St. Vladimir’s Seminary Reacts to Amsterdam Conference, OCA Bishops Remain Silent

Orthodox priests who undermine the tradition undermine the Church

By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

The meeting in Amsterdam held several months ago to discuss Orthodoxy and sexuality raised serious questions, some of which have been answered. Thankfully, several attendees withdrew their support of the conference once the questions were raised. Also contributing to their withdrawal was the publication of an essay on the Public Orthodoxy Blog by Peter J. (Giacomo) SanFilippo that argued that a renowned theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church was a sodomite (read the refutation here). The conference was poorly conceived and should have never been held.

One troubling question raised was that many of the attendees cited their affiliation with St. Vladimir’s Seminary (SVS), presumably to give the conference a patina of authority it obviously did not have. This fact was not lost on SVS leadership, including the President and the Board of Trustees. Does the seminary want to be associated with a group that by all appearances considers the moral tradition up for grabs, subject to the deconstruction of Orthodox culture of the kind we see in the SanFilippo essay? Clearly not it turns out.

Several weeks ago St. Vladimir’s Seminary leadership, evidently troubled by the promiscuous use of the seminary’s name and reputation, reaffirmed its fidelity to Orthodox tradition. They wrote:

At their meeting on July 24, 2017, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary affirmed that the Seminary, in its teaching of theology on the issues of marriage and human sexuality, is guided by the document titled, “Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life,” originally issued by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in 1992.

Additionally, during their Semi-Annual meeting on May 19, 2017, the full Board of the Seminary unanimously adopted another statement titled, “Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs Regarding Marriage,” which was also adopted by the Holy Synod in June 2016. The first paragraph of that document states that “The Orthodox Church in America teaches and maintains as a sincerely held religious belief that God has established marriage as a lifelong, exclusive relationship between one man and one woman, and that all intimate sexual activity outside the marriage relationship, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, is immoral, and therefore sin,” and then goes on to cite several scriptural passages upholding that stated belief.

“These two statements, originally issued and adopted by the Holy Synod, provide the public with a clear articulation of the fundamental Orthodox Christian teaching regarding marriage and human sexuality, as well as a recognizable moral guideline,” said Archpriest Chad Hatfield, president of the Seminary.

“And our Board’s recent actions regarding them assure that theological education at our school remains in alignment with the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church,” he continued.

“Moreover,” Fr. Chad concluded, “our Board’s consistent adherence to the Holy Synod’s statements regarding marriage and human sexuality serves as a legal bulwark for the Seminary in matters of religious liberty.”

This is a strong clarification of what might otherwise have resulted in corrosive confusion. Culture arises from faith; religion is the ground of culture. What one believes is how one lives. Cultural deconstruction begins when faith erodes because the weakening of religious faith weakens the foundations of culture. As the erosion increases, cultural forms grow feeble as the traditions that once informed and upheld them fade from consciousness and eventually from memory. Oftentimes this process is aided and abetted through direct attacks on the core teachings that make up the traditions that in turn shape and give content to the cultural forms.

Orthodox culture arises from the Orthodox faith, the teachings that direct us how to live our lives that have been forged in centuries of a human experience guided by men of deep faith and a profound understanding of human nature and the workings of God. They are our teachers. They include the Fathers, Saints, Martyrs, the pantheon of exemplars — a great cloud of witnesses — whom we revere and honor but should also understand and follow.

SanFilippo’s essay is a clumsy but dangerous broadside against Orthodox tradition. Implicitly imputing the sin of sodomy to a preeminent Russian Orthodox theologian weakens the prohibition against sodomy among the Orthodox faithful if his broadside is believed. Change the tradition and eventually you change the culture which is precisely what SanFilippo aims to do. His essay is deadly serious because the sin of sodomy is deadly serious. St. John Chrysostom teaches that sodomy is worse than murder because sodomy kills the soul.

It is not yet clear if the folks at Public Orthodoxy are aggressive deconstructionists of Orthodox culture like SanFilippo. They have not yet clarified why they even published such a sloppy essay (polemics disguised as scholarship) and have yet to comment on the refutation. The most we can conclude at this point is that Public Orthodoxy cannot be considered a serious enterprise.

