The beauty within us
July 3, 2015
“Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone He met, at the prostitute or the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what He did was to call out this beauty.” (Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh of blessed memory).
What is beautiful about a person? Most of us are often quick to judge others. We look at people’s clothing, height, race, weight, age, occupation, home and car and numerous other aspects about them, and judge them based on these very superficial and fleeting features. We decide within an instant if a person is poorly or extravagantly dressed, too fat, too short, bald, wearing too much makeup, driving an old car, living in a certain type of neighborhood, or holding a job that we deem more, or less important, than our own. The quick judgments that we make can be detrimental not only for healthy social interactions, but also to our own spiritual health. If we see a person’s race or clothing, or any other particular trait, before we see the beauty of the whole person, we are diminished as human beings.
The admired and much respected Metropolitan Anthony urged us to see beyond the shallow and ephemeral for two reasons. The first reason is to remove us from the temptation to make quick and irrational judgments and therefore fall into the sin of judging others. This initial action harms us, as we quickly compare and contrast ourselves with others. We can immediately fall into the trap of excessive pride, by thinking that we are better than others. Or, we can also fall into a pit of self-doubt and feelings of low self-esteem, not believing that we are indeed very blessed and the recipient of numerous gifts from our Creator. The second, and perhaps even more important reason that we should not be quick to judge others is that our quick judgments and reactions to a person being different from us, does not allow us to get to know the beauty of the whole person, to love them and offer help to them from our own talents and gifts. At times, that help is simply a kind word, a reassuring gesture, or an acknowledgment of a person’s dignity. Often the beauty of others is unseen and not immediately obvious. Therefore, we need to make every attempt to take the time to see the beauty in everyone, especially the hidden beauty, which requires more effort on our part.
When it comes to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, the Orthodox Church has been guilty of not seeing the beauty within us. Many bishops and priests of the Church are quick to judge us based only on our sexual orientation. The bishops and many priests of the Church, not knowing much about gay people, have declared that LGBT persons are “rebelling against the order of the Creator.” Many within the Church only look at one aspect of our humanity, and see only something that is “wrong, ugly, or distorted,” without seeing, in the words of Metropolitan Anthony, “our beauty”. Because many of the hierarchs and clergy do not know gay people very well, or are ignorant in the areas of biology and psychology, they often make quick and erroneous judgments about us. Some even believe that a significant portion of our lives are spent in gay bars dancing with drag queens. To judge us based on the media’s portrayal of gay pride parades is equivalent to judging the rest of society based on Mardi Gras festivals in New Orleans.
The words of Scripture are clear on the point of equality in the eyes of God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus…heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29) And by extension, the following is true: that there is neither straight nor gay, lesbian nor transgendered, married, or unmarried, for we are all beautiful in the eyes of Christ, and heirs to the promise of our Creator. When we first see only a person’s sexual orientation and their marital status, we fail as humans and we fail as a Church. We need to see the image of God in every person, and we need see the beauty of the face of Christ in every person. Otherwise we will miss the opportunity to love and minister. If we do not see the beauty of creation within others, we will be unable to love them as commanded by Christ. Instead we will see something that we agree with or disagree with, something that needs fixing or something that needs to be condemned, or protested against, and “contribute nothing” to the person.
I, like numerous other LGBT persons, am so much more than my sexuality, which God gave to me. And when the Church judges us, based on our created sexuality, or our marriages to someone of the same sex, they have failed to fulfill the commandments of Jesus Christ. When the bishops issue false edicts of condemnation and judgment based on archaic interpretations of Scripture and canon law, instead of embracing and loving and seeing all of us, they have failed to take care of their flock and “feed the sheep”. All of us are somewhat damaged, or bruised, or injured whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually. We all need the loving care and compassion of God as exhibited and shared by others. The Church needs to look at all of Creation, male, female, black, white, gay, lesbian, transgendered and see the fullness of God’s beauty
 For more information about Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) and his writings see website for the foundation set up in his memory. http://www.masf.org.uk/
 This phrase was recently used by an Orthodox priest to discredit LGBT persons.
 This was expressed to me by the same Orthodox priest on a listserv.
 John 21
This Post Has 32 Comments
A post that deserves to be widely read!
Really seeing the life of someone you disagree with is indeed difficult. One of the things I’ve noticed when trying to dialogue with laypeople on the issue of homosexuality is how difficult it is for either them or for me to relax into a position of true listening. So often the temptation is to ignore the experience of the other side and simply assume that whatever side you happen to be on holds all the answers so you are entitled to refuse to budge one inch from your own position by acknowledging the grain of truth on the other side.
One of the useful things I have discovered is that although some condemn homosexuality simply because that is what the Church teaches, there are others who do so because of past deep psychological hurt in their own lives. Perhaps we all approach the subject from more similar grounds than we might think.
Thank you for your kind words.
I would agree with you that it is difficult to see the beauty within someone who we disagree with. But we must strive to do that as Christians. This quote from Bonhoeffer helps me a lot. Although not Orthodox, the sentiment is very Christian and human:
“Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer.”
I would go further and extrapolate that it should include not only what others do or don’t do, but what they say and or believe.
As you state, taking the time to listen is key. Agreed, but this is why it is so vital for people to come out, if they feel at all safe to do so. It is so much harder to hate people you actually know.
Thank you for your comments.
Please stay in touch,
Really, did you ever ask yourself what Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh believed directly about homosexuality, before quoting his words? Are you sure he himself would promote license to your beliefs, or would he rather feel this has been a stretch of meaning?
It is your full right to live your life however you wish.
It is not your right to bend the Holy Orthodox Tradition to accommodate your lifestyle.
It is not your right to deprive my children from the right to discover the Faith of their Fathers untouched.
Be a man and honor this faith, or leave it with dignity. You are free to become a protestant.
Although I’d much better prefer -and pray, however unlikely you may think this is- that you, instead of leaving this wonderful faith, let your PRIDE leave you.
I myself am an ugly sinner. Being straight won’t save me. But I don’t take pride in my sins, nor do I expect the Church to accommodate my filth. I expect the Church to show me the way up, higher, much higher, and not to comfort me in a life of lies.
Thank you for even reading this.
A fellow Sunday school teacher.
Thank you for your comment. Do you know what Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh thought or believed about homosexuality? Unless you can channel him or find something in his writings which outright condemn people of the same sex in loving relationships, then the point can’t be argued. Also, there are numerous Orthodox bishops who have voiced concern about certain teachings of the Church. Only one example is Metropolitan Kallistos Ware who has said that the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood should be discussed. Thus, there were and are bishops who hold positions on topics which others would deem closed.
Also, I might suggest that you educate yourself a little more in the topics of biology, neuroscience and psychology. I (and other LGBT persons) do not have a lifestyle, we have a life, one that was created by God. I have no desire to deprive your children of anything. But if you believe that you can shield them from gay people or biological facts, that is your right, as useless as I believe that aim is.
Finally, I reject the very idea that I should be a Protestant and it is offensive. I was born into an Orthodox family, baptized and chrismated as an infant. Served in the Church as an altar server, graduated from an Orthodox Seminary, and served as an Orthodox parish priest for over twenty years to the best of my abilities. I am an Orthodox Christian, a sinner to be sure, but not because God chose my sexuality, any more than He chose yours. You acted upon yours (you have children) and I have acted upon mine in a loving and blessed relationship.
Please know that the Church has changed its mind and practices about many issues (flat Earth) and can be wrong about its current “official” stance on homosexuality and LGBT persons. Nothing with God is impossible, including the Church admitting that it needs to change.
I bid you peace,
Inasmuch as I personally do not have a record of Metropolitan Anthony’s expressed condemnation against homosexual behavior, neither you seem to have his expressed consent. The argument goes both ways, so let me insist on thinking you should rather avoid quoting him for such a stretched metaphor, especially on a topic where the expressed stance of the total Church as a single Body is outright negative.
