August 27, 2014

Reflections on the Ancient Faith Today Progam: Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction

This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), Ancient Faith Today interviewed Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams who specialize in counseling people with same-sex attraction. It was hands down one of the most illuminating and informed presentations I have heard on this complex and often contentious topic in quite a while.

Without going into particulars (you can listen to the interview below), their grounding in Orthodox anthropology enabled them to avoid the common misconception that the object of a person’s sexual desire forms what I call a “foundational characteristic of personhood.” In practical terms this means that we error when we see a person first and foremost as either “straight” or “gay” believing that “sexual orientation” sums up much of who and what he is.

This way of understanding the human person is taken at face value in the larger culture, but in Orthodox self-understanding it misses the mark completely. We are not to conform our understanding of the human person to whether he prefers men or women because we don’t define a person in terms of his sexual desire. Desires are malleable, they require self-discipline and self-mastery (this is what fasting is about for example). And the knowledge that directs this path of mastery can only be uncovered if there is a deeper understanding of the purpose, meaning, and destiny of the human person.

This deeper understanding has been lost in the larger culture — including in some quarters of the Church — although not by the two presenters in Sunday’s program. They framed same-sex desire in the larger context of the inherent value of the human person and his created destiny to become a son of God (male and female alike). As such we heard no condemnatory language that you might hear from moral rigorists who correctly see homosexual behavior as sin but lack the insight about how the struggle with same-sex desire might actually be a means of transformation, or the moral relativism of those who believe that if something feels good it must be right.

The idea that desire defines personhood also gives rise to the notion that ‘orientation’ is a fixed and objective category of human ontology. In English this means that the thinking — the orientation or outlook that results by acting on desire — is itself the source of the desire. The orientation is understood to be something fixed and unchangeable, similar to say, hair color or race.

Yet, all passions (desires) affect an orientation, especially the inordinate ones. A person addicted to food will have an inner orientation geared toward the acquisition and consumption of more food, the alcoholic to alcohol, a person motivated by anger to anger, and so forth. In sexual terms this is true of the heterosexual as well. A man who fails to master lust will have an inner orientation towards, say, fornication and so forth. His self-understanding is no different from the homosexual activist.

Sexual relationships are properly expressed only in the context of marriage between one man and one woman in order to create a family and continue the human race. The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s overthrew this common wisdom. It created the condom/contraception culture that divorced sexual activity from procreation. The idea that the two parent family was crucial for interpersonal and thus cultural stability was undermined, and sexual activity outside of marriage was seen as a natural and positive good.

Homosexual activism then is a predictable outcome of heterosexual irresponsibility. Anytime sexual activity is divorced from procreation, any notion that the family — the union of one male and one female — is the proper social context for sexual relations erodes along with it. And where sexual desire is elevated as a primary constituent of self-identity, then marriage becomes little more than a legal framework in which sexual desire is actualized. ‘Gay marriage’ seems like a reasonable arrangement under these conditions.

Further, it is not true that the heterosexual model is an ‘orientation’ even though heterosexual desire can be misused. Heterosexual relationships, when properly understood and expressed as one man and one woman joining to create a family, lie within the order of creation, within nature. Put another way, same-sex unions are naturally sterile (not the same thing as infertile). They are biologically closed to the creation of new life. Nature itself rejects the premise that same-sex unions correspond in any meaningful way to the heterosexual family.

These ideas are self-evidently true even though many people have an increasingly difficult time seeing it. The cultural shift in the West is anthropological first, and only political second. Unfortunately this is also true in the Church where some activists work to bring this impoverished view of the human person into Orthodox thinking and praxis. They are not enemies necessarily but they are deeply confused, and their confusion should not be allowed to stand under the rubric of fairness, compassion, or any other appeal calculated to create moral parity.

The person authentically struggling with same-sex desire will learn to bring that struggle to Christ in ways that allow for a deeper transformation into Christ. If the ideas about homosexual orientation prevalent in the larger culture are imported in the Church however, then that struggle will either be truncated or abandoned altogether because of the false anthropology that it posits.

We are more than our desires. The activist seeking to create a moral parity between homosexuality and heterosexuality seeks the dominance of homosexual behavior in the end, and either has a poor understanding of the human person or deliberately set out to change the core anthropological teachings of the Church. Aberration replaces truth when this occurs, and the image of Him into Whom we are to be transformed is distorted.

Listen to the interview on Ancient Faith Today here:

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Comments

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    Rob Z says:

    If I’m to understand this correctly: for a male, a woman is the means to an end, the end being a family (including one or more children). That is: unless a woman bears children, her relationships to her husband is of no real spiritual or emotional value.

    Who views their spouse in this utilitarian manner? I’d hope no one. This isn’t to say that having children (perhaps even many of them) isn’t a good thing. It can be. But the writer’s approach seems to be typical of religious ideologues: “This is the ideal, anything less is worthless or even condemnable”. Not everyone is capable of living up to these ideals, whether it’s because of biology, economic status or simply timing and circumstance. Some couples simply cannot afford the enormous expense of raising children. Others don’t have the fortune of finding a compatible mate until they are beyond any capacity of bearing children.

    Is it not possible to hold up human ideals while accommodating reality as it is?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      No. Sexual activity is reserved for marriage, and the reason is that the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children. Look at the biology Rob, and think about what the sperm and egg really accomplish. It has a natural and organic function.

      This biological reality rooted in nature is not affected one whit by social constructs. In the same way, homosexual couplings find no analogy in nature (homosexual relationships are sterile, biologically cut off from the propagation of the human race) no matter what constructs we might dream up to ignore this elementary fact.

      That’s the point of the article. When social constructs conform to nature as they have for the two thousands years of Western civilization and in many other non-Christian cultures as well, then the recent and novel formulations are, well, recent and novel.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Rob, such prissy denunciations are not arguments.

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    M. Stankovich says:

    “The purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children?” Says who?

    Is it defined as such in the Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage? Not once. It is an aspect – a “gift” and a blessing (“Bless them, O Lord our God, as You blessed Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca…”) – of Christian Marriage, but by no means is there even an assumption of a singular procreative purpose. What does the Gospel read at the service tell us about the purpose of marital sexuality? Absolutely nothing. In fact, it is about the Lord’s first miracle, which the Church extrapolates at the close of the service to say, “He, Who by His presence at the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee declared marriage to be honouarble…” And in the epistle, St. Paul declares the analogy of the relationship – husband to wife, and Christ to the Church – “τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν” a great mystery (Eph. 5:2), and goes on to explain nothing! And what explains this whole “crowning” of the newly-married couple business? I have heard the “procreative” anecdote that they are “crowned to a new lineage, blah, blah” while the priest is leading them singing, “O holy martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received your crowns, entreat the lord to have mercy on our souls!” And among others, the service closes specifically commemorating “the Great Martyr Procopius.”

    Are there Patristical writings, Canons, or Traditions that prescribe that once the “purpose” has been – I don’t know what – “fulfilled,” realized, completed, marital sexual activity should cease? Do spouses who have achieved a “sufficient” family now live like siblings (forbidden to separate, 1 Cor 7:10), because to continue to respond and act according to sexual desire that is “unpurposed” is unsanctified, or worse, “unsanctifiable? I have mentioned here before, I have heard our contemporary teachers speak of such things.

    In my estimation, what is presented here is one of the worst possible “defenses” of Christian Marriage. It is a phenomenal and unfortunate intellectual reduction of what the writers of the Scripture and the Fathers refused to do: intellectually intrude in the analogy of a husband and wife as Christ to the Church, the understanding of which they obviously realized would not be accomplished in this world. However, I fully believe that two “fathers” of our generation, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh and Paul Evdokimov, were given the task of “re-articulating” this Truth for us.

    If I were asked to defend Christian Marriage, using the phrase of the Fathers, “as it was in the beginning,” and to which it will return again, I would utilize Met. Anthony’s description of the creation of Eve, “purposely fashioned from his rib because it is the closest element to his heart,” and immediately recognizing her, he spoke with the pure breath that had given him life: “You are the other me.” And conclude with Evdokimov’s assertion that it is sexual expression in Christian Marriage, so intimate and so inimitable as to defy the scrutiny of others, transports to the Kingdom itself. This is the very antithesis of pornography and the hallmark of kenotic eros, intimacy, and the re-joining of two human beings with the Creator and Master.

    This is what is irreplaceable outside the Sacrament of Marriage! This what the frivolous, the civil rightists, the culturalists, the philosophers, the politicians, and all like them cannot comprehend. I say, go back to the “Change of Paradigm” posting of Dr. Pappas, go to the last comment of Dr. Brian Jackson. Skip everything related to me and focus on one of the most sensible, cogent comments ever offered on this site: Why intellectually paint yourself into a corner needlessly? Now Dr. Jackson is a man you need on Ancient Faith Today

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Are you responding to my comment to Rob Z? It should also be clear that the biological logic of sexual relations (penis, vagina, egg, sperm, etc.) shows sex and the procreation of children are part of the natural order. Sexual relations is how new life is created. Homosexual activity violates that biological logic, that natural order and cannot replicate in any meaningful sense heterosexual monogamy. It is biologically closed the the creation of new life. So yes, the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children.

      This is not an “instrusion” in the relationship between a husband a wife, but instead circumscribes heterosexual monogamy as the proper context for sexual relationship against all other claims.

      You would agree that the only proper context for sexual activity is within marriage, correct? You also would agree that marriage properly defined is between one man and one woman, correct?

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        M. Stankovich says:

        Since, of late, it has been suggested that I avoid answering “the questions,” let’s have at it:

        1) I quoted you directly from your response to Rob Z, so that would be an “affirmative.”

        2) The Service of the Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage asks that God would provide “the fruit of their bodies, fair children”; and at the removal of her crown, the bride is instructed to “multiply like unto Rachael.” Therefore, I agree there is an biological, procreative, reproductive reality to sexuality. BUT, as I originally noted, I believe that the reproductive dynamic is “an aspect – a “gift” and a blessing… of Christian Marriage, but by no means is there even an assumption of a singular procreative purpose.”

        3) Just of my own curiosity, I’m wondering if anyone beside you, Abouna, having finished a read of my comment, would be “uncertain” as to my opinion to the “proper context” for sexual activity. I would say that my statement, “This [referring to my earlier description of "kenotic eros, intimacy, and the re-joining of two human beings with the Creator and Master"] is what is irreplaceable outside the Sacrament of Marriage!” was intended to preempt such concerns.

        4) Unless you are prepared(-ing) to argue that Christ had/has more than one Bride/Church for which He gave Himself – and you know, out of due respect, I will always hear you out – which will necessarily destroy the analogy of Eph. 5:2, yes, you are “correct.”

        My point as to the “purpose” of sexual activity is to say that you are utilizing a single, limited biological aspect of our God-created sexuality – albeit a wondrous and glorious gift and blessing – as an “intellectual” defense against homosexuality! And who couldn’t have predicted the “conservative” jingoists to follow: “We must save marriage! Amend the constitution!” At best, they are defending the “aroma,” and while we possess the fullness, we are certainly not defending it is such. Where is one Orthodox bishop to stand up and say, “Wait! Listen to what we believe:

        And God fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib because it is the nearest to his heart. And upon awakening, Adam recognized her immediately, and with the pure breath of the Creator which had given him life still on his lips he said, “You are the other me!

        When I said, “what is presented here is one of the worst possible “defenses” of Christian Marriage,” my actual thought was, CA voters had no “clear mandate” opposing same-sex marriage (52% was the winning margin), and are voting-eligible Orthodox Christians as indifferent to these “issues” as I have argued (it was the largest voter turn-out in CA history)? Why must the discussion of Christian Marriage be, again and again, nothing more than the abasement of homosexual sexual activity?

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Mr. Stankovich, I for one can never be quite sure what you are saying and why you are saying it. You tend to wrap your exposulations in such paisley wrapings that finding a simple meainging is often quite difficult for me. But then, I’m an uneducated, red-neck hick from flyover country so feel free to wrap your enigmas in condumrums all you wish.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          I have the same experience as Michael. I can never tell what you are really trying to say.

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            David B. says:

            Father Hans, I have great respect for you, but I don’t understand what’s not plain about what Mr. (Doctor?) Stankovich is saying. Today I’ve read a number of things he’s written on Monomakhos (sp?) from whence I came here, and it seems to me his writing is in most ways a model of careful clarity. I find it almost as frustrating as I imagine he does that people seem to look right past what he’s saying and the careful distinctions he’s drawing, and challenge him in broad-brush ways that he can’t effectively respond to without being dishonest.

            I’ve gone as requested to the comment of Dr. Jackson and read it, and on the limited basis of today’s experience I find myself very much in agreement with him, both with regard to Mr. Stankowski’s writing, and the clear stands he has taken that you are right now challenging him to say yea or nay whether he agrees with, which is insulting since he’s already made it entirely plain that he’s in perfect agreement with you on the two points you’re challenging him on. He stands firmly with the Church vis-a-vis sexual activity outside of marriage and what in fact constitutes a Sacramental marriage.

            I likewise agree with Dr. Jackson that he’s urging a point with regard to the danger of drawing a line in the wrong place and painting ourselves into an intellectual corner which he has considerable reason to believe (and has pointed to relevant research) will soon become untenable regarding the subtle physiology of sexual attraction and its variations. As Galileo said, “But they still turn!”

            Mr. Stankovich is also as I understand it arguing against a minimalist approach that says that in some way allowing same-sex civil marriages will take away from the Sacrament of Marriage, and saying instead that the Sacrament of Marriage, between a man and a woman, is sublime and that nothing can take away from it, that the other foolishness is as dust compared to it. And he’s arguing this with fervor and powerful belief. You can agree with him or not, but I don’t see how you can fail to take his point.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              I’m not challenging Stankovich to say “yea or nay” on anything, so I am not sure what you mean here.

              Where I challenge Stankovich is on 1) using no evidence as a positive assertion, 2) his assertion (belief?) that science can even penetrate the causes of homosexual attraction or say anything conclusive beyond correlation (behavioral science is not hard science), and 3) the pretense that research into homosexual questions is not ideologically tainted (a point evident even in Stantovich’s writing here — quoting SJLC, using language like “creeps” and so forth).

              You also write:

              You can agree with him or not, but I don’t see how you can fail to take his point.

              Can you tell me what that point is?

              Finally, I don’t think that M. Stankovich is a doctor. My impression is that he is a social worker.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                1) Should it be the case that you find yourself lying in an ER as the result of symptoms consistent with a cardiac event, and following a full diagnostic workup, the cardiologist informs you, “Abouna, there is no evidence you had a heart attack. It’s probably just stress,” you and your family would, without hesitation, accept this as a positive assertion. This is a spurious argument.

                2) This new tact of “soft science, hard science” is silly and uninformed. This issue arose in an essay in the Sunday NY Times several weeks ago, and I believe that respondents across disciplines have laid this issue to rest. If you would like to argue “newer,” vis-à-vis methodology and so on, versus “older,” that is a reasonable argument. David B’s point in regard to Galileo is well taken.

                3) All medical science is measured in terms of relationships – correlations – be it tobacco to squamous cell carcinoma or x-chromosome inactivation to female fecundity. There is nothing beyond correlation. You might speak of “confidence intervals” or “significance” in the analysis of data, but the “penetration of causes” – more properly, the assertion derived from the best data available – is correlation. I believe I have offered the best available science from the most reputable journals available.

                4) I will again insist that there is a fundamental distinction between “ideological taint” and “unethical behaviour”; in the former, a bias but ethical researcher risks producing research that, in fact, might contradict his original hypothesis; and in the latter, he will resort to deception, misrepresentation, and misappropriation of scholarship to serve his ideology. You find “creeps” troubling? Allow me: despicable, boorish, clowns, scoundrals, embarrassments, pharisees, unscrupulous, self-righteous, liars. Anything there more acceptable? And much worse, they do a moral and ethical disservice to legitimate researchers by lowering the threshold for truth by this self-admitted “war of disinformation.”

                5) My argument has not been to use science to “penetrate the causes of homosexual attraction,” but to re-iterate, and re-iterate, re-iterate that it is our Orthodox anthropology that we are created biological-psychological-environmental-spiritual beings in symphony, and that attempting to “penetrate causes” without examining the biological dynamics will necessarily result in error, and segregating aspects of this symphony is error.

                6) I was a 2nd year resident in psychiatry when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I may or may not return.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  1) We know what physiological factors to look for when a heart attack takes place, and when there are no factors found we can reasonably conclude no heart attack did in fact take place. That’s hard science and it’s reliable. It doesn’t follow however that because no evidence exists that people can switch their ‘orientation’ no switch is possible. Arguments from silence are not positive arguments.

                  2) The behavioral sciences are susceptible to ideological taint. We saw this first in the eugenics movement in the early part of the last century. We hear allegations of ideological meddling again from Dr. Cummings, the former president of the APA who says that none of the research concerning homosexuality coming from the APA should be trusted. He argues from a scientific point of view. I argue from a historical point of view. It is always prudent to remain skeptical about the conclusions drawn by those who have interests beyond the limits of their own research.

                  3) All data is correlative, but correlations after experimentation can unearth causes. That’s how particular therapies are developed (penicillin for infections and so forth). But again, this is hard science. Behavioral science doesn’t have this certainty because murky concepts like ‘orientation’ can’t be put under the microscope or through the MRI. They have no materiality. That’s the difference between the hard sciences and behavioral sciences.

                  4) “Ideological taint’ and ‘unethical behavior’ is a legitimate distinction but all too often the difference is in the eye of the beholder. Free speech codes are being truncated in Canada and many people believe this loss of liberty is justified on ethical grounds and does not represent a capitulation to ideology (political correctness as we call it). You believe the research from the APA should be trusted but Dr. Cummings will have none of it. It just might be that your idea of unethical behavior is a private opinion, one that you are free to hold of course but not one that we should accept at face value just because credentials or associations are thrown about.

                  The truth is that there is a growing distrust in science in the larger culture because scientists involve themselves in the culture wars (gay rights, global warming, etc.). The distrust is unfortunate I think but it arises because many scientists are themselves untrustworthy (East Anglia, Dr. Cummings’ warnings, and so forth). Again, given the corruption we see, prudence is called for.

                  As for your adjectives (despicable, boorish, clowns, scoundrels and so forth), you are free to believe whatever you want, but the reader should know that your language is polemical, not scientific.

                  5) No one is denying the physiological dimension of human anthropology. We know for example that continued exposure to pornography affects brain chemistry. But man is more than his physiology. My read is that you tend towards biological determinism, although not exclusively so.

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                  Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  Michael, I don’t recall seeing an MD on your resume when it was posted on monster.com, and I don’t know how someone can be a resident in psychiatry without one. Can you explain things?

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                    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                    Michael, I want to make sure you saw this and have a chance to respond. David B. has questioned whether you are a doctor; Fr. Hans has said that he doesn’t believe you are; you have strongly implied that you are, with these words:

                    6) I was a 2nd year resident in psychiatry when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I may or may not return.

                    And I have asked you to explain. Please do.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Again, I want to make sure Michael Stankovich sees this. He does need to respond for his own good.

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                      It appears that Michael Stankovich has misrepresented his professional credentials, claiming to be a medical doctor when he is not one. Asked repeatedly to explain his claim, he has refused to do so.

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          M. Stankovich says:

          Well, Gentlemen, if we have what the Captain in Cool Hand Luke identifies as a “failure to communicate,” I strongly suspect it is because you invest altogether too much time playing “Enigma Machine” – attempting to decrypt and decode what I might be saying, alluding to, insinuating, or attempting to subliminally “insert” – rather than simply reading.

          Abouna, with all due respect, you present multiple paragraphs of argument without a single attribution or comment as to your derivative process, or the history or evolution of the thought you present. Further, I do not sense you feel any obligation to do so, and at times seem offended if questioned. Hey, it’s your house! You are free to put your feet on the furniture. I, however, tend to be meticulous, and should you be confused about my argument, I direct to the source(s) of my thought, which you may examine at will. Stop me if I’ve said this before: I am not an “original theorist!” My ability stops at “re-iteration.” Not grasping my thought? Pleases, seek out the writings of Met. Anthony and Prof. Evdokimov.

          Mr. Bauman, apparently I deeply offended you this past weekend with what was intended as a joke (my statement “it’s a JOKE” referred to my statement as the joke, not you), and I sincerely apologize. As I have stated many, many times, I am rigorous in attempting to limit my comments to merit, and never in regard to commentators themselves.

          I will say again, if you examine my history of participation on this site, I invested considerable effort in “documenting” my position(s), and you are equipped and free to follow as you see fit.

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            Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

            No, not offended. I post commentary so push back is part of the mix. I expect it, even welcome it because it sharpens my thinking. BTW, I don’t play “Enigma Machine” if by that you mean pore over the allusions and open-ended statements you include in your replies. I don’t have time to go back and forth three of four times to determine the meaning of something that should be said straight up on the first go around. It’s commentary, remember?

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Mr. Stankovich, there is another possibility to what you cal the “Enigma Machine” (great metaphor BTW). Perhaps you simply are not clear in what you write. My comment about being from flyover country has nothing to do with any offense taken at your scarcastic remark simply that you seem to parade your education quite a bit and I tend to think fromal education is overrated many times. I was engaging it a bit of my own ‘playful chiding’ and hyperbole. I am equally sorry if I offended you.

            I find in helpful to realize that attempting to communicate multilayered ideas in a two-dimensional medium(blogs) takes a lot of work. I fail most of the time. Also one thing I learned from my studies of history — too many footnotes both confuse the ability of the reader to understand what is being said and interfere with one’s ability to appreciate the story. Not all truth can be documented, not all that is documented is true.

            BTW, I have just started reading the first English translation (by Anthony Gythiel) of Paul Evdokimov’s L’Orthodoxie just published by Eighth Day Press. I’m sure you’ve read it in the original, but you might be interested in the translation none-the-less. English title: Orthodoxy: The Cosmos Transfigured. I got one of the first copies because both the translator and the publisher are members of my parish. (Available from Eighth Day Books which, IMO, is the best bookstore in the world–a real life bookstore. Bp Kallistos practically bought out the place when he was here because there were so many titles he could not find in England. Great place to visit. –end of shameless plug).

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          Michael Bauman says:

          M. Stankovich says: Why must the discussion of Christian Marriage be, again and again, nothing more than the abasement of homosexual sexual activity?

          1. I have seen nothing on any Orthodox site or any Orthodox statement that relies solely on what you call ‘abasing homosexual activity’.

          2. Homosexual sexual activity does not have to be abased it is abasing. Pointing that out is neither discrimintory, judgemental or hateful–in fact, just the opposite.

          3. The only reason we need to discuss Chrisitan marriage in the manner we are is because it and all of the theological, moral and anthropological precepts that are its foundation and structure are being attacked by those who wish to nomalize homosexaul activity.

          4. I suppose one could argue that the Church should ‘turn the other cheek’ and be crucified. Is that the argument you are making?

          5. Just for the record what the homosexual activists are trying to destroy is a living icon of the Holy Trinity that allows us to fufill the Lord’s commmandments to dress and keep the earth while being fruitful and exercising our priestly dominion/stewardship over the rest of the visible creation.

          6. Part of the dominion/stewardship we are commanded to exercise is the care of our fellows who are caught up in the sins and temptations of this fallen world.

