The Outcast

September 30, 2012


Many gay, lesbian, and bisexual people have at numerous times in their lives felt like outcasts. We grow up in a world where we are quick to recognize that we do not feel or experience the same things that other kids our age are feeling and experiencing.  While I might have noticed that certain girls in my class were pretty, I certainly did not experience the same stirrings that other boys in my class were feeling when noticing pretty girls. And since in my generation no one was talking about what I was and was not feeling, I was led to believe that I was the only one who was experiencing something different, and thought that there must be something wrong with me.

While growing up, gay people quickly realize that to express different feelings from the norm is to risk calling great wrath, and even harm upon ourselves at the hands of others. These experiences make LGBT people feel like outcasts.  An outcast is defined as “a person who is rejected or cast out from home and society.” (  Due to the fact that we are not in the majority, we are by definition, outsiders.  Other people, institutions and society at large not only make us feel like outcasts, but in numerous cases they have literally cast us out of their lives and homes.

Jesus Christ was the chief outcast.  He was rejected by his own people, scorned by society and arrested by the civil authorities for His righteousness. Many gay and lesbians are drawn to Christ and ultimately to worship Him in His Church for this very reason.  His message, His life, His example, the hope that He provides and the forgiveness that He offers is the impetus to become and/or remain a Christian.  We, as outcasts, are particularly drawn to the message of the Lord: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) When family, friends, employment, and the social order have rejected you, LGBT people have been able to find refuge in Christ.

For centuries the Orthodox Church has always welcomed outcasts.  Christ Himself made the appeal to outsiders to “follow Him”. The Evangelist Matthew, a tax collector, and St. Mary Magdalene, the one Jesus cured of evil spirits (Luke 8:1-3) are only two examples of Christ calling people from the fringes of society to be His disciples. The Apostles carried the good news of the Lord to outsiders to become newly illuminated by water and the Spirit. Outsiders were the catechumens, the converts, the newest members of the Church. The appeal of a new life in Christ was very appealing to those belittled, scorned and forgotten by society.  Frequently, once they became Christians, they were even greater outcasts as many chose martyrdom rather than give up their newly found faith.

The sad truth about those who rule the earthly Orthodox Church today is that they have become imperial gatekeepers and have created numerous outsiders by having irrational reasons for making sure that outsiders stay outside the Church. They reject numerous people who seek the truth and mercy of Christ within the solace of His Church.  For example, in countries of the Orthodox diaspora there are abundant stories of people being unwelcomed in the Church due to their lack of “Greekness” or “Russianness” as if one’s ethnic origins were a choice as well as an obstacle to the saving mysteries.  

Furthermore, the Orthodox Church has turned its gay faithful into outcasts. Biology dictates if someone is born gay.  Being gay is not a choice. I did not choose to be gay any more than I chose to be born of a Ukrainian father and an English mother. God Himself created gay people and He created them with the potential to love and be loved and experience that love in the form of life-long unions with another person of the same gender. Rejecting people for something they have no choice over is to reject God Himself.

Thankfully the Lord takes great care of those who are rejected, the outsiders. In the book of Jeremiah we find these comforting words and actions of the Lord: “I will restore Thee to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord, because you are called an outcast, Zion, for whom no one cares.” (Jeremiah 30:17) The prophet Jeremiah points out that Zion, synonymous for Jerusalem, has been made an outcast by others. Jerusalem is deemed worthy of healing and help because others have rejected her. Gay people do sin and do need to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness as do all people. But we do not need to repent for being homosexuals or our need to love and experience love anymore than heterosexual people need to repent for their biology or their natural inclinations to love, be loved and express love in life-long relationships. The Orthodox Church and her gatekeepers, the bishops and priests, need to stop turning its gay faithful members into outcasts.  They need to stop throwing the stones of archaic scriptural interpretations and antiquated ecclesiastical laws at gay people in order to keep us outside of the Church.  Those who throw the stones are the hypocrites, because Christ invites the outcasts in and throws the Pharisees out.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. bob

    I am gay, and slowly and painfully but bravely revealed to my huge Greek Orthodox family that I was gay, and that I had found someone. We have been together 2 years now. Our relationship is not about sex, in fact, its very small part in the equation, also, I do not like to verbally identify with the LGBT community. I don’t want it to be apart of my identity because I feel it is a natural part of me that does not outshine any other human quality of mine. The brightest quality I have for myself is my faith.

    Anyway, my family of course objected out of fear for my salvation. I totally understand the “church’s” teachings and purpose and I see it very much as more than a physical manifestation of a religion but as an invisible truth and way that extends beyond parishioners, priests, churches, politics, or even bishops. There is a wisdom and truth that can’t be tainted by humans. Orthodoxy exists beyond us, though it is for us. This idea that I know is real and true, does not allow me to find fault in the church or its doctrines or the way the bible was written or put together, but only in myself.

