A Letter From Russia on an Article Defending Same-Sex Marriage and Defaming Fr. Pavel Florensky

Fr. Pavel Florensky and Sergius Bulgakov (Mikhail Nesterov, 1917) <em>Click to enlarge</em>

Fr. Pavel Florensky and Sergius Bulgakov (Mikhail Nesterov, 1917) Click to enlarge

Editor’s Note: This letter is a response to the essay by Peter J. (Giacomo) Sanfilippo published on Public Orthodoxy, May 2, 2017 where the teachings of Fr. Pavel Florensky are misrepresented and his character defamed. It caused consternation in Russia where the teachings and life of Fr. Florensky are well known.

The author of this letter is a leading authority on contemporary Russian philosophy and the holder of a prestigious position at an important academic institution in Russia, has previously taught at one of Russia’s finest seminaries, and is the author of numerous books on the topic he discusses below. The author has international standing as a scholar and asked AOI to maintain his anonymity because being drawn into public polemics jeopardizes his opportunities to speak in the West given the reflexive hostility the clarity of his language would generate. AOI granted the request since the reasoning in this letter is clear and unarguable.

The long quote from Archimandrite Andronik Trubachev, Florensky’s grandson and the foremost authority on Fr. Pavel’s life and work, is used with his permission. This letter, originally sent as part of a personal correspondence, is published here as a contribution not just to the “same sex marriage” issue, but also to set the record straight on the personal and academic integrity (sophrosyne) of one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century and one of the holiest martyrs of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fr. Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky.

After reading the article (Conjugal Friendship) of a former priest who fell into a deadly sin and who tries not only to justify this sin, but also to corrupt those who do not know church doctrine, I doubted whether it was even worth responding to something so vapid.1 What conclusions can be arrived at given this article’s lack of evidence and argument? Indeed, instead of arguments, we get only sly insinuations. It is aimed at gullible people who know nothing of church doctrine, the history of art, or the history of the Russian philosophy and who are likewise completely unfamiliar with the biography of Fr. Pavel Florensky.

To distract the attention of readers, the author has added two images, the first an illustration of two holy martyrs (St Theodore “the General” and St Theodore “the Recruit”) stylistically depicted holding hands and the second a photograph of the young Fr. Pavel Florensky with his seminary companion Sergei Troitsky. These two images, then, are the only form of “evidence” brought to bear in Sanfilippo’s article. But far from having been a “couple,” as the author’s prurient conjecture insinuates, the two saints may not have even met, and some believe that rather than there being two saints at all, there are rather two sets of narratives about a single saint, probably “conjoined” because two pilgrimage sites are relatively close to one another.

Or we may consider the contemporary photograph. Troitsky was the son of Archpriest Simeon Troitsky, Rector of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in the village of Toptygino, located near Kostroma. On holiday the two friends went to the village to help Fr. Simeon with the restoration of the church, held lectures on religious topics, opened a library in the church for the local peasants. They collected local folklore, recording songs and old tales. Florensky himself often expressed his great appreciation for the ambience of piety and holiness in the Troitsky housefold. Hardly, as Sanfilippo asks us to believe, a homosexual fling that was somehow clandestinely pursued under the roof of Sergei’s priestly family home.

In 1909 Troitsky married Fr. Pavel Florensky’s sister, Olga, before being tragically stabbed to death the following year by a deranged student. If he, in particular, is memorialized in Florensky’s book, it is largely to honor this pure soul following his untimely death. No further conclusions can be drawn from this photograph except in the form of wishful fantasy. One might as well conclude that, for example, that the photo depicts suicide bombers bidding farewell to life, or is an image of characters in a play, or close relatives or a hostage-taking. In a word, any fantasy that does not in any way correspond to reality may be elicited by the undisciplined imagination.

