October 1, 2014

Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell — Thomas Hopko on Same-Sex Attraction: Speaking the Truth with Love?

Fr. Thomas Hopko has done the Church a great service with his book “Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction argues Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell, a Deacon in the Orthodox Church of America. He is faithful to the moral tradition, approaches the topic with compassion towards the person struggling with same-sex attraction, and teaches how struggling with the passion can become a means of sanctification and movement towards greater communion with Christ, and affirming the possibility that healing exists for the same-sex attracted person.

Alongside these strengths however, also lies weakness. Dn. Mitchell argues that Fr. Hopko has also inadvertently opened the door to activists within the Church who want to soften the prohibitions against homosexual behavior by positioning themselves “slightly left of Hopko.” The weaknesses in Fr. Hopko’s approach include 1) narrowing the categories of unacceptable homosexual behavior; 2) discouraging preaching and teaching that is offensive to homosexuals; and (3) condemning Christian resistance to the gay political agenda.

A portion of Dn. Mitchell’s critique is posted below. You can read the complete article on the Brian Patrick Mitchell blog. As always, comments are welcome.

Source: Brian Patrick Mitchell blog | By Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell

In the English-speaking Orthodox Christian world, there is hardly a man of his generation more deserving of the Western title “Doctor of the Church” than Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, dean emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. In his many lectures, catechetical works, scholarly commentaries on controversial issues relating to sex and gender, and frequent podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio under the title “Speaking the Truth in Love,” Fr. Hopko has demonstrated such broad knowledge of the Orthodox tradition, such keen insight into the subtleties and mysteries of the Orthodox faith, and such carefulness and clarity in expressing what he knows and thinks as to earn universal acceptance as the proto-pedagogue of the English-speaking Orthodox Church.

Yet despite strong traditional stands on key issues related to homosexuality, Hopko now represents the leftward limit of permissible opinion in the Orthodox Church on homosexuality, such that those who openly challenge the Church’s teaching now describe themselves as slightly “left of Hopko.” David Dunn, who openly declares himself a “pro-gay” Orthodox lay theologian, characterizes his own stand on gay marriage as “a quarter-step to the left” of Hopko. Dunn also writes in The Huffington Post that he began his “holy disobedience” against the Church on homosexuality after reading Hopko’s 2006 book Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction. Applauding Dunn in an online comment, Rebecca Matovic, another well-known advocate of change in the Orthodox Church, claimed “there are many, many priests who think about these issues in a loving, pastoral way and increasingly find themselves moving to the ‘left’ of Hopko.”

If Matovic is right, it would seem that Hopko has inadvertently positioned himself less as the gatekeeper of Orthodoxy than as the head usher for heresy. Indeed, both Hopko’s recent public comments on homosexuality and his 2006 book have opened holes in the Church’s defenses through which the Enemy is now shoving battalions of wrong ideas to confuse and confound the Church’s defenders.

This is a shame, as there is much else that Hopko says that the Church’s defenders could use. In Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction, Hopko summarily dismisses attempts to reinterpret Scripture and Tradition to make homosexuality acceptable. He writes that God does not make people homosexual; that people are not therefore naturally homosexual as they are naturally male or female, black or white, etc.; and that same-sex attraction is a result of man’s rebellion against God. He calls homosexual sex a “betrayal” of the love God intends for His people, saying it can never express divine love because it is “incapable” of edifying souls the way heterosexual sex can. He likens acceptance of homosexuality today to the general madness famously prophesied by St. Anthony of the Great. (Saying 25: “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”) He declares that “those who publicly affirm and promote homosexual behavior (like those who publicly advocate abortion) cannot be sacramental communicants in the Orthodox Church.” He goes even further to state that those “openly propagating teachings and practices contrary to Orthodoxy” may be excluded not just from communion but “from church gatherings” to prevent harm done to others, especially the young.

Most controversially, Hopko suggests an understanding of homosexuality consistent with sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), citing the work of British research psychologist and theologian Elizabeth Moberly, who theorizes that homosexuality is an attempt to “repair” a lack of childhood affection from persons of the same sex, especially parents. Hopko does not explicitly endorse “reparative therapy,” the SOCE based on Moberly’s theory, but he does explicitly endorse therapy “to deal with same-sex developmental issues that must be resolved for … emotional and spiritual healing.” He also leaves open the possibility of sexual orientation change through therapy, saying in an endnote that Moberly “thinks that I can be more optimistic” about the possibility of change. It is for these reasons that Hopko’s book bears a blurb from American psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, a leading advocate of SOCE, who in 2006 was president of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), the organization gay activists most love to hate.

Yet these brave stands on key issues are undermined by Hopko’s efforts to (1) narrow the category of unacceptable homosexual behavior, (2) discourage preaching and teaching offensive to homosexuals, and (3) condemn Christian resistance to the gay political agenda. Let’s see how each of these faults appears in Hopko’s book.

[...]

Read the entire article on Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell blog.

Comments

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    So you woke me for this, Abouna? Up all night and the email signal I forgot to turn off regales with a “review” of Fr. Hopko’s book, circa 2006, and the Brian Patrick Mitchell fish wrap with the same fish he’s been touting for more than a year? Fish or cut bait, I say. At my house, when discussing same-sex attraction, orientation, SOCE, and the charlatans who practice it, I have at least made it a point to be current and contemporaneous. And trust, had I felt the need to dog Fr. Hopko to appear learned – he is on the board of directors of AOI, is he not? – I would have had the respect to first contact him, share with him my “concerns,” allow him to respond, and not simply “sandbag” him with his old “standup” (rimshot, ta-dum).

    Ordinarily, I might assume you making a statement here, Abouna, but it seems your threshold of standards of late are alarmingly sinking. You’re the boss.

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    macedonianReader says:

    Why are we always afraid to take concrete stances on the issues?

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    Carl Kraeff says:

    Has the good Father Deacon adopted Marc Anthony’s method of cloaking condemnation with praise? He seems to be praising Father Hopko as the “proto-pedagogue of the English-speaking Orthodox Church” and a “Doctor of the Church,” only as a prelude of accusing him to in effect aiding and abetting a homosexual lobby in the Orthodox Church. And the good deacon’s point seems to be to patch the walls, renew the oil, sharpen the arrows, and to let slip the dogs of war–against the homosexual hordes that are assaulting the keep, rather like the Uruk-hai assaulted Helm’s Deep. In this scenario, it appears that he is both Marc Anthony and Gandalf. The latter is ironically played brilliantly by Ian McKellen (Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy), who is indeed gay, and the former was famously played by Charlton Heston (1970 movie, Julius Caesar),who did not have a gay bone in his body. The problem is that Father Deacon Brian is a tad too far on the right flank of this debate, so much so that he often appears to be without any Christian pity nor sensible to shades of gray.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Carl, “The Enemy” in my article is the devil, just as “the Enemy” in The Screwtape Letters is God. The contest between them is over the souls of sinners, both gay and straight. As the article shows, the cause of God in the contest is not served by encouraging sinners to think that they can take their sins with them into the Kingdom, which is what we do when we overlook gay marriages to commune the people in them, as Hopko says we should.

      That is the substance of the article, which you completely ignore so as to attack me personally in the most absurd way I have ever seen, faulting me for actually giving a man his due before delineating his faults.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Pardon me, Carl, I assumed you had actually read my article. Now it seems you’ve only read the first few grafs provided by Fr. Hans.

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    Just to prove to you that we – at least on this coast – are a pride of collective fools, I just returned from having a scan of my kidneys – another matter altogether – during which I attentively listened to a “roundtable” discussion provided by NPR’s “California Report.” At issue? The raging debate over the CA law forbidding the practice of SOCE/Reparative Therapy to adolescents. And where has this raging debate culminated? Federal Court. Included plaintiff? Chief Charlatan James Nicolosi. Who would have imagined? Hmm. Do you think they will be calling Fr. Thomas Hopko, known, respected and beloved theologian around the world, to testify as an “expert witness?” Certainly not after the plaintiffs submit the gustatory projection of Deacon Mitchell – known and respected as… whatever – to be admitted as “evidence.” And once again, the moral issues of our time will neither be debated nor determined by us, the Orthodox, but rather by an “impartial trier of fact.”

    Mr. Kraeff, you notably missed, “and cry Havoc!” Or was it Hamlet crying, “Hide fox, and all after!”

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Michael, I thought you said you opposed the law banning SOCE. That puts you on the side of Dr. Nicolosi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nicolosi).

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      Had you actually strayed from convention and shown the respect to read my opinion, you might not feel so compelled to address me as the Pharisaic Lawyer. Nevertheless, while I do oppose the law as a research scientist on principle, you would know that I side – however inadvertently – with the disingenuous Christo­pher H. Rosik, Ph.D. of NARTH:

      A purely sci­en­tific approach to the lim­i­ta­tions of Spitzer’s research would be to con­duct more rig­or­ous out­come research, some­thing that he along with oth­ers have been call­ing for all along (Spitzer, 2003a, 2003b; Jones, Rosik, Williams, & Byrd, 2010). Even the APA Task Force’s Report on Appro­pri­ate Ther­a­peu­tic Responses to Sex­ual Ori­en­ta­tion (Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, 2009) issued a call for such stud­ies to be under­taken.