As an Orthodox I also fail to understand the argument of other bishops voicing concerns. So what? You know very well that even if 99% of bishops voice the same concern, it is not valid if not driven by the Holy Spirit. When Arianism seemed to prevail, Great Athanasios was resisting alone, hunted down and in exile. The Church is guided by the eternal Holy Spirit, its Saints and its Synods, not by numbers, clergy trends, ‘infallible’ leaders with time-bound scientific knowledge (the ‘flat earth’ syndrome is not an Orthodox one!) or the power of its opposers. This applies even to the personal level: The Holy Fathers have respectfully accepted some Origenes’ views, yet condemned his heretic stance in other fields. Even in the most insane imagination whereby Metropolitan Anthony would say “sodomy is ok”, this would still mean nothing about the Orthodox Church; it would simply mean that Metropolitan Anthony would have chosen to set himself outside the realms of the Orthodox faith and doctrines, in spite of any number of other inspired teachings of his.
Your patriotic defense of belonging in the Orthodox family is more than welcome, I’d hope that every Orthodox could voice their belief in such strength! As an Orthodox brother in faith, I will stress that no-one and nothing, except your own self and your own actions, will ever set you outside the Orthodox life. At the end of the day though, we should agree that stretching the Church doctrines (let alone discarding St. Chrysostom himself for example, whose Holy Sermon you have serviced, and who has outright condemned homosexuality) to fit your (my, and anyone else’s) personal interpretations, that’s nearly the definition of protestantism. Otherwise, what’s the difference?
I hoped you would not throw the “science” glove, because it also backfires. Neuroscience involves neuroprogramming and the ability to change your mindset. Psychology on homosexuality is fully arguable too; as some people may accept the value of LGBT successful lobbying in changing the definitions of medical associations, others may accept Freud’s statement that homosexuality is a perversion – Iet’s agree that we disagree! Finally, biology (the most positive field of all you mention) remains the hardest for pro-LGBT scientists to challenge, despite their remarkable efforts; to put it simply –and please, please, do not be intimidated, that’s not my intent at all- no biology theory can ever affirm that the digestive/excretory systems are intended for imitating reproduction functions. At the end of the day, the separation of need from pleasure is the exact essence of any enslaving ‘pathos’, as the Orthodox Tradition will unmistakeably state throughout the centuries.
But even so, I do not put much credit anyway in the science shadow-fighting; it is the Holy Spirit which has guided Orthodox Fathers into the Truth, not their scientific caliber. Great Antonios did not go to school, yet he is acknowledged as the “professor of the desert” in theology. Great Vasileios earned the PhD’s in almost every known science in the leading university of his time, except in theology – yet again this is where we name him “Great” at. Even his work on the six days of Creation was not a product of his pan-scientific skill, but an ecstatic revelation offered by the Mother of God.
Shielding my children from gay people is not something I am after. What I oppose is anyone’s attempt to change my children’s definition of their Faith. Scandals will inevitably come, but woe to the poor bringer of the scandal. At the end of the day, as much as LGBT people are after their rights agenda, I am also after my children’s right to have an open opportunity for sainthood, as it is provided by the Orthodox way of life. This is my ultimate need, more than oxygen in front of my nose. And in much the same way I can’t afford mixing my children’s oxygen with poison -or offer them snakes when they ask for fish- I can’t afford distorting the Holy Legacy of those who have achieved sainthood. Whether my children will follow this route or whether they will reject it, it’s up to them. My responsibility is to keep the path open.
May I insist on the term ‘lifestyle’; everyone indeed has a life, and LGBT orientation is not a self-governed, intrinsic power of it. Christ has pointed to two ways in life, only; create a family with children –eros “as per nature”- or respect the virginity –eros for God, “superseding nature”. There is no acceptable eros “despite/aside nature”. The Holy Mother of God, as the single human being of all ages most honored by God, is exactly the protector of Motherhood and Virginity. Homosexuality denies both motherhood and virginity! This is the “ground rule”. Outside that, and inside that, we are all in need of God’s mercy. But anyone choosing to deny the very existence of the rule and proclaim sodomy as acceptable (and sodomy is the fruit of the tree you may call “same sex in loving relationship” or whatever) simply says “Dear Christ, thanks for your body’s thoughts in the past 2.000 years, I know better than all else who followed successfully your commands and who became, through Grace, sons of God, let me now sit in your place as I’ve come up with some new rules”.
On this temporary arena we call earth, we are all free to make powerful choices in the life we lead, and this is the very essence of our freedom – and our accountability too. Pointing to God for making you practice sodomy is not far from Adam’s pointing to Eve, and Eve pointing to the snake. It reinforces my understanding that the ultimate source of this pathos is pride, not flesh. And at the same time this is a glimpse of hope, because pride can be overcome by all, with the Grace of God and the merciful intervention of His Mother.
In prayer, I wish you also peace.
I’d prefer to use my name this time instead of Bob, Αθανάσιος.
I truly thank you for your detailed and passionate response. While I would like to engage you on every point that you have raised, I would like to begin with a simple question, one that usually gets left out of such lofty debates. Were you given your physical, emotional, mental and sexual attraction to women by God or did you choose to be attracted to women?
I’m getting a feeling that for some orthodox is more undesirable to be protestant than gay… I like protestants. Does that make me less orthodox? What is the true interpretation of the church tradition? I know that it doesn’t lie in the protestant churches, but who can be so bold to claim the possesion of the truth..? In Jesus’ time Jews were the ones who were holding the fulness of God’s revelation, but so many times our Lord justified Samaritans who didn’t accept the prophets: the woman at the well, the merciful Samaritan, the one who was healed among ten people and was the only one to thank the Lord. Couldn’t all these parables be an admonition to us today who think we are carrying God in our pockets just because we’re orthodox? I’m so happy for you, Athanasios (wow.. you even have a Greek name.. couldn’t get more orthodox that that) that you are convinced of your just interpretation of the fathers… but don’t you ever think that you are too over-zealous? I want mercy, not sacrifice…
Before I fully revert to your question, and in order to avoid parallel dialogues, let me make a short couple of references to Titian.
Titian, first, you state you are confident the truth “doesn’t lie in the protestant churches” but you are also confident that no orthodox can claim possession of the truth either. Identifying yourself as an orthodox means you are also confident that neither you hold the truth, so you deny any basis on which you, or anyone, could possibly reject the protestants’ version – I’m afraid I am unable to follow the argument, so I’d prefer let Andriy reply to you directly on the truth basis that makes orthodox and protestants differ. Secondly, I will take your irony on the zealousness implied by my Greek name as a compliment; in the first few agonizing centuries of the ancient Christian church, 10 out of a total 11 million Christian martyrs were Greeks; yes, they rushed to carry Christ’s Cross on their bleeding shoulders and it would be an immense honor for me to live a fraction of their faith and homology.
Andriy, on your main question now, I believe it introduces a forced duality of options that, at best, does not help draw a conclusion or construct an argument. For example, it leaves no space for the question “were you given the power of personal choice by God or not?” which is actually fundamental in our Christian faith. For another example, a man attracted only to women –as per male nature- can still practice many forms of sexual distortion, with women. Would that still be seen as given by God?
I was born a man, therefore with an inert attraction towards women; growing through life in this society, it has been my full everyday choice to respond positively or negatively to the multitude of temptations, deviations, perversions and distortions that are on offer just a small step away.
Still, my answer can be heavily erratic in providing a satisfactory answer, so I would prefer the Fathers of our faith voice themselves. Quoting from “Catechesis”, the fundamental work of Saint Cyril Patriarch of Jerusalem (4th century AD) -with my apologies beforehand for any error in translation:
“The soul is immortal. And all the souls of men and women are alike. Only the body parts are different. There is no group of souls who sin by nature, or a group of souls who practice virtue by nature. But both –i.e. sin and virtue- depend on the free will, because all the souls have the same nature and substance”. (Catechesis D’, chapter 20).
“The soul has free will. And the devil can suggest sin, but he has no authority to force the soul to unwillingly commit sin. The devil will cast you a thought of fornication; If you want, you accept it; if you don’t want, you don’t accept it. Because, if you would be forced into fornication, why would God punish you? If you did good because of your nature and not because you wanted it, then for whom has God prepared wreaths of untold glory? The sheep is meek, but it has never been rewarded for its meekness, as meekness is its natural trait” (Catechesis D’, chapter 20).
