October 25, 2014

Rod Dreher: It’s Time Bishops Man Up

Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Earlier this year, there was a battle-royal raging among the elites of my church, the Orthodox Church in America, over the leadership style of Metropolitan Jonah, the primate. A number of the bishops on the Synod were plotting against him, along with some key and vocal activists associated with the OCA old guard.

I involved myself in the defense of Jonah, blogging under a pseudonym to prevent the chance that that controversy could bring negative publicity to my then-employer. I and the other bloggers were outed after a bishop accessed (probably illegally) the e-mail account of a friend and former pastor, and spent two months reading all the man’s private e-mails, including correspondence from me.

The fallout from all that made me decide that I need to stay the hell away from anything to do with bishops, because there is nothing but trouble there for me. I never should have gotten involved, because it was all, in the end, pointless. I say that not to “re-litigate” that whole controversy, but only as way of background to what I’m about to say.

During all this, some of Jonah’s enemies within the OCA made accusations that he was going soft on priests guilty of sexual misconduct, and violating the OCA’s own policies in this regard.

From my point of view, much of the evidence for these charges was cherry-picked and spun; it seemed pretty clear to me that people who hated Jonah for other reasons were trying to manufacture a case to get rid of him. That said, there were some instances in which Jonah’s leniency on sexually aberrant clerics was, in my view, indefensible.

One that was public involved the enfeebled Archbishop Dmitri’s decision, under duress, to return to the altar a gay deacon in Miami who had abandoned his post and gone to California to “marry” another man. The deacon returned and took up residence with his old housemate, a retired Orthodox bishop, and asked to be reinstated.

Jonah, as the Diocese of the South’s locum tenens, did not change Dmitri’s decision.

I told my wife Julie that as much as I cared for Jonah and wanted to defend him, I was troubled by seeing in him the same old patterns of clericalist softballing of sexually incontinent priests that she and I had seen among the Catholic bishops, and that ultimately destroyed our ability to believe as Catholics. Again, there was nothing remotely along the lines of the Catholic abuse scandal at issue, but I was seeing evidence that, however unfair the accusations against him from his enemies were, the Metropolitan was failing to take this kind of clerical corruption seriously enough.

Julie hit the ceiling. And when she came down, she woke up the next morning, put on her shoes, walked to the train, and didn’t stop until she reached the Metropolitan’s house in Washington, DC.

She delivered to him some very stern words — in love, of course, but without fear or restraint.

In short, she told the patriarch that he had better wake up and realize that his duty is not to coddle priests who can’t keep their pants up, but rather his duty is to protect the whole church. She told him that she and a bunch of other moms she knows are working their butts off to raise faithful Orthodox children, and when they see that bishops are so spineless as to go the extra mile to be considerate of the needs and wants of errant priests, it is an egregious insult to the laity.

She ended by telling him, through tears, that the faithful need our bishops to be morally straight, and strong, and trustworthy, and they had better bloody well man up.

Julie arrived home after midnight, emotionally exhausted. I don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder of her. She said the Metropolitan received her words kindly. I noticed that days later, he ordered that prodigal Miami deacon to be removed from ministry.

Nothing happened, though, because by then Jonah had no direct authority over him (this because of Orthodox ecclesiology), and the bishop who did, Nikon of Boston, apparently had no interest. The deacon is still on staff at the Miami OCA cathedral.

I don’t expect the bishops to man up. I quit expecting anything of bishops.

Source: Real Clear Religion

But you know, here’s what I wish bishops — Orthodox, Catholic, and otherwise — would get through their thick mitres.

Many of us parents are trying to raise children to be faithful to our churches in a secular, pluralistic age. As these children grow up, they will be able to entertain the thoughts of believing in other churches, in other faiths, or in no faith at all. If we’re serious about our Orthodoxy, or Catholicism, or Anglicanism, what have you, we will want our children to stay loyal to the faith. There are so many forces pushing and pulling them away from it. We’re living with it daily, and doing our best to build our kids (and ourselves) up in the faith: to know what we believe, and to be joyful in it.

We need to be able to look to our church leadership with trust and respect. We don’t have a right to expect every bishop or priest to be a saint; we do have a right to expect them all to have basic integrity. And God knows we have a right to expect that if a clergyman has committed serious sins that compromise his ability to serve as a spiritual father, that the bishop will find something else for that man to do.

Everybody who is repentant can be forgiven, thank God — but that doesn’t mean that every forgiven sinner has a right to serve as a priest or deacon.

When our kids get old enough to start questioning their faith, as most of them naturally will do, what will they think when they see bishops like Finn of Kansas City, who covered for a priest who possessed child pornography? What will they think when they see all kinds of lesser but still significant failures by church leadership?

We will tell them that the failures of men do not obviate the truth of Church teaching, and we will tell them that the Church is made of fallen men, and we will tell them that they too are sinners. And we will hope that that will work. But we will know too that they are part of a generation that feels no loyalty to a particular church or tradition.

Maybe the groundwork we will have laid in their childhood will stand them in good stead once they start to question everything they were taught. We have to hope so. What we could use, though, is strength, integrity, and consistency in the priesthood.

The bottom line: We should be able to tell our kids that Bishop N. and Father J. are reasons for them to remain in the Church, not to leave it.

Too many of us don’t have that now. And we don’t have that in part because you bishops place the perceived needs of yourselves and your priests above the needs of, and your responsibilities to, the whole Church. You too often act like you are the Church, and the rest of us are privileged to have the blessing of your company.

In the Catholic Church, too many bishops act like they’re the district managers of General Motors plants circa 1960, when there was no competition. As Putnam and Campbell reported in “American Grace,” social science research shows that so many American Catholics are leaving the Church that if not for Hispanic immigration, Catholicism in this country would be declining as fast as the Protestant mainline.

In my branch of the Orthodox Church, many of our bishops carry themselves as if they were going to have tea with the Byzantine Emperor after liturgy, when the truth is that the OCA is small and poor, and getting smaller and poorer, and more demoralized. And the Episcopalians — well, that mess hardly needs elaboration.

Look, I know not every bishop is a bad guy. Still, I think it’s safe to say that most — though not all! — of you bishops live in a churchy bubble. You are surrounded by sycophants and people who kowtow to you, and who never want to bring you bad news. The historian Barbara Tuchman, in “The March of Folly,” had this to say about the six Renaissance popes whose stupid misgovernment helped provoke the Protestant Reformation:

Their three outstanding attitudes — obliviousness to the growing disaffection of constituents, primacy of self-aggrandizement, illusion of invulnerable status — are persistent aspects of folly. While in the case of the Renaissance popes, these were bred in and exaggerated by the surrounding culture, all are independent of time and recurrent in governorship.

Nowadays, Your Graces, leaving the faith for another church, or no faith at all, has never been easier for Christians. Wake up. Man up. Can’t you read the signs of the times?

Things are hard now for small-o orthodox Christians and our families, and they’re going to get harder. You are not helping.

Comments

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    Fr. Peter Dubinin says:

    Excellent article – straight, to the point. Rather than wear the clothes of byzantine royalty I would be totally blown away if our bishops took the lead in repentance and dressed in sack cloth and ashes. When serving in Kosovo back in 2000 I was invited to Gracanica monastery for the feast of the Dormition. I was favorably impressed with the visiting bishop from Bosnia who wore a very humble, portable (collapsable) miter. Even this “departure” from “who-can-out-do-whom” in glitz and glamor among bishops was spritually refreshing and encouraging.

    When I take a step back and look at the issues affecting the Orthodox Church I cringe with embarrassment and shame. The inability of the Church to appropriately deal with sexual misconduct is at the top of the list. The ongoing squabble about primacy among the hierarchs would be just plain hilarious if it wasn’t so painfully embarassing. I mean, really? Our Lord was clear; on the matter of sexual misconduct – it would be better that a millstone be hung around the neck of the offender and drown than cause one of these little ones to stumble; on primacy – it is characteristic of the gentiles to lord it over its subjects, but it shall not be so among you. The greatest among you will be the one who serves. Multiple Scripture can be cited to apply to these and all other issues facing the Church; God did furnish us with an instruction manual on how the Church is supposed to be structured and operated.

    I think a move in the right direction would be for our bishops to take the lead – sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow me (i.e., Christ); foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head. To see our hierarchs divest themselves of all things earthly in imitation of Christ would have a most profound impact on the Church and perhaps offer a bit of hope that in the ark of the Church there is salvation.

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      Fr. Peter Dubinin says:

      O and what’s up with an author’s signing table at the All-American Council? Really? Why do we persist in fostering personality cult? Why do we continue to do those things which elevate vainglory and all the things Christ calls upon us to forsake? Whatever happened to works published by “A Monk of the Eastern Church?” Were we not in fact edified by his contributions not knowing who he was (at least I didn’t until years after reading his works)? I’m presently reading a biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn; it has taken me back in review of many of his indictments against the West. My, O my, if many of those indictments don’t in fact apply to our Orthodox Church in North America. He was spot on to maintain the only way true reform could come to the former Soviet Union was by way of repentance; a true, genuine, authentic turning to God. The same applies to us. Lord have mercy.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Fr. Peter, get the book edited by Solzhenitsyn called “From Under the Rubble” (a few bucks for used at Amazon). It was one of the first books I read that showed me how deep religious thought could penetrate culture and helped lead me to Orthodoxy.

        From the review:

        Alexander Solzhenitsyn edited a powerful book that dramatically impacted my life in my thinking about how nations are transformed. While it was published in 1974 (renewed in 1981) and obviously is now out of print, for several of the essays, this book is worth searching for.
        It should be noted that Solzhenitsyn is much more well thought of in the West than in Russia today. Even though he returned to live in Moscow, Russians generally feel he left the country to profit on his message, so he is not accorded the same kind of respect given to other dissidents that remained.

        Still, there are powerful messages here. Personally, the most impacting was Solzhenitsyn’s chapter “Repentance and the Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations” and Igor Shafarevich’s “Separation or Reconciliation? The Nationalities Question…” In these chapters the authors suggest that national “repentance” is a key aspect to any kind meaningful social change. The search for sins begins in ourselves and progresses upward on behalf of the nation. He says, nations “are suceptible to all moral feelings.. including repentance” (p. 109). The nation is “mystically welded together” in this way. He further points to history to show the nature of Russian character in “penitental movements” as part of the national character that must be reclaimed to transform society.

        The message of the book is that national transformations must occur at all levels but be built on a spiritual foundation. It offers a critical view of the roles of the church, socialism and personal conscience as obstacles or conduits for change.

        While the social and political nature of Russia had dramatically entered upheaval for thepast 11 years (25 years after these essays were originally penned), the messages are still relevant for Russia today and equally applicable in many respects for our own country as well.

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          Harry Coin says:

          Fr. H: It is for the reasons along the lines you’ve mentioned, thematic repentance, I think the correct ‘way out’ of the ‘underwater mortgage crisis’ is to change the bankruptcy laws so folk who have as their major debt one home, the one they live in, can declare bankruptcy, wipe out that debt, move into something they can afford and not have it haunt their credit or future for seven years.

          It was Barney Frank and Chris Dodd who, after all, started this ball rolling by causing the government to back loans written to folk who couldn’t afford month in and month out to pay them back.

          An orderly bankruptcy process that moderates the impact for people who thought they were doing as the leadership (wrongly) indicated was wise cleans the slate without inflation that wipes out everyone’s retirement savings as well.

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      Father Peter, thank you for your all-too-tragically-true comments! As a pastor/priest, I too am DAILY dealing with the embarrassment and shame of the inconsistency of what we SAY we teach/believe/do as The Orthodox Church in America, and what our bishops actually do/allow/implicitly condone by passivity (and for that matter, the gross imbalance in what our bishops DO discipline — such legalism regarding non-essentials as to “stran a gnat and swallow a camel”!). It seems our bishops get more “up-in-arms” when one of their own signs a moral statement such as The Manhattan Declaration, than they are over the abortion of fifty-three million children. What’s wrong with this picture?

      The coup against Metropolitan JONAH is horribly shameful, and is the reason the OCA is not moving forward. As much as I love and respect Matushka Julianna, this coup and lack of cooperation is what needs to be addressed at our upcoming All-American Council.

      As to your comment on “signing tables,” I have nothing against that but I understand and sympathize with your point. Of greater concern to me is why do we have to “live up to the Mainline Joneses” by having our councils at the most expensive hotels? (My wife and I are saving over five hundred dollars by staying at a nearby Motel 6.) Why are we not having our All-American Council in the summer at any one of thousands of low cost college campuses? Why do we insist on an expensive (family cost-prohibitive) “banquet”? And this is a valid criticism on the parish level as well –with local churches having banquets that their own families can’t afford to attend. This isn’t so much about individual decisions or banquets as it is about the attitude of the elite in the OCA.

      As far as your suggestion our bishops sell all, this would be very appropriate, but it could also tend to make our bishops compromise even more toward those who pay their living. I don’t know that any system is perfect; the answer, as you clearly point out, is correction and repentance.

      Bottom line: You, Father Peter, are right on in saying the only way true reform can come is by way of repentance; a true, genuine, authentic turning to God (myself first!). Lord have mercy indeed.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        This reminds me of the first Clergy-Laity Congress I ever attended (GOA). It was at the Chicago Hilton, a great hotel in a great city. The trouble was, we priests in smaller parishes couldn’t afford it. What did we do? Four of us got together and split a double four ways — two had the two single beds, two on the floor. I don’t know what the maids thought but none of them ever said anything. At the same time we were aware of the unseemliness of it all. Shouldn’t some kind of accommodation have been made? Apparently not.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Many of our bishops are afflicted with what Solzhenitsyn called the real crisis in the West: a lack of moral courage.

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          3 guesses, the first 2 don't count says:

          Fr. Hans, why it is a good thing in Orthodox understanding for our nation, including several hundred thousand Orthodox Christians, to deem it wise to be ‘under’, a once ‘Ecumenical’ see several thousand miles away presently composed of a few dozen mostly Greek ethnics who lived around once Eastern Greece? Or perhaps a see in Russia that got itself so conflated with a tsar the people rejected one with the other and dumped both for decades. Now we see a tsar in democratic drag rising again there while the church appears to repeat its previous policies that ended so badly.

          Moreover, an ‘Ecumenical Patriarchate’ who deems it wise, most recently, to allow two bishops who we here advised they not accept,
          to remain as bishops though they engaged in sexual congress with men and women who were parishioners? Bishops who cost us (not them), more than the price of several new parishes in legal settlements– above all the creation of victims?

          How does it happen after all these centuries of failing to inspire mostly poor folk in now mostly Islamic countries, their neighbors, rather close to the circumstances the common folk, such as fishermen read of in the New Testament, and dwindling, nevertheless they are deserving of such authority over us in such a distant place?

          I read with interest of course of the many canons having to do with geography utterly unknown at the time they were written cited as giving such entitlement. What of the rules that bishops shouldn’t bother the teens sexually and yet remain bishops? Plainly, the teaching we see is rules are to be thought of as a desperado thinks of ammo– use what works, ignore the rest.

          I recently attended a parish general assembly. Never did anyone ask what it was the thousands we were obliged to send in was spent on. The president presented a form which someone else would use to compute was was due, on the basis that non-compliance would result in reprisals. I set my overall giving in general upward, but deemed the parish a risky place and so allocated less than previously.

          Hence the clergy laying on the floors in hotels. I am sorry to say it but if you folks weren’t so willing to be the sharp end of their spears perhaps everyone could sleep in decent beds in normal people hotels and the money for glitz used to support the sick in the parish.

          Nevermind the sick, sick joke of ‘monastics’ taking salaries that seem low, then the allowance for this, the extra for that, the donation that somehow doesn’t make it into the books the accountants see, the bezillions in settlements ach..

          Should the rest of us live as they teach?

          Local, very local, bishops, and a minimal ‘eparchial’ or ‘national’ or ‘central’ office.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            You won’t get much argument from me 3 guesses. For the record, you probably won’t find me on the end of anyone’s spear either, not when it matters anyway. Makes me think that perhaps a married priesthood serves as a brake on the ambitions of men who have no clue about the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood, and the sobriety and maturity it can foster in men — and often does.

            Throw homosexual pathology into the mix and even more trouble appears. If a man begins with a deficit in masculine self-understanding, developing the virtues afforded most often through marriage and fatherhood is kicked even farther down the road. Rarely, if ever, does a person grow to where those virtues can be appropriated, especially when guaranteed salaries and benefits ensure that the sting of self-denial (or the penalty of courage) can be avoided without cost.

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              Geo Michalopulos says:

              Fr, that’s why I can’t completely shake Harry Coin’s apologetic about a married episcopate. Right now the OCA is suffering because of the sins of past bishops. Heterosexual pathology when it is found in the upper levels of any hierarchical organization has negative side-effects (Bathsheba, David; see). Why should we feel that homosexual pathology is any different?

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    M. Stankovich says:

    I am reminded of Chekov’s short story, The Bishop, caught in an emotional prison of his own making. The kathedra on which he stands, “in the midst of his people,” and the distance he feels from his own mother are metaphors of the alienation that makes him feel “numb.” But even in stating, “”I ought not to be a bishop. I ought to have been a village priest, a deacon… or simply a monk… All this oppresses me… oppresses me,” he cannot appreciate that the oppression of “all this” is not his rank, but his heart. Perhaps the saddest aspect is that, in his inability to hear his attendant, Father Sisoy, he imagines that both his heart and his prison are “hidden” from view: “What’s the good of talking? It’s no use. ”

    We have paid tremendously for the contradiction of the “unapproachable” Bishop who is called, in his own person, to make “Him Who is Unapproachable” approachable. I wholeheartedly agree with Fr. Peter that the “rainbow” of brocade vestments to fit the season – and the matching “prayer rope & mitre” accessories – are transparent; and we are like “old Sisoy, who had spent his whole life in the presence of bishops and had outlived eleven of them.” We have eyes and see, and ears and hear! We are not the “religious maniac utter[ing] occasional shrieks in the gallery” found to be so annoying.

    Rather than the Deacon declare, let him demand “May your light so shine before men that may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Mat. 5:16)

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    You know, people say that the Church has a spiritual problem, a moral problem, talk about philosophical and civilizational issues. Sometimes I think the problem of the Church is far more prosaic than that. It is a Human Resource problem.

    The selection process is wrong. The criteria for the selection is wrong. The skills, abilities and character traits expected are wrong. Leaders do not have any experience or training in leadership or institutional human relations. There are no clearly stated criteria to measure success. There is not even a clear definition of what “success” means for a Church leader. Why they do not go to Administration or Management Colleges? Why they don’t take MBAs or Masters or PhD in managing people related fields? Of course that nowadays these subjects have companies or the public sector in mind, but it will require Church-minded people to tailor these concepts for the Church. And they will have to learn them as they exist now.

    Bishops, patriarchs and metropolitans are like the CEOs of multinationals and just like a CEO is chosen by a mix of competence, experience and politics (which *is* an important factor in this job), so should Bishops.

    The Church, as an institution, is a spiritual healing organization. It’s final aim is to produce saints, no less. The Church that fails in producing saints is failing in everything that matters for her. Saints can be known not by miracles, which are sideeffects, but by the “enlargement of the heart”, by Christian love as understood by Orthodoxy: sacrificial love, joyful embracing of suffering when needed.

    In view of that, we need two kinds of leaders: institutional leaders and spiritual leader. Sometimes, the best man to heading the institutional aspect of the Church is not necessarily the most developed spiritually – he must have character, courage, education, but the bishop has to be a good Church executive, meaning that he is the one executes things, the one who makes things happen. As said in the article, he is not there to protect some particulars – clergy or laity – but the Church as whole in her task of producing saints. The first generation of such bishops would have much cleaning to do. In a first view, for some years, the numbers of the Church *will* shrink. But these will be the innevitable pain any surgery brings. After it healing comes.