      In this very limited sense, the law serves two very opposing purposes: on the one hand, it unjustly prevents the empirical evaluation of the efficacy & safety of reparative therapies among a purely volunteer cohort; in effect, we cannot determine its value. On the other hand, it effectively prevents Nicolosi et al. from defying a hallmark of clinical care: do no harm.

      Sometimes you just make lemonade and drink up, Shriners.

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      Fr. Thomas Hopko has earned respect and honour as a teacher, lecturer, author, pastor, and Orthodox Theologian, and rightfully so. First and most importantly, to this day, he honours and respects those from whom he so richly received. This is in the Patristic tradition of the Fathers, “and so it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” (Acts 15:28)

      In that you are no more qualified to discuss these matters than you were a year ago, you attempt to “reflavor” a salt with no taste (Mt. 5:13) at the expense of Fr. Tom. Enjoy it without me.

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        Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        No substance here. Just the usual mean-spirited ad hominem, which doesn’t help your cause in the least.

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    Brian Van Sickle says:

    It is always with an intense degree of incredulity that I read these completely incongruous words which inevitably become part of the discussion of civil rights in the context of homosexual behavior: “homosexuals and their children.” We are so given over to iniquity that no one even seems to recognize the irony. It is a measure of how far we have fallen from the truth.

    I fully understand the need for clergy to discuss nuanced pastoral approaches to sin among themselves privately, but they have no place in public discourse. Quite frankly, I’m just sick of hearing, “The Church still teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful, but…” Where are the shepherds? Who will teach the truth to my grandchildren, and who will support me and my children in the effort?

    O God, save Thy grieving people!

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      Brian Van Sickle,

      If by saying “I’m just sick of hearing, “The Church still teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful, but…” and what follows is necessarily a tacit “amendment” or accommodation to the Truth, it is because Deacon Mitchell would have you believe it. I have attempted to provide some thoughts regarding same-sex attraction that are fully consistent and without contradiction to Scripture, Patristical Writings of the Fathers, Canonical Writings, and Holy Tradition. My point is a simple one: it is possible to live one’s life in chastity, purity, and singlemindedness in the fullness of the Orthodox Church, to which we are all called. Secondly, I have approached this as a matter of Orthodox anthropology as the “symphony” of a whole person, necessarily including our biology and biogenetics as inseparable from our psychology and spirituality. Secondly, I have invested much thought into the issue of distinguishing “desire,” proclivity, and inclination from orientation. You can read my series on The Science of Same-Sex Attraction HERE, and my series on sexual orientation HERE.

      If you search the history of Deacon Mitchell’s comments to and about me on this site alone, it would seem reasonable to imagine that I would rate, shall we say, “neck and neck” with Fr. Hopko as a thorn in the good Deacon’s paw. Not a dot nor a tittle. Curious… A statement of perceived insignificance, perhaps? Judge for yourself. And shepherds, judge for yourselves.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Wrong again, the same old tirade that the only truth is a supposedly ‘scientific’ truth. A ‘truth’ that is built upon a highly questionable anthropology in the first place and that in the hands of the profession’s gate-keepers is attempting to oust all believing Christians from the ‘profession’.

        Then you take this false secular dogma and attempt to wrap it in the clothing of the Church.

        I know, I am a no-nothing and I should just shut up. So you’ve told me repeately. I’ll be glad to when you stop preverting the teaching of the Church.

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          Mr. Bauman,

          Perhaps you would kindly re-direct the projections of your own ego-deficits on someone else.

          Let us clarify, shall we: I have endured your similar unfounded, unsupported, undocumented castigation for more that a year. I noted that we share a common respect and affection for your Bishop Basil. I eagerly encouraged you to print the .pdf files of my articles and place them directly into his hand without comment. If Bishop Basil tells me, in no uncertain terms, that I am “preverting (sic) the teaching of the Church,” that I present teachings contrary and in opposition to Scripture, Patrisitical Writings of the Fathers, Canonical Writings, or the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, I will repent. If he, in no uncertain terms, informs me that I must correct anything in my writings to conform with the Teachings of the Orthodox Church, I will correct them. And until such a time as you are willing to abide by this arbitration, Mr. Bauman, you need to shut up with these comments to me. A full year is enough.

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        Brian Van Sickle says:

        Mr. Stankovich, I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in a protracted discussion with you. Suffice it to say that whatever the merits of Deacon Mitchell’s current or past comments on the subject, I didn’t need his analysis of Fr. Hopko’s thoughts on the topic to make me sick of hearing about the supposed nuances of this subject.

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          Mr. Van Sickle,

          For what it’s worth, I’m not one to ever offer advice; I am not gifted by God as an original thinker, and I recall absolutely no invitation to a protracted anything with you in my response. Read what I’ve written, don’t read what written. I would suggest that I possess the ego-strength necessary to survive that you have “neither the time nor the inclination,” regardless.

          I was responding to your statement, “Who will teach the truth to my grandchildren, and who will support me and my children in the effort?” Now, I am presuming we have have never met, so there is no personal “investment” here, so when I say, had I read your second post, I never would have responded to you. I have concluded you to be one of the “smartest guys in the room,” and your question was, undoubtedly, dramatic & rhetorical. I live and learn.

          As to the matter of “truth,” I would note that I am rigoristically Traditional: the Truth was given once and forever, and as we sing on Pentecost, with the coming of the Spirit, “all Gifts have been given.” Nevertheless, I would argue that this is quite different than saying “all Gifts have been revealed,” or “all Gifts are comprehended.” And how did we come upon Tradition, as opposed to, say, Scripture? By Council? By assent of the Fathers? No. By time, by revelation, and by articulation. To say “there is nothing more to say; there is nothing more to be revealed; there you have it” is foolish. This to deny, in the words of Palamas, the power and influence, the continuous movement and operation of the Energy of God the Father; and this is to foolishly to attempt to “contain” the Invigorator, “Fire from Fire,” inspiring, working, enlivening – the Spirit, in the words of Andrew of Crete, Who “Goes where He wishes.” And in each generation, we have depended on fathers & teachers to “re-articulate,” not by adding or subtracting or changing, but by describing with “new eyes & new voice” what is eternal and unchanging.

          In this sense, Mr. Van Sickle, while I will certainly lose no sleep at the sharpness of your tongue, I will shake my head at the shallowness of your reasoning.

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            Brian Van Sickle says:

            Mr. Stankovich,

            Whether you realize it not, it is I who repeatedly defended you some time ago from spurious attacks on another forum, noting at the time that you approach this topic with the non-judgmental eyes of a clinician and that this frightens some people.

            Please do not presume that the simplicity of my expression implies the static view of truth you ascribe to me. I am inarticulate and a very slow typist, having come of age at a time when secretaries generally performed these sorts of communications tasks. Your description of the nature of Truth, if properly understood, is the nature of God Himself: living, active, yet immutable; but I hasten to add that our apprehension of it/Him (the power “to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height…”) is distinct from – and opposed to – the idea of “new revelation.” Things newly apprehended may seem new, but they are nothing more than what was revealed in the beginning – the same Christ, the same Logos who is the fullness of the immutable God.

            Moreover, our apprehension will not come through the strength of human reason, for it “passes knowledge.” It is precisely your “ego-strength” and apparent insistence on the scientific nature of your views that gives me pause; for although I respect the discipline of science, it is utterly ill-suited to the apprehension of God or to healing the nature of those created in His image.

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              Mr. Van Sickle,

              Lest this become “protracted,” I will only say that I sincerely appreciate your defense. While I would argue that my heart burns “passionately” with love of the Fathers and not of the scientists, I will take props however I can get them.

              I believe there is an essential distinction between “new revelation” – suggesting things appended to Truth, or an errata of Truth, or perhaps Truth previously known only to a select few – and the revelation of things in their fullness, “as it was in the beginning.” This is why I respect and love Fr. Thomas Hopko. On the Ancient Faith Network, in his talk on same-sex attraction, he says, “What would the Fathers say differently about homosexuality if they had access to the biogenetic information we available to us now? Absolutely nothing.”

              To say I have explored a topic as a “re-articulation” with the benefit of modern science, in the context of our Orthodox anthropology, is to insist that alone, science “is utterly ill-suited to the apprehension of God.” No argument from me. But according to our anthropology, Our Savior was a biological, genetic being “of the House of David,” whose entire genetic “pedigree” is contained in the opening of the Gospel of Matthew. And by this, I am suggesting that any attempt to disrupt this “symphonia” of biology-psychology-environment-spirituality dimensions that constitute a man will result in error. This is a position I defend by St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John of Damascus, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Maximus the Confessor, and St. Chrysostom. I am not an original thinker. In this sense, I have conclude this a position eminently “suited to the apprehension of God or to healing the nature of those created in His image.” It was never my intention to limit my thoughts to same-sex attraction; it simply worked out that way.

              [And for purposes of clarification, ego-strength - as opposed to "egotistical," or arrogant" - refers to the ability to realistically balance one's primordial "urges" to lash out at perceived "attacks," and the primordial "need" to slink away" at my own sense of unworthiness. Balance and realistically are the operative words]

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    Tomas says:

    Can a sinner take his sins with him to Heaven? Certainly not.

    However, I pose a provocative question that applies to us all: though we do our best to do what is meritorious and avoid what is sinful according to our understanding of our faith (whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant), do we nevertheless think, say or do things on a daily basis that may offend God but in a way that is unbeknownst to us?

