Who could love me?

December 15, 2013

 

tessagroves.wordpress.com

tessagroves.wordpress.com

Who could love me? What a very sad question. Who could love me? Of all the challenges and difficulties that we face in this world, we should all have someone to love and someone who loves us. But the question, who could love me, is one that lesbians and gay men face in a particular way and under specific circumstances. Growing up, the teenage boy or girl begins to realize that they have different experiences from those around them. For adolescent boys this can be particularly traumatizing when the words “fag” and “gay” are used frequently to cut someone down, to ridicule and ultimately to dehumanize. Causing even more damage are the adults in the life of the young person, who hear the insults and do nothing to stop them, or refuse to educate those who use such dehumanizing and painful language. Although now there are several positive gay role models in the media, and a significant amount of information is available on the internet for the LGBTQ young person, navigating the mixed messages from parents, siblings, family, friends, school, church and society is a minefield. This is especially acute when the parent or family member, the teacher, or pastor tells you that as someone who is gay or lesbian, or transgendered, you should not love, you should not seek love, or you are incapable of love, and that no one will ever truly love you, since such love is reserved for heterosexuals. What is even worse is when the younger person is told that changing into a heterosexual is possible with therapy, prayer, or some dangerous and unethical treatment.

Is this not the damaging message of the Orthodox Church to those of us who are gay? Who could love you? The answer of the Church is “no one should”! In numerous circumstances the LGBT person begins to believe that there is no one person who could love them as they were created. Every person needs someone in their life to tell them they are special and very deserving of love. God is the ultimate who loves us and loves us unconditionally. He has set the example of a forgiving, all-encompassing, faithful love we should have for others. The theology of  the Orthodox Church expresses that we are drawn and united to one other person in order to strengthen our faith as well as the faith of our spouse. The bond is a holy one and is sanctioned and celebrated in the Church within the community, as a mystery. And yet the lesbian or gay Orthodox Christian is told and reminded over and over again by the Church that there can be no love, no sacrament, no intimacy, no helpmate, no life partner or sojourner for us. And so we take that message and look in the mirror and ask the question – who could love me?

Recently the popular Orthodox writer and educator Frederica Mathewes-Green has started to think about and offer her views on gay marriage on her blog. Because she is well known as a commentator for National Public Radio, as well as for her numerous books, her views receive a considerable amount of attention from the Orthodox and non-Orthodox world. As the wife of a priest and a convert to the Orthodox Church some twenty years ago, her ideas carry a certain amount of weight in the English speaking Orthodox community. In a series of posts on the topic of gay marriage on her blog[1], Mrs. Mathewes-Green makes the following statements:

-“Our deepest hunger is for the love of God; to know for sure that God love us and is with us. I believe that gay sex damages a person’s ability to register that love and perceive that presence.”

-“The resemblance between ‘gay marriage’ and hetero (sic) marriage can never be more than skin deep (literally).”

-“At this point, there is nothing new that can be said, nothing that could actually inform popular opinion.”

Who could love me? According to Frederica Mathewes-Green, no one should or could. Case closed.

It is distressing and damaging to gay and lesbian people to hear from a person with some authority in the Church that the intimacy they crave, the love they desire to share, and the partner they long to have is damaging and superficial. That message is also a deadly lie, for it goes against what God Himself desires for us. Numerous LGBT Orthodox Christians have sincerely attempted to live celibate lives, staying within the parameters set by the ancient laws of the Church. Through much prayer, fasting, and by paying close attention to our God given and inspired conscience, we have come to the truth that God Himself molded us with a sexual orientation towards people of our own sex. We have also come to the sincere conclusion that to live without love and intimacy from one special person is damaging and even dangerous to our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.

I pray that Khouria[2] Frederica Mathewes-Green will not consider the case of gay marriage and the response by the Orthodox Church to gay marriage to be closed. Certainly the Holy Spirit is not finished with us yet. I hope that there is some parent of a gay child in her parish who has accepted their son or daughter, and that they might sit down with Frederica for an honest conversation. Perhaps, soon one of her former Sunday school students who happens to be gay, will return to the parish for a visit and tell her about their life. Perhaps one of her own grandchildren, she has eleven, is gay or lesbian, and will soon speak to grandma about their desire to be loved and to love. Will Frederica be able to look into the eyes of the child and say “no one should love you”?



[1] www.fredercia.com
[2] Khouria is a term of endearment used for the wife of an Orthodox priest.  It is an Arabic word meaning “Mother”.
  1. Albertus Said,

    Thank you for this post. I am born catholic and still am catholic, but have since my earliest childhood been in close contact with greek orthodoxy and russian orthodoxy. The following words struck me especially, as a summary of our common experience, what it is to be gay and christian in a context that is more often than not, hostile :
    ”It is distressing and damaging to gay and lesbian people to hear from a person with some authority in the Church that the intimacy they crave, the love they desire to share, and the partner they long to have is damaging and superficial. That message is also a deadly lie, for it goes against what God Himself desires for us. Numerous LGBT Orthodox Christians have sincerely attempted to live celibate lives, staying within the parameters set by the ancient laws of the Church. Through much prayer, fasting, and by paying close attention to our God given and inspired conscience, we have come to the truth that God Himself molded us with a sexual orientation towards people of our own sex. We have also come to the sincere conclusion that to live without love and intimacy from one special person is damaging and even dangerous to our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.”

  2. andre Said,

    Albertus,
    Thank you so much for your kind comment and support this website and its ministry. While gay and lesbians have numerous people in their lives who support us and love us and understand us and want us to grow spiritually in the love of Christ, there are those who want us to be celibate and never share love. They do not require such celibacy for themselves, indeed on the contrary a few marry and divorce and marry and divorce and marry again – all within the Church. Our simple calling is to love and speak the truth. I bid you peace. Please stay in touch.
    Andriy

  3. Anonymous Said,

    Wow. So, unless everyone agrees with you, then they don’t love you? Um….sorry, but this is a self-serving and very distorted view of love.

    If you want to be in the church, then why not struggle against your sins the same way we all struggle against sin? Some people are lazy, some are drunks, some have rage issues, some addicted to pornography. Your issue is sexual. Why not deal with that instead of trying to change the church to suit your needs? This will never give you the holiness you desire, and it certainly isn’t going to help the rest of us in the church! We are to stuggle (and it is a huge struggle) to become more like Christ, not make Christ more like us. St Joseph the Hesychast struggled against lust for over 13 years before being relieved of it.

  4. andre Said,

    Not everyone has to agree with me or they do not love me, that would be childish. However, what type of person does not want someone to be loved? What type of person does not want someone to be happy and healthy? Only an evil person would say to another – you can not love another person. If God is love – then who is the author of the lack of love?
    Gay people struggle against the same types of sins as straight people. We were made as gay men or lesbians. To compare the love that I have for my husband to the sin of pornography or rage is a false comparison. If you are a married person, do you look at your husband or wife and see sin? Or do you look at the person you love and make love to and see kindness, joy, love, hope – all the gifts of God? God Himself created us – gay or straight- and unless He also gave us the gift of celibacy, He does not want us to be alone and unloved.
    I am not interested in changing the Church (which has changed numerous times over 2,000 years – just ask the Old Believers for example) to suit my own needs, I am interested is asking the Church to listen to its gay, lesbian and transgendered faithful and their families.
    We do not want lust to be accepted – just love – the essence of Christ Himself. I pray that you will open your heart and mind. I pray that you may know some gay men or lesbians and listen to their story and may your heart soften and open.
    You are in my prayers,
    Andriy

  5. Dee Said,

    I have asked this here before and not received an answer, so I repeat it in a condensed form:
    how can I take partake of Holy Communion and then -with the members of Christ- perform sodomy. (Whether as a homosexual or heterosexual)…
    Can someone Orthodox who believes we are called to union with our Lord explain this?
    Thank you

  6. andre Said,

    Dee,
    I am sorry if I missed your earlier question. The website receives a large number of emails from sincere Orthodox Christians, gays and lesbians and transgendered and their family members seeking solace, advice, support and hope. We answer as many as we can.
    I am not sure that I understand your question. There are heterosexual married couples who participate in sodomy (oral and anal sexual activities) who are not barred from the sacred mystery of the Eucharist. The father confessor who asks about the exact sexual activities and practices of married couples, with no other reason, is a voyeur.
    When a couple loves each other and that love is blessed by Christ in the community of the Church expresses their love in a sexual manner that is meaningful for both of them, that is not a sin. If God blessed Solomon to have 700 wives and some 300 concubines, certainly He blesses us to love one and make love to one other person, who is of the same sex, if we were so created.
    I bid you peace and love in Christ, who loves us all and died for all of us, not just for people like you and me.
    Andriy

  7. Dee Said,

    1) But if it is love rather than lust we want accepted, then the patristic notion that such pure love’s practical enemy is not so much hate, but ‘other loves’ (‘desires’ in our modernities speak to be clearer) becomes even more significant! the patristic notion of sobriety and the vigilance that this requires, the notion of purity, temperance and abstinence even in food, let alone sexual practice points to those saintly relationships that were not homosexual but homosocial. Good examples are Saints Nilus the new and Fandinus, or (better known) Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian…
    These are most obviously not relationships that entail sodomy as they were between virginal souls and bodies. Their vigilance (especially while in their beginnings) against their logismoi (even those about their friendship) was astounding, even considering their purity friendship and their eventual complete dispassion …And I struggle to find any Orthodox Patristic source that does not understand that our logismoi/thought assaults (whether gay or straight) are not all equally things to be freed from rather than surrender to…
    Where is the ascesis if not?
    2) I do not so much contend with what Christ has blessed or what he hasn’t here – which perhaps, is a very common argument on the matter of homosexuality- (I mean the argument that says that: only bread and whine is blessed for His Body and Blood, or only man and woman is blessed as “what God has unified that should not divorce”), but with “how do we become more and more like Christ himself”, how do we acquire that love that is God, that seeks not its own, that is bestowed only through a grace that is safeguarded with great humility and purity of both soul and body…?
    Such love is always a cross and a far cry from a simple ‘softening’ or an emotion. (even though it might sometimes start from there) It is a call to Theosis and the route towards it, and it is only ever possible in the presence of great grace. Our ‘loves’ even when we think they are lust-free can easily deceive us into thinking our emotions are God inspired (especially when we lack fervent spiritual vigilance or the humility to believe that only God is true love, while man is a fallen creature). They obviously do not make actions motivated by them permissible: a married man cannot leave his wife and kids because he suddenly fell in ‘pure’ love with his new secretary. no?
    I research and diligently try to, but still cannot find a single saint in the entire synaxarion who did not fight (healthily) with his “old self” rather than “embrace” his or her ‘old self’ (as modernity and secularly influenced spirituality does today). They wanted to be masters of their desires, in order to give all desire to God. They feared the lapse into captivity through negligence and lived a life of loving (rather than wanting love), of non-attachment (rather than entitlement to attachment), of adherence to the very basics that one needs (rather than what one pleasurably wants).
    3) What I am saying in this context is that what seems permissible within the entire tradition of Orthodoxy and its famous oiconomia, (using the word permissible as ‘blessed’) might often -admittedly- entail some ‘stuff’ that has a ‘pleasurable potential’ in its secular understanding (like eating food, or making love within marriage), but this is understood as potentially dangerous when severed from the ‘functional potential’ it always also has. That function -at least as a potential- cannot be entirely bypassed without this pleasure becoming deviant or dangerous spiritually (like having a tap in my stomach for food to not be digested -just enjoying the taste- or sexual activity that hasn’t a potential for procreation -ever). Of course technology might enable procreative potential within a homosexual context, but this would obviously be a first in the entire human and animal kingdom…
    4) And this brings us back to ‘heterosexual married couples who participate in sodomy (oral and anal sexual activities) who are not barred from the sacred mystery of the Eucharist’, which – if it happens as an extreme oikonomy- is always something to try to be freed from, as it goes against “the rules”…
    The canon law entitled the Pidalion or ‘Rudder’ (“the rules” if there ever were any 🙂 …is not something that we can scrap because it seems so harsh today, it is just that an extreme economy is often practised in order to not alienate those who might eventually be transformed through God’s all-powerful grace to live by it – as in your example above which cannot serve as an argument for the acceptance of sodomy after partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ…
    Do I believe and want to truly carry the members of Christ if I also want to feel like there is absolutely no problem with being sodomised? We are sinners who are called to repentance and theosis, but this invariably is not arrived at through entitlement and self-justification in any path…

  8. andre Said,

    Mr. Dino Christophilopoulos,
    Thank you for your intense interest in the subject of gay love and marriage within the Orthodox Church. I have read, several times, your two comments on my reflection “Who could love me?” as well as your questions about sodomy. Although obviously not as erudite and well versed in the minutiae of Orthodox theology as you are, I can only wonder if you would perhaps like to bring back those early Christian sects that prohibited sexual intercourse of any sort, even between married persons? Perhaps I am a simple man, but after over twenty years as a priest, I saw and continue to see things much simpler than you do. Man falls in love with woman (or another man), they make a commitment to each other to love and respect each other, they are married in the Church within the community by a priest and struggle TOGETHER to live Christian lives. Who puts what body part where does not interest me, and it should not interest anyone else, as long as it is mutually agreed upon by the couple.
    The matter is simple.
    1) Christ did not speak about gay people at all – as the divine Son of God, who created us, knows about us and certainly could have said something – He did not.
    2) To speak of lust and not love in homosexual relationships and not speak of the same topics within heterosexual relationships is wrong.
    3) To quote the Rudder on these topics is a fallacy. This is the same collection of laws and precepts that includes prohibiting Orthodox Christians from seeing Jewish doctors or being on a beach with Jewish people. It also prohibits priests from eating in a tavern (but they can sleep there)! If you can pick and choose which canonical precepts to follow then the same can be done with various and conflicting views of the Holy Fathers.
    Again thank you for your intense and detailed comments about gay marriage and sodomy.
    Andriy

  9. Christina Said,

    I have never held judgement about homosexuality until, as a mom, am seeing the world affect my child towards being gay & am horrified. Not because he really could be gay, but because of the insidiously evil intent of this world to corrupt in whatever form is handy. And knowing my child -AND DON’T TELL ME i’M JUST IN DENIAL oops capslock, because you would be wrong, I know he has been influenced to be sympathetic to the point of identifying with homosexuality. And for this I am furious. Why are some gay folks feeling exempt from this sort of healthy self-scrutiny?

  10. andre Said,

    Christina,
    Thank you for your email. To agree with you, of course there are people, evil people, in this world, gay and straight, who are interested in corrupting others. Since the vast majority of people, as well as entertainment personalities, the internet is geared towards heterosexuality, I would be more concerned that my child was being corrupted by those values from Hollywood or Washington D.C. than the tiny minority of gay people. Certainly the self-scrutiny needs to take place on the gay as well as in the majority heterosexual world. But since straight people are in the majority….
    Also, do you really think that anyone can turn someone gay? Can you be turned gay? While it true that some people, especially the youth might experiment, when one reaches adult, one knows if you are attracted to men or women! Are you physically, lustfully, sexually attracted to women? Could someone, TV, the internet, politicians, a good book – change that? I doubt it. We are who we are as God Himself, in His wisdom created us.
    Do you not want your son to ever befriend gay people? Can he be kind and Christian towards them? Certainly he will encounter them in his life, perhaps as his boss, co-workers, landlord…
    The influences are vast – good and evil. We simply need to know ourselves, our values, and live our lives as honestly and as virtuously as we can.
    I bid you peace in 2014.
    Andriy

  11. Dee Said,

    Those early Christian neo-platonic sects are the other side of the coin, certainly to be avoided indeed. Christianity is a kind of “holy physicality” that embraces the body indeed…
    However, Orthodox tradition guards against both sides.
    What we see in the experience of those Saints that encountered our Lord in the Holy Spirit however – take Saint Silouan the Athonite for instance – is always something involving a gradual transformation from a physicality that controls our noetic faculty, to a noetic faculty that eventually (effortlessly) controls (reigns over) all our senses… Are we not all called to become holy as the Father is Holy?

