Right, so, this is a 'girly' post. I don't *think* I have any male readers, or at least none who comment, but if I do, I expect that we can all be mature, yes? Cause if we can't and we comment, I have a delete button, and I'm not afraid to use it. I truly and completely believe that this will not be a problem, but I say this in the extreme 'just in case'. :)
I've started the next chapter in B&W, W&O, and it's on baptism. The author starts the chapter by briefly mentioning that there is a tradition in the Orthodox church of the mother being absent from church for 40 days after birth, and then there being a special ceremony for mother and child welcoming them into the church after that point. He doesn't go into any detail, really, he mentions it, very briefly, as well as 'other traditions regarding menstruation' that get misunderstood.
So, being me, I want to know what those 'other traditions' are. The 'women are more sinful than man' because of a bodily function that God designed in! thing really bugs me, so, um, yeah. I was curious. I do want to say, before I go on, that I in no way was thinking that that was the Orthodox point of view. I know better than that by this point. I'm just saying that it's a topic that interests me because of this backwards view point that I've come across before.
I also hesitated to post because I know that I don't have a grasp on Orthodox teachings on this matter, or sexuality, which is tied in. But I'm posting with the caveat that this is what I've learned in a couple of hours of reading on the internet from Orthodox websites. So anything I say should be taken with a block of salt.
The only tradition that I have come across consistently is that it is a pious tradition for women who are menstruating to refrain from taking Communion. Pious tradition, as I understand it, means that it is a good thing, with roots in the early church, but that it is not dogmatic law. Therefore, as with other things, it is a matter between the woman and her spiritual father. So some women may choose to take Communion while others may not, and both are acceptable.
So, if a woman is no more impure than a man, what's the thinking behind this?
From what I have found, the tradition actually encompasses and extends to 'nocturnal emissions', and bleeding wounds. So a man who has an emission the night before should refrain from the Eucharist, as well as any person who has a wound that is bleeding, or may start bleeding. (On one thread -here-, the question of people who were in the hospital came up, because they may have wounds and be near death, and should they be denied Communion because of that? And the answer was that there are, of course, exceptions, and impending death is clearly one of them...)
The clearest explanation of the 'no bleeding' rule that I have come across is this: 'the Eucharist unites you to Christ's body and blood; you become one with it; if you menstruate you are "losing" Christ's blood. Now before anyone starts talking about mysogeny, a priest with a cut is not supposed to celebrate liturgy, a layman with a cut is not supposed to commune, and if you get cut after communing it is a pious custom to bury or burn the bandage with the blood in it.' This was posted by Fr. Anastasios on the above thread, and other posters (including, I believe, another priest, confirmed this reasoning, as opposed to the continuation of Levitical rules of clean/unclean.
It's interesting, and to be honest, I don't have a problem with it. I think, to me, it makes a certain level of sense, though I'm not sure I can articulate the reasoning behind it at this point. Maybe it's just that I *like* the idea, though again, I couldn't tell you why.