goal of life (putting liturgy before biology would not only break tons of other canons, but over-elevate the place of liturgy in the life of the Kingdom). Thus, in the words of St Dionysios (from his canon), this does not lay on some Jewish ritual impurity where the woman has to hide out in some form of isolation, she is rather free (as one who has partaken) to go out into the world, glorifying the Lord, and praying "at any time and in any state whatever, and petitioning to receive help". I hope that "ties things together" more clearly: the ban on menstruating woman entering the temple (even with modern hygiene products) remains fully in force, but the teaching of the Church reminds us that this (like other canon law matters) is not primarily a sin or a sickness or a problem with women but rather another unique way (helping counterbalance males being clergy) in which women serve Christ.
Not really. I was fine with “no blood allowed.” It’s simple. ^^This sounds like too much twisty logic aiming to placate.

We know it’s not a sickness or a problem; we don’t need to be told that. And I at least don’t need to counterbalance the male clergy as if potential ordination makes men more valuable in the eyes of God. It doesn’t. I know this and don’t need to be told. Certain men need to be told because they missed the memo.
 

hurrrah

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So menstruation itself is iconic, ...
It seems to me, or are you really putting an equal sign between menstruation and communion of the Body and Blood of Christ?
 

Bizzlebin

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Not really. I was fine with “no blood allowed.” It’s simple. ^^This sounds like too much twisty logic aiming to placate.
If it were merely about the presence of uncontained blood, then the command would be to clean up, use some kind of hygiene product (which they very much had in Roman times), etc. But that's not the point. Another canon (13), by St Basil, makes this point about hands "bloodied" by war:

"
Our Fathers did not consider murders committed in the course of wars to be classifiable as murders at all, on the score, it seems to me, of allowing a pardon to men fighting in defense of sobriety and piety. Perhaps, though, it might be advisable to refuse them communion for three years, on the ground that they are not clean-handed.
"

Perhaps they had a different means of scrubbing than me, but even the most haphazard attempt at cleaning will get the blood off in time. Even the natural shedding of skin means that no blood will remain after a period of days to weeks. And yet St Basil mentions *years*. Why? Because it is not primarily about the practical, but the allegorical.

This can be seen all throughout the Fathers, but one particularly graphic place is in St Paul. He writes "which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Galatians: 4.24–26 | OSB/NKJV). This is striking because he is not making a simile (Mt Sinai is like Hagar) or even a metaphor, but seems quite serious about allegory—and this is his primary reading of the Scripture. Where is the practical concern? If is it there, it is subjected utterly to the Christological.

If needed, I'm able to provide many other such examples. This is how the Fathers thought (and how today's Father think). If something is "simple" and obvious to us, steeped in everything from Protestantism to secularism to paganism, then that probably says more about our cultural blinders than the truth of the matter. We have to go deeper and really attain to an Orthodoxy of the the heart, as St Seraphim Of Platina writes (just celebrated his feast day—I'll post a short relevant excerpt below!). If we stop at what is culturally convenient, we are likely to miss Jesus Christ.

"
The opposite of the loving heart that receives revelation from God, is cold calculation, getting what you can out of people; in religious life, this produces fakery and charlatanism of all descriptions. If you look at the religious world today, you see that a great deal of this is going on: so much fakery, posing, calculation, so much taking advantage of the winds of fashion which bring first one religion or religious attitude into fashion, then another. To find the truth, you have to look deeper.
"

—St Seraphim Of Platina (God's Revelation To The Human Heart: 2)
 

Bizzlebin

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It seems to me, or are you really putting an equal sign between menstruation and communion of the Body and Blood of Christ?
I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.

Please see my reply to your post below.
Pravoslavbob,
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biro

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Women only menstruate four or five days a month. For pity’s sake. Let her stay home, while she menstruates, and then come back - as Orthodox women are supposed to do anyway, yes?

That can’t possibly be a reason for entirely banning women from the priesthood.
 

Ainnir

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Women only menstruate four or five days a month. For pity’s sake. Let her stay home, while she menstruates, and then come back - as Orthodox women are supposed to do anyway, yes?

That can’t possibly be a reason for entirely banning women from the priesthood.
Apart from the whole "Adam came first" point, another reason I've heard/read is that clergy are to represent Christ to the faithful, in a more specific way than we are all to "be Christ." And Christ incarnated as a man. Ergo...

"Feminism and Tradition" is pretty good read, but I'm not arguing for Orthodox priestesses. It's definitely not a job I'd want.