          7. Homosexual acts are always sinful and therefore are not/cannot be blessed by the Church. Same sex attraction is a temptation to sin that needs to be confessed and worked through with a qualified confessor in the same manner as any other besetting sin including adultery; fornication; use of pornography and others.

          8. Those who publically, actively and adamantly refuse to repent and/or see no need of such repentance should not be communed– just as with anyone else who defies the moral or theological teaching of the Church.

          If you argue that homosexual acts are not inherently sinful then you are not in accord with the life of the Church. If you or anyone cannot conform your minds and hearts to the anthropology and moral teaching of the Church, then I fail to see why you would want to continue in the Church. I do not say this in a condemnatory way, it is an honest observation. If one is Orthodox, one attempts to conform one’s heart and mind to the teaching and practice of the Church. If one is Roman Catholic, one follows the teaching of the Pope. Obedience is essential to the Christian life. On matters such as these, our opinions really don’t matter.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            Mr. Bauman,

            By my comment, I was responding to what I see as a truly ludicrous and misguided effort to address SSA by 1) arguing that sexual orientation is a contrivance, a covert “construct” for the promotion of sinful behaviour as other than pathological and incongruent with the Tradition and morality of the Church, and 2) in that “the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children,” and its “biological reality [is] rooted in nature,” SSA is the antithesis of Sacramental Marriage. And to not do so is to “concede entirely too much to the enemy.” This what I term “the abasement of homosexual sexual activity.”

            In the first case, I believe that sooner, rather than later, medical science will confirm that some individuals have a heritable, familial genetic vulnerability – that will undoubtedly be revealed as a complex epigentic convergence of bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors rather than a single, identifiable mutation – and we will be forced to concede our lack of open-mindedness and forethought. Same-sex-attraction is and the expectation that everyone will be healed of it is as shameful as it is ridiculous. And no, this is not me condoning any sexual behaviour that is outside the Sacrament of Marriage.

            In the second case, I raised the point of marital sexual expression, Met. Anthony (Bloom), and Professor Evdokimov only to emphasize the point that procreation is an aspect of marital sexual expression. My interpretation of Met. Anthony and Prof. Evdokimov is that sexual expression within the Sacrament of Marriage possess what no other form of sexual activity – be same-gender or otherwise – may possess, and that is transcendence. This is the “mystery” of which St. Paul speaks but does not define: the analogy of Christ to the Church and a husband to a wife, and with which the words of Met. Anthony and Prof. Evdokimov resonate like the “Song of Songs.” And here, I will concede to Abouna Ioannes, is an act that cannot be experienced except by one husband and one wife. I believe it is unfortunate that a very simple booklet regarding marriage written by beloved Prof. S.S. Verhovskoy has been lost over time, but in it he made the point that, no matter how “removed from godliness” a relationship between a man and a woman had evolved, it never lost the ability of transformation and sanctification through marriage.

            As for the rest, Mr. Bauman, I am weary from repeatedly addressing the same issues, and I believe I have established a body of commentary by which you may measure my level of consistency.

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              Michael Bauman says:

              There is a heritable tendancy to alchoholism, probably anger and other besetting sins. So what? The fall effected the physical nature of creation and brought corruption into it through us. Still doesn’t make activities based on such tendencies not sinful.

              Just a couple of straight question which despite reading numerous posts I have yet to get a straight answer from you that I understand.

              A yes or a no is all that is required:

              Is the sexual activities between two people of the same sex sinful?

              Should the Church bless same sex unions?

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Mr. Bauman,

                Did you at any point intend to read me my “Miranda Rights?”

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                  Michael Bauman says:

                  I thought so, you just want to engage in the intellectual masturbation. There is simply no further need to pay any attention to anything you say.

                  You are the Orthodox Ashley Nevins.

                  Matthew 5:37.

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                    Brian McDonald says:

                    I’m not always a big fan of Mr. Stankovich’s tone, but to say he is the Orthodox Ashley Nevins (for those who do not know him, a frequent poster of excessively long and repetitive screeds against Orthodoxy ) is as absurd as is the constant assertion that he doesn’t plainly state what he believes, another frequent canard. He has been consistent and plain in asserting two ideas about SSA that he once again states plainly above : 1) that “some individuals have a heritable, familial, genetic vulnerability – that will undoubtedly be revealed complex epigenetic convergence of bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors rather than a single identifiable mutation” and 2) “this is not me condoning any sexual behavior that is outside the Sacrament of Marriage.” In other words, SSA is an affliction and not a choice, but that does not make it “good” or what God intended “from the beginning” or something that the Church should bless—though it is something the church should seek to understand an understanding that should naturally involves the assistance of all the relevant and available scientific data on the subject.

                    I’ve heard him repeat variations on these two themes over and over again in posts her and elsewhere and really believe that—as he indicates in an earlier post on this thread—if people can’t understand his remarks it’s because they’re constantly reading between the lines to discover a possibly hidden agenda, rather than reading the lines themselves

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              Metoikos says:

              Mr Stankovich, your point — or at least a part of it — is well taken here. It could be that medical science will someday confirm that some individuals have a heritable, familial genetic vulnerability to SSA – and SSA will be revealed as a complex epigenetic convergence of bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors rather than a single, identifiable mutation. That sounds like a very reasonable supposition to me.

              In that event, I don’t see, however, how “we will be forced to concede our lack of open-mindedness and forethought.” I don’t hear Fr Hans, or indeed any Orthodox, teaching dogmatically as regards the genesis of SSA. Elizabeth Moberly (and Fr Thomas Hopko following her) may put forward certain theories in this regard, but these are psychological theories and are presented as such — no more. Nor do I hear any Orthodox claiming, as you charged, that everyone who suffers from SSA can be healed of it in this life. Though there are undoubtedly some Orthodox somewhere who may think this, I have never heard this claim, nor is it a platform of anyone here or of other Orthodox expressing criticism of the gay rights agenda.

              As for your first two comments, regarding what you have called the “truly ludicrous and misguided effort to address SSA by 1) arguing that sexual orientation is a contrivance, a covert “construct” for the promotion of sinful behaviour as other than pathological and incongruent with the Tradition and morality of the Church, and 2) in that “the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children,” and its “biological reality [is] rooted in nature,” I would like to suggest the following for your consideration:

              1. It depends on what you mean by sexual orientation. It is a predicament, an affliction, even one with partially hereditary causes — or is it an “ontology,” as you have suggested in another post? If you mean the second, I don’t see how you can support that in relation to Christian theology.

              Further: Is this orientation a developmental defect, a lack, and a resultant inveterate tendency to particular passions which are the occasion of sin if satisfied — or is it a social, political and properly “personal” identity? If you mean the first, then I think your criticism above is correct. But if you mean the second, well, it is an undeniable fact that the “gay” identity is a modern political and social ““construct” built upon an accepted proclivity to a behavior the Church deems immoral, and there is no way that Orthodox anthropology could accept this construct.

              It seems to me that this, in fact, is what a lot of the arguments on this issue over the last couple years (on “Breaking the Silence” etc) have been about. Not all the protagonists argue for acceptance and blessing of same-sex genital relationships (and some, such as yourself, make clear that they don’t). However, what many DO seem to be arguing for is acceptance of “gay” as a political, social and even properly personal identity.

              2. Which brings me directly to your second point: your criticism of the view that “the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children,” and its “biological reality [is] rooted in nature.” You have a point; and we don’t have to go to Evdokimov — we can go to the marriage service itself (as you have) and, more clearly, to St John Chrysostom to find good ground to resist a reductionist, utilitarian understanding of sexuality in marriage. Chrysostom is relatively clear in his homilies on marriage, I think, that sexual intercourse in marriage has a properly unitive, and not only procreative, purpose. What Chrysostom doesn’t do, however, is to separate this unitive purpose from the procreative. On the contrary, Chrysostom condemns contraception.

              But this is the problem with Evdokimov, as well as Olivier Clement, Philip Sherrard, Meyendorff, Harakas and a number of other Orthodox theologians who have treated this question in the period since the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae: their position contradicts the testimony of the Fathers and the clear and consistent teaching of the Church throughout the centuries, right up to the 60′s, which always condemned contraception in all forms. It is true that, as John T. Noonan showed in his magisterial and still unsurpassed study, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, the particular theological and moral rationale for the teaching differed from age to age, with some arguments (though by far not all, or even the majority) being dependent on an outmoded model of reproductive biology. However, as Noonan (himself an advocate of allowance of some forms of contraception) also showed, and can be further shown with regard to Orthodoxy after the East-West schism (see the Master’s thesis at SVS by Fr John Schroedel), the Church’s consistent condemnation of contraception through the centuries, East and West, right up to the 1960′s, is a demonstrable fact.

              Patriarch Athenagoras — certainly no arch-conservative — himself reiterated this as “the Orthodox teaching” upon the publication of Humanae Vitae in 1968. In fact no Christian body officially accepted or blessed artificial birth control until the Anglicans did at their 1930 Lambeth conference. Other Protestant denominations followed after. But the Churches of Romania and of Greece still saw fit to respond to this with a reiteration of the traditional teaching in encyclicals during the 1930′s and the 1950′s respectively.

              Like the Anglicans and other contemporary Protestants, many of our theologians now seek to revise the consistent patristic and Orthodox teaching on contraception, while also reserving marriage to one man and one woman. Many of our clergy and faithful just assume as much. I also do not deny the real and serious, indeed seemingly insurmountable, pastoral difficulties with teaching otherwise — that is, delivering the traditional teaching, not to mention putting it into practice oneself — in the present cultural context, where so much of our economy and our way of life as a nation has come to depend upon the availability of condoms and “the Pill.”

              But, in support of Fr Hans’ argument, I would suggest that Rowan Williams was indeed on to something when he argued, in a now famous essay of 1989, “The Body’s Grace,” that if we accept contraception in marriage, then it is very difficult to come up with a compelling logical argument against allowance of same-sex genital relations; the one follows logically upon the other. This may be pressing it too far, and you may argue that theology and morality should not be enslaved to logic, in which case I will agree. Yet there is something to Rowan’s argument, and this certainly has been echoed in the logic followed in the development of social attitudes over the last 5 decades, from the 1965 Griswold vs. Connecticut case over contraception — the real legal watershed in the American sexual revolution, even before Roe v. Wade — to the present arguments for the re-defining of marriage.

              Traditional Christian arguments for reservation of sexual relations to married heterosexual couples, from the Greek Fathers onward, never relied solely on explicit commands of Scripture, but also upon an understanding of sex as an act deriving its moral teleology from its (potentially) procreative end. That is not to say that procreation is its only end: marriage and the two-in-one-flesh union of marital sex is, as you rightly stress, is a “great mystery,” intended by the Creator to be an icon of the union of Christ and his Church. But the possibility of physical procreation is, if you like, an aspect of its “ontology.”

              Break the bond between the unitive and procreative, and sever the link between marriage as a sacramental mystery of redemption and the natural order of creation, its most obvious and tangible sign being the role of male and female in reproduction, and the mystery of marriage — as in the case of Evdokimov’s rich but often dreamy, and not always entirely sound, book — hovers romantically in mid-air; it becomes very difficult to make a case against the properly and truly “unitive” character of homosexual sex.

              For these reasons, I would not be so quick to dismiss Fr Hans’ arguments: he has a point, and a very important one, even if this is not the whole of the matter regarding the mystery of marriage (nor did I read him claiming it to be such).

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Metoikos,

                If I present as rude or abrupt, be assured it is not with the intent of personally offending, but did you miss my suggestion that you would do well to familiar yourself with the history of this discussion? To the best of my recollection, this began November, 2011, weaving through several threads. It would seem that, rather than making even a cursory, half-hearted, “OK, I’ll humor the bloke” effort to orient yourself, you thought it better to recast me as Bernard Shaw’s Eliza Doolittle and set about to “school” me. And apparently you are so purposed, you cannot hear me repeatedly rising to point out the violation of Rule 403 Excluding Relevant Evidence for Prejudice, Confusion, Waste of Time, or Other Reasons: “Objection, your honor. Asked and answered.”

                If it feels to you like “shooting fish in a barrel,” it is because that is what you are doing. In too many comments, you are not correcting what you seem to perceive as “errant,” or even sloppy argument, but ignoring the natural tendency for commentators, one for another, to make “assumptions,” based on previous discussion. When you note that a point is “significant and needs to be stressed,” more likely than not, it already has been stressed historically. I am not “scolding” you for not having been present for the original discussion, but I am offended at your pretension to “educate” without history.

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                  Metoikos says:

                  OK, no personal offence taken; but I’ve been reading this site for longer than that, and I don’t recall this dimension being directly addressed. And, last time I checked, this is not a closed group list. I’ve attempted to contribute to what I see discussed here and now. Not attempting to “educate” you; just trying to point certain things out that are overlooked or not mentioned and state them as accurately as I can. I shall let others judge whether it is of any value.

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            Metoikos says:

            “If you or anyone cannot conform your minds and hearts to the anthropology and moral teaching of the Church, then I fail to see why you would want to continue in the Church. I do not say this in a condemnatory way, it is an honest observation. If one is Orthodox, one attempts to conform one’s heart and mind to the teaching and practice of the Church. If one is Roman Catholic, one follows the teaching of the Pope. Obedience is essential to the Christian life. On matters such as these, our opinions really don’t matter.”

            This is absolutely true, and needs to be stressed. But it is only the half of it. For the truth is that the teaching of the Church is no mere assertion magisterial will, demanding arbitrary obedience. That would be a voluntaristic distortion. The teaching in this matter regards the order of Creation, the natural order, the order of created being. All of us must follow obey the law of our “creaturehood” in order to become full human beings. And the teaching is that that “law,” so to speak, is revealed most clearly and fully in Christ and the Church — although there are signs of it everywhere, even written into our very bodily structure, according to the Fathers. It is decidedly NOT a matter of “the Bible — or the Fathers — or the Pope — say so, and therefore you must obey.” Rather, it is that the truth of human nature IS as such, it was created as such, and therefore the Bible and the Fathers, communicating the revelation of the Creator, confirm it. That is: it is not true because the Scripture says so; rather, the Scripture, being inspired, says so because it IS true.

            This is a crucial point, which highlights the need for rational apologia for the Christian teaching in this matter. The God who inspired Scripture and the Fathers is also the Creator who made man and woman. Hence, the discoveries of biology and developmental psychology, while not sufficient, ought also to be taken into account in moral teaching and pastoral application — though in a way that is always guided by the moral and anthropological witness Scripture and Church Tradition.

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              Michael Bauman says:

              Metoikos, I agree 100%, however I was merely trying to point out that there is nothing positive about people who rail against the teachings of the Church. They obviously don’t care for the Church or know much about it or it simply wouldn’t happen. The only positive response to teachings that one does not understand or object to is to seek to go more deeply into them. One does not seek to change the teachings, one seeks to allow the Holy Spirit to change oneself. Any other response is born of the spirit of rebellion.

              Please note, it is not the same thing as objecting to the manner in which the Church is administered.

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                Metoikos says:

                “The only positive response to [Church] teachings that one does not understand or object to is to seek to go more deeply into them. One does not seek to change the teachings, one seeks to allow the Holy Spirit to change oneself. Any other response is born of the spirit of rebellion.” — Exactly. And it tells us something about the kind of disposition necessary to understanding.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Michael agreed, the homosexual act itself is abasing.

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      Saunca says:

      M. Stankovich,
      I ran across your comments regarding Orthodox Christian marriage today…..particularly the portion questioning where in Orthodox Tradition, or Canon, there is anything that supports that “the purpose of sexuality is the procreation of children.” This is a particularly sensitive subject for me, since I have lost 4 pregnancies. The repeated inference (as shown in this article, from other Orthodox Christians, and even Priests) that my husband’s worth, or that the worth of my marital relations, depends solely upon procreation has troubled me for many years. It is a relief to see, in print, someone dispute it’s validity.

      Your defense of Christian marriage, using Met Anthony’s description that Adam saw Eve and immediately thought “You are the other me,” is an Orthodox perspective I’ve never heard before. Thank you for posting it. Despite all of the arguing, debating, disputing, etc. that your original comment brought about, it also provided a much needed perspective…..for at least one person. Thank you, again.
      Cheryl

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        Saunca/Cheryl,

        You brought tears to my eyes with your comment & I only wish I were the “original thinker” responsible! Imagine that we, literally, lived among the wisdom, the piety, and the astonishing insight of Metropolitan Anthony.

        My comment was derived from a lecture series he delivered in 1964 on Genesis, while commenting on why Eve was fashioned from Adam’s “rib,” as opposed to, say, his hand: “It was the closest to his heart” Imagine! And he continues:

        He [Adam] was confronted with himself, another aspect of self, and each of these two selves which stood face to face were the real one, not one of them was the secondary, both were there from the first moment, both were the revelation to the other half of himself.

        And this is why Methodius of Olympus says that when man and woman looked at one another they did not see two persons as it were, they did not speak in terms of `I’ and `the other’, but each of them, seeing whom he could call the other, said: this is `alter ego’, `the other myself’, `the second myself’, and in that respect, the promise of God and the longing of man was fulfilled. `Helpmeet’ is an approximate translation of something which means one that will stand face to face with him, one who is an equal and more than an equal, not an equal in the sense of being equal but alien, but one who is him and therefore equal to him and who is so much him that it is a revelation of him to himself. It was he and she, it was man and woman, and each of them was a revelation of fulfillment for the one who gazed at his other self. And the same Methodius of Olympus insists that the last words of this chapter “and they were both naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed” is a full, a complete assertion of this identity of man, of one unique personality in two persons because as he says, one can be ashamed only of the other and there was no other at that moment because again, as for us Adam and Eve, man and woman, he and she are two, for both of them, they were one. `This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh’ does not mean `This originates in me’; it means, `I recognize myself, it is I’. And the other – whom we would call the other – says the same thing. It is only when the tragedy of the fall broke the oneness that the [realization of] nakedness appeared.

        He then writes:

        it is remarkable, and I think very important to notice that the blessing given by God to increase, ‘be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion,’ is given at this stage, and not at the stage when Adam and Eve are confronted with one another. It is a situation that belongs to the nature of man but not to the nature of marriage… how do the writers of old and of newer times see this gradual fulfillment? They see the total man with all the potentialities of manhood and womanhood included in him, but I repeat, not in the coexistence of two sexes, but in the virtual presence of all possibilities set within this creation.

        I was re-reading a few things this afternoon, including the dairies of Fr. Alexander Schmemann and his railings against “clericalism” as a mask for power, and this thread reeks. And then you run across someone like Met. Anthony! I urge you to go to YouTube (who would have thought!), if only to hear his voice. He was the confessor and dearest friend of Bishop Basil (Rodzianko), and to to hear one is to hear the other, and to hear either was “гласе Архангела,” the voice of the archangel. You are in my prayers, say a prayer for Met. Anthony, and Venerable Bishop Basil pray to God for us! Never forget that there was not a single qualifier when your crown was removed: “Rejoice in your husband, for so it is well-pleasing to God.”

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    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

    Father Hans, I’m surprised you are so enthusiastic about this interview. They do say a lot of good, sound things, but they also say a lot of dubious, troubling, or just plain wrong things. In doing so, they concede entirely too much to the enemy:

    –equating SSA with OSA,
    –ignoring the causes of SSA,
    –avoiding to the point of denying the possibility of converting from SSA to OSA,
    –disconnecting sexual desire from gender identity,
    –denigrating clear male and female gender roles, and
    –failing to distinguish between SSA and the gay lifestyle and self-identity when addressing how Christians are to treat such others.

    They also talk up Tim Patitsas’s distinction of the “kingly” male and “prophetic” female, which is entirely novel, having no real foundation in Orthodox tradition. Many pagan cults did rely especially on prophetesses, but Christians have always understood that both men and women may prophesy, while not believing that one was more apt to.

    Some of their spiritual guidance about living with SSA might be very helpful, but they don’t offer any hope of actual healing. Rather like going to see a doctor and having him only tell you how to live with your disease.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Dn. Patrick,

      I did not see the things you mentioned, particularly the no hope of healing, since healing is available in the deep communion with Christ once the struggle against passion begins. Nor did I hear an equality between SSA and OSA, if by equality you mean moral equivalency.

      Gender identity and sex (biological distinctiveness — what a shame the term “sex” has been conflated into the term “gender”) was a little mushy but this I chalked up to 1) it’s a bit murky anyway and may be the next area of deep anthropological exploration, and 2) it was way beyond the scope of the program.

      What I did not hear that I took as a positive was any equivocation on the precept that homosexual behavior is sinful. I noticed a reticence to hit that point very hard, but the reason for that as I saw it was that they were trying not to be captured by the categories of the popular culture, an approach that I think is needful when discussing SSA in therapeutic terms.

      My reason for approving of the program was that if was framed in terms of victory over the passions. It’s the approach I take as well when counseling people, young men especially, who usually have difficulty mastering sexual desire (pornography, masturbation, etc.). There is great power in this approach (which is grounded thoroughly in an Orthodox anthropological vision) and it becomes a way of salvation, ie: confession, deep prayer, reliance of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, completely transparency before God, frank talk with a confessor, fasting (a powerful way to break the concrete grip of lust), and so forth. The principles are much the same for both SSA and OSA I’ve found, although of course a dimension of healing occurs in SSA cases through the relationship the struggler has with his confessor. The counselor IOW, can aid in filling some of the emotional deficits that are the root of SSA.

      Healing I think takes time, and perhaps their reticence is due to the fact that some men (I don’t have any real experience with women and SSA) struggle mightily, others less so. I’m no sure sure that victory can be guaranteed in all cases; for some that cross might become their salvation just like any other fight against compulsion. I think we have to be very careful about false promises here.

      I don’t know anything about Patitsas so I can’t speak to that. I should say though my piece was more polemical than the presentation but that was intentional. I watched “Breaking the Silence” closely before they went underground and saw their obdurate refusal to even consider the moral prohibition against same-sex genital activity as dangerous to the Church, given the internal wars other Christian bodies have endured because of homosexual activism. This was reflected in discussions about topics and ideas few contributors really understood; open ended propositions calculated more to deflect the discomfort of a tradition (and condemn detractors as non-loving” and so forth) that they profess to follow but actually undermine. Framing SSA attraction as a pathology, which it is, but free of the categories of the moral rigorist (my term) or moral relativist is a good way to challenge the moralistic presumptions of the activist that don’t conform to the moral tradition. That was my thinking behind the piece and why I wrote it as I did.

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        Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        There’s probably not much use in parsing the entire interview, but the subjects did say that “the goal is not to have normal sin” instead of “abnormal sin,” implying strongly (with everything else they said) that heterosexual desire is itself sinful and just as sinful as homosexual desire, and that transcending all sexual desire is the only hope for healing.

        This is simply not true: God made us to experience heterosexual desire just as as He made us to experience hunger and thirst and desire for all other good gifts He intends for us. That’s why He created Eve — to satisfied the innate need in Adam for an intimate companion. And it is possible to redirect one’s sexual desire from the same sex to the opposite sex. In fact, many people successfully manage that redirection as adolescents, when they experience “crushes” on members of the same sex but keep from deepening the crush by their own awareness that same-sex crushes violate a cultural taboo.

