Shifts in Paradigms. An Orthodox Psychiatrist on Homosexuality

Dr. Lynne (Magdalene) Pappas


Dr. Lynne Pappas, in Orthodox baptism, Magdalene, is a highly respected psychiatrist, board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry, practicing in Butte county and the Chico area of northern California. She has been practicing psychiatric medicine for over twenty-two years. She is also the president of the parish council of the Church of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ in Redding, California, a parish of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Dr. Pappas has agreed to share her professional knowledge with us on one “evil of the day.” Dr. Pappas is interviewed by Nun Cornelia (Rees).

Nun Cornelia (Rees): The subject of our conversation today is something that has been troubling many Christians in recent yearsthe general rise in the acceptance of homosexuality as a norm in many historically Christian countries. Legislature in the U.S. and other countries has dictated that homosexuality is not a psychiatric illness; and although most studies have shown that homosexuality is not genetically inherited, homosexuals are increasingly being treated as a minority group, which requires the protection of human rights legislation and tolerance education. One concern is not only how this affects the Church or society in general, but also how it affects those individuals who are experiencing homosexual inclinations but do not want to consign themselves to a homosexual lifestyle, and are seeking help. As a practicing psychiatrist, you have undoubtedly seen this conflict. What do these people do if they are told that they need to be accepted, rather than healed? What can you tell us about this?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: First, I will speak to what you said in terms of the change in what we will call a paradigm. All of us look to markers in our environment and our worldand we are spiritually affected by them as wellof what is truth, what guides us in how to function in life, what is reality. So, we now have a situation where the world tells us that what was once held as abnormal, not of God, not a healthy lifestyle or choice of relationship, is now normal. We now have a shift in paradigm, the rules are all changed, and people are being told that the prior view was false and that we have a new reality. That reality then says, “Anything that I feel is good for me,” whether it be men with men, men with boys, women with young girls, or people with animals (people don’t stop with one thing). Now they are saying that all of these things are just alternatives, and this diversity is “normal”. Every individual has an inherent seed within him of the truth of God, and knows somewhere in his heart and soul that these things are wrongbecause we do feel that. Yet they are being met with an external environmental world that says, “That which is guiding you inside is not right.” It is a pressure that unsettles everything. Thus, people no longer have any boundaries, any anchor, or marker of what truth is. This is very important to remember in looking at this whole issue, because it has taken everything and turned it upside down, so that people do not know where to go.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Living in California, an especially near San Franciscothe gay “Mecca”, do you notice a trend that goes beyond acceptance to outright encouragement of homosexuality?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Very much so. Furthermore, it is encouraged with an undercurrent of anger, which you can sense when you come into contact with this life and this worldthere is actually a very powerful undercurrent, which is in fact the power of evil. There are many different reasons for this anger (and this anger is filled with pride), this power, this dominance, this exertion of an individual right to take care of oneself, and have something be whatever “I want it to be.” It is a very powerful thing. So people, especially in California, are coming out and voting to have gay marriages legalized. This has already happened in some other states. But it is not that people are just standing back meekly, saying, “I want to be with my partner.” It is actually a campaign, a fervency to force themselves and you to accept their ideology.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): How has this progressed from the gay individual’s desire to not be discriminated against, or perhaps just not beaten up, to a planned, financed, aggressive program aimed at all aspects of societythe judiciary, the media, and even the educational system, all the way down to elementary school? From the psychiatric point of view, what is going on in their minds and their hearts that pressures them to try to forge a new society, if you will, in their image? Is it a simply a matter of pride? Of raising their own self-esteem by reforming the attitude of everyone around them?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: I don’t know if I can answer that question for you fully. The people who come to me are not often so militant in their desire to change society. Some want that as wellalmost, again, as a validation of their choices, a validation of how they have covered up their own wounds. Because, at the heart of this whole struggle is people’s desire to be loved, to find a place where they feel that they are cared for, that they belong, are nurtured, accepted. There is a whole host of things that lead people to this place in their lives. So, the militant aspect of it is an extension of that undercurrent. When somebody is hurt or angry, he can have an initial reaction of being defensive, being meek, or beaten down; but then you often find at the other end of the spectrum that those emotions then continue to grow into rage. So, this militant rage is on this continuum of a rage that is present, but not all people exert it to that degree. When we are not living with God, truthfully and at peace, then there is rage, anger. Often that rage is very hidden, tucked away; our defenses are so good that it does not come out for other people to see. At other times that rage is unleashed, and it is not so well hiddenand that is when you find the militant aspect, when people are wanting to push their agendas to “get back”, as I think, at God, not just at people. It is a way of lashing out at all the things inside that are so messed up. It is just an externalization, a representation, a symbol, which has nothing to do with what is really going on in their heartsbut they think it is.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Your explanation makes sense, but this brings us back to the fact that until rather recently homosexuality was legally regarded as a problem requiring psychiatric treatment. Further back in time it was not viewed as a psychological problem, but it was considered a grave sin, even a crime, and still is in some parts of the world. People were punished for it, so that it would not spread out to the rest of society. All Christians considered it a sin and Orthodox Christians still do. In the U.S., the laws have changed, so that it is no longer viewed as a psychiatric illness, and people no longer “need psychiatric treatment” for homosexuality. Nevertheless, I think that some people do seek treatment for the problems underlying their homosexuality. In your experience, are people seeking psychiatric help for their underlying problems, or specifically for their homosexuality? Are healthy people who engage in homosexual behavior developing psychiatric problems?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: No one who engages in homosexual activity is psychologically healthy. It is, again, an action and a manifestation of a distorted perceptions of pain, feelings of rejection, abandonment, loss, and a desire to be free of our separation from God. It is one other manifestation of how we seek fulfillment in an aberrant way. It is never something that is being led by health of the soul, or heart, or person.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): In the media, we now see a trend of trying to show that homosexuals are mostly psychologically adequate people who have simply taken up this orientation (although as I have read, analytical statistics show otherwise). Therefore, they are perceived as adequate to, say, adopt a child, or lead Boy Scout troops. Of course, the assumption in the child adoption system is that only a mentally stable person should be allowed to adopt a child. If psychiatric practice is showing that homosexuals are not stable, how could they be allowed such control over vulnerable children?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: What you are saying presupposes that psychiatry and the systems have a real notion of what normalcy is. Outside of God, and we live in a godless society, no one really has a sense of what is normal, and so they make it up, they make it fit what they want it to be. That is why we have what we have. They have made a new definition of what normalcy is, and tomorrow they will make another one, based upon whatever urge they have at that point in time. And God is nowhere in the picture. It all comes back to that, and so we have redefined what a family is. We no longer look at what God created and said is a family, what God created and said is the “order of things”. We have thrown Him away, because we don’t need that, we don’t even know that He exists, and we are determining our values according to what “feels” good. Then, the passions drive thingsmomentary passions. So, the momentary passions and lusts are now what defines normalcy.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): You have run up against this redefined normalcy first hand in the legal system. Can you tell us about this?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Well, I had a patient who, let’s say, struggled with his life of homosexual activity. He was very tormented, and came to see me, to engage in therapy. He was extremely depressed, and struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempts. He was encumbered by drug addiction, cocaine addiction, and he had engaged in perverse practices. You see, the homosexual lifestyle can be extremely perverse; it is perverse by definition. But the perversity can go on a continuum as does all evil; it can continue to get more and more severe. And so he had engaged in significant activities that, again, are quite demonic, in the sense of the torture, tormentthe things that people do to one another. He was haunted by all of this. He had been molested as a young male by a male teacher and had never dealt with that trauma, and had accepted from his early years that this situation had occurred because of what he is. He accepted a belief that he would never have had that molestation, that it would never have occurred, if this was not his life. He accepted this external circumstance as an indicator that he was homosexual; because otherwise, he thought, why would a man engage in such practices with him? Well, from that point on, his development as a young boy was very distorted, very traumatized, and every time he would look around him he would find things that he would put into this growing paradigm about himself, things that he would pull in to support the fact that he was gaythings from the media, from other people, the ideology or the feeling that this was something that he was genetically born with. So, he began to incorporate that. How do we begin to incorporate delusion and lie? It just continues to feed, and it feeds. So, before long, by the time he had hit his late teens and early twenties, he had constructed an entire world as if he were a playwright, the world and everyone else were adding in pieces of his character formation, and now his character was being formed by all of this input. This is what happens with society, with the media, with the worldit forms us, and we accept pieces of it, if we have nothing else that forms us, if we do not have God, and there is no one to help us. If we have no sense of what is true and what is not.

