By a Handmaid of God

February 7, 2016

A20This week, I met with another local Orthodox priest.

My hope was to find a way to be a transgender family and still be Orthodox. After all, this priest has also known us for nearly 20 years, through our sister church.

Perhaps, I dreamed in the days leading up to our meeting, the parish council could meet, and they would allow us to come to church as ourselves. Perhaps, as a technicality, they would ask that my spouse limit the times she took Communion. Or perhaps, like the sick, the Eucharist would be brought to her once or twice a year at home, yet, as a family, we could still come to church regularly.

The meeting did not go as I had idealized.

Sadly, this priest firmly told me that we were not at all welcome to come to church, presenting as a lesbian couple with children. Furthermore, he firmly admonished, unless I agreed to live life with my spouse as a celibate, I am forbidden the sacraments as well. His theory for that judgment was since I am, in practice, living a homosexual lifestyle, I am in sin and unworthy of Christ’s body and blood.

What kind of Hospital is this? No wonder people stay in the closet… it’s appalling to be stripped and booted and tossed out with a “you and your family our in our prayers, now be gone with you.”

God knows that I have tried.

God knows that in my heart, the rhythm of Orthodoxy beats.

ENOUGH! I will endure no more scourging from this group that says they represent Christ’s fullness.

Where do we see Christ reviling the downcast and brokenhearted?

Where do we see Christ rejecting the seeking?

Is this what our Good Samaritan, who binds up our wounds and anoints us meant, when He spoke to the Innkeeper, “Look after him, and when I return I will recompense you any extra you have spent on him.”?

O Orthodox! I am your wounded!

My and mine find ourselves beaten on the roadside, and you walk by.

You pass me over and abandon me, exposed, in my most vulnerable truth. The truth which we kept hidden: my wife is transgendered. This is who I am. Who my spouse is. Who our family is.

We, within the LGBT community, are just as precious to our Savior.

We are worthy of protection.

Of love.

Of care.

You were not told to make sure I fit your ideal before you could care for me.

You are told to care for me and mine, regardless.

You will be held accountable for your callous hearts.

The Samaritan will return and shall expect to find me whole.

Woe to you for your lack of compassion, Orthodox!

Woe to you for withholding Christ’s very self from me, my beloved, and my children!

Woe to you! I endured an exorcism out of love for you, O Church, and still you cast me away!

Woe to you for not embracing me!

Look at your pride and arrogance and self righteousness.

Stand accountable on the great day of Judgment and beg mercy, Priests, Bishops, and Parishioners, for you saw my face, my tears, my anguish, and still you turned me away.

 

**This reflection follows a previous one written by the same guest author. The first reflection entitled Coming Out to our Orthodox Priest, can be read on this website or follow this link

http://www.orthodoxandgay.com/coming-out-to-our-orthodox-priest

  1. Maria Said,

    Oh, how sorry I am to read this… When I saw this was a reflection from the same woman as last time, I hoped for better news. I’m so so sorry. Your family is in my prayers. Lord have mercy.

  2. andre Said,

    Thank you Maria for your kind words. I will pass them on to the family.

  3. Vladimir Said,

    The words of Our Lord speak judgment on the leaders of the contemporary Orthodox Church: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” – Matthew 23:13 (NIV).

  4. andre Said,

    Vladimir,
    Thank you for words of support. I will pass them on to the family.

  5. Titian Said,

    I am so sorry to read about this kind of treatment by the priests… And my full sympathy goes to the author of the text and her family… Your exclamations of pain and anger are so moving and meaningful and I can fully relate to how you feel… Strangely however, this episode makes me feel reassured in my heart that the Lord truly blesses whoever seeks him sincerely and that the troubles we endure on that path, make us worthy of entering his Kingdom. Rejoice!

  6. andre Said,

    Titian,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I will pass them on to the family. You have struck the right tone, hope and faith in the Lord.
    Blessings of peace,
    Andriy

  7. Marika Said,

    This is so discouraging, and more important, the behaviour of this priest was not Christ-like at all! I very much appreciate the verse Vladimir quoted in this context.