St. Vladimir’s Seminary is to be commended for their clarification. They understand the cultural implications of the conference and refuse to let the authority of the institution be used in ways that undermine its mission. This is leadership.

Left unanswered however is where the Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) stand on this misuse of ecclesiastical authority. OCA Chancellor Fr. John Jillions participated in the conference and listed SVS seminary as his affiliation where he serves as an adjunct professor, but clearly his position in the OCA bureaucracy is of greater importance. Does he agree with the implicit presupposition of the conference that Orthodox teachings regarding sexuality are malleable? Does he hold to the soft deconstruction of Orthodox culture that Public Orthodoxy’s silence on the SanFilippo essay implicitly advocates?

Moreover, why are the OCA Bishops silent about some of its priests who openly advocate for the normalization of homosexual activity? Why aren’t those priests reprimanded? Fr. Robert Arida is the most notorious because of his essay written several years back that advocated a retooling of the tradition similar to SanFilippo. It’s disingenuous for Fr. Arida and his cohorts to surreptitiously deconstruct Orthodox culture when they could easily join the Episcopal Church since it already believes and practices what they want the Orthodox Church to become.

The OCA Bishops need to clean house. They need to take their place on the shoulders of the courageous men who shaped Orthodox teaching and forged Orthodox culture. All it takes is a modicum of courage punctuated with manly virtue. The SVS leadership provides an example.

Comments

  1. Richard Kendall :

    Fr. Chad Hatfield is a stellar leader of St. Vladimir Seminary. I respect him greatly. I am grateful that the Seminary has upheld traditional Orthodox positions on these matters.

  2. This is why all statements that come from our Bishops need to be well thought out and relevant to the entire situation not just parroting statements found on an progressive nonprofit website.

  3. “If any cleric or teacher in the Orthodox Christian Church advocates for these corrupt ideas, they have betrayed the Orthodox Faith. In their confusion they lead the faithful astray. They are fighting against the laws of God and nature. They are supporting rebellion inside the Church and society. They are not to be trusted. Their revolt against nature is ultimately a revolt against God.” — Fr. Ioannes Apiarius

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2017/08/the-abnormal-cannot-dictate-whats-normal/

  4. Chris Banescu :

    re: “Moreover, why are the OCA Bishops silent about some of its priests who openly advocate for the normalization of homosexual activity? Why aren’t those priests reprimanded? Fr. Robert Arida is the most notorious because of his essay written several years back that advocated a retooling of the tradition similar to SanFilippo. It’s disingenuous for Fr. Arida and his cohorts to surreptitiously deconstruct Orthodox culture when they could easily join the Episcopal Church since it already believes and practices what they want the Orthodox Church to become.”

    Dear Bishops,

    The duty of true and faithful shepherds is to preserve and defend the Christian faith. “We are to defend Christianity itself–the faith preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers.” wrote C.S. Lewis. We cannot add or subtract from the teachings of Christianity based on individual opinions regarding God or man or other timeless tenets of the faith that we may consider difficult or objectionable.

    There are certain lines that Christians, especially priests and Christian leaders, cannot cross and still remain a Christian. In his book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis cautioned that clear boundaries of Christian doctrines must be established and maintained by all who preach Christianity. If such limits are forsaken by pastors, the only honorable solution is for them to change their professions.

    “But I insist that wherever you draw the lines, bounding lines must exist, beyond which your doctrine will cease to be Anglican or to be Christian: and I suggest also that the lines come a great deal sooner than many modern priest think. I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession.” ~ C.S. Lewis

  5. Hans, my brother. You and I both knew Peter in Seminary. He was a deeply troubled man, driven by a narcissistic legalism. I had heard he drove off the cliff in his personal life, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he would still be causing problems. Peter, if you read this, try to see my comment as constructive. Its time to back up and give some thoughtful consideration to Christian Charity.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      Craig, yes, I remember. I didn’t know him well enough to know if he was troubled or not but I recall spending some time with him and it was fine. I lived in the main building and trekking up the hill was not something I did that often unless I had to, mostly to play Monopoly on Friday nights. I remember the dinner in your apartment when Sue came to visit. That was a good evening.

  6. The OCA bishops remained silent about another OCA priest who preached falsehoods that went against the teaching of the Church.