    In the past, Church leadership used the succesful Roman style of leadership and organization – hence dioceses, metropolias, etc. It’s about time that with the same humility, we start using that which are the most succesful models of organizational leadership in the world. The universities of the world abound with such courses, there is vast literature on it. It just requires humility to learn and creativity to adapt it to Church specificities.

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    Bravo, Julie Dreher! After reading this, my wife wants to meet you. (And she told me to tell you she wants to join any future train trips you make!)

    Thank you, Rod, for this spot-on article. For the very *first* time this year, since “The More Things Change…”, I totally agree 100% with an Orthodox commentary.

    (As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I disagree slightly with your introduction, where you regret getting involved — I am very glad you started ocatruth, and I certainly don’t think it was “pointless,” not only for the sake of the influence it’s had in supporting +JONAH but for the sake of counter-balance regarding the monopoly of information flow, even though at times the editorial pendulum seemed to swing just as embarrassingly widely in the opposite direction as ocanews.)

    Julie, you were right-on to point to the faith of our children, and the future generation of Orthodox Christians. If appeals to integrity and what the Church teaches doesn’t “get to” our bishops, then surely the consideration of our youth looking on should steer them toward moral discipline. If THAT doesn’t, they should not be bishops at all.

    Our OCA bishops have demoralized us, and the solution isn’t more legalism or asserting episcopal “authority” over the rank and file, but simple consistency in trying both to live the Gospel personally and to apply ecclesial discipline to those under pastoral care.

    I don’t mean to go too far afield, I just mean to thank you, Rod, but I can’t help but ask: where is the pastoral concern for Archdeacon Gregory PERSONALLY? I have met and served with this man. As usual, commentary and concern is with rank / position, reinstatement, rubrics, etc., etc. The focus should not be so much on whether to reinstate him or not (obviously, the answer here is “No,” according to the teaching of our Lord), but to help him in his obvious and public struggle against so pernicious a sin (for even San Francisco marriage records are public, as are Washington state obituaries). I have perceived in Metropolitan JONAH this very pastoral concern, even though he seems to, in my opinion, seems to go so far as to equate love with leniency. But I admit that perception is not reality, and I realize I do not have the pastoral information he does, and every pastoral situation is different, and requires a personally-tailored response, for the salvation of the soul.

    Again, thank you Rod. You are one of the good guys, and I never say that lightly.

    Fr Mark Hodges
    St Stephen’s, Lima OH

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    Andrew says:

    Rod, What did Metropolitan Jonah say to your wife who made this great effort to see him and confront him with strong words? This part seems to be missing from your essay and would certainly be revealing.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Rod told us. He wrote: “She said the Metropolitan received her words kindly. I noticed that days later, he ordered that prodigal Miami deacon to be removed from ministry.”

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        Andrew says:

        Forgive me father but “received words kindly” is Orthodox doublespeak worthy of the folks who run chanceries. Given the numerous pastoral concerns Mrs Dreher had on her mind I would like Rod to expand on this point and elaborate. What did Metropolitan do when your wife confronted him?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          I not in the position of defending Rod, but I think he did the right thing by not revealing the content of the conversation. I would never reveal the content of a private conversation with a hierarch. It would betray trust I think. So I take what Rod said here at his word, that the conversation may have provoked Met. Jonah to act.

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            Andrew says:

            Nonetheless, Rod has drawn attention to this incident by highlighting his wife’s trip in a publication. He uses it for attention. If privacy is so important why write the article at all. And lets be honest he could discuss it if he wanted to …..there is no “seal” on such conversations. Not discussing what the Metropolitan said is just part of what readers have come to expect from Rod. Its about manipulation.

            Come on Rod and tell readers what Metropolitan Jonah said and how he treated your wife……

            This is the big problem with Rod Dreher. He makes fun of Catholics but can’t stand people making fun of the DOS. He is a crusader against corruption except when it involves his buddies. His is against politics as usual but crusades under a anonymous pen name. He even used the passing of Archbishop Dimitrii to take shots at the OCA in writing even though he worships at a non-oca mission outside Philadelphia. He is obsessed with supposedly “stolen” emails but winks at other incidents that are right under his nose.

            Guess what Rod, there are many of people out there who have suffered for decades under corrupt bishops. There are families out there who have had their lives ruined by such bishops. Its a tragedy but please spare me the crusading convert Dreher family narrative. There are many out there who have suffered far more than you will ever know. You do not get some type of magic monopoly on this stuff.

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              Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              Andrew, Rod WASN’T THERE when his wife talked to the Metropolitan. He only knows what she told him about the interview, and she wasn’t taking notes during it, so obviously he can only speak very generally about what was said. It’s quite unreasonable to demand that he be more specific.

              That said, it appears from your third post that you have other issues with Rod unrelated to his reportage of this one encounter.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              The conversation Dreher’s wife had is not the point or focus of the article, negligent bishops are. I don’t understand the the criticism of Dreher which I have heard here and there. We don’t have the ecclesiological ethos of Roman Catholicism which hid abuse for generations and took the Boston Globe to finally crack open. It’s that ethos that led to Dreher’s scandalization as it has for countless other Catholics. Even Pope Benedict has acknowledged as much.

              So if it’s true that “(t)here are many out there who have suffered far more than you will ever know,” then isn’t this an indictment of the Orthodox rather than Dreher? And if the “crusading convert Dreher family narrative” compels you to bring this charge into the open, then don’t you owe him some thanks?

              Your job Andrew is to challenge this abuse if and where it exists. You might take issue with how Dreher challenged it, but that he challenges it at all counts for a lot.

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              Geo Michalopulos says:

              Really Andrew, you’re veering off into tedentious reductionism here. Rod wasn’t there, I wasn’t there, Fr Hans wasn’t there. The fact that Julie felt compelled to take the train from Philly to DC and talk to the primatial bishop of the OCA about the problem of clerical sodomy and that he listened to her and didn’t defend the status quo is all that is necessary.

              It’s because of brave people like Julie and not “process” people who believe in the status quo that we may –repeat may–have turned the corner.

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    isaac says:

    Rod Dreher will probably leave Orthodoxy next when the corruption is too much for him to handle. His search for the perfect church is a fool’s errand. Perhaps Met. Jonah didn’t bother removing the priest considering the power issue in the first place? I think this article is more about Dreher’s anxiety about perfect leadership than a failure of moral courage. The Bishops all have Judgment Day coming. Would you want to be a Bishop on Judgment Day?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      I’m not so sure. I know other Catholics as deeply scandalized as Rod was, but because they were raised Catholic they remained Catholic. Rod wasn’t raised Catholic and while that might sound like he would repeat the experience here, I think the dynamic of cleansing works a bit differently in Orthodoxy — at least in America. And, as these problems are dealt with, confidence increases.

      What Dreher and other converts bring to the table, for better or worse, is a native repugnance towards this kind of corruption. I think as the makeup of the Church changes, you will see much less tolerance among the laity toward sexual malfeasance and greater demand that it be dealt with quickly and decisively. In addition to the cultural change, the communication revolution has affected the Church too. These things are not so easily hidden anymore, and the rationale that dirty laundry has to remain hidden is not as compelling as it once was.

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    Rob says:

    How has sexual morality come to be the sole determiner of a person’s moral fiber? So many religious men who may be prone to impatience, anger, miserliness, pride and even violence are given a pass while someone who indulges in a consensual, adult physical relationship outside the bounds of marriage is deemed unworthy of any clerical role or even the label of “Christian”.

    Many Christians still revere John Calvin. Yet, he had a man flogged after he questioned his doctrine of predestination and also had a book printer’s tongue pierced with a red-hot iron after he railed against Calvin’s doctrines. Mention these facts and they’re simply dismissed. “He was behaving according to the standards of his day.”

    The founders of the Southern Baptist Convention had no moral issue with human trafficking for profit. As a matter of fact, the denomination was founded upon the notion that American slavery was a moral good. Yet, if you ask if these men were unfit to be Christians based on their behavior, no one is willing to suggest they were not.

    Such a strange hierarchy of values.

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      Harry Coin says:

      Except for that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

      What in your view then is the correct response to those who do ‘that’? Perhaps send to them money? Or, perhaps restrict to them the ability to decide who will be able to be priest in your parish next week?

      Or, perhaps, just pretend ‘that’ never happened?

      Please, give generously.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Touche! Harry. You know one of the idiocies of the Tolerance Mafia is that we supposedly harp on sodomy and ignore embezzlement, extortion, gluttony, drunkenness, whatever. OK, you win: I don’t want men who engage in these vices either. Win-win, right Rob?

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          David Joseph says:

          I would recommend you read a textbook about adult sexuality if I knew you’d be be open to the idea. I’m almost certain you wouldn’t. It’s this writer’s opinion that sooner or later, in order for the Church to prosper and serve humanity as it should, it is going to have to revisit its cherished ‘moral traditions’ on sex in light of true science and accept some immutable facts about the human condition.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    What’s the point Rob? You offer a sub-text of scolding — Calvin, Southern Baptists, et. al, to make the point that — what? — sexual morality is the only determinant of moral character? But that’s clearly not true. If it were, your scoldings would possess no moral approbation and there would be no point in making them.

    So your main point is — what? – that homosexuality should be normative because Calvin and Southern Baptists are (ostensibly) immoral? Make you points clearly if you are going to make them at all.

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      Rob says:

      Fr Jacobse, I’m not scolding. I’m not even suggesting that the Southern Baptist founders didn’t have redeeming qualities. It’s simply an observation of a large, overarching trend within Christendom regarding how people assess the moral character of others that I do not understand.

      Perhaps my values are too secular in that I see morality as tightly intertwined to the good or harm one does to others (as measured by the tangible material good one provides or how one assists others in building their own character and strengths). As such, I view things like physical and emotional violence to be a more obvious display of immorality than simple dishonesty and dishonesty for personal gain more wicked than heterosexual fornication (for example).

      I don’t feel my assessments are shared, so I’m seeking to understand if my perception is off or if my own values are deemed out of whack.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Rob, If you are married would you rather I: 1. Steal your valuables; 2. Seduce your wife; 3. Lead you and your family into a belief that is destructive to your souls and could cost you your salvation? (Not that I would do any of those, but just supposin’)

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        It’s still vague Rob. Could you give an example?

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        M. Stankovich says:

        Rob,

        I am basically worn by your stream of repetitious injustices perpetrated by “Christians,” the specifics of whom seem insignificant to you. Your continual weighing of homosexuality versus “similar” sinfulness (fornication, divorce) is to suggest, I don’t know what, inequity in prejudice or “punishment?” To imply that yours is an accurate perception of morality, sinfulness, & repentance in the Orthodox Christian Church is absurd. I have pointed out to you previously that Fr. J. Meyendorff’s Byzantine Theology, is in my opinion one of the best and most helpful discussions of the Orthodox Church’s teachings regarding Canon Law and the application of “economy” I have read.

        There is no doubt that “Orthodox” emperors, rules, kings, patriarchs, clergy, what have you, have historically perpetrated gross prejudice and violence against homosexuals, women, other races, ad infinitum. It is an horrific, heartbreaking, and embarrassing dynamic of the capabilities of fallen humanity, and if we trust the Scripture, it is bound to worsen, not improve. But it is in no wise reflective of the eternal guide of the theology of the Church. It strikes me as particularly trite to say that “Christian” individuals have and will continue to victimize, such that “the one who kills you will think he is serving God,” (Jn. 16:2), but it seems to me that you are looking for an admission of hypocrisy and an apology. Please allow me to be the first to raise my hand: I honestly admit hypocrisy, prejudice, lack of love for my “neighbor,” and much more, all of which I deeply regret and repent. But it is extremely shortsighted to imagine my shortcomings are representative of Christians in general, and Orthodox Christianity in particular.

        Fr. G. Florovsky wrote about the necessity of the “desert” as a place where someone always strives for the “ideal”; and only by their struggle can the “city” subsist. And he also warned that the “spirit of compromise creeps into Christian action when the ‘second best’ is formally permitted and even encouraged,” and that we cannot allow “grading in the scale of ‘perfection.’ Indeed, “perfection” is not an advice, but a precept, which can never be dispensed with.” I cannot speak for abusing Calvinists or torturing Baptists, but it seems to me that our “success” has been anchored, and will always be anchored, in those who choose the desert. And it is left to us to pray that our bishops will, figuratively or otherwise, answer this call.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          If you are going to use the Fathers and others in your writing, it’s important to keep the categories accurate. For example,

          There is no doubt that “Orthodox” emperors, rules, kings, patriarchs, clergy, what have you, have historically perpetrated gross prejudice and violence against homosexuals, women, other races, ad infinitum.

          …using the term “homosexuals” along side “women” and “race” doesn’t work given that the term describes behavior, not ontology. To classify it properly, you would have to set it alongside other behaviors, i.e. thieves, popcorn eaters, and so forth.

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            David Joseph says:

            Classify homosexuals in the same way you would classify thieves, popcorn-eaters (?)…. Seriously, Mr. Jacobse?

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              Harry Coin says:

              Doing exactly as Fr. Hans did is what the Center for disease control did. “Men who have sex with men” is their term. And, less than 2 in 100 deem it wise to do that. 4 in 5 on television, though.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Rob, clearly financial immorality has a cost too at least in the OCA. Is that not what started all this mess, at least publically? Was not Bp Nikolai removed from Alaska, in part, because of his reportedly violent temperment? Clearly your objection is neither logically nor historically supported.

    Greed, lust, gluttony and sloth take many forms and are interrelated just as anger and pride are. However, we are limited human beings and as such we can only consider so many things at one time. Right now the issues regarding sexual immorality are heightened by the culturaly imperative that all sexual perversions be treated with tolerance, kindness and acceptance. Start unraveling that garment, however, and you will find plenty of the other sins attached along the way and be faced with repentance of one’s own transgressions as well.

    Besides, I really don’t care what Calvin and his blasphemous followers did/do. No one is required to mount an apologia for sin and another person’s sin does not excuse our own.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      excellent point Michael. I would say however that a lot of the financial problems of the OCA had to do with homosexuality and slush funds set up for certain bishops’ boyfriends. Lust can rarely be divorced from avarice.

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        Greg says:

        Geo,

        A lot!?!? (Really, that should be in all caps.) A LOT?

        To think that homosexual activity causes major financial problems in what many believe to be the flagship of Orthodoxy in the U.S. (at least if you go by the name) is exceptionally distressing.

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        Greg says:

        I assume that the lack of response to George’s statement that “a lot of the financial problems of the OCA had to do with homosexuality” means that this is a fair assessment of the situation by someone who is in a position to know what he is talking about.

        Am I correct? Is what George says about the connection between financial problems and homosexuality in the OCA true?

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Greg, we’ll never know the complete story. I certainly don’t want to, but a lot of the money that “went missing” under the previous chancellorship was to bail out priests and bishops from dubious, and sometimes life-threatening situations. Yes, you read that right.

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        Greg says:

        What might the lack of response to my question indicate?

        1. No one read it. I don’t think this is likely. This board has a lot of traffic.
        2. No one cares. I don’t think this is likely given other discussions about homosexuality on this board.
        3. It is true, but no one wants to answer a “Prove it!” charge by having to name names. This is a possibility.
        4. There is enough anecdotal evidence for people at least to think it is true, but (again) no one wants to have to “Prove it!” This is a possibility.

        Lord, have mercy.

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    alexis says:

    Bravo, Julie!! Like the title of that great Orthodox book by Sarah Elisabeth Cowie, Julie D. was and is “MORE SPIRITED THAN A LION!” What did the late great St. John Chrysostom say, “that the road to hell will be paved with the skulls of bishops?” I wonder what would have happened on the world stage if the Founding Fathers had exercised the same “laissez-faire” approach to major issues as our Orthodox Hierarchs do today. I would like our leaders in the “best kept secret” “to pledge their lives, fortunes, and honor” as our Founding Fathers did. I wonder what would happen? I want them to take that audacious fire and do great things for the Lord.

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    Rob says:

    To answer Fr Hans question, I’d have to respond with another question: what are the primary indicators of what constitutes a “good” person versus a not-so-good one, whether a layperson or a cleric? The author of this article seems to have something in mind when they insist this priest or that is “unfit” to remain a cleric. However, we confess that most of us have our weaknesses, imperfections and even occasional ugliness. I’ve met many good priests (especially during my high school education), but I’ve also met some plagued with tendencies towards pride, selfishness even alcoholism. Some of them could possibly have been labeled as emotionally abusive to those in their care. None of them, as far as I know, were ever forced out of the priesthood or asked to resign or leave. To me, though, I can see more tangible harm by their weaknesses than those caused by someone (layperson or cleric) who was involved in a consensual adult romantic relationship that was not marital (whether hetero or homosexual). So I’m simply asking why the latter should be cause for someone to leave the priesthood (or even labeled an apostate) while the former weaknesses are merely a matter for one’s confessor.

    Father Hans says that homosexuality is not ontological, merely a behavior. Well, then, so is religious belief. Surely, religious belief is not a matter of genetics. We all know, however, that beliefs and religious ideals are very much a part of our innermost being. The question is what to *do* with them. So what must someone with a homosexual inclination do as a believer to be considered a worthy Christian or priest? Is celibacy the only option? It just seems to me that the bar is being set a bit higher than what is expected for all other persons who are beset by other weaknesses that have a more obvious and wide impact on others. This seems a bit backwards to me.

    I’m not rejecting the Christian moral tradition or attempting to suggest it’s useless in any way. I share many of those values. I’m simply saying that my understanding of the way it assigns the sinfulness or goodness of moral actions (serious, less serious, trivial) is different: the emphasis is on certain virtues rather than others, if you will.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Rob, just to clarify: I said that homosexual ‘orientation’ is not an ontological category. Homosexuality, like all passions, is probably best understood in terms of pathology and behavior. Put another way, I think all passions create an ‘orientation’ depending on how deeply a person allows the passion to penetrate his thoughts and finally behavior — greed, avarice, gluttony, sexual promiscuity of any kind, whatever. I’ve met people driven by greed for example and can see how it transforms, truncates really, the personality over time.

      You question to what constitutes a good versus not-so-good-person then can’t really be answered except to say that the if ones interior locus is towards redemption, that’s a good thing. Repentance is the way of salvation and the righteous man falls seven times but gets up again, the wicked man is brought down by mischief.

      As for your question about proper sexual activity: yes, sex is for marriage and the homosexual has to learn celibacy. That is the way the Spirit of God will lead a person to live. If a man seeks to conform himself to that discipline, he will find the grace (power) of God. If he falls, he can find forgiveness and power to pull himself back onto the right path. But he won’t find God on the pathways of fornication or homosexuality unless his orientation is on mastering those passions within himself in his struggle against the temptation towards sin.

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        M. Stankovich says:

        Sexual differentiation, while certainly extraordinarily more complex than I will describe, is first accomplished by the presence or absence of an X or Y chromosome, and the presence (male) or absence (female) of an hormonal “surge” of testosterone acting directly on developing nerve cells. In a separate process, beginning in week 8 of gestation, a synthesis of hormonal processes are responsible for “masculinization” and the formation of external genitalia. It is this initial embryological phase that has drawn scientific attention, with emergent data suggesting that sexual orientation may be influenced independently by hormonal “cascades” in early neural development. I would also note that current data demonstrates a marked “fecundity” in mothers of homosexual males, suggesting that “genes predisposing to homosexuality may confer a mating advantage in heterosexuals, which could help explain the evolution and maintenance of homosexuality in the population” (Citations available on request).