In order to intelligently interpret facts, any approach must be based on historical criticism, knowledge of the sources and the laws of reason. If these three conditions are ignored, we cannot but present ourselves as malicious observers intent on manipulating reality…

In order to intelligently interpret facts, any approach must be based on historical criticism, knowledge of the sources and the laws of reason. If these three conditions are ignored, we cannot but present ourselves as malicious observers intent on manipulating reality for some unknown purpose. In the case of Sanfilippo, his article deals with nothing more than such malicious speculation and attempts at distorting reality to his own purpose. It doesn’t take much to expose his whimsical distortion of the images—we need only look to three sources of correct inferences. Again, these are:

  1. Historical criticism. This is a basic academic research method that assumes that a person takes into account the historical context of a particular era, the canons and customs accepted in society and the social ethics of one or another group under study. It may be that, for example, what in the past was considered to be a sign of extreme disrespect, in our modern world would be regarded as a sign of praise or vice versa. If we do not take into account the historical context of an image, then the value of our judgments and conclusions for this are nil.
     
    Without such respect for historical context, modern scientists could, for example, develop absurd conclusions in an attempt to prove the existence of democracy consisting of two opposing parties in ancient Egypt from the uncontextualized evidence of associated figures to the left and to the right of an enthroned Pharaoh. Should such ‘researchers’ then call the Pharaoh a president, and on this basis go on to argue that he is re-elected every four years, for example, they laughably expose their ignorance of the entire context of ancient Egyptian culture, known written sources and evidence of other civilizations. Given our awareness of ancient Egypt, no sane person can conclude such absurdities merely from superficial circumstantial evidence. Historical criticism is inseparable from historical context. In the given case, far more is known about the life and times of Fr. Paul Florensky than of ancient Egypt, and Sanfilippo exposes his ignorance of historical context and his contempt for it in his attempt to draw bizarre conclusions from a bare image.
  2. Source study is a key discipline of any historical or philosophical endeavor. Without this there is neither science nor culture. If someone does not know the sources or doesn’t bother to read the available literature and research of those who went before, then he cannot make any claim to a scientific approach or academic credibility, to say nothing of claiming to be a literate individual.
  3. The laws of reason. While the rules of logic are well known, it is clear that nowadays they are often ignored, replaced with non-rational assumptions, errors in critical thinking, manipulation of facts, and replacing facts with interpretations. Sanfilippo’s article abounds with logical fallacies, including several modes of equivocation, i.e. using a term one sense and then surreptitiously “reframing” it into a totally different signification.
[T]he canons of the Church and the decrees of the Apostolic Councils…are unambiguous in condemning the sin of sodomy, the ecclesiastical language for same-sex relationships, as a mortal sin. It entails a death of the soul that renders individuals incapable of either communication with God or the reception of grace.

Considering these three pillars of literate thinking, we must assume that Sanfilippo has only a child’s grasp of the basic principles of scholarship employed towards the end of justifying sin and his own fall. Or perhaps he has been corrupted by certain postmodern epistemologies, such as “deconstruction,” in which nothing more than fantasy and free association form the foundation of his conclusions. The fact is that believing people of previous eras, unlike modern Christian converts, have based their thinking on the Gospel, the canons of the Church and the decrees of the Apostolic Councils.

These sources are unambiguous in condemning the sin of sodomy, the ecclesiastical language for same-sex relationships, as a mortal sin. It entails a death of the soul that renders individuals incapable of either communication with God or the reception of grace. According to St. Paul, a person who adheres to drunkenness, sodomy, and bestiality will not inherit the Heavenly Kingdom (1 Cor 6: 9-10). There are many well known, articulate and severe statutes of the Ecumenical and Local Church Councils on this subject.

The manifestation of sinful behavior is not a justification of is existence. We cannot, for example, convince ourselves and others that the sin of murder is a normal behavior inherent in human nature. “After all,” we may say, “there are moments when a person wants to literally kill others. Why should we judge a person so harshly for murder? Anger and irritation — these are manifestations of human nature. We need to feel sorry for the poor thing, to allow him to kill, and perhaps even to give the murderer the right to affirm this moral standard for the suffering he has endured.” If someone should to argue this way, he will rightly be ostracized and publicly censured.