    I am beginning to wonder if I will ever find a parish to feel at home in, despite living in one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world . . . And my situation is not nearly so challenging or so sensitive as yours, Handmaid. Prayers and peace to you and your partner. May you find some solace in your devotion to one another.

  8. andre Said,

    Marika,
    Thank you for your kind words of support. I will pass them on to the family. You are of course right, the priest needed to educate himself and be kind, merciful, compassionate and most importantly, pastoral. We must keep faith. “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”(Matthew 5:11)
    Andriy

  9. James Said,

    I was saddened to read that your search for a home within the Orthodox Church has not yet been rewarded. This must surely be stressful to you and your loved ones. I hope your family continues to find strength in your love for each other and in God’s love for you all.

    It is no doubt small comfort, but perhaps you can come to view this unfortunate rejection by yet another priest as an opportunity to forgive those who can follow the letter of church law but are unable to open their hearts to the suffering humans who stand in front of them. Surely, they know not what they do.

  10. andre Said,

    James,

    Thank you for your kind and supportive words. I will pass your comments on to the family.

    Andriy

  11. Isaac Said,

    How dare the priest tell someone that theyre unworthy of Christ. That is like telling a child that theyre unworthy of their mother’s love. These are the exact pharisees that shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. It’s so unfortunate that they continue to run on the prejudice they were taught.

    Original poster, please know that the love of Christ is real and it is like the ray of the sun’s light in that it shines equally on you, your family, and that priest who unfairly discriminated against you. Do not for whatever reason, do NOT let it harden your heart because as soon as we let our hearts harden, we begin to live a life without love. What will we tell the Lord on the great day of judgement and what account will we give him of our lives, that we lived our lives in vanity? He will perhaps tell us “how petty!” Please don’t lose faith, please don’t lose hope, and most important, please don’t lose love. Do not let your life center on holding grudges for this priest. The soul of this priest is wounded and callused and seeks to spread his poison to others because they know of no other way of redirecting it. These pharisaical clergy CANNOT take Jesus away from your heart.

  12. andre Said,

    Isaac,

    Thank you so very much for your direct, heartfelt and supportive words. I will make sure that the family receive a copy. Please continue to speak the truth to those who need to hear it the most.

    Andriy

  13. Maria Said,

    I’m so incredibly sorry to hear this awful reaction by an Orthodox priest. This is behaviour is by no means done in the Spirit of our Lord. This behaviour is done out of hatred and intolerance. Lord have mercy. The entire LGBTQ Orthodox community supports you. You’re in my prayers.

  14. Nikolai Said,

    You are loved. Pray for me and forgive me my beloved for I was once your Saul, a persecutor of you. Not in deed but in my heart. Who am I tojudge? Are we not all sick and wounded in need of Christs salvation? Forgive me beloved.

  15. David Said,

    It’s a hard subject for me, I am a gay orthodox Christian and luckily my priest allows me to come to church and struggle and pray there. There are things I understand about the orthodox view on homosexuality. But it’s very hard for me to follow. Sometimes we have to drop all of our pride and trust in our holy leaders, even if it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done. The anger and resentment we get is just the devil feeding this to us. We have to learn to fight as gay orthodox Christians and never stop struggling. For the moment we stop struggling, we stop improving in ourselves and we stop trying to reach God. There are many things I’ve learned being a gay orthodox Christian, but there is so much more still to learn…

  16. David Said,

    It’s a hard subject for me, I am a gay orthodox Christian and luckily my priest allows me to come to church and struggle and pray there. There are things I understand about the orthodox view on homosexuality. But it’s very hard for me to follow. Sometimes we have to drop all of our pride and trust in our holy leaders, even if it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done. The anger and resentment we get is just the devil feeding this to us. We have to learn to fight as gay orthodox Christians and never stop struggling. For the moment we stop struggling, we stop improving in ourselves and we stop trying to reach God. There are many things I’ve learned being a gay orthodox Christian, but there is so much more still to learn…

