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rites surrounding menstruation and sexual relations between husband and wife?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I'm very familiar with Jewish practices of taharas ha mishpacha - laws governing when a husband and wife can have sexual relations. I was wondering if there are other faiths who have practices or laws like this? 

post #2 of 27

The Orthodox Christians include abstaining from sex in their fasting restrictions. Which would be half the year. 

post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

The Orthodox Christians include abstaining from sex in their fasting restrictions. Which would be half the year. 



Have you found this to be an across-the-board rule, or is it more of a case-by-case thing?  I'm only a catechumen, but my priest did not mention this when he instructed me on observing the fasts.  I read that this practice should be voluntary on the part of both the husband and the wife, and I'm assuming my priest didn't mention it because my husband is not interested in converting with me and I shouldn't impose my fasting on him.  I do find the concept of marital fasting interesting, though, and was just wondering how common it is for Orthodox couples to actually do it.

post #4 of 27
Purple Sage, talk to your parish priest about this. Seriously. You've got a DH who is not interested in Orthodoxy, so it will be a totally different situation for you than someone who has an Orthodox spouse.
post #5 of 27

It is a strict fast but of course you must also not force the fast on your husband.  When I was married I was not even expected to keep the food restrictions when we were together.

post #6 of 27

I don't know if it could be considered a rite, but many of my married friends have spoken of praying together before having sex- especially those who are not sure if they are TTC/TTP. 

 

I just noticed you were referring to specific timing.

There are some beliefs that only restrict sex during and after menstruation and after the birth of a child- I mention this because I know there are some Christians who follow the Jewish traditions.  I know the Duggars openly discuss how they abstain for a certain number of days after the birth of a child- the number of days depends on the gender.

post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post

Purple Sage, talk to your parish priest about this. Seriously. You've got a DH who is not interested in Orthodoxy, so it will be a totally different situation for you than someone who has an Orthodox spouse.


That's what I figured...my list of questions for him is getting long. lol  Thanks, Tradd.



Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

It is a strict fast but of course you must also not force the fast on your husband.  When I was married I was not even expected to keep the food restrictions when we were together.


Was that because your ex-husband didn't want you to fast or that it somehow would have caused tension between the two of you?  Feel free to disregard my question if you don't want to talk about it.  I'm just curious.  innocent.gif

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatienceAndLove View Post

I  I know the Duggars openly discuss how they abstain for a certain number of days after the birth of a child- the number of days depends on the gender.



Can you tell me more about this?

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post





Can you tell me more about this?

They abstain for 60 days after a girl and 40 days after a boy. I am not sure they have ever mentioned the Bible verses related to the rule but it is in the old testament I believe.
post #10 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCatLvrMom2A&X View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post





Can you tell me more about this?



They abstain for 60 days after a girl and 40 days after a boy. I am not sure they have ever mentioned the Bible verses related to the rule but it is in the old testament I believe.


This

 

Leviticus 12: 1-5

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: If a woman having received seed shall bear a man child, she shall be unclean seven days, according to the days of the separation of her flowers. And on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised: But she shall remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification. She shall touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled. But if she shall bear a maid child, she shall be unclean two weeks, according to the custom of her monthly courses, and she shall remain in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.

 

There is also the Roman Catholic tradition of The Churching of Women (I do not know the traditions of the Eastern Church) that takes place up to six weeks after the birth of a child.  I have also heard of this coinciding with the Baptism of the child(ren)- though this is not a purification ritual that one might find in Jewish traditions, but it does echo the Presentation of Our Lord by His Mother.

 

This is a lovely explanation of the Churching of Women relating to the Leviticus passage

And a passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Churching of Women

post #11 of 27

We do the churching at 40 days for boys and girls (although the churching is slightly different for boys and girls I think) .  Before the churching mother and infant may not come in the church.  And it goes back to Jesus being presented at the temple on the 40th day.

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatienceAndLove View Post


 


This

 

Leviticus 12: 1-5

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: If a woman having received seed shall bear a man child, she shall be unclean seven days, according to the days of the separation of her flowers. And on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised: But she shall remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification. She shall touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled. But if she shall bear a maid child, she shall be unclean two weeks, according to the custom of her monthly courses, and she shall remain in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.