If it were merely about the presence of uncontained blood, then the command would be to clean up, use some kind of hygiene product (which they very much had in Roman times), etc. But that's not the point. Another canon (13), by St Basil, makes this point about hands "bloodied" by war:

"
Our Fathers did not consider murders committed in the course of wars to be classifiable as murders at all, on the score, it seems to me, of allowing a pardon to men fighting in defense of sobriety and piety. Perhaps, though, it might be advisable to refuse them communion for three years, on the ground that they are not clean-handed.
"

Perhaps they had a different means of scrubbing than me, but even the most haphazard attempt at cleaning will get the blood off in time. Even the natural shedding of skin means that no blood will remain after a period of days to weeks. And yet St Basil mentions *years*. Why? Because it is not primarily about the practical, but the allegorical.

This can be seen all throughout the Fathers, but one particularly graphic place is in St Paul. He writes "which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Galatians: 4.24–26 | OSB/NKJV). This is striking because he is not making a simile (Mt Sinai is like Hagar) or even a metaphor, but seems quite serious about allegory—and this is his primary reading of the Scripture. Where is the practical concern? If is it there, it is subjected utterly to the Christological.

If needed, I'm able to provide many other such examples. This is how the Fathers thought (and how today's Father think). If something is "simple" and obvious to us, steeped in everything from Protestantism to secularism to paganism, then that probably says more about our cultural blinders than the truth of the matter. We have to go deeper and really attain to an Orthodoxy of the the heart, as St Seraphim Of Platina writes (just celebrated his feast day—I'll post a short relevant excerpt below!). If we stop at what is culturally convenient, we are likely to miss Jesus Christ.

"
The opposite of the loving heart that receives revelation from God, is cold calculation, getting what you can out of people; in religious life, this produces fakery and charlatanism of all descriptions. If you look at the religious world today, you see that a great deal of this is going on: so much fakery, posing, calculation, so much taking advantage of the winds of fashion which bring first one religion or religious attitude into fashion, then another. To find the truth, you have to look deeper.
"

—St Seraphim Of Platina (God's Revelation To The Human Heart: 2)
I pretty thoroughly fail to see how this responds to my point, which was a personal opinion.
 

biro

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Christ incarnated as a man. Came into the world through the body of a woman.

So, everyone should be a man, and God made a mistake creating women.

Why should a woman come to church? Why not men-only churches?

Men never menstruate. Huzzah!

Men sometimes get injuries from war, or work, or any number of causes, and those may suppurate and/or re-open at any time, so no one should be a priest.
 

hurrrah

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I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.
You managed to surprise me. But then I remembered that the leaders of sects often promise their followers the transmission of grace sexually...
 

Katechon

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I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.
Menstruation is not a sacrament, what the heck? It is quite the opposite. It is an expression of man's fallen nature. Much like nocturnal emissions are.
 
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I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.
How is the monthly shedding of uterine lining through the vagina a sacrament of the Church on par with the Eucharist?
 

J Michael

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How is the monthly shedding of uterine lining through the vagina a sacrament of the Church on par with the Eucharist?
What a shame I can't give 2 types of "Like" to this post! They would be :eek: and :ROFLMAO:, and maybe, for good measure o_O.
 

WR-News

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100-point warning for use of an ad hominem, etc.
I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.
You are very much in the wrong.

Mods: I am willing to take a hit on this one and receive a warning for ad hominem. My cause is just.

That may very well be the case. Nevertheless, as you yourself have alluded to here, attacks against the person are not permitted on OC.net. Neither is employment of the "H" word against another member. You will receive a warning of 100 points that will last for 2 weeks. Assuming that you do not accumulate any more warning points during this period, your ability to use the site will not be affected.

Thank you,

Pravoslavbob
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Pravoslavbob

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I'm saying they are both sacraments that make present the same greater mystery of the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.
This is clearly and plainly erroneous, like so many other things you have posted on OC.net up until now. Keeping this in mind, it would appear that it is an opportune time to remind you and others that you are NOT an authority on Orthodox canon law, nor indeed Orthodox theology:


Please be careful in future about how you come across to others on this website: You have been instructed by the moderator team that you are not permitted to present yourself as an expert in canon law. You should assume that this also applies to theology in general. In addition, you need to realise that as well as not explicitly presenting yourself as an expert, you should not do so implicitly either. You may wonder if judging this correctly necessitates balancing on a very fine line, but here are a few pointers: Do not answer people you agree with with a terse professorial "Correct." Do not make statements like: "From this it should be clear that we all need to follow the canons as closely as possible." Do not pontificate authoritatively in big rambling posts about things that you claim to know much but about which it has been shown your knowledge is incomplete at best, if not downright wrong. If you continue with this last type of posting behaviour, it is possible that you may receive warning points for spamming the board, as well as for implicitly impersonating an expert.

