Skip to comments.The Early Church Fathers on Contraception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Posted on 02/15/2007 2:16:28 PM PST by NYer
The Early Church Fathers were undivided in their condemnation of artificial birth control. In fact, all Christian churches were in agreement on this until 1930.
Letter of Barnabas
Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29]. For he means, "Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shalt thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness" (Letter of Barnabas 10:8 [A.D. 74]).
Clement of Alexandria
Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191]).
To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature (ibid. 2:10:95:3).
[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility [oral contraceptives] or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered [abortion] (Refutation of All Heresies 9:7 [A.D. 225]).
[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife (Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D. 307]).
God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring (ibid. 6:23:18).
They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption (Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 [A.D. 375]).
[l]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet) and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live [sterilization] (Homilies on Matthew 28:5 [A.D. 391]).
Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth?. . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and Fight with his [natural] laws? (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).
But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? (Against Jovinian 1:19 [A.D. 393]).
You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility [oral contraceptives] and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion] (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).
This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her, is joined to the man to gratify his passion (The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).
You [Manicheans] make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your [religious] law [against childbearing] . . . they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago [I Tim. 4:1-4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps (Against Faustus 15:7 [A.D. 400]).
For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny (ibid. 22:30).
Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive or an abortifacient] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman (Sermons 1:12 [A.D. 522]).
In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Gen 1:28, 9:1,7; 35:11 - from the beginning, the Lord commands us to be fruitful ("fertile") and multiply. A husband and wife fulfill God's plan for marriage in the bringing forth of new life, for God is life itself.
Gen. 28:3 - Isaac's prayer over Jacob shows that fertility and procreation are considered blessings from God.
Gen. 38:8-10 - Onan is killed by God for practicing contraception (in this case, withdrawal) and spilling his semen on the ground.
Gen. 38:11-26 - Judah, like Onan, also rejected God's command to keep up the family lineage, but he was not killed.
Deut. 25:7-10 - the penalty for refusing to keep up a family lineage is not death, like Onan received. Onan was killed for wasting seed.
Gen. 38:9 - also, the author's usage of the graphic word "seed," which is very uncharacteristic for Hebrew writing, further highlights the reason for Onan's death.
Exodus 23:25-26; Deut. 7:13-14 - God promises blessings which include no miscarriages or barrenness. Children are blessings from God, and married couples must always be open to God's plan for new life with every act of marital intimacy.
Lev.18:22-23;20:13 - wasting seed with non-generative sexual acts warrants death. Many Protestant churches, which have all strayed from the Catholic Church, reject this fundamental truth (few Protestants and Catholics realize that contraception was condemned by all of Christianity - and other religions - until the Anglican church permitted it in certain cases at the Lambeth conference in 1930. This opened the floodgates of error).
Lev. 21:17,20 - crushed testicles are called a defect and a blemish before God. God reveals that deliberate sterilization and any other methods which prevent conception are intrinsically evil.
Deut. 23:1 - whoever has crushed testicles or is castrated cannot enter the assembly. Contraception is objectively sinful and contrary, not only to God's Revelation, but the moral and natural law.
Deut. 25:11-12 - there is punishment for potential damage to the testicles, for such damage puts new life at risk. It, of course, follows that vasectomies, which are done with willful consent, are gravely contrary to the natural law.
1 Chron. 25:5 - God exalts His people by blessing them with many children. When married couples contracept, they are declaring "not your will God, but my will be done."
Psalm 127:3-5 - children are a gift of favor from God and blessed is a full quiver. Married couples must always be open to God's precious gift of life. Contraception, which shows a disregard for human life, has lead to the great evils of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide.
Hosea 9:11; Jer. 18:21 - God punishes Israel by preventing pregnancy. Contraception is a curse, and married couples who use contraception are putting themselves under the same curse.
Mal. 2:14 - marriage is not a contract (which is a mere exchange of property or services). It is a covenant, which means a supernatural exchange of persons. Just as God is three in one, so are a husband and wife, who become one flesh and bring forth new life, three in one. Marital love is a reflection of the Blessed Trinity.
Mal. 2:15 - What does God desire? Godly offspring. What is contraception? A deliberate act against God's will. With contraception, a couple declares, "God may want an eternal being created with our union, but we say no." Contraception is a grave act of selfishness.
Matt. 19:5-6 - Jesus said a husband and wife shall become one. They are no longer two, but one, just as God is three persons, yet one. The expression of authentic marital love reintegrates our bodies and souls to God, and restores us to our original virginal state (perfect integration of body and soul) before God.