So, when he came to me he was very traumatized, but his initial desire to look at his sexuality was not what he came for. He came to look at his depression. Well, with time, how can one look at one’s depression without looking at what led up to his being depressed? He was looking at his life, his upbringing as a child, his relationships with his mother and father, the aspects of nurturance, non-nurturance, and his question of whether he ever fit in, was ever accepted or loved. It became clear over time that he was accepted and loved by this man. Here was someone who showed him incredible attentionphysical attention, comments about him, etc. That then became his accepted way of life. All of this began to uncover for him, and he began to question his previous assumption that he was born gay. He then started looking at issues of his life, and chinks started happening in that armor, that paradigm. All of a sudden, pieces of light started coming through, and he was somewhat unsettled by that.

Well, I have never hidden my Orthodoxy during my practice; I never hid who I am and where I come from. You know, I had a professor at the child psychiatry department where I trained who once said to me, seeing that I wear a cross, “You need to take that off.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “Because you are supposed to be a blank slate for people as a psychiatrist, and you are influencing somebody by wearing that cross. Your cross influences their thinking, whereas they are supposed to come up with things on their own. You are being a paradigm.” I looked at him and said, “Well, frankly I think that I am at least honest. At least my belief is on the outside, so that people know who I am in my paradigm. I could go to someone else, a Buddhist or a Hindu, and his or her paradigm is still going to come through in everything he or she says to me, but I won’t know it. To me, that is deceptive. “

Thus, the patient could see that I wore a cross, and he began asking questions about God. Over the next couple of years he began moving to a place of not believing that he was born gay; he started working through his history, even became involved with a woman, and was in love with her. She became pregnant but terminated the pregnancy, and he was devastated. In his devastation, he had a relapse of his drug addiction and everything fell apart, and he blamed Godand me. So, ultimately, he sued me for what had become an unethical thing with the psychiatric association, because in essence, homosexuality is no longer considered pathological, and therefore my Christianity was cited as being an improper “imbalance of power”. By having a cross around my neck, an icon on my wall, and a Bible on my desk, I was accused of unduly influencing this man, whovoluntarilycame to me. That he came voluntarily and stayed for three years was irrelevant to them. It was the mere fact that God was present, and that I had “forced” him to listen to this.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): This is a case in point. Obviously, he sued you because he was not balanced, but the state did not take that into consideration?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Because the state says that he is. Because the laws and what has been determined as normalcy by the world say he is “okay”.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Was he successful in this lawsuit?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: I settled the lawsuit. We went as far as a deposition, and I settled the lawsuit without going to trial.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): So, to a certain extent, it could be said that he “won” because he received a settlement. Now, could this have a cooling effect upon other psychiatrists who are of the mind that their patient’s homosexuality is part of the whole problem that is making them depressed?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: I will say to you that homosexuality is a causative factor in depression. There is not a “maybe.” It is not the only thing, but unequivocally, it is an issue. Now, will you find other psychiatrists that are willing to say that? Maybe a few. But again, you are going to find that, even among Christiansand I am speaking of the denominational, versus the Orthodox world you’ll see it is as with heresy in Christianity: before long, anything is acceptable. So, you will find many people who consider it just fine, and they will not make a statement, as I have.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Where does that leave people who really need healinghealing of their homosexuality? Does that mean that they are more and more just out of luck, with no one to go to? Will they find that there are fewer and fewer psychiatrists willing to talk about it?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Not necessarily. If a person comes to a psychiatrist or psychologist ready to make that statement, they will find someone to help them. I think that the question you are posing is: what about all the people who don’t realize that it is a major part of their struggle, their pain, their continued disease? It is interesting that when we talk of disease, we think automatically of a pathogen or bug growing in us, or an infection caused by bacteria or virus, as opposed to something that is caused by an infection of the soul. That is what this is. As with so many things in our society today, it is getting harder and harder for people to see what the infection is, because we have “normalized” so much, in terms of the parts of our soul that are becoming devoured by sin that we have now declared “normal.”

