October 21, 2014

Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty

blow-out-liberty – By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

To define homosexual coupling as marriage violates natural law. It takes one male and one female to create a child and constitute a family. A male-to-male or female-to-female coupling is naturally sterile; biologically closed to the creation of new life. A homosexual “family” then, is necessarily an artificial creation.

Marriage is not a creation of the State; it predates the rise of the State. When the State codifies heterosexual marriage, it simply affirms what already exists in nature. However, when the State decrees that a homosexual coupling is a morally licit marriage, it arrogates unto itself an authority to define human relationships that do not exist in nature and thus violates natural law.

The State codification of same-sex couplings as a marriage means that moral relativism is being crafted into law. This creates a new conflict. A society cannot live with the tension between the State and nature and thus is left with two available choices: 1) deny the arrogation of authority by the State, or 2) destroy the definition of natural marriage altogether. The first is the choice of anyone who believes that the moral tradition and/or natural law references an authority higher than the State. The second will be favored by those who see the State as both the source and judge of morally licit human relationships.

President Obama has declared that “gay rights” is a centerpiece of his second term agenda. This is a dangerous development. The arrogation of authority by the State to define what kind of relationships are morally licit as well as the employment of the machinery of the State to enforce the polices that flow from it will justify an encroachment into personal life seldom seen in human history.

Furthermore, the ground is being tilled for the persecution of Christianity because Christians, by the mere fact that they believe in God, testify allegiance to an authority to which even the State must be subject. The State will necessarily refuse that reasoning because it strikes at the heart of its arrogation of moral authority (see my essay: The Artist as Vandal: Culture and the Desecration of Religious Symbols).

In the long run, Christians won’t be prosecuted for objecting to homosexual marriage as such. They will be prosecuted for denying that the State has the power to define what is morally licit under the legal rubric of civil rights. The drafters of the Manhattan Declaration understand this.

We are one step closer to the catacombs. Bishops and priests need to take special note because they will become the first targets of the coming hostility in order to demoralize the faithful. Clergy who today still hope for compromise with the homosexual cultural agenda must recommit to the moral tradition and bear the scorn that comes with defending it. If they don’t, they will fall from the faith and lead others with them. Clergy who are practicing homosexuals need to be removed from office because their internal confusion fosters greater moral confusion in the Church at a time when more moral clarity is needed.

Comments

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    Another masterwork, Fr. Hans.

    You prove yourself time and again to be one of the Watchers.

    But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. – Ezk 33:6

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Thanks for the kind words Fr. John. But that quote! If that doesn’t sober us up what will?

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    cyntha curran says:

    The problem is modern society does not have a a single view on social matters. Probably, the protestant reformation destroy this there were some radical groups from the protestant reformation that believed in free love or several wives. In the Roman Catholic west in the middle ages most people agree what was right or wrong they were minor groups that promoted free love. In the Orthodox East they had the same view on morality. The law in the Orthodox East allow for abortion up to 40 days maybe that’s when they thought the soul in the fetus and in later law a provision on the women’s health but not too much more liberal than the Catholic west.

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      Ryan says:

      Cyntha Curran, from where do you take your assertion that “the law in the Orthodox East allow for abortion up to 40 days”? This is not what I read in the Codex Iustinianus.

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      Ryan says:

      “Those who expose children possibly hoping they would die, and those who use the potions of the abortionist, are subject to the full penalty of
      the law – both civil and ecclesiastical – for murder. Should exposure occur, the finder of the child is to see that he is baptized and that he is treated with Christian care and compassion. They may then be adopted…even as we ourselves have been adopted into the Kingdom of grace.” Codex Iustinianus, 18:51-52

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      Cyntha, There is no “40 days exception” regarding abortion when it comes to the traditional, apostolic, and moral teaching of the Orthodox Church. The theology of the Orthodox Christian faith is very clear and unambiguous: all unborn human life is sacred and innocent human life must be fully protected. The Church categorically condemns abortion. All Orthodox Churches throughout the whole world and across the 2,000 years since Christ have taught and proclaimed this same truth without alteration to all nations.

      http://orthodoxnet.com/blog/2013/07/orthodox-church-view-on-abortion-life-begins-at-conception/

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        Rostislav says:

        St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

        Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? where there are many efforts at abortion? where there is murder before the birth? for even the harlot thou dost not let continue a mere harlot, but makest her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then dost thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine. Hence too come idolatries, since many, with a view to become acceptable, devise incantations, and libations, and love potions, and countless other plans. Yet still after such great unseemliness, after slaughters, after idolatries, the thing [fornication] seems to belong to things indifferent, aye, and to many that have wives, too.

        -Homily 24 on Romans

        +++

        St. Basil the Great (c. 329-379)

        To Anfilochius, Bishop of Iconia:

        She who has intentionally destroyed [the fetus] is subject to the penalty corresponding to a homicide. For us, there is no scrutinizing between the formed and unformed [fetus]; here truly justice is made not only for the unborn but also with reference to the person who is attentive only to himself/herself since so many women generally die for this very reason.

        -First Letter 2

        Canon II.

        Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years’ penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not.

        – The First Canonical Epistle of Our Holy Father Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

        …those who give the abortifacients and those who take the poisons are guilty of homicide.

        -First Letter 8

        +++

        St. Ambrose (c.340-397)

        Indeed there are those women who cut off the word prematurely born/aborted, before they give birth, there are those who have Christ in the womb but they will not yet have formed (him), to whom it is said: my children, whom I desire to bring forth again and again until Christ be formed in you.

        Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam, lib. 10, line 252 [private translation]

        But why the eye or the hand, since the aborted child has both a hand and an eye which has already been formed?

        -Ambrose, Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam, lib. 10, line 283 [private translation]

        And elsewhere the same Ecclesiastes, being an old man, guarded him better whom his mother had cast out by abortion, because he did not see these bad things which they make in this world, he neither came into these shadows nor walked in vanity, and for that reason he who did not come into this life will have more of a rest than he who came.

        – De bono mortis, cap 2, par. 4, line 11

        The poor get rid of their small children by exposure and denying them when they are discovered. But the rich also, so that their wealth will not be more divided, deny their children [when they are] in the womb and with all the force of parricide, they kill the beings of their wombs [while they are] in the same fruitful womb. In this way life is taken away from them before it has been given.

        -Hexameron V.18.58 [private translation]

        +++

        St. Gregory the Great (540-604)

        The aborted [fetus] because it is born before its due time, is immediately concealed [as] dead.

        -Moralia, Bk. IV, line 3 [private translation]

        +++

        The Letter of Barnabas

        “The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following….Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born” (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74] ).

