Originally Posted by Peppermint
Interesting, one of the things I have always been fascinated with reading here, was the idea that somehow the Orthodox were more "together" so to speak even without a pope, ykwim? I didn't realize there were "more liberal" and "more conservative" groups in the Orthodox faith. I guess none of us have it all together, but I am thankful that even though we (RC) have an unfortunate number of renegade priests, we do have the Holy Father and Magesterium to give a "this is actual church teaching on this subject".
Do the Orthodox have something like the RC Magesterium, that would given an official position, or is it really just a "talk to your parish priest" issue (which I find problematic knowing how that goes in the RC Church).
I think this will have to go to a real Orthodox person for a good answer, but the answer as far as I can see is, not exactly, but it isn't like a Protestant Church either.
There are a lot of things that they are very unified about, doctrinally, and the idea of making any real change to doctrine and Tradition is just not on. There is variation in practices though, which sometimes causes controversy but is not the same.
The various bodies in the church do get together, and also make pronouncements individually. So, some church bodies have, for example, chosen to use a more modern calendar system. But they could not choose to change the doctrine of the church as it has existed since the beginning, or they would cease to be recognized by the other Orthodox Churches as Orthodox.
Now, modern forms of birth control are a relatively recent thing. The doctrinal side - what is marriage, what is sex, what is the purpose of the family, are the relevant points of doctrine, which are understood by all. The question of exactly how to apply them is somewhat unresolved, though there are some clear indicators.
So is it a problem that it seems to be taking some time to come up with the answer? I am not sure, but so far, it has taken less time than it took the Church to work out the Trinity or the Incarnation.
Also, there seems to be more of a tendency in Orthodoxy,(as far as I can see) to be less definitive about how each individual situation should be handled, while maintaining the principles involved absolutely. It also seems that Orthodox priests are often more conservative in making such judgments than the RC ones, though I have no idea why that should be.