October 20, 2014

OCA Bishop Matthias Reaffirms Orthodox Teaching on Homosexuality

Editor’s commentary:

When the light shines, the darkness is made manifest scripture tells us and nowhere is this clearer than in the debate about the morality of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Most readers know that this debate is heating up, driven in large part by the Facebook group Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church.

True to its tendentious name (there is no “silence” that needs “breaking”), the group follows the playbook of homosexual activism that crippled the Episcopalian Church: Accept the premise that the prohibitions against homosexuality need to be “revisted” (a favorite phrase) and thereby undermine the authority of the moral tradition. Refuse and you will castigated as unloving, uncharitable, closed-minded, ignorant, homophobic, responsible for teen suicides — all the usual pejoratives that are foisted on those who disagree. It’s all done with a smile of course. Call it intimidation through church-speak.

The OCA is hampered with the problem of homosexuality because past leaders were active homosexuals. These leaders did not champion the homosexual agenda, but because they were morally compromised the homosexual behavior in some ranks of Church leadership went unchallenged.

Met. Jonah, a moral traditionalist, recognizes the institution corruption that the tacit acceptance of homosexual behavior can cause and does not tolerate it as past leaders have. This was one reason why detractors rose up and attempted to remove him. Other bishops have since come to recognize that the attempt to create moral parity between homosexual and heterosexual behavior has institutional as well as personal ramifications. They are joining with Met. Jonah in the clarification of the moral tradition not only in teaching, but in practice.

It is very important that Bishops speak out. The Episcopalian Church fell because its bishops gave in to homosexual ideology. Had the Bishops resisted, and had they developed a deeper anthropological understanding of the human person (knowledge that the Orthodox already possess but must uncover, examine and explain in greater detail), their collapse may have been avoided.

We are foolish to think that collapse cannot happen in the Orthodox Church. True, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, but only God determines where those gates are located. And Bishops, as Orthodox ecclesiology teaches, are first the guardians of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the tradition that flows from it. If they fail, the Church fails.

There is no need for “dialogue” with homosexual activists. The moral legitimacy of homosexual behavior is a closed question. It would be better if the Facebook group and their fellow-travelers used the moral tradition as their baseline rather than attempt to Episcopalianize the Orthodox Church. They are dragging the culture wars into the Church and won’t rest until it contravenes the moral tradition regarding homosexual behavior just as the Episcopalians have. My question to them: If you feel that strongly, why not join the Episcopalian Church?

A personal note. Every time I write about homosexuality, I get letters from men dealing with same-sex attraction urging me to keep the teachings of the moral tradition crystal clear. They write that many men are seeking a way out of the homosexual lifestyle because it imposes a severe psychic and emotional penalty. This drives some to Christ where they discover that life in Christ and an active homosexuality are simply not compatible. One or the other has to give and if they accept their attraction as a cross, salvation begins.

I even received a letter from a man who transgendered to a woman, found Christ, and made the switch back again. I’m not sure how that works mechanically but his story is a moving and powerful tribute to the love and mercy of God. He too urged moral clarity saying that if we compromise on the tradition, we steal the hope of finding Christ from those caught up in the homosexual lifestyle who are trying to find Him.

AXIOS to Bp. Nathaniel, Bp. Michael, and Met. Jonah who have taken on this difficult issue in these confused times with pastoral sensitivity and faithfulness to the moral tradition. Bp. Matthias’ encyclical follows.

Source: The Diocese in the Midwest – Orthodox Church in America

Archpastoral Message of His Grace, Bishop Matthias

Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,

Christ is in our midst!

Bp. Matthias (OCA)

“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:24-27)

In light of the ongoing discussions and debates about “same sex marriage”, I felt the need to address our faithful concerning this issue. Although it would appear to me that the Church doctrine and Scripture has been clear about this issue, there are those who “twist” the Scriptures and the Canons of the Church to fit their own needs. We have always believed that the interpretation of Scripture lies within the framework of “Holy Tradition” and the experience and interpretation of the Holy Fathers before us. Who are we to interpret the Scripture outside of this Sacred Tradition? Only those, who do not have the light of Christ, will interpret Scripture to their own ends.

In the above passage from Romans, St. Paul writes that because of the “lusts of their hearts,” they exchanged the truth of God for the lie. Society and our culture is trying to sell us the “lie,” that “gay marriage” is a right and that it is a natural thing. This could not be further from the truth! An error is a delusion. The delusion that St. Paul refers to is the belief that homosexuality or an “alternative life-style” is acceptable. It is unnatural and unacceptable to God! As with all sins, Christ forgives the sinner who repents. If there is no repentance though, or admittance of sin, there can be no forgiveness. The words of the Prophet Isaiah apply here, “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe is them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.” (Isaiah 3:9)

Our society challenges the beliefs of Christ and the Church. They not only justify the sin, but they expect that this sin become acceptable. It is not! His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, shared in his pastoral letter concerning this issue the affirmations, principles and guidelines that the Orthodox Church in America proclaimed nearly twenty years ago. They are as follow:

  • God wills that men and women marry, becoming husbands and wives. He commands them to increase and multiply in the procreation of children, being joined into “one flesh” by His divine grace and love. He wills that human beings live within families (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-24; Orthodox Marriage Service).