        Lest you race to the conclusion that I am attempting to subtly “normalize” homosexuality with science, let me clarify: I do not necessarily believe in a singular “entity,” homosexuality, that would universally define, describe, or explain, once-and-for-all, the phenomenon(-a). At least for now, we lack even the most fundamental information to draw any such conclusions. My point is that, when we do observe, for example, a demonstrated “fecundity” in mothers of homosexual males distinct from the general population, we are not describing “behaviour” like “popcorn eating.” We are speaking of ontological category.

        I strongly urge anyone to listen to the Fr. Thomas Hopko’s presentation on October 16th. Particularly his conclusion as what our response should be if, in fact, we indisputably determine the “cause” of homosexuality: “So what? It doesn’t change the theology of the Church” in regard to same-gender sex activity.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Maybe, maybe not. Here’s another point of view:

          Source: Narth

          Book Excerpt:
          Homosexuality and American Public Life
          Edited by Christopher Wolfe
          Spence Publishing Co. (Dallas, TX)

          This book is based on papers delivered at the 1997 conference, “Homosexuality and American Public Life,” held in Washington, D.C. at the Georgetown Conference Center. To order, call 1-888-773-6782.

          The following excerpt is from Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s chapter, entitled, “The Biology of Homosexuality: Science or Politics?” which provides a very comprehensive review of the biological research on homosexuality.

          It is important to note that serious research on the biology, innateness, or genetic determinants of homosexuality has only just recently begun. Exactly opposite to what the public is being led to believe, the research that has been done thus far suggests that genetic factors account for, at most, but a small proportion of the risk. J. M. Bailey and R. C. Pillard, two of the major researchers most widely cited as having demonstrated that “homosexuality is genetic,” were forced to admit otherwise by the results of their own research. They themselves wrote:

          These studies were designed to detect heritable variation, and if it was present, to counter the prevalent belief that sexual orientation is largely the product of family interactions and the social environment…. Although male and female homosexuality appear to be at least somewhat heritable, environment must also be of considerable importance in their origins.{1}

          More at the Narth website.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            I would beg to differ that what you have presented is a “different point of view,” and if I may quote myself from Part I of my argument:

            It fur­ther seems impor­tant to acknowl­edge that some her­i­ta­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics, as we shall see, are believed to be a direct result of our inter­ac­tion with this bro­ken world.

            And I have clearly stated that:

            Not only do I accept this con­tention [that there is no genetic marker for homosexuality], but I ven­ture to guess that we will never dis­cover a genetic marker for SSA.

            With the availability of emergent data suggesting homosexualities rather that a unified, singular phenomenon, it has seemed prudent to me to limit my arguments and discussion to SSA with an associated risk that appears to be under genetic influence. As I have noted elsewhere, from Kinsey forward, a statistically significant number of individuals engage in same-gender sexual activity who deny homosexuality. I have no argument with the foundation of the information you present, but I will argue that, with SSA under genetic influence, “family interactions and the social environment” are now demonstrably less significant that the authors originally presumed.

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              Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              Again, you are confusing SSA with GID — Gender Identity Disorder. Persons with GID do often feel SSA and engage in SSSA, but not everyone who feels SSA or engages in SSSA is also afflicted with GID. Some people develop SSA, along with their OSA, by exposure to SSSA. That’s what happens in prisons. That’s also what happens in other extremely immoral conditions, when people deliberately cast aside all moral limits to sexual behavior and indulge themselves indiscriminately. Such people do not become “gay”; they do, however, often continue to experience SSA to some degree, as a result of the learned association of same-sex relations with intense sexual pleasure.

              By the way, Kinsey was a fraud as well as a creep. You would do well not to mention him.

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                Geo Michalopulos says:

                Dn Patrick, kudos about the point of Kinsey. He was probably the greatest scientific fraud and hoaxster of all time. Today, he’d be brought up on charges for forcing his married grad students to engage in adulterous sex with others to record their “sessions.” Plus he was a voyeur who forced his wife to engage in adultery. Yeah, real class act that guy.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:
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                M. Stankovich says:

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

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                  Geo Michalopulos says:

                  Mr Stankovich, assuming that we accept Kinsey’s numbers, that 10% of the adult male population has engaged in homosexual activity at least once in their lives, but that they don’t consider themselves to be homosexual, then the point about “ontology” stands, don’t you think? In other words, human beings’ propensity towards sexual relations is more plastic than we give it credit for. Especially what Gay, Inc tries to foist on people.

                  Let’s explore this further. I first got into the healthcare field in the early 80s, when we were told about “the Gay Plague.” We found out that in Haiti, it’s endemic. Yet whenever researchers asked AIDS sufferers is they were homosexual, they vehemently denied it. This answer resulted in months if not years of “going back to the drawing board” and propagating pernicious information (see Michael J Fumento’s The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS.)

                  So some researchers went back to Haiti and started asking different questions of these sufferes. Like: have you ever engaged in sex with a man?” Then the answer was overwhelmingly “yes.” What was the difference? Because of the great poverty in Haiti, many straight family men engage in male prostitution in order to feed their families. Because of Haiti’s proximity to the Lower 48, it became a cheaper alternative to Thailand for American homosexuals who were looking for cheap, anonymous sex.

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    I believe I have adequately address this topic, including a specific citation for an article of May, 2011 which, as a report of a 10-year longitudinal study of sexual identity stability, concluded that male homosexual “orientation” is hardly “plastic,” but relatively equal to heterosexual men (they were not as stable for women) in stability. Is it unreasonable to ask you to read what I have written before questioning here? If you examine the thread, I am then one who complained that Rob makes it a point to drag SSA into every topic he discusses.

                    Quite frankly, however, I am wondering how you got away with the statement, “assuming that we accept Kinsey’s numbers” unscathed…

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                Mmm…not really. Here’s what you said:

                As I have noted elsewhere, from Kinsey forward, a statistically significant number of individuals engage in same-gender sexual activity who deny homosexuality.

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

                Your argument doesn’t stand or fall on this reference of course, but I think it points to a frustration people have. When you are asked or challenged on something, the answers are murky.

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                  M. Stankovich says:

                  I admit you are a master, Abouna. Hands down.

                  If you truly believe that my argument “doesn’t stand or fall on this reference,” then I fail to see the point in raising it at all. It seems to me that you are encouraging a learn-as-you-go “scholarship,” afforded only by the internet, and analogous to someone madly flipping through all 1,300 pages of War and Peace while sitting in the front row of your lecture on Russian Literature. If you would be annoyed at the lack of attention to your presentation, the distraction literally in your face, my thought is you would be justified

                  The science of Fr. Deacon Mitchell, apparently upon which he would bet his integrity just to prove me wrong, relies solely on some otherwise obscure “psychotherapist,” commenting on a single study published in 2004, whose concerns are appropriately addressed and accounted for in subsequent research. With all due respect, do either of you, without the benefit of the internet, know that this was a study of the impact of maternal x chromosome inactivation, or what that might actually entail? And all of this sources from the link you provided in order to demonstrate to me “maybe yes, maybe no,” to which you have absolutely no argument from me.

                  Mr. Bauman, on the other hand, claims I am “dishonest” in refusing to discuss “my” process of the selection & application of data, as if to say there is no already established “rubric” for my worship at the altar of the beast. When we are discussing scientific data, your results are as good as their ability to be independently replicated by others. Until then, they are merely an “anecdotal observation,” and anecdote is presumed to be anomaly; an unexplainable, random occurrence, that while perhaps interesting, certainly falls below the threshold of even “maybe yes, maybe no.” Now, was that really so monstrous as to lay the goat horns on me or cleft my hooves? I posted 6 citations here yesterday, and I report that I am unprepared to speak to the personal morality of the authors, their children, and any past or following generations, and I believe I have adequately discussed the issue of generational δίκη. While you may well be a “scoundrel” in your personal life, if your data is independently replicable by others, I am able to comfortably separate your data from your personal morality. And I would surely hope your personal physician and the physician(s) to your loved ones do(-es) likewise.

                  As to the matter of Dr. Kinsey, I am certainly aware of the criticism, but you are incorrect if you are asserting that all of his research is discredited. Regardless, mine was a particularly oblique reference to a possible “selection bias” error that called into question the accuracy of a study conducted in 2000, and I will spare you the details unless you want them. In discovering this possible error, the 2000 investigators compared the methodology and data of previous studies conducting in 1993, 1991, 1990, and 1986, and determined that results in relation to male probands in 1986 and female probands in 1990 were probably the result of utilizing Kinesy’s original methodology. So you are “frustrated” by my “lending weight” to my assertion of the possibility of statistical methodology error attributable to Kinsey? Would it help to know that, despite the possibility of selection bias, no one suggests the data is invalid? And would things be less “murky” if I stated that Pillard & Weinrich were responsible for the possible error in 1986, and Pillard alone in 1990, despite the fact they are both considered valid and cited to this day?

                  I am reminded of the scene in the movie Terms of Endearment, when Shirley MacClain screams at Jack Nicholson, “Why did you have to get drunk?” And he replies, “I don’t know what it is about ya’ Aurora, but you bring out the devil in me.”

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    No, not frustrated by lending weight to Kinsey, frustrated that every answer grows increasingly murky. It’s like try to hold of a ball of the slimy goo that kids like. You just can’t get your hands around it.

                    Maybe you should just finish your essay.

                    As for Kinsey, Dr. Judith Reisman exposed him for the child molester that he was and his fraudulent research.

                    Commentary had an excellent essay on Kinsey over a decade ago but unfortunately it’s behind a pay wall.

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Here’s Dr. Gerard Schoenewolf, psychotherapist, director of The Living Center in New York City, and a member of the NARTH Advisory Board, on the fecundity business:

          Throughout the whole article, there was not one attempt to explore whether the greater fecundity of mothers of homosexuals or the fact that homosexuals tend to have more older brothers could have environmental implications. This is typical of studies of this kind, and is a clue that the article is biased and that the authors are simply not interested in finding environmental explanations. The slightly higher fertility by mothers of homosexuals, leading to larger families, may not point to genetics at all, but to the fact that larger families are more likely to promote the family dynamics that condition a homosexual orientation. For example, mothers who give birth to more sons are more likely to pick out one son to be their special favorite. Sometimes a mother will want a daughter, and after two or three sons she will treat the next son like the daughter she always wanted. And sometimes the father takes a special interest in the first son but loses interest in the others, which likewise might contribute to the formation of homosexuality. None of this is explored at all in this article.

          You can read more here.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            “First, multiple sexually differentiated behavioral, physiological, or even morphological traits are significantly different in homosexual and heterosexual populations. Because some of these traits are known to be organized by prenatal steroids, including testosterone, these differences suggest that homosexual subjects were, on average, exposed to atypical endocrine conditions during development. Second, clinical conditions associated with significant endocrine changes during embryonic life often result in an increased incidence of homosexuality. It seems therefore that the prenatal endocrine environment has a significant influence on human sexual orientation but a large fraction of thevariance in this behavioral characteristic remains unexplained to date.”

            Balthazart J. “Minireview: Hormones and human sexual orientation.” Endocrinology. 2011 Aug;152(8):2937-47.

            We observed a significant fecundity increase even in primiparous mothers, which was not evident in the previous study. No evidence of increased paternal fecundity was found; thus, our data confirmed a sexually antagonistic inheritance partly linked to the X-chromosome that promotesfecundity in females and a homosexual sexual orientation in males.

            Iemmola F and Camperio Ciani A. “New evidence of genetic factors influencing sexual orientation in men: female fecundity increase in the maternal line.” Arch Sex Behav. 2009 Jun;38(3):393-9.

            “We show that fecundity of female relatives of the maternal line does not differ between bisexuals and homosexuals. As in the previous study on homosexuals, mothers of bisexuals show significantly higher fecundity, as do females in the maternal line (cumulated fecundity of mothers, maternal grandparents, and maternal aunts), compared to the corresponding relatives of heterosexual controls.This study also shows that both bisexuals and homosexuals were more frequently second and third born. However, only homosexuals had anexcess of older male siblings, compared to heterosexuals.”

            Ciani AC, Iemmola F, and Blecher SR. J Sex Med. 2009 Feb;6(2):449-55.

            The number of women with extreme skewing of X-inactivation was significantly higher in mothers of gay men (13/97=13%) compared to controls (4/103=4%) and increased in mothers with two or more gay sons (10/44=23%). Our findings support a role for the X chromosome in regulating sexual orientation in a subgroup of gay men.

            Bocklandt, S et al. Extreme skewing of X chromosome inactivation in mothers of homosexual men. Hum Genet.118(6):691-4 (2006)

            “These results suggest that genes predisposing to homosexuality may confer a mating advantage in heterosexuals, which could help explain the evolution and maintenance of homosexuality in the population.”

            Brendan P, et al. “Genetic factors predisposing to homosexuality may increase mating success in heterosexuals.” Behav Neurosci. Volume 29, Issue 6, Pages 424-433 (November 2008).

            “Here, evidence is reviewed which supports the proposal that sexual orientation in humans may be laid down in neural circuitry during early foetal development. Behaviour genetic investigations provide strong evidence for a heritable component to male and female sexual orientation. Linkage studies are partly suggestive of X-linked loci although candidate gene studies have produced null findings. Further evidence demonstrates a role for prenatal sex hormones which may influence the development of a putative network of sexual-orientation-related neural substrates. However, hormonal effects are often inconsistent and investigations rely heavily on ‘proxy markers’. A consistent fraternal birth order effect in male sexual orientation also provides support for a model of maternal immunization processes affecting prenatal sexual differentiation. “

            Rahman Q. “The neurodevelopment of human sexual orientation.” Neurosci Biobehav Rev.2005;29(7):1057-66.

            Trust me, Fr. Deacon. I did not learn human genetics on the internet. I will discuss at length on my own blog

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              Michael Bauman says:

              Frankly, it makes no difference whether or to what extent tendency to homosexuality or actual homosexuality is heritable. That does not make it any less sinful. The physical world is just as much fallen as the spiritual, indeed there is no real separation.

              To go down the ‘factual, objective’ science route is nothing more that attempting to replace an true anthropology founded on our human nature as it was created–a nature that is empowered to overcome sin because of the grace of the Incarnation with a materialistic scientistic ideology.

              Since there is no such thing as ‘objective science’ or ‘facts’ that speak for themselves your prattling Mr. M is nothing more than the miasmic ramblings of a diseased imagination.

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                Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                I agree that heritability is irrelevant to the morality of homosexuality, but it is not irrelevant to the battle at hand, and I would strongly warn against a tactical retreat from the redoubt of science. What science consistently shows is that nobody is born gay. They all become gay as a result of experiential conditions. The much vaunted biological predisposition is just a vulnerability to certain experiential conditions.

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              Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              Dr. Schoenewolf’s observation still stands. There is quite a lot of tendentious research out there aiming to provide a biological basis for homosexuality. Lots of money available for that kind of thing. Lots of praise, too, for those who reach pro-gay conclusions. The common fault of such research is that it exaggerates possible genetic factors and ignores much more obvious experiential factors.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Is it possible that you are purposely making the case that you are grossly unqualified to comment on these medical issues? Declaring that the research “exaggerates” possible genetic factors is to first admit there are possible genetic factors, which, in fact, has been my thesis from the beginning! While I believe your dismissal of contemporaneous research – these sources are examples of some of the most respected journals in the field – is silly, I am at least transparent enough to provide sources that can be individually scrutinized.

                Fr. Deacon, you obviously desire nothing more than a fight – if you were truly interested in the integrity of the data you would not stoop to the personal level you have chosen to stoop – and while I have tolerated your amusing yourself at my expense, find another target.

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                  Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  I have never denied that biology is sometimes a contributing factor in the development of SSA and GID. I have only argued what the research consensus shows: that there is no “gay gene” determining sexual orientation and that experience contributes far more to orientation than biology does. I have said as much several times on this site and on Monomakhos.

                  You, however, have belabored the genetic thesis and neglected all other explanations. Why? Why lean so heavily on something with such slight influence? After all, if SSA and GID are largely experiential in origin, then there’s hope that therapy can remediate them. Why would you instead belabor a thesis that holds no hope?

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                    Michael Bauman says:

                    Dn Brian, our dear Mr. M. belabors a thesis that has no hope because, I fear, he is far down the dark road of nilihistic scientism that has no explanation except the material and no sacrament but sex, in which everyone must be able to participate as their desires lead them.

                    After all “the facts” speak for themselves don’t they?

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        David Joseph says:

        Man you really have it in for the gays, don’t you?

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    bob says:

    Rod has discovered something but (I think) doesn’t say it. We have a problem when the highest authority in the Church is handed to men strictly on the basis of being single. When a man is understood to be on the celibate track in seminary he know that he has a job for life. He can afford to get a C in every class, maybe a D and that job will still be his. It doesn’t depend on excellence, it depends on being single. As long as that is the high bar they must clear (Not to high) we will still have the quality candidates we see today. There is no other occupation on earth that depends on so little to do so much. We would expect more from a plowman or plow horse. The experiment has been tried for around 1500 years, the data has been gathered, the results are plain to see. Bad model. Abandon it. St. Peter had a mother in law, so should every bishop. The only people who would object to it are the bishops, and their famous integrity prevents their opinion from counting very much.

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      Harry Coin says:

      Bob, remember in days gone by most all the regional bishops were clergy whose wives had died. There was a balance between the never married and the widower who knew what it meant to be a father instead of only be called ‘father’. Folk died quite young, the idea someone could live for 50 years as a bishop and having almost none of his peers know what it meant to raise a family is completely unheard of in our Orthodox history.

      That is the basis for some of the very strange decision making we are seeing.

      Can you imagine if a priest went to another state to marry a woman and then left her there and came back alone? Can you imagine what would happen if people discovered the local married priest and/or married deacon were ‘getting it on’ with female parishioners or various sexes?

      Total explosion. Defrocked and done in a month.

      But, if the among the ‘ordained young never married’, as we have seen just recently— a lot of big noise in public, but not defrocked. No.

      A priest whose wife has died and is facing 40 years alone can’t remarry without being defrocked. But if its about the boys, you can even have photos taken and it’s not enough.

      Now, let’s talk about growth and mission and all that good stuff. And, please, give generously. Attend national congresses and councils to give advice about, well, whatever makes donating more feel good. And bring the kids! Sure.

      Right. That’s likely. We don’t address this and soon the fellow in the big hat will be in an exhibit case in the cultural museum with iffy attendance whether it’s called church out front or not.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Harry, there’s definately a disorder here. As in all organizations, the rules have been ordered around the exception. What Bob said though is very germane. Get a “C” or a “D” and it doesn’t matter. But let’s not let the laity of the hook here guys. We get the bishops we deserve because we need a Dumping Ground because we don’t want to pay for quality.

        If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. The laity can put a stop this to nonsense yesterday. At least they can in the GOA. But the Leadership 100/Archons don’t want an episcopate they can look up to. Until they get their heads on straight, expect more of the current crop of “metropolitans” in the GOA.

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          Harry Coin says:

          George, you’ll have to back up this idea ‘we get the bishops we deserve because we don’t want to pay for quality.’ I’m sorry to say it but this to my ears is not less than bosh.

          First the never-married bishops we have are paid in excess of the married clergy with family to support and by that a great whole lot. Go figure that in any sane Christian understanding. I’ve heard tell that those expecting to be ordained are looked to by the others for money!

          Second if a person wants to be a bishop on the basis the job pays well… good luck finding support for such in our Gospel and, ah… you know the bishops we have presently have (mostly) arranged matters in that way.

          Third, you’ll just have to justify that some opinion or other held by leadership 100 / Archons amounts to, well, anything. It used to, but now? Look at the huge legal expenses these happy zipper folk they’ve enabled to do what they do these many years have caused. Tell me the people in leadership 100 / Archons are supportive of more of that with a straight face… lotsa luck.

