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Family life Last Updated: Feb 8th, 2011 - 05:50:02

Dear Readers,
We are happy to announce plans for a new design for our website Orthodoxy and the World. We will be diverting all our efforts to introduce our new design March 1st, and so will be unable to make new posts at this time. We have many new translations lined up that we hope you will like, so there is much work ahead! Keep us in your prayers, and continue to support our efforts at Orthodoxy and the World.

Family life
Sex isn't Sin When Practiced within a Sacred Context
Few religion-column topics are more guaranteed to offend than sex. I probably needn't go any further. Merely seeing the word in print has surely offended someone already. That squeamishness is a good place to begin.

Dec 28, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Let’s Have More Teen Pregnancy
Most of us blanch at the thought of our children marrying under the age of 25, much less under 20. The immediate reaction is: "They’re too immature." We expect teenagers to be self-centered and impulsive, incapable of shouldering the responsibilities of adulthood. But it wasn’t always that way; through much of history, teen marriage and childbearing was the norm. Most of us would find our family trees dotted with many teen marriages.

Dec 15, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Soul Mates
The special status of soul mates in the minds of many makes crystal clear why marriage and love seem to be failing left and right. We are celebrating romanticism and narcissism. Thank God we don’t allow people to write their own marriage vows in the Orthodox Church, because the ones I have heard are ghastly things that proclaim the opposite of love. “You are my fulfillment, my joy, my hope … .”

Oct 23, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
The Right To Be Right
It’s rarely the important things that divide us. In a free society, our relationships with others usually rest on a common vision and common beliefs. God, the universe and everything—these are not the problems most of the time. Rather, it’s the little differences that threaten to wreak havoc.

Oct 15, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
Getting Past Couple Gridlock
I was raised Greek Orthodox, and I married a man who was raised Catholic. After one year of marriage, we have been struggling with the following major question: In which religion will we raise our future children?

Oct 13, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Abortions
Gianna Jensenn: I was born alive during a saline abortion
To everyone’s great shock and surprise I did not arrive dead but alive. What’s fantastic about this, about the perfect timing of my arrival is that the abortionist was not on duty yet, so he was not even given an opportunity to continue on with his plans for my life which was death.

Sep 28, 2010, 05:42

Family life : In the Family
It’s All in the Family
We do not exist as entirely discrete individuals. Our lives are deeply enmeshed within the lives of those closest to us – particularly those of our own flesh and blood. This is very much in contradiction to the claims of modernity – which have striven to make the family of little consequence. We separate ourselves from parents and grandparents as a normal course of economic mobility. Extended family becomes restricted to special holidays (if that). The bonds of family are not only stretched, they are broken.

Sep 7, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
The Faithful Ones
Recently, it was my great joy to attend a kind of celebration so rare in our time that it deserves an entire article devoted to it : the 50th anniversary of the loving marriage between two faithful Christians.

Aug 25, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Multiply Blessed and Fully Alive: To Grow in Faith is to Glorify God
“Multiple Intelligence Theory” and Learning in the Orthodox Church

Parenthood itself is a vocation that glorifies God. Like God the Father and Vinedresser (John 1:15), you can nurture and cultivate the traits in which you see your children growing and thriving. When you do so, you participate in God’s work. Like the Father who lovingly raises each person to the fullness of life, you can invite and inspire your children to grow to their full capacity, in whatever ways work for each.

Aug 13, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
On Love, Dating and Relationships
I‘m thankful for many things in my life- my wife, my family, my friends, health, food, shelter, clothing, the freedom to worship freely in our country. Is it silly to say I‘m thankful for love? A little abstract, sure, but it‘s true. I‘m thankful for the fact that I have ended up with THE right girl. I am thankful when I see friends of mine find someone right for them, date, and get married.