        To compound their error, the subjects also disparaged traditional sex roles at length, declaiming the “categories of cowboys and princesses” and saying that we’re all a mix of male and female. Yet it is through sexually distinct categories that boys and girls learn to be boys and girls and later men and women — men who are sexually attracted to women and women who are sexually attracted to men. Traditional gender “categories” support the taboo against SSA, and undermining the categories undermines the taboo.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          I have no disagreement with what you say, in fact I agree strongly with much of it. I also agree that cultural taboos were important in staving off ambiguity when sexual awareness first emerges. I’ll listen to the interview again as soon as I have a free block to time to determine if my initial assessment needs reexamination.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            And while you are determining if your initial assessment needs reexamination, Abouna, I urge you to kindly disprove, with attribution, my earlier assertion on this site that “cultural taboos,” or for that matter, any post-natal environmental factor, has been proven to influence determinants of sexual preference in any shape or fashion. I know you cannot. Am I claiming this is a scientific “absolute?” Certainly not, and having been trained as a scientist, I am always prepared for emergent data. Until then, however, the only honest answer is there simply is no evidence.

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              Michael Bauman says:

              Mr. Stankovich, you are confusing two different types of knowledge once again and asking for evidence from one type to fit into another type. That just doesn’t work. That is part of the general confusion that your posts tend to present, IMO.

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              Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

              When tools are discovered to prove what you want proven, let me know. Sometimes things are learned in other ways — as any parent who knows how their children absorb attitudes and values from the dominant culture realizes. If you had children, your faith that the absence of data is sufficient cause to suspend awareness and judgment would be a lot less certain.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                I have purposely avoided comment on the “headline” of this post – SSA – as I believe you have chosen to again promote a system of the denial of the “ontology” of sexual orientation that will become increasingly indefensible “rhetorically,” philosophically, and in any cultural or historical context you champion, regardless of how “conservatively” you would wish to promote it.

                By my saying there are no post-natal environmental factors proven to influence determinants of sexual preference is to say your “knowledge” of your children’s “absorption” of attitudes and values from the dominant culture is absolutely irrelevant to the determination of their sexual preference. At best, your statement is unprovable conjecture, and at worst, projective fantasy. I have previously documented for you the fact that, contrary to your “parental intuition,” it is much more probable that what you have observed is the result of a miraculous intra-uterine hormonal cascade, established “as it was in the beginning.” And thanks to God Who works such wonders among us!

                But lest we lose sight of what I believe to be at the heart of my entire argument: I openly write these comments in regard to the Sacrament of Marriage and SSA with what I believe to be a full and complete consistency with the Scriptural, Patristic, and Canonical Tradition of the Church. I strive for an open mind and clear writing (thank you for this point, Mr. Bauman). Obviously, I fall short. But why needlessly paint myself into a corner?

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                  Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  Gotta say, M. Stankovich, your thinking can be peculiar. You manage to turn “no evidence” into an evidentiary argument!

                  First you argue that there is “no evidence” that SSA is environmentally determined. Then you argue that “no evidence” allows for no environmental explanation for SSA. Then, after you decide that the “no evidence” argument closes the case completely, you turn around and say that a probable cause of SSA is “…miraculous intra-uterine hormonal cascade, established ‘as it was in the beginning.’ And thanks to God Who works such wonders among us!”

                  In reality you want to shut down any discussion of the environmental causes of SSA. You also ignore the point that one reason that “no evidence” exists is that the tools to measure what you want measured don’t exist either and probably never will.

                  This isn’t science M. Stankovich, it’s polemics. Keep the “God” part out of this though. It is sloppy theology, and more importantly, it cheapens the name of the Lord by dragging it into dubious argumentation.

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    I would love nothing more than to carry on a full-tilt discussion of the environmental causes of SSA. None are proven, but I maintain an infinitely open mind. And I have scoured the National Library of Medicine. Only a fool of a scientist paints himself into a corner.

                    If I may offer two slight corrections: 1) to the best of my limited knowledge, SSA is familial and heritable, but I would say the same of familial colorectal cancer, neither of which I would ascribe to God; and 2) it was my obvious error in presuming that by saying “I have previously documented for you…” a concern might lead you to the documentation. Regardless, my comment regarding the “intra-uterine hormonal cascade” was not as “the probable cause of SSA,” but rather to challenge the promotion of “gender role modeling” as developmentally significant. As you may have already guessed, there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.

                    Sometimes, try as you might, you just can’t help being dubious. And so it goes…

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Sometimes the argument of “no evidence” only means that the tools that measure what you want measured just don’t exist, and in many cases never will. It does not mean that all knowledge, in order to be real, must be empirically verifiable. You believe in God, right? Prove it.

                      Glad to see though that the fatuous reference to God and creation was removed from the “hormonal cascade” claim.

                      Be careful too about an “infinitely open mind.” Some minds are so open that everything falls out.

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                  Metoikos says:

                  ‘“ontology” of sexual orientation’? — What modern biologist, or developmental psychologist, would be willing to talk about “ontology”? This is your own philosophical gloss.

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    Metoikos,

                    If your comment is addressed to me, I would respond that no modern biologist, geneticist, psychiatrist, or developmental psychologist would speak in such terms. My philosophy is as “flat” as the living room paint. You bark at the wrong appartchick, pal, and need to familiarize yourself with the history of this “discussion” on this site.

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                      Metoikos says:

                      “no modern biologist, geneticist, psychiatrist, or developmental psychologist would speak in such terms”: right — exactly — that was my point.

                      But you wrote to Fr Hans: ‘you have purposely avoided comment on the “headline” of this post – SSA – as I believe you have chosen to again promote a system of the denial of the “ontology” of sexual orientation that will become increasingly indefensible “rhetorically,” philosophically, and in any cultural or historical context you champion, regardless of how “conservatively” you would wish to promote it.’

                      Is it not reasonable to assume then, from the above statement, that you yourself attribute an “ontology” to sexual orientation, and more specifically to SSA, of which you were speaking?

                      I’m not sure what ‘My philosophy is as “flat” as the living room paint’ means, and I see nothing wrong with giving a philosophical gloss on the matter of biology — in fact, I think it’s absolutely necessary. But if you are going to attribute an “ontology” to “sexual orientation,” as you seemed to do, then it will not do just to trot out scientific research in biology or psychology, as you have tended to do on this matter; you will have also to do some serious philosophical and theological footwork.

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                      James says:

                      Metoikos, I believe M. Stankovich is saying that Fr. Hans is the one who’s dragging ontology into the matter of sexual orientation. That’s why he sets off the word in scare quotes. Also, I think M. Stankovich’s “flat philosophy” is an admission that he’s not trying to operate on the philosophical level in making his case.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Stankovich argued that sexual orientation is part of human ontology over at Monomakhos. We had a long discussion about it.

                      The point I made here and at Monomakhos was this: If homosexual orientation is grounded in human ontology, then there is no reason to restrict any kind of sexual orientation as part of human ontology. I mentioned bestiality but something else is coming out of the gate first. See:

                      It Begins: Pedophiles Call for Same Rights as Homosexuals

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Ah, we return to the cheap conventions of the Rovian henhouse!

                      Have I, in fact, “argued that sexual orientation is part of human ontology?” Not exactly. This is your manipulative transformation of my statement:

                      I have contended that sexual orientation is ontological, as a simple entity, as a simple affirmation of truth: homosexuality is.

                      For the Jesuits with whom I studied philosophy, while the categorizations of ontology did not include “human ontology,” it did include the specific categorization, “affirmation of a simple truth.” And so I have “grounded” it. Secondly, while it should be quite obvious, let me say again that any reference to homosexuality can only refer to our humanity in this fallen world, and certainly not “as it was in the beginning,” neither in reference to the ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος (first man) nor the ὁ δεύτερος ἄνθρωπος (second man) (1 Cor 15:47).

                      Therefore, Fr. Hans, since I have made no contention that sexual orientation is “grounded” in anything beyond a simple ontological categorization of existence, your contentions as to pedophilia & bestiality are ridiculous. I would suggest that you explore the fundamental embryological science of sexual differentiation of the brain in relation to gender and sexual orientation – and Lord knows I’ve tried to help. Essential psychological factors are necessary for the development of sexual deviancy & disorder, such as pedophilia & bestiality, meaning they cannot be “another type” or expression of orientation, but are simply deviance.

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Father, muscular dystrophy is. Cancer is. Schizophrenia is. Epilepsy is. Autism is. Homosexuality, also, is either a result of abnormal fetal development due to extreme stressors on a mother in gestation or in most instances a LEARNED behavior, reflective of societal typing and choice, as most sexuality is. Thus, we can say from the point of view of science homosexuality is abnormal pathology and either can be treated or, some instances, a congenital condition.

                      Just as we pity the afflicted of other congenital conditions so too we must keep in mind that some homosexuals are the way they are due to a tragic circumstance occurring to them while in the womb. If there were a treatment for them, that would be merciful.

                      But this is not to say that homosexuality is normal: it is not. It is a tragedy. An upheaval in families and a personal crisis which tears so many people apart. Very few would desire to have a child to grow up to be gay. Almost none would opt for it. We have to consider what these innate attitudes mean. Before anything more is said, we have to be careful to correct ourselves if we are ever tempted to grant moral equivalence to homosexuality vis a vis normal human sexuality, heterosexuality. The first step in recovery is admitting the disease.

                      As I have written before if any homosexual were cloned and gestated in a well adjusted environment where the mother lived in balance and harmony and was socialized in a moral, Christian culture, that homosexual’s clone would be normal, straight. Therefore, homosexuality is a tragedy, is a pathological disorder, certainly not a normal state of being. “Homosexuality is” implies such a thought, and it is the typical propaganda of the Occupy Orthodox Net crowd to write this dangerously disturbing and immoral agitprop. (Rome has its own struggles with this disorder and hasn’t particularly demonstrated a successful approach to ministering to the affliction to date).

                      Then to add the MSNBC G-I-G-O allusion to Karl Rove of all people, a man promoting gay rights Republicans, makes this nothing more than absurd.

                      From an Orthodox perspective, sexuality is not something which is the primary determinant of identity. It has its blessing within the construct of marriage, where full personalization in CHRIST can be achieved. Since gay sexuality estranges ones personhood in CHRIST by its unnatural and spiritually diseased character, it can not have the Church’s blessing nor even its quiet indifference: this behavior condemns souls. It demands pastoral treatment and spiritual medicine.

                      Since the late nineteenth century, modern society has tried to create its own secular moral theology with talk of repression versus sexual gratification and “well adjustment”. In the Orthodox Church, we are called to struggle with the passions and overcome them in grace, transforming them into virtues striving toward a restoration of the divine likeness in actualization of our humanity. This is almost antithetical to a modern culture shaped by secular psychology and psychiatry. But, no, monasticism, celibacy are better choices if one would otherwise fall into a grave sin which would condemn ones soul. They should be promoted in the place of acquiescence to homosexuality.

                      Sexuality in Orthodox understanding is an eros of personhood which gradually transforms itself into a pure, appetitive love for CHRIST in the HOLY SPIRIT in theosis. That means it is a step, not the end, of the soteriological aspect of marriage.

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                      Brian says:

                      MS,

                      You write of homosexuality as “ontological” in the sense that it exists. By this I assume you mean only to say that since there are, in fact, homosexuals who engage in homosexual behavior, therefore homosexuality exists, or it ‘has being.’

                      But in a a more precise sense, is not all all being grounded in God, “the only truly existing One?” Whatever has true being or ontology (and forgive me, I’m not a trained theologian) is grounded in union with Him, and sin (of any kind) is defined as our failure – or outright refusal – to participate in this deifying union.

                      Honest questions:
                      Would it not, then, be more accurate to say that homosexuality lacks ontology precisely because it is a falling away from being, that is to say from union with God? And would not the use of the language of ontology in this way make your statements clearer for all?

                      Perhaps if all parties to this discussion (including your adversaries) would use the language of ontology in this way, there would be far less misunderstanding and rancor.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Stankovich writes:

                      I have made no contention that sexual orientation is “grounded” in anything beyond a simple ontological categorization of existence, your contentions as to pedophilia & bestiality are ridiculous.

                      It’s the “ontological categorization of existence” part that remains slippery. The term “ontological” implies that “homosexual orientation” is natural to the human being, a constituent of his created being. If by the term you mean something different, say, a condition common to some men (collective noun), then you should use another term besides “ontological.” Something like a “category of human experience” would do just fine.

                      However, that would call into question the entire category of “sexual orientation,” particularly the implied relationship between orientation and ontology. So. . .

                      Essential psychological factors are necessary for the development of sexual deviancy & disorder, such as pedophilia & bestiality, meaning they cannot be “another type” or expression of orientation, but are simply deviance.

                      . . .why wouldn’t pedophilia and bestiality be considered another type of orientation given your usage of the term? From the other direction, why do you exclude homosexuality from your definition of deviancy if by “ontology” you only mean a category of human experience?

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Brian,

                      I address this with a certain annoyance that these arguments are drawn from the interpretation or a supposition as to my position – most often from Fr. Hans – rather than simply reading what I wrote. In all of my writings, I have, in fact, raised the issue of “ontology” exactly once:

                      Much of the tone of these comments speak to my assertions regarding sexual orientation and not homosexuality per se – but how can they be separated – which leads me to say that I view this as a “tactic” I find especially distasteful, “lazy scholarship.” I have contended that sexual orientation is ontological, as a simple entity, as a simple affirmation of truth: homosexuality is. The lazy scholar claims that orientation is nothing more than a socio-cultural falsity, a contrivance and construct of “Gay, Inc.” to bathe aberrance in psedo-science; to soften moral condemnations, and ultimately result in “normalization.” Orientation be- comes, then, analogous with “desire,” “passion,” “urge,” “lust,” and “drive,” examples of which are glut- tony, drunkenness, smoking, and so on. And while it would be foolish to deny the element of appétence in any form of sexual expression, their goal, ultimately, is to place the responsibility for same sex attraction firmly in your hands.

                      Secondly, I am accused of teaching that, pursuant to this “ascription” of sexual orientation to “human ontology” – a term for which I find no precedence – there is a “homosexual identity” contrary to Orthodox anthropology. In actuality, what is written is entirely to the contrary:

                      According to the reality of our fallen and broken humanity, sexual orientation is innate, unconscious, essential to my identification, and essential to my identification as a person. And as I am frequently challenged that by stating “essential to my identification” I imply “identity by orientation,” I must emphasize: while sexual orientation is an essential aspect of our identity, as is proprioception [Note: proprioception is the innate, unconscious neurological sense of the "ownership" of one's body and its position in a 3-dimensional grid in space that I had used as an analogy], it is ridiculous to suggest it is my identity. It is not defining of the self, but it is inseparable.

                      And finally, what little Fr. Hans knows in regard to human genetics, epigenetics, endocrinology, embryology, and psychiatry he owes to me, yet he continues to follow these ridiculous trails of “If homosexual orientation is grounded in human ontology, then there is no reason to restrict any kind of sexual orientation as part of human ontology.” The Google School of Medicine is apparently on summer break.

                      I am a disciplined, duly cautious, and precise scientist and seminary graduate who has offered nothing that is contrary to the Holy Scripture, the writings of the Patristic Fathers, the Canonical Fathers, and the Holy Tradition of the Church. I have openly & transparently sought correction as to substance, and more often than not, I am engaged in these fabulously ridiculous arguments over what I did not say or what I do not believe, rather than the substance of these issues.

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Homosexuality

                      1st Century
                      The Didache from A.D. 90 says [Didache 2:2], “You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery [Ex 20:13-14], you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal [Ex 20:15], you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born.

                      St. Clement of Alexandria says in 190 [Exhortation to the Greeks 2], “All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot with an arrow one of his subjects who imitated among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods … condemning him as having become effeminate among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Scythians.”

                      “[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.” Tertullian, Modesty 4 (A.D. 220).

                      “[God forbid the Jews to eat certain foods for symbolic reasons:] For that in fishes the roughness of scales is regarded as constituting their cleanness; rough, and rugged, and unpolished, and substantial, and grave manners are approved in men; while those that are without scales are unclean, because trifling, and fickle, and faithless, and effeminate manners are disapproved. Moreover, what does the Law mean when it…forbids the swine to be taken for food? It assuredly reproves a life filthy and dirty, and delighting in the garbage of vice…Or when it forbids the hare? It rebukes men deformed into women.” Novatian, The Jewish Foods 3 (A.D. 250).

                      St. Cyprian the Martyr of Carthage says in 253 [Letter 1:9 to Donatus in PL 4:212A],
                      Oh, if placed on that lofty watchtower, you could gaze into the secret places–if you could open the closed doors of sleeping chambers and recall their dark recesses to the perception of sight–you would behold things done by immodest persons which no chaste eye could look upon; you would see what even to see is a crime; you would see what people embruted with the madness of vice deny that they have done, and yet hasten to do–men with frenzied lusts rushing upon men, doing things which afford no gratification even to those who do them.
                      +++
                      “[T]urn your looks to the abominations, not less to be deplored, of another kind of spectacle…Men are emasculated, and all the pride and vigor of their sex is effeminated in the disgrace of their enervated body; and he is more pleasing there who has most completely broken down the man into the woman. He grows into praise by virtue of his crime; and the more he is degraded, the more skillful he is considered to be. Such a one is looked upon–oh shame!–and looked upon with pleasure…nor is there wanting authority for the enticing abomination…that Jupiter of theirs [is] not more supreme in dominion than in vice, inflamed with earthly love in the midst of his own thunders…now breaking forth by the help of birds to violate the purity of boys. And now put the question: Can he who looks upon such things be healthy-minded or modest? Men imitate the gods whom they adore, and to such miserable beings their crimes become their religion.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 1:8 (A.D. 253).

                      “[H]aving forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men, he [God] adds: `Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed [their] iniquity upon it, and the land is grieved with them that dwell upon it’ [Lev. 18:24-25].” Eusebius of Caesarea, Proof of the Gospel 4:10 (A.D. 319).

                      St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (Doctor, Cappadocian Father, & Holy Hierarch) says in 367 [Epistle 217:62 to Amphilochius in PG 32:800A], “He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers.”
                      +++
                      “If you [O, monk] are young in either body or mind, shun the companionship of other young men and avoid them as you would a flame. For through them the enemy has kindled the desires of many and then handed them over to eternal fire, hurling them into the vile pit of the five cities under the pretense of spiritual love. At meals take a seat far from other young men. In lying down to sleep let not their clothes be near yours, but rather have an old man between you. When a young man converses with you, or sings psalms facing you, answer him with eyes cast down, lest perhaps by gazing at his face you receive a seed of desire sown by the enemy and reap sheaves of corruption and ruin. Whether in the house or in a place where there is no one to see your actions, be not found in his company under the pretense either of studying the divine oracles or of any other business whatsoever, however necessary.” St. Basil the Great, The Renunciation of the World (A.D. 373).

                      “[The pagans] were addicted to the love of boys, and one of their wise men made a law that pederasty…should not be allowed to slaves, as if it was an honorable thing; and they had houses for this purpose, in which it was openly practiced. And if all that was done among them was related, it would be seen that they openly outraged nature, and there was none to restrain them… As for their passion for boys, whom they called their ‘paedica,’ it is not fit to be named.” St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Titus 5 (A.D. 390]).
                      +++
                      “[Certain men in church] come in gazing about at the beauty of women; others curious about the blooming youth of boys. After this, do you not marvel that [lightning] bolts are not launched [from heaven], and all these things are not plucked up from their foundations? For worthy both of thunderbolts and hell are the things that are done; but God, who is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forbears awhile his wrath, calling you to repentance and amendment.” St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 3:3 (A.D. 391).
                      +++
                      “All of these affections [in Rom. 1:26-27]… were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases.” St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).
                      +++
                      “[The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men.” St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).
                      +++ (Especially:)
                      “And sundry other books of the philosophers one may see full of this disease. But we do not therefore say that the thing was made lawful, but that they who received this law were pitiable, and objects for many tears. For these are treated in the same way as women that play the whore. Or rather their plight is more miserable. For in the case of the one the intercourse, even if lawless, is yet according to nature; but this is contrary both to law and nature. For even if there were no hell, and no punishment had been threatened, this would be worse than any punishment.” St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).

                      Blessed Augustine of Hippo says in 400 [Confessions 3:18:8:15 in PL 32:689-690],
                      Therefore those offences which be contrary to nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and punished; such were those of the Sodomites, which should all nations commit, they should all be held guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which has not so made men that they should in that way abuse one another. For even that fellowship which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature of which He is author is polluted by the perversity of lust.

                      “[Christians] abhor all unlawful mixtures, and that which is practiced by some contrary to nature, as wicked and impious.” Apostolic Constitutions 6:11 (A.D. 400).

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                      Rostislav says:

                      The Holy Bible

                      Gen 19:5-8 “and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’ But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.’” The Greek word in the New Testament for homosexuality is literally “a sodomite”. (A term that has unchanged in 5000 years, even today- “sodomy”) Apart from the fact the city was clearly destroyed by God because of homosexuality in the narrative of Gen 19.

                      Jude 7 “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

                      Lev 18:22-23 “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

                      Lev 20:13 “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

                      1 Cor 6:9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals”

                      1 Tim 1:9-10 “realizing the fact that (civil) law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers”

                      Rom 1:26-27 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Fr. Thomas Hopko, “The Homosexual Christian”

                      … Given the traditional Orthodox understanding of the Old and New Testament scriptures as expressed in the Church’s liturgical worship, sacramental rites, canonical regulations and lives and teachings of the saints, it is clear that the Orthodox Church identifies solidly with those Christians, homosexual and heterosexual, who consider homosexual orientation as a disorder and disease, and who therefore consider homosexual actions as sinful and destructive.

                      According to Orthodox Christian witness over the centuries, Biblical passages such as the following do not permit any other interpretation but that which is obvious:

                      If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination . . . (Leviticus 20:13)

                      For this reason (i.e. their refusal to acknowledge, thank and glorify God) God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

                      Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral (or fornicators), nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (or sodomites; literally those who have coitus, or who sleep, with men), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) …

                      …There are sins which are involuntary, unwilled, unchosen; sins which overcome people and force them by irrational impulses and compulsions, by weaknesses of the flesh, emotional drives and misguided desires into actions which they themselves do not want, and often despise and abhor – even when they are engaging in them. These are known traditionally as the sins of passion. The fact that these sins are not freely chosen do not make them any less sinful. To sin means to miss the mark, to be off the track, to deviate, to defile, to transgress . . . whether or not the act is consciously willed and purposefully enacted; and whether or not the offender personally is freely and fully at fault. …

                      …According to Orthodox Church Tradition, Christians are redeemed sinners. They are human beings who have been saved from sickness and sin, delivered from the devil and death by God’s grace through faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit’s power: “and such were some of you.” (1 Cor. 6:10) They are baptized into Christ and sealed with the Spirit in order to live God’s life in the Church. They witness to their faith by regular participation in liturgical worship and eucharistic communion, accompanied by continual confession, repentance and the steadfast struggle against every form of sin, voluntary and involuntary, which attempts to destroy their lives in this world and in the age to come.

                      The homosexual Christian is called to a particularly rigorous battle. His or her struggle is an especially ferocious one. It is not made any easier by the mindless, truly demonic hatred of those who despise and ridicule those who carry this painful and burdensome cross; nor by the mindless, equally demonic affirmation of homosexual activity by its misguided advocates and enablers.

