Next door at the “On the Square” yesterday ( http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/12/purify-her-uncleanness ), Orthodox writer Carrie Frederick Frost ponders the Orthodox traditions of churching women after childbirth. She points out that the rites are comparatively late: Not until the 12th century are there rites for purification of women. And she says that canon law is inconsistent about the practice.
Frost argues that they ought to be altered. Partly it is for pastoral reasons: “these words are almost always the very first and the very last words a woman hears on the theological meaning of motherhood from the Orthodox Church.” Also for theological reasons. Jesus undid Levitical purifications and so did Paul. “For Paul, baptism was the ultimate purification, after which none was needed. Given Paul’s understanding of baptism, a new mother cannot be temporarily suspended from her purification. To suggest so undermines the potency of the sacrament of baptism.”
Luther and Calvin couldn’t have said it better.