    In other words, can we sin without knowing we have done so? If so, what is our end? Eternal punishment for sin not repented of? While we may certainly pray for “general forgiveness” for any and all sins in our prayers, it is difficult to change course in our lives when we are unaware we are doing anything wrong.

    These sins can be as trivial as a lingering greed that we have masked even from ourselves with more noble-sounding motives. It could be more complex (such as the decisions of a military commander to weigh the necessity of targeting a complex known to contain civilians). It could be the decision of a woman to remarry after a divorce without benefit of annulment because she thinks she needs to provide a stable environment for her children.

    All of these instances could potentially involve sin even as the motives of the persons involved are good. Certainly, there are many things in life where the moral choice is clear (or at least seems to be so), but unfortunately this is not always the case.

    What we are forgetting is, in many instances, folks with same-sex attraction don’t believe that their actions are sinful. I’m not sure what to do in these cases, because one must argue with a system of ethics that may not be comprised of values that are given the same weight as ours (or in the same hierarchy).

    My belief is that we are held accountable to the light we are given. To put it in a crude way: motives count. This may not be Biblical, but it seems to be consistent with even the most base ideas of God’s justice.

    Perhaps the focus should be on ministering to those who do embrace the Church’s teaching but struggle in living according to it. In this instance, the Church has been sorely lacking in providing an empathetic environment that is balanced with accountability, at least when it comes to local congregations and parishes where people are most involved.

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      Brian Van Sickle says:

      Cut off from the eternal life of the Trinity we seek life (which is not true life, but rather merely survival) in self-preservation, pleasure, power, etc., and we seek it in the finite creation rather than in the eternal, uncreated, life-giving Trinity. In doing so we fail to be and to become who we are: the glory of God, His image and likeness. In sinning we were seeking what is good (life, pleasure, power, health, esteem, satisfaction, etc.). Human beings who are not completely given over to depravity do not commit acts of evil in order to be evil. We do them out of a desire for good, something that we are deceived into believing will be true to who we really are, something that will fill the infinite void within us. We sin because we are ignorant of – and incapable of reaching – our only true Good, for only God is good; only He is the true Archetype of His image within us, and only in union and communion with Him can we find the fulfillment of who we really are.

      Will those who out of ignorance of God seek good by means of sin in the goodness of His creation (the only means available apart from God Himself) find their true Desire in Him in the end? Perhaps…if they have not become so hardened that they are incapable of recognizing Him as such, for God is all-merciful. He is pleased, willing, and able to save the likes of dying thieves and persistent sinners who repent when confronted with the full Reality of the One in whose image we are created.

      But for those in the Church who “were washed, who were sanctified, who were justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” who persist in sin, who have not only been confronted with Reality Himself but have had Him within them, there “remains no sacrifice for sin.” That is why all this nonsense is so dangerous. That is why the truth MUST be preached without shame or equivocation both in the Church and to the world. I grant that there is no place for condemnation of persons. Go alone is judge. But if the Church refuses to be a witness to Him who is Truth, who is left? When those held captive by sin finally reach the end and reap the consequences, where will they turn?

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        Tomas says:

        Brian, you write:

        “But for those in the Church who “were washed, who were sanctified, who were justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” who persist in sin, who have not only been confronted with Reality Himself but have had Him within them, there “remains no sacrifice for sin.””

        Perhaps that is my point. Are Christians — true believers — granted perfectly enlightened consciences to be able to discern in every circumstance what is sinful and what is not? You seem to be implying that it is so. I’m not so sure, that’s all …

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          Brian Van Sickle says:

          “Are Christians — true believers — granted perfectly enlightened consciences to be able to discern in every circumstance what is sinful and what is not?”

          The short answer is yes, although it could be described as a seed that contains within itself all the fullness of the plant that can only grow to maturity and bear fruit with the cooperation of the person.

          This is why the fullness of Truth found only in the Holy Tradition of the Church must be obeyed (out of love and in faith – not merely out of obligation), and it is why that truth cannot be compromised, nuanced, changed, or modified. This is why heresy (of any kind) is so dangerous and was fought against so vigorously throughout our history. The doctrines of the Church are never merely theoretical or philosophical. They are the nature of reality as it is because they describe Reality as He is. We toy with this Reality at our own peril. St. Paul warned us, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

          And for the sake of those who seem to think the Church has no business speaking to the world, it must be noted that St. Paul’s words are true of those inside the Church and outside. There is only one truth, one reality for all. “Those who sin without the law shall perish without the law, and those who sin under the law shall be judged by the law.” Those who refuse to tell the truth to the world do not share in the love God has for the world, and those who refuse to suffer the world’s hatred for sake of Him who is Truth have not taken up their cross and followed Him.

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      Many homosexuals have convinced themselves that homosexuality is OK, but I doubt that any of them started out believing that. Creation testifies against it, as does society. Children learn very quickly how things ought to be, and those who feel attracted to others of the same sex know that there is something wrong with that attraction. Even children raised by same-sex couples quickly become aware that their parents are out of step with the rest of the world.

      I don’t believe the Church has been “sorely lacking” in empathy; I do believe it has been “sorely lacking” in accountability. In the West today, the problem is far too much empathy and hardly any accountability. Hopko’s teaching is proof of that, as are the scandals mentioned.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Tomas:
    “Perhaps the focus should be on ministering to those who do embrace the Church’s teaching but struggle in living according to it. In this instance, the Church has been sorely lacking in providing an empathetic environment that is balanced with accountability, at least when it comes to local congregations and parishes where people are most involved.”

    Only if you mean be empathy the uncritical and un-Orthodox acceptance of the heretical/secular anthropology promoted by those who ask that the Church change her teachings and be more ‘understanding’. That is not the answer. The answer is to go more deeply into the patristic anthropology, the mystery of repentance and the overpowring love that flows from forgiveness.

    We struggle against our sins, in part, because we don’t want to let go of them and we live in a culture which constantly encourages us to revelle in all manner of concupisence. It is not ‘empathy’ for anyone for the Church to encourage such thoughts and actions.

    The Church needs to regain her prophetic voice and declare the truth without acquiesence to the world.

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    Ken Miller says:

    I haven’t trusted Hopko ever since he wrote his defense for abandoning the patristic stance on homosexual sin on Stokoe’s web site, which I guess is appropriate because Stokoe is a homosexual who is not barred from communion for his own sexual sins. Oh yeah, and then there is that little thing of joining chorus with the Lavender Mafia to oust Jonah. I would rather spend my time reading Chrysostom than Hopko any day of the week. All of the answers we seek are in the ancient writings. Modern attempts to revise Orthodox doctrine and morality are not useful.

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      alyosha apple says:

      Very well stated.

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      macedonianReader says:

      No matter how we feel about Fr. Tom’s opinions. Can we continue to call him Fr. Tom Hopko?

      I read the book and did not get all these ideas from it, rather I thought it was a very pastoral way to approach same sex attraction. But I will be first to admit that my concentration was not in it since I was reading it amidst other books and a full plate. SO I will consider it again.

      But Fr. Tom has still done way too much for Orthodoxy to just be looked at as “Hopko.” Besides, if these claims are true there is still time and hope for explanation or if need be, recant and repentance. This goes for all of us.

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        It’s only natural when discussing someone, and having to say his name over and over again, to use only his last name. That’s true whether you are praising him or finding fault, and it is not necessarily disrespectful. For the same reason, we often refer to St. John Chrysostom as simply “Chrysostom.”

        Part of the problem with Hopko’s approach to homosexuality is that it is more clinical than pastoral. He assumes the role of psycho-therapist, with gays as his patients and with his main concern as keeping them in therapy, thus the need to not judge, to not offend, to listen endlessly, and to put up with anything so long as the patients keep their appointments and pay their bills.

        A pastor has more responsibilities. He must look out for the whole flock, which means setting standards, maintaining accountability, disciplining the wayward, and chasing away the wolves. In fulfilling those responsibilities, a pastor must view people not just as patients, but as moral actors with the ability to choose between good and evil. His job is to make that choice as clear and as meaningful as possible, ultimately a choice of life or death, Christ or hell.

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          Fr. Thomas Hopko is an ordained Orthodox priest and that alone demands that you address him properly and appropriately. It is not “natural,” it is rude and disrespectful.

          So, in your mashup of milquetoast/theologian/poseur you would now instruct Fr. Hopko as to how to be a pastor and spiritual father? I have known Fr. Thomas Hopko since I was 18 years old and I say with authority that your “take” on this man is the fantasy of your imagination. “More clinical than pastoral?” You say this based upon what? Your many years of interaction with him as a spiritual father? As a parishioner? As an instructor & teacher? As, perhaps, a colleague and friend? As yourself a pastor? No. The fact is you are fabricating his years as confessor and pastor from a book and a podcast! You know NOTHING personally about this man, and you should admit it. You do not have the fundamental courage necessary to contact him, man-to-man, with your empty, self-aggrandizing claims of his “weakness” and allow him to answer.

          Since when has sucker-punching and sandbagging been considered “disciplining the wayward, and chasing away the wolves?” Man up, pal, and stand firm like a fighter; you are sorely out of your league, and as they say on the street, “This is that stuff we don’t like.”