        +++

        St. Hippolytus of Rome

        “Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!” (Refutation of All Heresies [A.D. 228]).

        http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/earlychurchfathers/fatherscover.html

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    Michael Bauman says:

    E Judging by comments on other sites the lines are drawn and there is no convincing those who see nothing but moralistic judgement, rather judgmentalism from those who defend real marriage. It will not only split society, but the Church.

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    Tomas says:

    Scripture forbids remarrying if one has been previously married (with very few exceptions – see Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:32). Scripture forbids believers marrying unbelievers. All of Christendom has been consistent for centuries on these matters. Meanwhile, Scripture is silent about adults marrying minors under the age of 18 (strict Jewish customs allowed youths to marry as early as 14 or 15).

    Yet, it is illegal to grant a marriage license to minors, no matter what their spiritual maturity or beliefs. However, it is LEGAL to grant marriage licenses to serial adulterers who change wives more frequently than they change underwear. Can a state representative choose to disobey the law in either situation and grant or deny a marriage license as their conscience permits? I’m doubting it.

    My question is: why have Christians only NOW decided to speak up on these matters? Where have they been for the last ten decades? I have yet to read one account of a civil servant rejecting a license to a Christian and a reprobate Jew or a to a man who is clearly a philanderer. (It is to the Catholic Church’s profound shame that they CHOSE to bless Newt Gingrich’s marriage to his second — or is it third? — mistress … not to mention the state employee who provided the license).

    Christians bypass offense after offense in these matters and say nothing. Why are we just now developing a conscience on these matters?

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Tomas, your moral criticisms are well taken, but homosexual marriage differs for the reason I outlined above: it violates nature. It is certainly true that the collapse of the moral foundations within the culture has led us to this impasse, but even the sins you outlined never called on the State to declare relationships not found in nature as morally licit.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda. He how comes at the 11th hour is given the same wage as he who bore the heat of the day.

    The Church might yet fold. Would you be happy if she did?

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      Tomas says:

      Michael, I’m saying that the battle is already lost (unless some miracle occurs). Our nation is one of laws … and the validity of these laws are frequently based on precedent. Although new ones can be set, it is difficult. The fact remains: Christians have sat on their hands for decades as invalid marriages were granted the blessing of the State. I’d venture to say that more than half of the remarriages in this nation are, in fact, little more than perpetual adulteries … or they are accursed due to their joining of believer with unbeliever. Where was the civil disobedience over all of this? Can you find me one county clerk who objected to these profanities?

      So now you want to raise a voice of protest when two sodomites attempt to receive legal recognition? All I have to say is “good luck”. It seems to me that that ship has sailed.

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        Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        Tomas, you really do hate Christians, don’t you? That’s all you’re expressing here — by nonsensically blaming them for the moral mess created in the last half century by anti-Christians sympathetic to you who simultaneously pushed liberalization of divorce law and decriminalization of sodomy and pornography. In case you don’t know, some Bible-Belt states like Tennessee still limit the number of times a person can marry, and such limits were more common and much stricter before the Sexual Revolution. But because Christians haven’t completely capitulated to the Revolution and still object publicly to gay marriage, you accuse them of hypocrisy.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          What a bracing correction — and I am thinking of my response to Thomas, not Thomas’ response. Thanks for this Dn. Patrick.

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      Bill Congdon says:

      The Church will never fold. It may suffer persecution and reduction in numbers, but Christ has conquered the world. The “catacomb Christians” of the second century were the Church par excellence. We have their example to clarify our priorities and strengthen us.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Mr. Congdon, I meant that the Church, officially, might fold on her prophetic responsibility in regard to homosexuality as it has almost done in regard to marriage and human sexuality in general.

        That does not mean the disappearnce of the Church.

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          Bill Congdon says:

          Alas, I understand what you mean, Mr. Bauman. When the Church overlooks moral abuses, the world castigates it for failing in its duty. But when the Church defends morality, it is labeled anachronistic and oppressive. If faithful Christians are to be damned by the world either way, it should be for defending morality, since that is pleasing in God’s eyes.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Bill, have you read “Atheist Delusions” yet? You will appreciate the chapter on the moral renewal of the conscience of the Christian’s pagan and polytheistic neighbor. This was necessary I believe even before Constantine appeared on the scene and may account for his success.

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          Bill Congdon says:

          Fr. Hans, I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds like it might be very relevant in our time and in the time to come, as our own pagan and polytheistic (and atheistic) neighbors grow weary and start looking for moral renewal themselves.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Bill, yes, absolutely. I learned that when I debated the atheist Matt Dillahunty (himself the son of a fundamentalist Protestant pastor) a few years back. I could tell by the questions I received that the students were look for reasons not to believe atheism was true.

            Hart’s book helped me a lot in my preparation, especially with the hard questions that the OCF group peppered me with (answers which I have subsequently developed) like why is the Old Testament full of violence, why did the God of Abraham sanction violence, that sort of thing. I have never been persuaded by the stock answers which in my opinion always undermined the integrity of the text (along the lines of: “Well, the text does not really mean that” to which I thought “Then why does it say it?”). Hart however, in describing the how Christianity undermined the assumptions underlying pagan culture (the first three centuries of the Christian Church effected a moral revolution of the first order) also reveals why the God of Abraham directed His servants to act in that they did.

            The second resource I found of immeasurable benefit was Peter Leithart’s book “Defending Constantine” which outlines in great detail the effect of polytheistic cosmology on culture. The God of Abraham appears in a polytheistic world. The preparation of Israel to receive the Incarnate Word (on one level the Theotokos of course; but on another that would be a fascinating study I think involving the preparation of John the Baptist, particularly his training of his disciples who would become the disciples of Jesus and then Apostles) took centuries of development. The God above all Gods, in other words, had to speak in ways His word could be comprehended.

            I wish our seminaries did more along these lines but they don’t. Maybe, as the prophetic dimension of the Gospel is being recovered (that prophetic dimension is all that can speak to post-modernism) it will be preached by the outliers like Hart and Leithart (who is not Orthodox but seems to understand history better than many Orthodox do).

            One unrelated but fascinating (at least I think so) note: Post-modernism, particularly its rejection of propositional truth, has created the ground where the Gospel can be preached with more clarity and distinctiveness because it recognizes that language is the ground of knowledge. Put another way, the cultural ground is fast becoming such that the Gospel, as the primordial (foundational?) narrative can be heard again and perhaps anew.

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              Bill Congdon says:

              Your post deserves more of a response than this brief comment, that the increased strength of the Church, even as it becomes smaller (Benedict XVI), will derive from unhindered preaching of the Gospel.