Matt. 19:6; Eph. 5:31 - contraception prevents God's ability to "join" together. Just as Christ's love for the Church is selfless and sacrificial, and a husband and wife reflect this union, so a husband and wife's love for each other must also be selfless and sacrificial. This means being open to new life.
Acts 5:1-11 - Ananias and Sapphira were slain because they withheld part of a gift. Fertility is a gift from God and cannot be withheld.
Rom.1:26-27 - sexual acts without the possibility of procreation is sinful. Self-giving love is life-giving love, or the love is a lie. The unitive and procreative elements of marital love can never be divided, or the marital love is also divided, and God is left out of the marriage.
1 Cor. 6:19-20 - the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; thus, we must glorify God in our bodies by being open to His will.
1 Cor. 7:5 - this verse supports the practice of natural family planning ("NFP"). Married couples should not refuse each other except perhaps by agreement for a season, naturally.
Gal. 6:7-8 - God is not mocked for what a man sows. If to the flesh, corruption. If to the Spirit, eternal life.
Eph. 5:25 - Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, by giving his entire body to her and holding nothing back. With contraception, husbands tell their wives, I love you except your fertility, and you can have me except for my fertility. This love is a lie because it is self-centered, and not self-giving and life-giving.
Eph. 5:29-31; Phil. 3:2 - mutilating the flesh (e.g., surgery to prevent conception) is gravely sinful. Many Protestant churches reject this most basic moral truth.
1 Tim. 2:15 - childbearing is considered a "work" through which women may be saved by God's grace.
Deut. 22:13-21 these verses also show that God condemns pre-marital intercourse. The living expression of Gods creative love is reserved for a sacramental marriage between one man and one woman.
Rev. 9:21; 21:8; 22:15; Gal. 5:20 - these verses mention the word "sorcery." The Greek word is "pharmakeia" which includes abortifacient potions such as birth control pills. These pharmakeia are mortally sinful. Moreover, chemical contraception does not necessarily prevent conception, but may actually kill the child in the womb after conception has occurred (by preventing the baby from attaching to the uterine wall). Contraception is a lie that has deceived millions, but the Church is holding her arms open wide to welcome back her children who have strayed from the truth.
The odd part comes when certain folks attempt to suggest that "natural family planning" is any different from contraception that prevents fertilization.
The intent, results, and success rates are the same.
It is a distinction without a difference.
Every sperm is sacred.
Go ahead, flame me.
I just don't think every couple who wishes to have sex must have to have 25 children if they do.
This is a caucus thread that addresses the Catholic faith and teachings regarding contraception.
Funniest darn movie I've ever seen, I think.
OK - well, I'll observe and not comment. It's actually quite interesting. I was just in the mood to incite a riot.
Please feel free to comment and question. We would appreciate that you respect our beliefs, that's all.
What's your opinion of NFP? The other poster did raise an interesting point.
But the method isn't. Morally licit actions require a moral goal and a moral means to get there.
It is a distinction without a difference.
There is an immense difference between adulterating the marital act with a barrier, or adulterating my wife's body with chemicals or devices [most of which are abortifacient, btw], on the one hand, and simply abstaining when she's fertile, on the other.
All four of our children came into the world by C-section. In all good Christian conscience, I could not ask more of my wife.
Then again, I'm not Catholic.
Still, I concur with the general tenor of this post, that the norm is to have as many children as possible, AND home school them for the glory of God.
Having had one C and one natural birth, I would chose the C-section ANY time!
"There is an immense difference between adulterating the marital act with a barrier...and simply abstaining when she's fertile, on the other."
I guess like FL, I don't see the distinction. I doubt the Fathers, especially guys like +Jerome, would either, had they known somewhat more about the actual biology involved.
Rejecting abortifacients is a no brainer.
In any event, in my Orthodox opinion, dogmatic proclamations like Humanae Vitae, without the possibility of economia, just breed contempt for the teaching authority of The Church. This "dogma" has very clearly been rejected by the Catholic laity which uses ABC at rates slightly higher than the general population. Vatican II gets quite a rap when it comes to the rise of "cafeteria Catholicism", but to my mind, Humanae Vitae as presented played a major role in the collapse of the Latin Church's authority among the laity.
By the way, nothing in Humanae Vitae's ultimate holdings are dogma in Orthodoxy and never were. They are theologoumenna.