“Don’t tell me that the body is the cause of sin. Because if the body is the cause of sin, then why don’t the dead commit sins? Put a sword at the right hand of a person who just died, and there will be no murder. Let all the beauties pass in front of a young man who just died, and there will be no desire for lust. Why? Because the body does not sin on its own, but the soul does through the body. The boy is a tool and looks like a cloth and a uniform to the soul. And if the body is delivered by the soul into fornication, it becomes dirty. But if the body is inhabited by a holy soul, it becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. I don’t say this, but Apostle Paul has said: “Don’t you know that your bodies are temple to the Holy Spirit in you?” Take care of your body therefore as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t corrupt your body with lust; don’t contaminate this beautiful uniform. And if you have contaminated it, wash it in repentance, for now is the time for the bath of rebirth.” (Catechesis D’, chapter 23)
Andriy, you know that we live in the time of Fall; carrying Adam’s sin means that we are created as per the image of God –and Jesus Christ IS the image of God- with the capacity and the potential to become god-alike. But this potential is yet to be fulfilled; we are broken mirrors, our logic is often found defective, we are fragile and susceptible to sin; in order to become clear images of God, we need to heal from our pride. As an Orthodox I can’t accept that my susceptibility to sin was given by God; it has been Adam and Eve’s free will that chose to live autonomously from the very Source of Life.
I will put it another way. We know that the Holy Bible suggests abstinence from alcohol abuse. What would we say about a baby born alcoholic? Was its physical attraction to alcohol given by God, or was it its choice? I dare say none of the two! Christ healed several people born with a defect while explaining that in some cases their born suffering was God’s plan (e.g. to reveal the glory of the Son of God) but in other cases God simply allowed it (i.e. let happen, not act upon) due to their parents sins or their own sins. The Spirit blows to any direction it wishes.
What is left for the alcoholic baby then? Do we cast it in hell? Do we proclaim the hypocritical kind of mercy and love, feeding the baby with as much alcohol as it desires, and keep reminding it that “it has done nothing wrong”? Or do we act as true Orthodox, discriminating between love for the baby and hate for the alcohol – in which case, we will try and help the baby fight to overcome its drinking temptation (be it organic or not, is truly irrelevant). In the latter case, the baby will grow to fight its drinking problem; it may succeed or it may not – it doesn’t matter. Christ will not judge this alcoholic person by his success against alcohol, but by his fighting spirit against it. And this person may reach a higher place in Heaven than a hermit who never knew alcohol and never had to fight such a temptation. “Remove the temptations, and nobody will be saved”. (St. Antonios the Great)
Anyone identifying oneself as gay means simply one has a significantly more difficult temptation and struggle ahead than others; the fight to overcome it will be rewarded by God certainly far more than others’ easier struggles, and this is the beauty of our Faith.
While I appreciate your response and admire your deep interest in this subject, we are not on the same wavelength. You seem to want to argue and argue against what I and numerous other LGBT persons know to be Gospel: that we did not choose our sexual orientation and are blessed by God when we enter into loving, mature relationships. Your question of: “were you given the power of personal choice by God or not?” needs to be answered. No, I did not choose to be gay any more than you chose to be straight. If you did, when did that happen? Also, when you state: “I was born a man, therefore with an inert attraction towards women” is disproven by the fact that millions of men are not attracted to women, we are attracted to other men. This is not some sort of gay conspiracy, but simple biology. The love that I have for my husband of 15 years and the expression of that love is not as you state some type of “temptation, deviation, perversion and distortion” but a sincere, compassionate, kind and giving love that is expressed in heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships. One can only assume that you do not know any gay people or gay couples, otherwise, I believe that you would not speak in the manner in which you do, as I and others would be offended by your comments.
I bid you peace,
I was intending to reply after next Andre’s comment in order to avoid “parallel conversations”. The reason why I jumped into the dialogue between him and Athanasios in the first place is because I didn’t deem it merely a conversation between two people, since Athanasius’ comments concern in my opinion all the people who are supporting what Andre is doing on this blog. So let me answer to what was addressed to me specifically in the previous section (which, by the way has a format of a short novel).
So Athanasios, no. No individual can claim possession of the truth, (where did you get that silly idea?) because the truth lies in the entirety of the body of Christ – the Church, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. No orthodox believer stands on his own, but as a part of that catholic body. The only individual that has ever possessed the truth was Christ himself (I’m feeling stupid even saying this cause isn’t this the most obvious fact?) Every local Orthodox Church presided by an orthodox bishop and guided by the Spirit of Truth is source of infallibility, not the individual members who can be wrong and are fallible and imperfect. Not even an individual bishop can be the only exclusive possessor of the truth, but only the entire community consisting of a bishop and his flock in communion with other bishops. I’m a little bit surprised, that you as a fervent orthodox ignore these basic facts of our ancient faith.
So, you might be surprised to hear this, maybe no one has ever told you before, but neither do you possess the truth, dear Athanasios, even if you are orthodox. Unless you wish to compete with the roman pope who, according to some, is indeed infallible. So rejoice, dear brother (if you allow me to call you that), no one is asking of you to hold the burden of infallibility on your shoulders alone. You are not able to carry it! No one is asking of you to imitate St. Athanasios (for not even him was alone in his struggle for orthodoxy..) Believe me, that is not your call! Further, no one here is trying to destroy or to subvert the faith we were given and the traditions we were handed down by the fathers. On the contrary, we are all trying to live by them. Please, try to be more humble next time and come to us not as our teacher (for we have no teacher except our Heavenly Father), but as our brother who may not agree with us on certain points. We all eat of the same bread therefore we are all the same body of Christ. We all share the same truth in which we participate individually, each according to his own strength. Can you follow the argument now?
Titian, three points of clear disagreement:
1. “Not even an individual bishop can be the only exclusive possessor of the truth, but only the entire community consisting of a bishop and his flock in communion with other bishops. I’m a little bit surprised, that you as a fervent orthodox ignore these basic facts of our ancient faith.”
Apparently I do ignore the faith that you describe. In my faith, the truth of God shines through the Ecumenical Synods and the Saints, who become reflections of Christ. There were a lot of bishops and their flocks following Arius – guess what: Blind guides of blinds, they all fell into heresy.
2. “No one is asking of you to imitate St. Athanasios (for not even him was alone in his struggle for orthodoxy..) Believe me, that is not your call!”
Every Orthodox is being asked to imitate Christ, as stated both in the Old (Levit. 20:7,20:26) and the New Testament (A’ Peter, 1:16). Imitating the Saints means imitating Christ. I’d rather take the hard way despite I’m crippled by my sins, than follow your advice. (By the way, despite your lengthy lesson on who claims possession of the truth, you seem quite confident about knowing what my call is, or isn’t, about).
3. “Further, no one here is trying to destroy or to subvert the faith we were given and the traditions we were handed down by the fathers.”
I am afraid it will take more convincing evidence than a “mission statement” to say that you do not subvert the faith and the traditions handed down by the fathers. I’ve read a lot of ‘advice’ throughout this site – many about reading biology books (what exactly? the ‘gay gene’ myth?) but no reference whatsoever to St. Chrysostom’s interpretation of Apostle Paul. And surprise! You do that, and you’ll discover you are less than a step away from admitting exactly that you prefer subverting the faith handed down by the fathers.
I shall say nothing more, since I have already said enough. I hope one day you will look back at this exchange with a different mind and a different heart. You may not wish that, but that’s my hope for you.
Since you have chosen to end this dialogue, and since we are all persons of free will, so be it.
This said, I do not expect your further answer, neither my intent is such. But I will give you some food for personal thought. Why? Because, unlike your thought that “the bishops have failed to embrace and love and see all of us”, our Faith is truly loving even when the aphorism extreme is at hand. If you see your brother falling, you want to honestly warn them of the danger and save them, not sweetly farewell them on their way down. Electroshock is a form of torture behind prison bars, but behind surgery room doors it has brought people back to life. In this respect, I was not surprised you felt uncomfortable with some of my words – but I was surprised that you were offended, preferring to view honest critique by fellow Orthodox as a bloodthirsty and ignorant judgement for the gay infidels, rather than a brotherly call to reconsider advertising sin as sin-free.
First, thank you very much for selectively answering my own personal words but remaining silent on my references to St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, the Virgin Mother of God. It has been wise of you, and in fact an answer in itself.
