Frederica Mathewes-Green: Gay Rights [AUDIO]

Frederica - Here and NowFrederica’s podcast does not offer the definitive answer on homosexuality, but it is laced with the graciousness, compassion, and fidelity to Orthodox teaching that has become her hallmark over the years. It’s worth a listen, even if only as a reminder that good people struggle with same-sex attraction who don’t adopt the ideological rigidity of the activist and others who insist on a moral parity between opposite-sex and same-sex behaviors.

Listen here:


  1. Amen.
    Her podcast on this is very well thought out and it reflects a lot of the current broader direction many conservative Christian groups are beginning to take in approaching homosexuality. For decades the standard approach was pursuit of reorientation, and the declaration of being “Ex-gay”. In line with research done on the origins of homosexuality and finding that change isn’t as likely as once was proclaimed, Exodus International, and others, are beginning to embrace a calling towards celibacy and person orientation as legitimate ways for Christians to remain faithful to an orthodox sexual morality. As always, this is a very well spoken and compassionate discussion from Frederica. Thanks for posting!

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Gregg, check out

    • I’m quite familiar with NARTH. They’ve done a lot regarding research in the area of sexuality and reorientation. However I’ve also taken into consideration the work of Warren Throckmorton who has also done extensive research in the field and gives great deal of insight into some of the studies NARTH references. Also, the research of Jones & Yarhouse is at the forefront of research currently being done on reorientation. See: & While I’m not the APA’s biggest fan, their recent study actually gives reparative therapy and counseling a bit more credit than they once did.

      In Christ,


    • It is interesting to me that, while this post specifically addresses homosexuality, so many of your current posts have seemed to “morph,” by hook or by crook, into addressing homosexuality. Purely as an observer, it “seems like a preoccupation is emerging here.”

    • While I support the efforts of Dr Throckmorton (who emphasizes personal mastery over one’s life and assisting people to live their lives in accordance with their faith), I’m not sure how much credence can be given to groups like NARTH (which claims to be able to modify not just behavior but orientation) given the behavior of previous contributor and member, George Rekers (Google it. The details are too salacious to print in this forum.)

      This is not the only group to have lost credibility regarding their claims: Sergio Viula, a co-founder of MOSES (Movement for the Healthy Sexuality) recently admitted the following:

      [M]embers continued to have gay sex even as they proselytized their message of conversion. “Nobody really quit being gay. There were relationships even within the group, between an activity and another, they would always find time for that.”

      John Smid, former leader of Love in Action (another “ex-gay” group), recently admitted that “despite his marriage to a woman he’s still gay and he has yet to meet a ‘man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.'”.

      My concern is that well-intentioned persons despair of their salvation and give up their faith altogether when reparative therapy inevitably fails to make the type of change they’re seeking.

  3. As one who has “championed” the role of scientific research as worthy insight into human behaviour, I find no evidence to reject, outright, any reasonable “approach” an individual might utilize to arrive at the path of whole-mindedness and chastity to which we are all equally called by the Church. I have attempted to make the point previously that such “healing” is at the hand of God, for which we can only rejoice. I believe that those who would disparage this healing as “masquerade,” delusion, or “homophobia” – particularly from persons with SSA themselves – as denying the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit. By the same reasoning, I strongly object to the undermining of scientific investigation related to “reparative” or “integrative” therapies for individuals with SSA. Precipitated by the American Psychiatric Association’s statement that it is “unethical” to practice such therapies, it has effectively threatened the licensing of legitimate investigators and prohibits funding, and most importantly, accomplished with no valid scientific data to substantiate such a determination. In fact, the last person to conduct a legitimate, peer-reviewed investigation concluded, “there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians.” [emphasis mine] (Spitzer, 2003). For the time being, we will never know.

    At the same time, I openly deplore the tactics of NARTH who make claim to “scientific research” that is limited to their own journal. Worse is the fact that you will never discover this – they do not inform you – until you attempt to locate cited articles in, for example, the National Library of Medicine, PsychNet, or similar academic resources, and cannot find it. Likewise, in that the measure of “influence” and credibility is citation in later research, they are, again, absent. They are equally likely to selectively draw from legitimate research to create a “headline,” only to misrepresent data to meet their needs. The above cited Robert Spitzer, MD, who ironically was the “articulator” of the effort that removed homosexuality from the APA’s list of mental disorders, was outraged by the APA. But as other researchers have indicated, he would be more outraged by NARTH’s misrepresentation of the precise articulation of the limitations of his preliminary data, and the creation of a false dichotomy of his science to support their unfounded promotion of “reorientation.” Factually, they also lack the fundamental data to support their claims, and they will cast a shadow on legitimate research until people stop promoting them.

