Acceptance Comes Before Revelation

February 9, 2014

What would it take for the Orthodox Church to officially recognize that God created some people with same-sex attractions?

What would it take for the Orthodox Church to officially recognize that gay people fall in love and desire to live in loving, sanctified relationships?

What would it take for the Orthodox Church to officially recognize that gay people in life-long relationships sincerely believe that God led them to be with their particular spouse?

What would it take for the Orthodox Church to officially accept same-sex relationships and celebrate the commitments made by the couple with the mystery of crowning, in the midst of a church community?

These are just a few of the many questions that this website frequently receives from sincere Orthodox Christians. They are also the questions that this author frequently asks. What would it take for the Orthodox Church to officially change its views on homosexuality, gay people and same-sex relationships? I use the word “officially” because from anecdotal evidence, numerous Orthodox priests and laypeople, especially in the West, already accept this fact, that God made some people gay just as He made others straight. These priests and laypeople work with gay people, are friends with them, and of course, even have gay people in their own family. Priests and laypeople have met, and are even friends with gay couples and see that they are “normal” people that have the same desires, the same troubles, and the same wishes in life that everyone else has. Heterosexuals have come to see the love and commitment that same-sex couples have, is the same love and commitment that straight couples have and share. And so, at what point do these people and their views form a chorus and start to ask the above questions of the bishops? What would it take for the Orthodox Church to “officially” acknowledge the will of God when it comes to lesbian, gay and transgendered people?

These same questions are actually hopes and desires of sincere Orthodox Christians who are either in same-sex relationships or hoping to find a life-long spouse. Usually the questions asked come to this website with stories about people’s lives and the full or partial acceptance and support that they has already been given by family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and even parish priests and fellow parishioners. One person wrote the following to us: “when I told some people from my church that I (a man) was going to propose to X (my boyfriend), they were so happy for me. One woman said that it is shame that the wedding could not take place in the Church. Another, much older woman, immediately said, well, it should.”  Another person wrote to us saying that when the parish priest found out that a parishioner had an anniversary celebrating a 10 year same-sex relationship, he was very upset that he had not been invited to the party. I found it even more interesting that the pastor found out from his wife about the anniversary celebration.

A priest recently wrote to me via the website to say how happy he was to find me after losing contact with me several years ago. Father said that although he had always fully accepted the “official” teaching of the Orthodox Church regarding homosexuality, he would now have to rethink that acceptance in light of knowing me and the deep respect he has for me. I assume that he would have never questioned the “official” teaching of the Church had I not been open about my sexuality and my relationship. On the same note, a former parishioner wrote to me saying that I certainly have caused many people to question their former convictions about gay people and the “official” teaching of the Orthodox Church on sexual orientation.

What would it take for the Orthodox Church to “officially” change its teaching about gay people? Father Alexander Schmemann, the former professor of liturgical theology and dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY (Orthodox Church in America) was renowned for his erudite scholarship, as well for his willingness to confront and wrestle with contemporary issues. Although there are at least one or two places in Father Alexander’s writing where he rejects acceptance of homosexuality by the Orthodox Church, to be fair, Father reposed over thirty years ago. While basic Orthodox theology has not changed, scientific advances in biology, and our understanding of gender have grown by leaps and bounds.[1] No one can know for sure what views the prominent and respected theologian would put forth for discussion today if he were still alive today. However, it is interesting to note that in a work concerning iconoclasm, and the acceptance of the veneration of icons in the Byzantine Orthodox Church, Father Schmemann wrote the following: “But, as is almost always the case in the Church, acceptance and definition preceded “the path of understanding”, experience came before revelation in thought.”[2] Acceptance comes before understanding, experience comes before revelation. Such powerful words describe the path most Orthodox LGBT persons have experienced. Such powerful words describe the experience of numerous straight Orthodox Christians as they came to know, accept, respect and love gay people. They get to know us, they begin to understand us, they accept us and a profound revelation is given to them.