              I agree with your final note, which is really not unrelated to the larger topic. The erstwhile destroyers of meaning and truth cannot take away man’s hunger for meaning and truth. Thus the Word of the Lord abideth forever.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Tomas, in one sense you may be correct, but that does not relieve us from the responsibility to do so. Our witness should be in full context, not just “against the homos” faux morality. Our witness needs to include repentance for failing to proclaim the truth about the sexual brokenness in toto. The call to repentance and healing must be to the people of the Church as well as to the larger community. It cannot be couched as a moral crusade, in part due to our previous failings.

    The real issue however is whether man’s law or God is higher: serving God or mammon. We have served mammon too long.

    We will probably “fail” in a worldly sense, but that is not really important. The Gospel of healing through repentance and grace must still be proclaimed.

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    I am always struck by Fr. Georges Florovsky’s observation in Antinomies of Christian History: Empire and Desert that “the Church, which establishes herself in the world, is always exposed to the temptation of an excessive adjustment to the environment, to what is usually described as ‘worldliness.’ The Church which separates herself from the world, in feeling her own radical ‘other-worldliness,’ is exposed to an opposite danger, to the danger of excessive detachment.” And he concludes by noting, “Byzantium had failed, grievously failed, to establish an unambiguous and adequate relationship between the Church and the larger Commonwealth. It did not succeed in unlocking the gate of the Paradise Lost… and probably there is no earthly or historical key for that ultimate lock. There is but an eschatological key, the true “Key of David.”

    This forces me to think in the simplest of terms, because Fr. Ioannes employs the tactic of verbal brinksmanship, a “full mug” espresso-driven, 750-horsepower ride to the very edge, but at times seemingly purposeful in ignoring the Lord’s precise description of the “last times,” the liturgical “core” of Holy Week: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matt 10:34-36) Seriously, what to make of this? It is equally puzzling & distressing to observe this “quantification” of sinfulness – sexual activity between individuals of the same gender – as somehow more offensive to God than sexual activity outside the sanctity of Christian marriage between one man and one woman, or the cosmic consequence of sin in general. Not only is this error, but it invites hypocrisy & judgement.

    In the end, I hear the familiar words of Mr. Bauman – witness, proclaiming the truth, repent, be healed – but practically speaking (and I suspect there are many, many like me), I have little to no insight. “Proclaim the truth about the sexual brokenness in toto?” I believe that St. Paul’s instruction, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Eph 5:25) is sufficient, and in fact a profound witness and instruction. One cannot look at a loving, faithful example of Christian marriage and not see the icon of Christ and the Church. Fr. Florovsky speaks of the wise balance afforded by the Church, of the reasoning behind the phrase, “in the world, but not of the world,” probably for understudies like me: “You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.” (Matt. 25:23)

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      That’s a reductive analysis, M. Stankovich. My essay covers more than moral legitimacy of homosexual relationships. The issue is the state arrogating the authority to declare that homosexual marriage is morally licit. Natural law or the moral tradition is not behind the “brinkmanship” now playing out. The arrogance of the State is forcing the conflict.

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        Tomas says:

        I’m not very familiar with natural law theory, although it seems to me to be little more than a materialist philosophy that insists law serves a utilitarian purpose for humanist ends (“whatever helps man ‘thrive’ and ‘succeed’, etc). It also seems to reduce men to physical entities rather than spiritual ones. As such, it would seem to be vulnerable to a pro-gay marriage spin since there can be, depending on the circumstances, a form of evidence to support it (that is: gay marriage helps some persons’ lives based on who they believe themselves to be).

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          Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Tomas, it is hard to argue against the principle that in nature one male and one female to create a child and that a male-male or female-female coupling is sterile. The “pro-gay” thinking is to obliterate biological distinctions altogether by conflating sex into gender and then arguing all sexuality is a social construct.

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            Nature itself, in the form of X & Y chromosome derangement genetic disorders, has made the strongest argument that there is nothing “pro gay” about the obliteration of gender distinction, and where, exactly, is the societal consequence? This is as specious an argument as I’ve ever heard. As with the majority of the vocabulary of these “engagements,” the actual content of the “gay agenda” seems to have passed me, but it would seem that the politics of “inclusion” would hardly seem adequately served by destroying the criteria for your inclusion.

            Reality seems to defy the logic of both arguments, natural law & “who they believe themselves to be,” suggesting a choice. You are left with the need to explain – to the exclusion of biogentic and epigentic determinants of orientation – why the prevalence of homosexuality in protracted epidemiological research remains stable. Given that same-gender relationships are non-reproductive by nature, and any process of “free choice” in a population has the tendency – some would same envitability – to be variable and cyclical over time, the “probable” outcome of your prediction is contradicted by an indisputable body of data describing a specific segment of same-sex attracted individuals that is stable. And this stability is constant over extended lifetime, meaning that, while the vast majority of children/adolescents who may experience “conflict” over sexual orientation will resolve to heterosexuality, these described individuals determine a same-sex attraction that is not fluid, wavering, or variable across their lifetime developmentally. Likewise, there are no known post-genetic, or post-natal factors that appear to influence sexual orientation, but there are recent, emergent indications of post-genetic, intra-uterine (mainly hormonal) factors that appear to assist in the determination of sexual orientation as well. The necessary cautions are that much of this data is emergent and may change over time; it most assuredly does not apply to all who identify as same-sex attracted – and we may well determine that there is not a unified body “homosexuality,” but rather, “homosexualities”; and, I clarify that nothing I have said has any bearing on the Church’s teaching regarding the unacceptability of any sexual activity outside Christian marriage between one man and one woman.

            Personally, I continue to fear what I perceive to be the growing indifference around me as infinitely more destructive an enemy than homosexuality.

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              Bill Congdon says:

              Homosexual behavior and indifference to it are both enemies. Neither should be devalued in favor of the other. That devaluation is itself reductionistic.

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                Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says:

                Bill, leave it to Mr. Stankovich to find a way to imply that homosexual proclivities (contra his “same-gender relationships” psychobabble construction) are innate, or at least not “post-natal,” and to insist that “indifference” is worse than “homosexuality”– even “infinitely more destructive an enemy.” Such hyperbole is laughable on its face. Cut through all the tortured academese in his post and what remains is a feeble, pseudo-scientific apologia for homosexual proclivities as somehow natural.

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                  Fr. Alexander,

                  Where I’m from, it is incumbent upon “scholars” choosing to dismiss a theoretical argument – and I defend the information I offer as significantly beyond “feeble, pseudo-scientific apologia” – to 1) understand the hypothesis and the underlying science constituting the theory, and 2) to refute by speaking to substance, rather than attempting to rely on an embarrassingly shallow dislike of the author.

                  As near as I can tell, all that is “laughable at face” is your presumption that anyone with common sense could possibly believe that you have “cut through” my scrupulous examination of the inter-relationship between human genetics, embryology, epigenetics, endocrinology, and psychiatry (whew!) and found it “feeble” OR suggestive of anything natural, meaning “according to nature.” Not a scrambled egg on my cover, but my alphabet looks like MA (Cum Laude), MA, MSW (Cum Laude), MD (Cum Laude). Can you imagine?