    In my mind, the emergent data regarding the bio-genetic influences of “orientation” are not singular, but are moderate, solid, and cannot be ignored. Likewise, protracted studies indicate that homosexual orientation is stable and not “fluid,” suggesting transience. This is by no means the “settlement” of this issue, but it seems naive, if not silly, to dismiss data that meets a threshold of “more likely than not.” It seems reasonable to me that an individual might resent being informed, “you are not what you think you are,” and worse, “what you think you are is loathsome, and we can change you.” Even allowing that, for some individuals in some cases, “confusion” could be the explanation, it strikes me dangerous and disfiguring to project “generalizations” we cannot substantiate as true.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

      Spoken by a man who still insists that same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual activity are “mutually exclusive.”

      • That your stance is apparently to pursue and interject until I address this issue – suggesting my integrity or veracity should rise or fall on this single point – let me be clear: my application of the concept “mutually exclusive” – as typically employed in logic, mathematics, and statistical probability to indicate that one condition cannot exist in the presence of the other – refers specifically to the two “labels,” “descriptors,” “badges,” “tags,” the combination of words that result in these phrases “same-sex-attraction” and “same-sex sexual activity.” My objection is to the employment of these labels as if they were “synonymous,” equivalent in meaning; yet, fully appreciating the statistical possibility that by saying they are “mutually exclusive” admits they may equally be wrong. Obviously, I am confident in assuming that risk. Time will tell. While I am well aware of the fact that “attraction” is associated with “action” – and perhaps is more characteristic than not – to label homosexuality, defined as “attraction,” as if it were interchangeable with the label activity is error.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

          Conceptual distinction does not equal mutual exclusion. SSA and SSSA are not in any way “mutually exclusive.” You violate logic and abuse the English language when you say they are.

          • I think the distinction trying to be made is between behavior and thoughts. The fathers made this distinction between thoughts and acting on thoughts. We are not culpable for the thoughts that enter our head, only for entertaining and further acting upon them. With homosexuality there is a difference between someone who has a same-sex orientation and someone who regularly acts upon these desires, or embraces a gay lifestyle. Mutually exclusive may have some undesirable implications however the intent i think is true to separate orientation from activity.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

              Behavior and thoughts are in no way “mutually exclusive,” and only an idiot or a con would say they are.

              Why can’t Stankovich just admit that he has overstated the distance between SSA and SSSA?

              Why is pushing them apart so important to him that he misses the absurdity of his words?

              Why should we trust his opinion of NARTH’s reliability when his own unreasonable bias is so plain?

              • I am an idiot and a con – albeit a good one. Yours was the last word.

              • According to NARTH member Joseph Nicolosi during an interview in 2005:

                One third experience “significant improvement — they understand their homosexuality and have some sense of control.” However, they may engage in same-sex sexual behavior.

                Another third are “cured;” they refrain from same-sex behavior and the strength and frequency of their same-sex desires is diminished, but not necessarily gone.

                The other third fail to change.

                So among those most dedicated to not only refraining from same-sex conduct but actually modifying their orientation, it appears none of them really became a full-fledged heterosexual. Again, this is by NARTH’s own admission (despite their spin on the word “cure”).

                One also wonders what happens in the years following their treatment. Was this “success” maintained? Many people have later admitted it was not.

                The problem is that when reparative therapy inevitably fails, people will tend to be a bit self-deceptive about its actual success (much like those with terminal illnesses who hopefully believe they are “cured” after a Benny Hinn revival). As any real therapist (and even Christian counselor) will tell you, progress depends on honesty and self-awareness. This won’t happen when one’s lying to themselves about the real state of affairs.

                • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

                  It could be like alcoholism or smoking. Once a drinker or smoker, always a drinker or smoker. The difference is whether or not you drink or smoke. “Orientation” may apply to much more than homosexuality in other words, and the strength of that orientation may be related to behavior.