Certainly we cannot expect to change everyone’s mind just by getting to know us and who we are, especially those who have a sincere desire to fully accept the “official” teaching of the Orthodox Church on homosexuality and same-sex relationships. However, it is in our ability to invite people into our lives so that they will get to know us and our relationships. How far would just talking to people about our lives and our marriages go towards acceptance? Imagine if every gay or lesbian Orthodox Christian would invite one straight couple into their homes for coffee or a dinner. How many sincere friendships in Christ might be formed and how many people might begin to question the “official” teaching of the Church and accept the love and direction of Christ? To my LGBTQ Orthodox brothers and sisters, the Lord says “have courage” (Matthew 14:27) If we have courage and faith in Christ to allow others to truly know us, acceptance of us and our relationships by the faithful, the Church, will come and this will lead to a new revelation in the “official” Church. Acceptance comes before revelation.



[1] For example, few could have imagined the mapping of human genome fifty years ago.

[2] Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, Byzantium, Iconoclasm and the Monks, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 3, Fall, 1959, pp. 18-34 http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/byzantiumiconoclasm.html

  1. Laura Said,

    I once saw a priest post on his Facebook page that marriage is “the buddy system for heaven.” The comments section was full of straight people fervently agreeing and describing how marriage has been exactly that in their own lives. It has always struck me as profoundly unfair, then, that those same people want to deny that right (and that happiness) to LGBT people, when their marriages would hurt no one…

    Beautiful post as always. I wish I knew some Orthodox people that felt the same.

  2. andre Said,

    Thank you for your very kind comments and insightful ideas – as always. Indeed you are correct…if only. But if we each change only one person’s mind in the Church, that would be amazing!
    Take care and stay in touch.
    Andriy

  3. Anonymous Said,

    “Homosexuality. The question is not at all whether it is natural or unnatural, since this question is generally inapplicable to fallen nature, in which —and this is the point— everything is distorted, everything, in a sense, has become unnatural… Created to give himself to God, man perverts his nature, his essence, by giving himself to some other thing, by transforming this “other” thing into an idol. Therefore, the point is not in making homosexuals “normal,” or liberating them by agreeing that theirs is a different “life style.” The point is, must be, in the acceptance by a homosexual, as well as by any other human being, of a total appeal, and of an appeal to integrity, addressed by God to each man. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the “thorn in the flesh” which tortures in various ways, but tortures everyone. In the fallen world nothing can be “normalized,” but everything can be saved.”
    The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann

  4. Joshua Said,

    I just want to say thank you for your wonderful website. I am very grateful that you are sharing your writings with the world. Your website has helped my husband come through very difficult times and therefore brought joy and happiness to our lives which will continue to grow for the rest of our lives.
    Thank you.

  5. andre Said,

    Joshua,

    Thank you so very much for your kind words and support of the website. We have indeed created community for those longing for a deeper relationship with the merciful Christ in an Earthly Church that does not fully accept us as God created us. Please know that you and your husband will be in my prayers. Please stay in touch! I wish both of you inner peace and true joy.

    Andriy

  6. Laura Said,

    I also wanted to share with you – last week I had a dream that my whole church was in attendance at the wedding of two men, and I got to see the whole congregation change their minds and open their hearts right in front of me. It was such a beautiful dream I was nearly in tears when I woke up.

  7. andre Said,

    Laura,
    Wow! What a dream. I can only hope that one day your dream will come true. We know that numerous straight Orthodox Christians have friends who are gay and support them, equal rights for them and wish them happiness. They understand, through the powers of love and reason, that we are who we are and who we love because of the will of God. The educated laity understand this, and many priests do so as well, yet are silenced.
    We need to be pray for acceptance and understanding from the Church.
    Please stay in touch.
    I bid you peace,
    Andriy

  8. Robert (Athanasius) Said,

    God did not “create” anyone with a proclivity to alcoholism, gluttony, heterosexual lust or same sex attraction. He created one man and one woman and they were completely whole and uncorrupted.