                  Even while conceding that you are one of the smartest guys in the room, and that arrogance does become you, you are out of your league.

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                    Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says:

                    (Sigh!) How can one reply “substantively” to—if I may add to all those Latin cum laudes—nothing but a vaporous series of ad hominem, argumentum ad verecundiam, ipse dixit, auto-servitus, and non sequitur epithets?

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                      Fr. Alexander,

                      Unless it is your intention to address this issue in some substantive manner – e.g. I have erred in my presentation pursuant to medical science, including emergent data; or I have made statements contrary to, or proposed conclusions contradictory to Holy Scripture, the writings of the Patristic Fathers, the Canonical Writings of the Fathers, or the Sacred and Holy Traditions of the Church – I end this “discussion.” I reasonably conclude you are unqualified by ignorance and arrogance, and as I stated to you previously, I am neither your charge nor your subordinate. I recommend that you limit yourself to those areas of discussion where you actually possess the knowledge to contribute, or limit yourself to questions. This is referred to as “prudence.” I personally find your posturing patently offensive and I am embarrassed for you.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      M. Stankovich takes homosexual incidence in the population of 3% or so (here and here) to craft a theory that homosexual ‘orientation’ (itself a dubious construct — see below) is a product of chemical interactions in the womb. Well, maybe, maybe not. Scientists are as susceptible to social fads as much as anyone else.

                      Post modern thinking conflates sex (biological differentiation) into gender (social construction of sex) to argue that the biological differences between male and female are genetic accidents, say no different than the color of your hair. The body has no real ontological significance and thus no real moral significance either. The body in this view is extrinsic to being.

                      Stankovich employs this postmodern conflation to lend credence to his theory that homosexual ‘orientation’ possesses some kind of ontological heft; that it exists as a defining characteristic of human personhood. That’s why he attempts to locate a biological origin for orientation in the first few months of human development. If ‘orientation’ is a function of biology the reasoning goes, then ‘orientation’ must possess some kind of ontological heft and thus function as a constituent of personhood and self-identity.

                      That’s a philosophical/theological distinction of course, but science serving ideology is nothing new. It also makes Stankovich’s protestations about non-scientists judging his ‘scientific’ work self-serving. Scientists make statements beyond their competence all the time. Ever listen to Richard Dawkins discuss philosophy or history?

                      The real problem in Stankovich’s approach (which is again philosophical, not scientific, in its foundation), can be summed up in this question: What do you do with all the other ‘orientations’? –pedophlia, bestiality, and so forth. If Stankovich’s model is followed to its logical end, there should be a biological explanation for those as well.

                      If ‘orientation’ is perceived as an ontological category — as containing ontological substance, then what do we make of the passions? The only possible answer Stankovich can give is the post-modern one: Passions have ontological substance and the body (which in fact has ontological substance because the body is intrinsic to being; the body is necessary for salvation) is reduced to insignificant mass.

                      In terms of Christian anthropology however, the body has ontological substance and the passions are in a sense ephemeral. In other words, as the Fathers teach, the passions arise only when the energy of the soul (an energy that is directed toward communion with God) is directed through the body. Passions exist in the body. That’s why you “feel” them. But the experience of feeling something does not imply that the feeling has ontological substance. Only the body, the media by which the feeling is felt, has ontological reality.

                      That is where Stankovich is confused. He wants to bridge post-modern thinking on sexuality with Orthodox anthropology. His solution is to try and locate ‘orientation’ in biology in order to resolve the conflict. Further, his approach has serious ramifications about how salvation is appropriated by the believer, especially concerning the interior life, but that is a subject for another time.

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                      Fr. Ioannes,

                      It is at this point that I customarily being my defense of what I did not say and what I do not believe – and by your statement above, this would be no exception. I am, in fact, unmotivated to play along. As you well know, I have no issue with non-scientists “judging” my work; for more than a year I have openly invited correction pursuant to substance blah, blah, blah. You know the routine. I resent the arrogance of dismissal without understanding. It seems to me a very straightforward, humbling concept: if you do not understand the discussion, you should not be speaking, you should be listening. And thus said, Abouna, when I read your interpretation of my intentions, knowing full well that you have dismissed without understanding, it is too difficult to fend off the fact that this is not a YouTube debate, or a “contest” to be won. This is about real human beings who stand with us and among us, terrified to speak to us of their struggle because of their own shame, because of their fear of our reaction, judgement, and ultimately, our chastisement and scorn. And all within the house of the Physician.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      I am not interested in your intentions or even your private beliefs. I am only interested in the philosophical ground and existential ramifications of the ideas you express. I don’t believe that homosexual ‘orientation’ has a biological origin and I don’t accept the proposition that only footnoted scientific papers is the sole permissible resource for discussing these subjects. For that reason I addressed your ideas in the third person. Frankly, I am tired of the charge that not being a scientist disqualifies me from commenting on the obvious anthropological/theological/philosophical presumptions you employ and I am not going to spend any more time refuting it.

                      So my critique is not an interpretations of your intentions. I really don’t know what your intentions are. I see however, that your ideas attempt to bridge post-modern thinking on human sexuality with Orthodox anthropology; an enterprise that, in the end, will call us to attribute ontology to the passions. If this happens, salvation as it is understood and practiced within our moral tradition changes along with it. I’ll leave it to others to critique my thesis.

                      Finally, moral scoldings don’t hold much weight with me. For example, when you write:

                      This is about real human beings who stand with us and among us, terrified to speak to us of their struggle because of their own shame, because of their fear of our reaction, judgement, and ultimately, our chastisement and scorn. And all within the house of the Physician.

                      . . . it leaves the impression that those who disagree with your approach lack compassion. But it’s only an impression. All it does is impugn motives. It says nothing about the veracity of your ideas, nor does it say anything about the ideas of those who disagree with you. However, if your statement reflects what you truly believe, then I can understand why you think my critique challenges your motives, and why you have difficulty understanding that in reality it does no such thing.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Michael, since you are openly inviting correction about you did say and do believe, you did say repeatedly online that same-sex attraction and same-gender sexual activity are “mutually exclusive,” didn’t you? And you have so far refused to admit publicly that you misused those words to discourage belief that SSA leads to SGSA and that there is anything wrong with SSA.

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                      Geo Michalopulos says:

                      As usual, Fr, you cut right through the crap. The very idea that there is little difference between an “XX” and an “XY” chromosomal pair as evidenced by certain polyploidal pathologies is laughable on its face.

