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What does the voice tell you?

March 1, 2015

If you tell someone that you hear voices, they will probably want to call the nearest mental health facility in order to have you medically evaluated, admitted and treated. While it may be a favorite symptom of those pleading insanity in a defense trial featured on the TV series “Law and Order”, hearing voices, possibly telling someone to commit a crime or harm oneself, should never be taken lightly. This particular psychiatric disorder, auditory hallucination, is one of the most common mental disorders. With the care of medical professionals, medicine, therapy and support, many people suffering from the hearing of voices can live fairly normal, productive lives. Disregard the medical advice and the person, others, and even society, might suffer the consequences.

While few of us hear voices, many of us hear a single voice, our conscience. Conscience is defined as “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.”[1] Who among us has not heard the voice in our head telling us to take certain actions and avoid others? Who among us has not heard the voice telling us over and over to say or do something, only to ignore it at our own peril? Who among us has not taken up the advice given by our conscience, only to be grateful later because we listened to that voice? That voice or inner sense is seen by many to be the voice of God within us. Conscience is innate, entrenched within us by the “seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[2] That voice, our conscience, can cause us to be compassionate in the eyes of many and completely insane in the view of others. President Obama made this observation about the prophet Abraham, in a 2006 speech.

Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife prepared to act as God has commanded…But it’s fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be.[3]

Clearly the Biblical patriarch heard something that no one else heard. Had Abraham not listened to the voice of God[4], his conscience, the inner voice, history would have recorded a crime instead of a divine revelation.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people hear a voice, their conscience, the voice of God. God tell us that He made us in His own image. We look in wonder at the numerous different types of people: tall, and short, black and white, thin, and fat, brunettes and blondes, blue eyed and green eyed, right handed and left handed, attracted to the opposite sex and those attracted to their same sex. We discover that God has instilled in us the same gift that He has given to everyone, an attraction that has the potential to blossom into a loving relationship. As LGBT people we soon realize that our ability to love and develop relationship is just the same as everyone else’s except that we are drawn to people of the same sex, both sexes or either. We also soon comprehend that many people in the world do not hear the same voice that we hear, the understanding that tells us who we are attracted to, and who we are called to be united with. And yet it is a command of God to obey the voice of God, and to reject the naysayers, because they do not hear what we hear. This is an ultimate test of our faith; it is an act of faith, to go against the mainstream because your conscience, the voice of God within you, dictates that it be so.

“Somewhere beyond the cortex there’s a small voice whose mere whisper can silence an army of arguments. It stands alone in final judgment as to whether we have demanded enough of ourselves and by that example have inspired the best around us.”[5] Listen to your conscience, listen to the voice that tell you God loves you, that God created you in His image. Listen to the voice that tells you to love and be loved by someone God drew you to and to whom you are drawn. Like Abraham, no one hears the voice that you do, take strength from it, obey it, and inspire others to listen to the voice within them. In words of St. Maximos the Confessor, “do not treat your conscience with contempt, for it always advises you to do what is best.”[6]

[1] Dictionary.com

[2] From the holy mystery (sacrament) of Chrismation.

[3] President Barack Obama as quoted in Moral Tribes, Emotion Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene, The Penguin Press, New York, 2013.

[4] Genesis 22:12

[5] From an album by Carli Munoz who attributes the quote to the New York Times.

[6] The Philokalia, volume 2, p. 96. St. Maximos the Confessor, a seventh century theologian, venerated by both the Eastern and Western Churches.

  1. Emil Said,

    Thank you Father Andre for this reflection.

  2. Michael Said,

    Thank you for writing this article, in reflection of your thoughts. However, I disagree. Remember, love between brothers, nor sisters, constitutes homosexuality. The love between a man and a woman- married or not, is the love that all should relay. Sex is not a symbol of love, but of marriage. The love between those that are married and those that are friends- even of the same sex, should also be the love of our enemies. Sex is not a practice of love, but of union. Sex often accompanies emotional states, and vice versa- bit even this is not necessarily proper. Sex is the marriage. Love is merely the duty of every man and woman. There is no such thing as “homosexual love,” nor “heterosexual love.” There is only love. Sex is a practice in which a man and a woman wish to unify themselves physically. For a man to lay with a man can only achieve pleasure and possible emotional sensations. Both of which are belittled by the teachings of our fathers. To be fruitful and to multiply is the purpose of sex, and a proper unification between a man and a woman fulfills this order from our God.

  3. andre Said,

    Michael,
    Thank you for your email and interest in this topic and this website. Please allow me to offer some comments on your words.
    First of all, I am not sure that I understand what you mean when you write: “love between brothers constitutes homosexuality”, certainly that is incest and not what this website is about and not what LGBT Orthodox are seeking.
    Second, I agree with you that sex is indeed a symbol of love and therefore we argue that same-sex couples should be recognized for their love, commitment and devotion and be allowed to be married in the Church because God has already blessed the couple, Those who God created as gay, are not drawn to someone of the opposite sex. Therefore to be married to someone of the opposite sex, if you are gay or lesbian, is a rejection of God’s creation and His plan for you.
    Thirdly, I would agree with you that there is no such thing as “homosexual” love or “heterosexual love”, but only love. When a couple, either heterosexual or homosexual, declares their love for one another, their words are accepted by Christ as a promise to one another. The Church has participated in heterosexual promises, it needs to participate in homosexual promises.
    Next, you write that “For a man to lay with a man can only achieve pleasure and possible emotional sensations.” I would agree IF that man is not in love with that man, but simply satisfying his carnal lusts, then indeed, it is nothing more than a sexual relationship, and is belittled. The same is true when a man lies with a woman, with whom he is not in love. Assuming that you are heterosexual, for you to lie with another man, or a woman you were not in love with, would be only for pleasure and emotional sensations. The same belittling would not be true for you and your wife.
    Finally, your comment that the purpose of sex is to be fruitful and multiply, has been rejected by the Church, otherwise there would be no marriage for people passed the age of conception. As a priest I celebrated the marriages of numerous couples well into their 50s and 60s and even 70s.
    We invite you to pray for the LGBT Orthodox community of faithful and begin to understand us as God made us.
    I bid you peace,
    Andriy

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