    But when they chose self instead of God they began to move back to non-existence from whence they came. (St. Athanasius the Great: “On the Incarnation”: Chapter I, sec. 4, v.6.) They were corrupted and their PROCREATED offspring are all corrupted in various ways to various degrees.

    Not one of us were “created” by God. Every single one of us were “procreated” by our biological parents.
    It is a fallacy to claim that God created us the way we are.

  9. andre Said,

    Who gave you the ability to love? Who gave you the desire for a relationship with a woman (I assume that you identify as a heterosexual)? Who will lead you or led you to the altar and be able to receive the blessing of the Church to marry one woman? Did all of this come from your parents or does it come from God? And if something should happen to you or your wife, death or divorce, the Church will then bless your second and even third marriage. Will the wholeness be then broken?
    Again, thank you for your deep concern and attention to this website and my reflections.
    I bid you peace,
    Andriy

  10. Robert (Athanasius) Said,

    Andriy, not one word you wrote in any way even addresses what I said. We retain the image of God even in our corrupted state, so of course we retain the ability to love. But our nature is corrupted and gives rise to the passions.

    The first (and only) created man did not suffer from the passions – until he chose his own self-will instead of God. He then was corrupted and could only produce corrupted offspring. Every human being since the first man is procreated – NOT created. As a result we (you and I) are ALL corrupted in some way and to varying degrees. God did NOT “make us the way we are”. Adam did.

    I do not know what it is like to suffer the corruption of my nature by same-sex attraction, and I’m not here to judge you. Christ will judge the world and everyone who ever lived – and He doesn’t need my “help”. I can only imagine that it is powerful and affects you deeply.
    But I cannot tell you that embracing your particular corruption is acceptable for that is destructive.

    The Church doesn’t withhold the chalice as a punishment but as a protection. We all have need of repentance and saying that God created us to be alcoholics or adulterers or even homosexuals is false.
    And supposing that a committed, monogamous homosexual “marriage” sanctifies corruption is also false.

    If my wife dies before I do, or (God forbid!) she should leave me I will live out the remainder of my life in celibacy, hopefully as a monastic. Try reading the work of Fr. Seraphim Rose; he struggled with the particular corruption of which you are afflicted.

    I offer you my prayers and will pray for God’s mercy and blessing in your life.

  11. andre Said,

    Dear Robert (Athanasius),
    I am a bit confused. You say “We retain the image of God even in our corrupted state, so of course we retain the ability to love. But our nature is corrupted and gives rise to the passions.”
    And so I would ask you, if we retain the ability to love, is your love for your wife corrupt? When you make love to your wife, is it an act of corruption? Do you believe that God led you to your wife? Do you believe that God blessed your marriage or is the marriage a marriage of only passion and corruption? When you embrace your wife, is it an act of destruction?
    Gay people do not suffer any corruption of nature, in that God gave us this nature. He gave us the ability love and be loved by some of of the same sex. For what ever incomprehensible, but divine plan, the Lord God created us as such. Who God created us to be or love is not an affliction or corruption, but the manifestation of the work of God.
    I bid you peace,
    Andriy

  12. Robert (Athanasius) Said,

    You are definitely confused but most likely know exactly what I meant.

    My love for my wife is indeed corrupt because it is often focused on self. And yes, every sexual act between us has involved some measure of lustful concupiscence so it is also corrupt. And the fact that I see other physically attractive women and have impure thoughts is further proof of my corrupted nature.
    And were I afflicted with an attraction to other males it would signify a far greater level of corruption within my nature than the present level.

    Adam gave us the corruption of which we are all afflicted – not God. The first and only created man was most certainly not “given” this nature of same sex attraction that you claim. Even in his corrupted state he united himself with the first created woman to produce offspring.