                      It reminds me of all that Darwinist claptrap I was taught which stated that humans and chimpanzees shared 98% of the same genes. OK, if that’s true, I’d have to say that remaining 2% is pretty significant. Chimpanzees did not build the Pyramids, the aqueducts of Rome, or the Great Wall of China. Nor did they produce The Iliad, Plutarch’s Lives, or One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

                      I’d call this Gnosticism but even the Gnostics were more sensible than that.

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                    Fr. Ioannes,

                    Holy Cow! You have spent nearly a year talking trash about my supposed “intentions,” “agenda,” and “private beliefs!” You have never laid eyes on me or even heard my voice, but felt it appropriate on another site to publicly “question” my motives: “We’ll see,” was your ominous portent. Please. And I am the source of more traffic brought to your site than any topic alone! Seriously, congratulatory back-slapping is good for 5-6 responses, Abouna, and I am certainly no troll.

                    You claim this is the public square, the vanguard, the litmus, the frontline of contemporaneous issues of culture, society, and theology impacting the Church – and though at times contentious – a model at the “forefront” of a higher level of discussion. Where, I ask you, in what setting can you possibly get away with these unexplained, unexpanded, dismissive “I do not accept it” posturing as scholarship? Where? Here in the world of your creation. Where can you get away with uncited – and presumably uncitable – statements of “fact” to brace and frame your opinion? Here in the world of your creation. And I most certainly was not suggesting a lack of compassion, and quite to the contrary. I was suggesting that, having never once seen you admit you were inadequate for the task or topic – always willing to “battle on” despite a demonstrated deficit and Google was available – you loose perspective. And I will insist my observation is impeccable for no other reason than I declare it so. Kindly direct me to one request for your imprimatur as to the veracity of anything I have written.

                    And as if on cue, with nothing new to contribute in eighteen successive months, Deacon Crétin Mitchell. Bon jour, Deacon Crétin! As it is your calling to serve, whiskey for all my friends! (OK, that was Mickey Rourke in Barflies) And please, miss no one, straight or gay – don’t ask, don’t tell. Or something like that…

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      And I most certainly was not suggesting a lack of compassion, and quite to the contrary. I was suggesting that, having never once seen you admit you were inadequate for the task or topic – always willing to “battle on” despite a demonstrated deficit and Google was available – you loose perspective.

                      I’ll leave it to others to decide if I have lost perspective or not.

                      I just don’t buy the assertion that the source of same-sex attraction is solely biological, and that the only people qualified to speak about it are biologists of some type or another.

                      Let me put it in plain English: I am not a materialist. It is that simple. I’ve outlined how Orthodox anthropology contradicts some of your assumptions above but you don’t seem willing to address them. Instead I am met with the retort I am not qualified to address the issue because I am not a biologist. Well, fine I guess, but given the circularity of your approach I don’t see how any real progress can be made.

                      Orthodox anthropology incorporates more than biology. I have explained some of the problems with your approach above, particularly the ramifications for our anthropological knowledge if we reduce these questions to biology (scientism) alone.

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                      Abouna, how much effort could it possibly take to re-read what I have been saying, consistently and unwaveringly, for more than 18 months on this site, in plain English: we were created as a symphonia – many sounds heard as one sound – of biology (which includes the genetic, embryologic, endocrinologic, and so on), psychology, environment (importantly including the epigenetic, or factors that are of consequence only in relation to some “trigger” in the environment), and spiritual. I have insisted that segregating, for example, the biological aspects of our humanity from the symphony will necessarily lead to erroneous conclusions proposed regarding the symphony. Thus, for you to suggest I argue a case “solely” of anything is ridiculous. My point has simply been to broaden the knowledgebase of the symphony, not reduce it!

                      And frankly, while I will continue to insist that you are unqualified to argue these matter in the manner that you do, you certainly know considerably more since my arrival. Nevertheless, I find it quite manipulative for anyone new to this discussion to read that you have explained to me the dangers of reduction. Was that my head I heard cracking?

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      I have read most of your postings and I find them impenetrable too. Most disconcerting to me however are the unexamined assumptions you employ and some of which I have already outlined.

                      What exactly is your thesis? I asked you that at the outset (the same time I told you to stop citing the discredited Alfred Kinsey, a criticism that you wisely heeded) but you never responded.

                      So, I gleaned it out myself: Same-sex attraction has a biological origin. If that is incorrect, let me know. But give me a thesis statement, not a lecture.

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                      M. Stankovich says:
                      October 25, 2011 at 4:41 PM

                      [describing a statistical selection bias error, I said] from Kinsey forward, a statistically significant number of individuals engage in same-gender sexual activity who deny homosexuality.

                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:
                      October 26, 2011 at 8:37 PM

                      Kinsey? Are you serious? Kinsey’s Kids: Sex-guru is still being celebrated.

                      M. Stankovich says:
                      October 26, 2011 at 8:48 PM

                      O Madonna Mia! I was simply referring to the current statistical problems as they were first traced to Kinsey’s methodology. Give me a break, Fr. Joannes. Ring the bell already. End of Round One…

                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:
                      October 27, 2011 at 1:58 PM

                      Here’s what you said:

                      from Kinsey forward…

                      That cites Kinsey as an authority. It lends weight to your assertion. You were called out on mentioning Kinsey, but in your response you say the emphasis is merely on “Kinsey’s methodology” and thus presumably not Kinsey. But how can they be separated? And why don’t you know that Kinsey has been discredited, or if you do, why are you indirectly citing him?

                      M. Stankovich says:
                      October 27, 2011 at 8:16 PM

                      So you are “frustrated” by my “lending weight” to my assertion of the possibility of statistical methodology error attributable to Kinsey? Would it help to know that, despite the possibility of selection bias, no one suggests the data is invalid? And would things be less “murky” if I stated that Pillard & Weinrich were responsible for the possible error in 1986, and Pillard alone in 1990, despite the fact they are both considered valid and cited to this day?

                      M. Stankovich says:
                      November 23, 2011 at 1:01 AM

                      If you would assume the same categorization, “men who have sex with me,” in regard to homosexuality, you are following the error of Kinsey – and I have noted, Kinsey’s was significant statistical error. I would then maintain my position that you are incorrect to do so.

                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:
                      November 23, 2011 at 1:14 AM

                      I’m not sure why you keep citing Kinsey either. The guy was a complete crank and has been thoroughly discredited.

                      Only in this world of your creation… Oorah!

                      You understand my thesis well. I presume resort to these “dangle meat before a dog” argument tactics before you are unable to refute on substance. And you’ve certainly had the time and opportunity. To conclude for yourself that you do not agree is your business. But to state I am wrong on such a public forum is an entirely different matter. Scholars who would dispute do so with evidence. I cannot be more straightforward, more open, or more transparent in my presentation. Being “impenetrable” because of the inadequate explanation of concepts is different than “impenetrable” because of error. If I have made any error in substance as to scientific information I have presented and documented, or I have presented anything that is contrary to the Scripture, the Patristic Fathers, the Fathers of the Canonical Writings, or the Holy Tradition, correct me. To dismiss as “impenetrable” because of ignorance and the arrogance to question is inexcusable.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      So the thesis is correct? You are looking for a biological origin for same-sex attraction? Would this then be a biological basis for homosexual “orientation” as well?