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Like declaring, on the physical level, that cancer is normal?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Absolutely. It is eating you away inside, and you keep covering things up, and acting as if that is how it should be. This is how it is with a life of homosexuality. You think, on the surface, that you are okay, you are happy, but in reality, inside, you are not. You keep playing at it, and playing at it. I know people that have been in homosexual relationships for fifty years, and they would say to me, “See, this is perfectly fine.” I would say back, “It is wonderful that you have a caring for one another, but you are still not able to see that which is separating you from God.” And that is the crux of it. They are willing to settle for that momentary feeling of comfort by holding on to someone in the world, because they don’t know that what they are really looking for is God.

I suppose I keep coming back to that, because you can’t examine this problem outside of God. And in the world today, where you don’t examine it with God, it is going to be what it is. So if people who are struggling don’t know that they are missing God, then they are not going to arrive at seeing that this is what it is all about.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): One holy father said that every human being possesses an unquenchable thirst for God, but it is a satisfying thirst, even in its unquenchability. If people are not seeking God, that thirst is not being filled, and so they try to satisfy it through insatiable passions.

Dr. Lynne Pappas: That is what happened with this young man. I have tried to help other people with whom I have worked to come to an understanding that this thirst that they have is really a thirst for God. They didn’t know it because they grew up without God in their lives. They were not raised in a Church, or with any understanding of God, and so all they understood is that they had an unquenchable desire and thirst for something, and the only markers that the world has around us are the passions. There is no other explanation for this longing offered; thus, only when you begin to say that that is what it is, that God is what they really want does a window open, and they can start seeing that God is what they crave. That is why people in these fifty-year relationships will, on the surface, defend to the hilt their belief that everything is just fine. But if you look in their hearts, you will see their emptiness, and how it all falls short. It is the falling short of what they are looking for that is so evident to me in my work with these people. Because it is not of God.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): So, the rest of the world, through the media, is also being convinced that these people are all just fine.

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Again, they are convincing themselves. We lie to ourselves, over and over again, and we don’t know how to listen to that voice in our heart. That voice in our heart talks, but people are used to drowning it out.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): This tragedy on an individual level is unfortunately developing into a problem that affects whole Churches, denominationsthe idea that you can have a pastor, even a bishop, ministering to families, who is openly gay. Of course, the issue is still clear in the Orthodox Church. But what would you say to people who are Orthodox, but suffer from this weakness? Should the Church be tough on these people? Should they be summarily brought out into the open? Or should they be dealt with quietly, individually? How can we avoid the catastrophe that the Catholic Church is now experiencing?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: I do not want to even pretend to think that I know how things should be done, but I would hope that it be dealt with on an individual basis. My prayer for all people is that in the Churchthe True Chruchwe would have people bold enough to come alongside brothers and sisters who are struggling in sin, in some way, with a desire to help them see their failing. Again, as with anything to which we are blind, we are defensive, we are prideful, we are very fallen, and we don’t want to see that which is painful for us to see. But how else can you deal with this but by individually coming alongside someone in love, and having ways to minister to people, to help them gain sight? That is what this is about. We have the fathers, we have the Word, we have so many things that are there, what God gave us as our truth, and we have love. That is what we have to give people in order to open a door for them to begin to see what wounded them, and what their hearts have done to try to take care of themselves. Because that is what this is: a method of trying to take care of our own heart when we have been so hurtwhen we felt abandoned, rejected, when we felt that God is not there for us, that we have to do something on our own to make it okay.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Backtracking a bit, could a large portion of homosexuals reveal an incident in their past similar to the one experienced by the patient you described? Could this be called an epidemic, spread by people who need to be stopped? In other words, were former societies justified in putting these people in prison?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: No. (Unless, of course, they do commit a sexual crime such as rape or child molestation.) It is a reflection of how we as human beings deal with things that frighten us, with things that we don’t understand, and that make us uncomfortable and threaten us. We are filled with rage, we become dominant, powerful, and hurtful, and try to destroy them. In essence, our hearts are just as sinful, but it is coming out in a different venue.

People come to a life of homosexuality, or experiences of homosexuality, from different causes. There are people who have had molestations, and then began to be afraid of the opposite sex, but still want nurturance. You have other people who as children were not nurtured, who were not fed, cared for, loved, or stroked, and they seek nurturance. It gets misplaced. They start looking for a mother, as are many women living a lesbian life, or a father, in the case of male homosexuals, and it all becomes so distorted. They don’t see it on the surface, but what is driving them is a desire to connect, and not necessarily in a sexual or erotic waybut that is the only way our fallen world knows how to do it. Everything is sexualized. So people automatically jump from a heart that needs to be nurtured and stroked to something erotic, because that is where the world has told them to go. Yet, everyone who has struggled with this desire to be loved in a homosexual way is searching for the purity that I am talking about. It does not have to be the outcome of trauma or abusethey can just start exhibiting this activity as children. Does that mean they should be locked away? No. Should they be criminalized? No. They should be offered an understanding of love, and know what is in side of us, what they are searching for.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Have you known people who were able to work their way through this struggle by the Sacrament of confession?

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Yes.

You work around, you work underneath, you work on what is occurring with them, because the defenses are so great on the surface.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): So, this is not a job for just anyone who comes along.

Dr. Lynne Pappas: No. But I think that there are people who are able to do this kind of work, and understand how to approach these things, unlike the medieval world where you just put them all in prison. There are people who are designed, trained, or brought up by God to find a way into someone’s heart, around their defenses.

Nun Cornelia (Rees): Of course, we know that this has always existed, and we find mention of it even in patristic literature. We also all have our free will.