  • The Lord went even further to declare that people who look at others in order to lust after them in their hearts have “committed adultery” (cf. Matthew 5:27-30).
  • Christ’s apostles repeat the teachings of their Master, likening the unique marriage between one man and one woman to the union between Christ and His Church which they experience as the Lord’s very body and His Bride (Ephesians 5:21-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2).
  • Marriage and family life are to be defended and protected against every open and subtle attack and ridicule.
  • Sexual intercourse is to be protected as a sacred expression of love within the community of heterosexual monogamous marriage in which alone it can be that for which God has given it to human beings for their sanctification.
  • Homosexuality is to be approached as the result of humanity’s rebellion against God, and so against its own nature and well-being. It is not to be taken as a way of living and acting for men and women made in God’s image and likeness.
  • Men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings.
  • People with homosexual tendencies are to be helped to admit these feelings to themselves and to others who will not reject or harm them. They are to seek assistance in discovering the specific causes of their homosexual orientation, and to work toward overcoming its harmful effects in their lives.
  • Persons struggling with homosexuality who accept the Orthodox faith and strive to fulfill the Orthodox way of life may be communicants of the Church with everyone else who believes and struggles. Those instructed and counseled (sic) in Orthodox Christian doctrine and ascetical life who still want to justify their behavior may not participate in the Church’s sacramental mysteries, since to do so would not help, but harm them.

On the second day of August, we commemorate Saint Basil the Blessed, fool for Christ’s sake and wonderworker of Moscow. At Great Vespers we sing, “ …and that He (Christ) may grant to our hierarchs victory over heresies, unity in the Church, order to the world, and great mercy to our souls.” Still, to this day, we must face modern heresies, which are really old heresies “repackaged.” I pray that the Orthodox Church and its hierarchs can remain united in standing for Jesus Christ, Who is, The Truth!

Your Shepherd in Christ,

+MATTHIAS

+MATTHIAS
Bishop of Chicago
and the Midwest

Comments

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    Everyone should ask their bishops to issue a similar statement… with one additional point that needs to be made very clear: clergy or laity who publicly teach contrary to the moral and dogmatic teachings of the Church — on this or any other issue — should understand that there are canonical disciplinary consequences that will be enforced for the protection of the flock. The job of a shepherd is not just to feed the sheep, but also to chase away the wolves.

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    Zachary Schultzhaus says:

    There is, of course, no need for “dialogue” with heterosexual activists. I anxiously await the day that people arguing gay rights in front of congress should be unanimously ignored and booed out of the Capitol building.

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    Karen says:

    Axios! Many years to Bp. Matthias! (I’m so thankful to be able to say he is also my Bishop!) This is most encouraging in a discouraging time for the OCA.

    I will note also for readers here that I sent a comment to Mark Stokoe’s web site where I included a link to Fr. John Whiteford’s rebuttal to the galling propaganda piece by an anonymous author, the “refection” on “An Orthodox Pastoral Response in the Past to Same-sex Behavior.” Predictably, though it has been many days now and other long comments have been posted, my brief recommendation to ocanews.org readers of that piece to check out the link has not been posted. (Many thanks, Fr. John, for your thorough, timely, and clear rebuttal.)

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      Thank you. This goes to prove the point that these folks are not interested in a real discussion. If Mark Stokoe was merely “asking questions” why would he object to a link that has some answers to the questions? The answer is, he is only interested in certain answers to the questions he is asking — and they are not the ones found in the Scriptures or the Tradition of the Church.

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      WOW! I have a Bishop who calls a spade a spade. Axios! Axios! Axios!

      The point at issue is just as Bishop MATTHIAS put it: “The Episcopalian Church (TEC) fell because its bishops gave in to homosexual ideology” or in other words believing the “big lie”. For years, gay activists within TEC repeated the “big lie” and with each passing tri-annual convention they would create another committee to knockoff a piece of the churches foundational truths. Eventually, their “big lie” permeated the leadership and when the opportunity was ripe – they engineered the election of Gene Robinson in New Hampshire to force the issue.

      My wife and I are refugees from TEC. In 2003, I sat in the choir loft of my former parish and listened to the TEC bishop of Chicago tell the diocese why he voted to accept Gene Robinson as a bishop – I sat in total disbelief as he did so. None of the reasons he offered had any basis in scripture, tradition or reason (the stated foundations of the Anglican Church). What was almost as bad was the appalling response from the people in attendance who said nothing – save one bold 72 year-old friend of mine who stood up and challenged the bishop. Realizing that I was in no position to debate the issue with the bishop, and being (at the time) painfully ignorant of Holy Tradition, I made the only statement I could make and walked out.