Second, I encourage you to think more on how your arguments persistently revolve around a vague definition of “simple biology”. That’s absolutely fine for a site titled “anythingandgay.com”, but quite off target for “orthodoxandgay”. Think of the following statement: “People don’t walk on water, nor do they create human eyes in seconds out of earth and saliva, nor do they rise after being four days dead, nor do they give birth and remain virgin, because it’s simple biology”. Similarly, let’s assume that tomorrow some scientists announce they found a gene the existence of which might have a correlation with orientation for serial killings, cannibalism or exercising bestiality. You may find it helpful to think whether you would revise your faith so as to accommodate the latest trend about “simple biology”.
Third, you are keen on statements about “blessed gay marriages” (by the way, you don’t mind if other Orthodox might find these words in context as offensive – only gay-defensive people have the privilege to feel offended), but you also rush to defend the entire “LGBT people”. I encourage you to think to yourself, since the “B” in “LGBT” stands for Bisexual, what exactly will your version of the Gospel imply about a …”blessed threesome marriage”? (Beware, if you don’t accept the “blessed threesome”, in your own words you will deny the “simple biology” of bisexuals, and you risk accusing yourself of being based “on archaic interpretations of the Scriptures and canon law”).
Fourth, I really encourage you to think how your reference to a happy and long-lasting gay relationship has any fit at all in such debates. Why does earthly happiness through any specific way of life justify the moral basis of that way? Many dictators and drug dealers have also lived happily in this temporary life here, yet Christ Himself, His Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, led tortured lives – and yet the untold happiness of another kind.
Fifth, and most important. This debate ever started because, in brief, I believe you unfairly used a quote of Metropolitan Anthony in order to accuse the Orthodox Church of being guilty and hypocritical for not lifting sin from sodomy. After one exchange of replies, you did not counter-argue. As I see it, you understood the error and therefore owe an apology; definitely not to me and not in public, but certainly in private and to the soul of Metropolitan Anthony himself.
I truly wish you the happiness of another kind.
While you were judging me, my father was placed in hospice and did die. I was attending to multitude of family issues as well as grieving. But I also realize that there are some people so sure of their own righteousness, that no argument will suffice. We will just have to let Jesus judge. You are in prayers, unworthy as they are.
I do bid you peace,
What you don’t understand is that gay relationships are not inherently harmful, and so cannot be compared to something damaging like alcoholism. The science is clear on this. Gay couples are just as healthy, faithful, and devoted as heterosexual couples. They are also just as capable of raising children as heterosexual couples. Thus the American Psychological Association no longer declares homosexuality a disorder. THAT is why they are not sinful relationships. THAT is why the Church is wrong on this. It is still working from old assumptions that gay relationships are only based on sexual desire instead of committed companionship. That way of thinking has been demonstrated false based on the facts and science now available to us, and it is time the Church rejected that thinking as it has geocentrism and other outdated models of reality.
– A Questioning Catholic
It is fairly obvious that you choose to accept the guys at American Psychological Association as your undisputed truth-gods.
Interestingly, in their official site & Q&A’s pamphlet on homosexuality, and in reply to the following 2 questions: (1) “Do children of lesbian and gay parents have more problems with sexual identity than do children of heterosexual parents?” and (2) “Do children raised by lesbian or gay parents have problems in personal development in areas other than sexual identity?”, APA states: “Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.”
However, your confident and undoubted conclusion is that “gay couples are just as capable of raising children as heterosexual couples”.
You see, there are many ways to characterize the logical disorder whereby Peter says “I don’t know the color”, and you respond “Peter definitely says black”. I leave you to find one that fits best the occasion.
My “truth-god” is not the APA, but Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I listen to what the APA and other scientists say on these issues not because I think they are “gods,” but because they actually test ideas through experimentation and present data from these tests to back up their conclusions. In other words, they are simply making observations of the natural world around us. These scientific observations are not contrary to God’s revealed Truth, since He is the Creator of the natural world.
With regards to your comments on the APA pamphlet “Answers to Your Questions For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” your quoting is very selective. You have left out this part of the answer of Question 1:
“The answer from research is clear: sexual and gender identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents.”
And as for Question 2:
“Again, studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents.”
Yes, there are not as many studies on gay fathers. However, the far more abundant studies on lesbian mothers demonstrate that they are just as capable as heterosexual parents in raising children. Also, even taking the few studies done on gay fathers into account, this same pamphlet also states:
“In summary, social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and
gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay
people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay
parents do not differ markedly from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.”
And lest you think this is just the opinion of a single, biased, American organization, that conclusion is also backed by the Canadian Psychological Association and Australian Psychological Association. As Judith Stacey of New York University states: “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights.”
Again, the science is clear on this issue. As with geocentrism and slavery, the Church should be willing to reject outdated worldviews as we gain new understanding of God’s good creation.
May the grace of God be always with you.
– A Questioning Catholic
My dearest sympathies for you and your family. I will pray for your father’s soul. I am also sorry for the discrimination that you and other LGBT people of faith suffer. I pray that one day, both our churches will be able to turn away from prejudice and recognize the faithful commitment gay couples have for one another. May God bless you.
– A Questioning Catholic
May God rest your father’s soul and gift him life eternal in the kingdom of heaven, among His friends.
Having explained that judgement is not on you as a person, or as a sinner (you suffer the gay pathos, I suffer other grave sins), but on the impenitent persistence to advertise sodomy as sin-free, I do not feel there is anything left unclear. Your subtle phrasal link between your grave loss and me judging you, as bitter as it may sound, is still a very understandable human reaction, so no hard feelings. This said, with all due respect I would kindly ask you to share your father’s name for commemoration.
“No hard feelings” with “you suffer the gay pathos”? Oh my. I wonder if you can hear yourself?
I will no longer engage with you. I will allow you to post comments. If others wish to respond to you, they can, as long as the conversation remains civil and respectful.
I have read APA’s pamphlet thoroughly before quoting it. It is strange that you still use it to defend your doctrine that gay couples are good parents, when all APA says is that they haven’t researched it! What’s worse, you have exactly found that APA discredits its own words (lack of research) in a summary full of politicalized gross generalizations. This is exactly the visible kind of brutally-forced lobbying on science!
With regard to your “church vs. science” battling, you are confident that the Church needs to apologize because of claimed controversy vs scientific studies. However, when the Darwinian evolutionist cheats were exposed (surprise! even scientists can be humans in pursuit of fame and fortune), I didn’t see anyone apologizing for the scandalized and traumatized faith of millions of souls. The gay gene myth follows close, and I will give credit to the Roman-Catholic team of scientists who have scrutinized this story.
What’s more, this “church vs. science” polarized thinking is totally alien to the experiential living of the Christian Orthodox Faith. I will put it simply – do you think Christ came to earth to provide or confirm advanced scientific understanding? Or did He rather invite us into a struggle to return to our forgotten heavenly homeland and escape satan’s works? (oops! sorry, the APA does not acknowledge this terrible guy who was talking to Christ on the mountain of temptations!)
Perhaps you will find some interest in identifying the “church vs. science” historic origins well past the freemasonry-bred “humanism” of the French revolution, and into the ancient gnosticists. I would ultimately recommend you a trip to the monasteries of Mt Athos; it may be enlightening for you to meet monks who are former IT enthusiasts, NASA officers, or professors of post-doctoral MIT-Harvard curricula. They have solved the “church vs. science” enigma, and it’s called “different areas”, not “worlds in conflict”.
Finally, I find it extremely disappointing that the Orthodox Church is accused of the flat earth (third time in this single thread!) and even of condoning slavery! If you have questioning issues (as your signature implies) with Papacy or the Inquisition, please keep them as they are – alien to the Orthodox Byzantine legacy.
I hope you find the above marginally helpful in reconsidering what sodomy -and infinitely worse, impenitence- does to people’s souls.
You claim you read the APA pamphlet thoroughly, but you still ignore the statements in it which state that numerous studies have been performed on lesbian mothers, and they have found them to be no different than heterosexual parents. Therefore, this topic has been researched and a consensus has been determined. While studies on gay fathers are less common, they have also been done and have also concluded that gay fathers are capable parents. See, for example, the literature review by Riggs & Due (2014) “Gay fathers’ reproductive journeys and parenting experiences: a review of research.” Also, in case you still doubt that this subject has been researched thoroughly, you can view a collection of peer-reviewed studies on LGBT parenting on the following website:
Therefore, the APA is not discrediting its own words, but is presenting the scientific consensus on this issue. Also, like I said in my previous post, this is not just the opinion of the APA. It is also the opinion of psychological research organizations in other countries as well as child welfare organizations. So you cannot just dismiss this conclusion as political bias from one organization.