    Second, a respected senior archpriest in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Fr. Alexis Vinogradov of Wappingers Falls, New York, threw down a gauntlet on this issue in July 2011. For a now-defunct Orthodox blog, he wrote an article titled, “New Beginnings in Community: Gender Issues and the Church.” He hoped “to start a conversation . . . because among the Orthodox churches, at least, we do not yet have a common platform for respectful discourse on the complex social issues of our day.”

    But “respectful discourse” quickly evaporated when he began to rail against the “growing appeal and reliance on simplistic and formulaic answers” among many of his fellow Orthodox. “Such a religiosity cannot,” he continued, “tolerate ambiguities, for it attributes the modern moral and spiritual crisis entirely to the disdain for absolutes and certainties. . . . So, we are told that the debate on sexuality must stop, because the indisputable norm is the choice of heterosexual marriage or celibate life in society or in monasticism.” Alert traditional Christians could already spot the Trojan Horse that Fr. Alexis was trotting out, as he subtly began to call for a new, third “norm.”

    Fr. Alexis elaborated in such a way as to remove all doubt concerning his vision:

    Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us. For any member of the human race when that love is not forthcoming openly and easily, when community taboos and fears isolate them away from the family, it is inevitable that their legitimate searching and need will appear as an anomaly to those who have safely passed through the invisible selective screen. The selective culture, society in general or church, will have pushed them to extremes.

    http://www.aoiusa.org/three-trojan-horses-insider-attempts-to-disorient-the-orthodox/

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      There is a measure of truth in Fr. Alexis’ comments. It is true that someone does not necessarily chose their passions. They begin as inclinations and are strengthened as they are indulged. Once the passions grow through indulgence, they affect outlook (the start of the “orientation”) and become habits. Once habituated the passions can be difficult to remove or, more accurately, channel the energy vivifying the passion back into its proper circuits.

      Where Fr. Alexis’ analysis breaks down is that he buys into the fiction that “heterosexual” and “homosexual” exist as distinct anthropological categories. He believes that the homosexual passion is part of one’s created being, put there by God so to speak. That’s why the language justifying the creation of these categories (and the reworking of Orthodox anthropology in the process) shifts to an appeal to the emotions.

      His response is polemical, not pastoral. A pastoral response to the struggle would be entirely different.

  7. James Bradshaw :

    “Implicitly imputing the sin of sodomy to a preeminent Russian Orthodox theologian weakens the prohibition against sodomy among the Orthodox faithful if his broadside is believed.”

    How so? Even if such an accusation happened to be true (I doubt it is), it would not necessarily eliminate the inspiration or authority of their words. The fallibility of the Judeo-Christian Fathers are well known all the way down to the “righteous” Lot. King David was a murderer. According to Talmudic scholars, the promiscuously polygamous King Solomon was one of the 48 Biblical prophets. Both Augustine and St Ignatius of Antioch endorsed the notion that slavery was a God-ordained institution that should not be overturned.

    “St. John Chrysostom teaches that sodomy is worse than murder because sodomy kills the soul.”

    You can murder someone and still remain in a state of grace? Murder doesn’t kill one’s own soul?

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      How so? Orthodoxy is not merely about propositions and theological ideas. It is primarily about culture, which is to say that salvation is apprehended and acquired through communion with others and God. I won’t say more about that here but this point is crucial to Orthodox self-understanding and critical to deeper self-integration and the concrete experience of knowing oneself and God. In Orthodox anthropology — the way we were really created; the way that the soul is structured (and it has structure) — communion, real and concrete interchange between the other (men and God) is the locus, the means, in which salvation occurs.

      The fault in the SanFillipo piece is the slander. It’s an affront to the conscience because it defames a teacher. This too challenges your claim that ideas are disembodied. Fr. Florensky’s ideas can’t be separated from the man. Life does not work like that despite the conceits of some academics. SanFilippo knows this. That’s why he used the preeminence of Fr. Florensky to make his case. SanFilippo used the character and reputation of Fr. Florensky for what amounts to little more than propaganda given the shoddiness of the piece. He didn’t even make the effort to find out if his assertion had any facts to back it up.

      It should also be noted that Public Orthodoxy gave him the forum. That they did not see through the paltriness of the piece and refuse publication indicates what? — It will publish anything? It agrees with SanFilippo’s thesis? It’s just an aggregator of Orthodox essays? We don’t really know.