Dr. Lynne Pappas: If I want my child to go do something he does not want to do, I will not necessarily say, “I want you to go do this,” but will phrase it and work with him in a way that will not excite his defenses, which are geared to opposition. Rather than saying, “go make your bed,” I will try to say something to engage another part of his heart, so that he will want to do it himself. Then he will go make his bed, and we don’t have a war. This is knowing the heart of my child, and it is knowing the heart of our brothers and sisters. It is coming to someone in love, realizing that a matter of the heart is at stake. We ask, how does God direct us to deal with that person?

Nun Cornelia (Rees): And of course, we pray for them.

Dr. Lynne Pappas: Absolutely. That is where we must always begin.


  1. Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

    Wonderful. Excellent.

  2. Nicole Troon :

    Compassionate, forthright, true. Many thanks Dr. Pappas.

  3. Wonderful! Thank you, Dr. Pappas. I so wish three of my relatives who are actively gay/lesbian and all of whom were raised in Christian traditions, could read and benefit from this. Two of these have been in long-term committed relationships and one with a man who died an Orthodox Christian–died holding my relative’s hand. My relative whose partner was Orthodox, assured me he had been treated with great kindness and love by his partner’s Orthodox parish especially in his bereavement (for which I was sincerely and profoundly grateful), but I also wondered, was the full truth of what the Tradition has to say about the nature of their relationship and its healing also held out to them as a beacon of hope and salvation, or did my relative’s partner die still in delusion?

    Another of my relatives attends a parish of a mainline Protestant Christian tradition, and has defended her pastor, a man who lives in an openly gay relationship, because this is what she has been taught by her denomination’s hierarchy is compatible with Christian faith. Another relative who is a long time member of the parish of another mainline Protestant denomination, when she approached her pastor in distress when one of her adult children came out as actively gay was assured that as long as the couple was truly “loving” there was not a problem with the gay relationship (which eventually ended) and it was not incompatible with her Christian faith (my relative, whose Christian conscience was more intact that that of her pastor, was not convinced by this, and his counsel comforted her not a bit). I do not have regular ongoing contact with any of my gay relatives–who are part of my extended family, and since adulthood our lives have all gone different ways–but I love them fervently and pray for them. Whenever I get the chance, I try to let them see this love.

    Naturally, the entrance of this controversy into our American Orthodox institutions and the seeming capitulation among members of the clergy as well as Orthodox laity is a deep concern to me. I know how critically important it is for the Orthodox institutions here in the West (and everywhere, of course) to remain a refuge for true spiritual healing, and that this be successfully defended in the current crisis. But the insidious propaganda, outright lies, and slanderous onslaught from the enemy of souls is very fierce. (Case in point was the “Oprah” interview this week with pop star, Ricky Martin, who finally outed himself as “a gay man” after rumors had flown for years, and who is the single father of preschool twins by a surrogate.) The temptations in our culture to equivocate are multifaceted, and yet the devil has developed no new strategies over the ages and our Fathers and the Lord have shown us what is required.

    Will we rise up faithful to the Lord? Will the Orthodox institutions in the U.S. remain or, in some cases, fully become havens of true healing and salvation? Will we have the courage to both reach out in love and yet confront in truth? That is my prayer. All my longing is that my relatives and all people everywhere may know the love of Christ in fullness and in truth, Whom to know is Life Eternal. If they had even a taste of that little drop of Living Water the Lord in His grace has allowed me, a sinner worse than they, to drink, and their eyes could be open even a bit to a vision of the True Object of all our longings and desires as Dr. Pappas has shared here, I know they would be healed. The Orthodox Church through the ages has been the guardian and repository of the Medicine of Immortality that alone can heal the human soul. “From those to whom much has been given, much will be required.” Will we Orthodox here in the U.S. allow this Treasure to be stolen from us? May the Lord in His mercy forbid it!

  4. What an outstanding interview. It’s long overdue for the truth to be known about the perverse nature of the gay counter culture. Talk to any former male homosexual and they can tell you some hair raising stories about the dark side this lifestyle. By insisting wrongly that it is genetic, the apologists doom those trying to escape into the Light.

  5. A most welcome perspective. This content suggests why it comes to pass many who struggle along these lines look to involve themselves in the church in a big way, sometimes a career.

    It was a puzzle to me, why would someone want to get heavily involved with their time and money in an organization that is very clear their present road needs changing? Why not just stay home and read the paper Sunday morning and do whatnot other than go to a place where living like that is going to meet with gentle but clear, constant pressure and help to change?

    Men who carry on with mistresses, folk who just like doing what feels good below the belt whenever with who or whatever, these don’t generally make the effort to show up Sunday morning. But this article, this really does suggest why some struggling with that, do otherwise. I expect quite a few do indeed find what they were looking for, and I expect those are not the subjects of news articles or fantastic church financial penalties and scandals and victims.

    Whether such do or don’t find their answers and inner peace — this is in no way about fault, but they don’t have the life experience of being fathers. Pastors of pastors, that is, bishops, need many with that life-voice among them, as it was before modern medicine and so in the church when wives often died before their husbands retired or died in office. We ignore this at the peril of our archdiocesan survival in the present era in history.

  6. Dr. Pappas has put two terms together I’d never read previously nor even so much as thought of. “…There are many different reasons for this anger (and this anger is filled with pride).”

    “Anger filled with pride”. What a concept.

    It took me a while just to try to puzzle through what she was on about there. What can that mean? I’ve been angry several times over these many years, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt particularly proud of it, before, during or after. I’m not even sure what that would feel like – proud of being angry? Proud of being able to get angry? Proud of something leading to being angry? What? About the only feeling I can associate with anger is sadness, disappointment, sort of ‘roll up the sleeves to do an unavoidable unpleasant thing that ought not need doing’, etc.

    I say the words ‘anger filled with pride’ a few times to sort of ‘try them on’, but I really somehow can’t put myself in those shoes properly. I guess I feel it’s important somehow but I don’t really get it. Bugs me a little, usually I’m able to sort of ‘put myself in the other person’s shoes’ at least to some degree.

    • Michael Bauman :

      Harry it is pride that is at the core of much anger, the illusory pride of being autonomous apart from God, the demonic pride and self-will. There is a certain type of anger that is always just a wrapper for demonic pride.