With regard to your statement on Darwinian evolutionist cheats, I’m afraid I am not sure what specific events you are referring to. While fraud does indeed occur in science, as it does in other human institutions, this does not discredit science as a whole nor the countless number of discoveries about God’s creation that science has unearthed. Also, I hope you are not suggesting that the theory of evolutionary is false, as it is established science with as much evidentiary support as the theory of gravity. Plenty of faithful Christians have no problems accepting evolutionary science (including Orthodox Christians such as Theodosius Dobzhansky and Archbishop Lazar Puhalo), so it should not be blamed for crises of faith nor considered at odds with Christianity.
Regarding the “gay gene” hypothesis, this is not the only mechanism through which sexual orientation can have a biological basis. Many researchers also think there are epigenetic causes which can influence development of sexual orientation, such as exposure to different hormone levels during fetal development in the womb. See, for example, this review by Ngun & Vilain (2014) “The biological basis of human sexual orientation: is there a role for epigenetics?” Therefore, just because there may be no single “gay gene” doesn’t mean that sexual orientation doesn’t have a biological basis, or that it is a choice.
You also claim that I am perpetuating a “conflict thesis” between science and religion, but that is not the case. As I wrote in my previous post, scientific facts do not contradict God’s truth, since God is the Creator of the natural world studied by science. As a scientist myself, I see no conflict between the findings of science and my Christian faith. However, I do see many Christians try to pass off outdated ideas on issues such as evolution, gender roles, and sexual orientation as part of the Apostolic Faith. The Creeds and Ecumenical Councils, which define essential doctrines of faith, do not discuss these issues and we should be willing to re-evaluate our position on them as we receive new information.
As for your question, I do not think scientific knowledge is necessary for salvation, but a proper relationship with God through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. However, we should be willing to listen to the findings of science as it can help us improve how we live out our faith in Christ towards others. For example, many faithful Christians become doctors so that they may care for the sick as Our Lord commanded. For such Christians, the findings of modern medicine would help them fulfill their calling, rather than listening to outdated medical knowledge. I don’t know why you think the APA’s silence on the existence of Satan is relevant, as it is a topic outside the scope of social science.
Also, I have not accused the Orthodox Church of having believed in a flat earth, but geocentrism (the theory that the Earth is at the center of the Universe). This was the common understanding in the past not just for Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), but almost everyone else as well. However, as new information was discovered on the organization of the Solar System and the Universe, Christians and the rest of the world rejected geocentrism as an outdated worldview.
Lastly, you seem to want to equate sodomy with gay marriage, but marriage is about more than sex. Like heterosexual couples, gay couples are not interested in getting married for sex. They want to commit themselves to someone they love, and maybe start a family by adopting and raising children. This commitment to love and family is not harmful to people’s souls, but holy and blessed.
May the grace of God be with you.
– A Questioning Catholic
Here’s your research.
I had chosen to not respond anymore, after Andre’s …suggestion. Well, I changed my mind. As this dialogue appears to follow an endless vicious circle, I will be sharper this time, for the distant chance that we agree even in our disagreement.
A. On gay parenthood
You continue to support it by again and again quoting APA on researches for lesbians, not gays, i.e. apples for honeybees. You also replace the term “few” (meaning “insufficient”) researches on gays with “a few”, which you find sufficient; this is plain distortion. You validate APA with fellow clubs of the same culture, selectively ignoring the rest of the world who state the opposite.
Your own link states: “While many of the sample sizes were small, and some studies lacked a control group, researchers regard such studies as providing the best available knowledge about child adjustment, and do not view large, representative samples as essential.” Thank you very much! Some truth-gods (gays, I presume?) decided that the samples are sufficient and representative, even if they are not. My postgraduate thesis was full of social science stats, and I know I would have been kicked back home without a degree if I had dared utter such crap! How dare they? Fat lobby funds and the glory of article publicity always motivate the slightest research work, but I really don’t know, ask them how they dare.
And to finish this talk once and for good about this gay parenting concept, let me tell you a couple of words as a father of a few children. If I die and they stay orphans, did it ever cross your mind to ask ME how I wish them to grow up and by whom? Of course not! You rather like to ask gay researchers, in your mind they somehow have a superior power over my children’s wellbeing than that I was given by God. This is called FASCISM of the worst kind. And why does someone who has CONSCIOUSLY REJECTED the natural scope of his body organs and therefore has DENIED TO HIS OWN SELF the right to give birth to children, why would this someone take my children to grow them up? Isn’t this racist discrimination against heterosexuals? What’s worse, LGBT lobby leaders should first rinse their hands and minds very well from all the dark associations with pedophilia. Read out how NAMBLA had to stay out of LGBT lobby realms before the latter could gain ties with the UN. In case you don’t know, your latest theories called “orientation, not choice” pave the legal way for pedophiles to gain similar rights: Some dark scientists also start mumbling that pedophilia is a sexual orientation… Despite of all your good-will theories and delicately-dressed reasoning, and although you may think (as Pontios Pilatos did) that your hands are clean, know you are bathing your hands in the blood of the innocent. This is my last and irrevocable word on the inhumanity, fascism and crucifixion called “gay parenthood”. Let anyone who has ears, heed.
B. On the LGBT “gay marriage”
You say “gay marriage is about more than sex”. This means sex included. It’s called sodomy. SODOMY. You do not fear God when you do it, why do you fear humans when you have to state it?
Don’t rush to explain that homosexuality includes same-gender bonds without sex. You may fancy dressing sodomy with “loving relationships”, “long-lasting emotional bonds” et cetera, but sodomy is the CORE of homosexuality. Do you know why? if there was no sexual object, the term “FRIENDSHIP” would say it all.
You see, you can take a dead mouse, put chocolate on it, pour vanilla dressing and cherries and serve it with a fancy candle on top. You don’t see it anymore, you can claim all “Schrödinger’s cat” theories to spread confusion that the mouse may just not be there, you can film stories about the topping flavors, you can write books about the cherries on the cake, you can even shout it’s “low calories” stuff. Well, the dead mouse is still inside and no thanks, I am not having any.
And as to your illusions about what the Church says on the topic, I am sorry to let you know that sodomy is NOT blessed. Christ created the man and the woman as his companion, and blessed their union; He saved only male and female couples during Noah’s Cataclysm (yes, no gay couple survived it, in men and animals alike); He destroyed the Sodoma and Gomorra, He casted rules in the Levitikon, He performed His first miracle on a man-to-woman wedding, He opened Paul’s mental vision to condemn man-to-man sex, His Holy Spirit guided the Church Canons and numerous Fathers Saints from the Apostolic times to the modern times into expressing their absolute and undisputed negative position on the subject. And He has also warned that the last antichrist’s days will be marked by the treason of many of his priests. Let anyone who has mind, calculate.
You are free to try and make the entire world shout “gay marriage is blessed, sodomy is ok”. You might also destroy crosses and step on holy icons (as LGBT pride marches do in Latin America -by the way, didn’t see anyone of you taking the side of Christ and accuse your fellow gays of Christophobia…). But it doesn’t matter. No march, no science paper, no politician’s speech, no voting majority ever opened the door of Heaven to anyone. You may spend endless days and nights in the vanity of advising people on how, where and when to come out. Don’t worry about coming out; we will all come out once and for good before the terrible Throne, each with our flimsy apologies. Let anyone who has ears, heed.
Only humility and penitence saves – they are exact opposites to the proud and impenitent “coming out”. Only the Holy Virgin Mother of God saves – the High Protector of Virginity and Motherhood, both being exactly what sodomy defies and opposes.
C. On “normality”
About the “biological basis” of “sexual orientation”. Tons of books full of confusion. We don’t even understand what “orientation” in the first place means. If a magnetic compass points correctly to the North, then this is its natural orientation. What is this kind of orientation? Is the compass broken? Is it demagnetized? Has someone changed the printed letters and they seem to point “West” instead? Has the compass owner gone mad or blind and chooses to go wherever without looking at the compass? Lengthy beating about the bush. The digestive and excramatory systems of the human body are not made to imitate reproduction. There is no other biological truth stronger than that.
