Father, how did you get the idea for this educational program and how did you decide to get involved in this direction?
Fr. Dmitriy Moiseev: At the beginning of the 21st century we founded a pro-life center in Ekaterinburg, to protect the life of the child. Soon, we understood that the case of abortion is the crisis of the family. That`s why we made a study program about family life.
Then with the former professor from Magnitogorsk University, nun Nina Krîghina, we made this course. In this course we investigate relationships between young men and women, problems of the personality, the issue of family hierarchy, and the ontogenesis of the family – how family came into being how it has developed. Also, we approach the role of the family in society.
While working on it, we understood that this learning program about family had no scientific basis. Because there were many scientific branches such as sociology, psychology, biology, which investigate family. But we could not find systematic knowledge about family.
That’s why we laid the basis to a new branch of science, which we named “family anthropology”. This science is about people as part of their family. “Homo familiaris” is the new term, not just Homo sapiens.
Of course, in many regions of Russia there is interest for this teaching program, from Kaliningrad, in the west, to Vladivostok, on the east, there are schools and teachers who take this course. And this course is being taught in many schools.
What about the teachers? Do they teach their pupils? Is there an official involvement in this direction, do they support you in schools, in the educational system?
Fr. Dmitriy Moiseev: After the atheistic period, for many school teachers in Russia it was unusual to see that the course was written by monks. But after they read the books, some of them said: “These books are so good! Why were they written by priests and monks?”
Monks are not supposed to know about family because they are religious and they are in monasteries…
Fr. Dmitriy Moiseev: Our teaching progam is not religious, it’s secular. It was one of our goals, not to write in religious, but in secular terms. That is why we have included information not only about Christian families, but also about Muslim and Jewish families – the traditional religions of Russia.
People might have asked why an Orthodox Christian teaching program is included in the secular system of education. That`s why we wrote a secular course and gave it to the teachers to teach it.
And many teachers are very glad to take these books and educate schoolchildren about family. Because there are no learning books about family – I think not only in Russia, but perhaps they also miss in other countries, too. It’s a problem, because family crisis is a global problem, but there are no good educational books about this.
That’s why we sat down and wrote these seven books with DVDs, CDs with audio and video in addition to the written material. We made it complex, to include more information the teacher can include in one lesson. We alse allow the teacher to manipulate situations during the lesson. Take one material from here, another from there, depending on their audience. Because every audience is different and the teacher must be prepared for this situation and needs many tools.
Can you give an example?
Fr. Dmitriy Moiseev: Maybe a school child is from a destroyed family. That`s why, when the teacher speaks about family harmony at class, the child maybe doesn’t have two parents. That’s why the teacher needs different materials to use in this case.
In one class, the teacher can talk about family harmony, in another he can teach about the problems of a disorganized or single-parent family. There are no similar lessons in this program. It’s a difficult course, but many teachers take it with interest, because they understand the goal.
Many young people don’t know elementary things: that sexual relations before marriage is a risk factor for the future harmony of a family. Most young people don’t know this, but psychology and the cultural tradition have been teaching about it. Many young people don`t know they need at least one year of friendship without physiological sexual contacts before they decide to marry. And many modern young people have short-term friendships.
There is an analogy in human life: women give birth to a child after they keep it for nine months under their heart. Nothing confirms the crazy idea that one can hurry this process. All mothers wait until the nine months of gestation are completed. Because, if they give birth earlier, the child will not be in good health. Why not wait also for a family relationship to grow like that? Young people say: “Quickly, quickly!” They want to have sexual contact more quickly, but this is often like an abortion of their real family harmony. Do you understand? And the examples about what we teach may continue.
We also teach schoolchildren how to relate with their family: their mother, father, their future wives or husbands. We teach them about the family hierarchy: the place of the man within the family and the place of the woman and that of the child. We teach them the importance of obeying, of listening and doing what you are told to. We explain why the wife submits to the husband and why the child submits to the mother.
In Romania, there are many parents who simply hand out condoms or contraceptives to their kids because they don`t know how to talk to them when they reach a certain age. What advice do you have for these parents?
Fr. Dmitriy Moiseev: Contraception is not the right decision in these problems. The right decision is teaching the child that, if they want to have a harmonious family and healthy children in the future, they shouldn’t have sexual contacts before they marry. That is the principle I think.
That was the principal thinking in traditional Orthodoxy not so long ago. But in Russia, in Romania, in Orthodox and non-Orthodox countries, this simple thinking was forgotten. It’s very dangerous for society when these things are forgotten. It’s very dangerous.
The best contraception is to have no sexual contact before marriage. There will be no diseases, no abortion at a young age and not the many other problems. Parents should not give condoms, but explain to the child: “If you want to have harmony in the family, you must wait until you take the decision to live with this man or woman your whole life”. Only after this decision they can come to the church, marry and enter a natural sexual relationship, with bearing of children. It’s the natural thing and it blossoms from good, but it needs to wait until the decision to get married. And condoms protect you neither from disease, nor from future abortions.