The second difference is in the act itself. We are called to love as God loves, that is, with a life giving love. Whenever a husband and wife come together, they are called to accept all of each other, including their fertility. And they are called to love one another with a life giving love.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) allows for the couple to accept all of each other, including fertility. And to always love with that life giving love. Artificial Contraception (AC) does not allow the couple to accept each other fully, by "breaking" their bodies, causing them to cease to function as nature created them. It fails to allow for the life giving love.
NFP can be used to recognize signs of fertility. In order to avoid pregnancy, nothing is done. There is no contraceptive act, there is nothing to prevent conception, there is simply nothing. But whenever the couple does coming together, it is still the same act that would bring forth life, if ovulation was occuring. The couple still accepts all of each other.
The results and success rates are the same. Pregnancy is avoided or achieved.
The intent is very different. The couple using AC does not accept each other fully, they reject their fertility and therefore do not love each other with a life giving love. The couple using NFP does accept each other fully, including their fertility and do love each other with a life giving love, even if pregnancy does not occur.
Thought you might be interested.
What do you object to? I think Humanae Vitae began some clarification of the Church's teachings, which could more clearly been seen in John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body. It is wrong to try to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of love. I saw a couple of quotes from the fathers that do not accurately represent the Church's teachings.
Not every act of love must result in pregnancy, but every act of love must mirror the life giving love of the Creator.
I don't know the Orthodox position on this.
It takes a little courage to post / discuss some topics, doesn't it? Thank you for posting.
"The first difference, of course, is in the names. Natural Family Planning versus Artificial Contraception."
Not so at all. According to the Scholastics, the problem with artificial contraception is the FACT that it violates a Natural Law principle, namely the "intimate" connection between the unitive and procreative purposes of sex.
Quite aside from that, the simple fact of the matter is that virtually all of the Fathers were celibates and like Jerome (but unlike, interestingly +John Chrysostomos) viewed even marital intercourse as animalistic and best supressed save for procreation.
The problem with NFP is two fold. First, by it very nature it is designed to separate without penalty, the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage and second, having done that, one hopes, it allows the participants to indulge in what some Fathers viewed as animalistic behavior.
"What do you object to?"
I don't object to any part of it. It isn't dogma in my church. I do object to a system which declares ex cathedra a dogma which the Laos tou Theou clearly have rejected and which then persists in that dogma. As you know, in Orthodoxy, no proclaimed dogma is accepted as dogma until the Laos tou Theou proclaim their "Axios" by living out that dogma in their lives. The Latin faithful have done quite the opposite when it comes to Humanae Vitae. But they and the Latin Church, have no way to deal with that situation. That, MB, breeds contempt for all dogma, let alone teachings which are in the category of theologoumenna.
" Not every act of love must result in pregnancy, but every act of love must mirror the life giving love of the Creator.
I don't know the Orthodox position on this."
The ban on artificial birth control is not dogmatic. It is theologoumennon. In any event, Orthodoxy leaves the issue to the couple and their spiritual father/bishop.
That is not the tenor of this post. God has blessed you with 4 children (all beautiful in His sight) and the medical expertise to deliver them by C-section. You and your wife are no doubt grateful to Him for these gifts in your marriage.
The tenor of this post is to point out that the Early Church Fathers were in full agreement with God that children are a gift and preventing pregnancy should not be accomplished through artificial means.
There is no doubt that abortifacient conctraception should not be used by any practicing Christian.
So do you oppose any and all types of regulation of birth?
NFP does not sever the unitive and procreative nature of sex. A couple using NFP is acting in an unitive and procreative act whenever they have intercourse. The fact that life does not come from each and every act is not due to the nature of the act they engaged in. This cannot be said of a contracepting couple.
Jerome and Augustine's views on the sanctity of sex are not in keeping with the Catholic Church's teachings. While it is understandable why Augustine viewed things the way he did, and Jerome, from what I can tell was kind of grumpy about a lot of stuff, the fact is, that's not the way God views it. The ability to love, and it is love not some animalistic behavior, with a life giving love is yet another way we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Should a couple use NFP as a means of postponing conception, there is a penalty. The denial of gratification at that point in time. It is a sacrifice. And I do not think that those who struggle with infertility, and therefore cannot bring forth life through their sex, are not behaving in an animalistic fashion. Although the fathers would disagree with me on this point.
By "couple", I am assuming you mean 'married'. If so, then you have entirely missed the point. Sex is the only means to produce offspring. Marital sex does not entail generating 25 children. Read the Fathers, again.