    I feel that the relationship I am in, is an issue and spiritual battle for me, just as my family does. But it is one that I have chosen, for a long time, not to acknowledge out of fear of losing someone I loved. I love this person. I won’t let them go because in a beautifully human way, they are very healthy and good for me. but in a spiritual context of specifically Orthodoxy I am directly harming myself and her. I am definitely putting my spiritual growth in a glass bottle and capping it by continuing this relationship and solidifying her doubts that she has already had..Somehow, I am not leading her closer to Christ even if I love her with Christ’s love. Some how our love cant be as full or rich because he is not the center and purpose of our relationship like in a straight couple. Sometimes I wonder, if we were not told that it was wrong, maybe we would be that much more likely to invite Christ into the center of our relationship. In fact I long for it now, while she rejects the entire concept outrightly because she thinks the church is about controlling people and taking money which I am sure she has seen plenty of.
    It’s this feeling like I know too much about the Faith. I know better than to think it spiritually logical to actually fight the validity, or the rule of it because I know I am wrong, and if I said I wanted the church to change that is ridiculous because it’s perfectly made for me to become a better person by changing myself through Christ. So the other option, alienates me. I push orthodoxy and even the concept of God from my mind. I don’t pray. I feel like a contradiction. It’s like an all or nothing situation. There are moments when I find myself asking for forgiveness and repenting for a few moments when I really start to miss prayer and feeling loved and i am trying to pray to feel close with God, and then I am reminded that I wont be in line with what God wants for me because when I am done praying, I will still be Gay, and I will still be in love with this woman. I have realized that if I identify myself with any sexual orientation by means of an anchored relationship outside of marriage, it makes me way more likely to feel distance from God. Is that really only because of orthodox logic and wisdom explaining things this way? Should I find an orthodox lesbian woman?

    But I don’t trust God enough to make that leap. I don’t believe that I will feel better, I don’t believe that He can make me think more like a woman or want sex with a man..I don’t want to let go of this natural part of myself because it doesn’t feel like its harming me besides giving me a complex and letting the information and emotions I feel to harbor negative thoughts about myself and my relationship with God. Maybe that is where my doubt of faith begins, but I know that my sexual orientation will stop being an issue if I decide to become a very single person. It is kind of ridiculous but I think in the context of this church, I can only be “gay” if I am single and abstinent.

    I want to follow the way and the truth. I understand how if I were brave enough to really trust God in my weakness and not make excuses for myself, I would have peace in my heart in a certain way, but I would have to give my whole life to Christ in order to keep myself from feeling disturbed, lonely, bitter, uncomfortable, or sexually starved and depressed every day of my life. in an intense way. in a way that when I imagine it, I don’t think I can give. I have tried it many times. Spent months at monasteries and prayed and went to confession and talked with holy people. I even went to the Holy Sepulcher and prayed in Israel. I asked the Virgin Mary to comfort me in her tomb..But the loneliness, the desire, the reality, and doubt always creep in and I find myself looking for another relationship with more permanence and beauty than the last as if to make up for my fallen identity and feeling of emptiness.

    All I can say to my family is I am sorry. And I understand where they are coming from and but they are rejecting me in many ways. Not allowing me to be open with my own siblings, or refer to myself as gay, and bashing me with harsh and hateful words if I try to talk about it. I forgive that every time. I love them. But more importantly, by not accepting that I can make my own decisions and I don’t have to follow God’s will if I don’t want to because I have free will, they are hurting themselves and me in a deep way.. I wish that I didn’t feel this rift with my family, or shame to share my life with them, but they keep telling me that I brought this poison into the family. and it’s my fault that everyone is crying and praying for me.

    Their initial reaction was to threaten, to disown me, try to control me, take control of my finances, ruin my relationship, intimidate me, manipulate me, hurt me to make me change my mind and I still can’t change it for anyone, not for them, not for myself, not even for God. I want them to let me be the way I need to be. In order to learn from God what is best. in order to learn from God how to do his will, I think I need to fail many times and find a way and reason to pick up my heart again with Him. I wish that I could find an alternative way to feel Gods love, or feel one with him without feeling to ashamed to even pray, or pathetic to think of myself as Christian anymore. I thought this website was going to help me find a way to worship and pray with other gay people that wanted to feel close to God despite their heavy burdens of unrest and possibly bitterness and confusion. But reading these back and forth sides… I don’t agree with either side completely. I am somewhere in limbo. I wish I could find an answer soon. I don’t need anyone to comment this. It’s just a unique perspective I needed to share for my own benefit that I am sure is an uncommon one.

    1. andre

      Thank you so very much for sharing your heartfelt and deeply personal story with me and our readers. Many people, myself included, will attest to the fact that a relationship of two people of the same sex, can lead to holiness and a deep love and commitment, a relationship that does involve an intimate, sexual component. Such a relationship based on self-sacrifice can indeed lead you closer to Christ. The Orthodox Church, as the Bride of Christ, in its earthly form, has made mistakes and changed its mind about many issues and practices. The topic of same-sex love and gender identity issues in our present day is just a new one. For example, the Church now regularly allows and celebrates the marriage of two people where only one person is an Orthodox Christian and the other is not, although that person must be a baptized Christian, although not necessarily Orthodox. Did the Church lose some of its sanctity by allowing such marriages, or did it extend the grace of Christ? I believe that latter is true.
      You need to allow yourself some time, as well as your family, so that you can understand your truth and the truth that God loves you and made you the way you are. Very, very few people choose their sexual orientation, it is a gift from God, and once that is realized and accepted it is a blessing and much easier to live our lives as God intended, loving Him, serving Him, serving others. A husband or wife only adds to that commitment and we are stronger for it. Is there anything more beautiful that when in the Orthodox Church, during the crowning ceremony, a newly married couple are joined hand in hand and take their first walk together? There is a very symbolic but real reason for this. There is strength in numbers. But, there is also strength in the truth. The truth is that God loves us as He made us. God loves you as He made you. I bid you peace. Please stay in touch. Andriy

  2. Robert (Athanasius)

    “What is my particular sin? Is it acting upon the calling that God gave me?”