      I drove a cab for Yellow Cab one summer in Minneapolis. The joke among the drivers was that if you had two arm and two legs and were breathing you could drive for Yellow. At Public Orthodoxy it increasingly looks like that if you can spell, format a paragraph, and throw in a few footnotes, you will get published. Much of the stuff they publish is innocuous. SanFilippo’s preoccupation with homosexuality and his culture warrior orientation however, required that when he implied that Fr. Florensky was a sodomite both he and Public Orthodoxy needed to be called out. Public Orthodoxy had a chance to correct the record when the rebuttal was published but never did.

  8. I fled from a decade long battle in the Episcopal Church to take refuge in Orthodoxy. This is the last best hope of Christianity. Based on what I have learned about the gradual, insidious process of desacralization, I would humbly counsel the bishops to separate from any clergy that softens or twists the moral standards taught by Scripture and tradition. I developed this guide on sexual issues in the church as the result of this protracted battle: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_1PiGE3abiR2hhSUhZZ1pSQW8/view

    • James Bradshaw :

      Bill: What do you make of the fact that Scripture refuses to explicitly recommend punishment for men having multiple wives? King David and Solomon both had numerous wives (really, Solomon had not just multiple wives but many casual “sex partners” labeled simply as “concubines”). Small infractions (such as gathering wood on the Sabbath) were met with the death penalty (Numbers 15:32-36). Wouldn’t it be rational to conclude that if something were an egregious evil, there would be some form of punishment expected?

      • OT law is viewed through the prism of NT teachings which reaffirm the original creation of man and woman (i.e., monogamy) as the moral prototype. This is found in section I of my guide (linked above). The fact that there is no punishment for polygamy and concubineage can mean that it is either moral and therefore permitted, or that it is not moral, but tolerated as in the case of divorce for any cause (“Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted…). Polygamy falls short of the ideal set forth in creation.

        As far as the small infractions you speak of, the OT law has three components: Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial. This division is simplistic (because there is sometimes overlap) but it is often helpful. Under a theocracy the Sabbath laws were strictly enforced as a matter of civil law to preserve the identity, order, and holiness of the community. These laws are not moral laws and did not exist prior to the Mosaic law. nor are they found in the NT. Indeed, Jesus changed the way in which the Sabbath was observed (Mat 12).

        There is no simple equation for drawing moral conclusions from OT law. The nature of the law in question has to be examined first. The most consistent guide to sexual morality is God’s spiritual order for creation which is described in section I of my guide.

  9. Those words about Father Robert Arida are pretty slanderous especially regarding a fellow priest

  10. Francis Frost: I deleted the paragraphs on Russian and Georgia. I know it is important to you but if you want to campaign, start your own blog instead of using the comments section here. The part that I retained below are fair questions and I will answer them in due course. If you disagree with this decision let me know and I will delete the comment entirely. Fr. Hans

    Dear Fr. Johannes:

    You applaud the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Board for upholding the church’s traditional teaching on marriage by their affirmation of the two Statements issued by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. But then you decry that same synod of bishops for failing to make a statement! Has it not yet occurred to you that your complaint is patently absurd?

    Of course, you don’t want a statement. What you want is a scapegoat. You want somebody to be punished, either Fr. Robert Arida for his statement published years ago or Fr. John Jillions for associating with those of whom you do not approve.

    First off all, Dr. Fr. Johannes, unless you are a Presbyterian, you ought to know that presbyters do not issue ultimatums or demands to an entire synod of bishops. I can only wonder what His Beatitude, Metropolitan Joseph, must think of your arrogance and presumption.

    Secondly, Fr. Arida’s statement, which honestly was nearly incoherent; was more a cri-de-coeur of a father torn between his love for a daughter and his duty to the church. I don’t suppose that it has ever occurred to you the Fr. Arida has already been punished enough, has suffered enough; without your judgmental demand for the proverbial “pound off flesh” in order to satisfy your outraged sense of morality?

    You reminded me of the story of one man who read the story of the woman taken in adultery in the Gospel of John. When Metropolitan Antony asked him, “who are you in that story?”, the man replied. “I am the one who would have thrown the first stone.”