      As Bishop MATTHIAS said: “We are foolish to think that collapse cannot happen in the Orthodox Church.” TEC fell because Episcopalians did very little or nothing because they wanted to get along or be tolerant. The same forces that brought down TEC are at work in Orthodoxy – again all in the name of tolerance or rights. Edmond Burke said: “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” We cannot be indolent – doing so will open the door to collapse.

      Every Sunday we sing: “We have found the true faith…”. Many times we say to our fellow Orthodox: “WE HAVE found the true faith”.

      Let us keep the faith!

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Dave and Kathy,

        Just to clarify, the first few paragraphs are editorial commentary and not the words of Bp. Matthias. Bp. Matthias’ encyclical starts below the divide. I added a leading sentence and repositioned the picture to make this more clear.

        Fr. Hans Jacobse

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Dave, Kathy, other Midwesterners, et al: you are indeed fortunate to have such a man as bishop. If I may press a certain point: is Mark Stokoe in his diocese? And if so, has he been disciplined by his archpastor? It would seem the first step would be to remove him from the Metropolitan Council.

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    Leslie in Chicago says:

    You have this Orthodox believer justifying and condoning the institution of slavery (a practice that involves the forcible taking of other human beings against their will only to work in often deplorable conditions for the financial gain of others). You have the RCC protecting pedophiles at the institutional level for decades while its hierarchs blame the media for even bringing the topic to light. Right-wing religious pundits now claim that billionaires are being “victimized” by the poor (who are, always and everywhere, poor due to their own moral, intellectual and character flaws — according to them).

    So what is the primary focus of religious conservatives everywhere who claim to uphold the Gospel of Christ? Two men who happen to care for each other and want to share civil marriage benefits.

    As an outsider to the OCA, let me tell you something: you’re not winning any converts. You might want to step back and take a look at the perception you give if you do not wish to be left in the dustbin of history.

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      John Panos says:

      Yawn. Leslie, you’re fallacies are so obvious and blatant, rather than answer them, I’ll simply say – when you’re serious about reason and morality we’ll talk. Until then, you’re inability to discern reality from fantasy is simply laughable. So we’re laughing. At you and your attempt at making the Orthodox moral tradition look inconsistent and evil – rather a good example of classic radical projection.

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      Pete says:

      “Winning converts”.

      As a future member of the OCA (in the next month or so, God willing), I would say that choosing your way of thinking in order to win coverts is an offense to God and my neighbors. If you are going to adjust something, then be careful–discern with the knowledge that you are on the line. Your life is on the table. Who are you going to trust? Not me. I’m nothing. But be careful about trusting the tides of the present day world. As a society, we aren’t that close to human perfection, after all. What if, perchance, we are moving in the wrong direction, and we just can’t see it yet as a human community.

      So, if you want to go on thinking what you stated, you shouldn’t.

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        Zachary Schultzhaus says:

        Your comment is the among the least discernible that I have seen in a long time. “But be careful about trusting the tides of the present day world” is not a sentence. Here is a woman who at least attempts to provide evidence to back up her opinions and the only response that is given is “I am not going to respond.” No one has ever come up with a rational argument for why being gay is wrong (and “because a couple misinterpreted phrases of the Bible say so” is not even close to a rational argument).

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          If by “being gay” you mean that same-sex desire can be an unchosen drive then, yes, this is not wrong. If “being gay” means same-sex genital activity is not a sin, you are incorrect.

          The “sin” dimension of the definition however, won’t be comprehensible to you as long as you believe that sexual desire is a primary constituent of personhood, where the object of one’s sexual desire determines one’s self-identity.

          If this were true (and you seem to argue that it is) however, then there should be no prohibitions against polygamy, incest, pedophilia, or bestiality either. After all, if one feels a sexual attraction to, say, one’s sister and she in return, then what’s wrong with consummating it? Some people feel an attraction to animals. Does that make relations with Rover morally legitimate? If we follow the logic, the only answer is yes.

          The rational argument then is this: When the procreative dimension of sexual activity is removed (something the condom culture accomplished in heterosexual relationships; homosexual relationships are naturally sterile), then promiscuity increases and the interpersonal and cultural ramifications of illicit sexual activity fade from view. The ramifications still exist of course, often with serious and long lasting personal and social consequences — thousands of young men dead from AIDS; an epidemic of teen-age STD’s rendering many women sterile; news strains of STD’s resistant to antibiotics; family breakdown, pornography addictions, and so forth.

          I don’t think anyone would really object if you lived with your boy friend and even had sexual relations with him. We would pretend we didn’t know, and you would pretend that we were not pretending. It’s not an ideal situation but certainly workable.