    God gave no one a “calling” to subvert the plain teaching of Sacred Tradition and the clear, unambiguous and dogmatic teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church since Its beginning at Pentecost.
    To proclaim that God gave you a “calling” to lead the Orthodox Bishops into accepting homosexualism and same sex marriage as worthy of being blessed by the Church is manifest blasphemy.

    “We, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, therefore proclaim anew to you, the flock entrusted to our care, the great and holy vision of marriage that is gloriously preserved and manifested in the doctrine, liturgy and canonical tradition of the Church. We do not make this proclamation in the name of an outdated conservatism or because we consider our present society intrinsically more corrupt than the past generations. We speak because we are concerned for the welfare and salvation both of you, the members of our flock, and of all men. We speak of “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes … concerning the word of life” (John 1:1). We speak because we know the Truth of the Gospel of Christ to be the eternal Truth, the one needful thing, the good portion (Luke 10:42) for all men, in all times and places. …

    Marriage is the most perfect realization of love between a man and a woman: two become one. Love unites in such a way that two lives become one life in perfect harmony. … The greatest miracle of this divinely sanctified love of marriage is the procreation of good, fair and holy children. In the image of God who brings forth life in love, the Christian marriage, a unity in love established by God, brings forth holy and good life (1 Cor. 7:14). ”

    You wrote:

    “When the Church of Russia decided to change the way Orthodox Christians there would bless themselves and then started to persecute and murder countless Old Believers, including priests, the Church was still Holy and the Bride of Christ.”

    I reply:

    The church of Russia is NOT the Holy Orthodox Church but only a part of the same. The Fathers of the Church NEVER requested or accepted a penalty of death by any civil authority for heresy – not even the most impious heresy of Arius. The Fathers only requested banishment of such persons for the sake of ecclesiastical peace and the spiritual protection of the faithful. No matter how grievous the error of the Patriarch or any Metropolitan of the Russian church, that of itself has no bearing upon the infallibility or teaching authority of the Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church gathered in ecumenical counsel.

    ” Concerning your quote from C.S Lewis, I would argue that sympathy for the sinner, is the action of Christ.”

    You left out half of Lewis’ statement, the part about rebellion. If I were to agree with you concerning acceptance of homosexualism as a “gift from god”, OR should I agree with you that same sex marriage should be blessed by the Church, then I would be in rebellion against God.

    You already are in rebellion.

    “The Orthodox Church biblically, dogmatically, canonically, and pastorally opposes and rejects same-sex marriage, and declares homosexual acts clearly and undeniably to be sins. Similarly it names sin
    all fornication, adultery, perversion, pornography and sexual cohabitation of any kind (apart from one
    man and one woman united in Holy Matrimony).

    It is likewise important to state that a ‘private opinion’—especially one espoused publicly—contrary to
    the teaching of the Orthodox Church constitutes a betrayal of the Orthodox faith, a denial of the teachings and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and is worthy—canonically and pastorally—of separation from the Chalice, especially for those who insist in perpetuating such opinions.
    It would be a faithful and honorable act for those who have these opinions, as St. Paul says, having examined themselves and kept these opinions, to refrain from the chalice, lest they draw unto themselves condemnation and judgment. …

    Further, it is disingenuous to the Christian faith that one would develop, believe, and possibly teach and spread a personal opinion, based on personal experiences rooted in fallen human nature.
    To do so not only ignores, perhaps to one’s peril, the received teaching of 2000 years of Christianity, but also places one’s self, opinions and observations above those wiser and more pious and faithful than we. It must be remembered that such Holy Fathers and Saints of the Church knew the human heart and the human condition far more profoundly than most of us ever will.

    For one in the Church to persist in holding and/or teaching an opinion contrary to the Church’s teaching is one-­‐hundred-­‐percent opposed to Orthodox Christianity.”

    Reflections on Same-­‐Sex Marriage and Homosexuality
    Fr. John Parker, Chair – Department of Evangelization
    Orthodox Church in America
    May 15, 2012

  3. Robert (Athanasius)

    Ken Miller is absolutely, completely and totally correct in everything he said.

    Andre, I’m sorry that you want a pass for your particular sin and are offended by the canonical stance of the Holy Orthodox Church, but the “exceptions” you gave as examples are not those pertaining to the moral law – except for allowing a divorced priest to actively serve.
    That is heresy and is opposed to the moral law of the Church and any such bishop who allowed it should be defrocked.
    I leave you with a quote from C. S. Lewis: “It is possible to have so much sympathy for a sinner that you join him in his rebellion against God”

    1. andre

      Robert (Athanasius),
      What is my particular sin? Is it acting upon the calling that God gave me? The Earthly Holy Orthodox Church has been and will continue to be wrong on certain issues. She is no less holy or the Bride of Christ because of that. When the Church of Russia decided to change the way Orthodox Christians there would bless themselves and then started to persecute and murder countless Old Believers, including priests, the Church was still Holy and the Bride of Christ. You may believe that you can choose to decide who should be defrocked and who shouldn’t be, I and countless other Gay Orthodox Christians know that God gave us the ability and desire to love and live in a sacred relationship with one other person of the same sex. Concerning your quote from C.S Lewis, I would argue that sympathy for the sinner, is the action of Christ.
      Thank you for your deep attention to the website and my reflections.
      I bid you peace,

  4. Jan

    To give an example of outdated theology:
    The reason why only straight people should marry, according to some churchfathers:
    In the end of time, the whole of creation must become one and whole again: Male and female as two parts can only reach unity again because they are different. In each person there is a brokeness (a man misses a certain amount of femaleness or prophetic capacities; each female misses a certain amount of maleness,or kinglike properties). Only through being a priest towards each other (by being selfless and chaste) a person/a couple can attain oneness and holiness.
    A same sex people cannot because they are not different enough.
    Maybe it is time to update these ancient views on personhood and relationships.