  12. andre Said,

    Dino,
    My question to you is simple? Are you married? if not, do you plan to marry? Do you love your wife (plan to love her)? Do you show your love to her in many ways, including sexual intercourse? If so, then why do you deny me and countless other lesbians and gay men the same thing? You are also called to be holy as I am in my marriage. God in His infinite wisdom did not give me the calling of marrying a woman. He set before me my future husband, an Orthodox Christian, to love and spend my life with. If you, as a married heterosexual, wish to follow the advice of St. Silouan, then I wish you God speed.
    Andriy

  13. Anonymous Said,

    Christ, in His recorded words, does not explicitly condemn homosexuality , but He neither condemns polygamy or incest… Yet Christians, from the beginning until today, understood that these practices cannot be part of Christianity. Clearly the words of Christ on marriage, refer to a pair of husband and wife (eg Matthew 19, 3.12 ) . How could it be otherwise, since God created the primary pair of a man and a woman (Matt. 19, 4-5 ), and there is no other marriage union to which He gave the blessing of marriage.
    Orthodox Christians however, do not only on what Jesus said, but in what is said by the Holy Spirit through the disciples of Christ and the Holy Fathers of all times.
    The apostle Paul was one of them, his words are for ‘holy scriptures’ for us and this holy man writes that homosexuality is the result of the perversion suffered by mankind since the Fall.
    Again, as biological beings we can discern a fundamental purpose to the existence of the sexual organs – to create new human beings. Even if certain diseases or birth defects preclude this purpose, this does not alter the biological evidence for it.
    The expected question might then address the issue of “entitlement” or “rights” in intercourse with anyone we desire. But even this question does not reverse the logic above. If, for example, someone wants to be walking down the street with his hands and not walk on his feet; we still have to acknowledge that the anatomical evidence suggests that this is an abnormality, with which we are not forced to agree . The testimony of our lives indicates that we walk with our feet and not with our hands. The same applies for the choice of homosexuality.

    Because homosexuality, according to Orthodox spiritual tradition, as expressed in the New Testament (St Paul) and the teaching of the saints, is a “passion”, the man who began his life as gay or turned to homosexuality at some other time; when progressing in holiness, purifying the heart from the passions, he ceases to be gay. We have no homosexual saints who were sanctified through homosexuality (as married saints are sanctified through marriage), if this had ever been so the Fathers would not have concealed it, nor thought – along with the apostle Paul – that homosexuality is another passion that separates man from God, because the Church does not care to preserve social moralism, but instead destroys the moral stereotypes (taboo) to heal man.
    We certainly have saints who were once gay (as we have saints who were sexually immoral, lewd or prisoners of various other passions) but took the titanic struggle against their passions –whatever these were- and by the grace of the Holy Spirit defeated them and became holy.

  14. andre Said,

    Sir or Madame,
    I thank you for your intense interest in the subject of the Orthodox Church and homosexuality. Your arguments are not new to me, but perhaps my views are. Indeed, Christ never spoke about homosexuality. He also did not speak about second, third and ever fourth marriages (although St. Paul did) and yet the Church, in Her mercy, allows individuals to be married a second, third and in at least two historical instances, a fourth time, although the words “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder”, are used at the first marriage.
    You may use circular arguments, however, I and countless other lesbians and gay men will tell you that they were born with an attraction to the same sex. We were also born with a calling to be joined to one other person – perhaps much like you are, and to share our life, love, struggles and desires with one other person. It is God who led me to my husband, an Orthodox Christian, and we create a strong bond, trying to live our simple lives as close to the ideal that Christ demands, as is humanly possible. You may not want to believe that people are created gay or even bisexual or transgendered for that matter – but there are possible people who still believe the Earth is flat and global warming is not partially man made. These are scientific, biological facts.
    I hope and pray that in the New Year you will open your heart and mind to the possibility that all that is written in Scripture and interpreted by the Church is not infallible and subject to change. The Orthodox Church has changed countless times in the past 2,000 years – it still will, all under the grace of Christ.
    Andriy

  15. Anonymous Said,

    If homosexuality is derived from biological causes and is produced by society is debatable. Either way however, it cannot be converted to a non-passionate state. One can be violent, for instance, due to a biological cause (eg because the body produces more adrenaline and testosterone than it should) , but this does not mean that for him aggression “is okay” and that this needn’t be fought against in order to be cured of the passion.
    We hope to be saved, not because of our ” virtue”, but because of the love and mercy of God, which we ask for every day in our prayers, repenting and fighting, with His help, against our passions.
    But if instead, we are trying to convince others (and ourselves) that our passions “are ok” and not sinful, we are probably hypocrites and our salvation in danger far more.
    It must be clarified that we all need repentance, each for different reasons; everyone has to face their own passions, and not t accept them, but to fight hard. A heterosexual may have to face many passions associated with sex – and marriage can not always heal these, because they might feel the need of adultery, or intercourse with multiple sexual partners or pedophilia, incest, bestiality and many others.
    All these passions are not “okay” and straight is not necessarily more virtuous or closer to God than gay. Both can be saved because of the love of Christ, and with the struggle against sin, assisted by divine grace…
    Concluding with love, I would like to communicate a conversation of the holy Elder Paisios (1924-1994) with a young gay man who struggled against homosexuality but felt weak for this fight (an atheist might believe that such a struggle is equivalent to amputation of ourselves, but this is not directed to atheists, but orthodox Christians brothers and sisters). The young man told the Elder that he could not stop living as a homosexual. And the Elder, after telling him to confess, asked :
    “Can you read a chapter of the Holy Bible ? ‘.
    “I can”.
    “Can you go to church every Sunday ? ‘.
    “I can”.
    “Can you fast on Wednesday and Friday ; ‘.
    “I can”.
    “Can you give a small amount to alms? ‘.
    “I can”.
    “Can you… ” (many more)…
    “I can… ” (many more).
    At the end he said : “You see that you can do a thousand things but that one. Well, you do the thousand and leave that one to God!”.

  16. andre Said,

    Sir or Madame,
    I appreciate your intense comments and interest on the subject of homosexuality. If homosexuality might be produced by society, then is it possible that you might have become gay or still might be sexually attracted to your own sex? Many faithful gay and lesbian Orthodox Christians pray, fast, read Scripture, offer acts of charity and still fall in love and live their lives with one other person. That relationship is blessed by God, because it was ordained so.
    I bid you peace.
    Andriy

  17. Anonymous Said,

    The Church does not develop beyond the perfection that it experienced in Pentecost. It simply clarifies the created terminology as and when required. The uncreated energies of God lead te Apostles to perfection on that day as they do with all the Saints. Our calling is to such holiness and -as stated above- there are no Saints that were sanctified through homosexuality but fought it as a passion and won with the Grace of God. To call it natural makes it impossible to even enter the road to holiness, as no one would fight what is okay as a passion. One might be ‘created’, Gay, yes, (as one mit be created clever, slow, aggresive, passive, meek, complex etc etc). Christ is the only truly ‘natural’ man, and to Him we must aspire. If we claim God called us to love another of the same sex, we might as well blame Him for wanting to steal or whatever else springs up into our heart. However, the Fathers call us to constant vigilance, ‘nepsis’ in order to not allow any such initial thoughts to even take root.

  18. Anonymous Said,

    Concerning marriage, as an option only allowed to man and woman heterosexually and not to homosexuals -which seems to be a prime point in your reasoning:
    There are numerous other predicaments that can interfere with a person having that option (of marriage) open to them, the world might call this unfair but I am addressing Orthodox believers here; ‘born’ homosexuality is certainly not the only obstacle to “share our life, love, struggles and desires with one other person”. My question to you is why do we accept these other predicaments as a God given cross that is just right for certain individuals (and not homosexuality)?

  19. Takis Said,

    It is easy for someone to say that “God set before me” or “God ordained” this or that. However, is this not arbitrary? Where is the obedience to an Elder within the tradition of the Church?
    I think that Fr Stephen says this well:
    “The sexual expression of human relationships is not isolated to Physical Union. There are emotional/psychological and spiritual aspects of all sexual activity. There is probably no other aspect of our existence that engages the whole of who we are than our sexual activity (at every level). It is, I think, impossible for anyone to say that their sexual desires, thoughts, etc., represent “how they were born.” Human life is exceedingly complex, influenced and effected at all times by the whole of its experience. We are psycho/somatic unities.
    It is not surprising, therefore, that the Christian tradition is deeply concerned with the sexual aspect of our lives. The canonical description of sexual relations is somewhat “complex.” It is not simply, “Married people do it, nobody else does.” It would be better said that for even married people, sexual activity is fraught with difficulty.
    More importantly, nothing in the canons of the Church is a provision for “just getting by.” Everything in the canons of the Church is there for our salvation. Thus, the most important lens for examining the teaching and practice of the Church is under the heading of “What must I do to be saved?”
    A great deal of discussion/debate in the area of marriage/civil unions/etc, would be seen more under the heading of “Why can’t we just agree to let people do what they need to do to get by?” That’s a legitimate question – and a question that directly addresses the use of economia.
    This reframes the discussion (for me) to ask if there is a manner of living as a non-heterosexual person(s) that is salvific? For that is the proclamation of marriage as a sacrament of the Church – the union of a man and woman in the bond of holy matrimony is not a mere permission of the Church, but, in fact, an active part of our cooperative salvation.
    I will not refrain from graphic descriptions here – but it is unclear to me how same-gender sexual activity could ever be described as engaging in union. It is possible to argue that same-gender sexual activities are “emotionally” unitive, or “psychologically” unitive – but, for me, such descriptions are very difficult to understand. I would easily agree that an individual might find same-gender sex to be comforting, reassuring, affirming, etc. but as actually creating a union is much more problematic.
    The Church recognizes that in the union of husband and wife the Church is not somehow creating a state of relationship that would be useful or desirable for some. Rather, the Church is blessing what God has blessed “from the beginning.” As is true in all the sacraments, blessing only reveals something to be what it already is.
    Christ said:
    “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning`made them male and female,’ and said,`For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ‘? (Mat 19:4-5 NKJ)
    The most obvious fulfillment of this Divine commandment is the procreation of children. The OT Laws regarding sexual activity seem to generally serve for the protection of women and children. One modern Rabbi observed that prior to the giving of the Law, the only sexual categories in ancient societies were “penetrator and penetrated.” The weaker members of society (women, children, those not somehow protected by a powerful man) were without protection. The Law establishes boundaries (“I am Holy, therefore you be holy”).
    Marriage itself has much of its structure founded with the protection of the weak in mind. Its indissoluble character establishes a stability required for the nurture of children and the preservation of the family required for their health and well-being. Romance and personal fulfillment have no place within either OT Law or later Canon Law. Thus, the foundation of marriage is biological and social.
    The modern notion of relationships, including those of same gender, are today defined primarily in terms of romance and personal fulfillment. I do not think it an unfair generalization to say that in contemporary American culture, children are a secondary concern when compared to the primary place of romance and personal fulfillment.
    All human relationships are “social constructions.” There is nothing within sex itself that dictates monogamy. Polygamy, polyandry, etc. are all well known. Monogamous and faithful chastity is a uniquely Judaeo-Christian construct. There has doubtless been same gender sexual contact throughout all of human history. However, it is only in modern culture that there has been a social construction of a gay subculture, desirous of relationships patterned on those of the monogamous heterosexual marriage.
    The “suffering” of gay men or women without a socially approved “marriage-like” relationship, is thus not a denial of nature, but a denial of a socially constructed “need.” Everyone needs approval and affirmation. Shame is experienced as an unbearable emotion.
    The sacraments of the Church do not exist (or come into existence) in order to affirm whatever personal needs we may create through our own social constructs. Such an arrangement would simply place the Church in the position of a “chaplaincy” to modern Consumer culture. “I want it!” would become the driving raison d’être of our humanity. This is not the union of God and man. It is simply blessing the union of man with his own self-constructed fantasies. It is not salvation.
    Orthodox Christianity is utterly and inherently ascetical. There is no salvation, not even any true humanity, without fasting (Adam and Eve begin their existence in a Paradise that included fasting). The Christian gospel is not the proclamation of a God who will fulfill you – but of a God who is Himself the true fulfillment of humanity which is created in His image. Thus we look at God to find out who we are – but we do not look at ourselves in order to see who God is.
    “Social Constructs” are not limited to varying new relational arrangements. Marriage and family are themselves largely “social constructs.” The 21st century family and the 18th century family are very different things. The Blessing of Marriage as sacrament should not ever be construed as the blessing of the ephemeral social dynamics that may be labeled as “family.” Even less should the sacrament of marriage be seen as the Church’s blessing on one particular arrangement for the purpose of personal fulfillment. There is a reason that the sacrament bestows “martyrs crowns” on a married couple. The model for marriage is the “union of Christ and His Church.”
    You spoke very disparagingly of the “third marriage” in an Orthodox Church. Even this is a blessing for ascesis.
    What is the ascesis for someone who has a same-gender sexual orientation? This is the correct question – whereas your question seems to be “what is the personal fulfillment for someone with same-gender sexual orientation?” Where is the martyr’s crown to be found for a gay person?
    The teaching of the Church clearly does not locate ascesis within same-sex genital expression.
    The “difficulties” with this teaching are felt quite strongly today because of the social constructs of modern culture. The current demand/trend is for social/legal/religious validation of same-gender relationships modeled on traditional marriage. The demand makes sense within the matrix of much of our culture. Personal fulfillment through the exercise of our will (choices and decisions) is our culture’s formula for happiness. Impediments to our will’s fulfillment are experienced as unbearable.
    The Church has no role in validating the personal desires of individuals. There is no path to salvation that journeys in that direction. In the course of 2000 years, there are no stories of individuals (or couples) engaging in same-sex activity who attained theosis. There are certainly stories of those who have engaged in such activity (the desert fathers have many such stories), always described as sin (though with no more particular condemnation than other forms of fornication) and as having found forgiveness. The Tradition shows no particular “shock” at such behavior.
    At present, sexual identity has become a highly charged political issue. Narratives of human suffering and redemption are being created and exploited for a wide variety of purposes. Sadly these narratives are finding their way into theological discussions.
    You described a suffering, indeed great pathos, within the gay community. The truth is, there is great suffering and pathos everywhere. Human lives (including those of multiple marriages) are full of suffering. It is for us to be merciful and kind. The hatred that some direct towards others should have no place within the Church. But erecting a false narrative of human sexual union will not ultimately remove the suffering of any. The transient joy of personal fulfillment is a very sad substitute for salvation and theosis.
    Human life, including human sexual experience, is filled with distortions and disasters. Orthodoxy, in obedience to Christ, can offer no solace to anyone other than the ascesis of the Cross taken up. The sad state of marriage today is not an argument for the creation of more sad states. It is an argument for the renewal of true ascesis. 

    The question then turns to the Church: How do we become the kind of Church that can effectively and faithfully help people to bear suffering? For there is no road to salvation except through the Cross. Those who have very deeply imposed burdens – through inheritance, through abuse, through whatever life has given – should not have their burden made yet more brutal by the failure of love on the part of their brothers and sisters in Christ. I think that it is rare indeed (if not impossible) for any of us to bear the Cross in a manner that is salvific except through the prayers and communion of others.
    I know that Fr. Hopko has been an extremely kind and sensitive pastor – one who has with great love made it possible for some to bear the Cross in a saving manner. His recent book on sexual matters could doubtless be improved…but you would look a long time before you’d find a better priest’s heart in this matter than Fr. Thomas’. He’s a good priest – a truly good priest.”