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                  Bill Congdon says:

                  Yes, Fr. Alexander, I see the same partially hidden agenda in Mr. Stankovich’s post. Where he goes wrong, I think, is with his assumption in the first sentence that aberrations in “Nature” must be accepted as normative truth. This is a materialist perspective, not a Christian one. God the Creator is Lord of nature too.

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                    Mr. Congdon,

                    My transparence has always been my downfall. Stupid of me to imagine I could slip a “partially hidden agenda” past a sharp cookie such as yourself.

                    For the record, Mr. Congdon, I believe my point was to emphasize that X & Y chromosome derangement genetic disorders – as homosexuality, as classic familial adenomatous polyposis – are most assuredly uncharacteristic of creation “as it was in the beginning.” They are “normative truth” only in as much as they are realities of this fallen world. But who would ascribe them to God? Please, read it again, who would ascribe them to God?

                    We have been debating this same issue, on this very site, for more than a year; heated, re-heated, hashed, and re-hashed. For better or for worse, it has been a riotous public square, but the debate continues despite the efforts to derail. Do yourself – and me – a big favour and look at some of the history. Pardon me if I strike you as abrupt and/or insolent, but it’s probably because I’ve heard it before, more succinctly, more intelligently, and obviously more respectfully.

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      Mike says:

      “It is equally puzzling & distressing to observe this “quantification” of sinfulness – sexual activity between individuals of the same gender – as somehow more offensive to God than sexual activity outside the sanctity of Christian marriage…Not only is this error, but it invites hypocrisy & judgement.”

      Umm, according to the Fathers:

      “Tell sodomists, Spiritual Father: 1) that God commands in Leviticus that sodomists be put to death: “If a man also lie with males, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:13); 2) that St. Jerome says on account of this sin of sodomy alone the incarnate Economy of Christ was delayed, and that another teacher says, on account of this sin the Second Coming will occur sooner; and how on the night that Christ was to be born, He sent an angel which put to death all of those committing acts of homosexuality in the world, and then He was born, so that at the time of His birth that lawless sin would not be found anywhere upon the earth.”

      – footnote 127 in Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s “Exomologetarion,” p.157, ©2006, Uncut Mountain Press

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        Mike,

        As near as I can tell, you have provided the commentary of a Father, singular, and while the Saints were known to preach, advize, and expound on the contemporaneous issues of their day, it is silly to imagine that everything uttered in their albeit sanctified lives was correct, let alone dogmatic. St. John of Damascus, in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, writes extensively & precisely in regard to matters of human physiology that are fabulously wrong. St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Pillar of the Orthodox Faith,” and always mentioned in the same “breath” as the Three Hierachs by the Post-Nicean Fathers championed the notion that God could not tolerate the destruction of his creatures, created specifically to share eternity with Him, and thus the “fires of Hell” were “cleansing fires” – ἀποκατάστασις – by which all will be restored and reconciled. Not only did the later Fathers disagree, they condemned this as heresy. Imagine.

        I stand by my statement that the Church does not “quantify” sin. All sin is equally cosmic in nature and equally epic, and as Fr. Alexander Schmemann noted, summarized in the Vespers of Forgiveness Sunday. What sense does it make to ask forgiveness of those I don’t even know and therefore could not possibly have “harmed” or “offended?” To quantify is to rationalize and frequently trivializes the fact that sin is never in isolation, and that it always divides and separates; us from our God, us from our world, us from one another. The Lord is not recorded once mentioning homosexuality, but count for yourself his offense at those who would harm children, orphans, and widows. Now count the number of post on this site alone in the last 18-months regarding the specific moral/ethical/social consequences of sins against children, orphans, & widows. Umm… indeed.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Kinda, sorta, but not quite. Some sins incur more internal damage than others. And while sins are not quantified, some, like virtues, are set in a hierarchy. That’s why the Fathers teach that pride is the worst of all sins. Why? It is the only sin you cannot see as sin when you are captured by it.

          Sexual sins are considered the most human of sins. Why? You know you are sinning when you commit them.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            An excellent refresher course on why homosexuality is more destructive than other sexual sins (though all are bad) can be found in the first chapter of the late Archbishop Dmitri Royster’s book on The Epistle to the Romans. In it, he takes every verse and builds up St Pau’ls case that homosexuality leads to nihilism and in so doing, is the underpinning of paganism.

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    cyntha curran says:

    Marry under the age of 18 was common in the middle ages but people reach adulthood. In Byzantine there was one usurper about 60 years old that killled the boy emperor who was 18 and rape the boy’s wife to be who was 11. The boy ruler I think Alex did not yet have sex with the wife to be. Legally they could marry at 12 and 14 in Byzantine times. No one today thinks girls of 12 or boys of 14 should marry.

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    cyntha curran says:

    On George’s board someone brought up that Denmark now has animal brothels this means that the line has to be drawn somewhere.

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      Bill Congdon says:

      Good to know, Ms. Curran, and thank you, but I’m glad I wasn’t eating anything when I read your post!

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    Michael Bauman says:

    MS.

    You are, of course, correct that a faithful. loving Christian marriage is a powerful witness. That is precisely what the homosexual activists wish to destroy. Since marriage is an icon of the Church the destruction of marriage is also an attack on the Church.

    So a proper proclamation of marriage which includes our people modeling and embodying it is crucial. It is also a direct affront to the arrogant state.

    BTW Bp Basil got back to me concerning the material on your web-site. He found it impenetrable and could not make heads or tales of it.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Fr. Alexander, exactly!

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    You know, MS. when men of such obvious intelligence and learning such as Fr. Hans, Fr. Alexander and Bishop Basil say that your writing is so impenetrable as to be intelligible you might want to consider the veracity of what they say. Unless you purposely write that way.

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      Mr. Bauman,

      I never asked you for your critique of Bishop Basil’s comment regarding my essay. After waiting patiently, trusting you, I find this exceptionally disingenuous on your part. Likewise, to publicly make such statements, and worse, to incorporate them into your “scolding” of me strikes as manipulative and unkind, Mr. Bauman.

      I will undertake the effort of contacting him myself, and if it is, indeed, “impenetrable,” I will accept that responsibility and correct it.

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    James Bradshaw says:

    Mike, you forgot some other charming quotes from St Jerome:

    “If you call [the Synagogue] a brothel, a den of vice, the devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever else you will, you are still saying less than it deserves.”