    • Harry,

      From a more psychological perspective, misdirected and unrighteous anger is a specific defense (that functions as a kind of deflection and distraction) against experiencing a deep psychic wound. In my experience, anger is typically fueled in by fear and hurt–often the fear of rejection (even internalized as self-rejection) as Dr. Pappas has described here. The wound to self-worth created by capitulation to the passions (especially SSA) is very deep. But there can be wounds even before one capitulates to the passion by acting upon it in that the enemy attacks us with thoughts that somehow we are to blame or we have invited the temptation or sinful inclinations because of what or who we are (this kind of shame is a demonic attack and deception designed to drive us to a demonic self-hatred that inevitably manifests as despair of God’s grace). You can see this with young children who are abused, neglected, or who are abandoned by one parent in the event of a divorce, for example. Through a kind of magical thinking characteristic of childhood, it is very common that they believe they are to blame for the abuse or the divorce–that their own behavior merited the misfortune (very often this is aided by things they are told by hurt or abusive caregivers or parents). Thankfully, many find healing from this delusion through faith and the love of others.

      Pride is in a broader sense the syndrome the soul adopts to protect against experiencing its vulnerability to rejection and abandonment (having been cut off from awareness of the One Who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and Whose love will never fail us!). It is an attempt to hide and shield ourselves from further damage and to become our own nurturer (because we don’t trust anyone else). What we really need for our true fulfillment, healing and well-being, however, is to open and abandon ourselves to the healing and nurture of God through communion with Him. Anger is one expression of pride–there are many others. God’s all-merciful love and the truth of our identity in Christ are the only antidotes. As I see it, this is how pride and anger are often (if not always) interrelated.

      • Karen, thanks. Your outline to me suggests that manner of anger would likely take on a, well what to call it, ‘lashing out’ or ‘not really about what it’s about’ quality. Sort of ‘lots of energy/noise, not so much direction’. After all, if the anger here is about distraction and keeping the, ah, metaphorical ‘painful pin far away from the achy pimple that needs lancing’– how does it come to pass there is such an agenda practiced and sought with such long term attention?

        Related, I read that the rates of ‘same sex marriage’ in the states that have legalized it have fallen to next to nothing a few short months after the cameras and news crews leave the ‘legalization party’. That statistic seems in keeping with your explanation, since if it never really was ‘about’ marriage for most in the first place. Having ‘won it’, most don’t really ‘want it’ enough to actually use what it means ‘in real life’.

        My own career has nothing to do with medicine or social counseling, but I can see how study of these dynamics really can capture the disciplined mind’s attention. Still, with such a tremendous mulitvariate activity happening with no real possibility of reducing the free variables to a manageable number, it’s hard for me to see how any ‘conclusions’ in this field can ever attain what the word ‘scientific result’ means in the physical or biological realms.

  7. M. Stankovich :

    I initially approached this interview with great interest, only to be personally shocked at its gross misrepresentation. While I cannot speak to nor suggest its intention, I note that it blatantly relies on the “authority” of the term psychiatrist to suggest its veracity when, in fact, it is simply the “opinion” of a single, individual psychiatrist who is an Orthodox Christian. Nothing more, nothing less. In other words, Dr. Pappas’ expressed opinion is the generalized, anecdotal observation of one person. I would also add the observation that, among physician medical specialists, psychiatry is, fairly or unfairly, considered “soft medicine” in that it lacks the fundamental data that is essential to evidence-based medicine. Some even believe that psychiatry & psychiatric practice “resist” (an admitted euphemism) an evidence-based standard because it lacks a fundamental underlying science, and I would suggest that promoting Dr. Pappas’ interview as “expert opinion” supports this contention. My objection here does not, in effect, have any particular bearing on the issues of gender, sexual preference, or homosexuality per se, but is in opposition to the inherent danger of the use of anecdote as science. And judging by the previous replies, it seems reasonable to state so. Likewise, it is not my intention to “refute” the veracity of Dr. Pappas’ comments – in the scheme of things scientific, she could be enirely correct – but rather to question Dr. Pappas’ “authority” on this matter.

    If this is clinical psychiatry, medicine, as I understand it, it then seems reasonable for me to expect it mandatory of Dr. Pappas to provide evidentiary citations supporting her statements; and I will further state that the lack of citation is a divergence from the fundamental research paradigm and a scientific disservice. While Dr. Pappas has been in clinical practice for 22+ years (which I certainly view with respect, but, again, interpret as promoted here merely to bolster her “authority”), mere “quantity” of observation does not make science, ever. If Dr. Pappas is confident in the role of a medical doctor stating, “No one who engages in homosexual activity is psychologically healthy,” or “homosexuality is a causative factor in depression,” she should feel equally obligated to support her contentions as an objective scientist; a brief review of how gross misinterpretation of anecdotal “evidence” used to justify breathtakingly erroneous practices in behavioural medicine (e.g. the “gender-reassignment” of David Reimer and the psychosurgery of Walter Freeman, MD immediately come to mind) would seem, at least to me, to give one pause, if not provoke a formidable sense of duty. Most importantly, I am assuming that Dr. Pappas, as a physician, is treating the clinical depression she diagnosis in homosexual patients identically to her non-homosexual patients with the identical diagnosis, pursuant to the evidence-base, literature, & her training. I would suggest that Dr. Pappas’ question, would “you find other psychiatrists that are willing” to make similar comments confusing; does she refer to medicine or personal opinion? If personal opinion, I would suggest, for the sake of argument, that complexity is every bit as logical a “conclusion” as ignorance or cowardice. If she refers to medicine, then the answer seems quite obvious to me: there simply is no medical evidence to suggest post-natal social environment has any effect on gender identity or sexual orientation. Proposals such that one can “come to homosexuality” as a consequence of, or in relation to, an environmental event (such as sexual molestation or the dearth of nurturance) – which may, perhaps, characterize the patients Dr. Pappas has seen in her individual practice, I have no way of knowing – is unfounded generalization and, as with all generalization, unsettling.

    I object to this interview presented as “suggestive” of more than the limited opinion of a single practicioner, and somehow representative of the evidence-based practice of clinical psychiatry.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      My objection here does not, in effect, have any particular bearing on the issues of gender, sexual preference, or homosexuality per se, but is in opposition to the inherent danger of the use of anecdote as science.