At the end of the day, sins are not “mental disorders”. It is irrelevant whether APA has given the privilege to insurance companies not to reimburse visits of hurt souls who visit psychotherapists, in their efforts to deal with homosexual choices.
And a last final story for bedtime thinking.
Once upon a time, some dark ugly guy threw a stone at your head. You get dizzy, your vision is blurred, you see the blood, you feel numb, then the pain, then some memory loss about how it all happened. You get a bit more conscious, you look down and see what hurt you; it’s a stone. You cry, and then you rage. You see others that did not get hit from the same stone. Some of them, impolite and gross savages, laugh at you. You will call for anti-stone and anti-laugh laws, you will put the stone to jail. You will shout for suffering bullying and discrimination – quite rightfully. You can also run researches with the APA or other fellow institutes to measure the stones. Finally, the stones are natural. The trauma is natural, too. Gravity rules have applied, too. Everything is natural. The stone behaved almost as the rain; subject to gravity and felt when falling on our heads. You feel no-one should bully you anymore. The stone becomes your source of pride. “I have been stone-hit and I am proud for it.” Researchers measured every single thing about the stone, except for the possibility of some ugly guy laughing for throwing the stone and getting away with it.
PS – This time I chose to call you “Papist” instead of “Catholic”, which is a more precise definition of Pope-led Homology. In Orthodox Church, we call our Church “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic”.
You cited one example of a child who was abused by a lesbian couple. That does not suggest that most gay parents abuse their children. I could also link to many incidents where heterosexual parents have abused their children. That does not mean most heterosexual parents are bad parents either.
You included alot in your response, so I am not sure I will be able to address everything. I will do my best to respond to your most significant points. Nevertheless, I apologize for the length of my response.
A. On gay parenthood
Studies on lesbian mothers vs gay fathers are not “apples to honeybees.” Lesbians are gay women, so studies on them are important to determining the effect of gay parents on children. If your stance is that heterosexual couples are better on average at raising children than gay couples, then studies on lesbian couples refute that position because no significant differences are observed in children raised by lesbian parents compared to heterosexual parents. While more studies have been done on lesbian mothers compared to gay fathers, as I stated previously studies have been done on gay fathers and those studies did not find significant differences in children raised by gay fathers compared to heterosexual parents. You also state that I validate the APA with other “clubs” which have the same “culture” while ignoring the rest of the world on the topic. The only “culture” that those organizations share is a commitment to facts and the scientific method. You are free to provide me with an example of a scientific organization elsewhere in the world that disagrees with the APA on this issue. However, I am not aware of any.
You quote the “What We Know” link stating that many of the studies have small sample sizes and argue that they are not representative enough and represent a poor quality of data. However, if you read further, you will see that the author addresses your criticism:
“Some critics of the LGB parenting research object to the small, non-random sampling methods known as “convenience sampling” that researchers in the field often use to gather their data. Yet within the field, convenience sampling is not considered a methodological flaw, but simply a limitation to generalizability. Within sociology and especially psychology, small, qualitative and longitudinal studies are considered to have certain advantages over probability studies: Such data can allow investigators to notice and analyze subtleties and texture in child development over time that large, statistical studies often miss. It is important to note, moreover, that some of the research that finds no differences among children with same-sex parents does use large, representative data. A 2010 study by Stanford researcher Michael Rosenfeld used census data to examine the school advancement of 3,500 children with same-sex parents, finding no significant differences between households headed by same-sex and opposite-sex parents when controlling for family background. Another study drew on nationally representative, longitudinal data using a sampling pool of over 20,000 children, of which 158 lived in a same-sex parent household. Controlling for family disruptions, those children showed no significant differences from their peers in school outcomes.” (http://whatweknow.law.columbia.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-wellbeing-of-children-with-gay-or-lesbian-parents/)
As you can see, these types of studies are not an example of sloppy or biased research, but provide distinct advantages to understanding child development. You also suggest that the conclusions found in these studies are the result of bias due to either funding from pro-LGBT groups or publicity rather than an objective assessment of the evidence. Let’s please not delve into conspiracy theory territory. There is no evidence that these groups have fabricated or rigged studies just to cater to funding organizations. This is the same kind of argument peddled by climate change denialists, anti-vaxxers, GMO alarmists, creationists, and other anti-science groups and such arguments are just as fallacious in this context.
Regarding your statement about adoption, I never suggested that you or any parents should be forced to give up your children for adoption to gay couples. If, according to your scenario, your children were orphaned, of course your last wishes should be the determining factor as to who should get to raise your children. However, it is not “fascism” or “racist discrimination (sexual orientation is not a race) against heterosexuals” to suggest that LGBT couples have the same adoption rights as heterosexual couples. Just because they cannot procreate doesn’t mean they should be denied the right to parenthood, any more than an infertile heterosexual couple should.
You also state that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. With all due respect, that is a homophobic myth and slanderous to LGBT individuals. There is absolutely no evidence that homosexuality and pedophilia are related. Bringing up NAMBLA also does not support your stereotype, as all major LGBT advocacy groups have condemned NAMBLA and none of them advocate for pedophilia. This disgusting myth has been used by many to excuse persecution and violence against LGBT people. Please keep that in mind before judging others of having blood-stained hands (and also remember the words of Our Lord in Matthew 7:3-5).
B. On LGBT “gay marriage”
You seem to be fixated on sex acts regarding LGBT people, specifically sodomy (by which I assume you mean anal sex), calling it the core of gay relationships. However, sodomy is not the only way gay people can express sexual intimacy (and many heterosexual couples also engage in sodomy). For example, lesbians do not perform anal sex. I don’t want to focus too much on this topic, as I am not interested in gay sex acts, but it is untrue to suggest that sodomy is at the core of gay relationships. Therefore, one can still be opposed to sodomy in relationships (gay or straight) without condemning gay relationships as a whole. You also suggest that sex is so important to a marriage that, without it, it would only be deemed a “friendship.” However, I assume you would not consider the marriage of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary, which according to tradition involved no sex, to be merely a “friendship.” The Holy Family is in fact the best example of how marriage is about much more than sex. It was faith and love centered in Jesus Christ that was at the core of St. Joseph’s and the Theotokos’ marriage, not sex.
You state that the Church has ruled against sodomy, but as I said earlier, that is not equivalent to faithful gay relationships. Also, your examples from the Scriptures do not directly address the issue homosexuality but are instead affirmations of heterosexual relationships and condemnations of inappropriate sex acts which do not relate to faithful gay relationships. I will again point out that neither the Creeds nor the Ecumenical Councils, which define the essentials of Christian theology, address the issue of gay relationships.
You also condemn gay pride, pointing out that Christian icons and symbols are desecrated at some gay pride events and arguing that it violates the Christian mandate to practice humility. However, desecration of icons does not happen at most pride events, and it is not meant as disrespect to Jesus, but as protest of the institutional churches which demonize LGBT people and often collude with state officials to pass laws discriminating against them. Also, gay pride “coming out” is not about violating humility but is instead about unapologetically affirming one’s identity in spite of the backlash that might follow, similar to Christian martyrs who affirmed their faith in Christ despite the persecution they knew they would face.
C. On “normality”
You claim that the biological basis for sexual orientation is “tons of books full of confusion.” While research is still ongoing in this field, there is evidence that there are biological factors that contribute to sexual orientation, as seen in the study I linked to in my previous post for example. Also, sexual orientation is not an unknown concept. The APA defines it as: “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.” There have been numerous studies on sexual orientation, so we have a pretty clear understanding about what it is, and that it is not something people can change of their own free will. Your statement referring to anal sex is, again, irrelevant to this issue. I have also not claimed that homosexuality is a mental disorder, because one’s sexual orientation is not a disorder to be cured, which is why gay conversion therapies have failed and caused mental and emotional harm.
Also, you don’t need to refer to me as a Papist. I have recently left the Roman Catholic Church due to theological disagreements around issues like papal infallibility.
May the grace of God be with you.
– A Questioning Christian (formerly A Questioning Catholic)
I will reply at a better time availability.
Top short comment, Saint Joseph was Virgin Mary ‘s fiancé and not husband. The relationship was one of protection, he was 70 years old and She was 15. Do not please use Virgin Mary ‘s example, to support what She does not represent. She is the protector of Motherhood and Virginity. That is what homosexualism denies outright. Let’s keep some minimum respect on the matter!