Jun 29, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
Love: an Ever Expanding Circle
In marriage, love must be an ever expanding circle. Our children naturally expand its boundaries, but each partner must expect and understand the full implication of "sharing their love" with each other's family. They should also understand the proper boundaries to this sharing of love, and firmly resolve that their love for each other and the marriage are their first considerations.

Jun 16, 2010, 10:00

Family life
Summer’s Here! (Did we have a spring?)
Tips for One Season’s End and Another’s Beginning

Students and parents of students: End the school year deliberately. Celebrate in a simple manner what was done well this year, and also make a list of what to improve next year. Put the list in an obvious place and use it for planning in the fall.

Jun 12, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Summer Camp + You = A Lifetime of Memories!
Over the years many people have written articles of their experiences of summer camp with many coming to the same conclusion, “What would we do without our camp friends and memories?” Now is the time for you as parents to plan so that your children can have those fun-filled memories too!

Jun 2, 2010, 10:00

Family life
Questions on Marriage and Cohabitation (Part II)
In my experience I’ve had couples who during preparation for the wedding did not know how many children they wanted to have (for example, she wanted only one child and he not less than six), had never discussed the principles of bringing children up and other vital issues. Imagine what awful depression there would be if they wed!

May 31, 2010, 02:28

Family life
Marriage: Investment, Covenant or Sacrament?
Consider the following situation: you are shopping at the grocery store when you notice a young couple in the aisle ahead of you, filling their cart from a single list, stopping occasionally to embrace and kiss one another—the picture of happiness and harmony. If you were to assume that these two are newly-weds enjoying a blissful morning of shopping together, I have bad news: you are a social dinosaur.

May 29, 2010, 10:00

Family life
Questions on Marriage and Cohabitation (Part I)
Priests Fr. Richard Rene and Fr. Yaroslav Belikow, Sub-deacon Joseph Gingrich and Frederica Mathewes-Green answered Pravmir’s questions on marriage and cohabitation.

May 26, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Is There a Difference Between Dating Someone From Church vs. Someone At School?
Is there any difference between going out with an Orthodox girl and a non- Orthodox girl? Absolutely. There is a significant advantage to having a relationship with an Orthodox girl. For one thing, you believe in the same things as she does.

May 20, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
The Challenge of Raising Children in the 21st Century
In the Orthodox Church we often use the expression that the home should be like "a little church." In Romania, a country the size of the state of Pennsylvania with over 500 monasteries, they take this saying a step further and say that the home should be like "a little monastery."

May 10, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
The Marrying Kind
A wise rabbi was commenting on the growth of inter-faith marriages between Jews and Christians when he said “It really isn’t Jews marrying Christians as much as it is non-Jewish Jews marrying non-Christian Christians.” In other words if a person’s faith is really the biggest part of their identity, they will express that truth in the choices they make in life-long companions. If the faith is simply nothing more than a cultural decoration to their lives, then their chose of spouse will reveal that too.

May 4, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
On Marriage and Family Life
In the fullest sense of the word the wife gives up everything for her husband. This is an important moment for any man – to take on responsibility for a young, fragile, and tender life that has entrusted itself to him, and to care for it and protect it until death tears his treasure away from him or, conversely, strikes him.

Apr 24, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Trials of Dating in College
In the first couple weeks of school, I met a guy that I really enjoyed spending time with. Almost every night we hung out, did something around campus, or just sat and talked. From my perspective, I thought I was meeting a genuinely nice guy with whom maybe I could pursue a relationship with. However, he was thinking something different.

Apr 17, 2010, 10:00

Family life
The Family as the Bearer of Tradition
I recall once when I was a seminarian, a young priest with two young children asked me, as the son of a priest, what the most important thing I thought a priest could do for his family. I told him that there must be consistency, between what his family hears him preach at the divine services, and what he "preaches" by his words and actions at home; if there is no consistency, then the message that he "traditions" to his family is that our "Church life" and our "real life" are two separate things.