                      Like all temptations, passions and sins, including those deeply, and oftentimes seemingly indelibly embedded in our nature by our sorrowful inheritance, homosexual orientation can be cured and homosexual actions can cease. With God all things are possible. When homosexual Christians are willing to struggle, and when they receive patient, compassionate and authentically loving assistance from their families and friends – each of whom is struggling with his or her own temptations and sins; for no one is without this struggle in one form or another, and no one is without sin but God – the Lord guarantees victory in ways known to Himself. …

                      http://www.stpaulsirvine.org/html/homosexual2.htm

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Robert Oscar Lopez, “Yes, gay is a choice. Get over it.”

                      Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/yes_gay_is_a_choice_get_over_it.html#ixzz2ashC6AB4

                      …I feel compelled to write a column once again emphasizing a basic reality: gay sex is a choice. Nobody lacks the power to refrain from having gay sex. Get. Over. It.

                      Dixon said that gays had the choice to leave the lifestyle (in other words, stop engaging in anal sex and fellatio). According to her detractors, such was tantamount to being anti-gay. Her detractors are following the lead of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lists “conversion therapy” as a hate crime, …

                      …Dating and marriage don’t magically happen, like going to the bathroom or breathing. They take conscious choices — where do you hang out? What are you looking for? What type of partner shares your goals? Whether to hang out in gay clubs or straight clubs makes a huge difference; these are completely different cultures. We choose the life we want to live (or leave, for that matter).

                      Even gay men still choose which sex acts they commit. I hate to admit this, but I worked as a housekeeper in a gay sex club in Manhattan in the early 1990s, when I was desperate for work. I witnessed, literally, thousands of men having sex in the open, with me having to go clean up after them. Very rarely (thank the Lord) did they engage in anal sex. …

                      …Moreover, a lot of times I saw people who were addicted to drugs and addicted to anonymous sex; the two compulsions were linked somehow, and there was no way for such people to quit their addiction without quitting their homosexuality. These folks often ended up on the AA circuit or joining a church and getting baptized.

                      Lastly, a lot of men came to the gay sex scene in order to engage in bondage and sadomasochism, because they were raped as boys. The aftereffects of sexual assault, as we know from studying female rape victims, are complicated and often lead people to repeat or recreate the assault scene. Many of these mentally scarred men did not even have sex in sex clubs, even though they sought male partners to enact their eroticized simulations.

                      Lastly, straight men do not magically reach puberty with a fully functional sex life because of their nature. They struggle with impotence, might be late bloomers, get embarrassingly aroused in all-male environments occasionally, and sometimes can’t find women they are attracted to. To address these issues, many men in relationships with women have to work through their difficulties by talking things over with someone else, who might be a chaplain or even a counselor. Are they all gay? No!

                      Lastly, I am left with my own life story. I can’t change it. I went from being in the gay lifestyle to marrying a woman, having a daughter, and living a happy heterosexual life.

                      Consider the difference that twenty years make. Twenty years ago, I had never been with a woman, but I had had relations with quite a few men. Virtually all of my friends were gays, lesbians, or women who enjoyed gay company. I found girls pretty, but I was scared of them. Most of them were not attracted to me because I was effeminate.

                      Now I am twelve years into a happy and faithful marriage to a woman. I sinned at different times, but talking things over with people helped me overcome my harmful behavior. I begged God for forgiveness. You couldn’t pay me to have sex with a man at this point in my life. I don’t feel the urge — maybe because I’m in my forties and one calms down in middle age, or maybe because it just wasn’t right for me all along.

                      There’s no point in obsessing over my sexual ontology, never mind obsessing over other people’s. …

                      …Crystal Dixon pointed out something that no amount of peer-reviewed research can disprove. Gay is not the new black. “Gay” is about sex and genitalia. People we call “gay” make choices about what they do with their genitals; blacks do not make choices about the color of their skin. Period. …

                      http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/yes_gay_is_a_choice_get_over_it.html

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Study Finds Biological Causes For Homosexuality

                      …A new study suggests that homosexuality can be explained by biology, though not by genes specifically. Instead, the researchers propose that there are sex-specific epi-marks on the genes that are triggered during fetal development to maintain a hormone level balance. These switches cause fluctuations in DNA expression that impacts sexual development, including sexual identity and various other gender characteristics. These switches help protect both the fetus and the mother from the natural variation in sex hormone levels present during fetal development…

                      http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/12/11/1318311/study-finds-biological-causes-for-homosexuality/

                      See also:

                      Scientists claim that homosexuality is not genetic — but it arises in the womb

                      http://io9.com/5967426/scientists-confirm-that-homosexuality-is-not-genetic–but-it-arises-in-the-womb

                      [SOME homosexuality occurs in gestation. Probably most does not and is a matter of choice, making it perversion. In both instances, it is abnormal sexuality, unless one colludes with the Left to redefine perversion and what "normal" is. - R]

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                      Rostislav says:

                      It seems Fr. Hans is supported by Orthodox biblical interpretation, the Holy Fathers, Orthodox theology, science and voices from the GLBT community itself in what he has presented on the topic of homosexuality.

                      He did so without attempting obscurantist insistence on credential, without namedropping and without a high opinion of himself: he managed to avoid a hubris which would give him an unfounded confidence in upholding morally wrong points of view.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Fr, Hans wrote:

                      It’s the “ontological categorization of existence” part that remains slippery. The term “ontological” implies that “homosexual orientation” is natural to the human being, a constituent of his created being. If by the term you mean something different, say, a condition common to some men (collective noun), then you should use another term besides “ontological.” Something like a “category of human experience” would do just fine.

                      I was always cautioned about “those Jesuits,” but I found their teaching of philosophy systematic and impeccable. I retain my notebooks from those days, from where I retrieved the “classic categorizations of ontology,” including a “simple affirmation of truth.” I stand by the Jesuits. Things always seem “slippery” to you when you cannot refute it.

                      For the record, I am not now, nor have I ever been discussing matters pertaining to anything “natural to the human being” if by “natural” you are referring to our humanity κατ’εἰκόνα θεοῦ in the very image of God (Gen 1:27), “as it was in the beginning.” Everything I have discussed is directly consequential to our rebellion and sinfulness that resulted in our expulsion from the Kingdom prepared for us, into a world cosmically shattered by the consequence of our sinfulness. As I noted on my own blog, “Exactly how many ways can you describe the same cracked vase?” If one were to really listen to and contemplate Psalm 103 that begins each and every Service of Vespers, “O Lord, how manifold (increased, abundant, numberless) are Your works! [ὡς ἐμεγαλύνθη τὰ ἔργα σου, Κύριε!] In wisdom You have made them all!” (Ps. 103:24) and then consider, “And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works which he made,” (Gen. 2:2) the creation was complete. Of what possible need could there be for evolutional gene mutation, allele expressions, and pheotypes. What more was to be served in “evolutional diversity” in the completed creation?

                      Further, at what point did Adam and Even become heterosexual? By the description of St. Methodius of Patara: ““Adam, upon see­ing her [Eve] said, “‘She is the other myself. So God estab­lishes between them a mutual attrac­tion. They are attracted to one another both psy­cho­log­i­cally and phys­i­cally. They long for one another, because deep down in them­selves they know that they are one and belong together.” After sinning and “discovering their nakedness? Or at the Expulsion in the words to Eve, “And to the woman he said I will greatly multiply your pains and your groanings; in pain you shall bring forth children and your submission shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16) Did homosexuality suddenly awaken at the confrontation at Sodom, or was it endemic to the Expulsion and our interaction with broken world.

                      And ultimately, what are to we to make of the Gospel’s emphateic statement: “Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο And the Word became flesh (John 1:14), expanded by the Fathers of the Council in Chalcedon:

                      Fol­low­ing the holy Fathers, we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be con­fessed as one and the same [Per­son], that he is per­fect in God­head and per­fect in man­hood, very God and very man, of a rea­son­able soul and [human] body con­sist­ing, con­sub­stan­tial with the Father as touch­ing his God­head, and con­sub­stan­tial with us as touch­ing his man­hood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begot­ten of his Father before the worlds accord­ing to his God­head; but in these last days for us men and for our sal­va­tion born [into the world] of the Vir­gin Mary, the Mother of God accord­ing to his man­hood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be con­fessed to be in two natures, uncon­fus­edly, immutably, indi­vis­i­bly, [and] distinctly.

                      And this meant that our God σὰρξ ἐγένετο save sin, assumed our biogenetic and biomolecular makeup. in fact, presenting with one of the most precise, most detailed genetic pedigrees ever written, contained in total in Matthew 1:1-17.

                      The fact that you are asking me to define for you the psychiatric distinctions between sexual orientation, sexual disorder, paraphilia, and sexual deviancy indicates you are neither qualified nor prepared to debate them with me. I’ve been down this road before. Bon chace, it is just more distraction.

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                      Rostislav says:

                      Father, it seems that there is nothing but hubris offered at this point.

                      There are no genetic links to homosexuality. It occurs in gestation and is hormonal in a minority of instances, but is usually LEARNED BEHAVIOR and choice.

                      To argue that GOD created homosexuality is not only unpatristic, but the type of heretical speculation that has no support in any Judeo Christian literature of the last 7500 years. Such views have been condemned as nothing but blasphemous: this is tantamount to Blasphemy of the HOLY SPIRIT.

                      GOD created them male and female and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply.

                      Father, I appreciate how you have clearly indicated the obfuscation and intentional immoral diversion the other is presenting here. It seems some just aren’t satisfied with morality and Orthodoxy. Such views are simply best left to worship of their own echoes.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    Stankovich:

                    The fact that you are asking me to define for you the psychiatric distinctions between sexual orientation, sexual disorder, paraphilia, and sexual deviancy. . .

                    Here’s what I am asking:

                    Do you use the term “sexual orientation” as an ontological statement, that is, intrinsic to one’s created being — ontological in the theological meaning of the term? Usually when you are asked the question you resort to proof-texting scripture so the implied answer is yes, you do. When asked directly however you always dodge the question.

                    If you do indeed see homosexual orientation as part of human ontology (in the theological meaning of the term), then what criteria do you use to exclude other sexual orientations such as pedophilia and bestiality?

                    If you don’t and use the term only in a more generalized sense, then why would pedophilia and bestiality be considered perversions (your term)? In other words, why is pedophilia and bestiality defined in terms of behavior, but homosexuality in terms of “orientation?” What reasoning is employed to justify the conceptual shift?

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Today marks the the 27th anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of Professor Serge S. Verhoskoy professor emeritus of Dogmatic Theology and Ethics, and Provost of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary from 1955 until his retirement in 1981.

                      He was born in Sarzha Russia in 1907. He left Russia with his parents and sisters in his early youth following the Bolshevik Revolution. He completed his secondary education in Prague, Czechoslovakia before moving to Paris, France. Greatly influenced by Fr. Georges Florovsky, while studying at St. Sergius Theological Institute between 1932-36, he became known for his passion for Orthodox Tradition, grounded in the Patristic Fathers and the Holy Scripture, and he was an open and vocal critic of the popular “Russian ėmigrė intelligentsia,” to Paris. By the early 1950′s he was recognized as an important theologian and writer, and was invited by Fr. Florovsky to join him in NYC in the forming of SVS.

                      Prof. Verhovskoy always seemed to live “beneath the radar,” until it was necessary for someone to step forward to speak the Truth, which he always did without hesitation – an issue for which he continually chided students. And when Fr. Alexander Schmemann expressly and adamantly responded to the “Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), “I trust people like… Prof. SS Verhovskoy,” he might well have duly cited him in his description of the role of the theologian:

                      The theologian has no rights, no power to govern and to administer that which belongs exclusively to the hierarchy. But it is his sacred duty to supply the hierarchy and, indeed, the whole Church with the pure teaching of the Church and to stand by that truth even when it is not considered “opportune.” It must be admitted that much too often our official “academic” theology has failed to accept this “obedience” and preferred quiet complacency. It has thus become accomplice to many deviations and distortions from which the whole Orthodox Church suffers today. But again, it was not so with the Fathers. Almost to the one, they suffered from the various “power structures” of their days for their refusal to opt for the compromise or to accept silent obedience to evil. And the fact is that ultimately the Church followed them and not those who, then as today, have a thousand excellent reasons for avoiding the “abstract principles” and preferring the “demands of reality.”

                      And like many great men, he was a character. He loved the “Motown Sound” and he borrowed every one of my original blues albums – from Muddy Waters to Howlin’ Wolf – and he loved nothing more than to have a student drop by for tea and discussion, day or evening. At the end of his life I had arranged a very small favor for him, and he called my busy office just to say, “Well, my dear, I don’t know, but you are somehow angel.” Me, Prof? It was like the life affirmation you had always wanted, and the warmest hug you never expected! Memory eternal and may his soul rest with the saints!

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          Rob Z says:

          Deacon Mitchell: What traditional sex roles are you referring to, and who determines the parameters for what they are?

          Once upon a time, young boys were dressed by their parents in pink, girls in blue (as blue “was associated with the Virgin Mary and therefore considered feminine.”). Our nation’s forefathers wore silk stockings and powdered wigs, attire generally considered appropriate today only for elderly women or perhaps Milton Berle in a stage routine. Nursing was once predominantly a female career. No longer. Today, conservatives would vote a female into the most powerful office in the world: look at the success of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Would this have happened in 1812 as easily as in 2012?

          I’m not suggesting that there are no cultural associations with masculinity and femininity, but rather that many of these associations seem arbitrarily assigned (usually by the cultural elites). If that is the case, what difference does it make if one’s child doesn’t seem to be toeing the line when it comes to living up to these gender roles? I see no reason to rush them off to some reform camp so that Suzie will finally eschew toy trucks for dollies.

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            Rob, the link to pink you provide makes some rather dubious, unsourced claims, such as the claim that blue only came to be identified with males only after WWI because only after WWI did blue become popular for military uniforms. In truth, blue was commonly used for military and naval uniforms for centuries before WWI, after which it began to be replace with earth tones like olive green, which were less visible on the battlefield (a change occasioned by more accurate weaponry).

            Nevertheless, it is true that many distinctions of masculine and feminine in dress and activity are “arbitrary,” but arbitrary does not mean nonsensical, and the sense behind the identification of some things as masculine and others as feminine is the extremely important reality of the difference of male and female, which requires communication and reinforcement by social conventions if men and women are to relate to one another heterosexually.

            So the constant you should note is not the color of baby clothing but the fact that all societies in all times have respected the distinction of male and female through a variety of conventions. Only in our own insane days have some people attempted to deny any difference, but these people remain a minority, and so far they have succeeded only in changing and not eliminating the differences of masculine and feminine.

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              Rob Z says:

              Dn Mitchell, can you expand briefly on that? Yes, women can bear children while men cannot. I’m not aware of any efforts underway to change that by scientists to develop males with wombs through cloning or some other bizarre technique (at least not yet), but beyond that, how should these gender roles be enforced in practical terms?

              Should women have certain careers that men do not (and vice versa)? Should they be permitted certain legal rights but not others? Should they wear certain types of clothing and not others?

              Note: I do reject any attempt by parents or educators to stifle natural, non-harmful behavioral characteristics in children (whether it’s because they’re adhering too closely or not closely enough to the behaviors expected for their particular gender). I think this mistake is made by those on both ends of the ideological spectrum.

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                Geo Michalopulos says:

                Rob Z, the ontological differences between males and females are rigid, biological, and (if one is a Christian) ordained by God. Conventions, customs, even legal ones, are based on local exigencies. Regardless, no sane legal system can ignore the basic differences between the sexes. Some may try, as ours has tried to do, but they inevitably fail.

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                  Metoikos says:

                  Right. And to add to that the crucial unstated connective (something which I think was implied above by Deacon Patrick): the local, customary and legal expressions are all attempts at expressing this basic universal truth. The historical, geographical and cultural diversity of expression does not nullify the universality of the natural truth: on the contrary, it underscores it.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    And this distinction was preserved in language with the terms “sex” (biological distinctiveness) and “gender” (social constructs by which the biological distinctiveness was expressed). Now that we have conflated the two, we think biological distinctiveness is no more than a social construct (sex-change operations and such), a confusion that nature itself will not allow us to sustain.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      How much should the change of ‘the medical facts on the ground’ erase the old taboos? I think that’s a question that hasn’t really been tackled straight up.

                      Owing to medical advances occurring only in the last 100 years the consequences of sex represents statistically minimal risk to the woman (death in childbirth was a serious risk in living memory) and certainly little risk of pregnancy and the tragedy of abortion. Now the biggest risk of promiscuity is the transmission of very serious diseases which don’t care about gender. That’s a huge change in the possibilities of daily life.

                      Much of historically quoted ‘homosexuality’ was, ah, how to put it… men looking for ‘safe outlet with the available’ not wanting to risk reprisal of the girl’s family, mostly owing to the high risk of death arising from pregnancy and the economic burdens. Marriage brought an end to their former, er… habit. That pressure no longer exists since when pregnancy is unwanted it is fairly easily avoided. The label of ‘homosexual’ in those times generally was applied only to the person desiring to, ah, ‘act the part of the female’.

                      While the people’s biology hasn’t changed, the gravest effects of promiscuity– death and lasting economic burden to the woman’s family, has changed materially. All the rules and patterns of life were created before that big change. Does the value and force of the old rules depend on what has changed and so be in need of a re-think, or has what’s changed not really been at the core what gives the old rules their ongoing importance and value and so their respect remains due and valuable? That’s what needs to be articulated more clearly.

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Many of the old taboos were drawn from wisdom born of experience. When breaking taboos was elevated as a social good, all the destruction they held back (like the STD’s you mentioned, pornography, and a host of other vices) was unleashed. Take the condom crusade a decade or so back. It was ostensibly the cure for ‘unwanted pregnancy’ (it will lower abortion rates they told us) when in fact it led to an epidemic (yes, epidemic) of skin borne STD’s.

                      And yes, cultural taboos against fatherless children also was a barrier against poverty. Now the single most reliable indicator of poverty is single motherhood. Intact families are much more economically secure than fatherless households.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      That’s more like it, Fr. H: the stuff I think will make a difference when people digest it. We need more articles like that, that take a fair and frank look at what the new ‘medical facts on the ground’ are, demonstration that those wrestling with the issues are not willfully ignorant of the serious changes it brought to daily life (noted above). Why what were ‘racial memories’ / taboos in antiquity became refined and civilized as distilled into Jewish and other ancient systems, and refined again in Christian understanding.

                      The fair and frank assessment of what’s really different at ground level gains the article credibility as being grounded in objective daily life. Then we need a serious look at why not, why or whether those facts call for a differing approach, a differing substance, or whether what’s better long term for everyone about the restraints on behavior remain boons on balance and so ought to be as respected now as then.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      In some ways those who ‘like’ evolutionary theories at the same time use phrases like ‘why’ to explain this or that outcome ignore an inner dissonance so to do. Evolutionary theory calls for the ‘why’ to be nothing more than ‘netting out all the complexities and factors over time, those we noticed and those we did not, this is what resulted’. Any specific favored ‘why’ touted as the forcible cause that ‘must have’ lead to an outcome in such an argument can never be more than possibly well justified speculation, with no more force of theory than noting the dog’s barking success at making the moon go away.

                      I chuckle at those who point out that brain scans of some homosexuals are closer matches to those of the other normal (statistically speaking) sex. The theory being — ‘see there, there is a physical basis’.

                      Brain scans of trained musicians listening to music differ from the brain scans of non-musicians listening to the same music. The musicians show processing in both the creative and language areas of the brain while the non musicians do not show activity in the language areas. The differences are learned.

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                Michael Bauman says:

                Rob, there are folks out there who definately want to get rid of the child bearing distinction in order to ‘free women’ from the last bastion of oppression and other insanity as one can see from: http://salvomag.com/blog/2012/04/gender-switchers-enforce-older-stereotypes/.

                There is an ontological difference (but not inequality) between men and women that God designed. That difference results in (when in balance) complemntary modes of thought and action is creative and fruitful in children and other ways as well. When these differences are ignored, or worse, actively opposed, a lot of problems arise in the culture and within the hearts and minds of specific people.

                There is no legalistic solution. However, if the fundamental truth about the nature of men and women is recognized and culturally assimilated, it is quite unlikely that one would see women in combat for instance, or even women seeking high level political office or men being nurses.

                There are some cases in which the difference between men and women is so great that it is really impossible for a woman to do what a man does (the Chrisitian priesthood for example) or a man to do what a woman does (giving birth). There is a continuum of unsuitability after those situations.

                The attempt to apply legalistic solutions in either direction is bound to fail because we are talking about something that is essential in our life, not so called ‘roles’.

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                  Rob Z says:

                  Michael, while I appreciate you having the honesty to speak in practical terms (unlike the others who seem to be tap-dancing around the question), your thinking seems to be bound to cultural stereotypes and generalizations coming out of 1954. Just because nursing has been a career historically dominated by women doesn’t mean there is something intrinsically feminine about nursing. It requires some level of medical knowledge and an attention to detail. Yes, it also helps to have a sense of empathy, but I’m hoping you wouldn’t suggest that empathy is purely the domain of women. Are you also going to suggest that men should not serve as chefs because women are supposed to be in the kitchen?

                  I don’t think you realize that many of your notions of masculinity and femininity are bound to cultural trends that shift with the wind and are dictated by economics and fashion and have little to do with any Scriptural mandate or even religious tradition. Joan of Arc, now revered as a saint, led men into military battle. Unusual? Sure. Was she defying some God-ordained role for how a woman should live? You tell me…

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                    Michael Bauman says:

                    Joan of Arc was not Orthodox and her canonization by the RCC was more political in nature than spiritual. She is not a good example and in any case you are using one extreme example to attempt to prove a norm.

                    What I am suggesting is what I said, that if the proper understanding of the nature and dynamics of the male-female synergy were enculturated, these sort of things would rather naturally and harmoniously sort themselves out allowing for an organic, flexible and well understood ordering in which the exceptions that arose would prove the rule. The egalitarian leveling of the sexual differences just leads to instability, confusion and a depth of hurt in certain people that is staggering and comes with a tremendous social cost I’m afraid.

                    One of the chief points that sets me apart for what you call 1950′s thinking is that I in no way believe that women should be submissive to men in all things and in every way in an authoritarian manner. There is a hierarchy created by God, but it is a hierarchy of function not of power. When one assumes a hierarchy of power, power struggles ensue. A power struggle mentatlity is one of the root causes of the difficulties we have now, the flip side of the 1950′s so to speak. Such a mentality, like the legalistic approach to defining and inforcing ‘roles’, is born of a watered down Protestant anthropology which resulted from a mishandling and therefore a misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

                    Men and women are different, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

                    Think about this–just because someone can do something does not mean they should or that it is really in acord with who they are.
                    Some interesting factoids: I watch the Food Network quite a bit. Many of the women chefs in the competition shows (not all to be sure but more than one or two) are lesbians and the dominate partner based on their own testimonies.

                    Women in track can’t run as fast as men for two reasons–overall strength and the angle of their legs caused by their wider pelvises needed for childbirth.