Where did you hear that St. Joseph was only the Theotokos’ fiancé? Based on what I’ve learned, he was her husband. Just because they didn’t consummate the marriage doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I think their example is relevant to demonstrate how the focus of marriage is not sex, but faith and love. Also, being gay does not reject outright motherhood or virginity, any more than being straight does.
May the grace of God be with you.
– A Questioning Christian
Just to be blunt, I am Orthodox and supportive of the Orthodox Church’s stance on sexuality. The church fathers, being sinners themselves, unfortunately do not get 100% of everything correct in all of their writings, however, the Church has always looked to the canons of ecumenical councils and saints for guidance on truth. None of this has ever permitted or blessed homosexuality. To the contrary, they actually fight against it and bring truth to light. There are a few arguments made above that I would like to briefly respond to, hopefully in humility, as I know this is a deep and confusing struggle. I hope the best for everyone who bears it. You are likely stronger than I.
First, I would like to say that God indeed loves all of you with a deep, redemptive, powerful, “I will die for you” love that he showed on the cross and in his resurrection. If you feel buried with the temptations of homosexual intercourse or any other type of sin, God can resurrect you to righteousness and loves you deeply.
Some of the main arguments:
Slavery – many people say because Christians have had slaves this means that they make mistakes and that their opposition to homosexual actions are also a mistake. Unfortunately, this argument has a few holes in it. First, the Church has never been “pro slavery”. If you look into the writings of the Fathers, some of them mention slavery as a necessary evil, but they still have a low view of it. Secondly, they never condone or (God forbid) glorify it in a council or formal way. Last on this subject, the saints of old have always put greater emphasis on HOW we are loving one another EVEN IN THE MIDST OF A CULTURAL EVIL (like slavery) – Paul was more concerned with the fact that if someone was a slave owner, that they treat their slave like Christ would treat us. This shows simply that the Fathers recognized we are aliens in this world, so whether slave or free, what was MORE important (not that ending slavery is not important) was repenting and partaking of God’s kingdom. The church undoubtedly rejoices that slavery is no longer a part of American culture. To say that the Church changed Her view here is wrong. Furthermore, using this as a point int he LGBT agenda is comparing something the church “permits” and nurtures towards at least a loving relationship (when culture is unfortunately aligned this way, slavery) to something the Church has unanimously stated is against the natural laws God has given us and is a part of the sickness we’ve fallen into. To encourage someone to go deeper into this sickness does not help anybody. To encourage someone to “come out”, however, and face the truth of what is really going on inside of them, can indeed be helpful, but it must be handled in a way that leads all to truth that homosexual acts are unnatural and harmful.
Divorce – to say that Christ didn’t allow divorce but the Church does and assume the Church should do the same with homosexual marriage also has a few holes in it. First, Christ does allow for divorce under certain circumstances (adultery, esp) and the Church quickly clarified that his example also applies to a few other stances (abuse and the like). These things were unanimously clarified by the Church and are treated with pastoral care. The struggle of homosexuality should also be treated with pastoral care, but that is not to say that because of this we can say … “see divorce can be a good thing”.. In no way… a second marriage is permitted as ECONOMY/CONCESSION (but is not Christian/Orthodox) to allow room for people who have weakness/need when they have been wronged in marriage or ruined their marriage and have repented. Even then, the church does not allow for a 4th marriage ever, and even the 2nd and 3rd are treated with SERIOUS REPENTANCE (they even have a whole different service!!). Conclusion here – “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel. Divorce and homosexual actions should both be treated with pastoral love and care that leads to right and natural relationship and recognizes both as sinful in need of God’s help. Glorifying either of these as “good” does not help anyone.
Infertile relationships – The church (especially through the beloved St. John Chrysostom) has confirmed that a MAJOR role of marriage is undoubtedly procreation. To take this away is to make marriage something less than God intended. However, he clearly proclaims that Paul makes clear the other reason for marriage – help in chastity and union of two people in a natural, God given way. Because the Church confirms there are reasons for marriage other than procreation, the Fathers do agree that it would be better to grow into an abstinent state after menopause. This is also seen as the reason men naturally begin to lose their sexual drive with old age. Homosexuality does not treat procreation as a possible role of marriage and does not treat infertility as a part of the fall. These are Orthodox concepts that cannot be taken away from God’s natural creation.
Monogamous homosexuality – To say that the important thing is simply a commitment to 1 other person is to have a low view of marriage. Marriage fulfills laws of nature (heterosexual), creates life (children), and glorifies God with gender roles being fulfilled with humility. Any marriage outside the Orthodox Church sacrament is less than Christian, but some of them are at least “natural” and “not sinful” in this way; these have the ability to be blessed and become fully Christian in as much as each party begins to partake of the sacraments and life of Christ with humility (just getting your marriage blessed does not mean it will stay Christian, this is an active walk in the Church). The problem with this argument is that it does not account for the full view of marriage.
“God made you this way” – Unfortunately, this is a lie that teaches people to define themselves by their struggles. You are MORE than your struggles and if you have homosexual tendencies, this is only a large temptation and heavy burden to bear, so I feel for you and ask for you to pray for me in my struggles as well (depression, anger, lust, pride, impatience, etc…) I might be an angry person sometimes, but my sinful anger does not define my person-hood; it needs to be purged out with divine fire so that I may become fully human in a natural way, as God created and intended for me.
Please forgive me for any offense this might create. I love you and don’t mean to offend you but I believe that encouraging sin as “good” is not helpful to anyone.
With love and hope for all,
Thank you for your email and intense interest in the subject of Orthodoxy and LGB issues. There is much to comment on and I will be selective.
You state that you are supportive of the Orthodox Church’s stance on sexuality. I would challenge that statement in that I am not sure that the Church has a pastoral or comprehensive definitive statement on sexuality. There are numerous views expressed by bishops and priests in print, in homilies, as well as in private conversations that would show the range of these views.
This website receives thousands of emails from LGBT Orthodox Christians, their family members, as well as those seeking entrance into the Church. There is not a single monolithic statement or approach. For example, one woman was accepted into the Church along with her wife and their adopted children. One transsexual woman was deprived of the sacraments when she spoke with her priest. The priest has no idea what a transsexual was and would agree to give her communion as long as she did not wear a dress to Church. One father sought advice from his pastor when his son came out. The priest had suggested that a memorial service be chanted for his son. The father stopped going to Church.
As you state the Church Fathers do not get everything 100% right all of the time. They were and are glorified and proclaimed for their holiness not their knowledge of neurobiology, psychology or chemistry. It would be foolish to assume that Saint John Chrysostom in the 4th century would know about DNA, genetics or neuroscience.
Also, you mention the canons of the Ecumenical Councils. As I am sure you know there are numerous canons not being followed and if they were, we would all be excommunicated. Everything from the prohibition of having two Orthodox bishops in one city (how many Orthodox bishops are ruling bishops of New York City for example) to the prohibition of seeing a Jewish doctor. Therefore to see the canons as the final ruling in issues of human sexuality would not be appropriate.
Also, your comment that I and millions of other LGBT individuals are “buried with the temptations of homosexual intercourse or any other type of sin” deserves a comment. I would ask you if you are “buried with the temptations of heterosexual intercourse”? If so, then we stand in agreement. However, the love and desire that I feel for my husband of over a decade, is a blessed love. There is faulty temptation in the heteronormative world to condemn LGBT individuals for simply being who God created us to be. This attitude is full of great pride.
Finally, you may believe that saying God made me this way is a lie, I would have to ask you, how did God make you? How else can you explain your attraction to women? Was it a choice? If it was a choice, can you choose to be sexually attracted to a man? This is folly. Just as I can only describe my calling to the priesthood as a feeling instilled in me from Christ Himself, I can only describe the love and attraction that I have for my husband as a feeling instilled in me from Christ Himself.
In conclusion, you ask for forgiveness for any offense and yet state that I am teaching lies. I am not sure how this logic works, but I will accept your asking for forgiveness.
My prayer is that God will lead you to a greater understanding of the beautiful differences in the world that He created. That thousands of types of individuals are not sin, but part of the beauty of His creation.