    Thank you for the stark reminder that fanatical Christian fundamentalists are, like their Muslim counterparts, murderous sociopaths at heart.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Ever read the Talmud? These things work both ways.

      Back in the day when men were men, the hard virtues were elevated. Language was often harsh. In our day we elevate the soft virtues and are required to speak that way as well. Reading the language of Jerome (or the Talmud) through ears conditioned by those soft virtues makes the language of a different time hard to comprehend. Not everyone thought the way we do.

      Your contention that “fanatical Christian fundamentalists” are murderous sociopaths fits right into the criticism you make of Jerome, btw.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Mr Bradshaw, the Talmud is the font of racism and exploitation of untermenchen. (I’ll forgo for the moment what it says about our Lord and Savior and His Blessed Mother.)

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      Mike says:

      James, you forgot Chrysostom and the Apostle Paul.

      St John Chrysostom on the jews:
      “The synagogue is a dwelling of demons. Here the slayers of Christ gather together, here the cross is driven out, here God is blasphemed, here the Father is ignored, here the Son is outraged, here the grace of the Spirit is rejected. Does not greater harm come from this place since the Jews themselves are demons, demons dwell in the souls of the Jews? I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater…Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel. But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for filthy wild beasts. Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed, who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and bloodshed? Must you share a greeting with them and exchange a bare word? Must you not turn away from them since they are the common disgrace and infection of the whole world? Have they not come to every form of wickedness? Have not all the prophets spent themselves making many and long speeches of accusation against them? What tragedy, what manner of lawlessness have they not eclipsed by their blood-guiltiness? They sacrificed their own sons and daughters to demons…they became more savage than any wild beast.

      St Paul on the jews: Beware of the dogs

      —–

      St John Chrysostom on the homos:
      These I say are even worse than murderers: since to die even is better than to live under such insolence. For the murderer dissevers the soul from the body, but this man ruins the soul with the body. And name what sin you will, none will you mention equal to this lawlessness… But nothing can there be more worthless than a man who has pandered himself. For not the soul only, but the body also of one who has been so treated, is disgraced, and deserves to be driven out everywhere. How many hells shall be enough for such? But if you scoff at hearing of hell and believe not that fire, remember Sodom…For I should not only say that you have become a woman, but that you have lost your manhood, and hast neither changed into that nature nor kept that which you had, but you have been a traitor to both of them at once, and deserving both of men and women to be driven out and stoned, as having wronged either sex.

      St Paul on the homos: Knowing the ordinance of God, –that those who practice such things are worthy of death…

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    cyntha curran says:

    The ancient Canaanite people were violent this explains some of the violence of the Old Testement. Also, archelogy found thousands of pagan idols among the ancestors of the Jews and the surrounding pagan cultures. The Canaanite and Phoenicians people practice child sacrifice. Later on the Carthagians descendants of the Phoenicians practiced it as well from Roman sources. Yet, there are also great lines from Lev about gleaning, and not deliberately hurting the hanidcapped, and loving your neighbor in Lev 19 and not favoring either rich or poor.

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    cyntha curran says:

    ABORTION IN INDIA
    The council of Ancyra in 314 A.D laid down ten years’ hard penance for those who indulged in the practice of abortion. In the sixth century, the Justinian code exempted the penalty of abortions which were procured within 40 days in the case of the conception of a female child and 80 days in the case of a male child.

  16. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cyntha curran says:

    The council of Ancyra in 314 A.D laid down ten years’ hard penance for those who indulged in the practice of abortion. In the sixth century, the Justinian code exempted the penalty of abortions which were procured within 40 days in the case of the conception of a female child and 80 days in the case of a male child.
    from abortion in India history cases.

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cyntha curran says:

    Mike, you forgot some other charming quotes from St Jerome:

    “If you call [the Synagogue] a brothel, a den of vice, the devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever else you will, you are still saying less than it deserves.”

    Thank you for the stark reminder that fanatical Christian fundamentalists are, like their Muslim counterparts, murderous sociopaths at heart.

    Reply Well you would have to say that about Byzantium that slit your nose for adultery or castrated you for homsexuality. In fact the Christian Funadmentalists don’t even want to go back to enforcing the sodomy laws but only prevent gay marriage or military service which is different from Muslin countreis where you can be stone for adultery or homosexuality.

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    Brian says:

    I have patiently read this seemingly endless debate, attempting (with difficulty at times) to give my full attention to all. IMHO, there are several things that seem to have been overlooked – or at least not mentioned.

    The first is the over-arching ambivalence toward sex in general that is expressed by the Church Fathers and reflected in the canons as well as the liturgical tradition surrounding things of a sexual nature such as marriage and childbirth. While not viewing licit marital sexual intercourse as being ‘sinful,’ they do generally view it as an accommodation to our fallen condition and thus, in that sense, a product of sin that is ultimately not directly tied to who we are as human beings. It is in this sense that St. Paul affirms that in Christ there is “neither male nor female” while not at all denying the fact that we are created as such (any more than he denied – nor did he seek to alter in this life – the fact that there are Jews and Greeks, slaves and free). While the Fathers were not prudish about sex in any sense of the word, they recognized that sexual impulses, even those expressed within marriage, involve some degree of lust and are therefore an aspect of our disordered fallen state that must be transfigured – either within the context of marriage as martyrdom or by ‘channeling’ sexual energy into Eros toward God through a life of devoted celibacy. In short, the Fathers generally affirm that our creation as male and female, while good, is not to be confused with the ‘end’ of humanity which is union with God, a state in which “they neither marry, nor are they given in marriage,” a state wherein the sexuality of this present life becomes irrelevant by being fulfilled in the Bridal chamber of Christ (for all desire, including sexual desire, is at its root a desire for union with God).

    What was said above provides the necessary context for the next thing that seems to get lost in these discussions. If it is true that even licit marital heterosexuality is (in the sense indicated above) disordered and in need of healing and transfiguration, then it is reasonable for us as ‘normal, rightly-ordered’ heterosexual Christians to say of our state, “We were born this way.” And so we must be careful with our words when defending marriage (at least when doing so in a context where the audience is primarily Christian) given the fact that that those who promote the radical homosexual agenda affirm the same of themselves and that their affirmation is not entirely without basis from the standpoint of Orthodox Christian post-lapsarian anthropology. I do not mean by this that a direct comparison can be drawn, for one is in accordance with our nature, fallen though it is, and the other is not. I simply mean to say that all lust is disordered, be it heterosexual in orientation (including within the context of marriage), homosexual, or whatever. Whether anyone is “born this way” or that matters not.