  5. Jan

    It is time that the orthodox church reconsiders the neoplatonic axiomas of its believesystem. People cannot match up the divine ideal of an singles angelic chaste existence.
    There is nothing wrong with sex and living out your needs as long as you are not hurting anyone.
    Society has changed a lot the last 2000 years. You can still be of service of other people, act selflessly, care for your partner when you are not officially married. Every relationship needs selfrestraint, taking care of the other. Sex in mutual consent in a living caring context is not automaticaly at odds with a life in Christ. People are not categories of a believe system, but living beings, persons that have to be dealt with love and respect not with condemnation. It is time to get out of the abstract (consider people as having to reach heavenly goals as priest, prophet, king, saint or angel, but to return to the concrete situation of people as real broken and yes imperfect and sinful persons, and love each other despite of that. Plessers understand that Gods love is unconditional. If you jugde another you jugde also yourself.

    1. andre


      Thank you so much for your comment and support of the website.
      I agree with you that society has changed significantly, especially in the Western, industrialized world. Although one does not need to be married to love and care for another individual, in the Orthodox Church the mystery of crowning is a very sacred blessing to a desired bond between two people. What I have suggested is that considering our modern understanding of biology and psychology, we know that being gay is not a choice. Therefore since we do not choose to be gay we cannot be punished for wanting to live in a holy relationship with one person of the same sex and have that relationship formalized in the Church. The main objective is a stronger life in Christ.
      Please continue with your insightful comments.
      I bid you peace,

  6. Jose

    I moved to a new area and wanted to attend the local Orthodox Church. I asked to meet with the priest in private in his office after services and it proved to be tragic. He told me that if I chose to continue to live such a life that I would not be allowed to approach the chalice and that people will begin to talk. I have been with my spouse for almost 13 years and this all came as such a blow to me. I did not want to run around the parish and shout, “I AM GAY!” No, I just wanted to go about my little own way, keep to myself and be a good Orthodox Christian. Instead, this priest told me that I had little time to decide. My other half and I have cars together, built a house together, etc. Was I to walk away from everything I constructed with the love of my life? Or was I to chuck it all away just to be able to enter this priest’s Orthodox Church. What a disheartening and saddening day this was for me. I found a smaller Orthodox church that is a longer distance but worth it. It is disgraceful how that priest treated me. He made me feel so belittled, so invaluable, so ashamed. There was no love, no open arms, nothing encouraging at all. This is my story.

    1. andre

      I am so sorry to hear about this incident. Unfortunately, I have received other emails with tragically similar messages. The priest who reacted this way was uncharitable to say the least and lacked all sense of compassion and kindness. You can not change your homosexual nature any more than he can change his presumably heterosexual nature. Your nature is as God given as his is. If married, it is easily assumed that he loves his wife just as much as you love your spouse. I am glad that you did find a different parish that might be a good home for you. I have found that many priests have a very visceral reaction to LGBTQ people. This is because they have been taught in Seminary, or by their parents or even quasi-ecclesiastical political groups that gay people are evil or sick and are able to change their sexual orientation. Of course LGBT people know otherwise. Yet, there are priests who have gay people in their families or have had conversations with gay people or have read a book on biology that was printed within the last thirty years and are very aware that gay people can not change who they are. Some have even celebrated same-sex weddings, and celebrated other mysteries for and in the presence of LGBT people and their families. The problem is that they are indeed the minority and they are instructed by the hierarchy to remain silent on this issue.

      You and your spouse are in my prayers and hopefully by your faithful presence priests and faithful members of the Orthodox Church will begin to have a change of mind and heart. I bid you peace,

  7. Antoinette

    Thank you for this site. I came to Orthodoxy 13 years ago ( I was baptized Roman Catholic and journeyed through different Protestant denominations).
    I love the Liturgy, and sing in the choir. I've made several wonderful friends there, and have met other Orthodox Christians whose kindness has moved me.
    That said, I cringe when I hear antigay remarks in church. And I wonder, if I turned to the people making such remarks, and said, "Hey, I'm one," would they rethink their views of LGBTQIA people, or suggest that I attempt to pray myself straight?
    I never joined an ex-gay group, but I did, many moons ago, try to will myself 100% straight. Prayer, Bible study, discipling, "rededication," having people lay hands on me in attempts at "deliverance"…it got to be too much.
    I don't want to walk away from my parish. Or from the Orthodox Church, period.
    And I don't believe that God bollixed it up where my sexual orientation is concerned.
    Dunno what else to say. Sorry for rambling.