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            Ken Miller says:

            When a person chooses to be a pubilc figure – by writing articles and books, speaking nationally, holding at times positions of authority within the church, and so forth – they are fair game to be judged based on their public stances, whatever their private virtues may be. My comments were rooted in Fr Thomas Hopko’s posting on Stoke’s web site and on his public statements about Metropolitan +Jonah. Dn Patrick’s review was immensely respectful, and it was based on having read the book being reviewed. Commenting on a person’s public stances is fair game.

            Regarding homosexual sin, it is completely incompatible with the Fathers to say that clear statements should not be made about the sinfulness of certain activity because it might offend those guilty of the sin. In fact, that is the whole point. Those guilty of a sin are the ones that need to hear it to give an opportunity for repentance, and with it, salvation. It is incompatible with the Fathers to say that those caught up in sexual sin should be allowed to commune. The fathers frequently used the metaphor that the church is a hospital, and the medicine offered by the church is repentance. Many on the left love the first part but ignore the second part. It gives a person no benefit to be within the walls of the church if it is not based on repentance. It gives them no benefit to partake unworthily, bringing damnation upon themselves. The stance of the fathers is profoundly compassionate – it is tough love designed to bring sinners to repentance and salvation. The left would like to give sinners comfort in this world, lulling them in the delusion that all will be well on the last day without repentance. The problem is that is a lie.

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              Well said, Ken. Our Eucharistic communion with Christ depends on our repentance, yet many modern pastors pass out the Body and Blood as if it were a magic potion that can do only good for those who consume them. That’s the way magic works, but it not the way the Holy Eucharist or any of the Church’s sacramental Mysteries work: They require our cooperation to do us any good. Without that cooperation, without real repentance, they do us great harm. The Holy Apostle Paul plainly says so, and the Fathers say the same.

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              Ryan says:

              Very well said Ken! What we see among many of the more theologically liberal and pastorally ‘lax’ Orthodox clergy is a real and willful abdication of their traditional (and fundamentally necessary) role in serving as authoritative moral voices to counsel parishioners on their sins and instruct them in the means to repentance. We see an abdication of true spiritual fatherhood, in the sense that some priests now fear offending or hurting the feelings of those who come to them in confession.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Depends on the audience Stankovich. Dn. Patrick follows standard convention. Many Orthodox authors follow the convention when writing for a larger non-Orthodox audience even though in Orthodox circles it strikes the ear as disrespectful.

            Further, Dn. Patrick criticizes Fr. Hopko’s ideas, not the man personally. Homosexuality is a hot button issue and how we think about it and the decisions we make concerning homosexual behavior will have long lasting ramifications for both Church and culture down the road (that’s why the button is hot). Treating Dn. Patrick’s the criticism of ideas as a criticism of the man merely muddles the conversation and raises the emotional temperature.

            Comments, then, like “. . . as they say on the street, ‘This is that stuff we don’t like'” tell us little except that in your neighborhood loud barking substitutes for clear thinking. I’m not interested in who barks the loudest. I’m interested in responsible thinking which is why Dn. Patrick’s essay is posted here to answer your question further upstream.

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              Apparently, Abouna, I cannot stoop to such a level, regardless of the audience, and regardless of the “convention.” Or so my grandmother taught me. We apparently learned “standard convention” in very different circles.

              Likewise apparent is the notion of Mr. Miller, that one is “fair game to be judged based on their public stances, whatever their private virtues may be.” And fair game is anyone’s guess. “That stuff we don’t like” is Dn. Patrick claiming elsewhere that Fr. Hopko (whom he refers to not even as “Hopko,” but the “Dalai Lama of Sunday-school teachers”) “blesses gay marriage by communion” linking back to this same article. This is not “criticism of ideas,” or “judgment of his public stance.” You may reframe this anyway you wish – hotbutton, conversations, muddling – this is a lie. How should this be treated? As a lie. And his mention of David Dunn & Rebecca Matovic? “Well-know advocates?” Really, Abouna? Nothing about “merely muddling the conversation and raising the emotional temperature?”

              I repeat myself: Dn. Mitchell sells the same tripe he was selling a year ago, and it is no more convincing nor compelling than it was then. His “responsible thinking” answers no question I am asking because he is fundamentally unqualified and incapable of doing so. Exactly how many times will you rewash the same laundry in the same dirty water and expect clean clothes? Dn. Mitchell offers not a single new insight, not a single re-articulation, not a single furtherance or contribution to “how we think about homosexuality and the decisions we make concerning homosexual behavior and how it will have long lasting ramifications for both Church and culture down the road.” None.

              Your bias is shameful, Abouna, and your need to repeatedly “appear” and rescue Dn. Mitchell from the logical and academic corners he continuously paints himself into speaks for itself. This was once a standardbearer for Orthodox discourse, and a frontline for discussion of the “public square” of the Church. Instead, you have let it become a foil by which everyone is measured by what he did or did not say/think/feel “about Jonah,” or “fair game” for the poseurs.. Snap out of it.

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                All I read in the four paragraphs is disapproval without any substantive ideas why you disapprove. Wagging the finger is not an argument.

                Dn. Patrick’s thesis that Fr. Hopko’s approach implicitly fosters the crafting of self-identity based on same-sex desire in ways that serve homosexual activism in the church is a fair one. This is not a personal critique of Fr. Hopko. It merely points out that Fr. Hopko’s thinking falls short when the boundaries of the criticism that gay activists and sympathizers launch against moral traditionalists (which Fr. Hopko is) are reached.

                The rub of course is that Dn. Patrick rejects an explicit thesis of yours as well: that homosexual desire is fixed and unchangeable, and that moral parity should be granted to both heterosexual and homosexual “orientation.” This is a complex subject but Dn. Patrick (and I agree) is not as eager as you are abandon the primary binaries (the biological male and female) and adopt instead something as fluid as the concept of “orientation” given that the concept will ultimately require an abandonment of the binaries altogether.

                Why not a pedophilia orientation for example, as some psychologists are already calling for? Why not a bestiality orientation? It’s just a matter of time before the binaries echoed in the concept of heterosexual vs. homosexual orientation disappear altogether, especially as the notion that “sexual orientation” becomes a primary anthropological category. When that happens we’ll have to revise Descarte’s dictum: I lust, therefore I am.

                Your real objection is that Dn. Patrick argues that homosexual desire can be channeled into their natural heterosexual channels in some cases. Fr. Hopko agrees.

                These questions are far from settled both in the culture and the church and discussing them here is entirely appropriate.

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                  And you would disrespect me to my face. Here are substantive ideas.

                  It is only because you have not taken the time to actually read my opinion that you can make such idiotic claims as me stating “homosexual desire is fixed and unchangeable, and that moral parity should be granted to both heterosexual and homosexual “orientation,” or that I disagree that “homosexual desire can be channeled into their natural heterosexual channels in some cases.” Show me. Support your contention with something I’ve actually written. Scour my site and my writings. You will not find it because it is your total fabrication.

                  I am all over your site, for heaven’s sake! Post after post, thread after thread, I have argued all over your site that “these questions are far from settled both in the culture and the church and discussing them here is entirely appropriate!” I have attempted to “change the primary binaries from the biological (male and female) to the psychological?” I am trained in medicine, not psychology! I attempt to change NOTHING! This is the epitome of insult that you are asking me to rationally “debate” with you when you do not have the vaguest notion of what I actually believe. I should be scolding you and finger-wagging, if only because of your disrespect and intellectual dishonesty.

                  It seems to me that you have invested yourself – and I say this with the esteem and respect within which I have held your opinions and considerations – with an unworthy protagonist, over an old kettle of fish. There is simply nothing new or worthy of defending here. Fr. Thomas Hopko offered a tentative, preliminary volume where, literally, none existed in “Orthodox circles.” You and I both know he did not intend it to be dogmatic, and seminal works are evolutional works, by nature, particularly when concerning stigmatizing circumstances. Dn. Mitchell is anything but fair, and certainly not substantive in resorting to disrespecting the priesthood, pejorative labels, and outright lies, over substance. And heaven only knows why you condone this.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    Of course Fr. Hopko offered a preliminary and tentative volume. That’s why a critique is entirely reasonable.

                    As for the rest, well, your tendency to take all things personally and the thug talk and all that, it just gets tiresome.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      Fr. Hans: Yes. If only Mike would write without the sneer-snark.

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                      Abouna, it may have been reasonable six years ago. In review. As critique. Six years ago I would excluded any reference to his disrespect or “sandbagging” of Fr. Tom without the courage or respect of contacting him as to how his thought might evolved from preliminary & tentative. I would not, however, have changed my opinion that Dn. Mitchell’s “critique” is the product of one unqualified to discern the intricacies of such a complex issue. And thus, he is forced to “stir up the sheep’s pool” with “hot button” names and teaser lies lies like “blesses gay marriage by communion” to draw click-throughs to his website.

                      Over the period of time I have been reading and posting at this site, Abouna, you have employed many “creative” turns-of-tongue to “displace” me – in fact, your response to my initial reply concludes, “The attempt to smear Dr. Pappas fails.” Holy cow! I’m feeling ONE-INCH TALL! But wasn’t that the point? I took some time to catch on before I began to appreciate the art form. And now, not so much. Who would have imagined that two words, Thug Life would turn out out to be one of the most popular tattoos ever. Is your dismissal amusing, Abouna? Sure, whatever. But I suspect what is truly “tiresome” is that Albatross-Deacon around your neck, who shortly will be making his rounds of the internet: “Fr. Hans agrees with me…” “Fr. Hans says my argument is reasonable…” Cracks me up.