                    For women in golf and archery, two sports in which they can compete quite well with men when the strength factor is neutralized, the prominance of their breasts is a handicap.

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          Kevin Allen says:

          Deacon Mitchell:

          With respect, I think your comments have to do more with the “approach” my guests took to the issue of s-s-a than to the conclusions you are drawing.

          The first question to my guests was: what approach do you take to the issue of s-s-a? Their answer to that question I think provides the GPS on how they framed it in the interview.

          Their reply was: we approach it on an individual basis and in the context of a person’s life and journey to God. Nowhere during the interview did they say or imply they condone or support s-a-a or s-s unions (or fornication, promiscuity, pornography, etc). In fact, they became explicit about this at various points during the conversation. They made it very clear that the ONLY sexual relationship one can have that reflects the glory and mystery of the “icon” of marriage (which they said CANNOT be altered) and as a path to true holiness is the “chastity” of heterosexual marriage.

          With regard to “gender” I agree their approach was “nuanced”! Perhaps you wanted-expected a clearer and more dogmatic answer. The answer they gave was not that “blurring the lines is okay” but rather that gender has been impacted by our fallen condition and that in fact both sexes have aspects of the other and sometimes there are gradations to varying degrees. This by the way is what gay people have confirmed to me about their experience. What the guests said was that the ultimate goal is “priesthood” not gender identity. Is that a tacit acceptance of “gender neutrality”? I don’t think that’s what they meant or what they said. However the fact remains that what they DID say explicitly is that – again – the only path to holiness for couples is heterosexual marriage. The focus was not on sexual preference or gender identity but on being a “priest” — to which men and women are called — and thus glorifying God in all aspects of one’s life.

          The culture has rejected the approach to s-s-a that has been championed largely be evangelicals. Millenials are leaving evangelical Christianity in droves according to George Barna polling data. I do not think Orthodox should adopt the same approach as the evangelicals to s-s-a. The approach the guests took I think was to deal with this as a passion that prevents one from having a holy relationship with God as all the passions do.

          Causes, labels and so on do not really make for a healing process or encounter, nor do they work with people struggling with s-s-a. This I think was their point.

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            Mr. Allen,

            I don’t know how a counsellor claiming credentials as a psychologist can responsibly approach counseling on SSA without regard for its etiology, yet that is what your guests seemed intent on doing — by dodging your initial question about what causes SSA and admitting only that many factors play a part (true) while avoiding the issue of gender identity disorder and belittling the relevance of traditional sex roles. There is plenty of scholarly research and clinical experience out there on the relationship between GID and SSA, yet your guests seemed either ignorant of it or dismissive of it.

            Furthermore, it is not possible, in the Orthodox Church, for someone to be any kind of priest without first being either a man or a woman — that is our first ordination by God, and we must live up to it first if we are to perform the priestly act rightly re-ordering disordered creation.

            Finally, I don’t think anyone here has argued the caricature of the “evangelical” choice of hetero or the highway. Instead, what some of us are arguing here is that Orthodox Christians need to be (a) better informed about the truth of the issue, including its causes and the proven possibility of real healing, especially among the young in whom SSA is not already so entrenched; (b) braver about declaring that truth to a culture that hates labels like “man” and “woman” and stops its ears against the causes of its own suffering; and (c) faithfully willing to endure the persecution that will come to those who bear witness to the truth.

            Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who suffer from SSA, who desperately want to escape it, and who are able to escape it with the right help. I didn’t get the sense from your interview that your guests were able or willing to give them that help, and that’s a terrible shame.

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              M. Stankovich says:

              Oh for heaven’s sake! Please read this. Does this in any manner, shape, or form strike you as remotely related to homosexuality? There is no scholarly research and clinical experience regarding a relationship between gender dysphoria and SSA apart from “transvestic fetishism among male-to-female (MTF) transgender persons,” “female-to-male transsexuals who are sexually attracted to men,” and “gender-dysphoric males who are not sexually aroused by men (homosexual) are instead sexually aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women (autogynephilic).” Is that what you intend? If you would accuse these men of ignorance or dismissiveness, why not educate all of us with three (3) examples from the “plenty” of scholarly research on the relationship between GID and SSA?

              I have consistently expressed thanks to God for any and all those delivered from SSA, and by whatever means this gift was accomplished. Nevertheless, I have also said that I am an “on-the-ground” realist, and that the likelihood of this experience being more than anecdotal is unlikely. I do not believe we know enough about “reparative” therapies to presume “it couldn’t hurt to try,” as there are significant reports to the contrary. It seems particularly disingenuous and unfair to scold Mr. Allen’s guests for not engaging in practice(s) (e.g. reparative therapy) that the American Psychiatric Association has indicated is “unethical,” and which in some states could jeopardize their professional licensing and insurance reimbursement. I personally have nothing but admiration for their work.

              Instill hope, do no harm.

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                Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                M.S.:

                Do you seriously expect us to believe that the APA’s DSM is the product of pure science and bares no trace of intense political lobbying by gay activists?

                Or that the many brave professionals who continue to advocate and practice various sexual orientation change therapies (and to fight for the right to do so against gay activists who want such therapies outlawed) are all just homophobic ideologues?

                Or that the personal testimony of people who have actually experienced change in their sexual orientation and now live normal, happy, heterosexual lives are worthlessly or dangerously “anecdotal”?

                The fact is, change happens. Why don’t you want it to?

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                  M. Stankovich says:

                  What is at discussion here is not the production of the DSM, but your continuing error in suggesting a relationship between Gender Dysphoria and SSA. I recall that you had settled on this option as a means by which you could demonstrate my ignorance in matters psychiatric, but apparently you were not finished. Three examples from “plenty” was all I asked. Particularly when you made it a point to criticize Mr. Allen’s guests.

                  Personally, I would support any clinician in defying a directive where benefit outweighed potential harm, if it was in the patient’s best interest. This would not be the case in regard to the “reparative therapies” for homosexuality.” In my opinion, we do not have enough information to reasonably determine a benefit-to-harm ratio, and there is a significant “anecdotal” base that suggests that research is essential. In this case, I believe the “brave professional” would refuse to themselves employ, or refer to programs that employ techniques that have a potential for harm, ideologues notwithstanding.

                  What would be your thought if you brought me your child and I proposed a treatment modality where three patients “changed” and lived normal lives; three remained unchanged; two dropped out; and two fell into depression and despair and committed suicide? Play with the numbers: four “changed.” How about six “changed” and “now live normal, happy heterosexual lives?” Hopefully you are saying this is worthless and dangerous anecdote. It has told you absolutely nothing helpful about this treatment modality. Anecdote is the basis of research, not treatment.

                  Despite your attempt to ply me with sappy love songs – The fact is, change happens. Why don’t you want it to? – and ending on a dangling participle, I will assure you that I take few things as seriously as patient care. And I make sure they know it.

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                    Harry Coin says:

                    To interject– what’s overlooked in discussion here is that science has not yet spoken with clarity about anything whatever in the current categories. There are characterizations of symptom aggregates that at best enjoy fuzzy edges, causal mechanisms unclear in all three of character, sequence, number and degree. To base cause of change upon science as it currently exists can’t find support in the scientific method. We aren’t there yet. Until that happens opening the pandora’s box of unintended consequences by radical imposed normative change makes as much sense as the very popular cure of blood-letting to let out ‘bad humors’ of disease in centuries past did. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, not so much.

                    Tolerance in the law to avoid ‘police states’ without creating norms and precedents (much like the church notion of ‘economia’) to allow us to muddle through as best we might until science attains clarity as to cause and mechanism should be the goal.

                    * PS: These days, the ‘DSM’ is widely held to contain content designed as much to maximize billable event codes characterized by the pet projects of interest groups than content that meets the scientific definitional standards of say, clinical drug trials.

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                    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                    1. On participles, I didn’t dangle any; I just ended a sentence with a preposition, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

                    2. On “reparative therapy,” I never mentioned it.

                    3. On the supposed danger of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which may or may not include reparative therapy, anyone interested should read this summary of a 2010 study by N. Whitehead, “Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications,” Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 125-176): http://narth.com/2011/08/sexual-orientation-change-efforts-do-not-lead-to-increased-suicide-attempts/ Note that rates of suicide were lower for patients both in SOCE therapy and after SOCE therapy.

                    4. On my demonstration of your “ignorance in matters psychiatric,” I didn’t dog you over the relationship between gender dysphoria and SSA: I dogged you over your repeated insistance that SSA and SSSA (same-sex sexual activity) are “mutually exclusive,” which you still have not admitted is absurd and misleading. SSA and SSSA are definitionally distinct (meaning they are not the same thing), but they are obviously not “mutually exclusive” because they do quite often coincide in the same person.

                    5. On the relationship between gender identity disorder (GID) and homosexuality, anyone interested should read this report on the research of Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker, Psychologist-in-Chief, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Head, Child and Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic, Child, Youth and Family Program—Clarke Division, Toronto, Canada: http://narth.com/docs/GIDReviewKenZucker.pdf Note these excerpts:

                    “A particularly important retrospective finding involves adult homosexuals. Here, a meta-analysis of 48 studies in addition to 14 subsequent studies found that both male homosexuals and lesbians were far more likely than heterosexuals to recall cross–gender identification during childhood.”

                    “A noteworthy finding involved the high proportion of subjects reporting a homosexual or bisexual orientation at follow-up. Figures varied from 42.5% to nearly 80%, all far above both those of the control groups as well as the population base rates. Although gender dysphoria did not continue past childhood in the great majority of these cases, adolescent and adult males known to have GID traits as children appear to have strong inclinations toward homosexual or bisexual attractions.”

                    “In conclusion, the research conducted to date provides significant evidence that GID can be diagnosed with reasonable certainty, being distinct from less extreme forms of gender dysphoria. GID is associated with psychological problems, particularly in boys, such as internalizing behaviors, and is possibly correlated to maternal mental health problems. Whether they received treatment or not, GID patients are shown to have a high probability of developing a homosexual or bisexual orientation after childhood. If treated during childhood, however, the condition is likely to desist.”

                    Note especially those last two bolded sentences. My overriding concern about Allen’s interview is that his guests seemed to give no indication that they were prepared to treat childhood GID in such as way as to prevent homosexual orientation in adulthood, inasmuch as they disparaged the value of raising children to assume definite gender identities.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      This is the “plenty of scholarly research and clinical experience” with which you would impeach Dr. Mamalakis and Mr. Williams? Seriously? First, you are celebrating that patients participating in “treatment” unproven to be effective and and which could well prove to be harmful are not killing themselves; and then, without even taking the time or exerting the effort to actually read Zucker, you formulate a learned opinion based on the “review” of the self-published, self-refereed Journal of Human Sexuality, “voice” of the charlatans of NARTH. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the term, “h-index,” whereupon you will understand why no one cites the authority of NARTH. Except you. You have proven my point that “Google scholars” are not only dangerous, but demonstrate a pride that overrides commonsense. And not only do you dump your trash here, you would pridefully “bait” other sites, directing others to this! Bravo, Deacon! Outstanding scholarship.

                      Had you taken the appropriate course and actually read Zucker, you would have found that his research is very limited in regard to homosexuality, and more so in regard to the relationship between homosexuality and GID. In any case, in examining the “spectrum,” he concludes: “[While] taken together, then, there appear to be a range of developmental outcomes for children with GID, although the data to date suggest that a homosexual sexual orientation without co-occurring GID is the most common.” [emphasis mine] Hmm. And while I am able to locate numerous references to his recommendation for early intervention in GID of childhood as crucial to “preventing transexism – a very undesirable outcome,” I am unable to locate the source of your last quotation in his writings. Obviously, I cannot ask for your assistance, as you did not bother to read the source.

                      What concerns me more, however – and heaven knows if you are even aware – you fail to inform as to the nature of Dr. Zucker’s form of reparative therapy (and SOCE is reparative therapy, regardless of how NARTH chooses to “frame” it). While Zucker indicated to NPR that his intention is to “help these kids be more content in their biological gender until they are older and can determine their sexual identity,” he did not clarify that this means employing the use of medication to delay the onset of puberty to age sixteen or older. Further, he contends that parents must be “aggressive” in such matters as eliminating opposite-sex friends, gender-inappropriate toys, etc. from the child’s environment. Really? Some accuse Zucker of pandering to parents who, seeing “gender nonconformity,” want someone to do something, rather than simply stating as he did to NPR, “most boys who want to be girls in childhood, end up as men who do not want to be women.” Wow.

                      Perhaps you are unaware, but Robert Spitzer. MD, the bulwark and articulator of the system of “reorientation” upon which Exodus and NARTH are founded, has recanted his landmark 2001 study that suggested a highly select, highly motivated group of homosexuals was able to reorient. Today he apologizes for his error. He is 80 years old and speculation is run wild as to his motivation. Who am I to say? But regardless, it has unleashed a flood of sorrow and rage from those who claim to have suffered at what turns out to be a very constrained, purposefully tentative, and limited study. Rage from individuals who “desperately wanted to escape it.” It seems to me, Deacon Mitchell, that you have no appreciation for the inherent danger of posting “solutions” as “truth,” expecially when you cannot understand them. Thank God for Dr. Philip Mamalakis, Andrew Williams, and Kevin Allen for bringing these issues to the light.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      M.S.:

                      Now you’re just name-calling. So the hundreds of practitioners who support NARTH, including a former president of the APA and this list of MDs and PhDs, are all “charlatans” because they don’t agree with you? But why should anyone trust you about NARTH when you still have not retracted your absurd and misleading assertion that same-sex attraction and same-sex sex are “mutually exclusive”?

                      Interesting that you should mention that Dr. Spitzer “recanted” his 2001 study. Not a very scientific word, recant. Much more ideological in usage. Galileo was made to recant his insistence that the Earth revolved around the Sun not because science had proven otherwise, but because his assertions contradicted a nonscientific consensus of belief. Likewise, the 80-year-old Spitzer was made to apologize to “the gay community” for his belief that some homosexuals are able to become heterosexuals, not because science has proven otherwise, but because he offended another nonscientific consensus of belief, whose passionate representatives even sought him out at home to pressure the poor old man into recanting.

                      And what did Spitzer recant? He admitted only one flaw in his 2001 study: There was no way to know with certainty that the people he interviewed at length were actually telling him the truth about their change of orientation. In other words, he apologized for believing them to be credible without being able to prove that they were credible. BUT NOTE: He did not say that he no longer believed them to be credible. Read it for yourself:

                      Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

                      Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

                      The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

                      I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

                      Robert Spitzer. M.D.
                      Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,
                      Columbia University

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      You began this “exchange” with the statement: “There is plenty of scholarly research and clinical experience out there on the relationship between GID and SSA, yet your guests seemed either ignorant of it or dismissive of it.” I asked you for three simple references from this “plenty” to substantiate your point. You have offered one quotation – and it is not a citation because it lacks a reference to his writing. So, I am concluding 1) you have mistakenly promoted Gender Identity Disorder significantly correlated with SSA with no evidence; 2) you have openly criticized Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams, here and elsewhere, substantiated solely upon your own error; and 3) given the challenge to properly defend the Journal of Human Sexuality and NARTH as something other than the disreputable charlatans they are, to speak to the actual writings of Zucker and GID, to speak to anything of substance I have brought to your attention, you though it better to “distract.”

                      If you examine the history, I questioned both the safety and the efficacy of reparative therapies, suggesting both the nature and sheer volume of anecdote demonstrated that further research was necessary. You raised the point of Spitzer’s study, and were joined by another “prominent” voice on another site, “Yes! What about Spitzer!” At the time I questioned whether you had read more than an abstract, but I asked, “What has Spitzer concluded that I have not?” Spitzer, in my mind, was duly cautious as to the highly preliminary, highly speculative nature of his very limited study, concluding more research was essential. He did not intend, nor did he sanction NARTH’s misrepresentation of him personally as a “renaissance” scientist, nor did he endorse reparative therapy. They are charlatans. And now they are scrambling! Such are the wages of deception and the lesson of building your house on sand.

                      This is how the unraveling of Robert Spitzer began; this is some official word; this is foolish gloating; and this is Spitzer.

                      Your caution to Mr. Allen – that I might be a “funeral director admiring the cut of your suit” – is duly noted, Deacon Mitchell. Did you hear about about the sad case of the “snake-handling” preacher, “Mack” Wolford, in West Virginia who died of a snake bite over the past Memorial Day weekend? “Sheba” the yellow timber-rattler, a snake he had handled hundreds of times, bit him on the thigh. And of all things, he waited too long to go to the hospital! In this case, it seems hard to blame the snake.

                      As these exchanges so rapidly digress into such foolishness, I am finished, Deacon Mitchell. And in what has become traditional and quite customary to discussions with you, I give you the last word by saying you are shamelessly unqualified to undertake these matters, and increasingly dangerous as you proceed. And so it goes…

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      I trust that seekers of truth will see the difference between your sources and mine: Mine offer hope based on change they have seen or experienced (as attested by Anonymous below); yours deny all hope and viciously attack those who offer it.

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              Andrew says:

              Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who suffer from SSA, who desperately want to escape it, and who are able to escape it with the right help. I didn’t get the sense from your interview that your guests were able or willing to give them that help, and that’s a terrible shame.

              From the transcript of the interview:

              I’d just add, to be more direct, I suppose, as it may look as if I was avoiding the question; I don’t want to avoid the question. Yes, I’ve seen people experience transformation in desires from being exclusively same-sex attracted to not being same-sex attracted in experience.

              Yes, that help is one of the exact kinds of help that the program is for.

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                You did not specifically identify yourself as “Andrew Williams,” clinician & participant in this Ancient Faith Network interview. If you are, I would offer you two comments:

                1) You originally proffered nothing suggesting that this was an intended “goal” of your work, and the quotation you cite above hardly supports such a claim. Perhaps you could address your program design and how you intended to avoid some of the methodological “pitfalls” in evaluation experienced by, for example, Spitzer. Likewise, your direct statement seems quite precise, while the summary of Kevin Allen above is, as he aptly describes you, “nuanced.” Perhaps you could address this as well.

                2) If you are not “Andrew Williams,” clinician & participant in this Ancient Faith Network interview, I would suggest you are something of a muroid, a rodent, and I’m thinking Norwegian Brown Rat in specific. Twelve ounces of chirping, gnawing (gnawing, gnawing) offense. And offensive you are. Shame on you.

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                Are you Andrew Williams? Please let us know if you are or aren’t. Now to your point:

                Yes, the interviewee (Andrew Williams) says he has seen “transformation” to “not being same-sex attracted,” but he does not say he has seen transformation to being opposite-sex attracted. In fact, he explicitly denies that transformation to heterosexuality should be the goal of therapy. Here’s the fuller quotation:

                I’d just add, to be more direct, I suppose, as it may look as if I was avoiding the question; I don’t want to avoid the question. Yes, I’ve seen people experience transformation in desires from being exclusively same-sex attracted to not being same-sex attracted in experience. But those people that I know for whom that has happened did not aim at that as the goal. Their goal in any kind of therapy or whatever program they were in has been to grow closer to Christ and to find their true vocation; it has not been, as it were, to “convert” to heterosexuality.

                Here he is again disparaging transformation:

                And I said earlier that changes in sexual desire are inevitable, so transformation is possible. But to make it your goal, to aim at becoming heterosexual, is a kind of idolatry. It’s not a healing goal at all. It’s not a Christian goal. Our aim is just to grow closer to God by learning how to deal with our passions.

                And here he is again plainly denying that God intends us to be heterosexual:

                It’s interesting that when the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” first came into existence—which was only about 130 years ago—both were used for neurotic conditions. Both “homosexual” and “heterosexual” were considered to be neuroses. Nobody thought of “heterosexual” as normal sexuality then. It only began to be used that way toward the middle of the 20th century, and really only in popular use since the 1960s had it been that normal sexuality, so-called, as been equated with heterosexuality, so-called. So as Christians, our goal is not heterosexuality; it’s a full-blooded and faithful desire for God, which has as one of its results a life of chastity.

                On top of everything, he disparages traditional sex roles, leaving us with no reason to believe he understands the basis of healthy sexual identity. His is apparently a very confused and distorted view of human nature that is equally disparaging of heterosexuality and homosexuality. No thank you.

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                  Andrew says:

                  I am not going to be able to debate these issues here. If I was not able to express myself clearly in a 100+ minute interview, I don’t think I am going to do much better in the comments on this blog. But I do not want to be dismissive of your comments. This is an extremely complex topic, and easy answers are almost always misleading. If and when the full text of the program is published, I would certainly welcome detailed criticism and suggestions about how to improve the way we express these ideas so that they mislead as little as possible on all sides.

                  To be clear: I do not diminish transformation. Transformation is what the Christian life is about. And in answer to your first comment, yes, I have seen more than one person experience a change in sexual desires from an exclusively same-sex attraction to a definite opposite-sex attraction. But I would not define this in itself as Christian transformation, because there’s nothing particularly Christian or moral about opposite-sex attraction in itself, as I said in the interview. Rather, the gendered (and sexed) nature of reality reflects something (again, a complex question as to exactly what) about the nature of its Creator God, and as we conform our human nature to the true human nature (Christ), all of this will be fulfilled. Our modern concept of ‘heterosexuality’ is a substitute that misses the fullness.

                  So, as a married Christian man, for example, any sexual attraction that I entertain outside my marriage is sinful, whether ‘heterosexual’ or not. Transformation is about union with Christ and finding joyful chastity in whatever situation we find ourselves.

                  It’s important to add that I also know good, serious, faithful people who have not experienced a change in their sexual attractions (despite their best efforts), who have only ever experienced sexual attraction to the same sex, and who live faithful Christian lives as chaste, single people. And I also know people who are not Christians and who have not made any effort to change, but who have experienced this change in what is commonly called ‘sexual orientation’ — either way, including someone who defined himself as ‘gay’ his whole life and then in his 50s suddenly started to experience opposite-sex attraction for the first time.

                  Finally, a ‘role’ is something you play; Christ is someone you put on, receive and participate in. A large part of ‘traditional roles’ are culturally specific, but Christ is for all. I am not denying that the reality of Creation makes a difference between a man and a woman; of course it does. I am saying that most attempts to define exactly what those differences are spiritually, psychologically, and even, in rare cases, physically are simplistic and can therefore easily become (unintentionally) abusive in practice.

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                    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                    I agree that sexuality is complex, but you seem to reduce it to sexual desire and to regard sexual desire itself as inherently sinful except within marriage. But people don’t often get to the blessed exception of marriage without first feeling some desire. How is that desire sinful if it motivates us to enter into a relationship that God Himself blesses?

                    Hopko says, quite rightly, that desire is sinful only when it is misdirected, but the sexual desire of an unmarried man for an umarried woman is not misdirected; it is a natural, healthy desire for something God has intended, the woman being made “for the man,” as St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 11. In contrast, the sexual desire of a man for another man is always misdirected, was never intended by God, and does not reflect a natural, healthy, mental and spiritual condition. So you are wrong: There IS something “particularly Christian or moral about opposite-sex attraction in itself.”

                    And there is more to sexuality. There is the difference in the way men and women walk, talk, think, act, feel, dress, relate, etc. God intends this difference. He ordains it as the way we should live. Yet the same disorder that causes same-sex attraction very often also obscures the difference of male and female so that men adopt the ways of women and women adopt the ways of men. The needed transformation is therefore not just about curbing sexual desire; it’s also about living up to our ordination by God as a man or as a woman.