 

There is also the Roman Catholic tradition of The Churching of Women (I do not know the traditions of the Eastern Church) that takes place up to six weeks after the birth of a child.  I have also heard of this coinciding with the Baptism of the child(ren)- though this is not a purification ritual that one might find in Jewish traditions, but it does echo the Presentation of Our Lord by His Mother.

 

This is a lovely explanation of the Churching of Women relating to the Leviticus passage

And a passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Churching of Women



I'll have to look it up in a chumash (the Torah) to see if this is the translation given there, but the way it's practiced in Orthodox Judaism now is that you are eligible to resume relations (after certain rites) after 7 days with the birth of a boy and 14 days after the birth of a girl. Of course almost no one bleeds this little and it IS necessary to wait until the blood flow has ceased before performing the rites associated with resuming sexual relations.

post #13 of 27

I do know of a ceremony where the eucharist uses wafers (just the ones the Priest consumes) made with a small amount of semen and menstrual blood, that is mixed during sex.

Rhianna

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

Rhianna - I have no words. Well, I do, but they aren't tolerant and inclusive :) Which religion is this part of? Where are these crackers made? For the love of all that's good, where to they get the  "supplies"?

post #15 of 27

what the heck!!?

post #16 of 27

Um ... I read about something like that in this really wild novel about "devil worship" type stuff.  Like, um, it was actually a comedy about conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists and the like.  And there was this ritual involving various religious objects and hallucinogenic drugs and sex on a platform surrounded by folks wearing cowls and chanting ... ohnevermind.  LOL

 

post #17 of 27

Elisheva - the  other culture I know about that has menstruation-related restrictions is the ancient Zoroastrian one, where they abstained during menses.  Zoroastrian culture has a strong tradition of separating the sacred and profane.  Some Jewish philosophers/historians trace the Jewish hilchot nidda to the rabbinic community that was influenced by zoroastrian traditions.

 

(There are some articles on this subject that you can find through Rabbi Google ;)

post #18 of 27

In Islam, one doesn't have sex while one is menstruating or for usually 40 days following child birth.  (However, when to resume relations is trumped by medical advice vs the 40 days. So if an OB said a longer period, one would follow that.)  Following either of these, a woman makes ghusl--which is basically making the normal ablutions before prayer combined with taking a shower/bath.  If a woman has non-menstrual bleeding or lots of spotting, then usual one just counts her normal period or if she's never had one a maximum of 10 days. (Some say 15 days).  One also makes ghusl following sex.  One doesn't have sex when one is fasting as well (which only means from dawn to sunset--during the day--not at night).

 

When a woman is menstruating (or has post-natal bleeding), husband and wives can still touch, kiss, etc.  The only thing that is not allowed is actual penetration.

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post

In Islam, one doesn't have sex while one is menstruating or for usually 40 days following child birth.  (However, when to resume relations is trumped by medical advice vs the 40 days. So if an OB said a longer period, one would follow that.)  Following either of these, a woman makes ghusl--which is basically making the normal ablutions before prayer combined with taking a shower/bath.  If a woman has non-menstrual bleeding or lots of spotting, then usual one just counts her normal period or if she's never had one a maximum of 10 days. (Some say 15 days).  One also makes ghusl following sex.  One doesn't have sex when one is fasting as well (which only means from dawn to sunset--during the day--not at night).

 

When a woman is menstruating (or has post-natal bleeding), husband and wives can still touch, kiss, etc.  The only thing that is not allowed is actual penetration.



I have been thinking on this particular practice a lot lately as I have had a growing interest in the older laws of the Old Testament. Umsami could you maybe explain the why of this practice besides because it says so in holy scripture? I do understand that that reasoning is good enough but I am wondering if there is any ideas as to the why.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhianna813 View Post

I do know of a ceremony where the eucharist uses wafers (just the ones the Priest consumes) made with a small amount of semen and menstrual blood, that is mixed during sex.