For Christians of all ages, except in our own age of apostasy, the error of this manner of thinking was clear as day: the sin of sodomy is a glaring example of the fall of man. Christian consciousness has always been protected by certain ecclesiastical boundaries, always enabling a distinction between good and evil. This higher awareness is why holy icons can depict the kiss of friendship between the Apostles Peter and Paul, which symbolizes the call of communication in love.

The main indicator of love, of course, is sacrifice and rejection of self-love and the passions. In iconography, although extremely rare, there are examples of martyrs holding hands. In the same way, because consciousness was informed by Canons, people had no fear of false, fleshly interpretations — such an interpretation would have never even occurred to them! In the same way, sexually-charged interpretations of photographs of individuals holding hands or embracing each other in a friendly manner cannot have any ecclesiastical, cultural or historical legitimacy. If we look at any family album, we will invariably find men or women, relatives, friends and acquaintances posing in photos in an embrace. Only a perverted and sick mind can see in these friendly gestures something more.

I brought Sanfilippo’s defamatory article to the attention of Archimandrite Andronik Trubachev, the grandson of Fr. Pavel Florensky, the most renowned Russian expert on his personal biography and body of academic work. He has published many books and articles on Fr. Pavel Florensky, most recently an authoritative multi-volume monograph.2 Fr. Andronik told me:

Only a sick mind can take as self-evident such ideas from the works of Fr. Pavel Florensky. However, this is not surprising in itself — the whole world now moves in this direction, in the direction of sin. Man’s nature is fallen and there are, as a result, various distortions in it. The Church does not deny that among the various passions a person has such a propensity for debauchery. By no means does this recognition mean that it’s good. We are aware of sources that clearly indicate the attitude of Fr. Pavel himself to this sin, namely in the published correspondence of V.V. Rozanov and Fr. Pavel Florensky3 in which certain letters reflect on this sin. In the correspondence. Fr. Pavel writes that the sin of homosexuality leads to a final falling away from God.

To this can only be added that, unfortunately, little is known about Fr. Pavel Florensky in the West beyond the translation of his work “The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.”4 His other works, his correspondence, as well as the biographical works of Fr. Andronik Trubachev and other Russian researchers and academics are apparently unknown. Manipulators take advantage of this ignorance for their own purposes, which is very sad and even surprising, since such intentional perversion of well-established facts does no credit to scholarship or to popular understanding.

Textual analysis affirms the obvious: Fr. Pavel wrote that the sin of homosexuality is a perversion of nature, fully in accord with the strict confessors to whom he was obedient, such as Bishop Antonii, who had no tolerance for homosexual relations.

Textual analysis affirms the obvious: Fr. Pavel wrote that the sin of homosexuality is a perversion of nature, fully in accord with the strict confessors to whom he was obedient, such as Bishop Antonii, who had no tolerance for homosexual relations. And much of this early work, just cited, is in fact taken up with discussions of chastity, his translation of the Greek sophrosyne, the virtue of having a well-ordered soul. Florensky, a family man blessed with a marriage that many saw as a model of marital harmony, praises friendship because he was blessed with many deep and meaningful friendships in his life. Along with many in his intellectual milieu, he was highly appreciative of the work of Plato, for whom friendship and eros (which is diametrically opposed to porne or lust) was seen as essential to the life of the spirit.

Moreover, it is important to take into account the historical context. Russian philosophy of the early 20th century was built on the basis of several important ideas, among which was the idea of unitotality, all-encompassing, general consciousness or conciliarity. Only in conciliarity does man know God, inasmuch as outside community (sobornost) man cannot receive any knowledge and would not even possess the language necessary to express thoughts. Through this universal, ultimately ecclesial consciousness, multitudes are united in a single impulse to truth, good and beauty to comprehend God.