          This isn’t limited to the GOA. We read from Rod Dreher that a deacon in the OCA goes off to marry a man in California, then leaves his spouse to return to live with a ‘retired OCA bishop’ in Florida. And all these people retain church rank higher than any married parish priest. Technically. In real life though? Please now.

          How about the ‘All Holy Ecumenical Patriarch’ who presently retains at the rank of Bishop and Metropolitan those who got sexually busy with their own parishioners of both sexes (although it’s less clear the bishop did). When I hear the word Panagia (all holy) that’s not what comes to mind, somehow.

          No, I do very much believe Leadership 100 wants leadership they can look up to. What the Archons want seems to have more to do with foreign policy in Turkey than the church.

          For the last two generations the approach we’ve taken to this creeping clericalism is to write letters and advise and donate extensively and so forth. How’s that worked out? Do more of that should we?

          Please, give generously. And often!

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            Harry Coin says:

            P.S. I think we are where we are because we don’t pay attention to that book decorated in gold paraded about every service. Perhaps those presently in leadership prefer we not hear that it plainly upholds local bishops to be ‘husbands of but one wife’. Don’t misunderstand I’ve no complaint about actual monastic bishops. Bachelor pad bishops– while barring those who everyone local would hold to be worthy save for the wife didn’t die young as happened so much in the past? That’s why we are where we are today. If the laity is guilty of anything its letting senior clergy get all out of prior balance.

            1. Local bishops that are actually heads of the cathedral and serve a few parishes in every direction.

            2. Accountable to one another locally to retain their job posting.

            3. Not assignable from ‘far away’. Must be approved by the local synod in the place.

            4. Married with children who’ve left for college? Senior proven clergy? Let them too be candidates for local bishop.

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    macedonia74 says:

    Are there actual “practicing” homosexual males being ordained or have been, or is all this rumor? Is this all that is keeping His Beatitude from serving with a little less friction or is this rumor being spun as a means to cover up his own inability?

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    isaac says:

    If nothing else, having some widowers in the ranks to balance out the high number of bishops with same sex attraction would have to make a difference. Then again, parishioners could have settled this issue overnight by simply refusing to show for services until said priest was defrocked and returned to the fold as an ordinary layman. The problem is there is a lot of rot among the laity as well when it comes to these issues so it would be very difficult to get anything like a consensus in a lot of parishes. The other option is for a big chunk of people to simply stop giving to a diocese financially until the men at the top take care of business. My bet is making the well run dry does more to set things right than just about any other action.

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    Nicole Troon says:

    Of course I applaud what Julie did. In usual discrete Orthodox circles it might not have been publicized as Rod did. But I know her a little personally and admire her as a mother, wife, friend and person. She is a new convert as I am; Rod’s position in life has perhaps cast them both into a more public position than might be optimal for them spiritually at this early stage of their Orthodox path.

    What puzzles me is that no one is crediting the Synod and/or the SMPAC Committee and/or the Metropolitan Council and/or other laypersons for trying to give Metropolitan Jonah the same message ever since his elevation. Fr Ted Bobosh, present Chair of the Ethics Cmte of the Metropolitan Council, for example, has just written a series of blogs on the topic this month which were skewered by one poster on the Monomakhos blog when essentially his message is the same as Rod Dreher’s about sexual abuse and the position of the Church. There seems to be an appropriation of all genuine concern for the well-being of the vulnerable by certain folks (who espouse the conspiracy against Jonah theory) and a corresponding implication that all on “the other side” from them (always an unOrthodox phrase, usually the result of some political manuever) are in reality narcisstic, predatory, or hypocritical if they express concern. Perhaps a political science strategist is at work “splitting” the Orthodox for a political not a spiritual reason. The “Raca” or worse finger-pointing at so many Orthodox people (all except the pro-Conspiracy folk) is very difficult to reconcile with what we are asked to do daily by Christ in the One Body.

    I believe that most of the pro-conspiracy Orthodox people are of great good will and intent and have been misled into judging and assassinating the characters and intentions of others who may be of equally good will and intent. That is the tragedy, in my new convert ignorant view.

    The real puzzle to be solved for us laymen is why and how the bishop conspiracy against Jonah theory evolved, whose purposes it serves, and whether or not it is based in fact. A different reading is a concern for Jonah and the OCA.

    And what truly puzzles me personally is why Julie’s unofficial personal plea would motivate the Metropolitan to act when all the other voices on the internet and in person have not, if that is truly what occurred.

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      M. Stankovich says:

      You raise very interesting points, particularly regarding “us” laymen excluded – whether by choice or lack of “privilege” – access to “the real deal.” Somehow, my thought is that such explanatory details would not be particularly helpful, an analogy being that, like the ancient custom of “softening” a deer skin for garments, it is accomplished by “chewing” it; and although the result may be a “pliable” pair of pants, one cannot deny it is the product of “jaw-jacking and froth.”

      While the Fathers actively defend both the right, and at times “necessity” of such actions by the laity (and one example I recall is of the “old woman” confronting the Patriarch on a white horse), it seems to me that Ms. Dreher’s confrontation, albeit noble and perhaps necessary, was hardly fraught with the consequences faced by Nathan. (cf. 2 Sam 12:7) But you have raised the greater question, why was it ever “necessary” in the first place? And I believe Fr. Johannes has provided your answer: lack of moral authority.

      In our time, everyone has a blog, or a site, a YouTube video, or an Ancient Faith podcast, where each and every opinion has “authority” and Tradition has fast become the “weapon of choice.” There seems to be little appreciation for how dramatically the threshold for “truth” is being eroded, and as you have noted, the re-enactment of the every-Friday-after-prayers stone throwing that goes on as a matter of course in the Middle East, goes on here between people of supposed “good will.” And lest anyone beat me to it, both you and I are “posting,” so call me a hypocrite!

      But back to the larger issue, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that the bishops – and I do not mean to suggest it “peculiar” to the OCA – have ceded their credibility to the internet by their lack of moral authority; and I would be clear that I am not suggesting a lack of morality, but an obvious lack of authority. Thus, their thoughts, “positions,” beliefs, characters, histories, and nothing short of shoe sizes is equally in the hands of “conspirators” and “apologists” to argue what they will. It truly saddens me to think that these “straw men,” in large part, are responsible for their own creation, and likewise, while possessing the remedy, apparently do not seem fit to utilize it.

      I would note to you that I believe you should make no apology for a “new convert ignorant view,” because when the emperor has no clothes, the emperor has no clothes.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Nicole, your enconia about the MC/Syosset/etc. and their castigation of +Jonah is completely over the top. They are hypocrites. May I give you an example? Consider the case of Fr Bobosh should be tempered by the fact that he has allowed such a person as Mark Stokoe to serve on his Diocese’s council as well as on the MC. Do you not see the incongruity of this? Or how about the various canons which call for the deposition of priests who actively conspire against their bishop? Need I go on?

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        Michael Bauman says:

        George, apparently Ms. Troon does not believe there is any conspiracy against Met. Jonah.

        Ms Troon, I know nothing of the particulars of the matter. I do know this: As a person who had the disfortune to be in a community that was torn apart by scape-goating I can tell you that the language, the demands and the spirit of those who are angry with Met. Jonah is the language, the demands and the spirit of scape-goaters. They are actively seeking to purify the body by laying the sins and dysfunctions of that body on the back of one person and then driving that person out of the body. Ancient pre-Christian practice. Antithetical of Chrisitan belief as Christ has already done all that and more as was prophesied by John the Baptist: “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”

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          M. Stankovich says:

          Mr. Michalopulos & Mr. Bauman,

          Can anyone escape your harsh “correction,” or are you simply challenged with the English language:

          I believe that most of the pro-conspiracy Orthodox people are of great good will and intent and have been misled into judging and assassinating the characters and intentions of others who may be of equally good will and intent. That is the tragedy, in my new convert ignorant view.

          Hers is an “observation” – econia? – for which you lack even the most subtle appreciation that “out of the mouth of babes and infants have you ordained strength (Ps. 8:2), and seem on the very brink of shouting “Travitori!” Mr. Michalopulos, as I’ve said before, you are a “loose canon,” and Mr. Bauman, you openly claim “I know nothing of the particulars of the matter,” which in my mind would suggest (frequently referred to as “wisdom”) that you have nothing relevant to contribute , but in actuality does not prevent you in the least.

          What both Ms. Troon and Ms. Dreher deserve is an apology, as new converts to the Orthodox Church, for having even been exposed to such shameful, embarrassing, and scandalous talk and actions between self-labled Orthodox Christians of “good will” in the first place. They should serve as a lesson to you of the “collateral damage” consequence of your endless battling. They both seem to be in search of resolution, but as with so many, you have little more to offer than “shut up & go away.” And those who are naive (and I use this in the medical sense, “never having been exposed”) and scandalized will accumulate around your necks like ill-gotten ornaments.

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Mr. Stankovich, I merely observed to George that apparently Ms. Troon does not believe there to be a conspiracy against Met. Jonah. Period. There are a number of folks who share her belief. I apologize to her if she thought my comment was dismissive in any way.

            I then stated why I believe there to be, for lack of a better word, a conspiracy against Met. Jonah, i.e. scape-goating is going on with Met. Jonah as the current target. If Met. Jonah is purged, there will be someone else to take his place. There is a tipping point in any community that falls into such a trap. Once that point is reached, there is no way for the community to survive because it is too poisoned. I have been through that prior to becoming Orthodox. It is not something I ever expected to encounter in the Church–but there it is.

            Once experienced, the scars of scape-goating never quite leave you. It takes an enormously strong person of deep faith not to respond in kind. However, trying to achieve ‘balance’ in the face of such rampant passions is impossible. The aggression must stop. It is intellectually dishonest and part of the scape-goaters warfare technique to act aggressively then when confronted with their aggression, complain about the lack of fairness and balance. When those against whom the aggression is aimed acquiese and seek some sort of dialog and middle ground, the aggression begins again. The options appear to be attack in defense or simply stand one’s ground and not be moved.

            The aggression must stop. The real target, IMO, in the Met. Jonah mess is the authority of the episcopacy in general–a leveling movement. Again, IMAO, such a spirit was let into the OCA with the creation of the Metropolitan Council.

            Unfortunately, scape-goating is also part of the question of the proper approach to the sins the homosexual syndrome reveals. Such passions make it quite difficult to articulate and continue to practice the truth in the face of an aggressive, uncompromising foe who would have you for lunch if they could. The real issue here is also animated by a spirit of egalitarianism (which is an ideology that is incompatible with the Church because it enslaves).

            Whether we like it or not, hierarchy is built into creation. For hierachy to function even close to appropriately takes the commitment of everyone to at least a modicum of obedience: to Christ, the Traditional teachings of the Church and to our spiritual leaders. I dare say that obedience is quite a difficult find amongst all the wrecks and ruins right now. Obedience is what matters, not human good will (whatever that is).

            BTW: Met Jonah has been regularly and visciously attacked by all sorts of people. When I have simply asked what is the reason, no one can tell me. I have not seen you object to those attacks. Perhaps I missed it.

            In case there is any doubt my opinion is that those who have attacked Met. Jonah are the aggressors as are those who seek to challenge the Church’s teaching on homosexual inclination and activity.

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Mr. Stankovich: you appear to be all about facts and, frankly don’t seem to care one whit about context or principals. Despite your frequent assertions to the contrary, facts are far more subject to manipulation and corruption than looking at a problematic situation from the outside and assessing the general situation. Logic works from the assumption to the conclusion by use of facts–it is impossible to get to the basic assumption from facts alone. Trying to build a house out of match sticks without an architectural plan is stupid. To me that is what your approach does. You obfuscate, frustrate and darken with your passive-aggressive detailed style yet produce no real substance. A shame really given your obvious abilities.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            M. Stankovich, your scolding might be a bit more credible if you weren’t involved in a website where the only substantive discussion concerns homosexuality. (I am not saying your offerings are substantive, only that the substance on the website concerns homosexuality exclusively.) You scold Bauman and others for exposing converts to talk about internal problems in the Church, yet the problems that concern them are elevated by you and your cohorts.

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              M. Stankovich says:

              Fr. Johannes,

              I believe if you read the “pinned,” introductory post to our site, you will see this quotation of Fr. G. Florovsky prominently displayed:

              Our the­o­log­i­cal think­ing has been dan­ger­ously affected by the pat­tern of decay, adopted for the inter­pre­ta­tion of Christian his­tory in the West since the Reformation. The full­ness of the Church was then inter­preted in a sta­tic man­ner, and the atti­tude to Antiquity has been accord­ingly dis­torted and mis­con­strued. After all, it does not make much dif­fer­ence, whether we restrict the nor­ma­tive author­ity of the Church to one cen­tury, or to five, or to eight. There should he no restric­tion at all. Consequently, there is no room for any “the­ol­ogy of rep­e­ti­tion.” The Church is still fully author­i­ta­tive as she has been in the ages past, since the Spirit of Truth quick­ens her now no less effec­tively as in the ancient times.

              Ours is to address a greater issue. The site is not “our homosexual legacy,” but an attempt to challenge the notion of a “static” tradition that denies the absolute and limitless “Energy” of the Father, or that would attempt to constrain the Holy Spirit “Who goes where He wishes.” But most importantly, in a manner without contradiction to, and always remaining faithful to the Scripture, Patristical Teachings, and the Tradition of the Church. In this sense, I argue that my awe at the human genome is as “new” as the observations of St. Gregory the Theologian in a forest: unimaginable complexity must necessarily lead one to the Creator. It is only within this context that I address – and will continue to address until I have completed my reflection – the issue of homosexuality. Our is a relatively new site of only months, and at this point, I believe limited to nine posts, so to say it “concerns homosexuality exclusively,” is unfairly premature.

              I have said elsewhere that I attempt to evaluate anyone’s opinion on merit, and not by “personality” or other extraneous factors – particularly anonymous internet commentators and people I do not know. As you are well aware, I am not threatened by correction to factual error and invite correction as I believe error is consequential. I am purposefully thorough in providing citations for what I have written, so anyone who would wish to pursue my sources may easily do so. On the other hand, you publicly insinuate I have a “malicious” agenda, accuse me of deception in intention, that our site is “ify,” and now, “I am not saying your offerings are substantive.” If these are challenges on merit, than make your point and correct me.

              On the one hand, you appear to set a “high bar” for scholarship – and I believe I have been significantly more scrupulous than most of the individuals that post here – and I can only respect that. On the other hand, you equally seem inclined to “brawling,” bullying-by-dismissal, and dismissive-sarcasm; and the “dismissed” is expected to slink away, relying on your word alone. This is neither the scholarship of merit nor, in my mind, to be respected.

              And please, Abouna, Mr. Bauman – among others – has openly referred to me, at length, as heretical, evil, “monstrous,” in delusion, in the “left lane” of the highway to hell, and nothing short of bringing “darkness over the whole earth.” Aye!

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                No, I am not brawling, I am saying I see nothing of real substance on the site. The Florovsky quotes and so forth are nice, but the assertion that the site continues in the legacy of Florovsky and others is just that, an assertion. We’ll see if you guys measure up to the claim.

                Further to say that the site consists of homosexuality exclusively is not “premature.” Apart from the claims that you exemplify a “non-static” tradition (whatever that means), the only material on the site deals with homosexuality. In fact, I wonder why, if the tradition is “static”, you chose homosexuality to advance your thesis. Seems like a preoccupation is emerging here.

  16. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    David Joseph says:

    Mr Dreher,

    The French have a saying: “Culture is like jam: the less one has of it, the more one spreads it around.” I can’t think of a better illustration of this wise old saying than what you have written here, and the thread which follows it. As gay man who was born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I particularly rue the day the Evangelical religious right wheeled their Trojan Horse to the gates of our Church. How naive we were, back in the 80s, to have opened them so widely. Your ilk have shown nothing but disrespect and dishonor to our people, to the parishes they worked tirelessly to found, and to all they held sacred. You insulted the intelligence of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and ancestors.

    You have shown nothing but arrogance and taken sick pleasure in denigrating our various cultures of origin, as well as denigrating those of us who are gay.

    Though Jesus Christ Himself came from the Middle East, you reserve a special disdain for those of us of Middle-Eastern or Balkan descent. Especially those of us who live in harmony with and have intermarried with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

    Because you are so blinded by your own nativist superiority and you put your dominionist theology above Democracy, you will never understand how being Syrian-, or Lebanese-, or Albanian-, or Egyptian- or Greek-American, and born and raised in the Orthodox Church is every bit as valuable and Constitutionally-protected as being an American of North European descent.

    The Orthodox Church is my Church too. You moved into it with all the subtlety of Cengiz Khan. And once you moved in, you decided you hated the décor. So you’re working hard to change it more to your liking. You proclaim your superiority to everyone. Now that you have been baptized into the Orthodox Church, you profess to have a monopoly on the Truth. We can understand why you’d want the trappings of Orthodox Christianity (so much about our rich ecclesiastical heritage and traditions is truly beautiful).

    Please know an ever-growing number of us see you and your ilk as the wolves in sheep’s clothing you most certainly are. Since the 80’s, rhetoric and political marksmanship such as yours have transformed the OCA into a PAC for the GOP, quite fit to be stripped of its tax-exempt status. Until fascist arrivistes such as you came along during the Reagan Era, sexual orientation had never been discussed in Orthodox Churches.

    It was never discussed because, Mr Dreher, it was never worth discussing.

    In your article above, you write that your wife takes the train to the offices of the church hierarchy where she cries about gay people and complains that she won’t rest until we are expelled from the Church. It’s been my own personal experience – and increasingly that of the entire nation – that those who reserve the most hostility towards homosexuals – and work the hardest to marginalize and repress them and to curtail their civil liberties – are, invariably, deeply insecure about their own sexual orientation. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

    Those of us Orthodox Christians who believe in keeping religion and politics separate in America are well aware of what is underway – of what the OCA in particular has a party to over the past few decades. We see it all and we are frankly enraged. We are listening more carefully to anti-social, anti-Muslim, anti-gay diatribes such as yours – and, though stunned by your grotesquely-inflated sense of self-worth and hubris – we aren’t going to sit motionless while we’re attacked. That’s not what turning the other cheek is about.

    I don’t accept Jonah as Metropolitan because in my heart, I cannot accept any clergyman in America who will not acknowledge the supremacy of the US Constitution over the rights and privileges of religious institutions. Moreover, I reject the heretical Manhattan Declaration because it was designed by a Princeton academic who put his allegiance to the agenda of the Pope in Rome over his allegiance to the US and its Constitution. His screed was engineered for to further erode the last remaining threads of the Constitutional separation of church and state in America. It is meant to divide families along fault lines of sexual orientation, a woman’s right to determine what happens with her own reproductive organs, and further align the priorities of the American Far Right with those of the Vatican, a nation-state with a seat on the UN and its own inherently sinful bank.

    My personal life is just that – my personal life. It is my life. Not yours. Just like the personal life of that deacon who married his partner should be a non-issue for you. As a cradle Orthodox Christian, christened by loving godparents and raised by loving parents in the Church of my grandparents and ancestors, I shall always be a communicant. It’s time you began to accept the idea that you cannot possess a monopoly on the Truth, or on being a Christian. That just as the church will always have its more conservative members, so too will it have its liberal members. We shall always be a diverging force within the church and our voices will always be heard as much as yours will by God.

    You can feel free to revile me, seethe with anger. You can see your wife off on the train in the morning as she heads into the city to cry about the gays before the archbishops. You can write whatever you want. But nothing will change. And in the end, nothing you say, do or are in this life is any better or more worthy than anything I say, do or am. We are all equals before God.

    I know that might be tough to accept. But you know what? You should probably man-up and take it.