      Really? You entire critique reads as if you want to turn the tables on Dr. Pappas for suggesting homosexuality is disordered. Look, it’s an interview, not a research essay in a scientific journal.

      Nevertheless, to satisfy your requirement for research here is some extra reading:

      Study: Homosexual lifestyle strongly linked to depression, suicide

      Homosexuality and Mental Health Problems

      Higher Risk of Mental Health Problems for Homosexuals

      Alcohol and drug use among homosexual men and women: Epidemiology and population characteristics

      Study Indicates Gays and Lesbians Prone To Psychological Symptoms and Substance Abuse

      There’s more of course and anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the available data knows of the health risks associated with homosexual behavior.

      As for your assertion:

      Proposals such that one can “come to homosexuality” as a consequence of, or in relation to, an environmental event (such as sexual molestation or the dearth of nurturance). . .is unfounded generalization and, as with all generalization, unsettling.

      At this stage of the debate about the moral legitimacy of homosexuality the question of whether homosexuality is an ordered or disordered condition is the one being asked. That question is far from settled despite your assertion it nothing more than “unfounded generalization.” Again, some reading:

      Psychological perspectives on lesbian and gay male experiences

      How Might Homosexuality Develop? Putting the Pieces Together

      Dr. Pappas’ account of her professional experience conforms to the available research. Your critique that her interview should be discounted because she doesn’t provide citations ignores that research and discredits your implied conclusion that no evidence exits that confirms her professional experience.

      Your attempt to discredit Dr. Pappas fails.

      • M. Stankovich :

        First, let me be emphatic that my comments are not and were never intended to be apology for same-sex sexual behaviour as anything but disorder and immoral. Second, I find your suggested “reading list” bordering on insult. I was a young intern at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in NYC in the late 1980’s at the height of the AIDS epidemic and witnessed the consequence of the full depravity of human sexual behaviour more than you can ever imagine. I have since “graduated” to the world of incarcerated felon paedophiles, rapists, murderers, and psychopaths who torture for the sheer “fun” of it. Thus, I take no “satisfaction” in a handful of random articles as an evidence base. Third, having earned a certain expertise in regard to these matters, I aspire to a scrupulousness that does not blur the distinction between what is my personal opinion and what is established scientific evidence: you label my comment regarding Dr. Pappas’ correlation between sexual molestation & homosexuality as “implicit assertion,” while my search of the National Library of Medicine produced a single tentative study, ten years old, that reports an unexpected incidence of historical sexual molestation among homosexuals in a mixed study population of less than 500 subjects. You apparently see this as me “turning tables,” while I continue to find her correlation unfounded. Most importantly, my investigation of the available literature occurred before I ever set my comments on public display. I reiterate that I believe that Dr. Pappas’ interview was purposely promoted with the specific intention of implying that because she is a psychiatrist and is an Orthodox Christian, she speaks with authority and, quite logically, should be trusted. In my mind, the content of her personal opinion – distinct from scientific evidence – is no more significant than if she were a plumber. And with all due respect to plumbers, let’s be honest: how many would be so roused to promote, however learned or pious, the personal opinion of Lynne Pappas the plumber? Fourth, I am well aware as to the differences between a “casual” commentary and a scientific journal, and my objection to Dr. Pappas is her not making the clear distinction; thus, I labeled this a disservice. I would further note that I find your comment somewhat disingenuous in that you, among many others, provide direct scriptural reference when quoting the Bible. Are you concerned that I, as a layman, might consider you to be fabricating or misrepresenting the actual text; or perhaps you believe that I possess a most “cursory knowledge” of the Holy Scripture and Patristic documents of the Church? In my mind, reference & citation is matter of integrity and authority. If you interpret this to be an attempt to personally “discredit” Dr. Pappas, a physician I have never met, so be it. I stand by my integrity.

        While I may personally assert many things, no where will you find me claiming that this issue is “settled.” While the issues of the influence of the synthesis of genetics, neuropsychiatry, and environmental events on human behaviour is too ponderous and complex for this “reply,” I note that it is, nonetheless, emergent and significant data that we cannot ignore. Frankly, I am no theologian, but I vividly recall Fr. Alexander Schmemann teaching that we distinguish the theology of the Church by singing it, and thus “if we do not sing about it liturgically, it is not the Theology of the Church.” In this light, it comes to mind that on the Feast of Pentecost we sing that, “All gifts have been given.” In my mind, this is significantly different than singing, “All gifts are understood.”

        • Let’s see. Dr. Pappas should not be trusted as an authority on depression stemming from homosexual practices and she had the audacity to not cite references. You joined this discussion to bring this to everyone’s attention? This is the reason for authoring two long posts?

          As a lowly Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, I have no hesitance in telling you that I stifled a chuckle at your two long, peculiar, and samovlyublennyĭ posts whining about Dr. Pappas not citing references. I wanted to count the number of times that the word “my” or “I’ was used in your posts, but it would have taken to long.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

          M. Stankovich, I’ve read your two posts now through three times, and I still don’t see anything more in them than the quibble that Dr. Pappas did not provide the interviewer with footnotes. This quibble is put forth with such malevolent intensity that I cannot believe you are truly interested in the science of the matter. Methinks thou dost protest too, too much.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          I reiterate that I believe that Dr. Pappas’ interview was purposely promoted with the specific intention of implying that because she is a psychiatrist and is an Orthodox Christian, she speaks with authority and, quite logically, should be trusted. In my mind, the content of her personal opinion – distinct from scientific evidence – is no more significant than if she were a plumber.

          Right, I got that the first time. It’s not really a reiteration however since you never stated your conclusion it in the first not. Instead, the reader was supposed to infer it. That’s why I said that your conclusion was implied, a kind of discrediting by stealth.

          In this second note you chose to state rather than imply your conclusion but you’ve turned the volume way up. A plumber? Really? Further, your biography is interesting but largely irrelevant especially if we hold to your criteria that credibility requires footnotes. Where are yours? (Please, I am not asking for any, only pointing out that footnotes in a discussion is not a reasonable thing to ask.)

          I have to throw my lot in with Dn. Patrick. The intensity of the protest is not proportional to the complaint.