          Normalizing homosexual activity however is an entirely different thing. It forces people to accept that a moral parity between homosexual and heterosexual activity exists; something that is clearly not true. The proper social context for all sexual relations is heterosexual marriage because that is where the procreative dimension of sexual activity is expressed, and where sexual energy is channeled into ways beneficial to the person and larger culture.

          The traditional assumption and one I hold to is that man is first a social being created for communion with God and other people that even lies deeper than his private sexual desire. This being created for communion is an existential brute fact that preexists everything; the bed-rock of self-identity that is congruent with both his own nature and exterior social reality. (It’s why some homosexual couples ignore the fact that biology renders their relationship sterile and insist on adopting children.)

          However, if the object of one’s sexual desire becomes the primary constituent of self-identity, if the homosexual sees himself first as homosexual and not as a man (even as a man with same-sex attraction), then the only possible result is deep inter-personal and cultural confusion. And that confusion is what exists today.

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            Zachary Schultzhaus says:

            Maybe it’s fine to ignore the entire scientific community in your personal opinions, but in public policy it is unwise to ignore the actual physical realities of the world. One of these realities is that there is a fundamental difference between those other sexual “persuasions” you mention and homosexuality. Countless examples of homosexuality exist outside the human species, and there is literally no difference in the dangers between heterosexual and homosexual relations as long as they are done responsibly and with consent (inbreeding has its obvious dangers, as well as unprotected sex of any kind between anyone).

            Psychologically, no respected scientist would consider being gay in all senses a disease, whereas pedophilia and beastiality usually manifest themselves as a symptom of other psychological conditions (a significant degeneration in self-image or the desire to be in a powerful position).

            All evidence suggests that the more birth control women have access to, the more empowered they are, then the less risk there is of teen pregnancy and sometimes correlates even with less frequency of sexual relations among teens. Marriage, even, has become much more equal between the sexes since it has broken slightly from the idea that it is an exchange of property (a woman) between two men.

            “However, if the object of one’s sexual desire becomes the primary constituent of self-identity, if the homosexual sees himself first as homosexual and not as a man.” This one is my favorite. Without the existence of homophobia, no gay person would see herself first as a homosexual. The only reason people have had to create this community is because of the huge hurdles they face in trying to be treated as normal human beings (just as it has not come up as an “issue” in the other cultures throughout history that have practiced it). The fact that people feel so strongly about this is overwhelming evidence that it is not a passing fancy or a preference but rather an innate aspect of people in this community.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Zachary, if your appeal to science is going to be more than an appeal to authority, you have to provide some citations. I can tell you already, there isn’t much there.

              The notion that access to birth control prevents pregnancy (that people will actually use the birth control they are offered) isn’t true. Teens are notorious for not using birth control. Also, abortion rates should decrease (they don’t). The tired old shibboleth of the condom culture you are repeating just doesn’t hold true. No one, not even the die-hard condom proponent, believes it any more.

              Don’t forget that homosexuals make up only about 1.4% of the population, hardly numbers that determine normative behavior. I agree that homosexuals need to be treated respectfully, but I do not agree that the numbers compel us to retool the moral tradition or western cultural norms. If we do it for homosexuals, why not polygamists or why not condone incest between consenting parties?

              Finally, the charge of homophobia doesn’t account for many of the wounds that the homosexual “community” inflicts on itself. For example, HIV infections among young Black men increased 16% just last year.

              I just don’t believe that in our sex saturated culture where exhortations to use condoms are on bus and subway panels and everywhere else, that the diseases that afflict the homosexual “community” emerge out of anything else than personal irresponsibility. 50% of all AIDS cases exist among homosexuals — 50% from 1.4% of the population. Do you really believe that homophobia accounts for this public health crisis? Why should we accept the appeals to normalize behaviors from a “community” that refuses to practice the self-control needed to eradicate these diseases?

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                Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                Some very nice people have done all of this work for me. Homosexuality is widespread in the kingdom Animalia.

                “A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them.”
                and
                “No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals#Applying_the_term_.22homosexual.22_to_animals

                Next in line: there is no conclusive figure for the percentage of gay and lesbian people in the world (sort of makes sense when not too long ago you could be jailed for sodomy in even the most liberal countries).
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_sexual_orientation

                Finally, we are doing pretty good in teen pregnancy statistics and abortion rates as of late

                http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/11/AR2011011107331.html
                http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42437630/ns/health-pregnancy/t/us-teen-pregnancy-rate-lowest-years/

                In terms of AIDS, I would like to see what would have happened if gay people did not have to keep their relationships secret and could proceed with monogamous ones (which is what happens in more accepting communities) rather than being driven to unsafe sexual practices. Thank you, though, for criminalizing people with a horrible disease that ravages millions of straight people.