    If God in the very beginning gave some men this “nature” of same sex attraction, and was willing to bless such unions, why then did He not only hide this “gift” from the Hebrew prophets, but condemn such as unnatural and perverse? And if the Hebrew prophets got this wrong, and Christ was who He said He was, God Incarnate, why didn’t He clear this up with His Apostles?

    If every ancient man with this “gift” of same sex attraction had been blessed to “marry” another man with the same then we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you wouldn’t be here.
    Nor would any other homosexual. Everything reproduces after its own kind. If two heterosexuals procreate a child with same sex attraction that is proof that their nature was already corrupt.
    Are you a creationist or a traducianist as regarding the origin of human souls?

    Now to wax theological: what does Orthodoxy mean to you? Is it something to be changed? Or is it something to be followed and obeyed.

    You claim that the Orthodox Church is not only currently in grave and profound error on the most basic matter of human sexual morality, but has been so since the Day of Pentecost. If that is so, then She does NOT have the truth and salvation is not to be found in Her. So why would you desire to stay?

    I have a clear choice: I can believe the teaching of the thousands of Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church who not only lived holy lives of deep repentance before God but bore witness to it – even to the shedding of their own blood, OR I can believe Andriy, a confused homosexual who is distraught that he cannot be blessed by the Church to marry a man, or receive the chalice unless he admits his error and repents.

    I will follow the Church of the Holy Fathers.

    Luther came to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic church was in grave error – and he left it.
    My advice to you is (a) either repent of your “calling” and submit yourself to a life of celibacy as have countless numbers of Orthodox before you, or (b) have the integrity to leave the Church and go where you believe the truth may be found.

    The Orthodox Faith is guarded by the canonical bishops of the Orthodox Church and is to be received – NOT subjected to a vote of the lesser clergy or the laity. Make your case directly to them: begin a letter campaign and continue until you have received a response from every canonical Orthodox bishop in the world. And if you fail to convince them – then leave the Church in peace, cease the propagation of discord and live your life quietly outside the public stage.

  13. andre Said,

    Robert (Athanasius),
    Thank you for your email. It is interesting how you view your marriage and attraction to your wife, I am not sure that many couples would view their marriage in the same way. You write: “And were I afflicted with an attraction to other males it would signify a far greater level of corruption within my nature than the present level.” Of course this would cause a greater level of corruption, because you were not created with an attraction to men. It would be as corrupt for you to have relationships with men as it would be for me to have relationships with women; it would be unnatural!
    God did not give the Hebrew prophets numerous gifts; the knowledge that the world was round, the existence of the New World; the concept of DNA etc. They are prophets, not God.

    Your statement of: “If every ancient man with this “gift” of same sex attraction had been blessed to “marry” another man with the same then we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you wouldn’t be here. Nor would any other homosexual. Everything reproduces after its own kind. If two heterosexuals procreate a child with same sex attraction that is proof that their nature was already corrupt” is absurd on its face. I can assure you that my father and mother are heterosexuals and yet they produced three sons, only I am gay. There is no science whatsoever behind your statement.

    Is everything that claims to be Orthodox to be obeyed. There are numerous vagante bishops and priests claiming to be Orthodox, are they? When the Patriarch of Moscow blessed Stalin, was he Orthodox? When the Russian Church had a memorial service for the dead leader of N, Korea, was that an Orthodox act? Of course, not. There is no consensus on numerous things that claim Orthodoxy, not the least of which is an understanding of neuroscience, biology, DNA and sexual orientation.
    While I thank you for your advice, I will continue to love and live with my husband, who God led me to, and blessed my relationship in an Orthodox ceremony, led by a canonical Orthodox priest. If you are called to a life of celibacy, I wish you well.
    Also, I find it interesting that you a layman, is telling people to leave the Church. Would Christ throw anyone out of His Church?
    I truly wish you a blessed lent,
    Andriy

  14. Robert (Athanasius) Said,

    Would you please provide detailed theological sources for your statement that god gave you a nature of same sex attraction? I’m very interested in knowing the theological basis of your claims.