    The trouble with our so-called ‘traditionalists’ is not their theology, which is correct. No their fault is in their complete lack of love, compassion or mercy. You don’t want Fr. Arida or his daughter to repent, you want them to suffer and to be outlawed. No doubt you would fault the Eternal Father for taking back his prodigal son. You have forgotten, dear Father Johannes, that you too, are a prodigal son in need of a merciful Father who overlooks your transgressions every day.

    The other problem is that our so-called traditionalists are abject cowards with a selective morality. They are quite willing to denounce sexual sins; but they never denounce the greater sins of political violence, mass murder and ethnic cleansing carried out by the putative Orthodox heroes of ‘traditional morality’.

    Where was you voice of moral reason, dear Father , when tends of thousands of our Orthodox brothers and sisters were slaughtered in their own homes or driven into exile in the three invasions of Orthodox Georgia?

    The rest of the comment (which went on way too long) was deleted.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      No, Francis, I’m not interested in having anyone punished or finding a scapegoat, although the statement by the seminary was good. And yes, I stand by my statement the OCA Bishops need to clean house because they do. That doesn’t make me a Presbyterian though.

      I have some sympathy for Fr. Arida’s personal plight. However, the conflation of the personal into the political (Fr. A and cohorts mirror the dominant zeitgeist in that way) doesn’t clarify much. It is fraught with all sorts of problems and in the end usually the one who shouts the loudest wins. It certainly does not justify the retooling of the moral tradition in the way that he advocates.

      The problem with approaching these issues in this way is evident in your example about adultery. Met. Anthony was right. We are all adulterers. But do we confess or do we retool the tradition to sanction adultery? You have again conflated the personal into the political in this example and it ends up where it always ends up — moralistic shaming and finger wagging. That’s where statements like, “You have forgotten, dear Father Johannes, that you too, are a prodigal son in need of a merciful Father who overlooks your transgressions every day” come from and that, for you at least, appear to carry moral power and authority. They don’t, not really.

  11. I have found Public Orthodoxy to be a forum for intelligent and critical dialog from a number of Orthodox perspectives. It is worth noting that in addition to the SanFilippo article they recently published an article articulating a defense of traditional marriage. The church should not be afraid of dialog.

    • The only appropriate dialog is “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.
      There is no fear in that.

      I have been watching “dialog” since I was young beginning with the coalition governments with the Communists in Central America; the purveyors of sin in the sixties and the assualt on the Protestant assemblies.
      In modernity dialog without repentance is a tool of the evil one.

  12. Both Fr. Arida and Fr. Vinagradov doubled-down on their previous soft-peddling of homosexuality and calls for “dialogue” with active LGBT people (aka: normalization of homosexual conduct within the Orthodox Church communities) by publishing articles in a militantly pro-homosexual and pro-LGBT book For I Am Wonderfully Made”: Texts on Eastern Orthodoxy and LGBT Inclusion just published January 2, 2017 .

    One could infer that the OCA bishops didn’t do a darn thing about correcting or reprimanding these priests, since both are still at it! Several years have passed since their opinions were made known and here they are spreading the same confusion, continuing to disorient the Orthodox Christian faithful and support the LGBT agenda. They continue to use their sacramental priesthoods and “Father” titles to lend credibility to the twisted arguments and false theology that the homosexual activists have spread within the culture at large and are now fighting to drag inside the Church, as Fr. Hans Jacobse warned back in Nov 2014 (see http://www.aoiusa.org/fr-robert-arida-why-dont-you-become-episcopalian/).

    “For I Am Wonderfully Made”: Texts on Eastern Orthodoxy and LGBT Inclusion
    http://amzn.to/2xE5sPe

    The book includes the following chapters (essays):

    Response to Myself. A Pastor’s Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage
    Fr Robert Arida

    New Beginnings in Community: Gender Issues and the Church
    Fr Alexis Vinogradov

    What the book is about:

    In the midst of the culture wars of our broader society, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have become the focus of a spiritual battle within the Orthodox Church. The recognition of LGBT rights in the political sphere has triggered negative ecclesial responses. In the struggle to maintain traditional values and teachings, LGBT Orthodox are denied confession, communion or blessings. Many face exclusion from parish life, and some face physical violence. Roughly half of the essays gathered in this book were first presented at a seminar entitled “Orthodox Theological Reflections on LGBT People,” held 20-23 August 2015 in Finland. The other half represent Orthodox theologians, clergy, scholars and activists writing over the past 20 years. Together they offer an affirming message, urging LGBT Orthodox to proclaim with the psalmist: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14)

    How’s that for chutzpah!