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                      This, of course, is a lovely, warm, and transcending discussion between the good deacon and… well no one knows actually because he still hasn’t said. Nevertheless, this hardly will will prevent Deacon Mitchell because he will gladly debate an illusion – as the French would say – Quelle Différence?

                      I have attempted, on how many occasions, to make the simple point that homosexuality is not according to human nature as it was “in the beginning”; attributable to hand of the Master and Creator by desire or intention; AND homosexuality is a product, a dysfunction, a “misdirection,” a disorder, an emblem & sign of the tradition of sinfulness that marks the epic broken state of the creation. The Church, in no uncertain terms, condemns any sexual activity outside the marriage of one man and one woman. Nevertheless, the orientation of same-sex attraction, in and of itself, is not sinful.

                      No one has independently demonstrated beyond anecdote that reparative therapies are more or less “efficacious” than the fullness of the saving life of the Orthodox Church – a life of chastity, singlemindedness, humility, faith, and prayerful obedience. No one, and certainly not a pack of heretical Protestant charlatans.

                      Why, when we are now capable of making these distinctions and clarifications, do you insist on pursuing what you cannot demonstrate to be true. Perhaps not every person with same-sex attraction – who happens to be living a life of chastity & purity within the fulness of the Orthodox Church – believes they are suffering and needs “transformation.” And what if those with a significant genetic influence – a positive family pedigree in first & second degree relatives, physical characteristics, birth order, etc. – whom I have suggested are the least likely to benefit from reparative therapies; who are refractory, in fact are tormented by their lack of “response,” by the subtle suggestion that they might not be “surrendering” to Christ, not repenting enough, not “weeping bitterly” enough?”

                      You continue to express a willingness to risk the safety – psychological and spiritual – of therapy patients not because you possess any objective information to support your contentions, but because of your own pride. It is no less pitiful now than it was when this discussion began.

                      If you really are Andrew William, I withdraw my initial positive support for what I believed was sound clinical practice from an Orthodox Christian. This would instead place you among the reparative charlatans who cannot substantiate they do no harm, and sadly, seem not to be concerned.

                      Again, if you are a poseur, your are a rodent.

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                      Tomas says:

                      Deacon writes: “the sexual desire of an unmarried man for an umarried woman is not misdirected; it is a natural, healthy desire for something God has intended”

                      So are you saying that those who have taken a vow of celibacy should or should not feel any sexual desire? Perhaps you are suggesting that the vow of celibacy is itself a rejection of God’s true design for man?

                      If celibacy is ordained by God for some men (and it seems it is so if we are to believe Paul: 1 Corin 7:8), then I’d think that one’s desires should align with that. In other words, if God wills that some men remain celibate (clergy or otherwise) and you believe that His will is knowable, then any desire contrary to that is sinful, regardless of what (or whom) it is directed towards.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Tomas, by your reasoning, our Lord Himself sinned by feeling hunger while fasting in the desert. The truth is that natural desires are not in themselves sinful, and of course God does often will that we both desire things and fast from them.

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            Mr. Allen, at this point, I should add that Michael Stankovich’s applause for your interview is good cause to question whether what was said in the interview is as helpful or as harmless as it might have first appeared.

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    Rob Z says:

    In 2010, nearly two million adults were in some sort of correctional facility with another several million on some type of probation. Many of these people are violent criminals with a history of rape, theft, drug abuse, child abuse and even murder. Nevertheless, there is no detailed inquiry about the details of these people’s lives before a civil marriage license is granted to them: in fact, marriage sometimes is granted while the person is still incarcerated with full knowledge of their crimes.

    No rational person would suggest that these people are, generally speaking, viable parents: many of them are registered sex offenders who are not permitted within a mile’s radius of a child. Yet, correctional officers have suggested that marriage, even if performed while serving a sentence, has a “stabilizing effect” on the inmates.

    If marriage were primarily about producing offspring, would there not be some sort of assessment as to whether one will, in fact, make a fit parent before the State provides its blessing? Should there be? If so, who should be responsible for determining who is worthy marital/parental material? Would it be those responsible for vetting potential parents for adoption?

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      The state doesn’t provide ‘blessings.’ It just confirms what nature has already decreed, marriage is a heterosexual institution. Your issue here I think though is the fitness of the people entering into marriage. States don’t control that either.

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        Rob Z says:

        “Your issue here I think though is the fitness of the people entering into marriage. States don’t control that either.”

        If the sole or primary interest of the State in heterosexual marriage is, as you say, “the procreation of children”, then it also has an interest in ensuring that those children are entering a reasonably healthy environment, would you not agree?

        This means:
        - no history of child abuse
        - no past history of serious violent crimes
        - some history of job stability
        - not currently being treated for drug addiction of any kind

        Does you honestly find these demands unreasonable? Adoption requirements are far more extensive, intrusive and costly. I’m merely talking about weeding out the obvious sociopaths and those who would by any rational assessment make horrific parents. If the State doesn’t do this, whose responsibility is it?

        (Note: I may actually have changed my own mind on this upon consideration. Perhaps putting greater restrictions on civil marriage would be a good idea if there’s a reasonable expectation that children will be produced as a result.)

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          Michael Bauman says:

          The modern state’s interest in marriage has one overriding purpose-division of property (which includes the children unfortunately). The state does this as badly and as inefficiently as it does almost everything else. The people in the marriage with the least power get the shaft (the children and most wives).

          Homosexual unions are going to be a gold mine for divorce attorneys.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          The sole responsibility of the state is affirm what nature has already decreed. Don’t look to the state as a source of moral enlightenment Rob. You won’t find it.

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    Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed listening to Kevin Allen’s interview on Ancient Faith today, and I’m glad that there is an outlet here for discussion of it. It is a topic that our churches in modern society MUST deal with, but my experience is that most pastors/bishops choose not to touch this topic with a 10-foot pole, for unclear reasons — uncomfortable with the topic? Not sure of what to say? Struggles with SSA themselves? Who knows. But given modern society’s acceptance of same-sex relationships as “equivalent” (and yes, with few exceptions, our modern society has already accepted same-sex relationships as equivalent — it’s done), our churches will have to be able to explain to society why we believe what we believe.

    As an Orthodox Christian who has struggled with SSA, I understand some of Deacon Brian’s points of understanding where it comes from to try to “fix” it. Yes, I believe this is possible, but it is a life-long struggle I think much along the lines of how someone in AA is always considered an alcoholic. (The major break in the AA analogy is that AA and Al-Anon support groups are everywhere, while SSA support groups are generally non-existent. This is in large part due to the fact that alcoholism is not socially acceptable anymore, while SSA is.) As I grew to understand the causes of my SSA more and more through reading and research (non-Orthodox sources…. there aren’t any), that was a helpful step toward healing. But yes, a lot of the classic causes of SSA were there in my case — a distant and often angry/volatile father figure, little affection as a child, relative isolation with little contact with family and friends outside of school at a young age. Now I can see that a lot this parental behavior probably stemmed from an undiagnosed mental illness in my dad (possibly depression? bipolar? who knows), but at the time, as an 8 or 10 or 12 year old, even that knowledge isn’t helpful. What I needed was close male bonding — what every kid needs. But as you get older and enter puberty with sexual development, that desire for closeness becomes sexualized, everything gets confused, and it can spiral from there.

    The God-given salvation was the fact that I grew up in a nominally Orthodox family and we made a once-a-month trip or so to the local parish about 30 mins away for liturgy. We certainly weren’t engaged in that parish, and I can’t say that I even knew anyone there well, including the priest. But that contact with God, with Christ, even for such a short time once a month was enough to give me the awareness of my fallenness and brokenness as a human in need of healing, and I always felt such a closeness to God and a peace during those Sunday afternoons after liturgy that I didn’t otherwise feel. So yes, closeness to God and understanding our brokenness is key in healing, and our Church has so much to offer the millions of others who also struggle with this.

    Of course I had friends in high school and college who had casual heterosexual sex often. But if someone would have told me at the time that their sins were “better” than struggling with SSA, this would have only served to cause more despondency and discouragement. And honestly, I don’t think that this is true anyway, though much of our society believes this. I was glad that Kevin touched on this in the interview — that we all suffer from a fallen humanity, that having heterosexual sex outside of marriage is NOT “better” than strugging with SSA. It’s not, and it is not right to hope that someday those struggling with SSA may at some point have “normal” struggles and temptations.

    Yes, certainly the classification of homosexuality as “normal” by the mental health professionals is certainly more political than anything. There is little scientific evidence to prove it, and much of the research and teachings from the APA on the subject come from gay-lobbying groups, who have an active interest in normalizing it, in teaching young 15 year olds that it is “OK” and “normal,” in encouraging the labelling of people into “gay” and “straight” groups. As you also touched on in this program, our culture’s obsession with labelling is part of the problem.

    Thanks to Kevin for doing this interview, and I hope that the Orthodox Churches in the US/Canada get together to do more programs like this and to increase awareness. Thanks to the Grace of God and to the light that I have almost always been blessed to see in His Church, my struggles with SSA are minimal at best these days. But we are fighting an uphill battle since, unlike alcoholism, SSA is not only socially acceptable but is encouraged. Our young people and our society need the truth, and of course the truth spoken with love.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Thank you for this wonderful testimony. I’m glad you found the interview encouraging in the right way. I hope others do. As I said at the beginning, Allen’s guests said some good, sound things that should be helpful to those truly seeking healing.

      But you yourself have spoken important truths that Allen’s guests did not speak, and I expect several things they said will encourage some people in the wrong way. They blurred the line between male and female. They disparaged traditional sex roles. They stressed “love the sinner, love the sinner” instead of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I’ve seen where that leads: It leads to churches where it is not permitted to call the sin a sin, lest the sinners be offended; where those who do call it what it is are hated and attacked as homophobes; and where the sinners become so comfortable with their sin that they live it openly, acting as gay as they please, bringing their mates to church, encouraging others at church to accept their gayness, and still communing regularly for all to see.

      To keep that from happening, Allen’s guests need to hear more from people like you and less from gays and feminists who plainly do not want the truth.

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      Kevin Allen says:

      Dear Anon,

      The discouraging news is that the “program” was a trial program. It was supported by private donors for the first six months, not by any Orthodox jurisdiction. Andrew Williams – one of the facilitators – has left the U.S. with his wife to work in Europe on a permanenrt basis. Dr Mamalakis is a full-time professor and private therapist. Bottom line: I am not sure this program has wings. They are hoping to publish materials but I am discouraged there appears there will not be a program extension or expansion as of this date. As with many needed “programs” our churches are either too under-funded or lacking in vision to facilitate them. Programs like IOCC and FOCUS NA have been founded and largely supported by private donations too.

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        Anonymous says:

        Kevin,

        I’m sorry but I suppose that I wasn’t clear when I mentioned above about the “programs” that our churches should do to increase awareness. I was not talking about the program from HC/HC that the speakers on your show had developed — I was rather talking about your program, Ancient Faith Today, and how discussing SSA in a format like that is crucial for our Church today.

        But concerning the other “program” that HC/HC developed, I don’t even know how successful it would be. More than anything, I think a person has to deeply want to come to the root of their SSA issues and find a way out. This can be done with any caring counselor or priest or psychologist, that is, as long as they are not going to say “so it looks like you’re gay, so what?” That is the problem these days — a 16 year old will express some SSA feelings, and he/she will be told by countless people to just “go with it!” These people clearly aren’t concerned about this person’s soul or about his/her salvation — indeed, more than 99% of our society doesn’t even know what it means to be concerned about a person’s soul or salvation. We live in a post-Christian world, SSA is the new normal. Just do a google search and there will be thousands of articles about how sexual “orientation” can’t change, about how former people in Exodus International are now sorry and that “gay” people should just live and be happy with it, etc etc.

        We Orthodox Christians need to be leaders in spreading the truth: that SSA feelings may indeed exist, but that they often have a cause, and that SSA feelings shouldn’t be celebrated. People should *never* be labeled as “gay” or “straight.” We’re not coming at this arbitrarily — that is, Christians are not opposed to SSA because we have nothing better to do and we just want to tell people how to live. But rather — and I think I heard a podcast from Frederica M-G where she touched on this once — acting on SSA feeling and living an active SSA life obstructs one’s closeness with God, it inhibits us from getting close to God. And closeness with God is life! I think often times this gets lost or forgotten about — being close to God is truly living, true Joy! The Joy of Pascha, the transformation of the sadness of Holy Friday into the glory of the Risen Christ! This is why acting on SSA feelings is not meant for us — because it inhibits our communion with God.

        The best medicine, or the best “program,” in my opinion, to help dig out of the darkness of SSA is a caring counselor/priest/whomever but more than that, a strong Orthodox faith and prayer and worship at the divine services. How much our services can teach us if we pay attention to them!

        The way I see it is that people have suffered with SSA for thousands of years, and there have never been “programs” put together by HC/HC to help them. Our faith has been around a long time to give people strength, hope, love, and closeness to God, no matter what their struggles are. God became man so that we might once again be close to Him through His church — this truth and its ramifications are some of the most powerful medicine on earth. I’m not saying that these HC/HC-type programs to help people out of SSA are bad, but I don’t think they’re an absolute necessity.

        Sorry for the confusion, and keep up the great work on your Ancient Faith Today program.

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          Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Anonymous, I’ve been thinking about this note for days. Very moving actually (as was Joe’s below). Thank for posting it.

          BTW, what you posted on prayer is absolutely true. I’ve seen with this others struggling with SSA. The struggle is lifted higher through prayer, and the person finds amelioration of the pain lodging behind it. He gets more centered, and the the strength of the passion seems to subside somewhat, and increasing self-knowledge seems to mitigate it — much like Joe said below where even understanding the dynamic more clearly brings joy.

          This. I think, is the simple struggle for chastity and that process is the same for all men. Chastity and creativity are closely aligned and setting one’s mind on chasteness and forgoing sexual sin increases creative prowess. Of course when a man turns from sexual sin then the battle moves to the heart which is the appropriate place where it is fought. But the rewards for abstinence are great.

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            Joe says:

            I would like to make a couple of comments about the post from Anonymous.
            I think he is tap dancing around the point “our focus” which is what I found so encouraging about the interview.

            Anonymous says:
            “More than anything, I think a person has to deeply want to come to the root of their SSA issues and find a way out.”

            But, he goes on to say,

            “Just do a Google search and there will be thousands of articles about how sexual “orientation” can’t change, about how former people in Exodus International are now sorry and that “gay” people should just live and be happy with it, etc etc. “

            This, is precisely what I found so insightful about the interview. ‘Fixing’ the “object” of our passion is the wrong focus.
            They say in the interview, ” SSA is not really a problem to be solved (rejected) because if thought of that way, when and if you discover that it can’t be changed what is the alternative?” “It must be embraced.” A common consensus as evidenced by the thousands of Goggle post.

            The interview offered a different alternative to embracing…which I believe is the correct alternative.

            In the interview they say. “No! SSA is rather a part of our brokeness, and God uses our brokenness in transforming us into Christ (for righteousness).” The focus should be, “The transformation within our struggles. Learning to live with our brokeness and allowing it to transform us into people who are growing in Christ, pleasing to God.”

            Anonymous says:
            “We Orthodox Christians need to be leaders in spreading the truth: that SSA feelings may indeed exist, but that they often have a cause, and that SSA feelings shouldn’t be celebrated.” “The best medicine, or the best “program,” in my opinion, to help dig out of the darkness of SSA is a caring counselor/priest/whomever but more than that, a strong Orthodox faith and prayer and worship at the divine services. How much our services can teach us if we pay attention to them!”

            Again, you are mixing the focus. You keep wanting to “fix”…I have wanted to be “fixed” my entire life! A lot of valuable energy and time is wasted on trying to answer the big why question.

            The program:
            Don’t get bogged down in trying to fix it, it’s a tool, so use it!
            “Fixing” is not the bottom line…
            “Our brokenness is not really a problem to be solved, but rather a ‘tool’ in the Path of pursuing a loving relationship with/to God.”

            Anonymous says:
            “The way I see it is that people have suffered with SSA for thousands of years, and there have never been “programs” put together by HC/HC to help them.”
            But rather the help has been, “Our faith has been around a long time to give people strength, hope, love, and closeness to God, no matter what their struggles are. God became man so that we might once again be close to Him through His church — this truth and its ramifications are some of the most powerful medicine on earth. I’m not saying that these HC/HC-type programs to help people out of SSA are bad, but I don’t think they’re an absolute necessity.”

            What I think is necessary is what I think this program offers, the refocusing of the issue. From trying to fix it, to as you say “Our faith”.

            Anonymous says:
            “That is the problem these days — a 16 year old will express some SSA feelings, and he/she will be told by countless people to just “go with it!” “

            Dr. Mamalakis and Andrew say to the 16 year old, “God did not create us broken, be open to see Who and How you become in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.” They stated it at the beginning of the interview, it’s all about relationships. “What we do with our lives effects who we are.”

            I think that is probably why the title of the program is “The freedom to live in the image of God”. What does it mean to pursue Christ and to follow Christ in any and all context? That would include SSA.

            Sexual Orientation, can it be changed? Doesent really matter one way or the other. What matters, is being transformed into the image of Christ in spite of any and all obstacles.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Actually I think it can given the testimony of people who say it is possible. I don’t put my eggs in the “orientation” basket though so it could simply be a matter of the passion losing its grip and the thinking that shaped around it being transformed as well.

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                Rob Z says:

                Whatever the causes of any particular sex drive or “orientation”, it cannot be denied that it is also a biological impulse, much like the desire for food (which can also be inordinate).

                To expect a complete elimination of these urges is to set oneself up for bitter disappointment, I think.

                I’ve always had an insatiable appetite for food: I can probably consume an entire pizza without much effort. To indulge in certain foods is an invitation to excess , so my diet generally consists of boiled chicken, salads, protein bars and fish. It’s a perpetual fast, if you will.

                Our actions can be controlled. Our impulses … I’m not so sure. I expect to fight the temptation to gluttony for the rest of my life.

                So, let’s not set up unrealistic expectations for those who seek to live according to their values, and we should certainly not imply that the mere existence of urges (over which we have no control) is a sign of personal failure.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Rob Z, the Orthodox moral tradition teaches that fixations, compulsions, and the like (which is what I think you mean by the term “impulse”) can be transformed. They are called “passions” (passions are at the root of impulses) but like Joe said above, the brokenness has to be embraced as something broken and not necessarily as something that needs to be “fixed” although it can be healed.

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                Joe says:

                I’ll preface this by saying I am single, I never married, and I live a chaste life.

                I too think it can change. With God all things or possible, but from personal experience and from talking with countless people who struggle with SSA. I would say a change in orientation is not the norm. If anything it’s the exception to the rule. This program is for those people, who, for whatever reason, have not experienced that change. At least to the degree they sought.

                Why not try something a little different? Why not come at it from a slightly different angle? Isn’t finding this root cause, the source of this disorder, this emotional disconnect and arrested development, in fact, putting all your eggs in one basket?

                Let’s pretend for a moment that yes, you young SSA struggler are correct. You can not change. Now what? Embrace it? The church for 2000+ years has thought and taught otherwise. Have they been wrong? The Protestants are certainly revising their views. Should the Orthodox follow suit? As Paul says, “God Forbid!”

                So, you young struggler are broken like the rest of us. As Thomas Hopko says in his little book “The fall has affected everything, even sex.” (especially sex)

                And you young SSA struggler, since this is your particular brand of brokenness, don’t despair, don’t give up and don’t give in. God uses our particular brands of brokenness in transforming us into Christ. In fact His specialty is transforming brokenness. Just don’t expect your transformation to end in heterosexuality. It may, but it may not. Your concern young man is righteousness, so lets focus on that.

                The guys said something in the interview that I think should be echoed as often as possible (especially in this context). Most of our “intimate” relationships Do Not include sex. People today confuse the two.

                Our young struggler needs to hear this, he needs to know that intimacy/love comes in many different forms.

                Yes, Fr. Jacobse this subject is very personal to me, but like so many it is also a very private struggle. When they said “love the sinner, love the sinner” it spoke volumes. I know exactly what they meant by that, and it was in no way excusing the sin.

                Our young struggler needs to hear this too. He needs to know that the Church does not view him as a leper, that they see him only as a fellow sinner, struggling and being tranformed into the likeness of Christ, just like they are.

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                  Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  This really twists around. No one here has argued for putting all our eggs in the change basket, but several people here have argued for putting all our eggs in the no-change basket. Allen’s guests didn’t even mention the possibility of sexual orientation change and gave evidence that they neither understood nor approved of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Some posters here have argued vociferously against SOCE because, they say, it’s discouraging and dangerous, causes suicide, didn’t work for me, rarely works for anyone else, and maybe never works for anybody since Dr. Spitzer couldn’t prove that his hundred-odd subjects weren’t all lying.

                  But there is, in fact, ample evidence that SOCE does work for many people, especially young people who haven’t yet reinforced their SSA with SSSA. And there’s research here that it actually lowers suicide rates. So why should we not also offer people the hope of change and a happier heterosexual life more in line with our divinely ordained human nature? Why must we toe the gay line that if you’re gay, you’re gay and you’ll always be gay because it’s just who you are?

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    Shame on you, Abouna Ioannes, for allowing Deacon Mitchell to persist in this endless, prideful course of ignorance and manipulation of concepts and information without a single word of challenge from you. You have absolutely no hesitation in committing entire pposts in response to my every sentence, but not a word from you here even questioning his inaccuracy and misrepresentation.

                    And now, a type I have continuously described as bearing an unwanted podvig of SSA, struggling isolated and alone within the Master’s House, in the Fountain of Healing itself, takes on a real voice and pours out his heart on this cite. Ah, but he manages, amongst the description of his life-long struggle, to attract the spider by stating, “from personal experience and from talking with countless people who struggle with SSA, I would say a change in orientation is not the norm. If anything it’s the exception to the rule.” And the Deacon then begins his “compassionate” consumption of your visitor, “Why must we toe the gay line that if you’re gay, you’re gay and you’ll always be gay because it’s just who you are?” Am I to assume, Abouna Ioannes, that the we includes you?

                    Essentially, Joe is saying what the literature bears out: in protracted studies, homosexuality in males is stable, not phasic or transient, nearly equivalent to heterosexuality in males; the only authoritative and reliable studies regarding reparative therapies for homosexuality (including Spitzer) reached the identical conclusion: more research is essential as both the demonstration of efficacy and the assurance of safety is very limited; and while Matt. 19:26 does, in fact, say, “With God all things are possible,” it does not say “probable.”

                    Abouna Ioannes, this is beyond the “public square debate” where ideas are being “worked out.” Deacon Mitchell is making unfounded “treatment” recommendations for which he is grossly unqualified and for which he justifies by purposely misrepresenting data he does not understand. Shame on you for your tacit approval.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      I don’t pay attention to scoldings and finger-wagging M. Stankovich, especially when the language of scripture and the moral tradition is used to give them a gloss of moral seriousness. As for the reliability of the “studies” you often cite see below:

                      Former president of APA says organization controlled by ‘gay rights’ movement

                      Source: Lifesite News

                      June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A former president of the American Psychological Association (APA), who also introduced the motion to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1975, says that the APA has been taken over by “ultraliberals” beholden to the “gay rights movement,” who refuse to allow an open debate on reparative therapy for homosexuality.