Early on in Fr. Paul’s thought this idea took the form of turning to God through the Other inasmuch as only in another person does a man comprehend himself. Not only have Russian thinkers written about similar matters, but also Western philosophers, for example, English Philosopher Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty. No one in their right mind would conflate Berlin’s analysis of the types of moral freedom to make him out as a promoter of homosexuality. And far from propounding any notion of “conjugal friendship,” Florensky’s early work, in each of its four occurrences, uses the word “conjugal” in (often explicit) contradistinction to friendship.

Sanfilippo wrenches Fr. Pavel’s letter “Friendship” away from its philosophical and religious context — even going so far as to make lewd remarks about the innocent, playful cherubim on the engraving beneath the chapter title — so that that unsophisticated readers are not exposed to the Russian religious and philosophical tradition where white becomes black and facts are conflated into a contrived interpretation. His judgments are based on a false mythology imported into the text, corresponding neither to the truth about Florensky’s life and thought, the teachings of the Church or the writings of the Holy Fathers.

Sanfilippo and others like him are dangerous precisely because they subvert such concepts as pure friendship, devotion, and nobility of purpose through which mutual aspirations, joint labor, interwoven preaching, service to others, sympathy for one another and other wonderful feelings and situations that people can experience.

These selfish interpolators want to steal friendship and purity from us. It is necessary to stop them with common sense, sound scholarship and prayer for their understanding.

FOOTNOTES

1 Giacomo Sanfilippo, “Conjugal Friendship,” “Public Orthodoxy,” May 2, 2017, https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/05/02/conjugal-friendship/
2 Archimandrite Andronik Trubachev is the author of a six-volume study on the life and works of Fr. Pavel Florensky: The Way to God: The Person, Life and Work of Priest Pavel Florensky. (in Russian) 6 Vol. Moscow, 2012-2017.
3 Rozanov, V.V. Collected Works: Literary Exiles. Volume II, Moscow, Respublika Publishers. St Petersburg, Rostock Publishers, 2010.
4 Ed.: The author may be unaware of the new translation in 2014 by Boris Jakim of Flornsky’s important 1921 lecture course, titled in English “At the Crossroads of Science and Mysticism,” as well as Jakim’s forthcoming translation of a number of key essays by Florensky. An earlier translation of Florensky’s major work “Iconastasis” was completed by the late Thomas Sheehan, and several essays on art were published as “Beyond Vision.”

 

 

Comments

  1. Axios! Thank you Fr Hans and thank you to the author of this fine reply ~ may he visit and speak to us in the United States very soon with the blessing of Hierarchs to whom our Faith Tradition has been entrusted by Christ Himself. I grieve for the souls and psyches of those on Public Orthodoxy posting their projections and rationalizations rather than looking to their own deviations from the Truth and then supplicating God to help them with their wounds (rather than celebrating them). I grieve for any Hierarchs afraid to proclaim the Truth or confused themselves. I pray for all suffering and lost people. Your prayers please that I will recognize and tend to my own wounds and supplicate Panagia for her prayers that her Son will guide and heal me of my many wounds and someday make me a fit dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Axios!
    Thank you for posting this Fr Hans! This needs to be widely circulated in the Church.

  3. The depravity of soul and perversion of mind that Peter J. (Giacomo) Sanfilippo exposed in his Conjugal Friendship piece is diabolical. That kind of deep darkness, moral corruption and carnal decay typically comes from the very pit of hell. This truth is attested to not only by Scriptures and the Saints, but ALSO the testimonies of homosexual men who lived in this darkness and experienced it first hand.

    “I will always be thankful to that priest – because, he was not afraid. Some would argue that he was about as un-pastoral as you can get: he named the sin, told me where it came from (the devil and hell itself) and then went about casting it out. It sounds harsh, but sometimes the most invasive forms of cancer require the most severe forms of therapy.” — Joseph Sciambra (former homosexual)

    Referring to his young adult years before he became fully involved in the Orthodox Church, Rose once said: “I was in hell. I know what hell is.” — Eugene Rose, a homosexual man living in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s (Eugene became, as an Orthodox monk, Fr. Seraphim Rose. He fell asleep in the Lord in 1983 and is regarded by many as a holy man and by some as a saint.)