  20. Anonymous Said,

    With all due respect, I could say that ‘God led me to my husband who might be a collateral blood relative – prohibited to marry up until the seventh degree-‘ as well… My secularly perceived self-fulfillment through some relationship that my ego is attracted is a nonsence argument for a Christian who believes their fulfiment is to be found in Christ…

  21. Takis Said,

    My comment seems to have disapeared… Sorry for the previous length which I assume was too extreme.
    The point is that the modern perception of relationships, including those of same gender, defines them primarily in terms of romance and personal fulfillment. Children, for instance, are becoming a secondary concern when compared to the primary place of romance and personal fulfillment. 
All human relationships are “social constructions.” There is little within sex itself that dictates monogamy. Polygamy, polyandry, etc. are all well known. Monogamous and faithful chastity is a uniquely Judeo-Christian construct. There has doubtless been same gender sexual contact throughout all of human history. However, it is only in modern culture that there has been a social construction of a gay subculture, desirous of relationships patterned on those of the monogamous heterosexual marriage.

    The “suffering” of gay men or women without a socially approved “marriage-like” relationship is thus not a denial of nature, but a denial of a socially constructed “need.” Everyone needs approval and affirmation. Shame is experienced as an unbearable emotion. 
The sacraments of the Church do not exist (or come into existence) in order to affirm whatever personal needs we may create through our own “social constructs”. Such an arrangement would simply place the Church in the position of a “chaplaincy” to modern Consumer culture. “I want it!” would become the driving raison d’être of our humanity. This is not the union of God and man. It is simply blessing the union of man with his own self-constructed fantasies. It is not salvation. 
 Orthodox Christianity is utterly and inherently ascetical. There is no salvation, not even any true humanity, without fasting (Adam and Eve begin their existence in a Paradise that included fasting). The Christian gospel is not the proclamation of a God who will fulfill you – but of a God who is Himself the true fulfillment of humanity – which is created in His image. Thus we look at God to find out who we are – but we do not look at ourselves in order to see who God is. “Social Constructs” are not limited to varying new relational arrangements. Marriage and family are themselves largely “social constructs.” The 21st century family and the 18th century family are very different things. The Blessing of Marriage as sacrament should not ever be construed as the blessing of the ephemeral social dynamics that may be labeled as “family.” Even less should the sacrament of marriage be seen as the Church’s blessing on one particular arrangement for the purpose of personal fulfillment. There is a reason that the sacrament bestows “martyrs crowns” on a married couple. The model for marriage is the “union of Christ and His Church.”
 Marriage in an Orthodox Church is a blessing for ascesis. 
What is the ascesis for someone who has a same-gender sexual orientation? This is the correct question; and not: “what is the personal fulfillment for someone with same-gender sexual orientation?” Where is the spiritually dignified martyr’s crown to be found for a gay person? 
The teaching of the Church clearly does not locate ascesis within same-sex genital expression. The “difficulties” with this teaching are felt quite strongly today because of the social constructs of modern culture. The current demand/trend is for social/legal/religious validation of same-gender relationships modeled on traditional marriage. The demand makes sense within the matrix of much of our culture. Personal fulfillment through the exercise of our will (choices and decisions) is our culture’s formula for happiness. Impediments to our will’s fulfillment are experienced as unbearable. 
The Church has no role in validating the personal desires of individuals. There is no path to salvation that journeys in that direction. In the course of 2000 years, there are no stories of individuals (or couples) engaging in same-sex activity who attained theosis.

    One who began his/her life as gay or turned to homosexuality at some other time, when progressing in holiness, purifying the heart from the passions, ceases to be gay. We have no homosexual saints who were sanctified through homosexuality (as married saints are sanctified through marriage), if this had ever been so, the Fathers would not have concealed it, nor thought – along with the apostle Paul – that homosexuality is another one of the passions that separates man from God.
    We certainly have saints who were once gay (as we have saints who were sexually immoral, lewd or prisoners of various other, non-carnal passions) but took the titanic struggle against their passions –whatever they were- and by the grace of the Holy Spirit defeated them and became holy.

  22. Takis Said,

    As biological beings we discern a fundamental purpose to the existence of the sexual organs in nature – to create new human beings. Even if certain diseases or birth defects preclude this central purpose, this does not alter the biological evidence for it in any way.
    Promoters of homosexuality often address the issue of “rights” (in intercourse with anyone we desire), while prohibiting any portrayal of homosexuality as deviant – a cunning tactic to politicize what has historically been an ethical issue. But this does not reverse the anatomical evidence discussed above; for instance, if someone wanted to walk down the street with his hands instead of his feet, could he compel all to concede that the anatomical evidence suggests that this is not an abnormality? The testimony of our lives indicates that we walk with our feet and not with our hands. The same applies for the choice of homosexuality.

  23. Anonymous Said,

    You say “we have come to the truth that God Himself molded us with a sexual orientation towards people of our own sex. We have also come to the sincere conclusion that to live without love and intimacy from one special person is damaging and even dangerous to our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.”
    But this is no different to the modern ego-based reasoning we see in this fallen world. I can come to many conclusions too… One might come to the conclusion that God does not exist (He is invisible) and if He does, He asks ridiculously difficult things when he says to (hetero) man, for instance, do not desire your neighbour’s wife, as God is invisible, she(neighbour’s wife) is extremely tangible and attractive and the said man therefore repeats – as you seem to also be doing – Adam and Eve’s symbolic words “it is Your fault God”… I have come to the sincere conclusion that You gave me this desire and I cannot rest until it is fulfilled!
    But these are just the results of a lack of vigilance in order to guard our heart whole in order to give it to our only ever fulfilment – Christ.
    Sorry to say this, but I see not what David says (I would want You God to be justified) in recognition oh his sin, but a quest for self-justification, the age old problem of mankind since the fall in another manifestation here.

  24. andre Said,

    I can only assume from your logic that you are chaste and celibate and hope that everyone else would live the same way. Who would say to a young man or young woman, “you should not marry, because your desire to be with one other person is egotistical and part of the fallen world and you are only justifying your lack of vigilance?” I doubt that you would.
    You do not believe that I and millions of others were created by God with same-sex desires. You also do not believe that God wants us to live in peace and harmony with one other person of the same sex in order to create the family that Christ desires. I pray that you will open your heart and mind to wonderful mystery that is the creation of God, and that perhaps we do not fully understand it or that it is different from our own perspective.
    Andriy

  25. Anonymous Said,

    A blessing by a canonical Orthodox priest using the ancient rite of brotherhood is certainly a celibate union in the understanding of the Orthodox tradition.
    The canonical Orthodox Church cannot bless sodomy in heterosexual or homosexual relations (it is equally problematic). Sexuality is indeed an area that requires extra vigilance and the blessing bestowed on it (within marriage) is always closely linked to the potential (at the very least) for a man and woman to birth child.
    To be born with same sex desires justifies one to practice these as much as to be born with promiscuous or sadistic desires justifies another – not that much really. There is obviously a mitigation there, but that does not mean one mustn’t strive not to give in. It is no different to any of these other passions we are born with. Baptizing it God-given simply creates an alibi not to fight it – whatever the passion involved.
    I am surprised if one who is Orthodox cannot see this.
    There are many people who – on the face of it – seem to have NO CHOICE AT ALL than become addicts, or whores, or thieves etc. They sometimes have extenuating circumstances above and beyond what we have ever encountered! Should we ‘bless’ them to carry on? or shouldn’t we still proclaim repentance?

  26. Anonymous Said,

    To clarify further, by saying that the long forgotten and unknown to most ‘rite of brotherhood’ is certainly ‘a celibate union’ in the understanding of the Orthodox tradition, I obviously mean it is chaste, brotherly, in no way a sensual, bodily or sexual union – that should be evident from its name “of brotherhood” – (similar to blood-brothers rather than a ‘marriage’).
    Besides, as I am sure you have been told numerous times that the Church only knows of a marriage in the “type” of Christ and His Church, not Christ and Christ or the Church and the Church. We cannot brush this point aside -as is done on this site- (in any denomination) without creating a heretical understanding of marriage…! It is no different that Henry the eighth creating a new religion to suit his desire for many wives.
    Of course, an Orthodox would have the greatest respect and admiration for those ‘born gay’ (as with those who have other difficult propensities -whether this are produced from nature or nurture is not that significant actually- which entail bearing a certain cross) and who remain faithful – that goes without saying too…
    There is great merit in those who remain faithful, struggle against it, yet still never manage to reach dispassion but are taken from this life trying. When these semi martyrs are lowered in their tombs, Christ Himself will come and embrace them and bestow on them eternal life for not having conformed with this world as far as they could, for not having let go of the hem of His garments, even on the face of their crippling weakness. However, that would mean an orientation of repentance throughout life that never succumbs to despair – all falls would be seen as “falls” on an unchangeable destination to finally ‘becoming upright’ for the love of Christ.
    But proclaiming to the world it is ok would not bestow such a crown – even with what seems to be good motives…

  27. Anonymous Said,

    i see you have erased the arguments you have that undo yours… Where are the comments on the ‘rite of brotherhood gone’?
    Where are they?
    There was nothing there to make them inappropriate! Sorry but this speaks volumes….

  28. Anonymous Said,

    Let me reiterate the Orthodox view -which keeps getting side-tracked or lost on this site- there is no difference to what needs to be done if we have ‘been created by God’ with same-sex desires or with promiscuous desires or with sadistic desires: we are all called to fight these rather than give in (and then struggle to find all sorts of false justifications).
    Whether born or nurtured into any of these makes little difference.
    There are numerous people with far less possibilities of ever escaping lives of drug-dealing, prostitution, sadism etc, with combinations of genetic and socially inflicted propensities for all sorts of perversions- that does not mean that their strong mitigating circumstances should make anyone proclaim drug-dealing, prostitution, any other perversions etc as OK!
    It is highly commendable if someone tries – even if he fails- for all of his life to not give in. It is not commendable if they proclaim ‘accepting’ these and languishing in them is OK. That is reminiscent of Henry the eighth inventing his own religion to have more wives…
    The canonical rite of brotherhood has nothing to do with sexual union, it is a chaste union like blood-brothers. This is a most clear Orthodox traditional understanding.
    Sodomy cannot be blessed in hetero or homo contexts (it goes without saying and it is pretty absurd that we even need to mention this) – they are as deviant as each other…
    Anyone might practice it – however, how can an Orthodox who carries the ‘members of Christ’ ever imagine this to be OK???
    There is
    The only marriage the Church knows of is in the ‘type’ of Christ and the Church, never of Christ and Christ or Church ad Church…
    Please don’t delete this 🙂

  29. Anonymous Said,

    HOW CAN U SAY BEING SODOMIZED IS NOT SINFUL?? THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!
    YOU CAN DO IT BUT WANTING IT BLESSED BY THE ORTHODOX CHURCH?
    EVEN IN ANIMALS PROCREATION IS ONLY POSSIBLE BY THE PENIS ENTERING THE VAGINA. PLEASURE ACCOMPANIES THIS OR ELSE NOBODY WOULD HAVE CHILDREN.
    BUT THE PENIS ENTERING ANYWHERE ELSE?
    EVEN IN ANIMALS PROCREATION IS ONLY POSSIBLE BY THE PENIS ENTERING THE VAGINA.
    PLEASURE ACCOMPANIES THIS –YES- OR ELSE NOBODY WOULD HAVE CHILDREN.
    BUT THE MAIN PURPOSE IS PROCREATION!
    BUT THE PENIS ENTERING ANYWHERE ELSE?
    WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?
    IS THIS JUST A GAY SITE?
    OR IS THERE ANY GENUINE DESIRE FOR SALVATION FIRST AND FOREMOST?

    CAN U SAY THE LORD’S PRAYER BEFORE “THAT” (SODOMY) ????
    IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT A MARRIED WOMAN (OR MAN) CAN SAY IT BEFORE PROCREATING WITH HER HUSBAND!
    THEY CAN SAY IT EVEN WHILE HAVING INTERCOURSE/PROCREATING – BUT CERTAINLY NOT ANY SODOMY! –UNLESS THEY ARE UTTERLY DELUDED I GUESS!

  30. Anonymous Said,

    I SEE YOU DELETED THE COMMENT ON THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF BEING SODOMISED BECOMING BLESSED. IT IS HARDER TO DELETE CONSCIENCE THOUGH! WE CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH URGES WE INDULGE AND WHICH WE CONTROL THE WAY YOU DO HERE. IT IS NOT CONSTANTLY MORPHING SCIENCE THAT INFORMS THEOLOGY ANYWAY. THEOLOGY HAS BEEN GIVEN ONCE AND FOR ALL IN THE SPIRIT, AND FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT WANT TO MAKE THE EFFORT TO CONTROL THEIR INSTINCTS ACCORDING TO IT (GAY OR STRAIGHT) ALL I CAN SAY IS THEY CONFORM TO THE WORLD- NOT TO CHRIST. SCIENCE CAN ALSO BE USED AGAINST SODOMISATION (GAY OR STRAIGHT), BUT WE ARE TALKING ORTHODOX THEOLOGY ACCORDING TO THE TITLE OF YOUR SITE. NO?
    YOU KEEP AVOIDING THE REAL PROBLEM: SEXUAL PRACTICES (SODOMY ETC -GAY OR STRAIGHT) AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES YOUR SITE COME ACROSS AS (FORGIVE ME SAYING THIS) DISHONEST (I DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER WORD FOR IT). DELETING COMMENTS THAT TOUCH ON THE SUBJECT OF SODOMY DOES NOT HELP EITHER…

  31. stephen Said,

    Andre, while I approve of the thrust of your replies to Anonymous, and while I’m heartened by your perspective on same-sex love as God-given, you have not sufficiently rebutted his criticisms point by point logically. Let me supply the deficiency.

    To Anonymous’s objection that we all struggle against sins like sloth, alcoholism, anger, pornography, lust for another man’s wife, and so on, so how is being gay and having same-sex desires any different if we all, including gays, are called upon to struggle against our “natural” sinful desires, whether we’re born with them or they’re acquired, I reply that Anonymous begs the question. He assumes at the outset what he’s obliged to prove, that same-sex desire is a sin. And on that question begged he lumps homosexuality in with lust, alcoholism, sloth, anger, etc. He hopes that his merely saying it will be sufficient. It isn’t. I challenge Anonymous to prove either by science or by logical argument that for a man to express his same-sex attraction is a sin.

    The Scriptures are no longer available to Anonymous to be wielded as a club with which to clobber homosexuals. Recent exegesis, which analyzes the clobber passages used by homophobes to delegitimatize homosexuals, seriously questions the traditional interpretation of the selfsame passages from a more careful examination of the original language employed. So much so that the traditional interpretation of those clobber passages is not in serious doubt. There are websites dedicated to the new exegesis. Look them up, Anonymous, and learn how tenuous your religious premise is..

    In addition, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, traditionally wielded by homophobes in religion with which to club homosexuals is now, even by fundamentalists, no longer thought to be about God’s anger at homosexuals. I won’t belabor the reasons given for the re-interpretation. But some of the prophets who came later when using the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah as a warning never mentioned homosexuality as the cause of their destruction, but did mention other behaviors as moral shortfalls. I have noticed a detail in the story that will completely overturn the traditional interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah. But that’s for another day.

    For now let me simply urge Anonymous to stop begging the question, to stop assuming what he is required to prove, that the physical expression of same-sex attraction is a sin. And let me add here that tradition, religious or otherwise, is not a proof. As Andre points out, at one time tradition was that the earth is flat.

    To a related objection by Anonymous that anger, sloth, lust, alcoholism, etc. are no different than homosexual desire, all being temptations of the flesh, and we’re called upon by God to resist temptation, I reply that, aside from begging the question by assuming indulging in homosexual desire is a sin, Anonymous fails to make an important distinction. Anger, sloth, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, etc., are curable. Same-sex attraction is not. And I have the vast majority of the scientific and psychological professions backing me up on that one. Anonymous’s argument fails on account of the distinction.