  8. I’m wary of statistical studies as they can never identify cause or simple correlation. For example, it is a known fact that African-Americans are incarcerated for various crimes at a far higher rate than Caucasians and Asians.

    About 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated, by far the largest racial or ethnic group—by comparison, 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in that same age group were incarcerated.

    Further, African-Americans are more likely to suffer homelessness, poverty, unemployment and addiction. From these uncomfortable facts we should gather what about the intrinsic qualities of African-Americans or how the problem should be addressed?

    Of course, the area one is gathering this data makes a substantive difference as well. Statistically, there will probably be less poverty among blacks in states like New Hampshire than in, Mississippi, say.

    I’m not drawing a parallel between race and behavior (or orientation even), but simply questioning what value such statistical studies provide or what insights we can glean from them other than that a problem exists …

  9. In the following chapters, we are going to take a look at homosexuality and its underlying factors. We will discuss the origins of homosexuality and whether it is possible to be freed from it, and also what the Bible says about it. Many people might have different opinions about some of the issues brought up, but it will still be worthwhile reading the whole text.

  10. M. Stankovich :

    Reverend Father & Fr. Deacon, I have to presume everyone has an agenda, and regardless of my “urge” to defend myself, I simply conclude that whatever you might presume mine to be, you have been offended. For this I apologize. It was not my intention to personally malign or discredit Dr. Pappas; as I previously stated, I have never met her, and what I know about her is limited to the introduction to her interview. I am accustomed to a research environment where scientific “truth,” as best as any are able to discern it, is reached in an adversarial process of objective data, where the expectation of challenge, often vigorous, is inherent. If I have made factual error, correct me. In saying that, it is very difficult to read that my comments would be interpreted “malevolent,” a failed attempt to personally discredit Dr. Pappas, or summarized as “whining” for footnotes. In my mind – and Yelizabeta, the use of “I” & “my” are simply intended to accept “ownership” & “responsibility” for my words – the issue has never been about me or Dr. Pappas personally. I have attempted to defend scientific “truth” as best as I am able to discern it, understanding that the inherent risk of laxity is measured in patient care.

    • Michael Bauman :

      M. Stankovich, here’s the problem. Facts and data mean very little except in an interpretation matrix. Facts and data always require interpretation. The assumptions that underlie the interpretation matrix are what yield the result, not that facts or data. When you debate within your research environment, you and your colleges share the same assumptions to the point that you don’t even know you are doing it sometimes. You are not debating the assumptions at all, just how best to interpret the facts and data within those assumptions.

      The assumptions of modern science, particularly in the area of anthropology, i.e, what it means to be human and the hierarchy of values in much of the scientific community are at odds with the teachings of the Church. There are not only different assumptions and values concerning human beings; the life of the Church penetrates to a level unavailable to any scientific inquiry.

      So, M. when you come into a forum that evaluates, or attempts to do so, social, cultural and anthropological issues from the point of view of the Church, your attempts to bring in your preferred method of thinking simiply do not communicate at all. The conclusions you have reached and the methodology used to reach them are not very meaningful and will certainly be perceived as out of phase with the rest of the conversation.

      How one interprets facts and data is not the conversation here. The conversation here is about the faith, about the Theantropos which to me means both the God-man Jesus Christ and our human inter-realtionship with God. It is about who we are and who God wants us to be, not about the number of angels on the head of a pin.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

      M. Stankovich, if you disagree with Dr. Pappas on the nature of the illness, just say so. If you want to prove that you’re right and she’s wrong, prove it. But don’t just fulminate about the absence of background research in a simple interview. Your unreasonableness on that point makes it obvious that you are too invested in this issue personally for us to believe that your only concern is scientific truth.

  11. M. Stankovich :

    Fr. Deacon, you have clarified exactly what I have been, and obviously very poorly & ineffectively, attempting to communicate: Is Dr. Pappas wrong? I don’t know. Can I prove her wrong? Absolutely not. In fact, if I were to simply rely on my personal clinical experience alone, I would honestly conclude that, in the majority of my cases, she is correct. But among those minority cases is the only completed suicide I have experienced; a traumatizing event that I would not wish on any clinician. This completed suicide, however, is anecdote, and an admittedly “very personal” experience for me. Could I use this anecdote to argue that Dr. Pappas is wrong? Ridiculous. In fact, it indicated to me, as I wrote previously, a time to take pause & re-evaluate. And this brings me full circle to say that I do not have a credible basis – meaning convincing objective evidence – to determine if Dr. Pappas is correct or incorrect, and within such a “paradigm,” I could not, in good conscience, make the same statements she made, albeit in a simple interview. Positively or negatively, such statements ultimately have consequence, and I am unwilling to accept responsibility for what I cannot establish is true.

    Mr. Bauman, I am a practical man. I would fully expect that if you presented in the ER with chest pain, difficulty breathing, and pain radiating down your left arm, a physician would immediately & without hesitation draw your blood & conduct an ECG to determine if you are having a heart attack. Based on the findings, s/he would provide you the indicated care. Both the determination & indicated care are evidence-based medicine. If, however, you present to me with symptoms suggesting clinical depression, the diagnosis is a straightforward application of established criteria, but there are no, not one, objective physiological test that will tell me why you are depressed. And so, the dilemma, as I see it, is an extraordinarily complex interaction of my knowledge-base, training, experience, character, opionion, faith, virtue, sobriety, and sinfulness, and you. Theanthropos. My communication is exceptionally poor if you are able to conclude my comments to be outside the “point of view of the Church,” “out of phase with the rest of the conversation” (which leads me to ask if not here, where?), or an academic exercise that I am overly-invested in “winning.” I see mine as an awesome responsibility, and I fully believe this.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

      But all you are now saying is, “Her experience is not my experience, and therefore her professional opinion is not my professional opinion.” OK. So what? Why should we pay more attention to your opinion, based on what you’ve read and seen, and reject her opinion, based what she has read and seen? She at least is speaking from an Orthodox perspective.