    “And with regard to the men again, he shows the same thing by saying, “Leaving the natural use of the woman.” And in a like way with those, these he also puts out of all means of defending themselves by charging them not only that they had the means of gratification, and left that which they had, and went after another, but that having dishonored that which was natural, they ran after that which was contrary to nature. But that which is contrary to nature hath in it an irksomeness and displeasingness, so that they could not fairly allege even pleasure. For genuine pleasure is that which is according to nature. But when God hath left one, then all things are turned upside down. And thus not only was their doctrine Satanical, but their life too was diabolical.” — St. John Chrysostom

    “Truly, this vice [homosexuality] is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…

    “The miserable flesh burns with the heat of lust; the cold mind trembles with the rancor of suspicion; and in the heart of the miserable man chaos boils like Tartarus [Hell]…. In fact, after this most poisonous serpent once sinks its fangs into the unhappy soul, sense is snatched away, memory is borne off, the sharpness of the mind is obscured. It becomes unmindful of God and even forgetful of itself. This plague undermines the foundation of faith, weakens the strength of hope, destroys the bond of charity; it takes away justice, subverts fortitude, banishes temperance, blunts the keenness of prudence.” — St. Peter Damian

    Hell is knowing that there is the slightest possibility that these “Jesus Seminar” folks and these other “new theologians” are wrong. That 2000+ years of orthodox Christians are right: what if gay sex is evil? Equally hell is standing next to those who end that conversation by saying “Oh, shut up.” Hell is being told that all the Gospel is wrong – millennia of your brothers and sisters in the faith were wrong – that Jesus loves you just as you are and no change is required, we’ll just throw out everything that disagrees with that. Hell is being told that this nihilism and denial of any and all truth is exactly what church is supposed to be – liberating us from the dark past of sin and law.

    Hell is finding out that no one really wants “a relationship” no matter how much they want it blessed or accepted; rather just the ease of sex, the right to demand acceptance of their neighbors and the ability to collect insurance. They’d also like it to be open, please, not monogamous, with a don’t ask don’t tell policy and weekends free to “play around.” And don’t judge us, please.

    Hell is standing in the middle of the most gay-friendly city in the country – perhaps the world – and knowing that, please God, there must be something more than this.

    Or maybe Hell is belonging to a church that just pats you on the head and says, “That’s ok, dear.”

    Hell welcomes you in from the cold by leaving all the windows and doors wide open and turning off the heat (too great a change can be a shock, you know). No change is required. No shift in vision. “We value every person and support a widely diverse community” means we have no standards, there is no difference between church and Denny’s.

    There is a way out.” — Huw Raphael

    • James Bradshaw :

      I don’t have a problem with someone considering extra-marital sex to be sinful. However, I question the sanity of someone who considers homosexuality to be a more egregious offense than blowing up an orphanage for Allah because the latter is somehow more “natural”.

      This isn’t coherent.

      • You are falsely and incorrectly injecting the ideas of mutual exclusivity and ranking of hellish conduct, which were not included anywhere in my post. Leaving aside the red herring distraction, I will say that both sodomy/homosexuality and terrorism (along with other terrible evils) come from the very pit of hell.

  4. Homosexuality is a plague of the great whore sent by the Holy God to people who enter her by serving themselves. not loving and serving God ALONE. And also live for bread alone, by ignore doing the Word of God, thus disregarding the 2 Great Commandments. The great theologian St John Chrysostom wrote, they are worse than murders. They are being punished by the Holy God. Their punishment is, is that they like it, This is a reprobate mind described by St Paul which the Holy God sends. The Vision Jesus Christ left to His Church is the responses to temptations of the devil the Christ gained victory over in the desert. If overcome as the Christ did, we gain spiritual victory over the demonic and maintain the spiritual life we have been given in the spiritual relationships of God to man, man to man, and the physical and spiritual natures of all mankind. This is the Way of Peace maintained spiritually while enduring the temptations of the world. If all 3 relationships are made desolate by the beast, great whore and the devil , that individual will experience ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. We must have spiritual life in us when we die to recieve the Gift of Eternal Life. He who has shall be given more, He who has not will lose even that which he has. This is their existence

    , they perish. We do gays no favor by approving their conduct. And I believe the Lord Jesus will condemn anything in favor of the lbgt agenda. Do the Vision, it is the ONLY WAY THAT WORKS.