                      Hang your good name with sabotatore… and I leave it to your imagination.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Michael, I let you use the site to create click-throughs too. Just look at the site your name is linked to. It’s a service I offer because I like to help people generate traffic to their sites especially when they are just starting out.

                      As for the rest, well, I’m not asking you change your opinion. I’m just not interested in addressing these questions in personal terms. I don’t know how much clearer I can get and I apologize to readers for the redundancy but wagging the finger is not an argument. Scoldings don’t carry much weight here.

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                      Scolding don’t carry much weight here? Please! I’ve had a dunce cap embossed with AOI that I dutifully put on my head before I even sit down! And before I forget: you and Dn. Mitchell have learned more about the psychiatric, biogenetic, neurological, psychological, sociological, and psychotherapeutic dynamics of same-sex attraction, hormonal differentiation of gender, and theories of sexual orientation beyond what you ever imagined directly from me or on direct account of me at the Google School of Medicine. And in those threads where I have intruded your typical back-slapping, “You’re doin’ a helluva job, Brownie” replies, participation triples, if not quadruples. Am I a source of ennui? Angst? Perhaps even a bout of the agita? Sure. But a troll I am not. And I also believe, more often than not, I am a haven in a heartless world.

                      Then, I believe, you need to kindly address your statements attributed to me:

                      1) [it is an] explicit thesis of yours as well: that homosexual desire is fixed and unchangeable, and that moral parity should be granted to both heterosexual and homosexual “orientation.”

                      2) “Sexual orientation” becomes a primary anthropological category. you are [have/will/propose to, I'm not exactly sure] abandon the primary binaries (the biological male and female) and adopt instead something as fluid as the concept of “orientation” given that the concept will ultimately require an abandonment of the binaries altogether.”

                      3) “Your real objection is that Dn. Patrick argues that homosexual desire can be channeled into their natural heterosexual channels in some cases. Fr. Hopko agrees” and I do not.

                      Why is this important? Because these are foundational issues for how the Church addresses these questions that “will have long lasting ramifications for both Church and culture down the road.” I wish I could share with you email I’ve received just in this year from, for example, concerned parents who went to speak to their parish priest. Some times it is unbearable.

                      In my heart, I cannot imagine, Abouna, that as a pastor, you would do anything differently than what Fr. Tom describes in his talk on the Ancient Faith Network. The pastor is a shepherd, not a psychotherapist, indeed. But neither is he a sheriff. Pastoral Wisdom is 50% heart, 50% head. I strongly suspect that the answering for turning away the one in “defense” of the ninety-nine will be exceptionally more painful than its corollary.

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                      In my heart, I cannot imagine, Abouna, that as a pastor, you would do anything differently than what Fr. Tom describes in his talk on the Ancient Faith Network. . . . I strongly suspect that the answering for turning away the one in “defense” of the ninety-nine will be exceptionally more painful than its corollary.

                      “Turning away”? Who would do the turning away? What Fr. Hans and I would do is kindly present the persons in question with a plain and simple choice: communion with Christ or fornication with someone of the same sex. It would then be up to them to turn away, from one or the other. Why do you, and presumably Fr. Tom, think that’s too hard a choice to ask someone to make?

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                      “What Fr. Hans and I would do…” Ah, let the symbiosis begin…

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                      It seems that M. Stankovich has run out of things to say.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Actually, I reject false opposites such as affirming the prohibition against homosexual behavior is unloving towards the person dealing with SSA, or that biological male-female binary has to be shifted to the heterosexual-homosexual “orientation” model (an echo of that binary) when in fact any passion creates it own “orientation” (pedophiliac, alcoholic, etc) if acted upon consistently. I’m also very cautious of appeals to “science” as justifications for morality (I know too much history for that) and reject the notion that voicing this caution means you are a knuckle-dragging troglodyte. That’s what the eugenics crowd used to call their unenlightened detractors.

                      I also reject the notion that one’s sexual “orientation” is a primary constituent of self-identity. I don’t even like the term “homosexual” although I am forced to use it because the homosexual lobby insists on a moral parity for homosexual behavior thereby reducing heterosexuality to one “life-style choice” among many when in fact heterosexuality is in accord with nature and God’s design.

                      I don’t deal with people with SSA and even same-sex behavior as “homosexual” first because I don’t believe their attractions and behavior define who they are. It might define who a person believes himself to be, but that is different issue. If a person defines himself primarily in terms of his homosexual sexual desire and behavior, then I respond by defining for him who he is behind his notion of sexualized self-identity (gay ideology* is toxic to self-understanding). Sometimes they listen. In fact, open this space in a person’s self-awareness and often you see God act to affirm it. If he responds, then healing — self-discovery and often self-restoration — can begin. Prayer is very powerful in these contexts, but prayer is efficacious only for the person desiring wholeness beyond what the gay ideology allows.

                      (*Any ideology that sexualizes self-identity is toxic, but activists in the Church argue exclusively for the homosexualization of self-identity.)

                      If the person still demands approval for his “life-style choice” all I can offer is what the moral tradition teaches and go on my way. Maybe the words I gave him will resonate down the road. Only God knows.

                      Gay activists in the Church want to import the toxic ideology and impose it by hammering their opponents as unloving. They function as self-appointed judges and I don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that.

                      At stake is whether the self-knowledge and self-awareness necessary to transform the homosexual temptation and struggle into a means of sanctification stays true to the tradition, or whether the tradition is forced to accept sexual desire as a primary category of self-identity. It is not true that those who reject the importation of the secular redefinition of human personhood into the Church regarding sexual issues rejects the person struggling with homosexuality. In fact, the opposite is true.

                      In cultural terms the foundational problem is that sex has been divorced from marriage and marriage from the protection of children, a problem the Catholic Church foresaw in Human Vitae, especially the cultural consequences of contraception. When sex is divorced from procreation, then all sorts of aberrant sexual activity and relationships start competing for moral legitimacy. That is where we are today. Once the false binary of heterosexual and homosexual orientation dissolves (and it won’t take long), we’ll be arguing about the next step of the cultural devolution, most likely the deconstruction of the cultural barriers against pedophilia.

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                      So, Abouna, I find myself in the “dialectic of déjà vu” in that this considerable “exhalation” of yours is, like it or not, all wrapped up in the derision six years too late. I’m feeling some sympathy for your cause, but not too much. And surprisingly, I have reached many of the same conclusions as your undocumented, unsupported, and (you will pardon me) very “untidy” argument, but for very different reasons. But you would not know that those are meticulously notated and articulated reasonings because you have not read and considered them. And now, Dn. Mitchell would taunt that I have “run out of things to say.” Good lord, man! I’ve said PLENTY! I am discussing what is impacting us last Friday as what “will have long lasting ramifications for both Church and culture down the road,” only to be “scolded & finger wagged” by the defense of Dn. Mitchell’s ballyhooed cheapshot of a beloved theologian and pastor of the Church!

                      That’s not snark, Mr. Coin. It’s indignation. And the name is “Michael,” not “Mike.”

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Michael, for all that you’ve had to say, you haven’t said why gays can’t be expected to control themselves to remain in Holy Communion. Straights, after all, don’t get a free pass to shack up or sleep around and still commune. Why should gays?

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      A sidebar to Dn. Brian’s point: Of interest is the very great comparative promiscuity difference reported between male and female attracted to like sex. 99% of the talk is from the G of LGBT as well.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      And with the rampant promiscuity comes higher rates of disease. From the CDC:

                      The data, presented at CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.

                      The range was 522-989 cases of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women.

                      The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women.

                      While CDC data have shown for several years that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and new syphilis infections, CDC has estimated the rates of these diseases for the first time based on new estimates of the size of the U.S. population of MSM. Because disease rates account for differences in the size of populations being compared, rates provide a reliable method for assessing health disparities between populations.

                      [...]

                      Also, the risk of HIV transmission through receptive anal sex is much greater than the risk of transmission via other sexual activities, and some gay and bisexual men are relying on prevention strategies that may be less effective than consistent condom use.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      So Fr. Hans: knowing the male-male promiscuity leads to horrible illness which could be prevented either for certain by living according to Christian and other precepts or ‘nearly always’ by purchasing appliances– nevertheless your report shows the G of LGBT continues choosing to invite disease, suffering, and an earlier death much less extensive medical expense. This expense is usually paid for by others, but if they don’t care about their own suffering, disease and early death I suppose others paying to help keep them alive is of no account either. Certainly having those feelings owing perhaps in part to unwelcome early life experiences isn’t an easy road, why live so as to make it worse? It’s on the list of things I don’t understand.

                      P.S. I’m still hoping for Michael to answer Dn. Brian’s very well put question. If the church holds it is not okay to commune men and women who misdo sexually from where comes a free pass for male-male or female-female? Though he did put it better.

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                      Apparently the fall semester of Google School of Public Health has begun. Epidemiology 101:

                      Promiscuity leads to to an increase in sexually transmitted disease: A decision before the voters in November in Los Angeles – where most pornographic films are produced, hetero & homosexual – mandating the use of condoms in the industry. As if prophetic, an outbreak of syphilis last month forced an industry-imposed “work-stoppage” until mandatory testing and treatment was concluded. Promiscuity among men is consistently more significant than among women, and consistently more significant among homosexual men than heterosexual men.

                      JUXTAPOSITION.