    Most sincerely,
    David Joseph

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      David,

      Homosexual behavior can never be normalized in the Orthodox Church without the Church ceasing to be Orthodox. I’m sure that’s an unpleasant fact from your point of view, but it really cannot be any other way.

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    David Joseph says:

    Nope. The only truly unpleasant fact from my point of view is that so many hateful dunces wield the power they do within the rank and file of the Orthodox Church in America. To think I held the Dutch educational system up as a model at one time – mercy me. Thanks for setting me straight.

    You understand, of course. that I cannot possibly acknowledge as clergy in the 21st Century a man who does not fundamentally understand – or worse, refuses to accept – that human sexuality by necessity transcends church dogma. Homosexuality is present in everything from plants to octopi to repressed clergymen and young Republicans. Everywhere, Mr. Jacobse! That it could be so lost upon you that God built even birth-control into the human race – and that we gays are it – doesn’t leave me with high hopes for the OCA as an organization.

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      Harry Coin says:

      How enabling! All I have to do is find what I want to do ‘out there in nature’, state that it transcends church dogma, and I get to be the uber-mensch himself and DO IT!!! (and I even get to call other people objectifying names while feeling good about it). And, let’s lower the age of consent so if we talk adolescents into something then their parents get all pre-1960 about it they can’t put us in jail.

      Meerkat Manor, proof that Ghengis Khan transcended church dogma and was correct?

      Gays as ‘birth control’ — one I haven’t heard. In nature we see mostly famine by overpopulation doing that, for example, deer. Why don’t we see mostly gay bucks with big racks and manly does who don’t get pregnant when the feed gets low?

      How about this idea if you like to look out there and make statistical observations normative: Life isn’t fair, something didn’t go as it was supposed to, abuse and mistreatment shouldn’t happen but appear to be part of a sad cycle we must work to end. Be grateful what badness happened in your case isn’t something fatal, and let’s get along and make the best of it. Also note: It ain’t all roses for everyone else, either.

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        David Joseph says:

        Everything always goes as it’s supposed to, Mr. Coin. And nothing, but nothing went wrong with me.

        That’s what you and your cohorts do not seem able to pack into your tiny, oxygen-deprived brains.

        Everything always goes as it’s supposed to – as God has willed it.

        Everything, and everyone. Including me. Now. Here with you by divine appointment, but not for much longer. I have to make a cup of tea. I’m parched.

        You are not in control and never will be – do you understand? The Lord works in mysterious ways, Mr. Coin.

        I may not look, sound or seem like your fantasy of what an Orthodox Christian should look or sound like. But like Jesus Himself, I bring fire with me: the pure, unadulterated, unrepressed Truth of who I am.

        I offer no apologies to you or any other mortal for there is no need to apologize.

        You and your cohorts have a golden opportunity here, with me, to open yourselves to the fullness of the Truth about what God means. In this virtual forum, I am a mirror for you to stand before and decide who you shall become in relationship to people like me. Publicly. It’s simple. You’ll now have two choices: to evolve, or to regress. The former leads to oneness, joy and ecstatic union with God. The latter to never being invited to any decent parties.

        I am inviting you hypocritical haters to consider that perhaps everything you have come to know about God and the nature of Jesus Christ may be wrong. I’m lighting a virtual fire in your snake-pits of repression, misogyny, racism and hatred.

        It’s great sport to watch as you all emerge from your dens and do a little dance all over logic and reason. Step lively!

        What precisely is it about the way you lead your lives which makes any one of you think you’re any more likely to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven than any of us Cradle-born Orthodox, for whom you show nothing but contempt?

        Why do you insult our ancestors and harass our clergy and laity when you find, to your chagrin, that Orthodoxy – that humanity – isn’t about exclusion, uniformity and hatred, but inclusion, diversity and love?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Not going to work David. If Orthodoxy accepts homosexual behavior as normative, it ceases being Orthodox. The moral tradition is clear.

          Why don’t you just become Episcopalian? They already what believe what you believe.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            Let’s see, attempts at logic illicit increased agitation and hostility, calls the sponsoring priest “Mr.”, “great sport to watch you all.” Wait! I recognize the scent… troll.

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            David Joseph says:

            What’s that? I could have sworn you just advised me to leave the Church of my ancestors for the Episcopal Church.

            Mr. Jacobse, I have some very bad news for you: I’m not going anywhere. And you have no right to tell me to go.

            I was born of Orthodox parents, Orthodox Christian I was baptized, Orthodox Christian I was raised, and Orthodox Christian I shall remain till my dying day.

            You have no authority, no power, and no right to tell me where to go to church or how to live my life. None. Do we understand eachother?

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Your ultimate argument is not with me David, it’s with the tradition — the moral teaching delivered to the Church that reaches way back.

            There isn’t going to be any normalization of homosexual behavior in the moral tradition David. It’s not going to happen. That’s why I suggested the Episcopalian Church. You can save yourself and others a lot of grief.

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              David Joseph says:

              Mr. Jacobse, do you think Jesus Christ came into this world to save Himself and others a lot of grief, or do you think He came into this world to Teach by His life’s example?

              Perhaps it is a burning sense of moral superiority that has kindled in you this surreal hubris and hatred of homosexuals. Perhaps it may be hysteria about the future of Western Europe as people of Balkan and Middle Eastern descent now represent a sizeable chunk of the population, and society is struggling to redefine itself in light of a new paradigm. Whatever it is that ultimately drove you into our fold, if you think that we are going to sit idly by while folk like you ravage us and divide us, then you have joined the wrong Church, I can assure you. You are in absolutely no position to lecture me or anyone else about the moral traditions of our Orthodox Church, or any other faith tradition, I assure you.

              As I’m certain you understand, Nieuw-Amsterdam, where I live, was established for two reasons: unbridled capitalism and the conversion to Dutch Christianity of the ‘natives’. It was part of a long moral tradition of so-called Christians, sailing round the world, conquering, colonizing, enslaving, massacring and imposing things like apartheid on those deemed to be morally inferior by virtue of their color or cultural beliefs and practices. Under the banner of firebrand Calvinism (the closest Christian equivalent to Wahhabism and Salafism), the Dutch visited unspeakable atrocities upon the indigenous peoples of today’s New York Metropolitan region. It was a genocide for which no sufficient apology could ever been made.

              It was the apocalypse of the Lene Lenape. Those who weren’t massacred were eventually deported to the southwestern US. We have lost all traces of these people, their culture, their language and their faith traditions. A people who had lived in complete harmony with the earth; with nature and its rhythms. A people with an unwritten language who revered every person, stream, tree, rock and hillside as sacred expressions of the Great Spirit, and who inhabited this place for thousands and thousands of years, were wiped off the map within a couple of hundred years.

              May their memory be eternal….

              Please understand, I come from an indigenous people too – the Albanians. We are united across all faith traditions. and preserve in our ways many pre-Christian ways which bind us to other ancient, indigenous cultures further afield, through time.

              In Holland, your birthplace and the land of Anne Frank, centuries of fervent Calvinist morality ultimately resulted in the mass deportation and extermination of most Dutch Jews, homosexuals and gypsies in Nazi death camps. In Albania, our multi-religious, pluralistic moral values meant that after WWII, Muslim-majority Albania had more Jewish people living within its borders than before WWII. We are listed as amongst the righteous for our role in rescuing the Jewish people from persecution on the wall at Yad Vashem. In Albania, way up in the highlands, should a woman desire to live as a man, there’s an option for her. In central and southern Albania, should two men wish to be united in spiritual union, there was Vellameria. Perhaps you don’t know about these things.

              Like the Native American, mutual respect and living in harmony with our environment and defending our brothers and sisters against attack is hard-wired into the Albanian moral code.

              So when Muslim fellow citizens are slandered and marginalized in Albanian-American Orthodox Christian parishes we know something has gone horribly wrong, for Muslim Albanians were generous benefactors of our churches at their inception, and we have donated to their mosques. We attend one another’s social functions, and assist in eachother’s holiday celebrations. We intermarry with one another. This is our moral way.

              Whenever a person’s character is assaulted by radicalized clergy embedded within our parishes, and laity with an axe to grind and a mind to destroy social harmony are egged on by these clergymen, I object. In my capacity as an American citizen and an Orthodox Christian of Albanian heritage, I say, “No.”

              Our Church must renounce the heretical, Vatican-inspired Manhattan Declaration, and Jonah must step down.

              The Orthodox Church must never be a party to a project designed to engineer the destruction of the Constitutionally-enshrined separation of church and state in America. It is our civic duty as Americans and as Orthodox Christians to report all seditious activity and all abuse of tax-exempt status by the Church to the local authorities.

              I came into this world with millions of others like me, at a time in human history and evolution when Jesus’ all-encompassing message of universal love and acceptance needs to be heard loudly within the ranks of Christian churches of all denominations. I am here on this website because you assert that you are Orthodox Christians and like self-appointed Obergruppenfuhrers, you purport to now possess the moral authority to purge our churches of their indigenous inhabitants and their homosexuals and replace them with those sympathetic to your twisted, fascist, dominionist-inspired agenda.

              I am here to say, “No more.”

              Jesus said, “This shall you do, and even greater”; and “I bring you a new commandment: Love one another, as I have loved you.” I take Jesus at His Word. Within that affirmation I feel a deep sense of responsibility to cry foul when I see it.

              So, here, on this webpage, after yet another repugnant, homophobic diatribe from the most assuredly insecure Mr. Dreher, I say to him, and to you, “Foul.”

              Jesus knew hypocrisy and discrimination and was persecuted for righteousness’ sake. He’s my model. Especially in situations such as this.

              Our Orthodox Church was never an Evangelical Church in the Calvinist sense, though you and your cohorts have gone a very long way towards engineering it into one.

              We are to exercise an entirely different style of Evangelism. Because ‘the Kingdom of God is within”, we Orthodox walk in the Way that Jesus taught – living our lives from our hearts outwards – not from everyone else’s expectations of us inwards. Put simply, in the words of the venerable Mark Twain, we are to “endeavor so to live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” We are to question everything – especially the meanings of scriptures written by and for men, through time. We are to do that with an understanding of the jurisprudence, geopolitics and meteorology of the times in which the scriptures were written. We are not called upon by Jesus to discriminate against others and work to expel them from the Church family because their genetic code differs from our own.

              We are aware, from His example, that when we are living heart-centrically, others will by definition object to us, persecute us, and attempt to marginalize us, expel us, slander us – perhaps even crucify us – literally or figuratively. That’s how we know we’re on the Right Path.

              In taking my example from the All-loving One, I fear no man.

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          Harry Coin says:

          You write nothing went wrong? Practically perfect in every way? If you’ve been in an Orthodox church since birth have you ever said the communion prayer in that service book in front of everyone, or heard it read aloud? You know the one, right? Can’t have missed it, if you go on Sunday even once.

          “I believe o Lord and I confess, … sinners of whom I am chief”.

          Now, where is the basis for all that judgement? Better cool it off before you burn it out.

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            David Joseph says:

            Mr. Coin, do you believe God makes mistakes?

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              Eliot Ryan says:

              Are the demons a mistake?

              …it was known to God we should say, that not only would the creatures rebel on the planet earth, the human beings, but that there would also be a crack, a rebellion, an apostasy within the Angelic Realm as well… Angels and Demons

              Whatever I do that it is wrong (sinful) returns to me not as a punishment but as a result.
              Human beings can be caught by the devil, but they can repent.

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                David Joseph says:

                I’m sorry, Mr. Ryan, but I don’t live my life from the perspective of a cave-dweller, 2,000 years ago. I don’t believe in demons and angels, in the same way I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa, faeries or gnomes anymore.

                It’s taken some of the excitement out of life, I’m not going to lie. But I moved on from that a long time ago, and I think most Orthodox Christians have too.

                I don’t now, nor have I ever interpreted the scriptures literally. No rational individual could. We know many things today about the Bible that were unknown even 20 years ago. The gospels came into being many decades after Jesus left us, and successive rulers through time condoned the alteration of the original texts, exploiting Christianity to their own selfish, patriarchal ends just as they had every other religion which preceded it. They changed a few lines here, altered an allegory there, and there is simply no way we can know the whole, pure, complete story, as it happened on the ground when Jesus dwelt amongst us. We know that many of the stories in the Bible were based on pre-Christian narratives from the ancient world, with similar themes of virgin births, persecution, resurrection. That’s nothing to fear or mistrust, it’s just information. It puts a few important things in perspective about the narrative of humankind. About its evolutionary trajectory.

                I would agree with you wholeheartedly that the love and good works we do have a chain reaction and come back to us in some way, shape or form, though that shouldn’t be the principal aim for doing good. I also believe the harm we do to others returns to us as a logical consequence of our actions.

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                  Eliot Ryan says:

                  Oh… I thought you were Orthodox …

                  Now, if we want to know if all this is true. If you want to know, is this really so? Is this, not just, mythology or fantasy or something like that? Then, we are told by the Scriptures and by the saints how we can find out if it’s true. What we are told is this:

                  If you want to know if it’s true, just try to keep the commandments of God. If you want to know whether or not this is true, just try to pray. If you want to know whether or not this is true, just try to love your enemy and to bless those who curse you and to pray for those who abuse you. If you want to know if it’s true, just try to keep the commandments, the Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant, Try not to lie, not to cheat, not to bear false witness, not to commit adultery, not to fornicate, not to get involved in porneia. If you want to know if it’s true, just try to honor other people and to give honor as due, honoring your parents first of all, honoring your father and your mother. Try to live at peace with everyone.

                  And then according to the Scriptures and the saints, we’ll know darn well whether this is true or not. Because we’ll realize that when we try to do these things—when we try to be Godly, when we try to obey God, when we try to keep his commandments, when we try to follow the teachings of Christ, when we try to be pure in heart and poor in spirit, when we try to be merciful and peacemaking and when we try to be meek, when we try to keep the teachings of the Sermon on the Mountain—then every demon in Hell rises up to attack us.

                  One of the Holy Fathers said: “If you want to know if the demons exist, just try to pray.” Try to focus and pray. He says: “Cause when a person stands up to pray, every dark and evil power in Hell tries to get him not to pray.” http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/angels_and_demons

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                    David Joseph says:

                    I am Orthodox.

                    I just don’t subscribe to the notion that I have a monopoly on the truth by virtue of the fact that I’m Orthodox. Moreover, I have a diverging opinion on the issue of homosexuality because I’m gay.

                    By the way, I agree with the thrust of the last paragraph you paraphrased up there. That is what is supposed to happen when in prayer or meditation. It’s not necessarily going to make things easier for us, but it can make us more aware and present. Prayer and meditation help us get in touch with what’s going on with us subconsciously and physically. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, fears – all of it will float to the surface. Instead of grasping onto these things, we can just acknowledge them in us, and let go of them. Like lying on the grass, looking up at the immensity of the sky, and watching the clouds float by. That’s what prayer and meditation are like for me.

                    As for all the rest of it, I’m a human being. I’m not going to lie to you. Chances are pretty good I’m going to have sex, eat delicious food, drink wine on occasion and lose myself in these and other diversions from time to time. Sometimes to excess. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find any other Orthodox Christians out there who don’t do the same.

                    But I think God ‘gets’ that about us. I think that’s also part of the reason we’re here. To determine who we become in relationship to all these things. Most of us know when we’re lost, and we know our way Home. We always make it Home, because we must make it Home.

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              Harry Coin says:

              David, is a child born blind God’s mistake?

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                David Joseph says:

                A child born blind is part of God’s plan. Just like a child born gay is, Mr. Coin.

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                  Harry Coin says:

                  Passing over your ‘mistake’ vs. ‘plan’ deflection,

                  Passing over the lack of hard evidence ‘born gay’ belongs in the same category as ‘born blind’,

                  Struggling as one might to improve either one, for however long it takes, appears to be part of the plan you mention. Plainly, not fair. Would change it if I could.

                  Anyhow I’m not chasing you down whatever street you bring up next. I don’t think you’ve addressed my responses, just ignored them in the main and went down new streets.

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                    Eliot Ryan says:

                    BTW, was Mary of Egypt born prostitute and sex addict?

                    On the Fifth Sunday of Lent the Orthodox Church commemorates our Righteous Mother Mary of Egypt. The feast day of Saint Mary of Egypt is April 1, however, she is also commemorated on this Sunday due to her recognition by the Church as a model of repentance.

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                      David Joseph says:

                      I’m not clear on where you’re going with this, Mr. Coin.

                      Are you making a correlation between prostitution, sex addiction and homosexuality? Are you asserting that homosexuals are by definition sex addicts and prostitutes?

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                      David Joseph says:

                      Sorry, Mr. Ryan, not Mr. Coin. So, how are homosexuals by definition sex addicts and prostitutes any more than heterosexuals are by definition sex addicts and prostitutes, Mr. Ryan?

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    Rob says:

    Mr Joseph is taking this all way too personally, I think. Fr. Hans may correct me if I’m wrong, but you can’t even profess belief in any of a whole host of ideas considered heretical and consider yourself a true Orthodox believer.

    -EOC unapologetically hold that they are the one true church of Christ on earth, which alone has guarded right belief and true worship in absolute identity and unbroken succession with the apostolic church. In other words, Evangelicals have lapsed from the true faith into error, if not outright heresy, according to Orthodox believers. The salvation of non-Orthodox is, therefore, in question.
    – EOC hold to baptismal regeneration – no one can be saved unless he is baptized with water.
    – EOC reject Sola Scriptura. Orthodoxy affirms a single source of revelation, holy tradition, of which Scripture is the preeminent among several forms. The other forms of tradition include the first seven ecumenical councils, patristic writings, especially those of the first four centuries; later councils; icons; the Liturgy; and canon law. The Protestant view which raises Scripture above tradition as final authority in matters of doctrine is considered by Orthodox as the sin of the Reformation.

    Each church has its rules and regulations. At this point, there are probably thousands of different Christian creeds in the US alone, so I’m sure that if one doesn’t like the laws of one denomination, they can find another one they do.

    Of course, the question then becomes what each church does with those congregants who don’t toe the moral or theological line. Most Catholics, for example, simply discard their Church’s prohibition against contraception in marriage, but I don’t think that the Catholic Church has insisted on excommunicating all who are too loud about their use of it, perhaps because their pews would be filled with about a tenth of what they currently have.

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      David Joseph says:

      You’re right, I am taking this all pretty personally Rob. But it’s hard not to when people as hateful as Rod Dreher and others convert the faith in which you were raised with the sole aim of devising ways of kicking you out of it.

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        Rob says:

        Let me address your concern of feeling “singled out” by touching on another topic: artificial contraception.

        In both Catholic and Orthodox traditions, its use has historically been condemned as a moral evil. St John Chrysostom called it “worse than murder”. Of those who used potions to prevent life, St Ambrose labeled it “parricide”. Sts Jerome, John the Faster and Augustine also labeled this behavior as gross immorality in no uncertain terms (Augustine in particular).

        I’m not aware of the official current Orthodox position on abortion, but it does appear that it has generally been regarded as immoral by the vast majority of Church patriarchs and by most of Christendom until the 1930s when, during the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church allowed for the possibility of contraception as moral in some circumstances.

        In the first edition, first printing (1963) of The Orthodox Church by Timothy (Kallistos) Ware – a widely-cited and authoritative source on Orthodox teaching -, the author states (page 302): Artificial methods of birth control are forbidden in the Orthodox Church. …

        [Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras stated regarding Paul VI's Humane Vitae which condemned contraception]:
        I absolutely agree with the pope . . . Pope Paul VI could not have spoken otherwise. Holding the Gospel in his hand, he seeks to protect the morals as well as the interests and the existence of the nations .

        That’s the teaching. What’s the reality?

        Consider the following:

        It’s reported that 70% of Catholic women have either undergone a sterilization procedure or use contraception and continue to do so on a regular basis despite the Church’s teaching that contraception (even within marriage) is a moral evil incompatible with Catholic teaching.