  17. David Said,

    It’s a hard subject for me, I am a gay orthodox Christian and luckily my priest allows me to come to church and struggle and pray there. There are things I understand about the orthodox view on homosexuality. But it’s very hard for me to follow. Sometimes we have to drop all of our pride and trust in our holy leaders, even if it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done. The anger and resentment we get is just the devil feeding this to us. We have to learn to fight as gay orthodox Christians and never stop struggling. For the moment we stop struggling, we stop improving in ourselves and we stop trying to reach God. There are many things I’ve learned being a gay orthodox Christian, but there is so much more still to learn…

  18. andre Said,

    David,
    Thank you for your comment and support of the website. I am struck by your comment that the “priest allows you to come to church and struggle and pray there.” The Church has always been seen as a hospital for those who need and seek the grace and forgiveness of Christ as well as the love and support of His people. The Church is not a museum for saints or those without sin. You, as an Orthodox Christian, have every right to be in the Church. The fact that the Church has condemned gay people for being who God created us to be, is an evil and this type of evil can only be rooted out by prayer and fasting. The struggle is ours to implore Christ and His Mother to change the hearts of the bishops and leaders of the Church.
    I bid you peace and strength,
    Andriy

  19. Maria Said,

    This is a sad story indeed, however I feel for the priest who by allowing parishioners who want to change the stance of the church (for gay marriage and are obviously hostile towards orthodoxy) into the church itself, is in a way feeding the church’s enemies and therefore the devil. We must stand strong in the face of evil and rely on our faith to guide and heal us. Those who want to change the natural morals of the church with morally reprehensible unnatural acts should be kept away, until, that is, they are willing to try and pray for forgiveness and change in their ways. When they are ready for this they should be welcomed into the church, no matter what sins they are committing. To simply enter the church with the obvious intention of change the church’s stance of gay relationships is like allowing the devil in.

  20. Bob Said,

    As a Christian I want to say I do love people. And I went to help people with their struggles, and to help pray for them. But as a follower of Christ and abiding in His word, since He is God in the flesh. He has outlined sin. Sin is sin. Just as fornication is sin, so is homosexual relationships. These are not my words but His words. I know I’m not perfect and perhaps sometimes sin, we all do. But as Christians we should try to remove the sin from our lives. And as a Christian out of love for your soul, I feel I should tell you that your relationship is not approved by God and is classified as sinful. I would say the same to heterosexuals who are having sex outside of marriage. God does not approve of that sort of thing, and many other things. And believe me I’m no saint, but I’m still trying to abide in God’s Word. Please don’t take this as a hateful message that is not my intent. And any person who has struggles like yours I would be eager to pray for. We are not called to remain in sin but are called repent and turn our life over to Christ. And once again if I hurt you it’s not my intent. And I certainly do not hate you, I don’t even know you but I am concerned for your soul.

  21. Christopher Said,

    In response to Andre (Handmaid of God) and in rebuttal to Bob:

    I was both saddened and encouraged, Handmaid of God, by what you wrote. Like you I know the pain of religious rejection all too well. I was saddened that another Pharisee has attempted to shut the door to the Kingdom to another earnest seeker like you but encouraged that you stood convicted of your own truth and your own spiritual integrity! Many others have allowed their misguided religious leaders to twist the Gospel of Christ and wound their souls in the process. The Orthodox Church still has more growing up to do and you played an important role in coming out and challenging a priest to open his heart. I’m so sorry that did not happen but your bravery may have planted seeds that cannot be seen right now.

    Which brings me to Bob’s comments. I’m sure Bob meant well (such rejecting and shaming Christians always do) but there are many arguments of Biblical analysis that easily call into question the six Bible passages that Christians have distorted to condemn people who are sexually and gender-different. The condemnation Bob speaks of are NOT the words of Christ as I’m sure you already probably know. Christ had nothing to say about the matter so clearly didn’t believe it such a terrible sin. There is much written about this biblical analysis and defenses of us LGBT souls by Orthodox and other Christian believers online.