Mar 16, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Why we should Let Kids be Kids!
Delighting in the Gift of Childhood

A few months ago, a parishioner told me about a neighbor who would no longer allow her daughter to play with hers because she discovered that they had been playing hospital. Since they weren’t really nurses and their dolls weren’t really sick, the neighbor reasoned, such “unrealistic fantasy” could have a “negative impact on my child’s ability to discern reality from fiction.”

Mar 9, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
The role of fathers in Orthodox women's lives is an integral one. We worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we seek to be well pleasing to God. We know that God and His Holy Will for us is perfect and that He loves us fully. Our experiences with our human fathers however, range from extraordinary to harmful. What effects do flawed human fathers have on us and how does understanding of God evolve as a result?

Mar 8, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
The Impatient Patient
I’m growing to realize that I can’t have a good relationship with anyone else unless I also (first?) have a good relationship with God. So, how am I supposed to better develop my personal relationship with Him? According to my friend Jon (an amazing youth director), you build your personal relationship with God the same way you build relationships with other people: one step at a time.

Feb 26, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
A Final Word on Parenting for Faith
In the past couple of weeks, I have shared some reflections on how we can offer our children a sound and living example of faith, one that they may readily choose to follow in their own adult lives. This week, I would like to conclude with a few suggestions on how to formally catechize your children at home.

Feb 12, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
More on Parenting for Faith
As parents, this means that the most powerful witness of our faith will depend on whether or not we have the humility and the courage to “get up” by repenting of our mistakes in the presence of our children. This is perhaps the most difficult parenting challenge that we will face. It means apologizing to our spouses, our colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even strangers—in plain sight of our kids.

Feb 8, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Parents of Faith
One of the biggest mistakes that Christian parents often make is to confuse catechism for education. We begin with the externals. Isn’t there a book I can read and teach to my kids? Isn’t there a curriculum I can implement? Isn’t there a moral system that I can somehow drill into their little minds? We want solutions in a box, simple equations into which we can feed our kids, from which they can emerge as believers.

Feb 2, 2010, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Nativity Epistle
As we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Christ, it is customary for all hierarchs to issue a Nativity sermon, an inspiring word about the feast, and homily about the place of the event in our salvation. This year, I wish to take a different approach and discuss another aspect of the event of the birth of Christ into this world. Instead of a homily about the Nativity Feast, I would like to say something about this childhood and family which Jesus Christ has sanctified and given to us as an example of the relationship between God and His Church.

Jan 8, 2010, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
The Husband is Head of the Wife?
The humiliation of the wife, the humiliation of the husband, the domestic violence, the lack of care to the spouse, neglecting the mutual servitude, and extinguishing the warmth of the common living are all destructive measures against the communal life. Yes the flesh is important, but there is no healthy relation in the flesh if the husband and his wife could not say: “we are two souls in one flesh, if you've seen one you've seen the other.”

Dec 18, 2009, 10:00

Family life
Greek Orthodox intermarriage in the USA
Most did not regret being intermarried, but some – especially those with equally strong commitments to their faith traditions – felt a sense of loss. ‘I sometimes feel an emptiness when I’m at church alone. It is from feeling a bit distant from my wife and children in this part of our lives.’ Another spouse said: ‘When I started going to the Greek Church, I got rather resentful and frustrated because it just wasn’t the same and I felt deprived of something very important. This really affected us and I wondered what the consequences would be until I found a way to meet my own spiritual needs’.

Nov 3, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Dating and Orthodoxy
You might actually succeed in converting your partner, and then they’re a crazy convert. You go out to eat during Lent and they’ve ordered shrimp, asking the waiter if it’s cooked in canola oil or olive oil. It takes three years to get over the crazy convert stage—three years to learn moderation, then you’re dating a spiritual infant, and you have to wonder--are you willing to put up with that?

