November 25, 2012

 

The 2012 Presidential election in the United States was particularly divisive and malevolent. It has also had some tragic consequences, everything from states petitioning to succeed from the United States to at least one individual committing suicide.  The election process and subsequent re-election of the President has even caused some sad effects upon personal relationships.

A few days after the election, I pulled into the parking lot of a coffee shop and saw a men getting out of a Mercedes SUV. On the rear bumper he had the Christian fish symbol (Ichthys) and a Romney for President bumper sticker. My first reaction was one of anger and disbelief. How can a man who drives a car that costs over $70,000 profess to the follower of a poor and homeless man, Jesus, who called upon His followers to give everything away and follow Him? I am not sure which was more infuriating for me, the Romney sticker or the Christian symbol on a car that costs more than I make in almost two years. A few days later I went out for dinner with a female colleague from my school. While I teach at a Christian school, I am out to the administration and all of the faculty members whose reaction to my being gay ranges from indifference to full acceptance. I was surprised to learn that this friend of mine had voted for Romney for President. I took it personally. How could a friend of mine vote for a candidate who did not view me as a citizen with full and equal rights? Indeed Romney was not very supportive of the rights of LGBT people, in particular he did not support my rights as an American to marry someone of the same sex. My choice would forever be under the cloud of illegality under a Romney administration who might have had the chance to nominate several Supreme Court justices which would have had even further negative consequences for me as a gay man and for my same-sex relationship. I immediately began to re-think my friendship with this person and question whether we could ever be as close again. 

What these two situations have in common is my quick nature to judge. Without even knowing the man in the parking lot, I was very quick to judge his affluence and how he spent his money. For all I know the car with the Christian symbol and Romney sticker might not have even been his. I certainly did not know what he did with the bulk of his finances. But I was very quick to assume a myriad of uncharitable things about him. The same goes for my friend, who I was so quick to judge. Her vote was not a direct attack on me but her personal decision based on what were for her, rational criteria. For a man who spent much of his priesthood preaching against judgmental people and encouraging his parishioners to remove “the wood beam from their own eye before taking the speck out of their neighbors eye (Matthew 5:7), I was certainly not following my own advice nor the edict of our Lord.  The last few years in particular have found me calling upon others not to judge my sexual orientation or my relationship and yet I am still so quick to judge the ideas, actions and intentions of people, especially of those I do not know as well as those I care deeply about. That is not right.

This is exactly what LGBTQ people who are Orthodox Christians want from the Church. Yet still, the Church judges us because they do not know us.  The Church has not taken the initiative or the time to understand Orthodox Christians who are LGBT. Within the walls of an Orthodox Church we were warmly received into the life-sustaining faith. Whether through the mysteries of holy baptism and/or chrismation, the sacred invocations of the priest gave us the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we might live our lives fully as people called to emulate the teachings of Christ. What we need from the Church is not to be judged for our nature, for who God created us to be, for He created us “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14). What we need from the Church is acceptance of our humanity, not our fallen humanity, but our God created humanity as gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. What we need from the Church is the acceptance of our choices to love and be loved in relationships which are sanctified in the mystery of holy crowning. Just as I and many LGBTQ people confess their sins daily, especially the sin of judging, it is time for the Church to confess that she has judged us on this issue without cause.  Christ is already present in the lives of LGBTQ people and He has already presided at our same-sex weddings, as He did at Cana in Galilee. Christ judges us for our sins and not our orientation which He created, and it is time for His Church to do the same.

  1. Rachel Said,

    Thank you for this, it’s beautiful. And so true.

  2. andre Said,

    Thank you Rachel for your comment and support.

  3. Noel Warren Said,

    Thank you Andre. I have just reread the references to sodomy in St Paul’s letters. Depite recent attempts to take into account the culltural context , translation and the intepretation that Paul is refering to sex outside a loving union and not specifically agaist sodomy, I would have to say the letters are quite clear. Sodomy is sinful. You and me are forgiven but we must go and sin no more. The question for me is, did Paul get it wrong and, if so, what else did he get wrong? Obviously he got it wrong about women too. If the Church considers Paul’s letters as the Will of God then they are not going to change. They cannot.
    The Old Testament laws against sodomy can be disregarded because Jesus brought a new dispensation and the Church believes the choices it has made about which laws to continiue to apply and which not to have been guided by the Holy Spirit. It maintained the law forbidding sodomy. I do not think we stand much of a chance with the Church. We have to seek Jesus in a different way. Apostates as we are!! Noel.

  4. andre Said,

    Noel,

    Thank you for your comments. Considering the exact definition of sodomy, do you believe that a heterosexual couple that practices sodomy is also committing a sin? I simply refuse to believe that St. Paul was taking about specific sexual acts. You ask what else Paul got wrong? What about his comments on how shameful it is for women to cut their hair (I Corinthians 11) or for a man to have long hair. Where are the preachers today recommending hair styles and hair lengths to Christians? Anyone preach with scissors? When two people of the same sex are in a loving relationship and choose to express that love sexually, it is blessed by God. He made us LGBT and also gave us the capacity to love and be loved and that includes expressing it in a sexual way. Depending on your definition of apostasy, many saints of the Church would be considered apostates and although I do not consider myself an apostate, if I am, I am in good company. I am an Orthodox Christian.
    Andriy

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