    Just know I will be thinking of you and praying for your continued strength, healing and acceptance. You give hope to people like me also searching for a spiritual home. You are worthy of so many blessings, you and your family. May you find an understanding priests and loving community out there. They are out there but are not always easy to find. I have found such a priest who agreed to offer me chrismation. Whether or not others in the community will accept me as openly remains to be seen.
    In Christ….

  22. Bob Said,

    In response to Christopher, nobody is shaming anyone, and it’s only the sin that is rejected. We are all sinners and can be forgiven. But the God of the Bible clearly states in the Old Testament and the New Testament that same sex relationships are forbidden. You can find it in Leviticus 18:22 and there are other places. Also in the New Testament 1 Corinthians 6:9 clearly states a list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and homosexuals are listed. Again, these are not my words but God’s words and I’m only telling you what God said. You are free to disagree with God, although I wouldn’t recommend it, but you most certainly can. However, to say God didn’t say that or that God approves of this type of relationship is just not the truth. If you believe that, than you are not believing the God who inspired Holy Bible. And as I said, even heterosexuals who have sex outside of marriage ( fornicators) are committing sin and are also listed as those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t mean someone can’t be forgiven for these and other sins, but you do have to give them up. God said if you love Him obey His commands. Christ Jesus didn’t die so people can remain in sin without consequences. He called us to repent and turn from sin. God loves us but we have to love Him back. He made these laws for a reason , you may not like them but it’s His universe. If you don’t like what offends the God of the Christian Bible then maybe you should find a new god who accepts your way of life, instead of say God never said, when He clearly did say.

  23. konstandena Said,

    This is one of the reasons my family and I continue to be spiritual, but no longer part of the Orthodox Church. The hypocrisy is rampant. Money talks and this is evident when a wealthy, influential gay man is given communion every Sunday and another is refused by the same priest. Where is the compassion? Where is the acceptance and love?

  24. andre Said,

    Konstandena,
    Thank you for your comment and support of this website. I understand your frustration and appreciate your vital questions. For many of us the Orthodox Church is our home, it is where we feel the most at home, closest to Christ, in spite of all of the problems and issues the Earthly Church has. Please pray for those who lead the Church, that their hearts will be softened, and hear the truth spoken by her gay children.
    Andriy

  25. Bobby Said,

    “We, within the LGBT community, are just as precious to our Savior.”
    Can someone tell me how the Church should afford bi-sexuals (the “B” in LGBT) having a “B” threesome as a “blessed marriage”?

  26. andre Said,

    Bob,
    While bisexuals have attraction to both sexes, the vast majority also are faithful to one person. Your comment is a misunderstanding of bisexuality. What you are referring to is polygamy, something entirely different. As a gay man, there are times that I am attracted to a woman, that does not mean I want to include a women in my marriage with my husband. We call upon the Church to love the beauty of all of God’s creation and not just those that fit into a very narrow understanding of gender and sexuality.
    Andriy

  27. Bobby Said,

    Andre,
    There is a false assumption in your logic; you consider current nature to be “God’s creation”.
    How much can I stress this, it is NOT.

    Current nature is subject to the illness and the hereditary weaknesses of our original sin; it is surrounded by mortality; it is a product of our human pride and autonomy from God. If this pitiful world is “beautiful God’s creation”, why on earth would Christ spill His blood for us in ultimate agony and pain?

    What Christ loves, what the Church loves, is the unlocking of the human potential (“καθ’ ὁμοίωσιν”) which, sadly, some people in this blog systematically deny. Why do they deny it? Because they love their pride more than they love God.

    A final note – I return the characterisation about “narrow understanding”. If a man is married to a woman, what’s the point of calling any of the two “bisexual”? Just to invent names?
    Christ stressed it is futile to try and change the tiniest bit of our hair; yet some people today preach that transgenderism is ok – and call themselves followers of Christ. THAT is “narrow understanding”, Andre.

    Bobby

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