                      Without “working the numbers,” who would like to argue that heart disease as the result of obesity, consumption of alcohol, and tobacco makes STD’s seem like statistical anomalies? Yet, how many of our Orthodox festivals/hafalis(?)/banquets don’t consist of a big greazy ethnic meal, a few drinks, and a sneak outside to gossip about Mrs. So-and-so over a smoke? And nearly every college campus event is, directly or indirectly “sponsored” by alcohol or tobacco.

                      Lose weight, change your diet, stop smoking, practice safe sex. How many times does your Dr. tell you and you don’t listen? What have we learned new? Not much…

                      Abouna, I dutifully hurried to the WSJ article All in the Family, which would have made this discussion a lot more interesting, I think, only to click back-page to a “404.” Why regret? Mr. Coin, don’t hold your breath for my response to the Deacon’s disingenuous baiting. You seem a bit too interested in that free pass

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Harry, a corollary. I warned some G’s in the LGBT category of emerging orientations that their support of Obamacare may come back to bite them. Once rationing starts, which is inevitable if Obamacare remains the law of the land, the narrative of passive victimhood (apparent in the editorial tone surrounding the CDC stats in the article I quoted above) will shift. Once the technocrats see how many dollars are going to treat preventable diseases for such a disproportionate share of the population, pressure will mount for reallocation. This pressure will ameliorate government embrace of the narrative. I hope Obamacare is rescinded of course, but the gays should too.

                      Homosexual men are much more promiscuous that homosexual women or heterosexual men. Even among men who have “long term partners” (implying monogamy) most arrangements are open meaning that they have sex with other men on the side. See: Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

                      This makes Dn. Patrick’s question a good one but I don’t think Michael will answer it. He dodges hard questions.

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                      Deacon Patrick’s question is disingenuous bait intended, AGAIN, to make himself a martyr for making a unilateral decision to turn an apparently homosexual woman from the Eucharist, purposely avoiding the consent of the priest – who undoubted would have forbidden him – and in the end scandalizing the parish and his bishop. Since I pointed this out, he has chased me around several fora, challenging pitiful points such as my education, “mutually exclusive,” how my name is spelled, the length of my hair, blah, blah, blah. All until a priest on another forum boxed his ears but good about “whining like a woman,” and he has been silent for a while. Now, as I wisely have ignore his further cheapshots at Fr. Hopko, like yesterday’s “mealymouthed,” comment, make it a point to mention my name, his concierges rescue him but again. It’s all good, I say.

                      As for the hard questions, I avoid nothing. I personally have no idea what a “free ticket” means, and you know as well as I do that Fr. Hopko certainly does not promote a “different” morality for anyone for any reason. It’s moronic to suggest. Nevertheless, I have suggested that I am moved by his pastoral approach, and I find it consistent with the Patristic mind of the Church:

                      How can one speak of the overwhelming anguish which a bishops undergos, whenever it is necessary to cut some one off from the full communion of the Church? If only that indeed that the evil went no further than just his distress! But in fact, the mischief is not insignificant. For there is a terror that the man, if he has might be punished beyond what he deserves, should experience that which was spoken of by the blessed Paul “[μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς] on the contrary [χαρίσασθαι] you should/better you would forgive [καὶ] and [παρακαλέσαι] comfort, [μήπως τῇ] otherwise [περισσοτέρᾳ] excessive/overwhelming [λύπῃ] grief [καταποθῇ] will devour/swallow up [ὁ τοιοῦτος] such a person/one.” (2 Cor 2:7) The kindest accuracy, therefore, is required in this matter also, otherwise what is intended to be profitable should become to him an occasion of greater damage. For whatever sins he may commit after such a method of treatment, the fierce indignation caused by each of them must be shared by the physician who so unskillfully applied his knife to the wound. What severe punishment, then, must be expected by one who has not only to render an account of the offenses which he himself has separately committed, but also incurs extreme danger on account of the sins committed by others? For if we shudder at undergoing judgment for our own misdeeds, believing that we shall not be able to escape the fire of the other world, what must one expect to suffer who has to answer for the sins of so many others? To prove the truth of this, listen to the blessed Paul, or rather not to him, but to Christ speaking in him, when he says: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit, for they watch for your souls as they must give an account of you.” (Heb 13:17) Can the dread of this threat ever be taken lightly? St. Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, Book III, XVII

                      Any other foolishness you would have me dodge today?

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      Michael, what a total skive! Men should be admitted while doing whatnot with men (but not women) because Chrysostom said so? Did you really post that?

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                      Holy Cow, Mr. Coin! You had me for a minute there, back on my heels! SKIVE, you say? Now, I’m from NY so I immediately assumed you mean “skeeve,” which is a slangism for the derivation of the Italian schifo, meaning “disgust”: è uno schifo!, it’s disgusting!; mi fa schifo!, you make me sick!; or as the “Jersey Shore/Brooklyn types say, “you skeeve me, man.” But in the end, Mr. Coin, is the real slang, questa risposta ha fatto schifo, “this answer sucked,” Madonna, mia! It couldn’t be. Not Mr. Coin. So, I turn my sights to the OED to find skive: “An act of shirking; an opportunity for avoiding a difficult or unpleasant task, an easy option. One who avoids work; a shirker; a truant.” Good lord, Mr. Coin, I suppose I should have hedged my bet (and explain that, “hedged” – I rarely grasp idiomatic expressions – “sharp cookie,” imagine that!).

                      Let me offer a a comment, then you re-read the Saint: this is in reference to a decision that St. Chrysostom considered significant enough to, literally, flee the priesthood, that being a pastor’s decision to separate a man, or a woman, from the saving Body of the Church for one specific reason: their salvation. As he says, the better decision always and at all times, “[χαρίσασθαι] you should/better you would forgive [καὶ] and [παρακαλέσαι] comfort.” However, St. Chrysostom is clear that such an action, at times, is necessary, but you note, he is of no assistance whatsoever as to when or under what conditions a pastor exercises this necessary action, again, for their salvation, In fact, Book III ends here. What is he saying? I believe exactly what Fr. Hopko and and any real pastor would say: it is my judgment, and I am responsible (Heb 13:17) . And for such reason does the Holy Spirit “fulfill that which is wanting through the laying on of hands.” Now re-read it, Mr. Coin.

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                      A more germane patristic citation, actually about cutting off people for fornication:

                      “For it is the part of humanity not to humor the sick in every thing nor to flatter their unseasonable desires. No one so loved him that committed fornication amongst the Corinthians as Paul, who commandeth to deliver him to Satan; no one so hated him as they that applaud and court him; and the event showed it. For they indeed both puffed him up and increased his inflammation; but [the Apostle] both lowered it and left him not until he brought him to perfect health. And they indeed added to the existing mischief, he eradicated even that which existed from the first. These laws, then, of humanity let us learn also. For if thou seest a horse hurrying down a precipice, thou appliest a bit and holdest him in with violence and lashest him frequently; although this is punishment, yet the punishment itself is the mother of safety. Thus act also in the case of those that sin. Bind him that hath transgressed until he have appeased God; let him not go loose, that he be not bound the faster by the anger of God. If I bind, God doth not chain; if I bind not, the indissoluble chains await him. “For if we judged ourselves, we should not be judged.” (1 Cor. xi. 31.) Think not, then, that thus to act cometh of cruelty and inhumanity; nay, but of the highest gentleness and the most skillful leechcraft and of much tender care. But, saith one, they have been punished for a long time. How long? Tell me. A year, and two, and three years? Howbeit, I require not this, length of time, but amendment of soul. This then show whether they have been pricked to the heart, whether they have reformed, and all is done: since if there be not this, there is no advantage in the time. For neither do we inquire whether the wound has been often bandaged, but whether the bandage has been of any service. If therefore it hath been of service, although in a short time, let it be kept on no longer: but if it hath done no service, even at the end of ten years, let it be still kept on: and let this fix the term of release, the good of him that is bound. If we are thus careful both of ourselves and of others, and regard not honor and dishonor at the hands of men; but bearing in mind the punishment and the disgrace that is there, and above all the provoking of God, apply with energy the medicines of repentance: we shall both presently arrive at the perfect health, and shall obtain the good things to come; which may all we obtain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.”

                      St. John Chrysostom on 2 Cor. 7, regarding 1 Cor. 5

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                  Tomas says:

                  “I lust, therefore I am.”

                  And?

                  We are sinners, and our sinfulness is tightly interwoven into the very fabric of our beings. It cannot be compartmentalized away as if it were merely something one has, like a cold virus.

                  Is sexual orientation (whatever it is) the only or even primary component of our makeup? Of course not. It’s merely one facet of many. Nevertheless, it is inescapably part of us for good or evil.

                  A murderous man is just that: a murderer. That is his heart whether he acts on it or not. Can he be transformed? Yes, although in this life he will always wear the scars of that sin. When he is ultimately transformed, he will no longer be he even though he will retain a “self”.

                  That is the hope, although it will always be just that in this life: a hope, although hope does carry with it a promise of fulfillment on the part of the Christian.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    Tomas, what I meant was that with the disintegration of biological binaries (notions of male and female are cultural constructs, biology is functionally irrelevant to the definition of what it means to be male or female), and with the elevation of a multitude of “orientations” (homosexual, pedophiliac, bestial — what ever the dominant drive happens to be), then the old normalcy will devolve into a new normalcy that crystallizes around this precept: I am what I feel. Since sexual feelings are a strong driver in every person and when notions of male and female are divorced from the biological binaries and built around orientation, then the ground of self-definition will become exclusively what one feels attracted to.