    Are your parents sinless? Were they conceived in some supernatural manner? If not, how can they possibly be human beings without corrupted natures, unless in your mind no such thing as sin exists and there is no such thing as the Fall of man.
    You stated that your parents were both heterosexual and yet they procreated two heterosexual sons AND YOU who claim to be by nature homosexual. Thank you for proving EXACTLY what I said!
    Your parents are fallen human beings with corrupted natures (just like mine) OR ELSE THEY WOULD NOT HAVE PRODUCED YOU. Do you actually believe that the procreation of a male physiology with a female personality is the product of two uncorrupted natures?

    Your statements above are convoluted, disingenuous twisting of words. It is almost impossible to have a reasonable, rational conversation with someone who assigns his own meanings to words, phrases, terminology and either cannot understand or refuses to accept the plain meaning of concatenated sentences.

    You find it “interesting” that a “layman” is “telling people to leave the Church”.
    I told you to repent and accept the solution offered by the Church, a solution accepted by countless millions of Orthodox Christians for more than two-thousand years; failing that, I asked – not told – why you wanted to remain even a nominal member of the Church when She is in grave and profound error on the most basic matters of human sexuality? More disingenuous spinning and twisting by Andriy.

    You offer no specific defense of your beliefs that in any way to any degree are supported by any Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Everything you say is based upon emotional appeals. You either learned nothing in seminary or reject anything once learned that argues against your private belief.

    I have read extensively concerning DNA, including the studies provided by Hamer, LeVay, Bailey and Pillard. NONE of these studies are conclusive. Hamer’s study is extremely controversial due to the dishonesty involved in his suppression of data that would have invalidated his claims. LeVay’s “study” is nothing less than farcical junk science, and the work by Bailey and Pillard is based on subjects recruited from gay and lesbian publications – NOT the general population. Their claims are meaningless, except to indicate that environmental factors play a large role in determining sexual orientation.
    No one has found a “gay gene”. But you don’t need any conclusive evidence because you just “know” that “god gave you this nature” .

    You are afflicted in your nature with a most difficult condition, perhaps the most difficult that any human being can face. God loves you, Andriy, and Christ died to bring you life everlasting. Even if you backslide and fall every week for the rest of your life He can and will forgive you. All you need do is accept the truth of your condition, stop calling it a “gift from God” and ask for His help to obey the Apostolic Faith. If you are willing to do that His mercy is limitless.

    What I fear is you’re so deeply in the grip of this passion that nothing anyone says can penetrate your psychological barrier.

  15. andre Said,

    Robert (Athanasius),
    Enjoy the flat world. I will take refuge in hope Christ God and the love of my husband. I truly bid you peace.
    Andriy

  16. Petrus Said,

    Andre,

    You are trying to bring light to the blind with this “Athanasius” person.

    He will not accept that you are fine and God made you as you are because it would disturb his sense of self-righteousness and superiority.

    You cannot save him, because he is already in Hell and locked the gates behind him. Look at how he says your straightforward arguments are “twisted” and will accept no answer that doesn’t come from sources of his own choosing.

    Don’t waste your time on burying the dead.

  17. Robert (Athanasius) Said,

    Andre,

    I have no “sense of superiority” and the only “righteousness” I have is whatever grace Christ bestows upon me. My personal “righteousness” is nothing but filthy rags.

    I am not “in Hell” because you and Andriy are in delusion and denial. I’m only showing true concern for your spiritual welfare and everlasting destiny.

    Andriy claims to be Orthodox. When one makes that claim he must back up his arguments with Orthodox sources, and only those which are Canonically Orthodox, and THAT means Canonical Bishops of the Canonical Orthodox Church – not any rebellious, suspended priest who claims to be “Orthodox”.

    I won’t waste any more words on Andriy or on you. The two of you may have the last word here on this thread.