    1. andre

      I understand your struggle – know that you are not alone. The Orthodox Church is the beautiful Bride of Christ and so I understand your desire to be part of her. The anti-gay remarks and sermons are very unfortunate – they know not who they hurt. As LGBTQ people we know that God created us who we are and to change that is to deny His creation. To be gay in an Orthodox parish is indeed difficult and I can only wish you strength on your path. One can only hope that as time goes on, Christ will reveal to His Church that to rebuke and deny the full mysteries to LGBT people is not holy. Please stay close to Christ in prayer. He knows what you are going through and He will give you strength. I bid you peace.

  8. Ken Miller

    Thank you for your response.  I do not mean to offend you, but I also want to be clear that there is no such thing as Orthodox by birth.  Of course, it is a wonderful thing to have Orthodox parents,  to receive holy baptism and crismation as an infant, and to be raised in the “fear and admonition” of the Lord, but the fathers are clear that unless one continuously exhibits a life of repentance, one cannot be in communion with the Holy Orthodox church.  Orthodoxy is not a birthright for anyone, ever.  If someone teaches otherwise, they do not understand Orthodoxy.
    Your line of reasoning seems to be that the only thing keeping gays outside the full communion of the church is a small change in the marriage rite, to allow same sex couples to marry.  This logic is faulty for several reasons.
    First, the scriptures are clear that it is a sin and an abomination for a man to lie with a man as with a woman.  This has nothing to do with the marriage rite; it has to do with the fact of two members of the same sex having sexual relations.  The writers of scripture spelled it out in such a way that it could not be misunderstood.  They did not simply say “pederasty” is a sin, or some limited case.  This is a moral absolute and applies to all people at all times.  Even if some renegade bishop were to “marry” two members of the opposite sex, any sexual relations between them would be sinful irrespective of their “married” status.
    Second, regarding the institution of marriage, it is a theological doctrine held for two thousand years of Orthodoxy that “a man shall cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.”  Again, if a renegade bishop or priest were to violate this and recognize same-sex “marriage,” he would be violating Orthodoxy, and he eventually would be defrocked.  If an entire jurisdiction were to accept and allow such “marriages,” that jurisdiction would cease to be Orthodox, and eventually it would be recognized as heterodox and no longer be in communion with other jurisdictions.
    Third, let’s once again consider the nature of what can change and what cannot change over time within Orthodoxy.  My assertion is that moral absolutes, by their very nature, cannot change with time, and therefore the Orthodox church cannot and has never loosened the absolute moral law of God.  I am speaking of actions which are intrinsically sinful in their essence, not that which is instrumentally sinful, such as how to keep the fast and things related to rites and rituals and ecclesiastical procedures.  The church has never questioned that adultery is a sin, or idolatry, or greed, or bearing false witness, or any other moral absolute, including homosexual sin.  Now let’s consider your list and see if any are in the category of moral absolutes that are condemned in their very essence.  The date of celebrating Pascha is not a moral issue.  To be sure, a spirit of schism and disobedience to one’s bishop regarding the celebration of holy days may well be sin, but the date on which Pascha is celebrated is not intrinsically good or evil.  Regarding your second example, the requirements for the office of Priest is also not a moral absolute – they are only qualifications for the office of Priest.  The Scriptures say “husband of one wife,” meaning not having more than one wife.  To be celibate certainly does not violate “husband of one wife.”  Technically, a priest who is divorced does not violate “husband of one wife,” as long as the priest does not re-marry.  Divorce can indicate hardness of heart, but there can be lawful reasons to put away one’s wife.  Even if the reasons were sinful, it is not an unforgivable sin, and can be forgiven through repentance.  If one bishop uses his discretion to allow an exception to that particular requirement for the office of priest, it does not mean that he has redefined sin or denied God’s absolute moral standards.  Your third example, the calendar, has nothing to do with moral absolutes, and the same comments I made regarding the date of Pascha apply.  Your final example, the openness of some contemporary bishops to speculate about the ordination of women to the priesthood, is in the category of qualifications for the priesthood, as was the issue of divorce.  Origen speculated on some issues that were not part of the tradition received from the apostles, and was later condemned for it.  Speculation does not Orthodox doctrine make.  Consider how far this speculation is from justifying a change in Orthodox morality.  The speculation of the bishops may never result in practice in any jurisdiction.  Practice in one jurisdiction does not mean acceptance in the broader church, nor does it guarantee that other jurisdictions will continue to recognize the rogue jurisdiction as Orthodox.  Even if, God forbid, Orthodoxy were to accept women priests, a future generation would likely overturn this error and return to Apostolic practice.  Even if, God forbid, Orthodoxy were to change its policy on women priests permanently, it would not set precedent for changing the moral absolutes of the church, but rather the technical qualifications for a clerical office.  In fact, Orthodoxy will never allow women priests.  Speculation by some modern bishops regarding clerical qualifications does not give any support to the supposition that Orthodoxy could or should change two thousand years of definitive morality on same-sex sexual behavior or the theology surrounding the marriage between one man and one woman.
    You say the Church will “change its stance on Scriptural mandates and Apostolic doctrine” because it cares for its loving faithful.  This is where you are wrong.  According to the fathers, the one who is loving is the one who tells the faithful when they are wrong and challenges them to repentance.  It is contrary to love to not challenge those whose actions are separating them from God and killing their souls (the fathers regarded purity and holiness to be the life of the soul, and sin to be the death of the soul, in the sense that it separates the soul from God.)