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                  Geo Michalopulos says:

                  Zachary, anal coition is the unsafe sexual practice that causes AIDS. It’s an abnormality, one that causes fissures to the rectum and inocculates the blood stream with semen (hence the high proportion of Hepatitis B suffers among the catamite sub-strata). The only possible evolutionary reason that animals may engage at times in homosexuality is to subjugate a potential genetic rival. In human societies this was done by castrating rogue males.

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                  Karen says:

                  “Homosexuality is widespread in the kingdom Animalia.”

                  Zachary,

                  Just thought I’d point out that so is eating one’s own newborn young (under certain conditions–or for the male of some species, under any conditions, which is why the female drives him off after mating)!

                  Transparently, what you state here is not a valid argument for why homosexual behavior is healthy, right, and good among human beings. As others have pointed out this is true, particularly when you start with the Christian tradition’s revelation of what a human being actually is, i.e., an embodied spirit made in the image of God for the ultimate purpose of a spiritual Communion of love with the Being of God (and in the likeness of God’s kind of Self-giving, life-giving love revealed in Jesus Christ). Christians do not believe we are merely advanced animals, programmed to be conditioned by our environment within the limitations of our genetic potential and completely at the mercy of our own basic instincts or physical drives.

                  Science can describe what is. It cannot be the sole guide to establish the proper values and relationships among those things. For that, we have to look outside of science.

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                  Geo Michalopulos says:

                  Zachary, “wikipedia” and “The Washington Post” are hardly reputable “scientific” sources.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Like I said, the evidence is paltry. The CDC findings are taken as reliable BTW and a lot more recent than the Wikipedia citations.

              I have to ask though, why would not allowing homosexuals to marry a same-sex partner drive a person to “unsafe sexual practices.” Isn’t that a deflection of personal responsibility?

              And how are people with AID’s criminalized? Are you saying that hospitals turn away AID’s patients? Where?

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                Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                There are dozens of studies on the demographics of gays, and besides being part of a minority doesn’t preclude having rights. Even the CDC is outspoken about LGBT rights (they also have quite a bit of research on the negative effects of stigma against homosexuality
                http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/stigma-and-discrimination.htm).
                As for your first question, it has not simply been banning marriage. It has been employment laws discriminating against gays, anti-sodomy laws, decades of stigmatization, the fear of being rejected by your family, and the government turning a blind eye on harassment and violence among other things. With these enormous challenges that no heterosexual has ever had to face, there are plenty of reasons for people to avoid public, monogamous relationships full of love and satisfy themselves in unsafe ways. The church gives nothing to this conversation except for stripping love from those who have found it.
                Also, blaming the victims of a terrible disease, making them feel they are a health threat rather than helping them fight the disease is criminalizing them. Think about this, what is the chance that people of your persuasion would meet a random person with AIDS without your mind heading straight to blaming them for being perverse? You don’t need to say that it would be high. I would like to see people justify a similar response for cholera victims.

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                All the CDC link shows is that even the CDC is afflicted with political correctness. I trust their research, but when they start editorializing that is an entirely different thing.

                Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about your responses a lot today and this is what I have to say about it: You are too wrapped up in the gay ideology. You have to man up and realize that if you subsume yourself into a prescribed self-identity (victim and minority status primarily), then you may lose your real identity completely. If you want to identify primarily as a homosexual, well, the ideology is there to support you. From my perspective however, you are first Zachary, not Zachary the homosexual (more below).

                I also thought that you have to let the persecution narrative go. Lots of people get beat on, even more suffer discrimination. So what? I am not saying it is good or should be allowed, I am only saying that if we allow the mistreatment to define who we are, we will always be less than what we are meant to be. It’s not wise to construct a self-identity in reaction to abuse because in the end you may become just like your abuser. Forgiveness is the antidote, because only forgiveness allows for the freedom through which true self-identity can emerge and be developed.

                You are not a victim. You are not even a homosexual. I think that the category “homosexual” is a social construct and largely an illicit one. Zachary is first Zachary. In fact, if we ever met I would not treat you like a homosexual, I would treat you like Zachary once I got to know you (and for the record I get to know people relatively fast). You may feel compelled to tell me you are homosexual (most homosexuals do) but I would ignore it for the most part unless you insisted on talking about it. I don’t believe the object of one’s sexual desire is a primary constituent of self-identity, so it is almost impossible for me to approach people that way. If they force me to (usually only the activists do that), it pretty much precludes any kind of friendship developing.

                And you have shake loose some of the lazy fantasies you’ve adopted because, well, it is not good to be lazy and fantasy is just fantasy. For example, you talk about love justifying the sexual behaviors, but the fact remains the anal canal is not a sexual organ. The anal canal is not biologically made for penetration and penetrating it causes trauma to the body.

                I call it a lazy fantasy because the only way words can contravene this biological fact is when we use words to say something other than what we mean, or when we refuse to face facts that are undeniably true. My hunch is that you do the latter. Whether you agree with this is not does not concern me because I already know that what I am saying is true.