    But Andriy knows that the very last word on all of this will be had by the Word Himself.

  18. Vel Santic Said,

    The commenter Robert (Athanasius) starts off first equalizing a mere same-sex attraction with alcoholism, gluttony and the lust (not attraction, but lust) of heterosexuals and then goes on saying that he’s not here to judge (even though he already grossly did) but Christ will, but in the very next sentence he again judges same-sex sttraction as destructive. The said commenter has deeply confusing understandings of “corrupt natures” of which he ascribes a part of them to himself too, but conveniently for himself he created the rigid hierarchy of corrupt natures in which his is like pardonnable and acceptable as is heterosexual, while the homosexual one- is totally out of the league, according to him. Typical heterosexISTIC schematization and mental self-gratification even when or if not outright admitted as such. Needless to say that it’s observable that Robert (Athanasius)’s presentations of corrupt natures are abutting on contradictions, even from the aspects of christian orthodox onthology, as it is totally unconcerned with presence or lack of harm. Even if Robert (Athanasius)’s notion of “corrupt natures” is equalized with notions of sin, it’s clear that the said commenter purposely misunderstands i.e. twists and distorts Andriy’s points as Andriy nowhere denied the inherent sinfulness of every human being indeed procreated on after Adam, well, one of the strongest messages of Christianity is that Christ had died for human sins. But the Holy Spirit gives us reason and mind to discern the human sins which are inalienable part of human nature and in which, for example, 3 adult human consensual sexual orientations fall: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual that don’t per se cause harm to others or to oneself and are inalienable part of (fallen, corrupt) human nature, as opposed to the inhuman, satanical sins that explicitly cause harm, danger, death, pain (for example, murders, rapes, tortures, thefts… but also lies, distortions, hypocrisy, injustices, stereotypes, prejudices, self-righteousness… hear, hear oh Robert (Athanasius)). To somebody who is indeed on a more studious level even only familiar with the basics of christian ethics, these notions shouldn’t even have to be explained…just like it shouldn’t even have to be explained that Andriy’s claim of gays also been created in the image of God is only symbolic reply congruent with standard christian phraseology of all humans created in the image of God onto which Robert (Athanasius) most probably never jumped to attack when routinely uttered by church officials, but if someone dares to include gay human beings in all those humans created in the image of God, oh hell obviously breaks loose in Robert (Athanasius)’s head which is just another indicator of Robert (Athanasius)’s sad homophobia and heterosexISM. Then, Robert (Athanasius) explicitly goes into church-ideological-ultraconservative-political pursuits of trying to intimidate Andriy and chase him out of Christian Orthodox spiritual realm. Stifling and shutting Andriy’s voice up becomes the main mission of Robert (Athanasius)’s activity here. And in that pursuit, Robert (Athanasius) lays down orders, commands and conditions, nearly, threats to Andriy. Typical. In that pursuit of his, he i.e. Robert (Athanasius) fails to see that his attribution of properties to cannonical fathers totally resembles pharisees’ claims about themselves and the religion that Jesus was accused of undermining, just like Andriy is accused of by Robert (Athanasius). Typical, also, modus operandi of religious heterosexists and antigays. Then in 14. Robert (Athanasius) goes back on to purporting the earlier points of “corruptedness” essentially misunderstanding, rather, purposely misinterpreting Andriy’s expressions of God’s gifts, so, Robert (Athanasius)’s circle of clustershagging this topic comment thread goes rolling all over again like it started all the while ascribing his own traits of disingeniousness and twisting of words to Andriy and he i.e. Robert (Athanasius) starts losing even more of composure as he resorts in implicit name-callings to Andriy. Then, repeats the other part of the same cycle of church-ideological based attempts of intimidating Andriy into leaving Christian Orthodoxy, then stumbles on attempts of lashing out at DNA studies about the inborn nature of homosexuality totally misrepresenting and distorting the conclusions how it supposedly “isn’t’ something persons are born with. Then, Robert (Athanasius) attempts to ABuse, just like what “psychiatrists” in Stalin times did or inquisition agents of Middle Ages did, the psychological games of suggestion how Andriy and gays are afflicted with most difficult afflictions and like sadistically peering into the eyes (like he said, penetrating…) of the target with those offensive suggestions he hopes Andriy and gays will succumb like hypnotized into admitting so. All that wrapped in the most hypocritical, inquisition-like pretending of prayer…. And then, I guess, out of the rabid state he fell in, Robert (Athanasius) can’t discern which is Petri and which is Andriy so he addresses Petri as Andriy with additional hypocrisy, then, personal and general antigay insults (“gays are in delusion and denial…” typical) and AGAIN goes back onto church-ideological-ultraconservative-political pursuits of trying to intimidate Andriy and chase him out of Christian Orthodox spiritual realm, spicing it up with additional personal insults to Andriy. And all that, only to finally shut up because the Last Word is anyways God’s. And, had Robert (Athanasius) genuinely believed that the last word is God’s, he wouldn’t have done all this he’s done but he would have left it to God, much sooner and earlier.