Thank you for striving to adhere to these guidelines.

Pravoslavbob
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Bizzlebin

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I pretty thoroughly fail to see how this responds to my point, which was a personal opinion.
Ah, I understood the "twisty logic aiming to placate" as referring to the allegorical worldview, particularly as it extends even to matters of gender and sexuality (eg, Ephesians: 5.32); can you clarify what you were referring to?
 

Bizzlebin

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You managed to surprise me.
"
Sacraments are indefinite in number, not restricted to an easily-identified, categorizable few. Neither are they of uniform intensity; there are varying degrees of universality and sharpness of focus of His presence. Fundamentally, the whole of Creation is in some degree a sacrament, for He is everywhere present and fills all things.
"

—Bp Alexander Mileant, ROCOR (Missionary Leaflet E23b (The Sacramental Life): 1)

I have plenty more quotes, from the OCA to EP, so this seems to be fairly universal teaching even today, but I wanted to specifically point out that it is a a Russian teaching as well, from a well-known traditional figure—I work hard to speak straight from tradition. Do you have actual sources to back up your own pontifications? It may be worth it to start a new thread so we can focus on this particular issue of sacramentality (though without getting into "ranking" them—I'm not sure completely how one would go about doing that, and I've made no such rankings here); I'd be happy to provide further sources there.
 

hurrrah

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Bizzlebin, what can I talk to you about? You uttered a monstrous blasphemy, comparing the Holy Mysteries with physiological processes, and now politely and courteously offer to discuss it. However, if you want to listen to me, listen: stop doing what you've been doing so far: stop believing your mind, and stop broadcasting. Start reading the holy fathers - the real ones, not Fr. Alexander Schmemann or Fr. Seraphim Rose. Read the catechism. When you want to say "well, that's understandable!" and develop a thought, or soar into contemplation - mentally beat yourself on the hands - or pull yourself from heaven to earth - and again return to the respectful attention to fatherly words. And pray: "Lord, don't let me perish in pride and self-delusion!" Then, by a great miracle and great labors, you will not begin to understand Christianity, but at least you will embark on the path of understanding.

Proper titles added. --Ainnir
 
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TheTrisagion

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"
Sacraments are indefinite in number, not restricted to an easily-identified, categorizable few. Neither are they of uniform intensity; there are varying degrees of universality and sharpness of focus of His presence. Fundamentally, the whole of Creation is in some degree a sacrament, for He is everywhere present and fills all things.
"

—Bp Alexander Mileant, ROCOR (Missionary Leaflet E23b (The Sacramental Life): 1)

I have plenty more quotes, from the OCA to EP, so this seems to be fairly universal teaching even today, but I wanted to specifically point out that it is a a Russian teaching as well, from a well-known traditional figure—I work hard to speak straight from tradition. Do you have actual sources to back up your own pontifications? It may be worth it to start a new thread so we can focus on this particular issue of sacramentality (though without getting into "ranking" them—I'm not sure completely how one would go about doing that, and I've made no such rankings here); I'd be happy to provide further sources there.
That is not at all what he meant by that quote, but I suspect you know that already. He is making the point that Creation has been sanctified by Christ, not that you can take specific random things and call them sacraments. If you are going to argue that menstruation is a sacrament, shall we equally exalt me clearing phlegm from my throat as a sacrament? We can even add some of your pseudo-religious gobblygook language and say that it is an icon of Christ rising from the grave or some such nonsense. How about cleaning out my toejam? Perhaps that I can make that sound holy too.
 

J Michael

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That is not at all what he meant by that quote, but I suspect you know that already. He is making the point that Creation has been sanctified by Christ, not that you can take specific random things and call them sacraments. If you are going to argue that menstruation is a sacrament, shall we equally exalt me clearing phlegm from my throat as a sacrament? We can even add some of your pseudo-religious gobblygook language and say that it is an icon of Christ rising from the grave or some such nonsense. How about cleaning out my toejam? Perhaps that I can make that sound holy too.
Thank you for finding the words and tone I'd been unsuccessfully looking for!
 

Ainnir

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Ah, I understood the "twisty logic aiming to placate" as referring to the allegorical worldview, particularly as it extends even to matters of gender and sexuality (eg, Ephesians: 5.32); can you clarify what you were referring to?
I was referring to your entire post.
 