                    This is not a statement about Christian anthropology, it’s a statement about self-understanding shorn of any Christian anthropology.

                    One clarification to your point: sin is not “interwoven into the very fabric of our being.” We are subject to death and because of death we are subject to the corruption of sin. When we fight sin, we actually recover ourselves, and that fight is won by entering more deeply into Life (who is Christ). If sin were woven into our being, there would not be any possibility of overcoming it.

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      Ryan Hunter says:

      Well said, Ken! While many modern Orthodox theologians do offer significant expostulations on the wisdom passed down from earlier Fathers, it is important to remember that we are still digesting these later writings, that often the beliefs and views of many of these theologians change, in either small or significant ways.

      The question of what beliefs and influences make up the modern Orthodox witness provided by many of our theologians is one which the hindsight eye of history has yet to fully discern. We can read the Fathers, and history’s witness tells us about which heresy or scandal each was writing. The wisdom of the Fathers, especially the antenicene and Desert Fathers, stand as pillars polished by the critical lens of history and the universal affirmation of the faithful. No modern theologian, however eminent, can be taken so seriously as the ancient theologians whose works the Church has affimed, for centuries, to have been divinely inspired.

      I admire Fr. Thomas for many of his writings- his podcasts on AFR were a source of much of my ‘informal catechism’ before the period of my actual catechism- but he lost a lot of credibility in my eyes when he publicly referred to his then Primate, Metropolitan Jonah, as “gravely troubled”. This is unconscionable to me. Granted, I was raised Roman Catholic, but the notion of a protopresbyter presuming the right to so publicly question and judge the mental or psychological condition of his Primate horrifies me.

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    Holy Cow, Mr. Coin! You had me for a minute there, back on my heels! SKIVE, you say? Now, I’m from NY so I immediately assume you mean “skeeve,” which is a slangism for the derivation of the Italian schifo, meaning “disgust”: è uno schifo!, it’s disgusting!; mi fa schifo!, you make me sick!; or as the “Jersey Shore/Brooklyn types say, “you skeeve me, man.” But in the end, Mr. Coin, is the real slang, questa risposta ha fatto schifo, “this answer sucked,” Madonna, mia! It couldn’t be. Not Mr. Coin. So, I turn my sights to the OED to find skive: “An act of shirking; an opportunity for avoiding a difficult or unpleasant task, an easy option. One who avoids work; a shirker; a truant.” Good lord, Mr. Coin, I suppose I should have hedged my bet (and explain that – I rarely under grasp idiomatic expressions – “sharp cookie,” imagine that!).

    Let me offer you a comment, then, please re-read the Saint: St. Chrysostom is saying that this decision, separating a man, or a woman, from the Lifegiving Body of the Church, is such an epic decision that he would, literally, flee the priesthood. It is always and at all times “[χαρίσασθαι] you should/better you would forgive [καὶ] and [παρακαλέσαι] comfort,” he says, however, at times for reasons of their salvation, it must be done. But note, St. Chrysostom offers nothing whatsoever as “guideline” or direction, clarification, or “criteria as to when or under which circumstances a pastor would exercise such responsibility. In fact, Book III ends here. What should we make of this? I believe Fr. Hopko has described it accurately: it is the priest’s jugment, “and they must give an account.” (Heb. 13:17). And for this reason we believe the Holy Spirit “always fulfills that which is wanting through the laying on of hands.”

    Mine was a thoughtful, reasoned response, Mr. Coin. But it is no more than addendum to to the Saint. Now, please re-read him.

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    I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe I have saved the primary binaries for yet another day. Whew! It wasn’t easy…

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    Andriy says:

    Numerous gay people would, by their lived experiences, tell Father Hopko that he is wrong. They were born gay, can’t change their orientation, are drawn to same-sex relationships which are expressed sexually in a strong desire to create “fulfilling, complementary, life-creating, and life enhancing relationships with people of the same sex”. If only Father Hopko had left the vitally important and contemporary topic of homosexuality to those competent and educated on the subject matter, such as Archbishop Lazar, instead of inflicting his own personal biased reflections upon others, especially gay Orthodox Christians. In this case the priest (Hopko) should listen to the archbishop (Lazar) and maybe pick up a book on biology, one written after 1970.

    http://www.orthodoxandgay.com/dueling-theologians-dueling-graces

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      I’d be a little more cautious about citing Abp. Lazar as an expert on much of anything. An activist? Yes. An expert? No.

      Apart from that, the eroticizing of same-sex friendship is not “life-creating” in that same-sex sexual couplings are naturally sterile. Same-sex friendships can be a natural, even needful, good. The eroticizing of those friendships is not. The attempt to cast those eroticized friendships as an alternative model to opposite-sex marriage violates nature and the moral tradition.

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        Father,
        Thank you for your comments. I have read “Neurobiology of Sin” by Archbishop Lazar and compared it to contemporary texts in biology. Whatever you may think of the bishop, he quotes modern scientific texts to support his writing. This is something that numerous Orthodox writers who offer their opinions in the areas of biology, genetics and general science, do not.
        Concerning your comment that the “eroticizing of same-sex friendship is not life creating” – that would depend upon your definition of “life-creating.” As a priest I celebrated more than a few weddings for people well past their fertile years. These couples would define “life-creating” differently than much younger couples. I assume that you are not a homosexual and therefore do not understand what LGBT people experience and feel when they are physically, mentally, and emotionally drawn to another person. For us, such an experience is life-creating. If same-sex friendships can be, in your words “natural, needful and good”, then they can express erotic love that is natural and life-creating. If these relationships are “natural” and numerous LGBT people would tell you that they are, then they do not violate nature and are moral. The Orthodox Church needs to offer her compassion and mercy, as it does in other areas of human behavior, and crown same-sex relationships.
        Andriy

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          I’ll leave the good bishop alone for the time being with this caution: don’t put too much stock in his “research.”

          Concerning your comment that the “eroticizing of same-sex friendship is not life creating” – that would depend upon your definition of “life-creating.” As a priest I celebrated more than a few weddings for people well past their fertile years. These couples would define “life-creating” differently than much younger couples.

          I didn’t use the word “infertile.” I used the word “sterile.” Same-sex couplings are naturally sterile, biologically closed to new life. And the reason for that is simple: the anal canal is not a sexual organ. In fact, the same-sex partners might be at the peak of their fertility but the sterile nature of the relationship precludes the creation of new life.

          Older heterosexual couples may indeed be infertile, but the opposite-sex relationship still affirms what is true in nature even if it is not realized.

          Now if you want to define “life-creating” to mean something other than it does, the only conclusion we can draw is that you are using it as a euphemism. I’m with Orwell on that approach however — euphemisms are usually employed to obscure the truth.

          If same-sex friendships can be, in your words “natural, needful and good”, then they can express erotic love that is natural and life-creating.

          I “feel” therefore I am? What I feel is what I am? If all desire is “natural”, which is to say that experiencing desire is itself the justification for acting on it, what really prohibits pedophilia, polyamory or bestiality? Not much.

          Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality

          Who are you a priest with?

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            Father,
            An older couple getting married also precludes the creation of new life and yet can be married in the Orthodox Church and their relationship usually is life-creating. There are couples where sterility is present and yet they are wed in the Church. Would you suggest that the priest request medical proof of the possibility of reproduction before marrying the couple? The same is true for same-sex couples. As far as your specific comments about sexual practices, does the conversation need to delve into these matters? Are you prepared to discuss the Orthodox view of prohibited and sanctioned sexual practices with your congregation? Is there such a list? Also, when you start discussing pedophilia, bestiality, and polyamorous relationships in the same conversation with adult same-sex relationships, you have lost me. It is offensive.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Let me try this one more time: Same-sex couplings are biologically closed to the creation of new life. Male to male or female to female sexual couplings do not create new life. To insist that the couplings replicate male to female marriage as defined by nature and the moral tradition defies both nature and the tradition.

              Again, you are confusing sterility and infertility. Same-sex couplings are sterile by nature, even if the partners are fertile. Opposite-sex marriage affirms the natural order even if children are not created.

              This is a simple distinction rooted in nature and the moral tradition. If you want to ignore it however, then any kind of sexual coupling becomes licit. To put it another way, if same-sex couplings should be considered licit marriage, then to what authority can you point to deem polyamory or bestiality as illicit? Nature? You are already ignoring it. The moral tradition? You are already violating it.

              As for my specific commentary on sexual practices, sodomy is sin. The moral tradition is clear on that and the prohibition against sodomy extends to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Why? Well one reason is that the anal canal is not a sexual organ. Why should pointing this out be offensive? For most people it is common sense.