    • James Bradshaw :

      Michael Kinsey writes: “The great theologian St John Chrysostom wrote, they are worse than murders”

      So you’re saying that, if you had to choose, you’d rather your son go on a killing spree with a hatchet and take out a dozen kids in a grade school than be a homosexual?

      I’m not really sure what to say other than … that’s interesting.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        What St. John meant is that sodomy kills the soul. The distortion and death of the soul is a worse condition than the death of the body.

  5. Michael Bauman :

    James, Matthew 10:28

  6. What I am agreeing with in St John’ writing is ,if being forced to consent, I would choose the lesser of the 2 evils and kill the one assaulting me rather than willingly co-operate. My son has a right to defend himself in context with homosexual rape. Your line of thinking is a red herring, out of context with St John’s. edifying purpose. St John says nothing about aggression on the part of a genuine Christian against anyone. Your theoretical situation is absurd.

  7. Elijah John McKnight :

    Peter J. (Giacomo) Sanfilippo attempted to show his readers some sense of same-sex relations which bears the nuance of recognizing that this union is not explicitly sexual. The essay seeks to answer the question: “Can two persons of the same gender form a bond in which ‘the two become one?’”1 With reference to the Father Pavel Florensky, Sanfilippo seeks to treat the experience of this treasured Russian theologian as a lens to formulate a kind of “conjugal friendship,”2 as he calls it.

    Unfortunately, an unknown Russian theologian, who provided a rebuttal to Sanfilippo’s article, is correct in some of his assessments. Among other critiques, the author charges Sanfilippo lack of credibility. Sanfilippo provides no evidence for his “historical” references to Fr. Florensky nor to any of his other unambiguous examples and claims. Sanfilippo writes with clarity, but his shows no accuracy of his statements. Both clarity as well as accuracy are universal intellectual standards, which being held, ensure a level of quality to one’s arguments, writing, or work.3 Sanfilippo writes:

    “Friendship” stands as a perpetual testimony to their relationship, its nuptial language and playfully homo-romantic emblem all the more remarkable if we consider that Florensky was a married priest and father of his first child when he prepared Pillar and Ground for publication.

    Florensky’s ideal of friendship as constitutive of “one soul in two bodies,” making of a man’s unique Friend his “other I,” has its roots in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.4

    Where does he get this information? These are strong claims without any sort of proof. His examples are certainly pictorial and graphic, but unless we have references to these accusations, than they are wishful thinking, which appears to be the main argument of the anonymous Russian theologian’s refutation.5

    With respect to intellectual consistency, I refuse, to allow this rebuttal of Sanfilippo’s essay to go unchecked. The anonymous writer exhibits a complete disregard intellectual honesty and virtue, because first and foremost his argumentation is rooted in an ad hominin. No doubt, one’s spiritual orientation will affect or infect the way they do or write theology, but to completely attack Sanfiippo’s spiritual life as being the cause to the lack of providing evidence for his work is appalling to say the least.

    First, I have actually read Sanfilippo’s thesis or fuller essay, as he sent it to me via email, and he offers substantial evidence for his claims in his work. What he posted in Public Orthodoxy was a short summary of a much larger work. Perhaps Sanfilippo should have included sources in his blog post, but to simply imply that his wishful thinking is in regard to his previous “sinful” experiences, is intellectually dishonest and is nothing but personal defaming.