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      This is identity politics. It subsumes any pastoral response into the energy of the dominant zeitgeist and directs that energy into emotional language that portrays all LBGT people as victims. It really is no different than what you hear from Gay INC day in and day out although this crew uses a religious vocabulary.

  13. It is all so simple, it seems to me. Fr. Hans has offered a viable option to those who want the homosexual agenda to be accepted. It will not be accepted in the Orthodox Church if our Church leaders are true to the Faith. The Episcopalians who are diminishing in numbers and need your support welcome you with open arms. Go and be happy, and leave Orthodox teaching alone.

  14. I have followed most of the conversations on this thread. I spent a decade in the Episcopal Church fighting this battle. And while I understand the need for compassion and pastoral guidance, I must also sound a warning here. Those in the Episcopal church who were pushing acceptance of homosexuality did so under the banner of compassion. They used the “stories” of gay men and women to soften the ground, so to speak, in order to prepare the church for full acceptance. Empathy became the slippery slope to gay theology.

    Please understand that I am not accusing anyone here of using such deception. But you need to know the consequences of this approach, whether intended or not.

    • Bill,

      It’s much worse than that. There is no doubt about what the homosexual propagandists want to do to the Orthodox Church. They themselves removed all doubt. They openly declare that “homosexuality is not a sin.” They’re proud of fighting to force the Orthodox Church to tolerate and eventually embrace this. They also want the Church to accept same-sex couples, commune openly gay and homosexually active individuals and same-sex couples, embrace transgenderism, etc.

      Orthodox and Gay
      http://www.orthodoxandgay.com/

      Orthodox and Gay Facebook page
      https://www.facebook.com/gayorthodox/

      Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality in the Orthodox Church
      http://www.orthodoxlistening.com/

      AXIOS – Eastern and Orthodox Gay and Lesbian Christians
      http://www.axios.org/doku.php

      LGBTQ Supportive Orthodox Christians
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/20917659986/

      “For I am Wonderfully Made” : Texts on Eastern Orthodoxy and LGBT
      https://www.facebook.com/notes/bryce-e-rich/for-i-am-wonderfully-made-texts-on-eastern-orthodoxy-and-lgbt-inclusion-updated-/10154817385611195/

      More heretical websites here:
      http://inclusiveorthodoxy.yolasite.com/links.php

      • Centurion, I had no idea there were this many sites. Apparently this issue has followed me from the Episcopal Church! The same language is employed as well: “for us to tell our stories about being Orthodox and gay.” Anecdotes are the tools used to engender empathy and break down resistance to gay theology. Those who openly espouse these views in the church are, according to Scripture, false teachers. The church must respond by offering them the grace of repentance, then, failing that, excommunication. There is no ambiguity here. See section V in https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_1PiGE3abiR2hhSUhZZ1pSQW8/view

        • Bill,

          AXIOS!

          THANK YOU for sharing that resource. I’m going to share it with as many Orthodox Christians as possible. Maybe some of them who manage Orthodox blogs and FB pages will publish it in full or portions of it or use it in other ways.

          This is the kind of work the bishops in North America should REPEATEDLY be putting out as resources and even summarize in more concrete and direct Official Statements redressing the confusion of some priests, clarifying the teachings of the Church being deconstructed by the homosexual activists and refuting the escalating rebellion of the LGBT radicals (Fr. Trenham’s description of these groups).

          None of the bishops in America (or their official spokespersons or staffs) seem to be speaking out publicly or preaching individually and regularly on many of these pastoral and theological topics. Yearly official statements are inadequate given the constant Gay Iconoclasts assault on the Orthodox Church and their defamation of Her right preaching priests, theologians, teachers and apologists. Our priests need to have their bishops leading them and supporting them in this serious war.