                And no, I am not blaming the victim for their disease. I am saying that AIDS could be stopped in is tracks among homosexuals if they were more responsible. However, I’ll help a man suffering with AIDS just as I would help a man suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. People are more than their sins. I am not going to pretend however that drinking too much didn’t cause the disease. There has to be sobriety in discussion if it is going to have any meaning.

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                  Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                  It is much more of a lazy fantasy to sublimely accept that homosexuality is unnatural just because (and this is the only reason) it has been hidden from the public eye for a long time and some old people say it is, than to actually look at the evidence and be willing to challenge your opinions. For my part, I was raised to believe that homosexuality is a sickness, a sin, and a perversion, and realized this was completely illogical and silly without any outside influence. Only years later did I meet friends who were only first happy when they accepted that it wasn’t a sickness but rather just part of “Zachary” or “Ellen” or whoever they are.
                  We can play the social construct game as long as we want, but at the end of the day people who are heterosexual (I am bisexual) can go to bed without being affected by the debate while gay people have to constantly struggle to obtain their rights.
                  Most of the suffering in the world has been caused by people telling others in several ways what their identity should be. Heterosexuals, whites, men and in most of the Western world Christians have never had to fear discrimination, and they do not have any reason to be able to tell others what they should identify as. Again, the reason people identify with these communities is because there is an oppressive force they have to fight against.
                  There is still no scientific reason, supported by evidence, that homosexuality is unnatural.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Heterosexuals, whites, men and in most of the Western world Christians have never had to fear discrimination, and they do not have any reason to be able to tell others what they should identify as.

                  Zachary, your life and the lives of most American homosexuals living today has been one of unparallelled privileged. If it were anything else, you would never make the inane statement above. Have you any idea of how the rest of the world lives or the suffering heterosexuals, whites, and males (and everyone else) endured in Europe and elsewhere in the last century?

                  You are not a minority Zachary and you are not entitled to special considerations just because your claims for moral parity between heterosexual and homosexual behavior are not accepted. It’s just the way it is and sometimes we have to live with stuff we don’t like.

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              Eliot Ryan says:

              Zachary:
              Obviously, you’ve been exposed to propaganda supporting one side of the issue — homosexual propaganda. You will learn far more and expand your horizons if you try to examine both sides of the story.

              Make sure that you read what Dr. Lynne Pappas has to say on the issue of homosexuality. The article demonstrates a thorough understanding of the multi-faceted issue of homosexuality.

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                Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                “You see, the homosexual lifestyle can be extremely perverse; it is perverse by definition. ”
                This is not a quote from a respected scholar or scientist. This could have been taken from a religious fanatic from the 19th century talking about any number of subjects. Perversion is not a professional term. Find a psychiatrist that appeals to empiricism and logic that also, by analyzing all available evidence and the peer-review process, understands homosexuality as being unnatural. They will still be facing the opinion of the vast majority of medical professionals.
                The problem I have is this: this entire topic is a crisis manufactured by fundamentalists who have a very specific view of what “normal” is, and because they have power they are trying to force it on people. There are thousands of people who have practiced homosexuality before anyone even told them it is wrong. They were perfectly fine with it, just as the vast majority of gay people would be perfectly fine if people didn’t call their urges “perverted.” Countless gay people are living perfectly happy, normal, productive lives.
                I could get plenty of people to say that it is immoral for a woman to get a medical degree, but it does not mean that I should be able to pass a law that makes it illegal.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Check out NARTH. http://narth.com/ The psychological world is a lot more varied than you seem to realize.

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                    Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                    This is an organization dedicated to the issue. Find me a general, unbiased medical organization that is respected by a majority of medical professionals and then we can talk. There are also groups of people who think it is immoral to accept medical treatment, who think evolution is a farce, and who follow the words of L. Ron Hubbard, and they are as widely accepted.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    The past president of the American Psychological Association is the keynote speaker at their next gathering. NARTH isn’t a light weight outfit Zachary. Do your homework.

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                      Zachary Schultzhaus says:

                      No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and most of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA,[37] the Royal College of Psychiatrists,[38] and the Australian Psychological Society.[39]
                      The American Psychological Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressed concerns that the positions espoused by NARTH are not supported by the science and create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.[38][40]

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Well, isn’t this interesting. The past president of the APA who was adamantly against reparative therapy changes his mind and is now a featured speaker at NARTH. Yet you argue that the way he used to think should prevail.

                      Could it be that the question is not a closed as you want us to think it is?

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              Geo Michalopulos says:

              Zachary, when you say that “psychologists” consider homosexuality to be fundamentally different than pedophilia or bestiality you are going over a logical cliff. My first answer would be “so?” What gives them the right to make this judgment? Especially when just a few decades ago they were unanimous in their belief that homosexuality was very much a psychological aberration?