One thing that I've noticed in the US is that Roman Catholic families and Orthodox Christian families are about the same in numbers of children.
There are exceptions, of course. My dad was one of 8 children and my mother was one of nine (no, that's not a name you Star Trek geeks!). However, you don't see many families that large any more.
Got to run, but will respond later, in the mean time, I so don't know what these terms mean....care to dumb it down to my level? :)
See post #26.
I do mean married.
"So do you oppose any and all types of regulation of birth?"
My personal opinion is really neither here nor there; I agree with Orthodoxy's position.
"NFP does not sever the unitive and procreative nature of sex. A couple using NFP is acting in an unitive and procreative act whenever they have intercourse. The fact that life does not come from each and every act is not due to the nature of the act they engaged in."
Of course it does! The fact that timing may be off and a baby results doesn't mean that the whole exercise of NFP isn't designed to avoid just that.
The Orthodox allow for artificial birth control.
Because of the lack of a full understanding of the implications of the biology of reproduction, earlier writers tended to identify abortion with contraception. However, of late a new view has taken hold among Orthodox writers and thinkers on this topic, which permits the use of certain contraceptive practices within marriage for the purpose of spacing children, enhancing the expression of marital love, and protecting health.
"Laos tou Theou >/i>
The People of God
Worthy (meaning here we assent and agree)
A pious belief or teaching which one may accept or reject.
In Orthodoxy, the Assumption is an example of a theologoumennon, though that one borders on actual dogma. Something like the ban on ABC would likely never been seen as dogma in any event. It might be set up as a sort of disciplinary canon, but that would always presuppose the "out" of economia.
"The Orthodox allow for artificial birth control."
Well, yes and no. As I said earlier, at most one would look at the issue as one of discipline, at least insofar as non-abortifacient methods go. As such, economia applies and so far as I know, the bishops have left its exercise up to the spiritual father of the couple. The default position, and it is disciplinary/praxis, is no ABC.
Some topics, such as this one, touch sensitive nerves. It is quite difficult for anyone who has practiced artificial birth control, to confront the truth (i.e. reality) of God's design. And when you consider that our contemporary christian acceptance of artificial birth control only began in 1930, it can be downright mind boggling to consider that up until that time, ALL christian churches rejected artificial birth control.
I still recall the news coverage of Second Vatican Council and the official announcement of the Catholic Church's position on this topic. Everyone, especially Catholics, anticipated that the Catholic Church would take a 'contemporary' stance on this by approving the use of the pill. It was a shock - literally - to learn that Pope Paul VI defended traditional Church teachings. In his encyclical on this, Pope Paul VI wrote:
Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.
Many Catholics, as Orthodox freeper Kolokotronis has already pointed out, rejected the Catholic Church position and 'followed their own consciences' in this matter. Their decision to do so, in no way abbrogates the Church's teachings on the matter. Sadly, only one church has rigidly defended this position on contraception, further testimony that our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide His church on earth. This was not a popular decision and the Church has never backed down on this teaching.
Following his election as pontiff, JPII began delivering a series of teachings on The Theology of the Body. If you're up to it, this might be a good lenten study.
If my understanding is correct, the laity did not begin to reject the ban on ABC until they saw that other Christians were beginning to permit it, and even then any deviations prior to the release of the encyclical were due to the anticipation that Pope Paul VI would "change the doctrine" to "bring the Church in line with the times."
That's how I understand it... I don't know firsthand because I wasn't there, as I wasn't born yet.
Also, so far as ABC and the Orthodox goes, would it not be more prudent, considering both the side effects even of the non-abortifacient methods and the arguments from the Fathers as provided, to suggest NFP? Would this not especially be so if there is any doubt concerning it as a doctrine of the ancient Church (as Paul VI and Catholics since have claimed?)
(Just some thoughts I had)
" If my understanding is correct, the laity did not begin to reject the ban on ABC until they saw that other Christians were beginning to permit it, and even then any deviations prior to the release of the encyclical were due to the anticipation that Pope Paul VI would "change the doctrine" to "bring the Church in line with the times."
That's how I understand it... I don't know firsthand because I wasn't there, as I wasn't born yet."
Oh I don't know why Catholics rejected it. It may be for the reasons you said. I was alive and kicking back then, but frankly wasn't paying that much attention! :) I will say that perhaps the anticipation was because the people saw that prior teachings were too rigid and should be changed. You know, for many, many centuries, The Church ranked abortion far below such sins as murder and even adultery because of deficient knowledge on the biology of conception.
