OCA Truth just published a letter from Subdeacon Michael Heningham, a pastoral counselor who deals with the homosexual affliction, that challenges the claim that the Facebook group Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church is unbiased.
The title is of the group is a misnomer. There is no “silence” on sexuality in the Orthodox Church and thus nothing to “break.” The real problem is hiding in plain sight: the group moderators want to grant moral sanction to homosexual behavior and the Orthodox moral tradition forbids it. The only silence is the lack of approval for the changes that the contributors want to make. That’s not a problem. That’s called fidelity to the moral tradition.
Heningham argues that the moderators of the group drive discussion towards approval of the homosexual lifestyle. When someone writes in support of the moral tradition, the “reactions are often petty, personally insulting, and highly emotional” — the usual opprobrium characteristic of those who can’t defend their positions with clear thinking. Subdeacon Heingham’s letter follows.
Source: OCA Truth
Mailbox: A Pastoral Counselor’s take on Leonova’s FB Group
I’ve read your article referring to the FB group regarding a discussion of homosexuality and Orthodoxy. As someone that serves in ministry as a pastoral counselor, my spiritual father had suggested my checking the group out since two clients of mine are homosexual and were dealing with serious spiritual conflicts. This group on FB lists the need “to be a forum for broader discussion on sexuality within the Orthodox Church”, and that “membership is open to all who are interested in honest, respectful, non-polemical conversation”, but that is not what I have experienced.
In an attempt to actually discuss the difference between Orthodoxy and that of innovative heresy, I have been labeled “objective” and accused of attempting to develop consensus, among other things. My words have been twisted by a small minority of group leadership in order to suggest concepts or attitudes that I have not introduced, suggested, or personally represented; and this for the express purpose of targeting anything that is not in lock-step with the idea that Orthodoxy is need of a sexual reformation is labeled as bigotry.
There are in fact some posters that actually are Orthodox Christians, and some who are struggling with their same sex attraction and how they main remain followers of Christ, as well as including some who have left Orthodoxy for churches that simply have redefined their teachings. However, the group’s navigation appears be directed towards being more of a support group for people that have already chosen a lifestyle of gay/lesbian relationships rather than discerning what the Orthodox Church actually teaches. They act as if having the same objections and keeping the same conversation going will somehow conclude with a different truth and result in a paradigm shift.
This includes the concept of Orthodox teaching being outdated since somehow the teaching of being a sexually active homosexual has evolved through universal general revelation beyond what Christ, the Apostles, or Church Father’s have taught. When in fact articles on what leaders of the Church are posted that continue to teach the incompatibility of the gay/lesbian/transgendered lifestyle and the Orthodox role of marriage and sex, the reactions are often petty, personally insulting, and highly emotional.
Any personal attack on bishops and metropolitans for defending the Faith is hardly Christian in spirit, and sets a terrible example for those inside and outside of Orthodoxy in terms of the sacrifice and dedication these men offer in the attempt to lead others towards salvation.
The leadership of the group is not providing any form of dialog other than suggesting that homosexual attraction is present at birth (as in being genetic), that homosexuals are a race, and that acting on those impulses should be acceptable in the Church of Christ. It’s impossible to break the barriers of that style of a subjective science belief system, especially if your contribution based on Church teachings is targeted as bigoted.
This is a seriously important and immediate topic, and one that Orthodox clergy need to understand and reflect upon historically, scientifically, psychologically and scripturally in order to serve as apologists for the Church while not turning away those who are truly searching for answers, peace, and eternal salvation within a relationship with Christ. Most members of this FB group are highly intelligent, loving, and Christ-centered people that are looking for leadership to help their fulfillment as Christians, but what they are experiencing as far as direction from the group’s leadership is a path away from the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
The Orthodox Church needs to fill that position of shepherd and dialog towards the truth honestly, and lovingly address the outside cries of bigotry and claims that her divine teachings are antiquated for a radically post-modern world.
Subdeacon Michael Heningham