                      Dr. Nicholas Cummings was President of the APA from 1979 to 1980, and also served as a member of the organization’s Council of Representatives. He served for years as Chief of Mental Health with the Kaiser-Permanente Health Maintenance Organization, and is the author of the book “Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm.”

                      In an interview with representatives of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in late April, Cummings said that the organization’s problems began with the rejection of the Leona Tyler Principle, which required that all public positions of the APA be supported by scientific evidence.

                      The APA “started changing pretty drastically by the late 1980s,” said Cummings.  “By the mid 1990s, the Leona Tyler principle was absolutely forgotten, that political stances seemed to override any scientific results. Cherry-picking results became the mode. The gay rights movement sort of captured the APA.”

                      Cummings says that the movement for “diversity” in the APA, which he endorsed, had resulted in a lack of diversity regarding heterosexuals.

                      “If I had to choose now, I would see a need to form an organization that would recruit straight white males, which are underrepresented today in the APA,” he said.

                      Cummings says that he personally is not in opposition to the homosexual movement, including gay “marriage,” pointing out that he was the author of the motion to strike homosexuality from the APA’s list of mental illnesses. However, he is distressed at the loss of scientific objectivity at the organization.

                      “The first time it came up, and I was a member of [the] Council, this would have been, oh, 1975, because I remember that that’s when I made the resolution,” Cummings said. “I made the resolution that being gay was not a mental illness, that it was characterological. And it passed the Council of Representatives. And that was the first issue that came up. I also said with that, that the APA, if it passes this resolution, will also vote to continue research that demonstrates whatever the research demonstrates. Unbiased, open research. It was never done.”

                      In a second, briefer interview with NARTH on the same day, Cummings recalls his own work with homosexuals who wanted to leave the gay lifestyle during his tenure at Kaiser Permanente.

                      “It’s a difficult therapy, and it’s not huge in terms of numbers, but yes we have seen success, and this is why the stance that ‘you can never change’—Ronald Reagan said ‘never say never’—it’s absurd. All you have to do is find one exception and it knocks down the ‘never.’ But yes, I’ve experienced more than one exception,” said Cummings.

                      “Admittedly we had failures. The recidivism along the way with some would be intense, but we experience the same thing with treating substance abuse and alcoholism. Falling off the wagon is part of the treatment.”

                      Cummings’s position as a past president of the APA and as the author of the motion to remove homosexuality from the organization’s list of mental illnesses, parallels that of Dr. Robert Spitzer, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, who led the efforts there to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness two years earlier.  Spitzer also became critical of the American Psychiatric Association in the following decades and authored a study in 2000 indicating that “highly motivated” homosexuals could be successful in altering their sexual preferences through reparative therapy.

                      Although Spitzer recently repudiated his study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2002, after years of pressure from homosexual activists, Cummings has never retracted his endorsement of the view that homosexuals can sometimes change.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      What exactly is Cummings saying that I am not? “With God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26) Look at the Greek construction yourself, specifically: possibleδυνατά derived from δύναμις power, strength (like is said at the Liturgy). All things are possible. I absolutely agree, one single success is all that is necessary to eliminate the “impossibility” of never. We are in complete agreement.

                      Now, take the next step: probability. What is the likelihood that this form of treatment will demonstrate a positive, measurable outcome among this specific population. And when you are subjecting human subjects to “experimental” forms (where you do not know the outcome) of treatment, the only issue is their safety and well-being. So, we need to set a limit of safety: 1 in 10 “intense” episode of recidivism?; 3 “intense” episodes? Where would you be comfortable drawing the line with “difficult therapy” knowing that success is “not huge in terms of numbers?” Nevertheless, it must be accomplished before anyone with a sense of ethics would presume to utilize the modality. This is a basic, fundamental tenet of human medicine. Do no harm. What, in heaven’s name, is so difficult to grasp about this?

                      Factually, there is very little existing legitimate, substantial, qualified research in regard to reparative therapies. Spitzer was the last seriously designed study, and even I was completely surprised to find that it was published unrefereed, without peer review, by his friend, KJ Zucker, the other person NARTH and the Deacon quote so liberally. Whatever one chooses to think of Dr. Spitzer, it cannot be denied that the ultimate recommendation of his study was that we need more research, and he was enraged at the APA for adopting a policy that continued research is unethical. Read this again, Abouna: There are no reliable studies. That is why we need the research before enrolling human beings to this treatment modality.

                      My comments regarding NARTH are not simply “sarcastic” or “frivolous,” but speak to the point that they are 1) promoting a modality of treatment for which there is insufficient data to demonstrate an acceptable benefit-to-harm ratio and for which there is substantial anecdotal reports of psychological and emotional trauma to participants. Anecdote points to the need for research, not treatment; 2) they publish a self-serving journal – purposely dissociated from any connection to NARTH – that is neither peer refereed or reviewed; and 3) they have been reprimanded and scorned by notable and reputable scientists – including Spitzer and the director of the Human Genome Project – for purposely misrepresenting and misusing data for their own purpose. From what I have seen, you and Deacon Mitchell are relying on NARTH for the simple reason that you are unqualified to speak to these matters, and the NARTH charlatans serve your ignorance. There you have lain all your eggs.

                      Enough with the “finger-wagging/scolding” dismissiveness” that has come to characterize your inability to discuss pursuant to merit. It is no longer even a “clever” tact. And a YouTube interview? You insult me to my face! I stand by my original objection, and I repeat, shame on you for your approval.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Thank you for your witness. My prayers are with you.

  6. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Gregg says:

    My intention is not to reopen the debate on this subject but rather to share a few additional resources that some might be interested in.

    http://spiritualfriendship.org/

    Is a new blog by a few Christians who identify as celibate gay Christians. Wesley Hill the author of Washed and Waiting and Ron Belgau author of the Gay Christian Network’s side B position are the founders. The blog and its writers use gay as a useful identifying label and a recent post goes into greater detail regarding why. Several widely known celibate gay Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians and a few Orthodox are also associated with Spiritual Friendship. It might offer a different perspective coming from a traditional and conservative background for those who are interested.

    http://gaysubtlety.wordpress.com/
    A new blog by 2 recent graduates from Wheaton University on their experiences as Christians who identify as gay but strive to follow the Christian church’s traditional moral ethic regarding sexual behavior.

    http://www.stevegershom.com/
    Fr. Jacobse posted a essay a few months ago by Steve. He continues to blog but writes more on his experience rather than topics, but hist archives and experience I think is valuable.

    http://sexualauthenticity.blogspot.com/
    Melinda Selmys is a Catholic writer who writes frequently of her experiences as a married mother of 6 wrestling with same sex attractions.

    -Gregg

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    Joe says:

    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:
    This really twists around. No one here has argued for putting all our eggs in the change basket, but several people here have argued for putting all our eggs in the no-change basket. Allen’s guests didn’t even mention the possibility of sexual orientation change and gave evidence that they neither understood nor approved of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Some posters here have argued vociferously against SOCE because, they say, it’s discouraging and dangerous, causes suicide, didn’t work for me, rarely works for anyone else, and maybe never works for anybody since Dr. Spitzer couldn’t prove that his hundred-odd subjects weren’t all lying.

    Change-the Christian life is all about change. Paul asked to be rid of his thorn in the flesh-God said No. He said instead, basically, “I’m going to use this for My glory.” That happens sometimes…

    I think you might have missed or misunderstood when you said, “Allen’s guests didn’t even mention the possibility of sexual orientation change”.

    When ask about change they said, “Yes, they had seen change, but that change was not the focus, it was not what was sought, it came about indirectly because of”, the persons pursuit of righteousness in Christ. The change was an “effect” not the “object”, I thought they were quite clear on this point.

    It’s all personal, and we are all different. Get to know the person and their story first and then go from there. Some people may need intensive therapy other may just need loving guidance. Christ healing the blind, was it always the same formula?

    I hope no one is denying that change is possible, or that No change is the best one can hope for. Both of those camps would be wrong.

    I think the guys were purposely not concentrating on this aspect of the subject. Which is what I found so refreshing.

    By setting that aspect aside, they were concentrating strictly on passions. We all have them, we don’t choose them, so what are we going to do with them? Their answer was “we are not going to reject them, but rather we are going to transform them”. Fr. Hopko’s book “Christian Faith and SSA” basically says the same thing. We need to learn how to live within our brokenness.

    For quite a few people this is a part of their brokenness. Why is that concept so hard to except for so many people?

    It’s just my opinion, but I think those people who concentrate all their energy on “change” could benefit from this type of program. Because when they set their sights on heterosexuality and then if it doesent come about, they feel hopeless; to the point of either suicide or abandoning God altogether.

    The Orthodox Path according to the interview is rather “Learning to grow closer to God in our passions. The Path; is pursuing transformation in the face of our temptations. Not, the absence of temptations, and certainly not in having the correct type of temptations! Learning, that simply experiencing temptations is okay, goes a long way on this path.

    As hard as it is for some people to believe, Sex is not a prerequisite for being complete or for being human and most certainly not for being a Christian.

    Instead of arguing one side or the other of the change paradigm, they focused on Chastity, learning self control, on not being mastered by our desires-whatever they might be, their focus was rather on being filled by the holy spirit.

    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell,
    I do love your passion for wanting to help the young SSA struggler in becoming a full fledged heterosexual, but I think in your passion you close yourself off to the possibility that this may not always be the outcome. It’s just a thought, but remember Jesus also talked about different kinds of eunuchs. Matthew chapter 19. Here you find Jesus, the disciples and the Pharisees discussing the topic of marriage between males and females. It is true that God created males and females and instituted marriage. But in Matthew 19 Jesus adds another thing that many ignore or overlook…

    This is strictly my own personal opinion I would not force it on anyone, but it could be applied to homosexuals, and yes I apply it to myself.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Joe,

      You are right that Allen’s guests did mention that they had seen changes in sexual orientation, but the way they mentioned it made it sound accidental or maybe miraculous — not something one should hope for much less count on. Well, even Michael Stankovich believes in miracles; he just doesn’t believe in SOCE, and he goes to great lengths to discourage others from believing in SOCE.

      Now I am told by people who know Mamalakis and Williams that they themselves do not deny the efficacy of SOCE; they just don’t want to turn off people in need of therapy who are already turned off of SOCE either from past experience or from anti-SOCE propaganda, so they went out of their way in the interview to avoid appearing to endorse or employ the principles and methods of SOCE therapists.

      Well, with all the people out there like Michael Stankovich publicly dismissing all the evidence that therapy can actually change sexual orientation, it would be nice if therapists who know better would speak a little more candidly about what they know, instead of just delivering sugar-coated sales pitches aimed at the toughest customers. After all, sometimes we as Christians have to just give people the truth and let them choose. Our Lord Himself did it often enough.

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        M. Stankovich says:

        For the FIFTH time I ask you to be as true as your word, Deacon Mitchell: show me “all the evidence that therapy can actually change sexual orientation.” Show me the evidence, not the anecdote(s), the miracles, the exceptions, but evidence that has transformed you.

        But bear in mind, however, that NARTH doesn’t count. But if you turn out to be a man of your word, I just might give you a coupon for a month’s free trial of Lexapro for your honesty. And who would have thought this?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          I read your link to the NARTH article. It’s gay activism stuff. Here’s the concluding sentence:

          As Nicolosi proudly claimed in a 2010 video touting the benefits of reparative therapy: “The strategy of the gay activists, the strategy of gay psychiatrists within the American Psychiatric Association, was to ignore us. We can’t be ignored.”

          Maybe Nicolosi hasn’t noticed, but LGBT rights activists are no longer ignoring NARTH. Rather, they’re seeing it as roadblock to be swept aside in their march toward equality.

          Your stuff is polemics M. Stankovich, not science. I know the gay lobby wants ‘orientation’ to be perceived as an immutable characteristic. Science won’t be able to affirm this either way of course, but public opinion can shift towards the opinion thus the politicizing of the APA. From what I see you are in lock step with them. Why chose such a biased article as evidence otherwise?

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            M. Stankovich says:

            No, I’m not following this “round ‘n round the mulberry bush” chase of your insults, blah, blah, blah.

            Lack of peer review, deception, misrepresentation of science, and manipulation of data is unethical, immoral, and dangerous. Why they are motivated to do such things is polemic. I am uninterested. You are lock step with malignant charlatans who defy the basic tenet of human medicine, “First, do no harm.” Read it again: There is no evidence that reparative therapies are helpful, or most importantly, safe and effective. We, collectively, have decided that when we cannot reasonably determine that benefit outweighs any potential harm, we will not ethically subject human beings to these forms of treatment. Period. “First, do no harm.”

            I certainly hope that your bleating is another example of your “playing to your political base,” who hang at your every “righteous” scoff and dismissal, and not indicative of your pastoral practice. In any case, it is not my concern to “finger-wag or scold,” but to reiterate: shame on you.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              You keep saying that empirical studies are the bottom line to any discussion about homosexuality (overlooking for the moment whether or not science can even say anything about homosexuality beyond correlation), but use as your rationale a polemical essay scripted in the categories and language of the gay rights movement. Thanks, but no thanks.

              Here is something more reliable:

              Source: USA Today. Source for data: Center for Disease Control (CDC) (pdf).

              Does it matter if only 1.4% of people are gay?

              Among those who describe themselves as homosexual or bisexual (a grand total of 3.7% of the 18-44 age group), overwhelming majorities (81%) say they’ve experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender. Among those who call themselves heterosexual, on the other hand, only a tiny minority (6%) ever engaged in physical intimacy of any kind with a member of the same sex.

              These figures indicate that 94% of those living heterosexual lives felt no physical attraction to members of the same sex, but the great bulk of self-identified homosexuals and bisexuals feel enough intimate interest in the opposite gender to engage in erotic contact at some stage in their development.

              [...]

              A one-way street

              Gay pride advocates applaud the courage of those who “come out,” discovering their true nature as homosexual after many years of heterosexual experience. But enlightened opinion denies a similar possibility of change in the other direction, deriding anyone who claims straight orientation after even the briefest interlude of homosexual behavior and insisting they are phony and self-deluding. By this logic, heterosexual orientation among those with past gay relationships is always the product of repression and denial, but homosexual commitment after a straight background is invariably natural and healthy. In fact, numbers show huge majorities of those who “ever had same sex sexual contact” do not identify long-term as gay. Among women 18-44, for instance, 12.5% report some form of same sex contact at some point in their lives, but among the older segment of that group (35-44), only 0.7% identify as homosexual and 1.1% as bisexual.

              In other words, for the minority who may have experimented with gay relationships at some juncture in their lives, well over 80% explicitly renounced homosexual (or even bisexual) self-identification by age of 35. For the clear majority of males (as well as women) who report gay encounters, homosexual activity appears to represent a passing phase, or even a fleeting episode, rather than an unshakable, genetically pre-determined orientation.

              The data indicates that homosexual attraction (“orientation”) is not as immutable as you lead your readers to believe.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Is it possible to force you to stay on topic? The issue at hand is not the immutability of homosexual orientation. The issue is whether it is ethical and moral to expose human subjects to “experimental” forms of therapy that may be harmful. There is a large body of anecdotal report that Reparative/SOCE therapies result in significant psychological, emotional. and spiritual harm. Anecdote always suggests further research.

                If you search the National Library of Medicine regarding reparative therapies , you will find exactly fourteen citations, the majority of which are ethical/legal in nature. Of the research studies, all conclusions are similar to Spitzer:

                Clearly, it is only this kind of research that can provide the information that both clinicians and potential patients need to have to make informed decisions about reparative therapy. What is needed is a prospective outcome study of reparative therapy in which a consecutive series of volunteer individuals are evaluated before starting therapy and after several years. Such a study could provide data as to how often significant change in sexual orientation is reported. It could also examine how often individuals who are unsuccessful in the therapy are harmed in some way and the magnitude of the harm. Unfortunately, given the cost of conducting such a complex study, its necessarily long duration, and the current consensus of the mental health professions that reparative therapy is both ineffective and harmful, it is extremely unlikely that such a useful study will be conducted in the near future.

                Spitzer, RL. Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403–417 (2003).

                Repeat the search with any combination of the words in SOCE and you will arrive at exactly three citations, the primary investigator being Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of NARTH. While indicating that “dissatisfied homosexual people” participated in “conversion therapy,” or self-help, 35.1% “reported large and statistically significant reductions in the frequency of their homosexual thoughts and fantasies… [and] large improvements in their psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual well-being.” While the reported “outcomes” strike me as significantly different than achieving “reorientation,” it is the conclusion of this study that is of interest:

                These responses cannot, for several reasons, be generalized beyond the present sample, but the attitudes and ideas are useful in developing testable hypotheses for further research.

                Nicolosi J, Byrd AD, Potts RW. Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: a consumer survey of conversion therapy clients. Psychol Rep. 2000 Jun;86(3 Pt 2):1071-88.

                Once we have determined that appropriate therapies are safe, we can then investigate in earnest. Rinse and repeat. If you would dismiss and discredit me, do it with reputable evidence and presume to correct statements I have actually made. Tangents are unbecoming.

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                  Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  Michael demands:

                  If you would dismiss and discredit me, do it with reputable evidence and presume to correct statements I have actually made.

                  OK: You did write on your own now-defunct website and right here that same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual activity are “mutually exclusive,” and you have since declined my dozen or more invitations to retract this patently absurd and misleading statement. The statement itself and your refusal to retract it do indeed discredit you. (Walked right into that one, didn’t you?)

                  I should also mention your ranting, your name-calling, your use of laughably partisan political sources (the Southern Poverty Law Center? LOL!), your uncritical acceptance of anecdotal evidence against SOCE, your blanket rejection of anecdotal evidence in favor of SOCE (since Spitzer couldn’t prove that his subjects weren’t all lying), and your refusal to even consider research done by MDs and PhDs who do not share your passionate prejudice against SOCE.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Fourteen anecdotes endorsed by people swimming in a sea of political correctness. (You cited the Southern Law Review as a credible source, remember?) And then you offered the moral exhortation to “do no harm” in order to preemptively disqualify criticism. It sounds so much like global warming, you know, the appeals to “peer review” (every skeptic was a troglodyte), the attempt to demonize critics as “global warming deniers” (sounds like “holocaust deniers”), and so forth.

                  Then the East Anglia emails were leaked and just like the critics thought, fraud and corruption ruled the day. Dishonorable men perverted science to their own ends and corroded public trust among other incalculable harms. But it wasn’t the first time. The scientific establishment embraced eugenics in the 1930s and look at the harm that wrought.

                  It is always prudent to maintain a healthy degree of skepticism towards any researcher who has interests beyond the outcomes of his findings.

                  You apparently did not watch the video I posted of Dr. Nicholas Cummings, the former president of the APA who talks about how the APA has been compromised by homosexual activists. You can take the APA’s dictates at face value if you want. Expecting others to follow your lead however presumes things that should not be presumed.

                  Former president of APA says organization controlled by ‘gay rights’ movement

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    You are boring me senseless, seriously.

                    If you happen to come across my endorsement of the APA’s (that would be plural, Psychological and Psychiatric Associations) position on reparative therapies, you will also be able to walk on water. You apparently did not read my comments in complete agreement with Spitzer’s outrage that the APA would pass a resolution declaring that continued research as to the efficacy of reparative therapies was unethical. Spitzer argued that they had no evidence that reparative therapies are harmful, and I agree. As I quoted above, Spitzer also argued there equally is no evidence as to how frequently and to what extent patients are harmed, and I agree. Spitzer argued that further, prospective research was necessary to make these determinations, and I agree. Spitzer did not never endorsed reparative therapies, and I agree. Spitzer was angered and protested the manner by which NARTH misrepresented his conclusions and recommendations, and I agree. Let me say again: There is no evidence. And as Spitzer pointed out, there will never be appropriate evidence as long as those qualified and who would wish to undertake the research are subject to loss of funding and professional licensing. And you would argue that NARTH’s tactic of “We are in a war of disinformation” is helpful, even disregarding the offensiveness of the lack of ethics?

                    I must say that the further you pursue this discussion, the more you appear to be just another incoherent, far-Right pundit. If I did not already know you to be an Orthodox priest, I would be shocked to discover it. You are aligning yourself with the worst possible expressions of your form of “conservative” thinking: Joseph Nicolosi, Paul Cameron, the American College of Pediatricians, and NARTH are examples of the true creeps and embarrassments of legitimate researcher. They have been routinely dismissed from professional organizations, not for their ideology or religious convictions, but for ethics violations. And now you would dismiss the basic tenets of human medical research – patient safety, blind peer review, and research replication – over this inane argument? Global warming? You find this an intelligent and wise course?

                    I foolishly wait for you and Deacon Mitchell to speak to evidence that will never come. And so I reach the ever-familiar point of committing my role in this circular babble to history. Again, nobody cares to read this and the floor is yours.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      More name-calling, but never mind that now.

                      Let’s talk evidence: You are using an extremely narrow definition of evidence that is recent in origin and not generally accepted by the sciences. It was intended originally to bring some order to clinical practice, particularly in psychology, which has been a largely do-it-yourself affair from the start, based too much on speculation and intuition, producing not a few real charlatans, and never earning much respect as a real science.

                      You are using this new narrow definition of evidence now to dismiss observations that would in fact be accepted as “evidence” in law, common parlance, and even the hard sciences. Anecdote can be evidence: One person says his frustration at failing to change orientation drove him to attempt suicide — that is evidence, not proof but evidence, anecdotal evidence. An experienced researcher conducts lengthy interviews with a hundred subjects he finds credible who tell him they have experienced a change in orientation as a result of therapy — that too is evidence, much better evidence, not proof but evidence, empirical evidence.

                      It happens that there is more and better evidence that people can safely change their sexual orientation through therapy than that therapy aimed at changing orientation causes people harm. Is more and better evidence still needed? Of course. Are we likely to get it when researchers who report evidence of change are either bullied into cowardly recantations or reviled as “charlatans” and “creeps”? No, and when you do these things, you set yourself against the side of science.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      The point is that “no evidence” is not a positive statement. You have Spitzer on the one hand, and Cummings on the other. Which is it? As long as the APA dances with the gay activists their research cannot be trusted given that ideological warfare has entered the organization. Barring some kind of outside intervention (like the email leaks at East Anglia), it’s better to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism towards any findings as well as the charges of unethical behavior given that these types of tactics are a common way to discredit opponents.

                      So your statement…

                      And now you would dismiss the basic tenets of human medical research – patient safety, blind peer review, and research replication – over this inane argument?

                      …functions mainly as an appeal to authority. There’s a world of difference between ‘behaviorial science’ and the hard sciences, but even the findings of hard science can be manipulated as East Anglia proved.

                      It’s always prudent to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism towards the findings of those who have ideological interests that reach beyond the conclusions of their own research — your appeal to the invincibility of science notwithstanding.

                      You are free to disagree of course, which you do with generous heaps of extraneous criticisms. Just don’t tell us the disagreement is ‘objective’ in any sense. Don’t wrap it in the mantle of science.

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        Joe says:

        Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell,

        You throw SOCE around like it’s some kind of magic bullet, the end all, be all, for all homosexual (SSA) people.