    Secondly, the anonymous author makes statements over and over with the use of the words like “sodomy” and “homosexuality” equivocally to mean the same thing in very different historical and cultural contexts. He assumes that whatever same-sex relations meant in antiquity, whether by the New Testament writers, the Canons, or the Church Fathers, it must hold the same definition and understanding of same-sex relationships for our current context. What does this His use of the words sodomy, homosexuality, and the like appear to mean sexual activity. But for our context, and for Sanfiilppos’s essay, same-sex relationships are not always about sex. How is going to the movies, or even holding hands something that the Apostle Paul or the Church fathers condemn. I personally know two lesbians who are in a loving, committed celibate relationship and tried to be committed to their local Eastern Orthodox Church, but felt unwanted and loved, so they have discontinued their involvement with the Church for now. When it comes to issues related to sexuality, Orthodox Christians, especially clergy there is a double standard. Persons who are curious and ask questions about matters of faith and sexuality are immediately charged as demonized while the religious “elite” continue to protect their models of reality that are founded upon intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy, and laziness.

    The problem that my two friends have faced as well as many other LGBT persons in the Church is not the lack of Orthodox theology, but Orthodox pastoral ministry. Sadly, many in the Orthodox Church while they tend to shame the philosophical and theological differences of their Roman Catholic brethren, yield to strong sense of natural theology that arises from St. Thomas Aquinas when it comes to articulate their beliefs about sexuality. Blogger Andrew Sullivan shares this problem:

    To reduce it to its crudest essentials, Aquinas too the notion of the individual’s nature and universalized it. Drawing on Aristotle’s conception of the normative nature, Aquinas theorized that all human beings had a single fundamental nature and a single natural end…According to Aquinas, all human beings’ sexuality is linked to procreation.”6

    Aquinas would have made a terrible pastor. The person he saw in front of him would have been labeled, their proclivity would have been categorized. The problem has nothing to do with making substantial claims about same-sex intercourse. We get that. The Church has been pretty clear about this teaching. Even Sanfilippo alludes to this at the beginning of his essay:

    “Can two persons of the same gender ‘have sex’ with each other?” we hear from Holy Tradition a resounding no.7

    The rebuttal was an attempt at answering a question that was not raised. This anonymous author depersonalizes his whole response, not only with his content, but also by attacking Sanfilippos and remaining anonymous. As Fr. Jacobse noted, he is concerned about protecting his constituency. Apparently, he is and more so than he is in publicly and personally standing behind his statements. It’s not fair to Sanfilippo who was willing to be vulnerable, sharing a summary of his research, only to receive a coward’s response.

    Yes, Sanfilippo did us a disservice by making strong claims without evidence to support those claims. However, this anonymous critic lacks intellectual virtues himself. He seeks to correct Sanfilippos’ reasoning and chastises him for his anachronistic tendencies, while he commits the same actions. One Saint said, “A true theologian is the one who prays,” I really hope that this unknown author does pray for Sanfilippo, but also for himself. I hope to God this guy is not a pastor, if he is he has a lot to learn from Orthodoxy.

    Elijah John McKnight, MA

    References

    1. Sanfilippo, G. (2017, May 02). Conjugal Friendship. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/05/02/conjugal-friendship/#more-2779
    2. Ibid.
    3. Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2009). The miniature guide to critical thinking: concepts and tools. Dillon Beach, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
    4. Sanfilippo, G. (2017, May 02). Conjugal Friendship. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/05/02/conjugal-friendship/#more-2779
    5. Letter From Russia on an Article Defending Same-Sex Marriage and Defaming Fr. Pavel Florensky. (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www.aoiusa.org/a-letter-from-russia-on-an-article-defending-same-sex-marriage-and-defaming-fr-pavel-florensky/
    6. Sullivan, A. (1996). Virtually normal: an argument about homosexuality. London: Picador.
    7. Sanfilippo, G. (2017, May 02). Conjugal Friendship. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/05/02/conjugal-friendship/#more-2779

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