                • Rob,

                  What you are attempting to bring to this discussion is an implication of falsehood based on anecdote; “observations” that, in and of themselves, cannot answer the question of the validity of the claims made by NARTH. Using the standard that observed deviations are considered random until proven otherwise, the fact that one NARTH participant or 1,000 NARTH participants “reverted” (and, obviously, the reverse is true for “successes” as well) tells you nothing helpful, other than for some individuals in some cases report being helped. Anecdote serves as the catalyst for investigation, but as I have noted above, the APA has effectively eliminated the possibility of confirming or refuting reparative therapies as helpful.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

                    Most people would see the one-third reporting success and two-thirds reporting improvement as a reason to hope. Why do you persist in dismissing such reports as mere anecdote? Don’t you want people to have hope? Many gay activist don’t; they want people to believe they have no choice in being gay. Dismissing evidence credible enough for Dr. Robert Spitzer, and still refusing to admit that SSA and SSSA are not “mutually exclusive,” makes you sound like nothing more than a gay activist.

                    This is a fair criticism, Michael, and it is directly relevant to your disparagement of the credibility of Dr. Lynne Pappas and NARTH. Your own credibility is in question.

            • We are culpable for our thoughts if we do not immediately recognize them as temptations to sin rejecting them in the process. We are culpable for our thoughts if we instead begin to nurse the temptations as our own and begin to enjoy them.

              The ultimate anthopologic fallacy of the activists and apologists for homosexuality is that the temptation and the action are neither temptations nor sin but an ontological reality. Homosexuality is a sin. Temptations to such sin are temptations and always preceed the act. Unless they are recognized as such as early as possible they blossum into sin in our minds with their roots in our hearts even without overt action. Still, we are not sin unless we “…give ourselves over to a reprobate mind…”

              We are not binary beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God so our thoughts lead to the concrete. There is a fundamental and essential connection which can only be broken by concerted action on our part to change the thought and its direction. Everything we think, contemplate feel and do affects not only our own soul but everyone else around us. It is really incredibly stupid to pretend to believe otherwise–either that or a willful attempt to lead others astray. Tempters always use carefully selected facts and logic to induce first sinful belief followed by sinful action. They insist that you concentrate on their carefully constructed logical system without listening to or considering the false and deadly premise from which it comes.

              To me this is spiritual warfare 101.

              The battle is not so much against homosexuality, but rather against the false and misleading idea that we are other than how God created us. That somehow the teachings of the Church can and should be overturned because of the brilliance of modern pseudo-science that has revealed to us the ‘real’ truth.

    • By my small comment I had no wish to stir this pot that continues to boil over. In my small opinion there is truth on both sides. The Church does need to stand firm in it’s truth and proclaim it, but it also must be a home, hospital, and family for all who are broken. This relentless hammering on one particular moral issue, while understandable in the context of events in the OCA and others, seems to only bring about more and more endless conversation, name calling, and honestly for me as a young Orthodox Christian is somewhat disturbing that so many clergy and laity spend so much time being “right”. Compassion is needed on both sides, a compassion that doesn’t say your sin is who you are, and a compassion that refuses to focus on one, and only one moral issue. I worry that many see homosexuality in the Church as the last battle, having already given way to divorce and countless other things. We need to hear voices like Christ’s calling all men to repentance and to him. Not all men to rightness, but holiness.
      Yes, research must be done on sexuality and counseling for those wishing to seek some change in their sexual orientation must be provided. However, simply because some may find change, doesn’t mean all have a similar vocation. For many struggling with homosexuality celibacy is the best option. An acceptance of unchanging desires, an openness to change, but moving forward with life seeking to serve and be served. If the Church is calling people to lives of celibacy for whatever reason, which it does, than it must be a home and a family to them. We need to realize, while staying faithful to the truth, that calling people out of a gay lifestyle is calling them out of the only identity and community many of them know. We must provide that support and that community for people to wrestle and grow in Christ and the faith. Countless hours spent in debates instead of talking and engaging with individuals created in God’s image and likeness to me strike me as counter productive. The battle to be fought is in the heart and soul of the individuals, hours or rhetoric done in the name of truth and rightness rarely bring about fruitful change for broken individuals. The Church is a home for struggling sinners, the Church is full of people wounded in countless areas and wrestling with various passions and sins so must one be pulled out and championed above all others?
      Forgive me if I offend or overstep my place but in the short years of my life this is what i’ve grown to Love as the truth of the Church.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

        Pardon me, Gregg, but the relentlessness hammering you find so distressing is only a response to the relentless hammering by gay activists to win acceptance, accommodation, and ultimately approval of something the Church has always very strongly condemned. And yes, it does seem to many of us that this is the last battle before a church succumbs to the vacuous, sentimental, effeminate immorality of Episcopalianism.