        “Change” in an orientation is a loaded word. I can understand why the were cautious. Have you read any of the research that explains exactly what is meant by a change in orientation?

        From the Mark Yarhouse Blog: A psychology professor at Regent University in Virginia Beach, the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity since 2004. Some of his books: Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously-Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation (with Stan Jones), Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal (with Rich Butman and Barrett McRay), and Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors and Friends.

        His view on orientation change: Speaking Candidly that is.

        ” As for my view of whether orientation can change, I actually think it can, but my view is not one that is popular with the mainstream gay community or with conservatives in the church. Let me explain: To say that orientation can change, I mean that there may be meaningful shifts (along a continuum) away from same-sex attraction (and in some cases meaningful shifts toward attraction to the opposite sex). Some of this appears to be the result of natural fluidity, which is more so the case among females. But I don’t think that everyone can change or that anyone can change, as though it were just a matter of enough effort or of enough faith. Also, the data we have seen from our own research suggests that categorical change – 180 degrees – from gay to straight is less likely than what I refer to as meaningful shifts along a continuum (from same-sex to opposite-sex attraction).”

        And the following article:

        Jones,S. & Yarhouse, M. (1997) Science and the ecclesiastical homosexuality debates. Christian Scholar’s Review,26 (4), 446-447

        “What can be concluded from the change literature? We would not share the optimistic and seemingly universal generalization of some conservative authors that “healing is possible for homosexuals who are motivated to change, if change is taken to mean complete alteration of sexual orientation to replace homosexual with heterosexual erotic orientation. Even the most optimistic empirically-grounded spokespersons for change by psychological means say that change is most likely when motivation is strong, when there is a history of successful heterosexual functioning, when gender identity issues are not present, and when involvement in actual homosexual practice has been minimal. Change of homosexual orientation may well be impossible for some by natural means.”

        If this is the change you speak of, then I am sure you have no argument from either Anonymous or myself or even M. Stankovich for that matter (I hope). I have personally experienced this type of change. But, I get the impression this is not the type of change you have in mind. The type of change you speak of is, as mentioned somewhere in this thread a 180% change “the type that sets people up for a fall …unreal expectations.”

        I have a simple question for you. If an X smoker still has a desire to smoke but never lights up, is he still an X smoker?

        You say “Sometimes we have to just give people the truth and let them choose.”

        The truth for some would be, from Fr Hopko’s little book again “Same-sex attractions are to be acknowledged and accepted as a most significant (though hardly exclusive) element in the battle in which some people are providentially called to glorify God and save their souls.”

        He goes on to say,
        “It’s a providential cross to be borne and not a divine gift to be celebrated.”

        Like Anonymous said,
        “It is a life-long struggle I think much along the lines of how someone in AA is always considered an alcoholic.”

        Chastity-learning self control-not being mastered by our desires-being filled with the holy Spirit….You call these things sugar-coatings?
        Are you just arguing for arguments sake, or do you honestly believe this way?

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Joe,

          I’m glad you’ve raised this point, because we do really need to clarify what we’re talking about. I’m using SOCE broadly to mean any effort on the part of therapists to help people change their sexual orientation. Michael says SOCE is just another name for “reparative therapy,” probably because he thinks (wrongly) that reparative therapy (RT) has been discredited, but even some researchers on Michael’s side like Jack Drescher say that not all SOCE can be classed as RT.

          The only claims I have made about SOCE are that it can help some people change orientation and that it is not more dangerous than no therapy. As with any psychological therapy, a lot depends on the depth of a person’s problem and his motivation to get beyond it. Naturally, highly motivated persons whose problems are not too severe do better. Doing better is a matter of degree. Some people say they are only be able to manage a lessening of SSA; others say they’ve basically gone from homosexual to heterosexual. With help, many younger patients just feeling the tug of SSA can escape it entirely and grow up solidly heterosexual. That’s what the evidence shows, even if it doesn’t satisfy Michael.

          What about the hard cases, the people who can’t seem to manage any real change? As Orthodox Christians, we have to still say that SSA is a result of fall, that God really doesn’t intend for people to be “gay,” and that same-sex sexual activity is unnatural and wrong — very wrong. Our tradition does in fact regard homosexual vice as much worse than heterosexual vice. St. John Chrysostom says that sodomy is worse than murder because murder only destroys the body of the victim whereas sodomy also destroys his soul.

          That being the case, we can expect that people who suffer SSA will need help of some sort to live as faithful Christians, but the help we offer them should never rule out the possibility of change and should be based on the same principles that make change possible. It is not enough to simply teach people with SSA to resist the sinful impulse; we also must help them confront the root of the problem, which for many people is a failure to fully identify as male or female. God ordained that difference, and He charged us to maintain it not only by limiting sex to heterosexual marriage, but also through observable differences of appearance and behavior between the sexes as well as separate and distinct roles for men and women. That’s the tradition. That’s the faith of our fathers.

          It also happens to be the basis of much of SOCE, so there’s really no reason for there to be an either/or: SOCE or therapy to control the passions. Any therapy Christians provide must be aimed at helping people live as God fully intends, which means living more manly for men and more womanly for women. Abstaining from sodomy is only the most obvious response to those vocations.

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            Rob Z says:

            “St. John Chrysostom says that sodomy is worse than murder because murder only destroys the body of the victim whereas sodomy also destroys his soul. ”

            Are you serious or just indulging in hyperbole?

            “If you have to choosing between having sexual relations with someone of the same sex and just shooting them in the head at point blank range, choose the latter. ”

            Despite his status as a saint and icon of the Orthodox faith, Chrystostom said a lot of questionable things, and his many sermons against the Jews whom he labeled as “pests of the universe” are often used by white supremacist organizations. I’d pick your references more carefully if you wish us to take them as authoritative.

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              Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              The Holy Apostle Paul in Romans 1:26-27:

              “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another.”

              St. John Chrysostom Homily 4 on Romans 1:26-27:

              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. And if they that suffer such things perceived them, they would accept ten thousand deaths so they might not suffer this evil. For there is not, there surely is not, a more grievous evil than this insolent dealing. For if when discoursing about fornication Paul said, that Every sin which a man does is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body 1 Corinthians 6:18; what shall we say of this madness, which is so much worse than fornication as cannot even be expressed? 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. And that you may learn what the real force of this is, if any one were to come and assure you that he would make you a dog instead of being a man, would you not flee from him as a plague? But, lo! You have not made yourself a dog out of a man, but an animal more disgraceful than this.”

              Does this offend you, Rob? What right has a sinner to be offended by the condemnation of his sin? For the condemnation of sins is for our own salvation, lest we condemn ourselves by sinning.

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                Rob Z says:

                Dn Mitchell, having a moral compass is good, but it requires a sense of proportion and balance. Without that sense of nuance, morality ends up being turned on its head.

                A parent who disciplines their child for cheating or lying in school by withholding an allowance or grounding them for the evening is probably a good parent. One who decides to lynch them from a tree in the back yard for such a trivial offense would not be.

                As I said, Chrysostom was given to excessive rhetoric (typical of his era). His sermons against the Jews used just about every derogatory label available to him. I’m not thus inclined to give much weight to his other other-the-top commentaries.

                Whatever the morality of extra-marital consensual sexual relationships, labeling them as “worse than murder” is not only incoherent from a rational or moral perspective, it’s also, IMO, a bit dangerous. It’s the type of rhetoric that leads to displays like this.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  There are no “nuances” concerning sodomy, Rob. In each and every case it is sinful. With sodomy the compass always points due south.

                  Chrysostom’s point, as well as Dn. Patrick’s, is that sodomy has severe ramifications for the soul. All sin does, but the character and depth of the harm varies depending on the type and frequency of the sin. Fornication and adultery bear a self-inflicted penalty but not as great as sodomy for the simple reason that sodomy violates the natural order of creation in a particularly grievous way.

                  This harm is not inflicted by God as punishment. It is, as I said, self-inflicted. The scripture says that “God gave them up to vile affections” which means that a person who deliberately chooses to continue in that sin moves away from the place where he can hear God.

                  Repentance is always possible of course because God is merciful, but the farther one moves away from God, the more difficult it becomes to return to Him. The Father did not go in among the pigs looking for his prodigal son. The prodigal was embraced when he returned to the father’s estate.

                  What a person does affects not only others but also himself. And the harm occurs even if the sodomite does not believe sodomy is sinful.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            Statement of the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization (05/17/2012)

            Practices known as “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy” represent a serious threat to the health and well-being—even the lives—of affected people.

            There are no rigorous scientific studies demonstrating any efficacy of efforts to change sexual orientation. However, there are many testimonies about the severe harm to mental and physical health that such “services” can cause. Repression of sexual orientation has been associated with feelings of guilt and shame, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

            As an aggravating factor, there have been a growing number of reports about degrading treatments, and physical and sexual harassment under the guise of such “therapies,” which are often provided illicitly. In some cases, adolescents have been subjected to such interventions involuntarily and even deprived of their liberty, sometimes kept in isolation for several months.

            These practices are unjustifiable and should be denounced and subject to sanctions and penalties under national legislation. These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.

            To address the problem, PAHO makes a series of recommendations for governments, academic institutions, professional associations, the media, and civil society, including:

            “Conversion” or “reparative” therapies and the clinics offering them should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions.

            Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons.

            Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.

            In the media, homophobia in any of its manifestations and expressed by any person should be exposed as a public health problem and a threat to human dignity and human rights.

            Civil society organizations can develop mechanisms of civil vigilance to detect violations of the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and report them to the relevant authorities. They can also help to identify and report people and institutions involved in the administration of “reparative” or “conversion therapies.”

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              You always appeal to the most ideologically bound organizations thinking that makes your case.

              The World Health Organization’s Abortion Agenda.

              From UN Pro-Life Lobbying:

              Although the game has changed in terms of the depth of experience now possessed by the pro-life side, the fight is the same. It is over language used by the other side to disguise positions that could not carry the day if they were put forth honestly.

              Take the central term “reproductive rights. Until the first Cairo conference, the term was rarely used. A UN bureaucrat admitted as much at a briefing for the European Parliament a few months ago. He said “population control had become discredited as too authoritarian, so at Cairo they changed the term to “reproductive rights. This term has become the steadiest drumbeat at the UN: After all, the line goes, only the most backward and ignorant people could be against a woman exercising her “reproductive rights. The other side insist the term has nothing to do with abortion, and pro-life delegations have fallen for the argument. But, according to the official definition issued by the World Health Organization, “reproductive rights includes the right to fertility regulation, which explicitly includes the right to abortion.

              This is where repetition of language becomes so insidious. “Reproductive rights has been used so many times in so many documents that it is now part of the international wallpaper.

              It WHO ideologically bound by abortion activism, then it is prudent to examine whether it is bound by homosexual activism before we take their statements at face value.

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                Joe says:

                Wow, talk about getting off track…The title of this post is
                “Reflections on the Ancient Faith Today Program: Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction”

                I assumed we were all Orthodox and that we all held the same view on Homosexuality. Which would be that the church and the bible condemn Homosexuality in any and all circumstances. That it is a total abandoning of God’s created order of male and female.

                You, Fr Jacobse say,
                “This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), Ancient Faith Today interviewed Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams who specialize in counseling people with same-sex attraction. It was hands down one of the most illuminating and informed presentations I have heard on this complex and often contentious topic in quite a while.

                You go on the say,
                ” Their grounding in Orthodox anthropology enabled them to avoid the common misconception that the object of a person’s sexual desire forms what I call a “foundational characteristic of personhood.” In practical terms this means that we error when we see a person first and foremost as either “straight” or “gay” believing that “sexual orientation” sums up much of who and what he is.”

                “We are not to conform our understanding of the human person to whether he prefers men or women because we don’t define a person in terms of his sexual desire. Desires are malleable, they require self-discipline and self-mastery (this is what fasting is about for example). And the knowledge that directs this path of mastery can only be uncovered if there is a deeper understanding of the purpose, meaning, and destiny of the human person.”

                “They framed same-sex desire in the larger context of the inherent value of the human person and his created destiny to become a son of God (male and female alike). As such we heard no condemnatory language that you might hear from moral rigorists who correctly see homosexual behavior as sin but lack the insight about how the struggle with same-sex desire might actually be a means of transformation…”

                Unless I have misunderstood, now your view is that Sodomy or a person who struggles with same-sex attractions, is actually defined by those attractions as a sodomite. And untill they become a fully functioning human male, in essence heterosexual, their soul is in danger.

                Dn. Patrick’s, “Abstaining from sodomy is only the most obvious response to those vocations” comment, basically brushes sexual purity aside as not really that important.

                Never mind that Jesus’ statement about (remarriage as adultery) was designed to indicate the importance of sexual purity.

                John the Baptists was killed for speaking about King Herod’s incest (marring his sister-in-law), he obviously thought it was a big enough issue to die for.

                Jesus telling the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more less something worse happen to you.

                What could be worse than getting stoned to death? Answer, be excluded from God’s kingdom.

                It would appear all Sexual issues are actually life and death issues.

                Hebrews 4:15, Christ empathy with sinners rests on His being tempted in every way we are. I can’t imagine sex being excluded from that tempting. I think it goes on to say He learned obedience from the things which he suffered.

                Fr Jacobse you say,
                “What a person does affects not only others but also himself.” That is a two-edged sword the ramifications of giving in to sexual temptations (of any kind) are devastating all around and on going in ways we don’t see untill sometimes years later. Yet, the ramifications of resisting those same temptations also has far reaching implications only now they are for the good.

                I’m a firm believer in God working all things together for good, and although I can’t speak for everyone, in my case that would certainly include my SSA struggles. As stated in the interview, “Our passions are a very real part of us.”

                Again I reiterate, thank you for sharing this segment. I think Dr. Mamalakis and Mr. Williams are on the right path with this program and I hope the Church can get behind them with it’s implementation.

                ~joe

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Unless I have misunderstood, now your view is that Sodomy or a person who struggles with same-sex attractions, is actually defined by those attractions as a sodomite. And untill they become a fully functioning human male, in essence heterosexual, their soul is in danger.

                  I think you have misunderstood. A person who struggles with the desire for alcohol and the person who drinks are in two different places. The struggle with alchohol cannot become transformative until the drinking stops, the first step of which is recognizing that the drinking has to stop. That’s the purpose of an intervention, to break the dependencies that enable the drinking to continue so that the person might come face to face with himself.

                  A person struggling with same-sex desire is not a sodomite, only a person engaging in anal intercourse is. (BTW, the prohibition is towards the behavior and applies to heterosexual sodomy too.)

                  Don’t forget that St. Paul says elsewhere that some members in his fledgling parish were engaged in these sins but were washed and renewed:

                  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

                  Paul makes the distinction here between the person and sin. A person is not defined by his passions, by the untoward behaviors he might struggle against. You don’t need to define yourself that way. St. Paul doesn’t.

                  My only purpose for bringing up sodomy with Rob was to make sure he understood that the Christian moral tradition views it as sin. There are no “nuances” that make it sin in some circumstances but not others.

                  “What a person does affects not only others but also himself.” That is a two-edged sword the ramifications of giving in to sexual temptations (of any kind) are devastating all around and on going in ways we don’t see untill sometimes years later. Yet, the ramifications of resisting those same temptations also has far reaching implications only now they are for the good.

                  Yes, absolutely true.

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                    Rob Z says:

                    My reference to moral nuance was in how to deal with various levels of sinfulness as well as acknowledging that there are degrees of culpability: one must take into account not only the action itself but the motives, the level of moral awareness of the person, the thoughts and spirit of the person committing the action and so forth.

                    I’m suggesting that we must deal with human error in a rational manner and one which is proportionate to the offense committed. To say that we should go around treating any sexual sinner as we do a serial killer reflects, to me, a serious lack of perspective, that’s all.

                    (This is all Ethics 101, I’d think: heterosexual rape is simply not morally equivalent to heterosexual fornication, though the act is identical.)

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      All this argument, and finally we get to the crux of the matter: Is sodomy grossly immoral or simply forbidden?

                      I vote, with the Holy Apostle Paul, St. John Chrysostom, and Fr. Hans, for grossly immoral.

                      Please note that by sodomy I don’t just mean anal intercourse — that is a modern misconception. The term originated as a reference to the unspecified homosexual depravity of Sodom, and it has long been a matter of law in English-speaking countries that the term encompasses a variety of unnatural sex acts.

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                      Rob Z says:

                      Okay, Dn Mitchell, your moral outrage is duly noted. We get it. It’s even worse than this.

                      I just don’t understand the moral compass of you people. I’m done here.

                      Bye.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Rob, it’s simple: The more unnatural it is, the worse it is for us. There’s no getting around that.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Sometimes the “news” is just the news. My case – if you are referring to reparative therapies for homosexuality – was made on this site six months ago. Post after post of rich citations for your scrutiny. Yours, not so much. I do appreciate the new tact of “no evidence is not a statement,” “correlation is not fact,” “world of difference between ‘sciences,” especially when you and Deacon Mitchell can’t seem to refute me with substance.

                You continue to raise this ridiculous notion of the personal “morality” of individual scientists as reflective of their research, as you did six months ago, and I repeat myself: if your data is collected properly, and your findings have been scrutinized, replicated, and are helpful to patients, I am not interested in you personally. Because you are making such a show of your Far-Right credentials against the “homosexual agenda,” you have summarily dismissed the APAs (Psychiatric & Psychological), the AMA, the National Library of Medicine, the SPLC (referenced simply to indicate someone considers NARTH a hate group, not to bolster the science), the Hypocratic Oath, and the ethics policies regarding research and human subjects of every medical school in North America. We are left with the creeps and charlatans of NARTH – along with their numerous affiliated & similar creeps and charlatans – and you.

                Thanks, but no thanks.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Let me correct a misconception…

                  You continue to raise this ridiculous notion of the personal “morality” of individual scientists as reflective of their research…

                  …not personal morality, but ideological assumptions. Ideology has tainted scientific findings in the past, especially in the behavioral sciences — eugenics, global warming, that sort of thing — when the research was driven by politicized elements. Clearly that is happening today. Hillary Clinton has moved abortion and homosexuality to the front of US foreign policy, a particularly noxious form of cultural imperialism but quite acceptable to the activists, as the support of abortion by WHO indicates. To think it is any different regarding homosexuality is, well, naive. Dr. Cummings, former president of the AMA makes the same point in so many words.

                  To think that appeals to science, especially behavioral science, close all questions about human anthropology ignores history. Science has precious little to say about values and meaning which is why the research in the behavioral sciences is so susceptible to manipulation. Not everything is settled by citing a study especially something as complex as human sexuality.

                  You also said:

                  …the SPLC (referenced simply to indicate someone considers NARTH a hate group, not to bolster the science)…

                  Thanks for the qualifier but it reveals ideology informs your arguments too (“hate group” and all that).

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    John C. says:

    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell asserted early on that the two guests on the show disparaged traditional gender roles. This is not true. They disparaged the one-dimensional caricatures of what it means to be a man or a woman: cowboy and princess. These caricatures, which are products of popular culture, are part of the problem behind a lot of the gender confusion in American society. They imply that men are isolated, nomadic and violent brutes and women are demanding divas who only want to be pampered. The reign of these caricatures in our culture pushes men and women who do not fit these straightjackets into homosexuality: hence the complete (and largely unspoken, though still upheld) lie that if men are creative or artistic they must be gay, or if women enjoy physical activity they must be lesbian. There is an older and more fluid understanding of male and female in the Church and in the societies that were formed under the guidance of the church. You find it in Scripture and the lives of the saints, even in the contemporary elders. Is Elder Porphyrios a ‘cowboy’? He is a contemporary saint, but he does not fit into any of the recognizable gender roles of American pop culture.

    Let’s defend the complementarity and distinctiveness of male and female without defending one-dimensional caricatures. I know both Andrew and Phillip personally, and they most decidedly do not reject the distinctiveness and complementarity of male and female.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      They did indeed disparage traditional sex roles by reducing them to the caricature of cowboys and princesses — as if these were the only clear images of male and female available to us in our complex, diverse culture — and by implying, as you have plainly said here, that stressing sexual distinction causes homosexuality and that what is needed is a more “fluid” understanding of male and female, so that effeminate boys and boyish girls will feel “free to be, you and me.”

      This is feminist thinking and not the teaching of the Church. What is needed is more respect for the apostolic traditions enforcing the clear distinction and separation of males and females, instead of their current confusion. When these traditions are respected, it becomes so obvious who’s a man and who’s a woman that individual differences in artisticness and athleticism in no way threaten one’s manhood or womanhood.

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        John C. says:

        Good Deacon, I’m not willing to stake the apostolic traditions on cowboys and princesses. Distinctions do not equal stereotypes and straightjackets. Fluidity does not automatically slide into interchangeability and ambiguity.

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          John, I’m not the one reducing traditional sex roles to the “stereotypes and straightjackets” of cowboys and princesses; I’m the one objecting to the reduction of traditional sex roles to those “stereotypes and straightjackets.”

          As for fluidity, maybe you should choose another word to express what you mean, since fluidity, as you have used it, strongly suggests easy movement between the poles of male and female, rather than the distinct categories God has ordained and apostolic tradition maintains.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Think of this Byzantine historians claimed that Heraclius was punished for his incestal married to his niece Maria. He had a urinary prolbm later in life. Most of them would not think to debate homosexuality and incest.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Consider the difference that twenty years make. Twenty years ago, I had never been with a woman, but I had had relations with quite a few men. Virtually all of my friends were gays, lesbians, or women who enjoyed gay company. I found girls pretty, but I was scared of them. Most of them were not attracted to me because I was effeminate.

    Now I am twelve years into a happy and faithful marriage to a woman. I sinned at different times, but talking things over with people helped me overcome my harmful behavior. I begged God for forgiveness. You couldn’t pay me to have sex with a man at this point in my life. I don’t feel the urge — maybe because I’m in my forties and one calms down in middle age, or maybe because it just wasn’t right for me all along.

    There’s no point in obsessing over my sexual ontology, never mind obsessing over other people’s. …

    …Crystal Dixon pointed out something that no amount of peer-reviewed research can disprove. Gay is not the new black. “Gay” is about sex and genitalia. People we call “gay” make choices about what they do with their genitals; blacks do not make choices about the color of their skin. Period. How Frank you are on the subject.

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    Joe says:

    Fr. Johannes Jacobse,
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this segment. As a 50 year old gay man who has struggled with this issue my whole life, this is by for the best presentation of the subject I have ever heard. Just listening to the interview has made a profound impression on my life, in a good way.

    They state in the interview that insight alone can be freeing…so true. They go on to say that the purpose of their program is basically changing how we think about the problem, or even what we think the problem is…the real goal of the program is to show that the “transformation” that comes from our temptations and struggles is actually the point. By the light of Christ, in and through our struggles we somehow find our vocation, The vocation of learning how to deal with our passions and therefore growing closer to God.

    I pray for a speedy success in getting their program out to the Church.

    Again thanks!
    ~joe

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    Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

    Thank you Joe. Glad you liked it.

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  1. [...] reading both books this weekend and will report back on both next week. ☆ ☆ ☆ 2) Reflections on the Ancient Faith Today Progam: Christianity and Same-Sex Attractionhttp://www.aoiusa.org/blog/reflections-ancient-faith-today-progam-understanding-samesex-desire/By [...]

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