    The aforementioned distinction is important in settling this controversy inasmuch as it suggests another distinction Anonymous fails to make, that between essence and accident. Anger, sloth, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, etc., are not a person’s very identity, but are non-essential characteristics. As such they can change or disappear without changing the substance of the person so characterized [Aristotle]. But one’s sexual identity is who a man is. It’s his essence, that which defines him at a certain level. Change his sexual identity and he’s no longer who he is. His substance has been transmogrified into something entirely different. Isn’t this what gays have been trying to tell you all along, Anonymous, if they haven’t put it exactly in philosophical language?

    To the objection by Anonymous that he’s agnostic on whether the etiology of same-sex attraction is biological or social, I reply that the fact that 10% of the male population of most mammalian species and many fowl species are born homosexual indicates that homosexuals of our own mammalian species are born as such. Interestingly, a survey was conducted in New York City in 1901 with the aim of finding out what percentage of the city’s male population was homosexual. The result was that 10% of the respondents identified themselves as such. 100 years later the same exact survey was conducted in the same city. Guess what? In spite of 100 years of cultural change, a sexual revolution, the liberalization of sexual mores, and so on, the unexpected result came back, the same figure of 10% of the male population identified themselves as homosexual.

    10% of male penguins, lions, horses, bovines, and canines are born homosexual. 10% of the male population of New York City in 1901 identified as homosexual. Likewise, 10% in 2001 identified as such. I think Planck-like we have discovered another constant of nature. Unless Anonymous is prepared to claim that the sexual orientation of homosexual penguins, lions, horses, etc. is the result of socialization, we have to conclude that human homosexuals are not socialized–such as some kind of deleterious relationship with the father and/or mother–to desire members of their own sex, but are born.

    Hume warned against confusing conjunction with correlation, a causal correlation in the direction desired. Homophobes claiming a cure for homosexuality have noted that many homosexuals have a distant relationship with the father and a close relationship with the mother. And so they’ve concocted various training strategies to help the poor homosexual compensate for his failed relationship usually with the father. These strategies have all been discredited. Indeed, Exodus, the primary clearing house for reparative therapy shysters, was disbanded recently by its leaders who confessed that they had not found a single, solitary “cure” since their organization was founded.

    But I digress. Isn’t it just as probable that the distance between the father and the homosexual son is the effect, not the cause, of his being born homosexual. The father senses something in his homosexual son he doesn’t like, but he can’t put his finger on it. And the mother has no problem loving a homosexual son who’s sensitive, tender, and loving toward her, and usually intellectually superior, as studies have shown. In other words, Anonymous, if you’re wondering which came first, the chicken or the egg, obviously the chicken. The son’s homosexual nature is prior. His parents’ varying reactions to it are posterior.

    I want to state clearly that I do not pretend to be certain at this point in time about the subject of homosexuality from a moral viewpoint. I, too, come from an orthodox Christian background, LDS. Recently the leaders of the LDS Church have published their admission that they really don’t know what the cause of homosexuality is nor whether it is incurable. Baby steps. But they’re getting there. However, the evidence scripturally, scientifically, and logically appears to me to be against the homophobes, that is, anyone who calls homosexuals to repentance based on the unproven assumption that it’s a sin.

    Again, as Andre points out, Jesus Christ Himself during his three years of ministry mentioned all sorts of sins. But he never once mentioned homosexual practice in order to condemn it. Now, wouldn’t you think that if homosexuality were such a serious sin–a sin which drove the Catholic prelates to go crazy all over homosexuals’ asses for centuries–Jesus would not have overlooked citing it for condemnation? He condemned a host of other sins. And homosexuality at the time of Jesus in the Roman Empire was rampant. But He passed over the subject in total silence. Hmm. But that didn’t and doesn’t stop mediocrities who’ve come after Jesus from babbling incoherently about the subject of which they know nothing.

    I take that back. Christ did mention homosexuality once, when answering a question he said that some men are born without the ability to desire women [homosexuals?], some men are made that way by men [eunuchs?], and some choose to refrain from desiring women for the sake of building up the kingdom [Himself included?]. So here we have Christ not only not condemning homosexuals, but actually comparing Himself to them in the sense intended. Wow!

    I await enlightenment if I’ve made a mistake in my presentation. I’m serious.

  32. stephen Said,

    Correction of typo in previous post: “. . . traditional interpretation of those clobber passages are NOT in serious doubt,” should read “. . . traditional interpretation of those clobber passages are NOW in serious doubt.” Oops.

  33. stephen Said,

    I just glanced at a sentence in Anonymous previous post about sodomy being condemned whether performed by homosexuals or heterosexuals. What is his authority? He cites none. He’s begging the question again.

    Traditional proscriptions against sodomy by organized religion are not defensible as authority inasmuch as the selfsame proscriptions were dreamed up by ecclesiastical authorities acting beyond the Scriptures which do not proscribe sodomy as such. Ecclesiasticals are notorious for changing their minds depending on which way the wind blows. Why does Anonymous think that their disgraceful treatment of homosexuals throughout the centuries is validated because, well, it’s tradition?

    I want to emphasize this again, according to the most recent exegesis God has not revealed to a prophet any condemnation of homosexuality as such. Jesus Christ was the closest man on earth to God. And he never mentioned homosexuality once to condemn it nor to call homosexuals to repentance, not once!! Are you getting the drift, Anonymous? You’re too cocksure of being right in what amounts to your rather conventional opinions. But truth is not determined by convention, including religious convention.

  34. stephen Said,

    Anonymous, I appreciate your plight. Your posts are painful for me to read. You are young. That I can tell from your over-intellectualized analyses, your focus on externals like religious tradition and regulations. You are too much like I was when I was your age, brittle, authoritarian, spouting dogma, concerned about the rules of men, not the laws of God.

    But you will break, as I did, because of that brittleness. Let me speed up your scholastic development on this very personal issue and save you some needless heartache. Struggle against your natural inclination if struggle you must. But my seasoned advice is to do it outside the confines of religious regulations and authority. The leaders of religion are as ignorant as anyone else about the subject of homosexuality.

    Religious leaders have always had ulterior motives for their policies. And their jihad against homosexuality is no different. The time has come to call those robed ignoramuses to answer for their inhumanity toward homosexuals for centuries, their falsehoods about homosexuality, their misinterpretation of the scriptures.

    The religious homophobes are losing the political battle, thank God. And why are they losing it? Because their arguments are discredited, their motives are reprehensible, and their inhumanity disgraceful. No man in his right mind today takes them seriously anymore. They’re incapable of defending their homophobia by scriptural, scientific, or logical means.

    The Russian Orthodox prelates are the worst in this regard. That’s what 70 years of being isolated under communism has done to them. Their unscientific mentality is 70 years behind the times.

    I see myself as offering no more than a critique of homophobia, of the duplicitous message that “We love the sinner, while hating the sin.” Yeah, right. Whom do these people think they’re kidding?

    The sum of my critique is that the homophobes have no credible case any longer scripturally, scientifically, or logically.

    But I cannot offer a positive defense of homosexuality. That seems above my pay grade. Perhaps I should pass over the subject in total silence as Jesus did.

    But having said that, it does seem puzzling that given that the chemicals released in sexual arousal reinforce the chemicals released when experiencing intimate love, the physical supplementing the emotional, intensifying it, that God would create 10% of the male population with a brain structure that makes it possible for them to only love men in this way and then tells them to turn on themselves, strangle the only nature they have, the only possibility God gave them to love, and to remain alone without intimate companionship all their lives, to supplant a loving companionship with superficial relationships that don’t matter as much, in other words, to condemn oneself to being alone until one takes his last, gasping breath.

    But there’s a snag in the foregoing scenario. It is acting contrary to God’s first known communication of His will to man, “Tis not good for man to be alone.” Religious leaders who tell homosexuals to stay away from their friends, to not have intimate companionship, to live out their lives alone are themselves disobedient to God’s obvious will in the sense intended.

    The point is [1] if it’s God’s will that we not to be alone, [2] and if God only wants what’s good for us, [3] and if he creates homosexuals to be the way they are, capable of expressing intimate love only for another men, capable of conforming to God’s will to not be alone only with another man [4] Then is God at cross purposes with Himself by speaking through religious homophobes advising homosexuals to not express their God-given nature, to not have intimate companionship, but to be alone all their lives, again, when He told us it’s not His will that they be alone?

    As you can see, the plot thickens.

    I’m a high Christian, not a low Christian, orthodox in the extreme, all about tradition and ritual. Nonetheless, I have no use for ecclesiastical rules and regulations that bear on the subject of homosexuality because there’s no justification for them other than that they’re tradition, not a rousing recommendation seeing that it was also tradition to burn homosexuals at the stake, and it was also tradition to punish people who ate certain foods and mixed certain cloths in weaving the same garment.

    Though I consider myself a traditionalist and orthodox, I also respect science and the rules of inference. Being a traditionalist does require mindlessness, surrendering one’s reasoning faculty to rules and regulations for which there is no rational defense, rules and regulations dreamed up by fallible ecclesiasticals in the first place for ulterior political motives, which I won’t get into here.

    Blind faith is not scriptural. We’re told by scripture to reason together.

    Now for the $64 question: If the structural difference in the brain manifests in a difference in sexual orientation, is it morally wrong for a man whose brain structure permits only sexual attraction to other men to indulge his attraction? God hasn’t revealed His will except to tell homosexuals that it’s not good for them to be alone. But that’s not a direct enough seal of approval for me. So I continue to think about the issue with the hope that one day it will all fall into place.

    I can’t expect religious authorities to think for me. They haven’t shown much capacity in that regard over the centuries. What I want to know, and await the answer, is a positive ratification of homosexual love by God, not just a negative victory over the homophobes by a devastating critique of every one of their propositions. So the big question is: Does God look down with favor on two men having sex with each other who are faithful to their covenant to be companions, soul-mates, and to share their lives together for better or for worse?

    I’m getting closer all the time to answering that question. I feel that I’m almost there. Just a little bit further and I’ll have the answer. I read the scriptures to assist. But I never listen to religious leaders. Too may blunders on the subjection of homosexuality, too soon to forgive them.

  35. stephen Said,

    [continued from previous post]: To the objection that the prohibitions in Leviticus are distinguishable as ritual, moral, and civil prohibitions and the prohibition against homosexual acts belongs to the moral and therefore eternal prohibitions, I reply with a question: Who’s determining what? Who’s drawing the lines? Who’s providing the criteria that classifies the prohibition of homosexuality as a moral and therefore eternal prohibition? The homophobes? Oh, they’re reliable authorities, aren’t they? You can trust them to know what in hell they’re doing.

    Seeing as how the homophobes have behaved over the centuries toward homosexuals, their inhumane stigmatization and unrelenting persecution of them, of them who created civilization [Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Sophocles, Euripedes, Aristophanes, Pindar, Aesop, Homer, Phidias, Alexander the Great], of them who saved Europe from the Persian barbarians [homosexual couples recruited as soldiers because of their ferocity and courage, never fleeing from the battlefield like the heterosexual soldiers often would, but fighting back to back as one against the enemy to the death], again, the selfsame homophobes are hardly reliable moral authorities on anything, including homosexuality.

    Do you really think God was pleased with religious authorities over the way they’ve treated the culture creators over the centuries, the saviors of European civilization from the barbarians in the East? If your answer is No, then why now take them seriously when they declare that the prohibition in Leviticus on homosexual behavior is a moral prohibition, not a ritual prohibition, and therefore remains in force to this day? Haven’t religious authorities shit all over themselves sufficiently yet to discredit anything they have to say?

    The trouble with that interpretation is that the same language used to describe lapses from prescribed ritual behavior is used to describe homosexual behavior, one instance being the word “abominable.” That word is thrown around in Leviticus like a ball in an NBA game. It’s attached to practically every act imaginable, even acts to which we would attach no opprobrium today.

    So what criterion are homophobes employing to distinguish the import of its attachment to homosexual acts? Come on, people.

    Actually, recent scholarship disputes the traditional interpretation of the prohibition against homosexual acts in Leviticus, placing them in the ritual column. It’s all online. Go for it.

    But I repeat my own qualified support for homosexuality. All I’ve been able to do so far is to annihilate the arguments against homosexuality concocted by the homophobes. That was easy. God, they’re dumb.

    Now, the hard part, formulating a positive argument for homosexuality. Work in progress. Any help will be much appreciated.

  36. stephen Said,

    Correction of a typo second post up: “Being a traditionalist does require mindlessness” should read “Being a traditionalist doesn’t require mindlessness.” Oops again.

  37. stephen Said,

    Correction of a typo second post up: “Being a traditionalist does require mindlessness” should read “Being a traditionalist doesn’t require mindlessness.” Oops again.

  38. stephen Said,

    Correction of a typo second post up: “.. . . does require mindlessness” should read “Being a traditionalist doesn’t require mindlessness.” Oops again.

  39. stephen Said,

    I’m no good at this computer thingy, as you can tell. Andre, can you fix things so that I don’t repeat myself on my correction. I’m embarrassed about now.

  40. stephen Said,

    Let me briefly end by saying that in my opinion the closest I’ve come to a positive argument for homosexuality is the incoherence of a prohibition against loving, covenanted homosexual companionships, condemning homosexual to being alone, and God’s explicitly expressed will that homosexuals not be alone, as in “Tis not good for man to be alone.” In other words, God communicated that He desires that homosexuals have intimate companionship in a home environment [Is there any other kind of meaningful companionship?].

    I wasn’t intending on telling this story but what the hell. It popped into my head. In the late 1940s a young homosexual couple at university went to the then prophet of the LDS Church to inquire about the Church’s stand on their relationship. He told them to live as decent a life as they know how in their homosexual companionship.

    Unfortunately, the leaders of the LDS Church that immediately followed went on a jihad against sex in general and homosexuality in particular. They were swept along by the “reawakening” of the evangelicals in the 1950s, which is when the jihad began nationwide in all religions.

    Thank the Lord the LDS leaders have sobered up lately and have shown much more tolerance, even permitting a club to be formed of homosexuals at the Church’s flagship institution of higher learning, Brigham Young University. Shocking, huh.

    Unfortunately, the selfsame LDS leaders have stated both their agnosticism and their opposition to homosexual relationships. They’re agnostic about the etiology of same-sex attraction, confessing that they simply don’t know what causes it. But they seem to know that they’re opposed to it, nonetheless. We believers await future developments.

  41. 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

  42. stephen Said,

    To the objection by Anonymous quoting Father Alexander Schmemann that “Homosexuality is a manifestation of the ‘thorn in the flesh’ which tortures in various ways, but tortures everyone, [that] in the fallen world nothing can be ‘normalized’, but everything can be saved,” I wearily reply that Father Schmemann is begging the question, assuming that which he’s required to prove, that homosexuality is a “thorn in the flesh,” that is, is a defect of the soul, a falling short, a sin.

    Jesus during his ministry on earth never once condemned homosexuality as a sin, nor did he call those who indulge in it to repentance. Not once in three years. What did our Lord and Savior know that apparently Father Schmemann doesn’t knows?

    Question: Is heterosexual sex between a man and a woman in a loving, faithful, covenanted relationship one of the various ways which the “thorn in the flesh” tortures them? If not, then how about extending homosexuals the same courtesy, Father Schmemann, or at least stop begging the question as to the reason why you don’t extend it.

    Anonymous, did you read my posts? I’ve already been over this.

  43. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    I thought this site was orthodox not just gay, so in that light, stop providing protestant sola scripture arguments, and discarding orthodox tradition. There is not one single saint that was sanctified ‘through’ gay relationship, (as there have been saints sanctified through heterosexual marriage), the saints that started as homosexuals and then went through purification, illumination and thesis, were all saints that fought it as another manifestation of the ‘thorn in the flesh’. All of them.

  44. stephen Said,

    Anonymous, I know nothing of Protestant arguments, have no interest in Protestantism. Its adherents seem to be blown about by every wind and doctrine. I recall the great poet Marlowe’s depiction of Protestants, hypocritical asses. But if Protestants agree at certain points with my reasoning, good for them. You seem to see a family resemblance between us. So be it.

    Regarding your argument from the saints, I point out it is anecdotal with all that’s wrong with relying on anecdotes to make one’s case. There are so many reasons to not draw conclusions from such anecdotes, among which are other anecdotes that allow for other possible conclusions.