Rhianna


I'm guessing I am the only one who finds this particularly beautiful? Sacred sex, sacred fluids and all of that. I wouldn't make a Sunday dinner out of it but I can see it being a part of a very powerful ritual. But I'm odd like that.

 

post #20 of 27

For me who was raised and until recently identified as a protestant evangelical (now I identify as a Christian mystic because I cannot ascribe to any one set of systematic theology), this is I think a rarely discussed topic in our circles. Catholics and maybe even Orthodox have more set doctrine on these matters, but it is a hodge-podge for protestants as we feel are not "under the law" for the most part. I do know many abstain from intercourse during menstruation primarily because of the Levitical law (but face it, also because they find it "gross"), and most for quite a while after birth simply because they are healing and can't. Though most of our conversations are simply, "save sex for marriage" and that's sadly the end of it.

 

To be honest, and not at ALL to judge anyone here and your convictions, but for my faith path I've never personally understood Christians who practice these things. They don't follow any other aspects of Levitical law, they eat pork and shrimp, they do not send their women away for the menstrual time, they wear clothing of mixed fabrics, etc. I understand the Jewish path, but I don't understand the Christian path that picks and chooses. For us the only "laws" put on us in the New Testament are "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself" (which most religions agree with) and "abstain from sexual immorality (as in with your father's wife, etc)  and from meat sacrificed to idols".

 

For Christians the symbolism of blood is also not to be dismissed. Before Christ animal blood was our remission of sin. Perhaps God instituted this law to keep blood sacred. Now that I believe I am forever covered in the blood of Christ, my own blood is now sacred.

 

Perhaps also God gave the law because the earth still needed to be filled, and intercourse during menstruation rarely leads to pregnancy. Since humanity has fulfilled the mandate to multiply many times over, the freedom of intercourse during menstruation could be a new thing.

 

I do like to meditate on WHY God gave the laws He did at the time. Most of it I see now were for protection, many gentile cultures defecated in their living area and experienced illness due to their uncleanness. The Jews were leaps and bounds ahead of their time health and society wise because of the cleanliness laws God gave them.

 

Also, I believe for protestants the marriage ceremony and paper from the state are over emphasized. Marriage before God IS the marriage bed. Sex is much more spiritual than we give it credit for, we are taught to fear it outside of marriage. I can't tell you how many Christians still have issues with sexual repression even after they are married because of this. On the contrary, DH and I read a book together before we were married called Sex 101. I was amazed that a "Christian" book encouraged discussing sex openly before marriage. It GREATLY helped DH and I to discuss and pray over this event and prepare for it spiritually and psychologically, rather than keep in hush hush until our wedding day. You rarely take part in other spiritual sacraments without learning, discussing and praying about and preparing for it.

I am a firm believer that God created sex, and religion has done a huge disservice by keeping it so hush hush and shameful.

 

For me, I feel no conviction about intercourse during menstruation. On the contrary, it draws me closer to DH knowing he is willing to share this with me, that I can always come to him even as I can now always come before God because of Christ...and never feel ashamed about the state of my body. I am in perfect union with him, just as I am in perfect union with Christ as His Bride. Scientifically, it also reduces cramping, headaches and releases endorphins. I don't think I am sinning if God is giving us these gifts. Also, in the New Testament Paul instructs us to "not deny each other except for a season of fasting and prayer"...he did not add in there, "and during menstruation".

 

DH and I were virgins when we got married, and I gave him my promise ring on our wedding night. In general I think the promise ring movement is skewed, but it was very much symbolic and a ritual for me that night. We also prayed together before our first time.

 

Again, those are just my personal musings from my faith path...I don't mean to judge. In all I am much more tolerant of all paths, even Christians that I don't agree with. I realize we each feel the need to do things different or even similar things for entirely different reasons. Such as my close friends who are Quiverfull, and DH and I who believe all Christians should adopt and not have biokids...yet we realize God has called us to each of these things to grow our faith in entirely different ways.


Edited by nicolelynn - 3/31/11 at 1:53pm
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