    In the context of a discussion among Christians, therefore, what we are defending in defending marriage is not so much “natural law” as such, but rather the Sacrament (or Mystery) of Matrimony which, according to the Holy Tradition of the Church, is a Mystery that saves us when rightly entered into, gradually transforming selfish desire into selfless love. We are not defending against anything less than one of the primary means of salvation for most people – for those who struggle with lust, however well controlled. In our context it is tantamount to defending Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, the Priesthood, Confession, etc. And in my opinion at least, it ought to be discussed as such. Forgive me, but appeals to natural law, although rational, are as equally uncomfortable to my spirit as appeals to scientific research.

    And now I think I’ll go lie with my wife.

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      In this much I completely agree: there is a fundamental distinction between our humanity by creation, “as it was in the beginning,” and what it has become in this broken calamity of our fallen world. In fact, I believe the Scripture and the Patristic Fathers are so clear, that it should simply be obvious. But it is not. My attempt, however unappealing & uncomfortable, has not been a commentary on the “beginning,” as there certainly is no need to explain or defend what is according to the “image and likeness.” But rather on what Mt. Anthony (Bloom) described as “our inability to imagine a state of innocence, [growing] into a state of holiness.” While wanting to “understand and to know the world from within [our] communion with God,” we attempt to “understand and to know the world and ourselves,” including our own sexuality, “by our own means.” I have attempted to interject into the discussion a mechanism of appreciating the vast complexity of factors that arise in the interaction of our fallen humanity and this broken world – understanding that it was never my intention to limit this reasoning simply to homosexuality. There is but one anthropology, one humanity, one anatomy, and one psychology in the Kingdom of God, “by image & likeness.” What more need be said but, “Alleluia!” At the steps of understanding the complexities of fallen humanity, however, is a call for mercy and compassion, not the compromise of Eternal Truth. I believe it is that simple.

      As to your point regarding “the over-arching ambivalence toward sex in general that is expressed by the Church Fathers,” I would note that it is within our lifetime that Fr. Georges Florovsky, among others (Fr. Robert Arida’s short essay comes to mind), questioned the wisdom of relying solely on monastics for the interpretation of the nature of sexuality and the Sacrament of Marriage. Granting the difference between “attraction” and “divine attraction” is, literally, indescribable – as St. Methodius of Patara described, “Adam, upon seeing Eve said, ‘You are the other myself” – we were, after all, created as sexual beings. It seems impossible to imagine that “the sexuality of this present life” is somehow empty and bereft of transcendence, and even less imaginable that it will somehow “dissolve” in insignificance. This would seem to suggest that it was “extraneous” and an unnecessary “accessory” to Adam. I believe that Paul Evdokimov makes an extraordinarily cogent and convincing argument for the transcendent holiness of marital sexual love in The Sacrament of Love; that the ecstasy of human sexuality is not contre temps or intended as a mechanism to assuage our lust until the end, but something, literally, of the holy and of the Kingdom. Likewise, that we were created male and female was not by coincidence and “good,” it was by Will and “it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31) While I agree entirely that Marriage is “one of the primary means of salvation for most people,” we cannot forget that while monasticism is referred to as the “angelic life,” Marriage is the icon par excellence of the Bridegroom and His Bride, glorious & ecstatic by nature.

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        Mike says:

        Genesis 1:31 was before the Fall. Saint John Chrysostom, I think, has something to say to Mr. Evdokimov : “‘And Adam knew his wife Eve’. Mind you, when did this take place? After disobedience, after the exile from Paradise; then intercourse began; before disobedience, they lived like Angels, and nowhere is there any mention of intercourse. Because previously we were not subject to physical needs, therefore from the beginning virginity was preeminent.” And Saint Athanasius the Great says this about lust: “Fortunate is he who having married freely at a young age has used marital relations for childbearing. But if he has used it for debauchery then the punishment that the Apostle had talked about for fornicators and adulterers awaits him.” Saint Gregory the Dialogist says, “…when lust takes the place of desire for children, the mere act of union becomes something that the pair have cause to regret.”

        I also think you might have a wrong understanding of Saint Methodius’ words “Adam, upon seeing Eve said, ‘You are the other myself.’” Saint John Chrysostom writes on Genesis and the time of Noah. “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, and they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My spirit will not remain in these people forever because they are carnal.” St. John Chrysostom says plainly that men chose women because of their beauty out of their passions for lust. They did not see women in a lawful way, but in a way to fulfill their carnal desires and that was a sin. It was not until this time that men saw women carnally and it greatly displeased God, enough to say “My spirit will not remain with these people because they are carnal.” Therefore, God numbered their days to 120 years, the time needed to build the Ark. And finally, Christ said this regarding lust: “…everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

        Here’s a good article regarding the Sacrament of Marriage: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/41140325/The-Mystery-of-Marriage-in-a-Dogmatic-Light?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Mike, the natural law argument is not the basis for a Christian understanding of marriage except in the most rudimentary ways. A sacramental understanding however, is never divorced from nature. The problem is that to argue for a sacramental understanding alone in the public square is perceived my most as merely another rights claim, in this case the Christian lobby. Libertarians would have no problem with that of course but others, like myself, understand the Christian obligation to culture differently.

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    concerned says:

    If it’s not natural then explain how homosexuality occurs in thousands of different species and homophobia only occurs in one? Just because there is a lesser chance of reproduction does not make it unnatural.

    Also religion should play no part in law making. Religion is all mythology, there is no proof. A bible is simply a story book, was it written by ‘God’ ? No. It was written by man. What man ‘perceived’. There is no hard evidence that such beings exist.
    And even if they did, homosexuality was found in many many cultures of ‘Gods’.

    America is about equality and freedom. Accusing acts of equality as ‘tyranny’ is immature and bigoted.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      It’s not true that homosexuality “occurs in thousands of different species” but even it it did, so what?

      And yes, homosexuality is found in other cultures but nowhere, ever, in any culture, did the idea of homosexual marriage ever pop up.

      Actually, morality is the basis of law, and morals have their grounding in religion. There is no morality apart from transcendent claims which is to say that any moral claim implies an authority that lies beyond the authority of the person making it. That also includes your claim that objecting to homosexual marriage is bigoted.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] via Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty – AOI Observer. [...]

  2. [...] 2) the increasing reach of the State into private life results in a lowering of moral standards. (I argue this same point elsewhere with the additional warning what same-sex marriage represents an arrogation of State power over human morality. See Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty.) [...]

  3. […] Hilarion below affirms a thesis I developed in the essay “Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty” where I argue that the legal codification of homosexual “marriage” effectively […]

  4. […] Hilarion below affirms a thesis I developed in the essay “Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty” where I argue that the legal codification of homosexual “marriage” effectively establishes […]

  5. […] Hilarion below affirms a thesis I developed in the essay “Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty” where I argue that the legal codification of homosexual “marriage” effectively establishes […]

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