        Close to 97% of these women admit to having at least used it at one point in their lives, if not currently.

        Despite the overwhelming evidence that most RCC/Orthodox women are using contraception on a regular basis (i.e., unrepentantly), I can’t recall hearing of a single sermon against the use of contraception by a RCC/Orthodox priest or bishop. I see no move to criminalize its use. I see no statements from Catholic organizations that suggest excommunication of congregants who continue to utilize artificial methods of birth control so they may gather the small remnant of “true believers” who will acknowledge and abide by the Church’s teaching (and small it would be).

        The impact of this moral issue? It’s vast, if we are to believe the numbers. Yet, this is not the issue Mr. Dreher insists we “man up” about: it’s homosexuality which will impact a scant percentage of believers (if we are to believe the conservative estimates of true homosexuals – which is always close to zero).

        What’s this all about, then? I’m not sure. Perhaps the Church has simply given up the fight over contraception? Is it financially motivated? Perhaps the Church has, at least privately, come to different, more “modern” conclusions about contraception? I have no idea and wouldn’t presume to guess.

        I do see why a gay believer might feel like a bit of a scapegoat, though. As I stated, though, perhaps you would do well to look elsewhere for a group of folks more supportive of you and your faith. Ironically, the liberal churches have retained many of the wonderful liturgical and musical elements of the more conservative traditions, even if the sermons are a bit dry.

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          David Joseph says:

          Thank you for being human with me this evening.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          …homosexuality which will impact a scant percentage of believers (if we are to believe the conservative estimates of true homosexuals – which is always close to zero).

          Actually, the decline of the Episcopalian Church and other mainstream denominations show us that normalizing homosexual behavior impacts the entire church.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Off base in some areas Rob, but like Harry I don’t run down every road that is opened either. The main point here is the demand that homosexual behavior be normalized despite the prohibitions of the moral tradition. Merely reciting a few shibboleths as David does about patriarchy and evolution that held sway in the last handful of decades (but are swiftly falling out of favor) doesn’t make the case.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    BTW Mr. Joseph … I do not hate you at all. I feel sorry for you and I am astounded at how confused you are.

    I believe you gospel is Humanism and its promise is a good life here and now. But you know very well from those many sad stories … this is a lie…

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      David Joseph says:

      No need to feel sorry for me. Confused I most certainly am not. But many of you seem to be. For example, I have you, here, Mr. Ryan labelling me as a secular humanist, and Mr. Jacobse labelling me an Episcopalian. From what I have gathered, it seems to be standard practice for many on this board to write under a pseudonym. I’ve given you my full name, and I’m sharing with you the truth of who I am. In real life. Live and in person. Because I mean to communicate to you my truth – and leave it up to all of you to mull over. I encourage you to scroll up and read through Mr. Dreher’s article, and to examine his wide body of vitriol aimed at people like me. It’s all out there for public consumption, and public vomiting.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        I didn’t label you as an Episcopalian. I didn’t even label you as a homosexual. What I said was that if your purpose is to change the moral tradition, you would be more at home in an Episcopalian Church since the Orthodox are not going to change the moral tradition. We’d cease being Orthodox if we did and worldwide Orthodoxy would let us know it.

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Re: 17.1.1.2.1.2.1.1.1.2…are you seriously asking me this question?

    ‘Fire cannot last long in water, nor can a shameful thought in a heart that loves God. For every man who loves God suffers gladly, and voluntary suffering is by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure.’

    St. Mark the Ascetic

    ‘Eating and drinking don’t make friendships – such friendship even robbers and murderers have. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let us help one another spiritually. . . Let us hinder those things that lead our friends away to hell.’

    St. John Chrysostom

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      David has bought into the myth of homosexual and heterosexual “orientation” forgetting that every passion fosters some kind of orientation the more a person gives himself over to it.

      Sexual desire is not necessarily a passion; a drive yes, but so is hunger. It’s a difficult drive to master, but like hunger, the problem begins when the drive masters you instead of you mastering the drive. Hunger becomes a passion when the desire becomes unbridled. When that happens a person’s energy (thoughts, actions, etc.) are directed towards consuming more food; he develops a gluttonous orientation. Sexual drive can become a passion (when lust overtakes the person) but in that case the orientation would properly be called licentiousness, and the object of that orientation (male, female, animal, inanimate object, whatever) is only secondary.

      Homosexual activists don’t like hearing this. They want moral parity for their homosexual relations in the same way that heterosexuals enjoy. The problem is that with rampant heterosexual promiscuity, the distinction between heterosexual behavior as natural and homosexual behavior as unnatural becomes harder to draw. People ruled by their passions will eventually self-define in terms of their passions (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance – NAAFA, a “Civil Rights Organization”). Once self-identification by passion becomes a cultural axiom, no behavior will be seen as unnatural in the end.

      The real problem of course is that sexual activity has been divorced from procreation. We’ve all been affected by the condom culture and it is leading us to the pornification of all sexual desire. Not a good place to be. If we ever return to basic morality however, there won’t be any place to naturalize the unnatural. Homosexuality will always be, as the Roman Catholic Church puts it, an “objective disorder.” This is confirmed by the moral tradition.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Rob says:

        “The real problem of course is that sexual activity has been divorced from procreation.”

        I’m not sure that’s the primary problem. Many heterosexual couples survive years in solid marriages without offspring. Rather, it seems to be the objectification of other humans as commodities to be acquired as one does a vehicle or a new home and then disposed of when one tires of them. Revive and foster the notions of commitment, fidelity and respect for those one professes to love, and I think the rest will fall into place.

        Separate agape from the moral law and you end up with nothing more than the “law that kills” (the “shalt nots”) (2 Corinthians 3:6-8) which lifts no one out of sin and despair.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Have any kids Rob?

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Rob says:

            My own? No … but I have volunteered numerous hours to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Their own father is in prison and their mother is living with someone she is not married to. So, I’ve spent my weekends with them taking them on trips and generally trying to show them a life of possibility and stability they may not have otherwise experienced. They need to see that not everyone reacts with hostility and anger to every situation they’re confronted with. I’m also currently providing for a young person living with me who was kicked out of their own home by their alcoholic parent for the crime of calling off of work. I’ve had to sacrifice some luxuries so I could provide them with transportation and other basic necessities their own parents could not/would not offer them.

            I’m not saying this to suggest I’m doing anything real parents don’t do every day times a thousand, but simply that I’m not speaking from a vacuum of inexperience. Not sure how this relates, though …

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Didn’t think so. No offense, but anyone responsible for someone else beyond weekends is able to read that you don’t have that experience in note 20.1.1.

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              Rob says:

              As I stated, I currently have a minor living with me full time as they would have been otherwise homeless (either that, or remain in an abusive environment).

              I’m sorry you feel that only picking up the slack of those who are incapable of rearing their own children doesn’t allow me to comment on … well, apparently anything. I take it you then believe that unmarried priests should not be permitted to provide counseling, spiritual advice or even comment on the relationships of their married congregants, yes? They have less experience with marriage than I do with children (which is still irrelevant to what I posted, anyhow).

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                Actually, yes, I don’t think that priests without children or unmarried have much to offer parents regarding child rearing or marriage. I can count the exceptions on one hand, and only then because they have encountered a long term situation that required the same measure of sacrifice as a good parent gives. Frankly, the inexperience is very easy to spot.

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                  David Joseph says:

                  Mr. Jacobse, if Rob is caring for a minor full-time – providing a child with a happy home, nourishment, guidance, safety, education and security is parenting, no?

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                  Rob says:

                  Fair enough. At least you’re consistent. I think you minimize the fact that, unless one is living in total isolation, there can be sufficient demands on a person through the type of community in which they live (extended family, even in a monastic setting) to where I think they can speak with some form of authority on the sacrifices of a Christian life.

                  Further, not all parental experiences are the same: parents who are blessed with healthy, obedient and attractive children do not have the same experiences as those whose children are afflicted with disease, deformity and/or severe personality disorders. I’ve spent sufficient time with autistic and handicapped children to assure you that it is a whole other world.

                  Does this mean the experiences and sacrifices of the parents of healthy children are thus irrelevant? No. They’re just not the same kind, perhaps. I just wouldn’t be so dismissive of the experiences of others, that’s all.

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                    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                    I’m not dismissive of the experience of others. I only dismiss the inexperience that masquerades as wisdom. There’s a lot of that around these days.

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                    Harry Coin says:

                    I have to go along with Fr. Hans here. It’s not being dismissive of those who aren’t given to raise children. Not any more than its dismissive to men to say they can’t get pregnant. It’s an important fact, like the weather, or the sign on mountain hairpin turn to slow to 5mph. It can be ignored, at a price.

                    I’ve been in Big Brothers Big Sisters for many years as well. I suppose you get a little of the ‘flavor’ of being a parent, but not more than that. That said, it is an incredibly useful and important program and I commend everyone who supports it in any possible way.

                    I encourage anybody who once per week during the fall, winter and spring knows they can take their lunch at the same time.. Go to the closest elementary school to your lunch place, and offer to be a ‘lunch buddy’. All you do is take your lunch once a week with a young person, usually one-on-one. They provide some games, an introduction, it all works very well and they are good at it. The kid you’ll get will have some major issue, a deceased or absent parent, usually. All you do is mish and mash for 45 minutes, and that’s it. No contact outside the school. It’s a great thing, you make a difference just by showing up. Costs nothing.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Harry Coin says:

        …”People ruled by their passions will eventually self-define in terms of their passions (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance – NAAFA, a “Civil Rights Organization”). Once this becomes a cultural axiom, no behavior can be seen as unnatural in the end.”

        Man-Boy love association.

        Townsfolk in the U.K. join a ‘flash mob’ loot stores and shops on the basis of feeling overtaxed/under-subsidized.

        Early Roman Empire citizens eat, then go vomit on purpose in order to be able to eat more.

        ‘Casual’ drug users advocate for legal unrestricted use of substances that have as their only function perception/mood distortion.

        Folk who have no problems with ‘breaking a few eggs to make an omlette’ (idolization of ends justifies means).

        Folk who have no problem with the Nuremberg defense (I am not to blame as I idolize authority whose orders I carried out).

        etc. and so on.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Good comment Harry, especially the connection between licentiousness and idolatry/evil (the Man-Boy Love Association is a particularly strong example). It’s one the scripture makes very clear.

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            David Joseph says:

            So now Messers Jacobse and Coin conflate homosexuality with pedophilia. Unbelievable. Not the brightest bulbs in the box, are they?

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              Harry Coin says:

              Perhaps if you focused on the topic over against observations about the extent of your personal/emotional assessments there would be the possibility of insight.

              In every case I could think of, giving oneself over to this or that sort of passion frequently (whether in the manner of a leaf on the river or the driver of a bus) gives rise to a related word that fits well within the meaning of ‘orientation’. I think anybody who sits down with a pencil and paper and makes of list of things that could properly be called passions to some degree would then be able to find a related name for the orientation doing that again and again leads to.

              I think that’s just true. Try it. Fr. Hans really is on to something with that suggestion.

              There’s something folk who do give in to / seek out repeatedly ‘going with’ a passion, have in common. They create an ‘orientation’ a name for the effort that gives them permission / support to be owned by the passion. They appear to want some manner of leader/strongman/ideology (with symbols/logos that would have been called ‘idols’ 2,000 years ago) that gives them at least local/secular permission/justification. So they rally to support what it is that leads to feeling okay about embracing the orientation leading to being owned by the passion– but with group support. Reminds me of ‘opium dens’ in the early 1900’s, contemporary ‘crack houses’ but with proprietors. Legal prostitution. Some societies try to put a fence around it (red light districts, casino districts, ‘smoking sections’) so those owned by a passion all do what they are wont to do away from folk who are not similarly overwhelmed. Even way back, there were those Jews who created the ‘fertility bull’ and so forth, as sort of a symbol of their choosing about who they were. Gods on the pagan pantheons appear to be something of a Rorschach ‘ink blot’ test to tell you something about the people who create them.

              Getting into the business of making passions illegal creates too great a risk of making a police state.

              Getting into the business of forcing legal acceptance / recognition of ‘orientations’ creates the same risk.

              Folk who consent to this or that passion should legally be able to do as they prefer, not because it is a good idea for their health but because a police state is worse. But the line should be drawn at forcing others who don’t consent to give it a name and force welcome of it. That is not tolerance, it is an encroachment of freedom.

              Well, back to work for me. This has been really stimulating, challenging to think about things in ways I don’t often take the time for. But, somehow, I show these postings to the man at the grocery store and he still wants cash before I can leave with food. So…….

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                Harry Coin says:

                P.S. I wonder whether being susceptible to this or that passion arises because of injury earlier on. I wonder whether the origin of the word ‘com -passion’ has something to do with that.

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                Getting into the business of making passions illegal creates too great a risk of making a police state.

                Getting into the business of forcing legal acceptance / recognition of ‘orientations’ creates the same risk.

                Excellent point.

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                  David Joseph says:

                  Sounds like détente.

                  • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
                    Harry Coin says:

                    Living in a police state most everyone sees as worse than forcing acceptance of, or repressing what people consent to do among themselves even if clearly harmful to those consenting. Only when people not party to the consent are affected should the government intervene.

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                  Harry Coin says:

                  Thinking about this discussion off and on, I wonder whether this is what was meant by the old word ‘idol’ in modern times.

                  ‘Idol’ nowadays amounts to a sad special sort of ‘brand’, complete with slogans, logos — along with a leadership person/group. This group emerges to exploit the opportunities that come when enough who share an orientation merge. Folk who give in to passions often enough appear to desire to be led by something, someone. The idol, another name for the group/slogan/logo, or ‘brand’, enables those within to ‘feel better’ about how often they indulge the passion that owns and, long term, harms them.

                  ‘Orientation’ is a between-stage, the early days of idol/brand/slogan/leadership formation.

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            Harry Coin says:

            Boy Fr. Hans if that’s scripture making something clear, I thought math was hard. I certainly see your point, but until this discussion I don’t think I could have been able to build the connections between them. So, probably something they cover in the first month at a seminary or decent university sociology/group psychology class. 50 years later, I get it. Better late than never I suppose.

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        M. Stankovich says:

        You might consider re-reading Paul Evdokimov’s The Sacrament of Love, now reprinted and again available from SVS. He quite eloquently – even beautifully – writes of the transcendent nature of marital love expressed sexually as, first and foremost, a mystery analogous to Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32) and “ecstatic” by design. While procreation is an element of marital sexuality, it is the intimacy of sexuality that is the “sacrament.” Many years ago, Fr. Hopko once said he unsure as to the “appropriateness” of continued sexual love between the elderly – that its “procreative purpose” had been exhausted. I wonder what he thinks now!

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    David Joseph says:

    Gentlemen, I never doubted for a moment that you didn’t already have sufficient rope to hang yourselves. Thanks for confirming my worst suspicions about the brain drain at the OCA, and the future of the Orthodox Church in general. You deserve one another. Truly.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      My hope is that those who have ears to hear will hear…the ones that didn’t want to hear, are left alone.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Well, if not normalizing homosexual behavior constitutes a “brain drain,” then your disappointment will extend a lot farther than just the OCA. Try bringing the argument to other Orthodox jurisdictions or countries. You won’t make any progress there either.

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        David Joseph says:

        Could someone explain to me why there is such a high degree of opacity on this site? Why did Mr. Dreher write under a pseudonym? Why do people posting on here write under pseudonyms?

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        David Joseph says:

        Normalizing homosexual behavior…. I keep reading that expression over and over in this thread. You know, I have been enjoying your debate with Matt Dilahunty. In part 3 of 9, you stated that “Sometimes morality isn’t clear – what we believed yesterday might not exactly hold today.”

        Isn’t that statement entirely applicable to certain moral traditions of the Orthodox Church, especially as regards the complexities of human sexuality? Is it not possible that, what held true at the time the Old Testament was being written, might not exactly hold today?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Theoretically, anything is possible. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Eliot Ryan says:

          “Sometimes morality isn’t clear – what we believed yesterday might not exactly hold today.”

          It is not that the morality is not clear. “Righteous”, by definition, is “morally upright; without guilt or sin”. The “Christian liberalism” is a display of the invalid separation of theology and morality.

          Each age was a fight against something. The Renascence was the fight for restauration of man, the Modern Age’s was for the instauration of democracy and so on. The most interesting fights of all is being carried today. The last fight of mankind – it may seem strange, is the fight against shame.
          [...]
          To kill in oneself the feeling of shame does not mean one will not longer do shameful deeds. Embarrassment resides specifically in the serenity with which one does embarrassing things, convinced he does well. On the contrary, we need shame to avoid making fools of ourselves to other people. Shame is the insurance of our dignity. WHY DO THEY KILL THE LIGHTS IN DISCO CLUBS?

          We shall find true guidance from the Fathers, learning humility and distrust of our own vain worldly wisdom, which we have sucked in with the air of the pestilential times, by means of trusting those who have pleased God and not the world. [...]fathers whose only aim is to lead us their children to God and His Heavenly Kingdom, where we shall walk and converse with these angelic men in unutterable joy forever.
          There is no problem of our own confused times which cannot find its solution by a careful and reverent reading of the Holy Fathers[...]
          THE HOLY FATHERS SURE GUIDE TO TRUE CHRISTIANITY by Fr. Seraphim Rose

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            David Joseph says:

            Mr. Ryan, thank you for your opinion as you touch on an issue which is central to this entire debate. I do not believe we can say liberalism separates theology and morality any more than we assert that conservativism does. Liberalism and conservatism are two sides of the same coin if you will. Let’s take the brain (please!) where we have the left side (the hierarchical, ordering, achievement-oriented, protection/safety-focused linear-centric side) vs. the right side (the egalitarian, all-embracing, here-and-now, nurturing and feelings-centric side). We could also think of the left brain as being the “doctor” side, and the right brain as being the “nurse” side. The left brain looks for and comes up with ‘solutions’ to particular issues in a dispassionate, fact-based, linear way (Think of a doctor asking a patient: “What seems to be the problem here?”). The right side, on the other hand, is the side most associated with the realm of feelings (Think of a nurse who asks, “How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?). Yang vs. Yin as the Chinese would assert.

            Now, the way I see it, the greatest dilemma which faces all Christian denominations at any given time is the same dilemma which has plagued humankind since we first emerged from caves. It is inherent in all organizations – whether of a religious or secular nature. It is this: since the left brain can’t live without the right brain; since we can’t have a functioning brain and a body which moves forward and learns from and apologizes for its mistakes without both halves intact, how can we work together to keep the left brain and the right brain, our collective subconscious mind, intact?

            Every single person – believer and non-believer – has their place in God’s family. I do not believe in exclusion as the only means of preserving and growing Orthodoxy. I believe in the polar opposite. By creating the conditions under which there is maximum room for debate and dissent we grow, prosper and lift up the most people. This is why living standards in Scandinavia are immeasurably higher than the US. All countries in Scandinavia are traditionally Christian, and so is the USA. Why are people living longer and becoming better educated and more socially mobile in Scandinavia while here in America, we are at the bottom of the barrel in all three of these categories? Could it be that in Scandinavia, they understand that the best way to accomplish a more just society – a more Christ-principled society – is to make sure that the left brain and the right brain, while sometimes in total opposition to eachother, do not overtake and engulf one another? That there are adequate safeguards and protections in place to assure that both sides in a debate are heard and validated, and that none are silenced or excluded?

            I believe that just may be the case.

            If Jesus were to come back and compare Scandinavian societies with those of American states in 2011, which do you think he would say function most smoothly and therefore are of greatest benefit to the most people, and to God?