Nov 2, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
ORTHODOX LIFE: Finding an Orthodox Spouse
As Orthodox people, we should be at least as serious as the servant in the parable when it comes to the critical question of selecting a spouse. The Orthodox faith presents us with two alternative paths for our life: life in the community of a married family, or life in the community of a monastery. Unlike the modern thought, there is no Christian concept of single life. Why would this be? Simply put, single life is too difficult, too tempting, too lacking in the corrective influences that life in some type of community (either married or monastic) will bring.

Oct 29, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Pre-marital Sexual Relations
One of our goals ought to be to develop within the hearts and minds of teens that virginity is something very good, something to strive for until marriage, and something not to be embarrassed about possessing, but in fact an accomplishment to be proud of keeping. We want them to remain virgin until marriage, not simply because they did what they were asked in not having sex, but that they valued themselves, the person they will marry, their relationship with God, and sex itself. Teens ought to see sex as something very sacred and good and therefore an act not lightly undertaken.

Oct 24, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
So Your Child Wants to Become a Monactic
You may feel threatened. You spend your whole life nurturing the well-being of your children: you feed them and worry over them; you help them to discover their abilities and you encourage them to develop their talents. Perhaps your son is a natural musician or your daughter a born lawyer, and you spend your life supporting them--emotionally and financially--and preparing them to be successful in the world. And after all these years of effort and anxiety, they suddenly decide they want no part of it, they don't want the world, or the life that you envisioned for them. This can be a very threatening and painful revelation.

Oct 23, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Unequally Yoked
We live in an age where “don’t I have a right to be happy” seems to be at the forefront of most everyone’s mind. Marriage is seen as a way of personal fulfillment and happiness. Relationships are measured by how “happy” they make a person, and when that person is no longer “happy” then the relationship is “over.” “My happiness” is the overriding measure and when that is affected then escape is the answer.

Oct 20, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
When Our Young Adult Chidren Marry Non-Christians: Parents' Perspective
If you are a parent whose son or daughter is seriously dating or engaged to a non-Christian, some of the following suggestions and observations might prove helpful to you. They come from my work with parents who have already grappled with the challenges outlined in this article—some more successfully than others.

Oct 19, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Abortions
Common Pro-Abortion Cliches and the Pro-Life Response
It has been said that those who define an issue, own that issue. Nowhere is this more evident than in the critical issue of abortion. Abortion propaganda has been presented as fact by, among others, the media and the medical and legal professions for so many years that the public, including many of those who support life, have come to believe this rhetoric and consider these premises as fundamental realities in the abortion situation. Let us examine the most important and prevalent of these premises and refute their intentional deception.

Oct 12, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Before marriage
Living Together before Marriage – the Theological and Pastoral Opportunities
The phrase ‘living together before marriage’ makes certain basic assumptions . One of these is that marriage is a temporal event which gives credence to talk of ‘before’ and ‘after’: another is that this event is singular (i.e., the only one offered, which fulfils several functions); another is that the event decides when, in a couple’s life they can start living together and having sex. In this presentation I shall argue that these assumptions turn out to be liberatingly false, thereby creating ironic opportunities for the churches to recover their traditions and re-shape their marriage ministries to accord more with the gospel and with the real lives of marrying Christians.

Oct 10, 2009, 10:00

Family life
Holy Sexual Persons:
Marital Relations in Orthodox Marriage

God created humans as sexual persons. There is no getting around this crucial point: "Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mt 19.3-7) God created human sexuality, and created it to be good and pleasurable, a holy institution in which each partner does not selfishly take pleasure but rather gives great pleasure reciprocally, and in that giving grows in intimate communion with the other spouse and with God Whose Icon the other spouse is.

Oct 2, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
The Beginning of the School Year:
Some Questions for Parents to Think About

Accompanying our children’s education, there are some other areas with which parents need to concern themselves in relation to students’ spiritual and moral lives. Below are a few questions for personal reflection. Since we are approaching the Church New Year, perhaps some of these can be “resolutions” for our families.