    But even so, Quine, the celebrated philosopher, postulated a now famous theory. It’s called the under-determination thesis. In essence it goes that for any set of facts as evidence there are ALWAYS multiple explanations that are perfectly compatible with the evidence.

    You seem to think that the evidence from the saints automatically generates your conclusion and excludes all competing conclusions. Big mistake.

    For instance, Joan of Arc is a saint in the Catholic Church. Was she a lesbian? Who knows? She didn’t say. But then, we know that most homosexuals never comment on their sexual orientation their whole lives because of its stigmatization in our homophobic Christian society.

    How do you know that some of the saints who never mentioned the subject of homosexuality, or never mentioned purifying and illuminating themselves, were not closet queens? According to the under-determination thesis, there’s the possible theory that some saints simply kept their mouths shut about the subject of their homosexuality and never really repented of their indulgence in it. Or perhaps they just got busy doing their saintly thing and rather than repent of their homosexuality just didn’t have time for it.

    The point is, who knows? If my theory totally accommodates the selfsame evidence that your theory does then we have to choose the theory most likely because its the more reasonable.

    I conjecture that your assumption that the evidence automatically generates your spin on the evidence from the saints is not plausible on a second look. It’s not exhaustive, for one thing. For another, it assumes that silence of a saint on the subject of homosexuality is indicative of your conclusion. I can postulate that it’s more probable the saints who did not bring the subject up were closet queens afraid of their homosexual shadow.

    We all know homosexuals who are adamant about avoiding the subject of their homosexuality. In fact, statistically, most homosexuals are still deep in the closet. Saints are mortal just like we are.
    ~
    You talk about my providing scriptural arguments and discarding orthodox tradition. Would you like to take the scriptures out of the common man’s hands like before when orthodoxy tried to prevent the translation of the Bible in the Roman Church so that all we have is the say-so of orthodox religious authorities to go on?

    Your problem, as I see it, is that you have supplanted scriptural exegesis, the life of Christ Himself, and your own rational faculty with blind faith in ecclesiastical authority figures. Another big mistake in my book.

    With that out of the way, being orthodox does not license abandoning logical argument, science, and common sense. As the scripture says, let us reason together. So we are admonished by scripture to employ our reasoning faculty in feeling our way to the truth, mindlessly quoting one or another ecclesiastical orthodox homophobe not counting as employing our reasoning faculty.

    Paul, the apostle, is he an honored member of your orthodox circle? He was alarmed at members blindly following the say-so of Church authorities. He admonished the members of the Church to not trust in the arm of their religious leaders’ flesh.

    Brigham Young, the LDS prophet, said as much when at a General Conference of the LDS Church relayed that it had come to his attention that the members of the Church were following implicitly Church authorities, with the attitude that if the authorities are wrong, let it be on their heads not the general membership who blindly follow them. He corrected the members, saying that it would be on their heads not the authorities because every member has as much right to the Spirit and revelation as a Church authority. So if a member disagrees with what he hears an authority say, he is to go home, pray about it, and follow his own inspiration in answer to his prayers.

    There was no more orthodox religious authority than Brigham Young. Apparently your orthodoxy is not his, nor mine, for that matter. But I can’t allow you to impose your peculiar notion of what it is to be orthodox onto me, which you tried to do by dismissing my arguments as Protestant caviling so you wouldn’t have to deal with them by slapping the label of Protestant on them, I guess.

    If questioning centuries’ old wrongheaded, logically and scientifically indefensible dogma is “discarding orthodox tradition,” then I say let’s make the most of it. But I don’t agree with you that performing the Herculean task of cleaning the Augean stables of orthodox shit that has been piling up over the centuries is discarding orthodox tradition.

    Not cleaning orthodoxy’s stables is not helpful to the orthodox cause. And some of the foulness that has accumulated in orthodoxy’s stables is the centuries-old claim, the excuse for stigmatizing and persecuting homosexuals by orthodox authorities, that same-sex attraction is acquired in one way or another, that it is not God-given, meaning not inborn, and that therefore the homosexual can be purged and purified, and if he struggles and fails to purge and purify himself, well, he didn’t try hard enough.

    As psychologists now tell us, nothing has been more pernicious in causing unspeakable misery among homosexuals than orthodox authority figures blathering on a subject about which they know nothing.

    And that would mean hundreds of millions of tormented Christian men–assumed to be that many from the statistic that 10% of the male population of most mammalian species, including man, are homosexual, a constant of nature. Tell me, how a homosexual penguin or a homosexual lion socialized, that is, is not born with a structurally different brain that manifests as sexual desire for members of his own gender?

    How do animals “choose” to be gay? And a fortiori, if not animals, then common sense tells us that man does not choose to be gay.

    I don’t care how much you grunt, sweat, weep, and pray, Anonymous, you will not alter your brain structure, your sexual identity, at its core, the identity which you have had since the moment the doctor slapped you on the bum and you took your first breath.

    I remind you that Exodus International was disbanded a little while ago by its leaders, who confessed that in all their years as a clearinghouse for reparative therapists they had no evidence that a single, solitary gay man’s sexual orientation had been changed, not one. What an idictment of orthodox authorities who sent thousands of gay members to be victimized by those quacks.

    Reparative therapists who claim “cures” we can then without much risk assume are liars. Indeed, there is evidence that they are from independent investigations. What they’ve been calling “cures” are not really cures. All of the evidence they’ve trotted out over the years of cures is anecdotal and does not qualify as science. They’ve never met the challenge to be scientific. They know they’re lying.

    Science has rendered the orthodox homophobes passe. And recent exegesis has yanked the scriptural rug out from under their feet, too. The orthodox homophobes have been left sputtering ineffectually more and more dependent on the blind worship of tradition as they stubbornly persist in their ignorance.

    Or worse, to shore up their failing power, which decreases by the day now, they’re making strange bedfellows with ex-KGB agents to deploy the coercive power of the state as a “persuader,” like the present head of the Russian Orthodox Church. What a disgrace for the world of orthodoxy he is.

    Is that the kind of orthodoxy with which you vibrate in sympathy, Anonymous?

    Scientists in England have just announced the discovery long anticipated of a particular region on the X chromosome with a gene that causes same-sex attraction. They expect to find further such genes, saying traits like sexual orientation come in genetic complexes.

    It’s the long-awaited smoking gun. The orthodox homophobes must be shitting their pants about now. Because if homosexuality is God-given, the implications are dire for the homophobes. See my previous posts explaining the reason why. I’m not inclined to re-invent my own wheel.

    Sadly, the trouble with the bureaucracy of any institution is the institutional mentality that ends up pervading it, and that includes religious bureaucracies.

    And what is the institutional mentality of any religious bureaucracy? Number one priority is to protect the Church from the sinner. Then if there’s time left help the sinner. Jesus’ thinking on the subject was diametrical.

    By the way, is Jesus Christ orthodox enough for you? I can’t repeat it often enough, during all three years of His ministry on earth He did not once mention homosexuality to condemn it and call homosexuals to repentance, to pull their “thorn in the flesh” out. Not once. I think I’ll follow Christ rather than Father so and so or Friar so and so or Saint so and so.

    Okay, I’ll repeat myself. I know I said I wouldn’t when you can read my previous posts. Christ skirted close to homosexuality one time in answering a question, so close that He could have easily launched into a brief diatribe against homosexuality. But He didn’t. It was the time he compared Himself to homosexuals in a non-condemning way, saying that some men were born not to desire women, some men were made by other men not to desire women, and some men chose to not desire women in order to build up the kingdom. To me it’s obvious that He is referencing homosexuals, eunuchs, and Himself respectively?

    Christ for me is the ultimate orthodox authority. I think I’ll follow Him rather than robed, orthodox homophobes who, I suspect, had and have ulterior motives for their homophobia.

    I’m not impressed by the lives of religious authorities. In fact, I’m more and more disappointed in them the older I get. Age broadens one’s perspective. I guarantee it will yours, too.

    What a man chooses not to do is as pregnant with implications as what he chooses to do. Then how much more pregnant with implications was Christ choosing to pass over the subject of homosexuality in utter silence. Inasmuch as homosexuality was rampant at the time of Christ in the Greco-Roman world, renders the import of His silence on the subject all the greater.

    Being orthodox does not mean scooping your brain out of your skull, becoming a knee-jerk rote memorizer, worshiping tradition, and surrendering your rational faculty in mindless submission to the chattering ecclesiastical class.

    The defining characteristic of man, that which distinguishes him as a species, is his rational faculty, as Aristotle depicts it, the agency capable of self-originated thought. Emphasis: thought originated by the self.

    Unquestioning faith in something outside yourself is not thought originated by your “self.” It’s choosing to abdicate your autonomous agency. The prophets never advocated BLIND faith.

    To repeat, unquestioning obedience, uncritically knuckling under to tradition and slapping the label of “orthodox” on it is not originating thought, as both the scriptures and Aristotle admonish us to do.

    Orthodox prelates used to support burning homosexuals at the stake. The selfsame prelates have been blathering that homosexuality is not inborn, as well. If they’re wrong about something as important as homosexuality, that affects as many men as it does, what else are they wrong about? We have every right, according to the scriptures, to ask that question and to investigate the answer wherever it may lead.

    Again, see my previous posts as to why homosexuality being inborn is morally relevant.

  45. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    i am nearing the end of my life and I am sorry to see you want to dig your heals in a position of self-justification on this matter. I mean the position that a sin is not a sin.
    It is better to sin gravely and admit it than to sin – even extremely lightly by omission- and be self justified in one’s mind.
    God’s forgiveness, ready to forgive every sin – even if one is worse than Hitler himself ever was – becomes unaccessible to him who wants to make a self-justifying ideology out of his sin – even if it is a tiny thing like:
    “it’s o.k that I didn’t fast this Friday that I was tired”
    instead of saying:
    “forgive me Lord for not having fasted today that I was weak”….

    Furthermore, I do not want to be based on my own opinions, that would not be Orthodoxy, would it? I want the truth, not the “truth” of human fallen reasoning but of the Spirit. The verified truth -that is verified by the body of the Church you seem to believe has foul stables…
    You mention a great deal, but quote only selectively from people who would be going against the point you are trying to make (Like saint Paul), I lack the time unfortunately to go through every single point you make here.
    However, I am also becoming increasingly convinced that this might be fruitless, we are only going round the same ground and I have seen comments being edited here many a time before when they do not seem agreeable… I am pretty sure that if I started mentioning St Paul on homosexuality (as you mentioned him on another issue) you would come back with some clever response. But this is what makes me give up on this conversation as a fruitless one. Perhaps we should both better spend our time in prayer and God will then show His truth to whomever He wants to…
    The Saints fought with ‘all desires’ other than the desire towards God, perhaps holiness is not yet a strong enough desire so that you and I can see everything else as what it really is – including indulgence in sexuality bereft of procreation.What do you think?

    But homosexuality being proved as “from nature” rather than nurture (which you believe might make the Church “shit her pants”…!) does not mean much at all. You keep hammering this point as if it means a great deal – it does not in Christianity, it only does so for the secular ‘Cross-less’ world…
    That is why Father Schmemann’s quote was so pertinent:
    “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”

    A “god-given” propensity for anything is not a license for it, I had a propensity for a great many things in my life from youth, some was clearly genetic, some was mainly acquired and cultivated, they were both sinful though, and it was the Cross I had to bear in my life…

  46. stephenPaul Said,

    Anonymous

    I already answered Father Schmemann’s dismissal of the nature-nurture argument as irrelevant in a previous post.

    One of the points I made was that FS begs the question, assuming that which he’s obliged to prove, assuming at the outset that homosexuality is a sin when that is the conclusion.

    I also repeat, which I wouldn’t have to had you bothered to read my posts, that I do not claim to have a positive justification of homosexuality. But only claim is that I have demolished the homophobes’ arguments, totally discredited the stigmatizers and persecutors of 10% of the male population, shedding new light on why it was the Christ passed over the subject of homosexuality in utter silence. Did he see what I see about the discreditable nature of the arguments against it?

    If homophobes, and among their number I include the insufferable “love the sinner while hating the sin” crowd, and anyone else calling homosexuals to repentance, WHICH JESUS CHRIST NEVER DID, NOT ONCE–want to argue their case, fine. Go for it. I encourage it. I have a lot to learn.

    But make it intellectual and scripturally credible. Don’t beg the question, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t trot out old, questionable interpretations of mistranlations of the Bible from the past, and don’t worship tradition.

    And it’s the last that separates us. I’m consider myself orthodox in the extreme. And I’m totally celibate until I find the answer I’m looking for, been celibate for 25 years. But I don’t claim to know Andre’s truth, or any other gay man who testifies of his unique understanding. How can I judge their perspective, the reality of their experience?

    But neither do homophobic prelates know Andre’s unique relationship with God, the selfsame prelates who blather about homosexuality without any knowledge of the subject, misquoting scripture right and left and flouting the findings of science.

    I feel that I can learn from Andre and other gay men who’ve found contentment and peace in a loving, committed relationship, a fullness of life that they otherwise would be bereft of. They are obeying God’s will for everyone, the very first expression of His will to man: “Tis not good for man to be alone.”

    Who are we to judge their obedience to God’s will as expressed in the aforecited passage? In my opinion being alone is a sin that does more damage to the spirit than we realize. And is not such damage a sin?

    Taking your position for granted arguendo that indulging in same-sex attraction is a sin, you are confronted, then, with a dilemma. If you obey the orthodox religious authorities who condemn homosexuality and refrain from an intimate, meaningful companionship in the only way possible to you as a gay man, that is, with another man, then you are disobeying God’s will that you not be alone.

    And if you obey God’s will that you not be alone, and take for yourself a companion who will stand by your side through thick and thin, for better or for worse, completely united with you in every way, reinforcing your mutual love with physical intimacy, making the relationship that much more meaningful, then you will be disobeying the orthodox religious authorities.

    If you persist in trusting in the arm of your religious leaders’ flesh I have no solution to the dilemma for you.

    To the objection that a homosexual man can have a meaningful companionship without indulging in homosexual behavior, I reply try telling that to heterosexuals, to a man and a wife. Being a pink lady at a hospital, an animal handler at the Humane Society, a member of a Meet-up club, a golf partner, and so on, is not going to cut it as a meaningful companionship.

    True story: Decades ago I did have several homosexual experiences two or three years apart from each other. I was not the kind to be promiscuous. Didn’t have meaning for me. You could count my sexual experiences total on the fingers of one hand. I never entered the “gay life.” No interest whatsoever.

    In any event, one night after no human contact for two or three years I was trolling the streets downtown at 10:30 pm in my car trying to see if I could rake up a human contact, just to touch someone. I saw an interesting and masculine looking young man walking alone down the street. So I pulled over to the curb and stopped. To make a long story short we ended up at my place. Like most straight men he seemed interested in television more than the thought of having sex. So I turned the television off. We stripped and got into bed nude. I pressed against him, arms over his waist his over mine and–we talked. And we talked. And we talked, occasionally pressing our bodies against each other, whereat we talked some more. The ease of the conversation, the intimacy, the mutual liking which was immediate, all contributed to a wonderful experience.

    Finally I had to go and ruin it. I said to myself, “I brought him here for sex and sex we’re going to have.” Needless to say, the sex was an anti-climax.

    The next day I was astonished to realize in thinking back over the previous night that lying there together intimately touching and talking, feeling the warmth of our bodies, but no sex, was the most wonderful experience of my life, and it lasted less than an hour. My life before and after emotionally dessicated and lonely. “Friends” aren’t enough.

    The sex was way down the list of memorable experiences. That’s when I realized what God meant when he admonished us to find a companion. It’s to fulfill our potential for such a wonderful experience.

    Again, this is not a positive argument for homosexuality. It’s not a proof, if that’s what you’re looking for. But it’s my reality. Nothing else in my life has come close to approximating the deep pleasure of that experience of connecting with another person, body and soul. I remember it to this day as fresh as the day after. And it was possible for me only with another man.