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              Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

              Putting aside the left side – right side floridity for the moment, the Scandinavian dream is losing its luster. Another opinion:

              Mark Steyn: European elites drew wrong conclusion after WWII

              The “hole in the heart” that Steyn mentions refers to religious and moral sensibility. Both Rome and Moscow are well aware of the crisis. See my article: With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause.

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              Eliot Ryan says:

              The main ideas of my comment:
              1. Morality did not change.
              2. It may seem that morality has changed because of this most interesting fights of all being carried today — the fight against shame.
              3. We shall find true guidance from those who have pleased God and not the world, the Holy Fathers, whose only aim is to lead us, their children, to God and His Heavenly Kingdom.

              St. Anthony the Great said you can go out in the desert and the one demon that follows you everywhere is the demon of fornication; you never get rid of that till you die. If we try to dialogue with the demons, well they have all the answers on their side; they’re stronger than we are.

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                David Joseph says:

                Mr Ryan, you and I see things from a fundamentally different perspective. I don’t believe in demons, I fornicate just like the next guy, and I don’t feel guilt or shame about it. That’s what happens when we grow up.

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                  Eliot Ryan says:

                  This is why I previously said that you are really confused … especially since you claim you were raised in the Orthodox Church.

                  Whoever will guard his/her conscience clean, will undoubtedly be prepared and happy when death comes. One’s conscience is the just judge that God has placed within us.
                  The Four Laws by which Christ will Judge the World By Elder Cleopa

                  Our conscience does not have the quality of unyielding perseverance. If we keep on disobeying its voice it will eventually cease to rebuke sin. It is this way because we do have the freedom to choose good or evil. That’s what happens when we grow up…

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                  Eliot Ryan says:

                  You don’t believe in demons … but you believe in dark matter, don’t you? You know, that undetected form of matter postulated by astrophysicists when they found out that their calculations and observations don’t quite match up. :)

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                    David Joseph says:

                    Sure Eliot. Dark matter works. And thanks for the smiley. First one on this thread. :-)

                    I don’t believe non-reproductive sex between consenting adults is evil, and I don’t think Jesus did either. Most people and indigenous cultures on earth accept that sex is just part of life, as natural as breathing or drinking water. It’s scientifically proven that regular sex keeps us youthful, healthy and vibrant.

                    Sex connects us to one another, to our inner narrative – if we’re open to it – and to natural rhythms of the earth. Sex is an energy exchange; it’s therapeutic and physically necessary.

                    Some people like to have more of it, some people don’t like it at all. Some people do it too much for a whole host of reasons. Some people never do it at all.

                    Whatever your take on sex, you can rest assured – procreation is here to stay. The planet has billions of people on it, multiplying like rabbits. I think we just hit seven billion recently. That’s why I don’t know what this hysteria about homosexuals is. As I said, it’s my conviction that we’re the earth’s built-in birth control. If every single person on earth were a heterosexual and had children, it wouldn’t take too long before the planet ran out of every known resource!

                    I think it’s unbelievable that in the 21st Century, we’re even talking about sex in this way. But I’m cool with it. Ask me anything. I’m not ashamed to answer because I don’t accept the argument that we should feel ashamed about having sex, much less of talking about it.

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                      Eliot Ryan says:

                      Do you know What do the Saints say about homosexuality? Do you know how precious your soul is?

                      I believe it is useless to continue our dialogue. I keep telling you about the resurrected Lazarus and you keep telling me about the dead Lazarus.

                      Like I said, I hope that those who have ears to hear will hear…
                      May Christ have mercy on us and save us both!

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                David Joseph says:

                Incidentally, am I the only one in here who doesn’t believe that sex and sexuality are the most pressing problems in the world?

  22. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    David Joseph says:

    When I initially engaged with you all on this board, I never anticipated the journey would take the turns it’s taken. After viewing this video and reading your article, Mr. Jacobse, I’ve surmised that the prevailing ideology at the OCA today is identical to that of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. In the days following 9/11, those two televangelists stated, on live TV, and with a smile, that the people of New York and the USA had the attacks coming to them.

    Through this discussion, through the comments, through the video posted above, and the article written for the Roman Catholic newspaper, I have learnt much about how the OCA is positioning itself theologically and politically. I can better sense now the direction in which its leadership intend to take the church: backwards, rapidly. Destination: Crusades. Pretty sick if you ask me gents. But I know you’re not going to ask me, because nothing I say, do or am serves your interests.

    So be it.

    I understand that the Manhattan Declaration was one of an extensive array of tactics designed for subordinating the OCA’s autonomy to those of two powerful, theocratic entities outside the US: the Vatican, and the Patriarchate of Moscow. I seriously don’t know what you were thinking, but somebody should check the wine inventory in the altar. Perhaps it was originally hoped that, by joining forces with the Pope and the Patriarch, there could be rectification of what Mark Steyner referred to in this video as an ‘error by Europe’s élite’ after World War Two. Perhaps this pesky ‘Militant Secularism’, which, unsurprisingly, looks identical to democractic liberalism, could eventually be snuffed out. Fascism for Christ. Sweet. Do you think Jesus would have signed up for that?

    From this thread, I have learnt that ‘Militant Secularists’ is a broad watershed term encompassing virtually everyone different -homosexuals, abortion rights people, civil libertarians, women’s rights crusaders, agnostics, atheists, liberal Christians, liberal Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans and any other people in America working within the framework of American democracy to safeguard and to assert our Constitutionally-protected rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I guess militant secularists turn out to be most ordinary people going about their daily lives who don’t have a problem with church-state separation, and prefer the clergy – all clergy – to know and to respect the limits of their power.

    People like me.

    Though I am deeply offended by the disdain you exhibit for the democratic principles upon which this nation was built, I consider this one more reason people like me should stick around. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but trust me: it’s for the church’s own good. We’re excellent at safeguarding it from potential violations of US and international law. We understand better than most of you that churches, like corporations, do not have a famous reputation for reliable self-policing. Offenses we are always interested in uncovering and reporting would range from electioneering on tax-exempt church property, to child abuse, to influence peddling and graft, to clergy or laity involvement with organized crime, right on up to engagement with potential terrorists and their financiers. Don’t worry, we’re not going to be there every Sunday. We may only show up a few times a year. You probably won’t even know we’re there.

    But we’ll be there.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      For the record, I am not in the OCA. I appreciate your concern even though it is misplaced and poorly informed.

      As for not asking your opinion, well, I’ve found that homosexuals activists will tell you where you are wrong without even asking, again and again and again. Someone said the “love that dare not speak its name” has become “the love that won’t shut the h#$% up”. How true. There’s a lot of volume for only 1.4% of the population (CDC).

      Here’s what I suggest. Clean up your own house first before you start telling others how to clean theirs. Start here: HIV among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM). We keep seeing this year after year. You can understand why it doesn’t inspire much confidence.

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        Harry Coin says:

        What jumps out at me from the quoted studies is how serious scientists allowed terms like ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ and so forth as terms appropriate for how individuals chose to categorize and identify themselves. But when it was time for serious scientists to put their reputation on the line, the terms they chose to use were ‘men who have sex with men’ and so forth. That is to say, specific behaviors. Of interest, behavior based terms are quite in keeping with the plain meaning of the terms used in the moral tradition. What counts at the end of the day are choices leading to activities, actions.

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    David Joseph says:

    For the record, Mr. Jacobse, I’m not a homosexual activist. I’m a cradle Orthodox Christian who is homosexual and refuses to live a shame-based lie.

    I appreciate your concern even though it, too, is misplaced and poorly informed….

    I am not here to tell others how to clean their house. I am here because the Orthodox Church is my house too, and it is not your prerogative to mobilize haters in order to boot people like me out of it. I am as worthy as any other man or woman in the eyes of God.

    Let’s make a deal. When men like you and Mr. Dreher stop making sexual orientation the central issue it’s become in the Orthodox Church; when you stop the firebrand hate speech and expulsions and tests of faith to which you now deem it necessary to subject us; when you cease targeting our innocent Muslim friends and relatives in America and abroad for abuse, fanning the flames of ignorance and hate, then we will all shut up.

    Deal or no deal?

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      I am honestly intrigued by your “Orthodoxy”. It seems to me that you believe that your oppinions are worth more than all the ancients’ merely by living in our “enlightened” times. In your view, the Saints are cave-dwellers… You don’t believe in demons and angels… You know, in the Orthodox Church we just celebrated the Feast of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers (November, 8).

      What do you appreciate in the Orthodox Church?

      What makes you feel as though you belong with these groups?

      I believe that because of people like you “Christianity” has more than a thousand sects.

      The Orthodox teaching of the Holy Fathers is not something of one age, whether “ancient” or “modern.” It has been transmitted in unbroken succession from the time of Christ and His Apostles to the present day, and there has never been a time when it was necessary to discover a “lost” patristic teaching. Even when many Orthodox Christians have neglected this teaching (as is the case, for example, in our own day), its true representatives were still handing it down to those who hungered to receive it.. [...] St. Nicetas Stethatos, disciple and biographer of St. Simeon the New Theologian, has written; “It has been granted by God that from generation to generation there should not cease the preparation by the Holy Spirit of His prophets and friends for the order of His Church.” THE HOLY FATHERS
      SURE GUIDE TO TRUE CHRISTIANITY by Fr. Seraphim Rose

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      David, your argument is ultimately not with me or Dreher, but with the moral tradition. And the fact that you don’t want to “live a shame-based lie,” while obviously an issue for you, is not a argument that speaks to why that tradition should be changed. That’s why you get resistance from me or Dreher and anyone else who recognizes the insufficiency of your demand.

      So when I suggest going to the Episcopalians because you will avoid a lot of grief, I mean it. They accept your premise. It’s not an “expulsion” but merely the recognition that you won’t find the resistance you find (and will continue to find) here and elsewhere by me and other “firebrands of hate speech.”

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    David Joseph says:

    No.

    Here and now, I assure you Mr. Jacobse, in light of the despicable, incendiary article you posted above, my argument is, most assuredly, with you and Dreher….

    When men such as you convert to our religion over a period of four decades with the sole purpose of de-culturing and radicalizing our parishes, aligning them with the agendas of the American Evangelical far right, the morally-bankrupt Vatican, and the ultra-conservative Patriarchate in Moscow, how is that in any way in line with the moral tradition of our Church?

    Whenever men such as Dreher are given a forum under the banner of ‘Orthodox Christianity’ to attack the honor of venerable, time-tested, experienced cradle-Orthodox clergy who refuse to answer his calls to persecution and oppression, you can and must expect vigorous resistance from believers such as me.

    If you cannot see the sheer delirium in the writings of a man such as Dreher, then it’s up to the rest of us to point it out to you. Anyone writing under a pseudonym in order to slander elder bishops and Archbishops with whom he disagrees is an intellectual eunuch, not a ‘real man’, Mr. Jacobse. A ‘real man’ doesn’t sends his wife off on the train in the morning as an envoy in order to sit before the archbishops and to cry about the gay people in her midst. Only cowards with something to hide do that. Only a profoundly disturbed man makes it his personal mission to infiltrate Orthodox Christianity, marry, and spawn in hopes his kids will grow up and devote their energies to confronting and deposing the likes of Bishop Nikon and Archbishop Dimitri. Whatever spare time they may have will ostensibly be spent persecuting homos and chasing the Muslims and others around the neighborhood.

    It’s been my experience that life reserves the most surprises for ‘real men’ such as Dreher, and sooner or later they wind up on the front pages of the very papers for which they wrote – for entirely different reasons. I hope his medicine chest is full of antacid tablets. He’s going to need them.

    You who deign to lecture me about moral tradition must surely understand that whenever and wherever men have lacked the moral courage and spiritual fortitude to admit that they may be wrong about themselves and others, whenever they have worked conscientiously to conceal it, it has led to the externalization and projection of their inner battle onto the outside world. Wherever the Church has blessed the pathology of such men and made it their policy, great crimes against humanity have been the result. The brand of ‘morality’ you embrace so passionately has led to the torture and deaths of millions and millions of innocents throughout history.

    The difference is that in 2011, most of us believers understand the workings of this circuitry better than ever.

    At the root of Adolph Hitler’s pathology, for instance, he was ashamed of two things: his own homosexuality and of his Jewish blood. We all know what that led to. The Hitlers of history have always sold their pathology back to humanity wrapped in claims of superior morality, in a flag, or in some other ostentatious – yet invariably hollow – displays of patriotic fervor. Ultimately it is for this reason that believers such as myself hold the view that the Orthodox Church must re-examine and ultimately confront some of its cherished ‘moral’ traditions. In the 21st Century, we possess far deeper knowledge about the human condition than existed at the time of the writing of the Old Testament.

    The Orthodox Church has a venerable, built-in tradition of dissent in all areas. We have the right and responsibility to rise up and say ‘no’ to oppression whenever and wherever it surfaces – especially within the Church itself. I’m more grateful that you shall ever know that I grew up in the Orthodox Church when and where I did. It was there that I learnt about Jesus Christ and what HE stood for. Where we looked forward to seeing our relatives and friends every week. We were there for each other to share life’s joys and sorrows together. Everyone was included, and the universal, all-embracing love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ radiated from our hearts outwards to all we met in our daily lives.

    I see no point in leaving the Orthodox Church. If anything, I see more reasons than ever for staying and being myself, as I always have. Why should I? I have never once encountered the hostility you and Dreher preach in the Orthodox church. I shall never denounce my brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they happen to be from a traditionally Muslim or other background, whether practicing or non-practicing.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Mr. Joseph. Father Hans is a priest. It would behove you to address him as such since you claim to be Orthodox.

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        David Joseph says:

        Mr. Bauman, many, many people these days claim to be priests. No Orthodox Christian priest I have ever met in my life has had the time or financial resources available to them that Mr. Jacobse seems to have to write articles for Catholic news sites, to debate atheists at universities; or to post incendiary articles by fascists such as Rod Dreher which condone the outing and shaming of homosexuals, the marginalization of Muslims and others for days on end.

        This speaks volumes about where the ultimate priorities and allegiances of this priest lie and raises more red flags than I have ever seen concentrated in one place. No Orthodox Christian priest I have ever met in my life was quite as certain as Mr. Jacobse seems to be that only people who see things the way he sees them belong in the Orthodox Church.

        This website has been a treasure trove of information. You’ll forgive me – or maybe you won’t – but inasmuch as Mr. Jacobse rejects me as an Orthodox Christian, so too must I reject him as an Orthodox Christian priest.

        That doesn’t mean I hate him, you understand. Far from it. I feel sorry for him and for the perpetual state of mental turmoil in which he must find himself once he steps out of the isolation of his virtual world and ventures back out into the real world where the rest of us sinners reside and work. We’re having a job of it these days, you see? We’re wondering how much time erudite, homo-hating, war-mongering blogger-priests could possibly have free to be able to join the rest of us in advocating for the uninsured sick, to bringing this catastrophic, lie-based war to a close, to working towards ending hunger and homelessness in America, to comforting the lonely and shut-in, and to being the instruments of God’s peace and all-embracing love we’re supposed to be in this short life.

        Like my own parents, the Orthodox priests whom I recognize as priests recognize me as a son in their flock, and I look to them for spiritual guidance. They have never asked me to show proof of my faith because they needed none. They never demanded of me that I pretend to be anyone than who I am. They expected me to be true to all those I meet, to stand up for myself and walk tall through this world. They never shunned me or told me to go to other churches.

        My priests and my Church are two more things I will be grateful for this Thanksgiving. They helped me to see the Way, the Truth and the Light, and they helped me to have the courage I needed to let my own light shine in the world. That this means nothing to you, I can guarantee you, means nothing to me.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Mr. Joseph, Sigh! Father Hans is blessed by his bishop (who is also my bishop) in his missonary and evangelical activities. There is no doubt Father Hans is a priest in good standing. You are free to disagree with him if you wish, but to refuse to recognize and honor his priesthood puts you on shakey ground.

          I have to ask you Mr. Joseph is there a tenet, teaching or practice of the Orthodox Church to which you do hold?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Let’s clarify a few things. First of all the moral tradition is clear about homosexual behavior. This is not going to change. Your argument is ultimately not with me but with that tradition. You are arguing with me because I am telling you what it says. But the tradition says what it says and even if I were to change my opinion (highly unlikely), the tradition will remain what it is.

          Let’s say the Church did conform to your demand that it recognizes homosexual behavior as morally legitimate. What would happen? Well, it would cease being the Church. We’ve already seen what happened to the Episcopalians. Their decline is catastrophic, and while we don’t hold to the tradition to keep members (we hold to it because those prohibitions are informed by an anthropology that conforms to the way God really created us), the decline proves that many people cannot and will not abide the corrosion that results. The Episcopalian Church displaced a lot more members than the 1.4% they satisfied.

          Further, if you have priests who are telling you that homosexual activity is the way of Christ, then they are not telling you the truth. They presumably would not tell the fornicator or adulterer the same thing (although if what you say is true, consistency requires that they do). As a result they are either confused or betraying their calling and thus they are confusing or betraying you.

          There’s world of difference between a person and his sin, but when sin is not called sin — when it is normalized, then self-identity invariably gets bound to the sin. Sexual sins, which are the most human of sins by the way (the Fathers say that sexual sins, once committed, confront us with our own brokenness early on), are easy to fall into because sexuality is such a powerful integrative force within the person (it unifies body, soul, mind) that is tied to immediate pleasure. They affect us deeply. Hence the clear warnings about them.

          Chastity on the other hand takes sexual energy and directs it into channels that ultimately strengthens a person’s natural creative prowess. He becomes better at what he naturally is gifted towards. This has to be discovered to be understood however, and only those people who strive to master their bodies discover it. (This is particularly true of young men.) A chaste mind and body is not merely a negation of physical pleasure. It’s a pathway to deeper self-integration, and the self-discovery that ensues when this integration is first experienced is also a source of joy. Orthodox apologists like myself need to develop this more as an antidote to the consumerist sexuality that afflicts our culture.

          The Church won’t back away from this teaching. Again, if it did, it would cease being Orthodox. And if you insist (as you do) that it functions as a denial of your self-identity, all I can say is that your self-identity is bound to your behavior. You won’t find legitimization for homosexual behavior in the Church but you will find people who struggle with it (all people struggle against sin) and appropriately so.

          Your demand is that the Church accept not only you but also your homosexual behavior. That’s like saying the Church should accept the next person along with his adultery or alcoholism. Well, the Church accepts all people, but it does not accept adulterous behavior, alcoholic behavior, or homosexual behavior. It is patient with the person struggling with these sins, but sin is still sin.

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            Rob says:

            Fr Hans notes: “A chaste mind and body is not merely a negation of physical pleasure. It’s a pathway to deeper self-integration …”

            I’d agree that self-denial has that effect when done for the proper purposes, which is why I’m a bit befuddled by your earlier statements which implied that those who live a life of celibacy are less of a Christian witness than those who have married and have children.

            Have I misread?

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              Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

              It appears you have. You will have to provide the context in which my statement was given however before I can explain how you may have misread it.

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                Rob says:

                I was referring to an above post where you wrote:

                I don’t think that priests without children or unmarried have much to offer parents regarding child rearing or marriage. I can count the exceptions on one hand, and only then because they have encountered a long term situation that required the same measure of sacrifice as a good parent gives.

                To paraphrase: if self-sacrifice is a hallmark of the Christian life, then one who essentially lives life as a carefree bachelor will not have the experiences critical to spiritual growth as a Christian.

                As I mentioned, though, this neglects the other types of sacrifices people make with elderly parents, extended family and those who live in service to others in mission fields, volunteer work, etc.