      By the way, what exactly is your experience? What are your degrees in? What do you practice? And how long have you been in practice? We know these facts about Dr. Pappas, but we don’t about you.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

      Also, you betray yourself as being “outside the ‘point of view of the Church'” when you use constructions like “s/he,” which only feminist ideologues use, and by your passionate and unjustified dismissal of another professional’s professional opinion.

    • Michael Bauman :

      M. Stankovich,

      Medicine in any form is not a hard science. I would argue that there is almost nothing that would qualify as a hard science as human beings always are involved and our various spiritual and emotional states always matter. Medical diagnosis is a gift and and a skill that requires the capacity and the empathy to reach beyond the facts and the data to the truth–much of it is not teachable, IMO. Even with heart attacks to discern. Not to mention the thousands of diseases (some benign, some not) that present themselves with “flu-like symptoms”.

      As to depression, not only the why but the what is usually a difficult call. Is the depression solely emotional and psychological; is it evidence of a spiritual crisis that is not medical at all; is there something wrong physcially that needs treatment; or a combination of one or more of the factors?

      Science does not have the answers to/for humanity. Science can create tools which can be used effectively by those with the gifts to do so.

      Again, the facts never, ever speak for themselves. While we should strive for as much factual acuracy as possible, the interpretative matrix in which the facts are ordered, selected, and used is more significant. The interpretative matrix that is Holy Tradition and the Scripture is much more reliable than any paradigm science has produced. The effectiveness of Holy Tradition should be without doubt. It has been used and reported on for 20 centuries at least and the lives of the saints are its best evidence.

      Frankly, I don’t get your objections other than, perhaps, you are still greiving and feel responsible for the death of a friend/patient. As tough as such a circumstance is, it is an exceedinly small data sample and subject to a great deal of interpretative bias which can shed little light on the truth of which Dr. Pappas speaks and you seem to fundamentally agree with.

    • Well, here I go, Johnny-Come-Lately, offering my two cents. Let me state from the outset that I am a psychiatrist, an Orthodox Christian, and very interested in this discussion. I think I will avoid clinical-speak and address what I honestly believe to be misguided criticism. I believe M. Stankovich has been misunderstood. Read carefully his statements, especially in the context of statements he has made on other sites, including Monomakhos. He has been very clear that he is not questioning the traditional Orthodox moral stance in regard to same-sex sexual activity. He has also been quite clear that his anecdotal experience matches in many ways what Dr. Pappas has expressed. He seems to be engaged in the lonely activity of pointing out sloppy thinking on the part of many who are laudably eager to defend the historic moral stance of the Church on this issue, but who perhaps will fall into self-defeating traps if careless thinking is continued. I really admire this. He has not once questioned Biblical prescriptions nor proscriptions. Unfortunately, his verbosity perhaps sometimes obscures his very salient and helpful points. Additionally, perhaps his passion is based upon his presumption that readers are primed to take Dr. Pappas’ views as authoritative in and of themselves. Perhaps he is wrong. It is possible that most readers simply take her perspective as just that—an individual clinician’s perspective. One point of disagreement—I do think one should weight more heavily the opinion of a seasoned psychiatrist against that of a plumber, but the rhetorical point is well taken. However, one thing that I appreciate is that he is actually very careful in choosing his words. I do not see this as cageyness, but as precision—M. Stankovich is willing to admit both what we know and what we do not know.

      On a thread on Monomakhos he made a very important point which, I think, shows some of what M. Stankovich is attempting to achieve. He pointed out that if we carelessly avoid the possibility that “Gay, Inc.” is correct about there being some biological vulnerabilities toward same sex attraction in an effort to make it purely a matter of development and choice, that we are facing the risk of painting ourselves into a corner if clear biological vulnerabilities are established to exist. M. Stankovich has been quite clear that this should lead us to a thoughtful consideration of how to address this very real cross, and that it should not cause us to question the moral proscriptions of our Tradition. He has also expressed a great deal of confidence in the strength and grace given to the Church to withstand attacks from those who unjustly seek to question her prescriptions for moral purity. I believe this confidence can help to reduce a defensiveness which too quickly and—again I use the word “carelessly”—leads to sloppy thinking which may lead to a dead end.

      He has also raised the important point that the term “homosexuality” may include under its umbrella forms of same-sex attraction which are very amenable to healing, and others which may be more refractory and may require a pastoral response geared more toward bearing the cross given in a victorious—albeit somewhat lonely—way. I would add an additional point: it may be that the “heterosexuality” experienced by those who’ve found a measure of healing may not be quite the same thing as the “heterosexuality” experienced by those who’ve never suffered from same-sex attraction. To focus too heavily on reparative therapies is something that Protestant sects have done because they lack the well-developed path of celibacy which exists within the ancient churches. I think the Roman Catholic model of “Courage”—a ministry which supports those with same-sex attraction in developing the virtue of chastity, whether it means developing a form of heterosexuality or living in celibacy with a sense of intimacy and victory—may have something to teach the Orthodox Church in this respect. But again, that is simply the “perspective” of one clinician which, by necessity is anecdotal!

      In summary, I don’t believe M. Stankovich is attempting to discredit anyone, but rather challenging us all to thinking soberly and without defensiveness of what will be required to speak into the lives of those who struggle with a passion which may have more than one form and which poses a great challenge to living in purity.

  12. M. Stankovich :

    Fr. Deacon, I will ignore your soothsaying & personal insult and simply state that, were my “degrees” in Modern Dance, if I have made a factual error in my comments, correct me. Mr. Bauman, suffice it to say that I believe in the theory of psychiatry as a bio-psycho-environmental-spiritual discipline, that disintegrates when this synthesis is broken. Pursuing this topic is far afield from what I have originally attempted to convey.

    I only can hope that I have something to contribute in another topic.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

      1. I haven’t insulted you. People who use “s/he” are invariably feminists, and feminism is an ideology. Ergo . . .

      2. I don’t know what you mean by “soothsaying.”

      3. I wonder less what your credentials are than why you are so cagey about them. Why don’t you just tell us? They are relevant, because the fundamental question, which you have dodged, is: Why should we accept your professional opinion and reject Dr. Pappas’s? You haven’t given us any facts disproving her opinion, and you haven’t told us what your credentials are, so why should we not believe her?


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