Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I've had this for a while from my ethics professor and now that I'm reviewing for the final, I remebered that I liked it, so here it is.

"The pressing question for an Orthdoox ethical life was not whether to marry or remain single, but whether to marry or to 'take the veil.' I have come to feel certain that the universality of this rule and its consistent application accounts in part for the disappearance of adult baptism in Eastern Orthdooy. The 'adult confirmation' of your faith in Christ came when you were crazy enough to either trust him in monasticism, or to trust him in marriage, and this trust was ritually and publicly proclaimed in the sacrament of either tonsure or matrimony."


Anonymous MB said...

Is tonsure a sacrament?

11:38 AM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

It's not usually listed as such in conversation, but there have been Orthodox writers who considered it as such.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I admit that I'm confused by the fusion of ethics as marriage or monastic tonsure. Surely ethics exists before, during, and after either of these two states of living. Consider, for example, the first 300 years of the Church before monasticism became an institution. Was there an ethical dilemma there?

I'm not saying that we separate ethics from either marriage or monasticism, but that ethics, specically Orthodox Christian ethics, is not dependant upon the 'marriage or monastic' question. Can you help me understand the correlation?


1:13 PM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Hello, Kevin.

The professor's comment was made in the context of discussing the ethics of modern day relationships. So his point was that, in the context of relationships, the question for members of the Church through most of the history of the Church was whether one should marry or become monastic. This was in comparison/contrast to contemporary ideas of simply remaining single or living together without marriage.

I probably should have specified the context better to avoid potential confusion.

In Christ,

1:39 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Ah! Now I understand. Good points.


1:48 PM  
Blogger Fr Matthew said...

Hmm... Your ethics professor should have a conversation with my current (and presumably your future) sacramental theology professor. The sacramental theology prof would say that there has *always* been a vocation in the history of the Church for those not married that is not monastic either. It has never been a simple case of either/or between marriage and monasticism.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Fr. Matthew, good to have you here.

You know, I was thinking about the third option. I've read a couple of things about it - nothing extensive. It seems to me that monasticism has tended to incorporate the majority of non-married people, even if, at times, the monastics themselves did not fit the 'typical' image of a monastic (I'm thinking here specifically of the pastoral theology presentation on Mother Maria Skobtsova).

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but it does seem like an interesting subject. So much more so, since my ethics professor, by his own admission, falls rather in this third category. So I don't think he was discounting the option, as much as noting the usual pattern of life.

in Christ,

4:40 PM  

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