    Wow, Robert (Athanasius), you certainly did employ variety of methods of attempts of abuse in communications here, religious-ideological and political antigay right can surely be like proud with you, notwithstanding that you, just like those that more or less agree with you, only showed the elementary confusion and lack of solid knowledge of the faith you claim to have and know about. About your desperate attempts to provoke to get Andriy out of tact and your Robert (Athanasius) particular type of trolling here, not even to spend much more words.

    @Andriy, Dear Andriy, may God bless you, I found with God’s help this site and I am thankful.
    Keep up unabashedly the great Inclusive and God and Justice-Loving Christian Orthodox work!

  19. andre Said,

    Vel,
    Thank you so very much for your very erudite, thoughtful and sincere comments to Robert as well as your defense of me. The website does get a fair amount of such emails and comments and yet we receive many more that thank us for this simple ministry of support and understanding. Please stay in touch. I bid you peace and joy in this season of contemplation of the Crucified and Resurrected Christ.

  20. Anonymous Said,

    Although I was initially drawn into the Orthodox Church by its scholarship, reading theological treatise, and erudition, why I eventually chose to be christened and join the Orthodox Church was because of the profound sense of prayer I experienced in the church during services.

    I spent many years considering a monastic life, before and after joining the Orthodox Church. I prayed about it and hung out in monasteries for years. I wrote much revered Orthodox scholars and mystics in the Church, all of whom suggested the life of celibacy for me. I was terribly torn because I came to understand that I was not called to the monastic life. The only reason I wanted to be a monk was because I was gay and wanted to be accepted as an Orthodox person, continue attending church and be treated like any other member of the Orthodox Church. I wanted the easy way. I would be accepted as a gay monk in the Church.

    I learned to hate myself. I was disowned by my family when I came out as gay, long before I joined the Orthodox Church. I was criticized by people in the gay community for wanting to be a part of a church that despised and harmed me. My prayer life was so important to me. I love God and prayed the Jesus prayer, but my desire for companionship with a man never went away. Suicidal thoughts besieged me. My love for God has never wavered. My self-hatred, because of my sexuality, became overwhelming. I had to stop, stop, stop, Everything! Except praying, I never stopped praying.

    I am surrounded now by people who love me and have been helping me to learn to love myself. I go on an occasional date every now and again thanks to social media sources. Some find me quite amusing dating men and not having sex by the first date or second or third! I am still an Orthodox Christian, though I have not attended church in a long while. I would like very much to go to the nearest Orthodox Church, but the area in which I live is as extremely socially conservative as the deep South. I am too fragile emotionally to attempt to go to an Orthodox Church anyway. The question of whether or not I am married or have kids will inevitably arise and I can not deflect the conversation without feeling as if I am lying. Eventually I will have to say that I am gay and I don’t think I can handle the emotional strain that will have upon me.