          Only a handful of courageous Orthodox priests in America: Fr. Johannes Jacobse, Fr. Josiah Trenham, Fr. John Whiteford, Fr. Alexander Webster are fighting this battle in the public arena, frequently challenging the lies and distortions of the Gay Iconoclasts. There may be others, and I hope they forgive me for not remembering them. (Please add to this list if anyone knows of other Orthodox priests in America who have joined this effort.) They deserve our support and prayers! We need them and the Orthodox Church needs them!

          Gay Iconoclasm: Holding the Line Against the Radical LGBT Agenda
          http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2017/07/gay-iconoclasm-holding-the-line-against-the-radical-lgbt-agenda/

          “This ideology is a cultural and religious iconoclasm. The homosexual political agenda is anti-religion and anti-civilization at its core. There is no precedent in any religion or civilization for defining marriage as between two persons of the same sex or legitimizing same-sex eroticism. Such violent iconoclasm does not just hold in contempt classical religious and political philosophy, but it disdains and it claims superiority over all the great religions of the world, not just rejecting Judaism and Christianity but Buddhism and Islam as well.” — Fr. Josiah Trenham

          AXIOS!

  15. Elijah, it is important for you to know that there are many Orthodox who are not same sex attracted who deeply understand the dynamic that Centurion cites. The world labels us “homophobic”. We are not. We will in fact do what we can to support you in your struggle for it is our struggle too.

    One thing the homosexual debates have made clear to me is how similar the struggle for chastity is for all men. The lonliness we all face because we lack it.

    There are differences to be sure but many similarities. The world will call that a lie.

  16. It seems as though what we are discussing is whether to adhere to the truth, or purport a lie. When one starts with the Orthodox moral tradition, it is obvious that engaging in homosexual sexual activity is a sinful abomination, regardless of the context. That is the truth. If, however, one starts with one’s feelings, which seem overwhelmingly true in some sense since they are being experienced and, in the case of SS sexual attraction, seem compelling, then one seeks to finesse out room within the Orthodox moral tradition to validate that “personal truth”.

    It would be much more simple if upon entering the Church gays simply agreed to cease identifying as gay and accept the fact that, though they may still engage in same sex physical encounters, that this activity falls into the category of sin, then everyone could just move on. But it is the perversion or rationalizing of mutually exclusive propositions that attracts resistance. It is the sort of thing you would encounter if you simply kept insisting that 2+2=5.

  17. Elija,

    I am very late in coming to this thread, so I hope you see this comment. I would like to ask you some honest questions.

    Fr. Arida writes:

    “In the struggle to maintain traditional values and teachings, LGBT Orthodox are denied confession, communion or blessings. Many face exclusion from parish life, and some face physical violence.”

    Now I will admit that I haven’t been everywhere, but I have “been around” quite a bit. Yet I have never – ever – heard of folks such as yourself who struggle with SSA (or even those who, unlike yourself, have actually committed homosexual acts) being denied confession, communion, blessings, or being subjected to physical violence in the context of the Church community. The only things I have ever witnessed that even remotely approach this claim of his is the exclusion of the unrepentant from the Cup (until they strive for repentance) and the obvious refusal of the Church to “bless” same-sex unions. Fr. Arida’s claim thus strikes me as dishonest.

    Has your own experience been different? And if so, how?

    Also, based upon what you have written here, I assume you would agree that one cannot maintain an open resolution to continue in sin while at the same time considering one’s self to a repentant sinner, as all of us (hopefully) are. As a man who finds females attractive I cannot openly identify as a fornicator or adulterer with no intention of repentance and expect to be admitted to the Sacraments. Here, too, I find Fr. Arida’s claim that those who struggle (with emphasis on the word struggle) are ostracized to be dishonest. A priest who subjects illicit sexual behavior of any kind to discipline is simply following the prescriptions set forth for our healing; is he not?

    How is the prescribed exclusion from the Sacraments of any openly unrepentant, obstinate sinner any different from what Fr. Arida claims LGBTs are uniquely subjected to?

    And finally, we are constantly told (quite rightly) that these are “pastoral” issues – things that ought to be (again quite rightly) handled discreetly by one’s priest or Father Confessor. What purpose is served by discussing them in public forums? I can hardly imagine a less discreet and impersonal way of assisting pastors with the challenges of our time. Are these not topics that should be discussed among pastors in the privacy of clergy conferences?

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