"Also, so far as ABC and the Orthodox goes, would it not be more prudent, considering both the side effects even of the non-abortifacient methods and the arguments from the Fathers as provided, to suggest NFP? Would this not especially be so if there is any doubt concerning it as a doctrine of the ancient Church (as Paul VI and Catholics since have claimed?"
Maybe some spiritual fathers do suggest that. In any event, I do think Orthodoxy is wise to leave this to the spiritual father of the couple or their bishop.
What does this word mean? : "theologoumenna"
K, given all that you have ever posted about Orthodoxy, I can't for one minute begin to accept that a "spiritual" father/bishop, would approve a couple to practice contraception, given what we know about "the pill".
Birth control pills are routinely described as "contraceptives", that is, things that prevent conception, the beginning of a new human life. But in fact birth control pills sometimes act as "abortifacients", things that cause abortion.
Birth control pills act in three basic ways: (This information can be obtained from any standard reference work, such as the Physician's Desk Reference.)
The newer low-dose pills are less effective at preventing ovulation and therefore rely more on the remaining two functions. As an egg is microscopic, it can be difficult to tell in any given case whether an egg really has been released. But Dutch gynecologist Dr Nine Van der Vange made an extensive study of women using these pills. She found proof that an egg had been released in 4% of the cases, and found follicle growth typical of what one finds in early pregnancy in at least 52% of cases.
The workings of the mini-pill are not fully understood, but it appears to allow ovulation at least 40% of the time, according to Emory University's Contraceptive Technology. Ovulation expert Dr. John Billings estimates that between 2 and 10 per cent of a woman's cycles are still ovulatory even when she is taking the Pill. That means there is a chance she can still conceive a child; but because of the Pill's effect on the lining of the womb, the child will not be able to implant, and will be expelled from the mother's body. Although this might seem to be a small percentage risk, over time the likelihood is great. Moreover, there really is no such thing as a "negligible" risk of aborting a baby. In this case, any risk is too great.
Ping to post #41.
"K, given all that you have ever posted about Orthodoxy, I can't for one minute begin to accept that a "spiritual" father/bishop, would approve a couple to practice contraception, given what we know about "the pill"."
I wouldn't know what "spiritual" fathers/bishops do. In the "Catholic" church do "priests" and or "bishops" make their private advice and counsel to their spiritual children a matter of public discussion?
"What does this word mean? : "theologoumenna" "
Its the plural of theologoumennon. :)
I disagree, I think Humanae Vitae is a remarkable work of prophecy and showed that in or out of season the Chair of Peter must speak Truth to the times. The fact that the laity just want to be a product of the times rather than eternity is nothing new.
"The fact that the laity just want to be a product of the times rather than eternity is nothing new."
I'll grant you that. The Latin Church certainly seems plagued with that attitude, at least at most levels below the Pope. My 2 cents worth of problem with Humanae Vitae (and its just that because Orthodoxy doesn't teach what Humanae Vitae teaches in any dogmatic manner) is not with what it says, but rather with its results, the ecclesiology which gave birth to it as dogma in the first place and the less than satisfactory way the Latin Church advises getting around it.
No it does not. It allows God to order our lives. We do not create a breach between the recreative and procreative aspects of human sexuality. It relies heavily on chastity and self-discipline. Two things God tends to encourage among His people.
and second, having done that, one hopes, it allows the participants to indulge in what some Fathers viewed as animalistic behavior.
The Church does not teach that sex is Purely for procreation, that is merely the flipside of humanism which sees it as purely for recreation. As for the Early Fathers of the Church, it strikes me as undeniable that they were against the idea that human sexuality revolves purely around the pleasure principle.
It means "Opinion."
"No it does not. It allows God to order our lives."
That's just a bit too disengenuous, T. If the Latin Church really believed this, there would be absolutely no point whatsoever in practicing NFP, indeed it would be forbidden as it would always be up to God as to when a child is conceived. Maybe God wants a child conceived during a wife's fertile period. Doesn't abstention then "frustrate" God's purpose?
In practice perhaps not; but in theory - of course you do. You just posted it above, with justification. Essentially, you have stated that "this is a personal matter between the priest/bishop and the married couple".
In the Catholic Church, this is NOT a personal matter. Church teaching clearly outlaws any form of artificial birth control. The only resort for Catholics following such a practice is to confess this sin. What happens in the confessional is then quite private. However, any priest who approves (not absolves) them of this sin is complicit. That is quite different from the Orthodox position that you cited.