Dominika

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Not altar, but liturgical server ;)

Congratulations to our Association's member, Photini Downie Robinson, who was officially announced by His Grace Bishop Metropolitan Gerasimos, as a Cantor in the Greek Orthodox Church of America. We are so proud of you Photini!

Source
 

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My impression is that in the US at least the Greek Orthodox have been tonsuring women as cantors/readers (psaltai/anagnostoi) - but not acolytes or subdeacons - for quite a while. That said, that's not considered that big of a deal - I believe preteens who show interest and aptitude in music get tonsured in Greece. (I also recall an ostensible Coptic guide to ordination that basically says the same thing - I can google for that if people want)

Still, that's irrelevant - by the prayers of St. Photini I also pray this Photini grows in her relationship with God and helps others do so by her new position.
 

biro

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In my former parish, we sometimes would have young women candle-bearers.
 

biro

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Katechon, did God not make all bodies, and make them to be the way they are?

Women are supposed to menstruate.
 

FormerReformer

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Katechon, did God not make all bodies, and make them to be the way they are?

Women are supposed to menstruate.
Yes and no. Man, as created, has differences from Man after the Fall. We don't entirely know what those differences might have been - the Fathers had a number of different opinions that ran around the gamut of neo-Platonic anthropological theory- but we do know that as a consequence of the Fall the female of the Man experiences pain in childbirth, and Tradition tells us that part of this pain is the woman's monthly cycle (which, I have heard, is no cakewalk). So, women are supposed to menstruate as a result of the Fall, but women were not created with menstruation as the default factory setting- menstruation is more like the "check engine" light: it's there so we know something is wrong, but blinking once a month after picking it up at the dealership was not part of the original design.
 

J Michael

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Yes and no. Man, as created, has differences from Man after the Fall. We don't entirely know what those differences might have been - the Fathers had a number of different opinions that ran around the gamut of neo-Platonic anthropological theory- but we do know that as a consequence of the Fall the female of the Man experiences pain in childbirth, and Tradition tells us that part of this pain is the woman's monthly cycle (which, I have heard, is no cakewalk). So, women are supposed to menstruate as a result of the Fall, but women were not created with menstruation as the default factory setting- menstruation is more like the "check engine" light: it's there so we know something is wrong, but blinking once a month after picking it up at the dealership was not part of the original design.
I tend to (mostly) agree with the bolded part above. However...I'd appreciate, if you're able to provide them, seeing some sources/references from Tradition that "...tells us that part of this pain is the woman's monthly cycle..." and for your statement "... but women were not created with menstruation as the default factory setting..." You know that how?

As for your analogy of the "check engine" light, @biro 's "Good grief" is right on the money. If menstruation is the "check engine" light for women, what is the "check engine" light for men? Or did we just get off without one and menstruation fills the bill for both men and women?? :rolleyes:
 

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I don’t know about much about this in regards to Church Tradition or Church Fathers. Menstrual uterine slough is *dead* tissue washed out by blood. Death came after the fall. Strict biblical OT instructions on menstrual flow of blood being unclean, even post partum flow-required time off and away. Maybe God was letting women get a break from slavery by letting her have a week off every month and a month or so after delivery. Everything God does is beautiful!
 

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Yes and no. Man, as created, has differences from Man after the Fall. We don't entirely know what those differences might have been - the Fathers had a number of different opinions that ran around the gamut of neo-Platonic anthropological theory- but we do know that as a consequence of the Fall the female of the Man experiences pain in childbirth, and Tradition tells us that part of this pain is the woman's monthly cycle (which, I have heard, is no cakewalk). So, women are supposed to menstruate as a result of the Fall, but women were not created with menstruation as the default factory setting- menstruation is more like the "check engine" light: it's there so we know something is wrong, but blinking once a month after picking it up at the dealership was not part of the original design.
It's a good explanation, but that last line went off the rails very suddenly! :LOL:
 

Hawkeye

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As much as Christians like to pit the "natural" against the "unnatural," not all that exists in nature, except by His permission, accords with the will of God. As Katechon said, menstruation is not likely to be by His design any more than nocturnal emissions are.
 

hurrrah

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Well, i also experienced cognitive dissonance from reading the comments above...
 