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Leslie, your reference to another correspondent’s post (which shows an inaccurate understanding of history) does not buttress your own point. The abolition of slavery was set in motion by Constantine the Great and given theological sanction by St Gregory of Nyssa. The reintroduction of slavery in the early modern period happened in spite of Christianity and the trajectory of freedom begun in the West by the Church a millenium earlier.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Zachary, your attempted proof of the ‘naturalness’ of homosexual behavior presupposes that evolutionary paradigm. That is not the Christian approach.

    God made all of us good with the intent of us growing further into holiness and sanctifying the rest of the visible created world in the process. When we sinned, we fell away from that and the rest of the visible create now partakes of our sin: see Romans Chapter 1.

    I’m sure you do not accept that cosmology but without understanding it, there is no possibility of any actual discussion. Its just two people trying to forge a convincing, logical argument based upon opposite assumptions. The same data will always lead to wildly different conclusions even if both arguments are logically perfect.

    God made us and the rest of creation (visible and invisible) out of nothing motivated only by love.

    He made us the center piece of His creation and made us in such a way that alone out of all beings in creation, we could commune with Him.

    We were commanded then to ‘dress and keep the earth’ and to bring it to fruition, i.e. santify it through our communion with God

    We choose to turn away from God’s love and commuinon with Him–still do.

    We, and the rest of visibile create fell too. (Apparently part of the invisible creation, the angels, had already fallen and tempted us into the same state)

    Disorder, disharmony resulted in our lives and in the life of the entire creation.

    Jesus came to restore life and conquer death so that we might once again forge a communion with our Creator

    Repentance from our sin is the only way of allowing the Grace of the Incarnation into our own personal lives which also allows us be better able to carryout the original commandment to ‘dress and keep’ the earth. The commandment also requires, according to Holy Scripture, the synergy of male-female partnership. That too was ruptured by the fall and perverted from what it is intended to be. While the male-female synergy goes far beyond carnal sexuality, in the fallen world, marriage is blessed by God as a way to restore that vital component to Him as well as to bring men and women back into harmony. Remember we are still fallen, tempted and weak so it doesn’t always work that way

    Homosexual behavior is just another way of worshipping the created thing rather than the creator, except worse than most because it specifically turns the center piece of God’s creation into an idol.

    So, whatever you may think, trying to argue with intelligent, committed traditional Christians on this topic will not do you any good.

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    Cyril says:

    Dear Fr. Johannes,

    I would take exception with your editorial on but one point: it was not the homosexual question that brought down the Episcopal “church”. Rather, the homosex question was nothing but the most recent point on a trajectory that began in the sixteenth century when the first Protestant apologists for the C of E asserted that a national (i.e., parochial) church could trump the Catholic church in regard to rites, liturgy, and doctrine. Essentially it valorized the parochial over the catholic. We can see this in the Elizabethan oath of supremacy required of all English clergy in which they renounced the authority of any foreign bishop. This should be seen not only as a renunciation of geographically remote bishops (let us say, in Rome), but even of those remote in time (let us say one in Alexandria who would affirm that the Incarnation was so that we could become by grace what the Word is by nature). This is why Anglicanism has been constantly driven by the wind, and will so be, but always further and further away from the Tradition. The first C of E apologists renounced that there was any such thing as the Church catholic in the first centuries after Christ, and what is more, even if there had been, it wouldn’t have mattered. The prince has primacy, and of course now in the good ole US of A; the demos, or better yet, our most recently anointed experts. Its idol or magisterium or new tradition is “empirical science” or the latest expert, or its putative consensus. But of course real science has no consensus (and of course empiricism cannot be empirically proven), for that is not what it is built on, even though people in science are the constant captives to paradigms until they are unseated. This Anglican fetish for the au courant can be seen in appeals to inclusivity. But alas, our Lord came not to bring inclusivity, but the straight and narrow, a sword to cut between members of a man’s own household, and to make us strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

    Since we have all now lost our souls, and are no more than animals, it should not surprise us that appeals are made to the putative homosexuality among the brutes as a justification for it among humans. The literature, however, has never pointed to a truly homosexual animal, just to animals that act sexually towards other members of its species without the goal of mating, frequently in aggression or for domination (cf. Simon LeVay, Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996), it should be noted, LeVay is a self-identified homosexual). By the same token, animals often kill and eat their young. We can see this now as the next argument for mercy killing of imbeciles and the physically handicapped.

    Thanks for the good work, Fr. Johannes.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Zachary: The praying mantis is known for its cannibalistic mating process; pet mice eat each other; incest in the animal kingdom does exist. Is this what lies ahead of us? Acceptance of homosexuality is just the first step of the future regression of mankind!