    FS would deprive me, Andre, and other gay men of a similar experience? How inhumane.

    My experience suggests to me there’s more to this issue than the chattering religious class is aware of. And so I continue to search for answers independent of them. They certainly don’t have the answers. They’ve proven that.

    Reported just a few days ago is the fact that scientists in the UK have finally found the smoking gun, a gene on a certain region of the X chromosome that is now identified as manifesting same-sex attraction. Other genes, they say, are expected to be added to the complex of genes that fills out the explanation for such attraction.

    FS thinks this finding is irrelevant to his purposes. But not if you provide Aristotle’s philosophical framework to the findings that nature is now definitely the explanation for same-sex attraction.

    FS questions the relevance of the nature-nurture debate over homosexuality. He ignores certain important distinctions that arise if nature wins the debate, which I think it already has, one of which any beginning student of Aristotle would be able to remind him of, the distinction between essence and accident.

    Various “thorns in the flesh” about which you speak, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, anger, greed, covetousness, or what’s tantamount, left-wing politics, are what Aristotle calls accidents, meaning, they’re not central to the identity of the sinner afflicted with such temptations. Repenting of such characteristics, throttling such desires, does not touch the core identity of the person.

    On the other hand, one’s sexual identity is at the core of a man’s essence, the kind of person he is. Change that and you change his very substance. That’s how deep sexual identity goes. As the leaders of the now defunct Exodus International organization confessed, they had not found a single, solitary man who could claim he was authentically cured of his homosexual nature, the reason it’s now defunct. The best result they found were men who simply stifled their nature.

    Again, I realize this is not a positive argument FOR homosexuality, as I’ve told you before. But it makes FS’s cavalier dismissal of the nature-nurture argument problematical. For if homosexuality is a manifestation of biology, a manifestation of a God-given propensity, and if that propensity manifests as the very core of a man’s identity, his very substance, and if identity is existence, then FS’s urging him to repent, to purge and purify his homosexual nature is tantamount to urging him to will himself out of existence. As I indicated before, could anything be more inhumane? And could anything be more characteristic of the religious class, which is what many psychologists find abhorrent about it.

    Again, Anonymous, you beg the question by saying that I’m self-justifying my sinful homosexual nature. Just stop it. I’m unmoved by declarations like that. Such statements are intended to be conversation-stoppers, to sidestep a substantive exchange of ideas by intimidation. I’m unimpressed.

    Truth is not validated by mortal men, including prelates. The scriptures offer us ways to uncover the truth. Reasoning is one of them. You seem to eschew that admonition. One’s personal revelation is another, such as I’m sure Aquinas had at the end of his life when he said that the heaven’s were opened to him and the knowledge he gained made everything he had done in philosophy and theology seem like straw to him. Joseph Smith, the LDS prophet, remarked that the way you can tell an authentic revelation is that genuine knowledge is imparted that can be communicated to others. What does that say about the evangelical fakers babbling as if their displaying the gift of tongues?

    Everyone has the right to personal revelation and the knowledge gained therefrom. That’s clear from the scriptures. So I lean on God, not mortal men as prelates.

    Again, Paul warns about the temptation to which faithful members are especially susceptible, placing their trust in the arm of their religious leaders’ flesh. They are nothing but fallible, mortal men, after all.

    Excluding all other sources of truth but that of the Church is the same as worshiping the Church. Paul says that the Church is not an eternal institution and will be done away with one day when the members are perfected. A temporary institution is not because it cannot be a repository of eternal truth. You seem to confuse the Church, which is temporary, with the gospel, which is eternal.

    You err in thinking the truth is validated by the Church, that is, by mortal men assigned to maintain it until it’s abolished. On the contrary, the truth is validated by the Spirit and by reason.

    Your skepticism about the powers of reason is obvious. Except Aristotle’s disdainful dismissal of skepticism should be of interest to you: “The skeptical proposition collapses into the reductio of it having to be explained how the proposition itself is not to be doubted.”

    In other words, as Ecclesiastes says, you’ve been given a head. Use it. There’s a time and season for everything. You’ve decided otherwise, that there is only the time and season for trusting in the mortal men who are in positions of religious authority.

    You’re frightened of thinking for yourself. As you say, you do not want to base your conclusions on your own thinking. But, again, that’s unscriptural. The scriptures tell us to reason, that is, to originate thought by means of our own cognition in the search for the truth.

    You’re right, I would come back with a clever response to the clobber passages used by homophobes to stigmatize, persecute, and murder homosexuals, including Paul’s. Thankfully, the new exegesis has deprived homophobes of their cherished clobber passages. About time. I won’t go into the substance of the new exegesis of Leviticus and Paul. You can find it out yourself online.

    However, to take but one example of the new exegesis, the clobber passages that talk about men leaving women to lust after men have to be reprimanding heterosexual men, not homosexual men. Homosexual men couldn’t be the ones referred to as “leaving” women because they wouldn’t be sexually-psychologically committed to women in the first place such that turning to men would be the case of leaving women. That’s just one example that the more careful reading of the clobber passages flips the traditional sloppy interpretation on its head, sloppy because of the orthodox homophobes’ haste to stigmatize and persecute homosexuals.

    Here’s a simple syllogism: [1] Most orthodox prelates are homophobes. [2] Psychologists tell us that homophobia is a compensatory strategy to help men cope with their own suppressed feelings of same-sex attraction and the fear it engenders in them. [3] Ergo, many orthodox prelates are hidden queens.

    Anonymous, you may not at this point believe me, but I’m learning from you, more an alteration of my perspective, a nudge here and a reminder there. All the ideas I come in contact with no matter from where or from whom go into the mix. So I’m grateful. I continue the search.

  47. stephen Said,

    I don’t know how my moniker got changed to stephenPaul.

  48. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    the words:

    For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    do not support what you are trying to prove…
    They, in fact, are Christ’s answer to his disciples words “it is better not to marry”. In other words He does admonish that those three types of eunuchs (nurture, nature and spiritual) mustn’t enter into a sexual relationship – a marriage is the only blessed sexual relationship in the Church.

    Christ, in His recorded words, does not explicitly condemn homosexuality, but He neither condemns polygamy or incest… Yet Christians, from the beginning until today, understood that these practices cannot be part of Christianity. Clearly the words of Christ on marriage, refer to a pair of husband and wife (eg Matthew 19, 3.12 ) . How could it be otherwise, since God created the primary pair of a man and a woman (Matt. 19, 4-5 )

    Even as biological beings we can discern a fundamental purpose to the existence of the sexual organs in nature – to create new human beings. Even if certain diseases or birth defects preclude this basic purpose, this does not alter the biological evidence for it in any way.

    Is there a manner of living as a non-heterosexual person that is salvific? Because the proclamation of marriage as a sacrament of the Church – the union of a man and woman in the bond of holy matrimony – is not a mere ‘permission’ of the Church, but, in fact, an active part of our cooperative salvation. Same-gender sexual activity could never be described as engaging in what the Church calls ‘union’. It is perhaps possible to argue that same-gender sexual activities are “emotionally” unitive, or “psychologically” unitive. An individual might find same-gender sex to be comforting, reassuring, affirming, etc. but actually ‘creating a union’ is much more problematic. 
The Church recognizes that in the union of husband and wife the Church is not somehow creating a ‘state of relationship that would be useful or desirable for some’. Rather, the Church is blessing what God has blessed “from the beginning.” As is true in all the sacraments, blessing only reveals something to be what it already is. Christ said: 
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Mat 19:4-5)
The most obvious fulfillment of this Divine commandment is the procreation of children.

    The hatred that some direct towards homosexuals has no place within the Church. But erecting a false narrative of human sexual union will not ultimately remove the suffering of any passion. Its fulfilment or non-fulfillment ultimately won’t either. The transient joy of personal fulfillment is a very very sad substitute for salvation and Theosis. Theosis is the meaning of existence, not being alone is ultimately fulfilled only through it and not through transient human relationships of any sort… Human life, including human sexual experience, is filled with distortions and disasters. Orthodoxy, in obedience to Christ, can offer no solace to anyone other than the ascesis of the Cross taken up.

  49. stephen Said,

    Thank you, Anonymous, for the last post. I was happy to find that you had abandoned for the most part merely quoting what others have said and were using your own brain, while still sticking to your guns.

    Before I answer your post point by point, let me make a general statement: Psychologists are adamant that seeking support, feeling close, being intimate, forming strong, enduring emotional bonds, expressing feelings to a trusted confidante, in other words, being intimate, making an intimate, understanding, and loving connection with another soul, is essential to the human experience, for both physical and psychological well-being, which, in fact, depend on the success of making that connection.

    I think you can guess what’s coming next. Orthodox homophobes like Father Schmemann would deprive homosexuals of this necessary condition for physical and psychological well-being with a lot of comfortless mumbo-jumbo about denying oneself, nailing oneself to the cross, and other Paulian injunctions that are dangerous when taken out of context.

    God knew what He was doing when He expressed His will that homosexuals not be alone, as in “Tis not good for man to be alone.” Sorry, Anonymous, pets just don’t qualify, as much as we love them. And neither do co-workers, club members, golf partners, and so on. The aforecited litany of necessary conditions for physical and psychological well-being accommodate only a committed, intimate relationship in a home environment.

    To the objection that God gave Adam a spouse whom he named Eve, not Steve, i reply that, of course, if procreation was to get off the ground. But once off the ground conditions changed.

    Adam and Eve made a marriage of one man and one woman. But polygamy was sanctioned by God later on as a gift [2 Sam. 12]. The Patriarchs practiced polygamy [Genesis]. A fortiori, if that, then what other different conditions of human relationships possible to us later on would God sanction that were not conditions met with by our first parents? Gay marriage?

    Some scholars have postulated that David and Jonathan sealed themselves to each other as a married couple in their eyes, so great was their love one for the other. I’m dubious. But what do I know? I was raised in the John Wayne American culture where men don’t express their love for each other. Only homos do that.

    This is getting too long. Let me break here and reply to your points in the next post.

  50. stephen Said,

    You quote Jesus’ answer to his disciples incredulity over Him telling them that whoever divorces his wife except for fornication [adultery?] and marries another commits adultery himself. [By the way do we follow Jesus’ stricture today? Is a man considered an adulterer for divorcing his wife for other reasons than adultery? Of course, what I’m driving at is the fluidity of the sociology of the scriptures if not the theology.]

    Quote: “Some are born without the ability to marry [to desire sex with women], some are disabled by men [and can’t have sex with women], and some refuse to get married [refuse to have sex with women] for the sake of the kingdom.”

    Then you say that Jesus’ statement doesn’t support what I was trying to prove.

    [1] I don’t know what you think I was trying to prove about that passage. if you reread my post you will find that the sole reason for my citation was to prove that, though Christ had plenty of opportunity to put the finger on homosexuals, as ignorant orthodox prelates think they have the license to do today and have been doing to homosexuals’ detriment for centuries, yet He chose not to.

    Christ referred to homosexuals only once during His ministry, and that was to compare Himself to them in the sense intended, without condemning them nor calling them to repentance.

    This is significant, I conjecture, and as I posted before, because if what a man doesn’t say is as fraught with implications as what he does say, then how greater the import of the fact that Christ passed over the subject of homosexuality in total silence–when homosexuals were swirling in the Roman culture all around Him–again, never condemning them nor calling them to repentance, as Andre pointed out. Shocking.

    Now from the passage quoted we are given to understand that Christ understood homosexuals are born to sexually desire men. Unlike Father Schmemann, I think this fact makes FS’ postulation–that it makes no difference whether a “thorn in the flesh” is natural or acquired, it’s still a thorn and we must make an effort to remove it–problematical, if you assume homosexuality really is a thorn, begging the question that it is not being very helpful to FS’s case.

    Christ didn’t urge homosexuals to remove that supposed thorn as you do on FS’ representations. But He urged His followers to remove a lot of other thorns.

    So the $64 is, why? Why did Christ make a distinction between homosexuality on the one hand, and, say, adultery, anger, stealing, murder, bearing false witness, coveting, etc., on the other hand? The only clue we have is from Christ’s own mouth, that homosexual desire is inborn.

    I tried before and will try again, Anonymous, to explain why Christ, unlike FS, thought being born homosexual made a difference morally, such that He didn’t see fit to address the issue of homosexuality as a sin. And that explanation is found in Aristotle’s “Physics,” the distinction between essence and accident. You can read my previous post about the relevance of that distinction.

    Let me here just say that homosexuality, if inborn, and if unchangeable, as scientists and therapists, after decades of wrangling over this issue, now conclude it is, then it’s an aspect of the essence of a man, an aspect of his identity.

    Except EXISTENCE IS IDENTITY is one of the basic propositions of metaphysics. And it’s crucial to the issue of homosexuality. For it means that a man’s trying to change his sexual identity, which is an aspect of his essence, is like trying to will himself out of existence, to will himself into oblivion. Anger, covetousness, drunkenness, a murderous impulse, etc., are accidents, and can be repented of by a man without touching his identity or essence, without willing himself into oblivion.

    [2] To your objection that Christ says that homosexuals, man-made eunuchs, and men with a mission in the Kingdom “should not” marry [should not have sex with a woman], I reply that “should” is a prescriptive term. Except the passage cited is not prescriptive, but rather descriptive. Christ is merely telling his disciples what the facts are of the matter. He’s not attempting to prioritize those facts or pass judgment on them or command us to do anything because of them.

    Parenthetically, homophobic orthodox prelates are notorious for being judgmental, homosexuals but one group that’s their victims. Psychotherapists are appalled at the human carnage these homophobes have perpetrated and are still perpetrating.

    In any event, in Matt. 19 Christ isn’t telling homosexuals that they “should not” marry [should not have sex], or eunuchs that they “should not” marry [should not have sex]. And as to the last, He’s merely relating that some men refuse to get involved with women for the sake of the Kingdom. But He’s not telling them that they “should not” get involved.

    Peter was married, was he not? The Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were married, were they not? Noah was married, was he not? Adam, too? Isaiah? All the greatest prophets were married, were they not? Were not all these men anointed to their high calling for the sake of God’s Kingdom?

    What I’m driving at is that the Scriptures must be read in the full context of the entire Bible and only after being put in that perspective interpreted. Doing so reinforces the fact that Christ’s statement was descriptive, not prescriptive, that He’s not telling the faithful that they “should not” marry, only that some don’t for the sake of the Kingdom.

    Similarly, if some homosexuals, perhaps yourself and my confused self, refuse to have sex with other men, there’s no revelation that prescribes the refusal. And there’s no scripture that prescribes it either, according to the new exegesis. The clobber passages have been taken away from the homophobes. Good. About time.

    Psychotherapists are on God’s side, it’s not good to be alone. People who live alone are physically and psychologically unhealtheir than they could be otherwise. being alone can drive people crazy, even kill them. It’s not good for the spirit or the mind. Richard Burton in the 16th century published a book entitled “The Anatomy of Melancholy.” He summed up his research, never be alone, never be idle.

    Orthdox homophobes, by urging homosexuals to abandon an intimate connection with another soul in the only way they can be intimate with any meaning, to in essence live their lives out unloved, untouched, and alone, are urging an unhealthy lifestyle on them.

    Except God’s laws are consistent, and the physical world is prefigured by the spiritual. Thus obeying God, I conjecture, would not be detrimental to the body nor to the spirit. But homosexuals’ obeying the homophobic orthodox prelates is detrimental to both for them. Thus what the prelates tell homosexuals to do cannot be commensurate with God’s will.

    [This think just keeps growing. See next post.]

  51. stephen Said,

    [3] To your objection that the only blessed sexual relationship in the Church is between married people, I reply, okay, then, let gays get married. The whole point of the foregoing is to demonstrate that Christ never objected to it. That’s the fact. The rest is speculation, some more reasonable than others.