                In going back to the original topic of this thread, if celibacy is the only option for predominantly homosexually-oriented men and women, this doesn’t give them much opportunity for that sort of self-abnegation either, does it? They could, of course, marry a member of the opposite sex while acknowledging they are still homosexuals who simply refrain from acting on those attractions. Alan Chambers of Exodus International is one example of the latter.

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                  Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  No offense intended here, but a married man with children will read in your response no experience with either marriage or children. Comparing it to sacrifice in mission fields, volunteer work, and so forth is the give-away. So again, people (priests or otherwise) who are unmarried won’t have much to offer regarding marriage and children.

                  For the “predominantly homosexually-oriented men and women” celibacy is the option just as it is for any single person.

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                    Rob says:

                    The question remains, though: are those who do choose the path of celibacy (due to a priestly vow or not) an inferior or “less than” Christian witness or simply a different one?

                    On the one hand, I would concede that family life has deeper, more frequent challenges than a single one (I was a child once, too, believe it or not, and I can vividly recall the various troubles my parents had to endure).

                    On the other hand, Scripture does seem to elevate celibacy as a preferred and “holier” calling:

                    Luke 18:29,30 – And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

                    1 Corinthians 7: Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband …. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all men were as I am

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      A different one. Same end, different means.

                      As for the elevation of celibacy, family is the primary social unit – Adam and Eve and all that.

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    This begs the question, then, “who is my neighbor?” (Lk. 10:30 ff). It would seem that if we follow the logic of segregating according to a specific characteristic, trait, or “experience,” men cannot understand or “counsel/pastor” women, the younger or the older, Jew or Greek, black or white, all vice versa, until, finally, we are left with the bathroom mirror.

                    My thought is that we “relate” by the mutuality of analogy and empathy every bit as much as by characteristic or experience. I have noted elsewhere Met. Anthony (Bloom) referring to St. Methodius of Patara, “Adam, upon seeing her [Eve] said, ‘She is the other myself.’” While we certainly reflect the massive “divisions” of our fallen humanity, Met. Anthony emphasized that our “memory” of this commonality and sameness bestowed by the Creator was not erased. Perhaps we are better served by actively pursuing the memory of the way “it was in the beginning,” rather than to segregate according to what divides us?

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      M. Stankovich, no offense intended of course but from the sound of it, you aren’t married either. Only a single guy would extrapolate the assertion into a universal in order to disprove it. Meanwhile, all the married guys are nodding and thinking, “Yup, no real experience.”

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Ah, Abouna, “sounds” can be misleading (1 Kings 19:11-12). I cannot support or deny the assertion, per se – I certainly have had my share of patients attempt to unconsciously deflect me with the “You couldn’t possibly understand because…” – but rather than “extrapolate the assertion into a universal,” mine was a question, “Perhaps…”

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      Sure, people do that all the time. Sometimes it is true, sometimes it isn’t.

                      The “perhaps” however was a conditional that presumes the initial assertion true (analogy holds the same revelatory power as experience). If you want to convert “my thought” into a conditional and soften the assertion about analogy and experience, then the context changes and my assertion is conditionalized along with it. That doesn’t work because I am making the assertion flat out.

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                      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                      One other thing. Are you married? If not, the “sound” was not misleading at all.

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                  Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  Rob, Alan Chambers does not consider himself “still homosexual.” In this video, he says emphatically, “Don’t label me. Don’t label me by what I used to do or who I used to be.” He says this about both the label “gay” and the label “ex-gay.”

                  He says a few other things you ought to hear. He says the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality but holiness. He also says that when he first found out that there was an Exodus International ministry in his home town, two miles from his church, his immediate reaction was joy followed by fury — fury that no one had ever told him earlier that such help was available.

                  So instead of dissing NARTH, minimizing the value of counseling, dismissing cases of successful conversions, and complaining about hearing the truth spoken boldly, you and Stankovich should instead be talking up the very real hope that’s out there. That’s the truly loving thing to do.

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                    Harry Coin says:

                    There’s some real merit in that view. Notice the US Center for Disease Control decided to study this, and simply declined to use the various terms ‘homosexual’ ‘gay’ and so on. Instead choosing objectivity, using M or F for ‘male or female’ S for ‘have sex with (present tense)’ and M or F as before. I think Fr. Hans gave a link to one of their studies showing what was it, 14 in 1,000 people have the same letter on either side of the ‘S’.

                    Talk about ‘keeping it real’. The day you’re done with it, the labels don’t apply.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      The evolution of these “labels” in medical research has been an attempt to describe the specific research population, homosexual. Initially, attempting to employ the methodology of Kinsey by focusing on such behavioral criteria as “exclusivity” of same-sex partners, frequency of same-sex activity, and “number” of same-sex partners resulted in significant statistical errors (e.g. the prevalence of homosexuality appeared greater than in later research that avoided Kinsey’s methodology). Likewise, there was an unexpectedly significant number of men who described same-sex activity with any number of partners , but did not identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

                      In psychiatry and in the research genetics of behaviour, the use of psychological terms focused on attraction and fantasy content yield much more specific and more reliable data. In the area of research in behavioural medicine, “same-sex attraction” is the common terminology. I have not seen the term, “men who sex with men” (MSM) outside of the literature of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology, where a broader categorization is necessary.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      The CDC was confronted with having to craft actual policy on the basis of objective results. This is what they chose, to not value whatever labels might variously apply to inner states, conflicted states, whatnot. And you know what? That label, MSM, that’s probably the best translation of the original words one finds in the scriptures. All based on what people do, immediately plan to do in the near future.

                      I like it. Removes all doubt. You either do or plan soon to MSM or WSW or you don’t. Good enough for the CDC, good enough for the Gospel, good enough for me.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      How, then, would you categorize men who have same-sex attraction, but choose a path of chastity and whole-mindedness, who, in fact and reality, are not “men having sex with men?” I refer to them as homosexual, defined as “same-sex attraction,” and they are not referenced anywhere in the Scripture.

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      I agree Harry. Funny thing about numbers. It forces you to think in concrete categories.

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Which makes me wonder if all of this “orientation” talk is a construct that may one day go the way of phrenology or such some thing. It defines a person in terms of his desire, thereby objectifying the person and concretizing the desire. You wonder if the therapeutic track culture is on (the Oprahfication of everything) isn’t an inebriation that we have to shake off. Or maybe it’s a century long Freudian hangover.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Your thoughts regarding orientation & Oprah are extremely important. My fear is that, amidst 190+ comments, the significance deserves a new topic altogether. You are welcome to visit and comment on our site, where such a reflection has begun. Not that I’m holding my breath…

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      I hardly find it odd or “contrivance” that, for purposes of medical research, if you were purposed to gather prevalence data regarding, say, “Mexican men who experience major depression with psychotic features,” that you would first discriminate (e.g. men from women, Mexican men from all men, Mexican men with major depression from Mexican men, and Mexican men with depression and psychotic features from Mexican men with just major depression, etc.). It seems logical enough that discriminating to only the level of “Mexican men with depression” – a broader categorization – invites any of a number of selection biases and, ultimately, questionable if not erroneous conclusions.

                      Homosexuality (apples), as the broadest categorization, includes men who have SSA and are MSM, as well as men with SSA who do not have sex with men (which could include those with SSA who have never had same-sex activity, those who choose chastity, and also those who, for example, have SSA but by disability or physiological complication are incapable of sexual activity). The categorization MSM (oranges) includes any MSM (which also include MSM who deny SSA or homosexuality, as well as prison behavior and plain old “debauchery”), and thereby excludes anyone not having sex with men. MSM, which is perfectly appropriate for research regarding HIV/AIDS, HVC, and the like, is inappropriate for the research in behavioural medicine that I have described. Likewise, it is MSM that is contrary to the Theology and Tradition of the Church. SSA is not sinful.

                      And “selection bias” was Kinsey’s error, which I cite as – you are correct in pointing out – “thoroughly discredited.” I cite it as a caution that your conclusion will lead you to a similar error, which I am presuming you would rather not support.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Michael, the issue is not whether SSA is “sinful”; it’s whether SSA is natural, healthy, approved by God, not a fault of our fallenness, and therefore not in need of healing. That’s the view you are advancing, and that’s why you labor so hard to dissociate SSA and SSSA, to the point of insisting absurdly that they are “mutually exclusive.”

                      Yet Scripture very early on tells us that God made the woman for the man, not just another man. And throughout Scripture we read that God blesses the union of man and woman and condemns the union of man and man. And if the union of man and man is sinful, then the desire for such a union is also sinful. Said desire may not constitute a sinful act, but it does, in and of itself, constitute a sinful condition in need of healing.

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                      Harry Coin says:

                      Well the folks who really care about disease control, and whose careers are measured against progress along those lines, active in public policy and medicine, have chosen MSM, WSW. Their agenda is that people should live, long and healthy, safe and sane, productive and creative. That, I understand completely and I’m with that agenda 100%. They are highly trained, it isn’t their first barbeque and they value merit. Sounds like they have a great deal in common with characteristics called for in bishops.

                      I’m ready to dump all labels like ‘homosexual, homosexuality, gay, SSA’ all that to the extent it puts people in boxes and it creates meaningless divisions in families, communities and countries.

                      If mental health people, pastoral councillors, friends and so forth discuss assessments of a person’s current inner array of feelings, attitudes, and feel the need to create pointers or handles for discussion well and good. But let’s not confuse ourselves, inner states are complex, inter-related and any label put on some collection of them is the smallest possible abstract, summary. As though having one single lamp on in a dark room and describing a little of what part of the sculpture it illuminates is visible as if it were the whole. Do that and any group of guys on a hunting trip are ‘gay’. Sure, from a point of view so strained it’s meaningless and a waste of life and time. 14 in 1,000 actually are MSM/WSW. Sadly by comparison their health generally isn’t good, and it isn’t because of the attitudes others take, its because of what they do, MSM moreso than the rest.

                      There’s deep anthropological wisdom in the scriptures. Sanitation, moderation, self awareness and assessment. Where it crowds what people want to do, it’s because the alternative is worse.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      The categories and labels that God has given us, and that He expects us to respect and maintain, are that of man and woman. These do matter greatly, and the Church has had quite a lot to say about what they mean and how they are to be respected and maintained, though in recent years even the Orthodox have lost a lot of this wisdom.

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Likewise, it is MSM that is contrary to the Theology and Tradition of the Church. SSA is not sinful.

                      No desire is sinful. Sin enters in when the passion begins to rule the body and the person gives himself over to it. A good part of the spiritual life is warring against the passions, and in that warfare, integration and wholeness — real self-awareness — emerges. This self-awareness becomes the logic, motivation, and rationale to continue within that discipline.

                      I have talked to scores of young men about how to overcome lust. My advice is always the same: fast, pray, no porn, resist masturbation, avoid compromising situations, and all the rest. Bring every inordinate desire to Christ. Don’t hide. Let Him look at it. Bring it into the light. Don’t be afraid to confess the desire, no matter what it might be. Follow this program and in the end you can learn to master it.

                      Then I tell them the purpose is deeper self-integration. They tell me that in the struggle, life takes on a different cast. For many the insights gained through struggle are tremendously liberating and, as I said above, become the rationale for continuing within the discipline. They feel stronger, and young men need to feel strong. They develop a deeper sense of purpose, and young men need purpose.

                      All in all what happens is this: When men attempt to master their sexual desires, the energy formerly devoted to fostering the pleasure achieved through lust (licentiousness) is redirected into different creative pursuits. The interior “logic” of the soul is vivified in a sense, and the natural creative prowess a man possesses (it can be anything: sports, study, work, etc. — it depends on the person) finds more productive and enduring expression. More on this some other time.

                      Your attempt to establish concrete categories based on types of desire is wrong-headed (call it a desire based anthropology). Orthodoxy has never defined the human person in this way. A man who experiences sexual desire for the same-sex is not a homosexual. He’s a person struggling with a passion just like any other person struggles with theirs.

                      Like Harry said above, the only quantitative measures are behavioral, when men actually act out sexually with other men. All the rest is theoretical, the construction of one abstraction upon another and to what end? To expand the definition of homosexual to men who don’t act out? Why? They won’t suffer the deleterious effects of those who do act out, either in their psyche or in their bodies.

                      What is the reason for absolutizing a desire, for arguing that the same-sex passion is the one passion that must become a foundational precept of self-identity? The only answer that makes sense to me is that by changing anthropological theory in this way, the groundwork is being laid to remove the onus of sin from homosexual behavior. What other answer is there?

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Mr. Coin,

                      I entered this line of commentary as a scientist, offering a comment as to the appropriateness of terminology you had selected from the CDC, a medical & scientific pursuit, composed of a collection of some of the finest scientific researchers & physicians in our country. Their pursuit is medical science – and as would seem obvious from their name, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – their mission is to delineate, describe, diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. As near as I can tell, they do not ascribe to be, nor identify themselves as philosophers or theologians, but simply and specifically scientists of the epidemiology of disease(s) associated, in this case, with “men who have sex with men,” and even the most cursory of searches would show, for example, the breadth of their interest in such matters as, for example, cigarette smoking and genetic resistance to certain first-line antibiotics. They are scientists and apply scientific terminology in a precise and traditional fashion.

                      Mr. Coin, I respect your thoughtful reflection on these matters very much. It has been my contention, here and elsewhere, that the application of labels and terminology are essential – as Fr. Johannes has written, words are “powerful” – and when applied inappropriately constitute error, but worse, may be harmful. Far too many, in my estimation, are dismissive without any reflection. This leads me to say that I have attempted in my own ponderous, verbose manner to explore these issues – if I may borrow your analogy, shining a light in a dark room – as related to a human being who is a symphonic biological-psychological-environmental-spiritual person by creation and ontology. I claim no authority, nor particular “insight,” but I have invested a tremendous amount of personal resource. I am not trying to “drum up business” or increase “hits” by referring to our site, but as an invitation to further explore this issue in a systematic manner.

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                      M. Stankovich says:

                      Fr. Johannes,

                      I find your ominous portent, “What other answer is there?” particularly disheartening. Likewise, it is with great effort that I do not take this specter personally, but I will say again, if you are waiting for a moment of, “Aha! J’accuse!” I guarantee you will not live to see it in me.

                      Personally, I would love to agree with St. Gregory of Nyssa in his belief of apokatastasis, that God is so loving and merciful, and so forgiving beyond our comprehension, that He could not entertain any of his creation perish; and with a “cleansing fire,” in the end, everyone will be reconciled. Unfortunately, it did not sit well with the later Fathers – who outright condemned it as heresy – and it does not sit well with me. In the same mind, while I would wish that we could compassionately resolve SSA with “cleansing fire” to the satisfaction of all, I am content in my purpose of “re-articulation” that would help us expand our understanding of humanity “as it was in the beginning,” and distinguished from from the broken humanity we have become.

                      As Professor A.I. Osipov has noted: “It is natural for a Christian to know “the certainty of those things, wherein he has been instructed” (cf. Lk. 1:4). But, as the Apostle Peter writes, you should be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15).”

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Father Hans, I have to disagree with you: Some desires are themselves sinful; that’s what the word covet means. We sin when we desire wrong things, things not meant for us. For example, we sin when desire another man’s wife, whether we do anything outward to satisfy the desire or not. The reason is that desire is a mental act, a turning of the mind toward the thing desired. A man whose mind is turned toward another man’s wife in an erotic or romantic way ought to confess his desire as a sin and not pretend to himself that he is guiltless so long as he doesn’t hit on her.

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                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      In the same mind, while I would wish that we could compassionately resolve SSA with “cleansing fire” to the satisfaction of all, I am content in my purpose of “re-articulation” that would help us expand our understanding of humanity “as it was in the beginning,” and distinguished from from the broken humanity we have become.

                      I suppose this is as close as Michael is going to get to admitting (a) that SSA needs healing, and (b) that he is purposefully ignoring both the need for healing and the availability of it.

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      No “ominous portent” intended M. Stankovich and one shouldn’t be inferred. Here was my question as I posed it upstream:

                      What is the reason for absolutizing a desire, for arguing that the same-sex passion is the one passion that must become a foundational precept of self-identity? The only answer that makes sense to me is that by changing anthropological theory in this way, the groundwork is being laid to remove the onus of sin from homosexual behavior. What other answer is there?

                      It’s a valid question that deserves an answer. As I said, the only answer I can come up with is that a theoretical groundwork is being laid to remove the onus of sin from homosexual behavior.

                      If this is wrong, then what is the answer?

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                    M. Stankovich says:

                    If you are speaking of “disease” (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), and your broad categorization is intended to delineate, describe, diagnose, treat, and prevent disease associated with the activity(-ies) of “men who have sex with men,” I agree with both of you.

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

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                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      You want two definitions for homosexual: quantitative measures of behavior (men who have sex with men) and everything else.

                      The trouble is, because the “everything else” is not quantitative, anyone can make up whatever category they want. Sure, a consensus of sorts could form around this or that definition I suppose, but it is still entirely subjective.

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

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                    Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                    Dn. Patrick, I accept the clarification although I thought I had that covered in the sentence: “Sin enters in when the passion begins to rule the body and the person gives himself over to it.” I have to admit though I wondered if I was clear enough when I wrote it.

                    In any case, if the thought to covet comes and is resisted and no covetousness takes place, no sin has taken place either. But yes, covetousness is itself sin, just as you say.

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                Harry Coin says:

                Rob, In your paraphrase you generalize beyond the matter of what the sacrament of marriage includes. There are other categories that include self sacrifice than those found in marriage and family. However, among them, marriage and family is unique to the maximum possible extent there is an entire sacrament dedicated to it. That’s of importance. It is in a category alone. Those who know it by life and not as students only are in a position to advise and guide those similarly situated.

                So many other tasks and categories there are just that, other tasks and categories each with their own possibilities and dynamics and merits. Many of them profound, moving and deeply appreciated. None of those are the same as each other, and there is no point in some exercise of comparisons. Might as well compare astronomy to guppies.

                P.S. I congratulate you for your support of Big Brothers / Big Sisters!

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          Harry Coin says:

          David: For what it’s worth, anyone who can manage to use google can learn that Fr. Hans Jacobse is indeed a priest. Here’s a link to a bio on an official church website:

          http://www.antiochian.org/author/jacobse

          If one declines to call a person ‘Fr. ABC’, which is an affection and courtesy, the title ‘Priest ABC’ is at least due owing to accuracy, much as you’d call someone by their military rank or educational rank even if in a condition of dispute with them.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. George Calciu, contemporary Martyr and Confessors for Christ ( 21 years of suffering in the communist gulag for having confessed the Christian faith) said:

    The Holy Fathers had settled in Councils all aspects of church dogma that nowadays are trampled on. In the decisions of the Holy Synods many things (happening today), were foreseen: from heresies, ecumenism, denying God, public fornication, accepting as virtues: vices and perversions, to the fact of being proud to declare yourself gay. There’s no passion that the Holy Councils have not anticipated or spoken on, as they declared: him who does these is a heretic and a lunatic departed from faith and the Church .
    [...]
    My beloved, I’d like you to know that the life of the church was so struck by worldly prejudices and satanic influences, so as the saints have prophesied, there will come a time when churches will be everywhere you look, when the name of Christ will be on everyone’s lips, some churches will even be full, but the true faith and sanctity will be lacking. It will be a false, a deception of Satan. And we live those times [...]
    [...]
    In this “New Age” spirit I’m referring to, nothing exists with an absolute value.
    For their intent is to destroy all the elements of the Faith, the moral elements, the elements of kinship on which we have relied, since – so to say – there is no absolute truth. The truth, according to them, is that which I possess [i.e. subjective truth]. And therefore, when my neighbor is wrong, I cannot tell him: “You’re deceived!” Nor can he tell me that I have erred, because we are absolute entities [onto ourselves]. We have our opinions which are absolute, but before others, they hold no value! This game of hiding the truth is an insidious invention of Satan.

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