FormerReformer

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I tend to (mostly) agree with the bolded part above. However...I'd appreciate, if you're able to provide them, seeing some sources/references from Tradition that "...tells us that part of this pain is the woman's monthly cycle..." and for your statement "... but women were not created with menstruation as the default factory setting..." You know that how?
I may have overstated my case as to explicit references to menstruation in this context - most references by Fathers to menstruation are in reference to Jewish purity laws and whether or not women should attend church (almost as if the Church Fathers were s first millennium OC.net!). But the ancients were smart enough to know that menstruation is closely connected to our reproductive capabilities, and there are quite a number of Fathers who agree that human reproduction before the Fall would have been very different before the Fall- so much so as to forgo the biological necessities - this stackexchange has a handy list.

As a whole, my general point is that if we take a Christian view of the Fall of Man at all, we need to be careful about making assumptions about what our bodies currently do and what they were supposed to do.

As for your analogy of the "check engine" light, @biro 's "Good grief" is right on the money. If menstruation is the "check engine" light for women, what is the "check engine" light for men? Or did we just get off without one and menstruation fills the bill for both men and women?? :rolleyes:
Well, I could continue with my tongue firmly in cheek and say "we're the faulty engine!" And this would be, in a way, true. The thing "car" has an engine. And the thing "man" has a male. But much like a car is not a car without a chassis, Man is not man without a female.

But, we don't get off easy- our check engine light is getting home late, weary and aching from work, with barely enough energy to interact with our families before going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. Every day it's as if the very ground you walk upon is fighting against you, every force in the world arrayed to prevent you from providing for the needs of you and your family.

The consequence of the Fall for both men and women is pain in our labor. For both it's the natural order telling us "Things aren't right." We're all faulty models, not assembled to the original specifications.
 
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Well, i also experienced cognitive dissonance from reading the comments above...
Let me try to break it down for you.
The woman has a uterus. The uterus builds up tissue on its walls to create a healthy environment to nourish a fertilizer egg after copulation, sex, marital relations. This uterine build up happens on a monthly cycle. If there is no fertilized egg to attach to the uterine lining then the prepared lining dies, expires, corrupts. To wash away this tissue death inside her, the woman’s body sends blood to wash her, flush her, cleanse her. This discharge leaves the body through the vaginal opening and a pad is used to capture this discharge. This process starts at puberty and puberty starts at different times for young women. Girls are starting their menstration, period, curse, Aunt Flo, earlier and it is not uncommon for 9-10 year old girls to start this sloughing off cycle. This cycle of blood and dead tissue last between 3-7 days and repeats every month until a fertilized egg attaches and this is called pregnancy, with child, looking for a little one, knocked up. Pregnancy lasts roughly 40 weeks. Then after pregnancy this cycle will start again in about 6 weeks. Breastfeeding the infant sometimes will keep the cycle from starting but is never a guarantee. If you have any other questions please be free to ask your Bishop.
 

J Michael

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Here and now (well...sometimes...)
I may have overstated my case as to explicit references to menstruation in this context - most references by Fathers to menstruation are in reference to Jewish purity laws and whether or not women should attend church (almost as if the Church Fathers were s first millennium OC.net!). But the ancients were smart enough to know that menstruation is closely connected to our reproductive capabilities, and there are quite a number of Fathers who agree that human reproduction before the Fall would have been very different before the Fall- so much so as to forgo the biological necessities - this stackexchange has a handy list.

As a whole, my general point is that if we take a Christian view of the Fall of Man at all, we need to be careful about making assumptions about what our bodies currently do and what they were supposed to do.


Well, I could continue with my tongue firmly in cheek and say "we're the faulty engine!" And this would be, in a way, true. The thing "car" has an engine. And the thing "man" has a male. But much like a car is not a car without a chassis, Man is not man without a female.

But, we don't get off easy- our check engine light is getting home late, weary and aching from work, with barely enough energy to interact with our families before going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. Every day it's as if the very ground you walk upon is fighting against you, every force in the world arrayed to prevent you from providing for the needs of you and your family.

The consequence of the Fall for both men and women is pain in our labor. For both it's the natural order telling us "Things aren't right." We're all faulty models, not assembled to the original specifications.
Thanks for the link! Very interesting.

I don't disagree with you, it's just that I don't think your "check engine" light analogy works so well--at least for me it doesn't. There is almost no end of things in the natural order that remind us that "things aren't right".
 

RaphaCam

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Why single out just Episcopalians? Haven't we all experienced that at one (or more) time(s) or another?
People who aren’t Orthodox in an Orthodox forum should avoid repeatedly insisting on how strange and archaic we can sound... It's offensive. I singled out Episcopalians because they're specifically characterised by trying to look as mainstream and modern as possible.
 
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