    [4] To your objection that Christ, while not explicitly condemning homosexuality, didn’t condemn polygamy or incest, either, yet Christians, from the beginning until today, have understood that these practices cannot be part of Christianity, I reply that the second generation of humans on earth, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, had to have committed what we today call incest. There was no one else.

    In addition, incest is culturally relative. First cousins in our culture are disallowed marrying each other. But in some cultures it’s perfectly acceptable. Wasn’t Sarah Abraham’s niece? Does that count as incest?

    Perhaps the ambiguity of the term “incest” is why Jesus didn’t mention it. Anything He would have said about it would have appertained to one culture but not to another. And Jesus was only interested in preaching eternal and universal principles.

    But, again, why would Jesus have condemned polygamy when the prophets and Patriarchs practiced it? And we’re back where we started, the import of why Jesus remained silent on the subject of homosexuality, on the condition of 10% of the male population milling around Him, in Nazareth, in Jerusalem, everywhere.

    When Jesus was in Jerusalem He no doubt walked by a homosexual hang-out or two. Every city of any size had them in those days. Homosexuals had their cruising spots, too. Jesus walked through those, I’m surmising. It wasn’t like Jerusalem had a huge population so big that Jesus would not have known every nook and cranny of the city.

    Homosexuality, historians tell us, was more open then than now, if you can believe it? Christ no doubt was personally acquainted with homosexuals in Nazareth as He was growing up.

    Orthodox homophobes have not given the question sufficient consideration as to why Christ never condemned them nor called them to repentance though acquainted with them a lot.

    Christian foes of gay marriage blather that Christian tradition is marriage between one man and one woman. Then Christians might want to take a second look at their man-made version of religion. Because the longer tradition of God’s people is polygamy, not monogamy.

    If the Patriarchs, prophets, and kings of Israel were polygamists then we can assume others were, too. Monogamy is a johnny-come-lately, not traditional to God’s people at all. I’ve found the Christian foes of gay marriage have no grasp at all on reality, on science, on scripture, nor on the tradition they blather about all the time. They’re an intellectual and moral disgrace.

    When I hear them babbling incoherently on television, I’m so embarrassed for them I hide my face in shame in my hands. And I’m alone in my bedroom, too. No wonder they’re losing the cultural and legal war over gay marriage. The emptiness of their arguments is being exposed more and more. It’s been a long run, but the end of the homophobes is in sight. Homosexuals are salivating already.

    [5] To your possible objection that Christianity changed all that polygamy stuff, I reply by quoting your own words, Christ never condemned polygamy. So Christ didn’t change all that stuff about polygamy.

    Probably being subjugated by Rome is one of the things that changed it. Monogamy was a pagan Greek and Roman practice and was imposed on Christianity by the Roman culture.

    [6] To your possible objection that monogamy was practiced by the Jews before Christ, I reply that the Jews had apostatized since the time of the polygamous prophets. They’re hardly a recommendation.

    [7] To your objection that Christ on marriage refers to a pair of one man and one woman, reinforced by the fact that god created one man and one woman in the beginning, I reply that, of course, again, to get the ball rolling. But later prophets had several wives and concubines, with God’s blessing. I’m repeating myself.

    Analogically, let’s assume for the sake of argument that God also created one lion and one lioness to get the ball rolling for that species, too. Yet today a lion pride is polygamous. The exigencies of the first generation of Creation would have imposed differences in conditions out of necessity that were not at all necessary later on, nor actually practiced by God’s people.

    Can we not surmise that with all the evidence that polygamy is the common traditional practice of God’s people, an explanation as to why Christ says “a man should leave his father and mother and be forever united to his wife” is contextual, referring to the social conditions of Christ’s time? By then the religious culture of the Jews had fallen away and didn’t practice fully the polygamous faith of the Patriarchs and prophets of old any longer.

    It would have been foolhardy for Jesus to insert a polygamous reference into his preaching. For what reason, to confuse his listeners? Jesus was forced to adjust his message to the contemporaneous culture in which He preached. Mentioning polygamy in that cultural climate would have been a needless distraction. And Christians simply followed suit afterward blindly through the centuries.

    [8] To your objection that the fundamental purpose for the sex organs is procreation, an argument that relies on the idea that “form is function,” I reply that this is a Catholic superstition. In the West it was the Catholic Church hierarchy that started this, I might add, and started pressing the issue rather late in the day, too. I smell a rat.

    Besides, the jihad against sex in general has no scriptural basis. It’s sheer ascetic lunacy. One Christian man in Egypt of the early Church spent years living on top of a pole to deny himself. That’s the kind of Christian ascetic lunacy I mean.

    By contrast, Christ was known as a wine-bibber and consorter with sinners. No ascetic He. He loved a party. So I doubt He would have approved of the new edict to have sex only for procreation that the Catholic hierarchy, certainly not Jesus, in one of their loonier moments issued.

    I point out that the same scriptural evidence from which you think your postulation that a man and woman are joined solely for procreation is generated to the exclusion of all other postulations, actually totally accommodates those other postulations. I’ve already gone over the relevant points. See above.

    [9] Goethe observed that excessively religious people were lonely and unfulfilled. Religion for them was a kind of hysteria that compensated for the lack in their lives of normal fulfillment.

    To focus on but one sentence you wrote at the end of your post: “Theosis is the meaning of existence. Not being alone is ultimately fulfilled only through it and not through transient human relationships of any sort.”

    What the hell? Did not Jesus say, first, love God, and second, love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    Now, stay with me as I do some logic. Is your love for yourself, your relationship with yourself, the basis of your love for or relationship with others, transient? If it is then you can’t love others and you can’t obey what Christ said is one of the two greatest commandments that sums up all the other commandments. And there it is.

  52. stephen Said,

    [continued from previous post]

    And If your love for yourself is not transient, then neither would be the love you have for your neighbor. The one implies the former, according to Christ.

    I’m going to end with Paul’s advice to the members of the Church, trusting implicitly in the arm of religious authorities’ flesh is perilous. Don’t do it.

  53. stephen Said,

    Correction: “The one implies the former . . .” should read, “The one implies the other . . .” Or maybe what I had in mind is, “The latter logically entails the former . . .” Or what is more to my liking, “The former necessarily entails the latter.”

    I should read my posts before not after I click.

    But the point is made. If love for yourself–relationship with yourself–is transient then so will your love for your neighbor be, contrary to Jesus’ admonition. If love for yourself–relationship with yourself–is not transient then neither will your love for your neighbor be.

    In mathematical language we could put it that the set of all sets also is a set of itself, with implications in tow.

    Sometimes I think these authorities you quote, Anonymous, are trying to produce an effect rather than making sense. I can imagine them saying to themselves after dreaming up something like that quote about theosis, “Ooohhh, that sounds important. I haven’t the foggiest what it means. But that’s why I like it. It sounds deep, real deep.”

    I think that an ulterior motive for some men going into theology-religion instead of philosophy is that their blathering would be immediately exposed in the latter profession for what it is. They can get away with that kind of claptrap in theology because, let’s face it, we’re bumping up against the boundary of the mysteries, and, well, the assumption is that if a poor sucker doesn’t grasp the meaning of the latest pronunciamento of some bloviating, pretentious intellectual mediocrity, it’s his fault. He doesn’t have the Spirit with him sufficiently, or some other crap like that.

  54. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    as an Orthodox I wouldn’t be consoled by any secular reasoning which is what you seem to be going by. Only the Spirit of God would do it and would confirm one way or another.
    You set the bar very low. If the basics are obedience to the Church, virginity until, marriage, chastity and being constantly aware of carrying Christ’s members – not my own – most of what you keep coming back to is made relevant to him who wants to live bodily, not him who wants to live as close follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
    If you want to be a philosopher based on this or that no one will stop you, stop usurping the ‘orthodox’ part though.
    Stop using (even Jesus) to prove an agenda you have made your god and perhaps work the other way if you are interested not in justifying yourself but in justifying God’s will.
    You seem to trust Goethe far more than Saint Symeon the Stylite, Saint Daniel the Stylite, Saint, what else can I say, if you think you smell a rat conceding procreation(!) I smell a rat concerning your attempt at a new religion (like Henry the 8th who wanted more wives and created a new variant of ‘christianity’ – who of those who truly want Christ first and foremost, wants that). I’ll repeat that all this is a very very sad substitute for what we are called to “T h e o s i s”

  55. Anonymous Said,

    Theosis means becoming little what God called us to be ‘gods’ sons and daughters of His, in eternal blessed union with Him.
    I am very sorry to read your mocking words.

  56. Anonymous Said,

    Also, raising sexuality to identity (confusing what you desire with the desire towards God or away from Him – true identity) speaks of our mind’s captivity by modernity and secularity. It is not so, but ascesis is required for one to comprehend that depth of identity and what is (like sexuality etc) peripheral. But you have mocked the heart of Orthodoxy -ascesis- more than once…

  57. Takis Said,

    Stephen,
    I apologise that I haven’t managed to read this entire conversation – I wish I had the time but I don’t. However, you must keep in mind that when we say that there is no difference between the various passions, including all those connected to sexuality, in that they are ‘slaveries’ that need to be overcome (in the words of the Church hymnody), and that homosexuality of course is also similar to any of the other sexual preoccupations that do not have God’s blessing (to multiply) from the start, we mean that they are all fought in the same way. We do not give in to any. The method is simple and can be found in any Orthodox explanation of the Spiritual warfare on any passion…
    …every passion has its corresponding image, since it belongs to the sphere of created being, inevitably existing in one or another image. Usually a lustful thought acquires strength in man when the image is accepted and gains the attention of the mind. If the mind spurns the image, the passion itself cannot develop and will expire. For instance, supposing some desire of the flesh – a physiologically normal desire, maybe – comes to the ascetic, he will defend his mind from the passionate image assaulting him from without. And if the mind does not accept the image, the passion cannot develop into action and will expire without fail. The word ‘mind’ used here denotes, not reason – logical deliberation – but something perhaps best described as ‘inner attention’. If the mind, understood in this sense, is preserved from passionate images, perfect chastity is possible throughout a whole lifetime, even when the body is robust. Centuries of ascetic experience prove this…

  58. stephen Said,

    Takis,

    Thanx for the post. But i have to disagree with your representation of passion. The thesis of the science of cognitive psychology is that feeling is a secondary mental phenomenon, an automatic psychological response to an evaluation. The causal chain is 1. perception, 2. evaluation of the perception, 3. feeling, reactive or proactive [what you call passion].

    Who discovered the foregoing causal chain, cognitive psychologists or Ayn Rand, is disputable. It looks like they discovered it independently. However, I think Rand may have been first from a reading of her novels.

    In any event, cognitive psychology informs us that if you’re plagued by an unwanted [irrational] feeling the way to rid yourself of it is not to deal with it directly. That’s inefficient, and not only, but seldom successful. The unwanted feeling inevitably comes back. Continence is a never-ending battle against temptation.

    Rather, the way to rid yourself of an unwanted feeling [passion] is to change the evaluation that evokes it in the first place.

    Parenthetically, Aristotle distinguished between mere continence, struggling against temptation and even winning the struggle, and what is a higher plane of existence, advancing to the point where you’re not tempted in the first place, let’s put it, rising above temptation. Cognitive psychology now informs us that Aristotle was right. And cognitive psychologists have devised a therapeutic procedure that advances us beyond mere continence to a higher state of self-possession where we have shed the temptation that once disturbed us because we have nullified the evaluation that evoked the temptation.

    It takes time to make the conversion because the unwanted feelings that appear to “pop” into your head from time to time are actually being generated by long-held, by now automatized evaluations that you may be unaware of because they’ve sunk so deep. Therapy is systematically and regularly answering back to the irrational deep-rooted, automatized evaluations with rational evaluations, until the rational evaluations cancel the irrational evaluations causing the unwanted feelings to evaporate into air, into thin air.

    Jesus did not say, “As a man feels so is he.” Rather, He said, “As a man thinks so is he.” Christ was a cognitive psychologist 2,000 years before the science got off the ground. Waddaya know.

    The problem with orthodoxy, no matter the religion, including my own, is that its exponents are notorious for wading into the field of psychology, messing around with people’s heads though unqualified to do so, translating psychological terms into religious terms with absolutely no training in the former, dangerously spouting half-baked, ambiguous notions about the human mind and emotions that it takes years of training for scientists and practitioners to appreciate.

    I’m going to make the same criticism of your post that I made to Anonymous’ posts, your question-begging, assuming at the outset the proposition that you’re obliged to prove in the end, simply putting it in different words the two times.

    The question that’s begged by both you and Anonymous is: Is indulging in the homosexual act of itself a sin?.

  59. stephen Said,

    Anonymous,

    I was disappointed with your retreat back into your argument from authority after your last post, which attempted to reason a little. What’s the matter, don’t you have confidence in your rational powers of persuasion?

    Or were you overwhelmed by my arguments and so you decided not to even try to meet them? Because you didn’t answer a single proposition I proffered in the three sections of my post. Not a single, solitary one. Didn’t even attempt to. What a waste of my time. I can only draw the conclusion that you were incapable of answering one of my points that would pass muster.

    Then let’s assume the Spirit of Truth is within me and my arguments are invulnerable to dispute. I see no alternative conclusion.

    You derogate reasoning as “secular.” That is most unscriptural of you. The Scriptures urge us to reason together. But your rather selective on what scriptures you remember and what you don’t. Apparently, the scripture that tells you to reason with others about this [homosexuality] and other matters is not one that’s high on your list of priorities as scriptures go. I’ve met with this kind of selective citation before.

    That’s what I love about orthodox Jews, the tradition Jesus came out of. That’s all they do in Yeshiva, is get together and weigh logical arguments back and forth as they wrestle with the meaning of the Scriptures. I could easily be orthodox Jew.

    In going to the source, which for me is the Gospels–what could be more orthodox than they–and not taking the word of some prelate such and such or some Saint so and so, fallible mortals all, I’ve noticed that Jesus was not all God-centered and theosis-obsessed as you are. That kind of thinking did not dominate his preaching. Unlike your posts, Anonymous, the vast amount of his preaching was taken up telling stories and parables from the physical world that reinforced moral understanding that applied to people’s real-life experiences in this world, not the next. Jesus was no saintly denier of the body and flagellator of the flesh even in His thinking.

    In answer to a question posed to Him, why His disciples never sacrificed and denied the flesh, like fasting, He said more or less that He was with them now, so of what use would fasting be? The time will come later when He’s gone that they can fast.

    Don’t miss the point, which is Jesus’ priorities. He never eschewed submitting oneself to fasting, prayer, obeying the Sabbath, and so on. But keep things in perspective. The rules, regulations, and rituals are made for man not man for the rules, regulations, and rituals. Orthodoxy tends to the reverse, including Orthodox Judaism for which I have a soft spot in my heart.

    Pharisees, when they fasted, would not even swallow their own spit during the fast for 24 hours. That’s how extreme the orthodox mentality can become. Observe the senseless rituals of radical orthodox Jews from dawn to dusk. It’s almost like the repetition of actions characteristic of those poor souls afflicted with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, you know, like washing one’s hands over and over again, checking the door or the range over and over again, testing this or that out over and over again.

    Been there. Done that. I turned my back on that behavior when I declared my personal independence from religious authority. Trusting in the arm of my religious leaders’ flesh made me mentally ill. I’m not kidding.

    I just thought of something. Is it possible that a good portion of orthodox religious ritual, practice, and doctrine was dreamed up by obsessive-compulsive personality types in the distant past who decided to project their disorder onto the mind of God in order that orthodox dogma reflect their sick perspective? Just asking.

    In any event, Jesus did not approve of the rituals of the orthodox of His day. And there’s nowhere in the Scriptures that you can show me that He approves of ascetic, ritualistic, fanatical flesh flagellation today. Why would He?

  60. stephen Said,

    Anonymous,

    I’ve decided to reply point by point to your post.

    Here’s a sample of my reasoning that the Scriptures tell us we’re to try to perform. Man is distinguished as a candidate for the honor of becoming a son of God by his first-cause agency, that is, his reasoning agency, or as Aristotle put it, his agency capable of self-originated thought.