      • Gregg,

        Discourse is the manner by which the Church has determined and articulated Truth. A simple examination of events that precipitated the Ecumenical Councils – where formal “opinions” were solicited by emperors and patriarchs attempting resolution – and the descriptions of the Councils’ proceedings are scenes of dramatic contention and rhetorical “battle.” Most importantly, both parties to the conflict were given their “hearing,” from Arius the “Arch-Heretic” to otherwise obscure and otherwise unknown monks brought from the desert. Some we now call saints. By the wisdom of men and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Truth was articulated from what, at face, appeared as chaos. I have been quite “relentless” in insisting that the articulation of Truth was not “completed” by Blessed John of Damascus; that “everything that needs to be said, has been said.” It seems to me that such an opinion denies that the Holy Spirit “moves where He wishes,” and suggests that the Energy of the Father has been somehow “contained.” Likewise, it denies that each and every element of Tradition has been determined and sanctified by time, and not “declaration” or vote. Ultimately, then, we reach the conclusion that Tradition is undermined or compromised by “re-articulation” by the fathers and teachers in each generation, rather than the real possibility of expanding and deepening our knowledge of the mystery of Christ and the Church. And it all begins with “articulation” expressed at Chalcedon, “Following the Divinely inspired teaching of the Holy Fathers and the Tradition of the Catholic Church…”

        I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this site. More than most, there is an abundance of knowledge to be gained, and like most, there is an abundance of animosity. Perhaps what is unique here is that the “battle,” and often the distraction, is in the minutiae, and curt dismissal is a form of “your day in court.” And so it goes…

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        Gregg, sites like this are the ground-zero of the fractious cultural debates. Lot’s of people read the postings here (in the thousands) but most don’t comment. It functions somewhat like a journal, where ideas are first introduced and only later make it into the mainstream. I know this because I see the ideas borrowed and used elsewhere — sometimes verbatim. So when you see a topic highlighted, it is usually because it is on many people’s minds and often because it has not yet been resolved. That accounts for the fractious nature of the debates sometimes.

        Only two rules really operate here. One is that you have to maintain at least a modicum of respect (and most people do); and second, moralistic finger wagging holds no authority whatsoever (and the moralisms are often couched in what I call “Orthospeak” — “You’re not loving…” and that type of thing). Finger wagging is just a cheap substitute for substantive discourse and we have little patience with cheap substitutes.

        M. Stankovich has got this part right:

        By the wisdom of men and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Truth was articulated from what, at face, appeared as chaos.

        He is also correct that (framing it positively): Every generation has to appropriate and apply the truth of the tradition in its time and place. That means debate has to take place in the public square. This site is part of that square.

        • I appreciate all that goes on here and the value of these discussions in the public square. I feel though, that there is a difference in debating the subtleties of Orthodox theology and teaching, and debating something like homosexuality that for so many is a very deep and emotional part of who they understand themselves to be. Outside of the Church, or inside of the Church any discussion of homosexuality can’t ignore the real life impact on individuals. Morality and discussing morality is an important thing, but it cannot be devoid of pastoral care and understanding. When the script given to those wrestling with homosexuality from the LGTBQ community is so loudly full of self acceptance and loving yourself, it is difficult to turn and look at the script so frequently loudly proclaimed by the Christian Church when it is so deeply negative and condemnatory. I’m not saying we should hide or not speak the truth of our faith, but speak on celibacy and a life lived for Christ in positive and encouraging terms. Only the most convicted few will be able to wrestle within the Church when all they ever hear is negative. There is joy that comes through the cross of both Christ and the individual. Denying oneself is about embracing something greater, not about pure dismissal. Embracing celibacy and the call of the Church is something not to be shoved down people’s throats but offered as a vocation and calling to purity and holiness. This is all deeply rooted in the theology and teaching of the Church and i believe would get us much farther in staying true to the Church’s teachings and ministering and loving these people. The cross gives life, this incredible paradox and mystery is so fundamental and yet so confounding. Life through death, joy through suffering, freedom through obedience, etc… Lets begin to discuss the positive along with the negative, the affirmation and not just the condemnation.
          I’ve found this essay to reflect upon some of what i’m speaking about regarding celibacy.