  9. Carrie

    We read all through the Bible that God is concerned about our soul,  that part of us that relates to God and lives on  after we shed our earthly body.  Our soul is the center of our being. 
    Bless the Lord'  O my soul;   And all that is within me bless His holy name.  Psalm 102/103.
    Today, at least in the States,  our sexuality has become the center of our being, replacing our soul.   At all costs, we must satisfy our sexuality.
    It seems to me that we cannot have two centers.  We either please God by doing His will and caring for our soul,   or we please our sexuality. 
    Choose this day whom you will serve?  is an age old question that still holds. 

    1. andre

      Carrie, Thank you for your comment on the webiste. While I agree with you that we have become very concerned with sexuality, especially in the West, it is also true that it is an important part of our humanity, it is God created and blessed. For LGBTQ people – who have been discriminated against for such a long time, you can imagine that sexual orientation can, for some LGBT persons, become more important than it is for heterosexuals. Heterosexuals are not denied expressions of their sexual orientation and so they have no need to defend themselves. 

  10. anon

    Xenia, I am very sorry to hear that anyone has presumed to judge you, esp. after you have worked so diligently with a spiritual father to find the best pastoral approach to your unique situation. Those who has presumed to judge a celibate relationship as sin are simply out of line – but bear in mind we have people coming from all kinds of backgrounds into the Church: those who enter as converts from various fundamentalist backgrounds carry a lot of baggage that needs to be shed over time, as do we all. They need love and grace and foregiveness as well. God bless you.

  11. Ken Miller

    I didn't mean to insinuate that gay people are more likely to be guilty of other sins.  My point in bringing up other sins was to say that no matter what a person's sins, the message of Christ is transformation and freedom from our sins, not acceptance of our sins.  If the church operates properly, it should consistently challenge all of us to renounce our sins, whatever they are.  The LGBT community should not feel they are being singled out, because the church should consistently call all of us to repentance, and should deny the chalice to anyone, gay or straight, who does not renounce and repent of their sins, whatever they happent to be in each individual.
    I appreciate your candor in asserting your view that homosexual relations are not sinful, and that marriage should be inclusive of same sex couples.  I think we are in agreement that the Church for two thousand years has viewed homosexual activity as sinful, and has accepted the scriptures that condemn it at face value.  Your argument seems to be that modern science has given us adequate reason to question the church's stance of 2000 years, and there is precedent for changing it's stance on morality.  Let me start by commenting on the latter.  You give the example, "A bishop shall be the husband of one wife."  Today, we require a bishop to be celibate.  This is a tightening of a command, not a loosening, so it doesn't apply.  The original mandate did not mean the bishop had to be married, but if they were, it should be to only one wife.  The same thing applies to your other example – Women deacons.  The church has tightened the requirements for deacon, not loosened them, and again the precept has to do with the requirements for office, not a universal moral mandate, such as the Scriptural precepts on sexual behavior.
    Now regarding the science, I would argue that science can address what is, but not what ought to be.  We live in a fallen world, and to characterize what is does not imply what ought to be.  For that, we rely on God's revelation through the scriptures viewed through the lense of the Church's Tradition.  Much is made about the genetic foundations of same sex attraction – that it is not a choice.  I'm not going to get into debating nature vs nurture here, but even if I grant that one's orientation is 100% determined by their genetics, we would only have established that attraction, not action, is not a choice.  The belief in the freedom of the will is fundamental to Orthodoxy.  When we cooperate with God's grace, there is no action that is inevitable – we always have the ability to choose one course or another.  I don't think anyone has ever been denied the holy mysteries for their attraction, but only for their actions.  Such actions can include taking a militant stand that what the church has called sinful for 2000 years is not sinful, refusing to renounce and repent of forbidden sexual activity or relationships, etc.
    You did hit the nail on the head – the dividing line between your stance and the traditional Orthodox stance comes down to whether homosexual activity is sinful or not.  If it is sinful, Orthodoxy allows no other possibility than to require renunciation and repentance.  if it is not sinful, then there need be no barrier to the chalice.  The problem is Orthodoxy cannot change its position on such an important moral issue that is so clear in Scripture and Tradition.  By definition, Orthodoxy is the church which maintains its fidelity to Apostolic doctrine and morality.  One cannot ask it to become what it is not.  There are churches whose identity is to change its morality according to the mores of the day, such as the Episcopal Church.  If you are looking for a church that embraces societal norms, you will find them more than accommodating.