I bid you peace,
First off, thanks for your response. The thing I am most interested in is where you are coming from on the scientific level because you quote this often and I know little about it. I emailed you outside of this discussion a while back, hoping to have a genuine and open conversation about all of this and hear where you are coming from (to the site’s Yahool).
To comment on your response, I have been taught a much different perspective on how to handle the canons as well as what it means for the orthodox church to have a formal stance on an issue.
The orthodox church has had times where the majority of the church believed in heresy; however, this clearly does not mean the heresy was true. This was the case with the Arian heresy and was the purpose of the ecumenical councils, to work these things out in community. This does not mean that if you could poll the orthodox in the world, the popular vote would determine truth. There were times where only one or two bishops held to the truth and, eventually, by the Holy Spirit, brought this to light for the Church to see (for example, St. Nicholas at Nicea).
When looking at the question “is homosexuality dealt with in the canons or formal teachings of the church?” (and not just a popularity vote), we can clearly look and ask if the councils touched on this. The councils give guidance through canons to excommunicate or prescribe penance when certain harmful/sinful things are done by the faithful, in order to guide and chastise us towards holiness and union with God. When we see a canon (even if we are to break it via economia) we can still ask “what is the basis of and reason for this canon”? To say that we are breaking one canon in NY and therefore that we should throw all canons out the window is a very unorthodox approach. What is the point of having one bishop in a city? The interpreters of the canons historically say this is for order and because he is the presence of Christ to look over the distribution of the Eucharist in that area. This has been broken many times in history during the evangelization of new areas by multiple other orthodox Churches and the goal has always been to get the new area to a canonical state in a healthy way. Just because it gets broken does not mean it has no basis and is worthless.
When asking why the Church excommunicates and penances those who commit homosexual actions, what conclusions can we come to? (note that this has nothing to do with whether or not someone feels homosexual temptations) The only two conclusions I can see are 1) the church was wrong, shouldn’t have dealt with the subject, and did not know enough about science or 2) homosexual actions are degrading and harmful to those who partake of them and this canon is for their benefit (and the benefit of all). If you are claiming the church simply doesn’t know what she’s talking about with this subject, this is not at all the same reasoning for why the church breaks other canons (i.e. multiple bishops or going to a Jewish doctor).
When you get to the basis of this discussion in regards to the canons, you simply want to throw the canons out the window and pick and choose the ones you feel are appropriate, placing yourself as the supreme authority. The church, on the other hand leaves the canons in the hands of the bishops to implement BUT learns from them what we “should” be doing in an ideal world, still holding to the fact that canons we break continue to authoritatively teach us truths.
One note about heterosexuality… I do not feel that “being heterosexual” is something that defines me as an image bearer of God. God has given me sexual parts that show me to be male; how I feel about being male does not really change this. He has created sexual desire that is to be used for procreation and union between a spouse. However, if I lost the ability to have my wife sexually, I would be asked by Christ through the Church to abstain. This would not change who I am although it would be a heavy burden to bear. I have indeed had to bear it at points of life and I can agree that it is not easy.
To say that God did not make you this way is not to say that God really made you heterosexual and you’re screwing it up. It’s just to say that our person-hood is much deeper than sexual desires. I do understand that God made you as a male image bearer of Christ and he has indeed allowed you to have homosexual urges and passions. He does not, however, create these passions and place them within you. He has created mankind, male and female and designed us with compatible sexual parts, but the passions and urges are a part of our fallen humanity and can be used for good and creating union and life when channeled in a natural way.
I am in no way claiming that you can just “choose” to be attracted to a woman as some trivialize this issue down to. This is not an easy or simple issue and our passions run deeper than simple choice, but to say that any urge I get is clearly one that God gives me is to give no credit to the fact that many of the voices in our head can be demonic or even simply fleshly. The question we should be asking first is do homosexual actions really hurt/degrade those who partake of them. It seems you are lumping me in with most right wing that very much trivialize the “solutions” to this issue, but I am in no way suggesting simple solutions but want to first deal with clarifying what is really true.
A quick note to all on the contentiousness that can come from this subject:
I do not mean to pass judgement on anyone who has these urges and passions. I do currently disagree with your conclusions and would like to continue to understand your perspective and view point in a respectful discussion. I understand that you think I’m theologically wrong and I believe the same about you, but if I’m right, this does not make me any better of a person than you and I give total benefit of the doubt that you are not doing any of this with a malicious heart but simply might be uninformed of the truth. I trust you can look at me the same way and see that I simply might be uninformed (assuming you all are correct). I sincerely wish you the best and only hope to be helpful here by discussing what the Church’s true stance is. I hope you can at least agree that “if homosexuality really is harmful, it would not be good to encourage it” and see that I come with a heart to help (even if you think I’m stupid and uneducated).
Can we please discuss the specifics of the scientific issues?It seems this is what I’m uneducated on and is the sole thing that is claimed to justify the feelings of the LGBT.
Other questions I would ask. What makes me white? Is it me feeling white, or is it just a fact we can see by a simple observation. Why am I male? Is it because of how God created/formed me? Why would me feeling female change this? Why is this different from feeling black or hispanic? I say this to make a point that much of this discussion leans towards LG issues, but the B and T don’t make much sense to me. I can understand having different sexual urges/passions, but believing we should have been given different sexual parts seems to blame God for messing up. Please explain why you all feel these are important if you disagree. Thanks!
Thank you for your comments. You raise many issues, and unfortunately I only have time to address a few of the comments you made. I hope that other readers will be willing to also address your remarks.
1) Concerning the science. The American Psychological Association as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the American Medical Association have all stated that there are a variety of factors that impact a person’s sexuality. The most recent literature (from the APA) states that sexual orientation is not a choice and is shaped at an early age. Evidence suggests that homosexuals, and in particular male homosexuals, cannot change their sexual orientation. Biological, including genetic, or inborn hormonal factors play a significant role in orientation. (See APA 2010 report). Of course, scientists have not yet found a “gay gene” which may or may not ever be found. There is an excellent article from the American Academy of Pediatrics – a clinical report – on Sexual Orientation and Adolescents concerning the nature vs. nurture argument. A simple Wikipedia search on homosexuality will bring forth the relevant footnotes and bibliography on the subject. There is an article in GeneWatch journal from 2011 that gives a full history of the search for the Gay Gene (Volume 24 Number 6).
2) Concerning canon law. I must say that your argument confounds me. To argue that the vast majority of canon laws, from either the Ecumenical or Local Councils are valid, or even valid on paper while not practiced, is a kin to arguing that the laws in the US prohibiting spitting on the sidewalk or not allowing African Americans and women to vote. I understand the spirit of the laws, but in numerous instances they must be looked at again, debated and updated. Just to give one example. The canons are clear about the date for the celebration of Pascha. This is broken by the Church of Finland. The Church of Finland has broken this canon for decades, without any rebuking or consequences from the other Orthodox churches. Your argument for why there are numerous bishops in each city does not convince me. This is wrong according to canon law – designed to assure against false teachings. The Church needs to re-visit this law, in light of the church outside of traditional Orthodox countries, in light of immigration patterns, in light of the breakup of Church-States relationships etc. I can use the same argument about re-visiting, reviewing and updating in light of medical or scientific information or societal changes, for the canons prohibiting women from communion during menstruation or the prohibition of going to the theater or having a Jewish doctor or not ordaining a man because he has only nine fingers….The bishops continuously break these laws themselves, so can they claim to be in charge of them? Or how can the faithful continue to trust that they care about them?
3) Your comments about heterosexuality. Sexual desire was not only given for procreation otherwise the church would not sanction the marriages of older couples. Union with a spouse can take place between people of the same sex. Alluding to your later comment about having “any urge” – my husband of almost 15 years is not an urge, but one half of a committed, loving relationship in the fullest understanding. You say that if you lost your wife, you would abstain from relations. But you are asking us, gay people, to never have a spouse. There is a significant difference between losing a spouse and then abstaining, and having been called to married life, even with a person of the same-sex, and never being allowed to marry.
Finally, your comment questioning if “God messes up”. I do not believe that God messes up. However, take an afternoon and roam the halls of a children’s hospital or spend an evening in a lock down unit of a hospital for the mentally handicapped, both of which I have done as a pastor, and then tell me that there is a one size fits all rule of law and a single understanding of God’s creation.