          Forgive me if i’ve erred.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

            Gregg, blogsites are not the place for pastoral care. If you want pastoral care, see your pastor. Blogsites are public squares where any views may be aired, including many contrary to Christian truth. If we should not on this blogsite counter the erroneous and pernicious views put forth here by gay activists, where should we? Where should we speak the plain truth?

            You apparently would have us speak the plain truth only among those who already believe it and therefore won’t be offended by it, but where would that be? Only in the most private settings, where people have been somehow vetted in advance on what offends them. In other words, you would have the plain truth driven underground — hidden under a bushel — where the world, which needs to see it, would never do so.

          • Gregg,

            I believe I contribute to this appearance of arguing a “condition” rather than “persons – personifying homosexuality – while I actually believe that most Orthodox priests, in actual pastoral practice, are the person of the “Good Shepherd.” Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) was equally instructive to confessors and penitents, “we are far removed from the time of Grace,” which I interpret to mean that, while staunchly upholding the Truth, the voice of the confessor and pastor is hardly the voice of the internet. I want to believe this is true.

            For myself, I have focused on the point that “re-articulation” is neither “re-invention” nor corruption of the Truth. Likewise, by dismissing questioning and discussion because the Truth is, or should be obvious seems to me terribly shortsighted. Who has not taken some amount of inspiration, or in fact delight, coming across, for example, Met. so-and-so from Sinai’s sermon on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son that, while faithful, provides a simple insight that I have not heard on the previous 50 such Sundays! And who is to say that this “simple insight” may not, later, be considered within our “Tradition.” I am not suggesting we need to “change” our minds, but be aware that what is in our minds is not necessarily obvious to others.

            I would suggest listening to a “gentler,” approach, as mentioned below, Fr. Thomas Hopko, for perspective. I have described him elsewhere as “theology on meth,” not pejoratively, but as what is referred to in psychiatry as “talking past the point,” meaning: “be patient, he’ll eventually get there!” Fr. Tom is staunchly Orthodox, but is an example of a loving “Good Shepherd” who is neither frightened nor threatened by “sinners.”

  4. I would recommend Fr. Tom Hopko’s talk on the same subject. You can find it under the specials on AFR. While the issue isn’t simple, the Church’s stand pretty much is. Orientation is largely an irrelevance. I do think, however, that Christians (and especially the Orthodox) should draw a clear line of separation between those in the Church (by free association) and those outside. What those outside choose to do is none of our business or concern. This was the way of the early Church and I think it should be re-adopted.

  5. cynthia curran :

    Not the homosexual issue but sexual morality in general among young people and the popularity of the Twilight series. What some people don’t know is that Vampires are partially based upon the legends of Vlad the impaler. An orthodox ruler in the 15th century that impaled lots of Turks in his conflict with them. Not a sexy and handsome man anyway but vampires were based upon someone who was ruthless and maybe some of its was for the survival of his country but he also was known to be somewhat cruel. What is also interesting is that a orthodox speaker was basely blaming the English for Vampires but I believe Eastern Europe has had them for centuries and they apart of the folk culture of some orthodox countries. Why people in the west and probably in the east as well since the Twilight Series is global things vampires are sexy since Vlad was one of the early models I don’t know.

  6. Geo Michalopulos :

    Personally, I’m glad that Fredericka took the bold step of producing this podcast. Being that she’s an eminent part of the punditocracy, this is no small beer and she should be commended. This step necessitates reflection. Clearly the spiritual damage that she and her husband endured as Episcopalians should give all of us pause about the furtherence of any such “dialogue.” ECUSA has been destroyed because of the neo-pagan assault.


  1. […] Orthodoxy and gay rights … I haven’t listened to this yet, but in part this will serve as a reminder. What do […]

Care to Comment?