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Hey, Jeffrey Dahlmer anyone? . How can anyone doubt his strength of belief and commitment to his personal identy as a cannabilistic, homosexual serial killer? Surely that is who he was, right? People are just way to judgemental about him man. Lighten up.

      Where is your arbitrary line on sexual practices drawn Zachary and by what ‘right’ or reason do you draw it?

      What is your replacement for the Christian understanding of human beings and on what authority to you seek to overturn our understanding?

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        Rob says:

        Michael, the modern acceptance of homosexuality has much to do with the evolution of our own conceptualization of heterosexual marriage. For many people in developed nations, the concept of marriage and sexuality has more to do with personal fulfillment, finding one’s “soul mate”, convenience, affection and even material advantage than it does living out a religious sacrament with all of its obligations and considerations.*

        As such, it’s really not hard to see same-sex relationships is merely another avenue to these particular ends.

        If you wish to critique these notions in light of your understanding of Orthodox moral theology, please do so. It does no justice to the discussion, however, to bring cannibalism and rape into it as if they are naturally the end result of the toleration of homosexual conduct.

        *On the plus side, women are now seen as co-equals and partners in marriage (unlike in the colonial era when they forfeited most of their legal rights). Unfortunately, marriage is now for too many just another disposable relationship where one’s word and commitment last only so long as the money and romance does.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Rob, Perhaps my example was too crude, but when one identifies oneself as anything other than a living being made in the image and likeness of God but maimed by sin we are turning away from God and our own humanity. The end result is horror.

          In addition, my point was to highlight the logical progression of Zachery’s false anthropology, i.e, if a pathology exists in nature it must be OK and if it exists in nature it is immutable (just the way someone is). What goes for the animals goes for us because, after all we are nothing but evolved animals.

          Psychopaths such as Jeffrey Dahlmer identify themselves with their sins rather than their humanity. The PC approach to homosexuality is the strikingly similar: if one rejects the sin, one rejects them as human beings. The anger, despair and other self-destructive acts that are the fruit of such identification trap them. By acknowledging our sins, repenting of them and submitting to the love of Christ transformation is possible, even escape from the darkest, most evil places our vain imaginings can put us.

          If one is to make the argument that we are immutable, as many genetic and social determinists do these days, there is simply no basis for any ordering of society except survial of the fittest. If we are required to ‘love’ homosexuals as they are and required to allow them to act out their sins without any oppobrium and even approve of those acts, on what basis are we to condemn even darker and more evil sins?

          Indeed, marriage has been disconnected from God as have most of our lives. Marriage has become an act of human lust, emotion and will. Since the depravity of our imaginations approaches the infinite, all sorts of ways for satisfying our lust, emotions and will can be found. That is what Jeffrey Dalhmer did.

          That is exactly what St. Paul was pointing out in Romans 1 and elsewhere.

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    I Blase says:

    I’ve been saying for the past several years, that this issue of homosexuality is going to tear apart the American Orthodoxy. Sadly, it’s happening even quicker than I imagined.

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    Brad Theophilus James says:

    In reference to the comments made on Mark Stokoe’s blog. As an Orthodox Christian, I have to go with bishop Matthias decision on removing Mark Stokoe. I know His Grace personally and I know he is a God fearing man who lives by his strong convictions. Your harsh words against Vladika Matthias does not only harm the integrity of the Church, but they also harm the souls of men. I would be careful with speaking against Metropolitan Joseph and Bishop Matthias on their decision. St. Irenaeus Bishop of Antioch said, He who acts without the bishop’s knowledge is in the devil’s service. It is obvious that Mark Stokoe acted without the bishop’s knowledge and that is why he is being removed. Many on this blog have shed innocent blood against His Grace Bishop Matthias and your words have sown discord among brethren in regards to you comments. His Grace Bishop Matthias reaffirmed the Orthodox teaching on homosexuality on August 3rd by reiterating what Metropolitan Joseph said, “men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings.” He also said, “Marriage and family life are to be defended and protected against every open and subtle attack and ridicule.” I agree with these to statements because although we should love the sinner we should not love the sin. The holy scriptures are clear that homosexuality falls in the same category as bestiality because neither one of these acts are part of God’s order. Many believe that a homosexual is born this way and the Church should just accept their life style. However this is the furthest thing from the truth because it is a deception from the father of lies to desecrate the Church of Christ. The Orthodox faithful should listen to their bishop’s on this subject and not to their darken reason. The faithful should understand that God didn’t create the devil to be evil anymore then he created a person to be a homosexual. In the book of Genesis, when God created something it was good and when he created man in his image it was very good.
    The holy scriptures are clear about seven things the Lord detest or an abomination.
    Proverbs 6:16-19
    16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
    17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
    19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (KJV)
    Elder Joseph the Hesychast said, “humility keeps the demons in chains.” I would suggest that everyone on this blog should listen to these words and stop puffing yourselves up with the words that tear down others — especially Bishops.

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