    1. andre

      I have to be blunt and say that I am offended when you suggest that I might be more comfortable joining the Episcopal Church. I was baptized and chrismated as an infant in the Orthodox Church by my great uncle. He was an Orthodox priest who was ordained in a prisoner of war camp in order to serve the spiritual needs of Ukrainians who were forced out of Ukraine by Stalin’s and Hitler’s armies. I was raised in the Orthodox Church, served as an altar boy, and accepted as a Seminary student. I was ordained as a canonical Orthodox priest and served, to the best of my God given abilities, for close to twenty-three years. I am an Orthodox Christian and will die an Orthodox Christian and therefore the suggestion that I should investigate joining another denomination is offensive.
      To address your general idea that the Church has tightened and not loosened certain Scripturally based practices, especially in the area of required celibacy for bishops and the lack of female deacons, I can offer opposite arguments where the church has loosened and not tightened requirements, for example, the mandate of the First Ecumenical Council concerning the dating of Pascha. The autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland does not follow the directives of the Ecumenical Council from the third century. The Church of Finland celebrates the Western Paschalia. And yet the Metropolitan and Bishops of the Church con-celebrate with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and indeed are fully accepted as Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox Church of Finland is not a Bolshevik controlled Church, it is free to change its celebration of Pascha to conform to the rest of the Orthodox Church. Yes, its clergy might lose their state salaries and pensions if they were to make the change, but that is a different question.
      My second example of the Church loosening Canon law is the decision to allow divorced priests to re-marry. While this is not a common occurrence, it is not that rare either. Perhaps the most famous example in the US is the decision of the current Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Church to allow one of the priests of his diocese, who was civilly divorced to re-marry, while his ex-wife was still living. Instead of allowing this to place under the umbrella of oikonomia, in a quiet manner, the priest wrote an entire book defending the decision. What is oikonomia if not the loosening of Church laws and ordinances? Gay marriage certainly should be discussed in light of this idea.
      A third example of the Church loosening Tradition, would be the acceptance of the New or Gregorian calendar by a portion of the Orthodox Church. Why was this necessary? It divided and continues to divide the Church. It even continues to divide the Orthodox jurisdictions that recognize each other’s canonicity, not to mention those groups who have chosen to remain outside of “canonical” Orthodoxy. Even within single Orthodox jurisdictions there are parishes that follow the Julian calendar and parishes that follow the “revised Julian” or Gregorian calendar. How is this healthy? If anything it is another example of the Church loosening, not tightening sacred traditions.
      Finally, what about the discussion concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood that has been suggested by contemporary Orthodox luminaries such as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and Dr, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel? If the ordination of women can be discussed by leaders of the Church, then why can’t gay marriage be discussed? It can!
      You state that science can address what is, but not what ought to be. Would you say to a woman that she ought to be a man? Would I tell a heterosexual man that he ought to be a homosexual man? Of course not! We live in fallen world, yet women do not choose their gender and homosexuals do not choose their sexual orientation. You state that sexual orientation does not need to be acted upon. True, but heterosexuals have the option, sanctioned by the Holy Church, encouraged by the government and encouraged by society to act upon their attraction within the bounds of holy matrimony.
      History has shown that the Orthodox Church has, can, and will hopefully continue to change its stance on Scriptural mandates and Apostolic doctrine enshrined in the decisions of the Councils and the writings of the Holy Fathers. The Church will do this because it cares for its loving faithful.

  12. Ken Miller

    Jesus was indeed a friend of sinners, but in all cases, He challenged them to repent and to show the fruits of their repentance through their actions.  To the woman caught in adultery, He said "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  He ate with tax collectors, but he did not bid them continue in their dishonest ways, but commanded to give back five-fold what had been taken dishonestly.  To the rich man, He did not say "don't worry about your love of riches", but rather, "give all that you have to the poor and follow me".  There is no debate over whether LGBT individuals have personal worth or whether they should be loved and respected.  The debate is whether certain politically correct behaviors which are contrary to the teachings of scripture and tradition should be accepted without challenge, or whether those behaviors should be clearly renounced and repented of in order to be a communicant.  Let's be clear that no one is asking for self-loathing of what a person "is", but rather repentance of what they "do."  All sexual activity outside of the marriage between one man and one woman is sin, that it is a choice whether to participtate in sexual activity or remain celibate.  It is a choice if someone advocates a heterodox definition of marriage.  it is a choice if someone chooses to live in a same-sex union.  One can be born with an attraction toward members of the same sex, and such persons can be full communicants as long as they are willing acknowledge the sinfulness of the behaviors to which they are attracted and commit to avoid those behaviors.  By the way, all of us are attracted to some sins, so LGBT are not unique in being attracted to sinful behavior.  The church needs to be consistent that all sinners must have a repentant attitude toward all sins, especially those to which they are most attracted, in order to partake worthily of the holy mysteries.

    1. andre

      Gay people are not necessarily adulterers or cheaters or uncharitable any more than heterosexuals. Of course gay people are sinners, but they are not sinners simply by being gay or loving and being in monogamous relationships with persons of the same gender. On this issue you are wrong. There is nothing “political” about gay people wanting the exact same thing that straight people want when it comes to love and being loved in stable relationships. The Orthodox Church has changed its views on other Scripturally mandated requirements. To give only one example that bishops shall be the husband of one wife. The Church has also changed its mind about ordaining women to the diaconate – female deacons are found in Scripture, defended in the writings of the Holy Fathers and ordained for centuries. The Church decided to stop ordaining women to the deaconate. In other words, the Church changed its mind.
      Since sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful, then the Orthodox Church should begin to marry people of the same gender. Just as in her mercy and compassion the Church has allowed people to re-marry two and three times, with specific liturgical rites to honor their choice, the Church can develop liturgical services to sacramentally crown gay people. Gay Orthodox Christians are telling the Church, with their God given conscientious, that they were created gay and created to love as well as created to express love in a monogamous relationship that include sexual expressions of love. One of my concerns is that the bishops of the Church are refusing to address the topic of homosexuality in light of modern day biological science. His Grace Archbishop Lazarus (OCA) is one of the few to address this issue. Bishop Benjamin (OCA) also seems inclined to at least discuss the issue. Yet, most bishops continue to make official proclamations concerning gay people without listening to and discussing the issue with gay people – unless they are talking to themselves? The issue of homosexuality remains in the closet in the Church and that is never a healthy place to be.