    Thank you.

  21. Elayna Said,

    My parents were both first generation Russians. I grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church in upstate NY. My parents both died when I was 25 years old and I have not been to church since. I am now in my late 50’s, I have been with my wife for 17 years. We were married 2 years ago by a local Mayor. I truly wish I could return to the Russian Orthodox Church. I miss the beauty of the Church and the service brings peace to my soul. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I went to confession and admitted to the priest that I not only tried to commit suicide in my last 20’s but, that I’ve accepted myself as God made me and have married my life partner – my wife. I didn’t leave my Church, it left me! Thank you for this site!

  22. andre Said,

    Dearest Elayna,

    Thank you for your email and kind words of support. It means a lot to me and this ministry. Congratulations on your wedding, after 17 years – amazing! My husband and I were married last year after 13 years together. These stories abound.
    Your words about the Church leaving you are true. Many Orthodox Christians who are LGBTQ feel the same way. This website receives numerous emails like yours of people wanting to be part of, or go back to the church, and yet feel like the Church has abandoned them for who God made them to be.
    What you feel about he Church is pure – it comes from God, your upbringing and your inner soul and conscience. I would not let that expire, let it re-ignite and perhaps flourish again. Find an Orthodox Church which feels right. It may take a longer drive, but you will know it when you feel it. My suggestion is not to trust the priest immediately with all of your information. Take some time. You have already made your confession to God, other people (your wife and friends probably – even me) and so the Lord has forgiven you. The next steps will come in time.
    I do wish you are your wife much happiness. I bid you inner peace and true joy.
    Please stay in touch!
    Andriy

  23. Bob Said,

    http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2012/marriage-and-moral-crisis

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Recently, the public discussion about marriage and about the propriety of its redefinition has once again become prominent. It is a discussion that is certain to continue for a long time yet. In light of this, the Assembly reaffirms the ancient and unchanging teaching of the Church and invites the faithful to read the important statement below, issued by SCOBA in 2003 and as relevant and binding today as when first published.

    SCOBA Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation

    Wednesday, August 13, 2003

    As members of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), representing more than 5 million Orthodox Christians in the United States, Canada and Mexico, we are deeply concerned about recent developments regarding “same sex unions.”

    The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.

    Holy Scripture attests that God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31), that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation. While not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of “one flesh.” This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. “God made them male and female … So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8).

    The union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). As such, marriage is necessarily monogamous and heterosexual. Within this union, sexual relations between a husband and wife are to be cherished and protected as a sacred expression of their love that has been blessed by God. Such was God’s plan for His human creatures from the very beginning. Today, however, this divine purpose is increasingly questioned, challenged or denied, even within some faith communities, as social and political pressures work to normalize, legalize and even sanctify same-sex unions.

    The Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions. Whereas marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This being said, however, we must stress that persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.

    As heads of the Orthodox Churches in America and members of SCOBA, we speak with one voice in expressing our deep concern over recent developments. And we pray fervently that the traditional form of marriage, as an enduring and committed union only between a man and a woman, will be honored.

  24. andre Said,

    Bob,

    I thank you for your comment on the website. I do have to disagree with you when you write that there are ancient and unchanging teachings of the Church. To name just a few: the acceptance of the Western Paschalia of the Church of Finland, the “revised” Julian calendar in use by the Church of Greece and many in the diaspora, the uncanonical state of the Churches in the “barbarian lands” – North and South America, allowing the marriages between Orthodox Christians and Protestants – unknown in canon law…. I could go on and on with volumes of changes the Church has accepted without official decree in the area of the mysteries, theology and pastoral practice.

    And so, as the Lord reveals His wonders through science and other study, the Orthodox Church will see that God in His wisdom created gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in His image. The LGBT community knows this already, we await for the Church to catch up.

    I bid you peace,

    Andriy

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