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          Andriy Partykevich,

          I have devoted considerable time to research and investigation developing an exposition of same-sex attraction that I believe is consistent with Orthodox anthropology, the theology & Tradition of the Church, and emergent contemporaneous biogenetic & epigenetic information beginning here. Archbishop Lazar commented on my original version of this thesis that the science was significantly more thorough than his own, and I was encouraged to compliment this original series with further explorations into matters such as “orientation” as a biogenetically-influenced process, and a recent sixth additional chapter examining post-genetic, pre-natal processes (mainly hormonal) that affect both gender and orientation. I attempt to be scrupulous in documenting my citations. For more than a year, the argument on this site regarding same-sex attraction has been my insistence that we are short-sighted and foolish not to consider emerging scientific data – and I strongly suspect it is simple ignorance as to what I have presented & and the arrogance not to ask for an explanation that has resulted in conflict – but I would only ask you to judge for yourself. ‎

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            Thank you for your comments and your work in this area. My approach is more pastoral. Although I hope for dialogue in this area, I am troubled by numerous bishops, clerics and, learned laymen who simply continue to ignore the science that is known and emerging regarding sexual orientation and identity. Through the website, orthodoxandgay.com I hear from numerous LGBTQ Orthodox faithful and their families who are struggling with the issue of wanting to remain Orthodox and yet see a Church that is intransigent in the face of modern science. The hierarchy of the Church remains silent or offers only one of two options for its LGBT faithful: celibacy or the option of leaving the Church. How sad.

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              Andriy Partykevich,

              Yours is a most fascinating response, presumably made without reading my thesis, which seems endemic to my cause. My “work” in biogenitics & epigenetics is intended to speak to the reality of our fallen humanity – such as it is – and is every bit “pastoral” as my understanding of the term allows. It is and was not my intention to document and elucidate the detached biological analogy of, say, Drosophila melanogaster for the hell of it. I have attempted to address the faithful in a manner consistent with the Scripture, the Patristic Fathers, Holy Tradition, and in the light of contemporaneous biogenetics compatible with our Orthodox anthropology. My friends have died needlessly ashamed, and I am motivated to change perception and attitude as I am able.

              It appears to me, from what I have read on your site and from your comments here, that you would wish to – correct me if I am wrong – amend, or modify, or append the theology/anthropology/Tradition of the Church to reflect what we have now come to understand as “orientation & identity” as significantly more diverse than ever historically appreciated; and the Church, without acknowledging this emergent information, is “intransigent in the face of modern science.” While I certainly agree with aspects of this contention, and most importantly from a pastoral perspective, it is incumbent upon you – in a process of wisdom and discernment characteristic of the Fathers before us – to demonstrate the succinct nature of the error of Orthodox anthropology and Tradition as we understand and practice it. And I will state from the outset that “fairness and parity” are insufficient defense. At best, your current advice – celibacy or leave – is worse than shallow, as it is defiant without justification, mocking St. Paul, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40) I have read voluminous arguments and complaints from the LGBTQ Orthodox community that the Church is “not listening,” is rigid, stagnant, “frozen in time,” indifferent, and silent, but frankly I have read nothing of a compelling scholarly, historical, or spiritual nature that even begins to provide a meeting-place for dialog.

              I, for one, am open to listening, to being convinced, to exploring the pastoral issues. But somehow, if you are unable to convince me, I wonder how you will ever presume to reach the others.

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                Sir,

                I understand your thesis. We are just working from opposite perspectives – but hopefully towards the same conclusion. Also, it is not my purpose to convince you or anyone for that matter, that my life has value and that my choices are driven by my God given conscience. I have thousands of responses – mostly from LGBTQ Orthodox faithful who understand what I write about because they have experienced the same. It is actually up to the Church to listen.

                Andriy

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                  Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  Everyone’s life has value Andriy. One does not have to be sinless before that value is imparted. The value is intrinsic, given by God and affirmed in that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners as St. Paul teaches.

                  The prohibition against sodomy does not deny anyone of their intrinsic value. Sodomy is considered a sin because engaging it is not in accord with a person’s created nature that finds its proper expression and fulfillment in communion with his Creator. In other words, the prohibition exists because man has value.

                  Your testimony then that your view is driven by your “God given conscience” is not in accord with Orthodox anthropology (you claim to be Orthodox). You seem to be confusing healthy same-sex friendships with the eroticizing of those friendships. Sodomy is forbidden, not the friendships.

                  The Church has listened but comes up with a different conclusion than you do. Are you sure it’s the Church that has to change?

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Andriy, every passion (as defined in Orthodox anthropology) effects an orientation. This is not restricted to sexuality alone although sexual questions are more complex because of the dynamic nature of sexual energy. Depending on how one learns to master and channel sexual energy determines if the sexual drive becomes a unitive or centrifugal force.

              We are more than our passions. Put another way, our passions don’t define who or what we are. Of course if any reference to the higher things are lost then the passions are all we have and we will eventually become slaves to them. Either we learn to master the passions or the passions will master us.

              Our culture is already there. “I am what I feel” (“I feel, therefore I am”) is the creed of our time. But you, as a priest (correct?) and particularly as an Orthodox Christian (correct?), need to look beyond that creed and start asking yourself why the moral tradition teaches what it does.

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                Father,

                Thank you for your response. You state “Chastity is the concept that needs to be explored with more care in this debate and it applies to all persons regardless of their attractions.” (emphasis mine) I have yet to meet the Orthodox bishop or priest that would suggest that chastity needs to be explored with heterosexuals unless they have a calling to the monastic state to which so few people are called. Why would it need to be explored with homosexuals? Concerning the passions – if you are a married man – do any of the passions prohibit you from remaining married to your wife? Are married men a slave to their passions because they love their wives? One can love God and their wife. Such would be the same for LGBT persons. Also, I have yet to meet the priest that discusses contraception, sodomy (which includes oral sex) and the like with his married congregants.

                I am not going to debase this discussion by answering other questions about sodomy, the anal canal, polyamory , and bestiality which have nothing to do with two people of the same sex entering into a loving, caring, monogamous relationship that for them is natural. However, I do have a question for you if you would care to answer. Do you know any gay people who are in stable relationships? If so, can you not honestly see that their choice is natural, moral and Christ ordained? Do you honestly believe that such people are pursuing unnatural and immoral lives because they have chosen to listen to their God given nature and express that love in a life-creating relationship?

                Andriy

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                  Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  Chastity and celibacy are two different things. Chastity means sexual purity and a virtue that must be exercised by both married and unmarried. The proper context for sexual activity is opposite-sex marriage. Desire for sexual relations with the same-sex is disordered and the person struggling with this passion would be counseled to remain celibate. That is the teaching of the Church and the one you would be expected to embrace if you are Orthodox, which you claim to be.

                  The points about sodomy, the anal canal, etc. don’t debase the discussion. They merely point out that even nature affirms the moral teaching of the Church. Forcing organs to do things they were not designed to do usually carries peculiar justifications for their abuse.

                  As for expressing their “God given nature,’ the only nature we possess is human nature. Sexual desire is part of human nature, but the object of one’s desire does not define personhood. There is not such thing as homosexual or heterosexual nature, IOW.

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                  Chastity (tselomudryie/sophrosyne), while addressing sexuality, means “wholemindedness” – referring to the “life” of purity, dedication of purpose, and the complete focus of holiness to which we are all called, without exception. It is unfortunate that we have limited our understand to matters of sexuality exclusively.

                  Abouna, I disagree with this repeated reference to anal intercourse – and it is a longstanding objection – as you and Dn. Mitchell seem to believe it the sine qua non of male same-gender sexual activity and a highly confrontational tactic. I suspect you will continue to do this until you encounter a sufficient number of individuals who confirm to you that, while they are homosexual, they do not engage in anal intercourse. After unpainting yourself from that corner, you may then address lesbians & heterosexual couples. Likewise, I fail to see the efficacy of repeatedly arguing the issue of the inability to procreate when, as best we can determine, the incidence of homosexuality in any protracted sense is constant & consistent – without the procreative contribution of homosexuals themselves (obviously with some exceptions). I have mentioned previously, at one time, Fr. Hopko “speculated” as to the appropriateness of continuing a sexual relationship in marriage beyond one’s childbearing years. I have not heard his opinion since his retirement.

                  Andriy Partykevich, it seems to me you are arguing the illusion of “normalcy” and appealing to “love” as a proxy. While this is obviously an emotionally appealing “resolution,” it remains an illusion. I am immediately reminded of the story of the young rich man as told in the Gospel of Mark 10:17ff. This is an unique presentation of the Synoptic story in that Mark specifically conveys the fact that Jesus hears the man’s plea, “What must I do” (10:17), but “seeing him” (10:21) – and the verb is ἐμβλέπω, to “see inside,” implying to “clearly see” – “he loved him.” In other words, Jesus heard his words, but really saw the truth of his heart; and seeing the truth of his heart, was moved to love him. And it is this Divine love that leads him to confront the truth in his heart: “Sell all that you have,” knowing the man could not, “and [the man] went away and grieved.” (10:22)

                  My point is that love is the antithesis of illusion. Jesus could have “negotiated” a settlement, could have forgiven him outright, could have accommodated him with a “reasonable solution” like he did with so many others. But he did not. And rather than believe that this led to a path of despair & destruction, I conclude it ultimately led to his salvation. Therefore, to ask if I know same-gender couples living in “stable relationships,” monogamous & loving, of course I do, but it is unavoidable that they are illusions of Christian marriage. An illusion of Eph. 5:22-33 – the Epistle read at an Orthodox wedding. You are appealing to emotion and a worldly sense of “justice,” and it is sorely inadequate. You must offer somewhere to begin.

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                    Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                    The reference to confusing the anal canal as a sexual organ only shows that nature conforms to the tradition and vice versa. Don’t read anything more into it than that.

Care to comment?

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