  13. Xenia

    Thank you for this website, I've felt at a loss lately due to turmoil in the OCA here in California.  And though I also noticed you speak about  gay, lesbian, and bisexual people  in your first sentence on this page, you happened to omit transgender people.  
    My question is this:  What is "unrepentant transsexual delusion"?
    First the background….
    I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church of America in San Francisco on Lazarus Saturday this spring, in Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest orthodox parish in the west.  I and my legal wife.   We had both been catechumens for a full year before christmation, and at the very beginning had discussed with our priest the fact that we are in a loving, yet celebate, relationship, a secular marriage still legal in California (we were married before Proposition 13 passed, so we remain fully legal in marital status).
    I am 66 years old and my wife, Susanne, and I, together, have three children and four grandchildren.  Until I was 51 I lived as a male, but since the age of three I have felt myself to be fully female, except for the wrong physicality.  In 1998 I transitioned from male to female, a long, expensive (in many many ways), and difficult journey.  I met Susanne in 1999 and we have shared a house ever since, fully accepted by our extended families as loving and caring people.
    We were so happy to be accepted fully into the orthodox church, and had met so many loving people in Holy Trinity, that we felt truly blessed. Starting in January we drove the four hour trip up to northern California to stay on retreat at St. John's Monastery in Manton, an OCA monastery, and became friends with some of the monks there.  It was so beautiful that we looked for and found a lovely cabin in the forest and took all of our savings to buy the cabin, to be only seven miles from the monastery.   Then one Sunday, arriving for liturgy, we were met by a monk named Fr. Martin and denied access to eucharist.  Apparently he had been suspicious of our relationship and done a great deal of searching on the internet and discovered my birth name.  We were devastated and still are.  Back in San Francisco, we spent an entire afternoon with Archbishop Benjamin, at his request, to discuss our past and the problems of being transgender in the orthodox church.  He was very kind, intelligent, and asked great questions, and told us that though the orthodox church seemed to 'move glacially' at times, that it still is growing in wisdom, love, and understanding.
    Meanwhile several monks left the monastery, partly, it seems, in condemnation of myself and Susanne's being accepted into the church.  In short we were "judged" and certainly not forgiven, as we find in the injunction in the Lord's prayer.
    All I can say is that I pray daily for the church and all those people who mean well but have not yet been able to see past their own ignorance of the condition and hearts of LGBT people.  
    Here is one of the comments posted on the web:
    Archbishop Benjamin gave his blessing for the Orthodox Church in America to receive at least one transgendered 
    couple at the cathedral in San Francisco. They were refused communion at the monastery by the substitute 
    blagochinie during Fr. Meletios’ and Fr. Nektarios’ trip to Greece because they were continuing to participate in 
    an unrepentant transsexual delusion despite the position of Moscow Patriarchate’s 2005 Encyclical on receiving 
    homosexuals and transgenders into the Orthodox Church.

    1. andre

      Thank you for your support of this website. Concerning what happened to you and your wife – I am very saddened to read about this. First, as an Orthodox Christian, let me welcome you and your wife into the Orthodox Church. I can only hope that eventually you find truth, joy and inner peace in the Church of Christ. However, what you already know is that the Church is also full of ignorance, judgmental people and even hatred. I can’t even begin to imagine the difficult journey that you have been on since the age of three or what you felt like when you were pulled out of line when you were waiting to receive the Holy Eucharist. Father Martin was wrong to search the internet to find out information about you. Can you imagine every parish priest Googling every parishioner to find out detailed information about them before he administered Holy Communion? Maybe he would like to see Wi-Fi connections in the churches so that he might Google people before pronouncing absolution in confession. It seems as if you received a much more sane and Christian response from Bishop Benjamin. Certainly his statement is sounder. The Church does indeed move glacially and does need to understand more, and love more. The larger question for me is what action Bishop Benjamin will take regarding your situation and will he be an advocate for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Orthodox Church?
      On a side note, I was once ridiculed in Holy Confession by a priest for not speaking Russian! I had asked to confess in English or Ukrainian and the priest spent a good 10 minutes telling me that Ukrainian was not a godly language and that I should learn Russian. As if God would not understand my confession in Ukrainian. I also remember once being in a very unusual and emergency situation of hearing a confession in Georgian. I do not speak a word of Georgian – but I left this up to God. What can I say except that there are indeed stupid priests along with the compassionate ones. It seems as if you met one that had too much time on his hands and an unhealthy curiosity on his mind. My guess is that the monastery had other issues causing its instability and therefore the decision of some of the fathers to leave the monastery was not solely based on the decision to receive you and your wife.
      Concerning the term “unrepentant transsexual delusion”, I have no idea what that means. All I can say is that we all at times are unrepentant and delusional. Those in the Church who do not understand biology or psychological issues should be silent on these issues. Those that want to speak with the authority of Christ, without the compassion and mercy of Christ, should also remain silent.
      I have in previous reflections used the term LGBT and even added the letter “Q” for those “questioning” their sexual orientation. You are right that I need to include transsexuals when writing about gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Certainly, transsexuals have also been misunderstood, maligned, abused and been made “outcasts” by the Orthodox Church. I will try to do a better job of this in the future. I wish you all of God’s graces along your journey. Please stay in touch. Andriy

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.