Sep 3, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Redeeming the Time:
What to do on Saturdays and Sundays

I realize that due to our inability to serve more than one Sunday divine liturgy it is sometimes difficult to fit in some activities that get planned on Sunday morning. But if we allow our children to miss the liturgy continuously because of these activities what kind of priorities are we teaching them? What should we assume that they will later teach their children about the “needful thing”? How do we expect them to develop the experience of God if we rush them through the church “part” in order to get to what we might consider as the more important parts of the day?

Aug 29, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Divorce
Irreconcilable Differences
Divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” is generally not admissible in marriages between Orthodox Christians. Why not? I believe it has something to do with the Church’s rejection of the underlying secular assumption behind divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.” Our culture tends to think of a successful marriage as one in which husband and wife are actually twin souls in different biological clothing. Your “one true love” is that special person who matches you perfectly, who completes you, fulfills you, perfects you, is actually your “other half” and so on.

Aug 14, 2009, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
When one Spouse is a Convert, and the Other is Non-Orthodox
One of the hardest things was finding a place for myself in the Orthodox Church, then getting married, and trying to cultivate my own religious development while also helping my husband to adjust. He was really put off by all the emphasis on culture, and the unfamiliar rituals. For a long time, he questioned me about it. But over time, we kind of got over this, and we’re now attending together on a more regular basis.

Aug 13, 2009, 01:34

Family life : Before marriage
You Get What You Need
I am beginning to learn that no one person can be everything that I need in my life, and that some of the things that I need have to come from within me or from the support of other people (including, of course, the Church) in my life. I no longer believe that there is one specific person that is right for me, but rather that there are many people who could be right for me, if we meet at the right time for both of us. So, if through prayers and the grace of God, the “right” person walked into my life right now, would it be the right time? Would I be ready?

Aug 12, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Training Up a Child: Educational Options for Orthodox Christians
In recent times, there has been much discussion among Orthodox people regarding how we should raise and instruct our children, which is a good thing, since, as St. Theophan the Recluse tells us, “Of all holy works, the education of children is the most holy.” In pursuing this holiness, there are people who are firm believers in the public school system. There are people who firmly believe in Orthodox parochial education. We also have people who are strongly committed to homeschooling. Indeed, Orthodox Christianity in America has all been influenced by all three of these.

Aug 11, 2009, 10:00

Family life : In the Family
Enriching Your Life in the Orthodox Faith
What we have in our modern times, in non-Orthodox cultures, is an anti-icon of Church. We're encouraged to be isolated, independent, and autonomous. As Orthodox there is an added hardship to going from glory to glory. Usually we live far from the church. Any Church services we can attend are limited to the weekend, some even only one service on a weekend. The central focus of our life, the church is so far away we can't hear the bells. How, in this tension, can we grow from glory to glory? Enrichment.

Jul 31, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Building an Orthodox Christian Home
In 2009, the accelerating rate of change, the spinning pace people keep, and the lack of quiet is an enemy that contends for our souls and the hearts of our children. We don’t know how to be still or to “throw things off the boat” as my father confessor aptly puts it. In our hectic lives, we multitask continually, and much of this activity has very little to do, at least overtly, with our lives in Christ. No matter how I might justify it, my overcrowded schedule leaves little room for quiet dinners and evenings with my children, for a walk around the neighborhood that might open the door for me to connect with them, or just a cozy snuggle and prayer before they go to sleep.

Jul 30, 2009, 10:00

Family life : Bringing up children
Courting Disaster
Orthodox youth display largely the same sexual activity, pregnancy, and abortion rates as other North American youth. So-called "Orthodox" countries such as Greece and Russia have the highest abortion rates in Europe. Pornography is rampant and public in these nations, the effect of a global assault on and abandonment of the Christian lifestyle. Intermarriage rates between Orthodox and heterodox youth (with the exception of Serbs) are at such high levels that the diminishing size of church schools in many older parishes should be little surprise to anyone.

Jul 21, 2009, 10:00

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