    As well as feelings, man shares with animals the perceptual level of awareness, of automatically grasping similarities. But man alone has the power of the gods, the power to choose to transform similarities into categories of identities, that is, to reach the conceptual level of awareness.

    Concepts give man the advantage of holding infinity in a single thought, bringing the entire universe within his mental grasp, just like a god. That is the cognition we call reason. It’s anything but secular in its potential, if you want to talk that way.

    Or is God like man in His cognitive potential? At the least we can conclude that God and man are equals in both being first causes, possessing free or autonomous agencies. It’s the connection between them, their shared nature which makes it possible for one to perceive the other as each is.

    You apparently think to save your theses by relegating my knockdown refutation of them to what you denote as mere “secular reasoning,” which you apparently think absolves you of the responsibility to answer them. I can see you repeating to yourself “secular reasoning,” “secular reasoning,” “secular reasoning” like a mantra warding off the evil of having to think. I’ve run into this before.

    Are we to now be dismissive of science as secular reasoning, including science on the subject of homosexuality? Or perhaps dismissive of the obvious moral implications for homosexuality from the selfsame science, which i pointed out is inferred from Aristotle’s essence-accident distinction, the former suggesting an inborn core identity that includes the homosexual nature, the latter not?

    As I mentioned, God has not posted a revelation on the subject of homosexuality. And Jesus never condemned homosexuals who must have been milling all around him in those days at the height of the Roman Empire. Nor did He call them to repentance, not once.

    Instead we have been confronted by orthodox practitioners wielding certain clobber passages in the Bible for centuries to beat up on homosexuals, and to beat up on them but good, justifying their merciless stigmatization and persecution of them. Shame on the orthodox church. For shame.

    Interesting it is that the mere fact of orthodoxy’s stigmatizing and persecuting homosexuals for so long and so adamantly appears to be an argument for the legitimacy of the dogma that condemns it. “Well, centuries of orthodox prelates can’t be wrong.”

    Except the same orthodox church has perpetrated the same crimes against the Jews. For centuries orthodox prelates have stirred up anti-Semitism among the hoi polloi, have been at the forefront of stigmatizing and persecuting Jews, driving them from country to country, inciting pogroms, and so on.

    Does the mere length of time and the vehemence of anti-Semitism recommend it? Of course, not. Then why should like treatment of homosexuals for centuries recommend that as if such long, systematic, and determined persecution of homosexuals by the orthodox church is now equivalent in its persuasive power to scripture? “I can’t believe that the Church has been so wrongheaded about something so important as the issue of homosexuality for so long,” is taken to be a recommendation, a valid argument by the orthodox and the trusting to believe in the orthodox jihad against homosexuality. Except it’s intellectually indefensible. And now science is beginning to chip away at the orthodox bulwark. And I provide the moral implications of the science, refuting Schmemann and the other orthodox homophobes.

    Homosexuals are the only group of men who’ve contributed to the advancement of civilization more than the Jews. Factor homosexuals out of the social equation and you’ve got nothing, no Western civilization.

    The orthodox church would have stigmatized and persecuted the following homosexuals if it could have have exposed them as homosexuals and then gotten its hands on them: Archimedes, Newton, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Beethoven, Euripedes, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Homer, Pindar, Virgil, Phidias, Hadrian, Alexander the Great, Montaigne, Proust, Fermat, Marlowe, Gray, Turing, da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Spinoza, and hundreds more men of equal intellect deep, deep with The Closet.

    Interesting that the orthodox Christian community has seen fit over the centuries, East and West, to focus like a laser its persecution of both Jews and homosexuals, the two groups whom God has blessed with the greatest intelligence and given as a blessing to mankind for its advancement. In this regard the orthodox community has something in common with the judophobes and homophobes who called and call themselves Nazis. The fact that the leader of the Russian Orthodox church and the fascist political leader of the Russian government, Putin, are now bedfellows in their homophobia illustrates the point.

    I got sidetracked and didn’t answer Anonymous post point by point as I promised. So I will in the next post.

  61. stephen Said,

    I will post it tomorrow. Got to go to bed.

  62. stephen Said,

    Anonymous,

    You talk about confirmation of one’s speculation by the Spirit, not by reason. Again, you are unscriptural inasmuch reason as a tool of gaining truth, spiritual, moral, or otherwise, is sanctioned by the prophets.

    I testify to you that worthiness is not achieved by abdicating that which distinguishes us from the animals, that which qualifies us to be candidates as sons of God, which is our rational faculty, again, the capacity to originate thought, the capacity for conceptual awareness, and so on, that which our species alone has in common with God, that which makes us autonomous agents working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. I’m plowing old ground.

    Something just came to mind. A couple of years ago in a neighboring town in which I reside a man tried to offer his son as a sacrifice to God by stabbing him on the kitchen table because the Spirit confirmed to him that he should follow in the footsteps of Abraham.

    Sadly, for most people we see a behavior whereby they’ve already confirmed to themselves as a variation of the same theme the Spirit then confirms, confirming their self-confirmation. This is nothing other than a form of question-begging as a program for living.

    Again, you perpetrate the fallacy of appealing to heaven, appealing to your special covenant with the Spirit of God, asserting that God or some higher power supports or approves of your point of view, not mine, not Andre’s, not anyone else’s in your congregation. And so no further justification of your take on things is required and no serious challenge is permitted to be entertained, but rather to be scornfully dismissed–remembering your last response to me–as secular, self-justifying pettifoggery.

    Question: Is your special covenant with the Spirit the same as the man sitting next to you in church on Sunday who is just as faithful, or seems to be, as you? I’m high LDS. Orthodox in the extreme, I mean right down the line. Not a left-leaning, namby-pamby bone in my body. But every orthodox LDS member I meet has a different idea of what our shared theology and practice amount to. yet each believes his own point of view is God’s.

    I used to think that way. But now I lack that kind of smug complacency. Life has beaten the shit out of me. Had to rethink everything, including whom I trust, or I was a goner. Actually, I went through a dry run of my suicide so I wouldn’t make any mistakes, you know, pulling off a clean kill. But suddenly I felt sleepy and went to bed. “I’ll finish the job tomorrow.”

    By the time I got home from work the impulse had gone, if not the cause of it, my abdication of my own reasoning on the subject of homosexuality, supplanting it with the ignorant thinking of religious authorities which filled me as a homosexual–albeit I never desired to associate with homosexuals or live the “gay lifestyle”–with self-loathing and constant anxiety over temptation, all those breathtakingly beautiful mountain men in my town swirling around me and a few now and again ready and willing. The struggle became too much for me. The guilt and depression never lifted. I was condemned to lose my salvation.

    For years I lived like that until I decided to end it all, or see how I would feel if I played out ending it all. But as things turned out I slogged on for years more until I decided to declare my independence from mortal men appointed to ecclesiastical positions who were presumptuous in blathering about the subject of homosexuality about which they knew nothing, which in looking back is laughable now, but not then, believe me. I now go to the source, Christ Himself. Needless to say, religious authorities leave me unmoved now.

    That’s not to say that I disbelieve. On the contrary, my faith has not wavered. I just believe in the gospel principles, not mortal men’s ignorant babbling. I trust in the scriptures and my own right to have my prayers answered, not in other men telling me what the answer is. I no longer trust in the arm of my religious leaders’ flesh, just as Paul admonishes.

    But I digress again. At your church meetings there are, what, 300 people in the congregation along with you. Since Andre is sitting in the same congregation, or someone like Andre, and a couple hundred others, each with his own point of view, his own interpretation of your shared theology, is the Spirit only confirming your point of view, while everyone else is bereft of such a blessing? Is yours the only destiny that’s manifest?

    To your objection that my arguments are relevant, but only to the body, not the spirit, only to the carnal, not to Christ, and thus you can be dismissive of them without bothering to make the slightest effort to engage those arguments, which is exactly the course you chose to take in your last post intended to answer me, I reply that this is more of your fallacious appeal to heaven, your special covenant of which you claim, alas for my poor soul, I must be deprived.

    But the truth is Christ, if anything, was of this world, of the body. In fact, His contemporaries noticed a difference between Jesus and John the Baptist, and not to Jesus’ credit, either. They complained to Him that while John and his disciples denied the body, sacrificed their fleshly desires, as you say you try to do, Anonymous, Jesus and His disciples indulged themselves, consorted with all types, and partied into the wee hours of the morning [slight exaggeration].

    Jesus was not an ascetic denying the body, but He lived in the body. He wasn’t some other-worldly, holier-than-thou mendicant focused on closely following God wherever He, God, went, as you say you try to do.

    I call you to repentance, Anonymous. I command you to become like Jesus and stop imitating John the Baptist. I command you to live in the body, enjoy it, party, have fun, as Jesus did, so straight-laced, orthodox members of your Church think you’re a wine-bibber and consorter with sinners, too, which is the impression Jesus made on people. It’s all in the Gospels, which confirm my admonition for you to repent of your asceticism.

    To your objection that I should stop usurping orthodox theology–or your interpretation thereof–with philosophy, I reply that you can only mean one thing, that I should stop reasoning. Again, you commit the fallacy of appealing to heaven, as if you have a special covenant with the Spirit of which the rest of us have been dispossessed. Boggling.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, the blessed one, was steeped in logical argument, using it as his sole methodology in both philosophy and theology, the latter which was 90% of his work. And for his choosing to employ only reason as his method of finding the truth God rewarded him at the end of his life with a revelation, opening the heavens to him, as he says, allowing him to learn that for which he had been seeking all his life. Aquinas says that the knowledge he gained from that revelation made everything he had achieved before seem like straw, not necessarily wrong, but merely touching the surface.

    Joseph Smith, the LDS prophet, said that you can know when you’ve received an authentic revelation from heaven and are not the self-deluded victim of some hysterical hallucination, revelation imparts knowledge. Aquinas’ experience qualifies.

    Don’t miss the point, God rewarded him for exclusively using his rational faculty in the search for truth all his life, not for abdicating his “secular reasoning” faculty as he waited for spiritual confirmation of his conjectures, as you say you prefer to do.

    To your objection that I’m using Jesus to prove my secular agenda–obviously not the special covenant you have with Him–and I should rather agree with you in justifying God’s will and not my own, I reply that there you go again, appealing to your special covenant with God, telling the rest of us what God’s will is because only you know it.

    Don’t deny it. Why else would you tell me to change my priorities, to be more like you, justifying God’s will rather than my own, but that your special covenant with heaven tells you what God’s will is, and that my will is wrong in choosing to engage in “secular reasoning,” that you’re justifying obedience to His will as only you know how, and I should follow your example in striving to learn more of what God’s will is? Puhlease.

    You never attempted to answer my argument against the absurd notion dreamed up by fanatical prelates and ascetics, not Jesus, the wine-bibber, that the purpose of sex is procreation to the exclusion of all other considerations. So I won’t bother to respond.

    This is getting long again. See next post.

  63. stephen Said,

    Anonymous cont.,

    To your objection that i’m attempting to outline a new religion, like Henry VIII did, a sad substitute for Theosis, I reply that there you go again, appealing ot your special covenant with God Who has conferred upon you alone omniscience when it comes to knowing His will, an authentic understanding of what it is to become God’s own, and I, poor I, just don’t understand because I don’t enjoy the advantage of that special covenant with heaven you enjoy.

    Does Andre enjoy it? Does Takis? Does anyone in your congregation besides yourself have an understanding of God’s will exactly matching your own such that you two are indiscernible in the Spirit of the Lord? Oy vey.

    Some free advice. Stop making claims of your distinction by assuming that people who disagree with you are bereft of the special awareness of God’s will with which you are privy, again, that their destiny is not manifest as yours is.

    To your objection that i mocked Theosis, i reply that I don’t mock religious doctrines that I take as true. I don’t mock people’s religion, either. I mock fraud, however, and pretentiousness, and dogma that’s being deployed by self-righteous, bigoted, bloviating ignoramuses to justify their homophobia. I’m not perfect. I could miscategorize sometimes, admittedly.

    And, yes, I trust Goethe more than Saint so and so. I have to play the odds in this as in everything else. In science there comes a time when a theory has been tested sufficiently that it’s unreasonable to keep testing it for confirmation. Goethe has been tested sufficiently. No smarter man in Europe.

    Joseph Smith said, “The glory of God is intelligence.” Being orthodox I believe it means literally what it says. The not so orthodox LDS would like to water the meaning down–for instance, intelligence really meaning something spiritual, their motive being to make the common man feel better about being inglorious. It seems to me that most of people’s motives are ulterior and most of their stated reasons pretexts.

    Goethe was intelligent, no doubt about it. Had the glory of God with him, therefore, in abundance. The key to his intelligence, and why I trust him, is that not only was he intelligent in cardinal thinking, but in ordinal thinking, to boot. Some men are intelligent in cardinal thinking, counting one, two, three, and so on, the kind of intelligence required for school, science, the arts, whatnot, but stupid in ordinal thinking, counting first, second, third, and so on, the kind of intelligence required to prioritize values correctly, that is, moral thinking.

    I conjecture that an example of the discrepancy is Lucifer, the Father of Lies, brilliant at the former, stupid at the latter, or Einstein, brilliant at physics, borderline retarded at prioritizing moral and political values. He was on the Left, after all. Nothing more stupid than that.

    Goethe was intelligent in both kinds of thinking, talented and morally aware. So, yes, I trust his point of view implicitly.

    I’ve found that people who are right are right about almost everything. People who are wrong are wrong about almost everything. Something about the structural difference in the brains of the latter that distorts their perception. Have you ever tried to debate a “progressive”? If you have, then you know what I mean. Facts are slippery things to them. And reason goes in one ear and out the other. They have no appreciation of logic or facts and feel no compunction about rejecting them in order to hang on to their political prejudice. Ugh!

    To your objection that one’s sexual orientation is not commensurate with one’s identity, that I’m confusing desire with true identity, with desire for God–whatever that means–I reply that you’re equivocating and confused. Desires are automatic psychological responses to evaluations [cognitive psychology]. I think I’ve gone over this. I’m getting deja vu all over again.

    We don’t initiate desires. We initiate evaluations that then automatically evoke desires. To struggle with desires [passions] misses the point, and is often futile.

    Effectual struggle amounts to challenging the evaluations that give rise to unwanted desires, and to make new evaluations that answer the old ones, and to habituate the former until they sink in.

    The mind is like a computer. you just have to keep feeding it input until the old is replaced by the new. Wait, that’s what Jesus said.

    It takes time and dedication, but not that hard. It’s just keeping to the routine. I’ve done it, so I know. I’ve pulled myself out of a deep depression on my own using the “Daily Chart” as outlined in the book “Feeling Good” by David Burns.

    The key to their procedure, according to cognitive psychologists, is persuading the mind to let go of years of wrongheaded automatized evaluations that are causing unwanted feelings [passions] to surface by consciously answering back to them with rational evaluations, the same evaluations over and over and over again. Sometimes it takes a few days sometimes several weeks for rational evaluations to take root and replace irrational ones.

    Jesus did not say, “As a man feels [has passions] so is he.” Rather, He said, “As a man thinks so is he.” Jesus got it. No doubt about it, Christ was a cognitive psychologist 2,000 years before the science got off the ground. Whadaya know.

    So with that under our belt, Anonymous, your objection boils down to saying that I’m confusing evaluations that evoke homosexual desire with evaluations that evoke a desire for God.

    Except evaluations are not made in a vacuum ex nihilo. They arise when we perceive something and then evaluate whether it’s for us or against us. But, as Jesus points out, in loving our neighbor we must perceive the “us” first.

    And that’s where sexual desire comes from and why it’s explained by more than mere desire. There’s a trail of causation leading to it the passion. And that trail can be traced back to the identity of the person desiring, how he perceives and evaluates himself, which colors how he perceives what is for him and what is against him. And scientists now tell us that how he perceives or experiences himself is inborn.

    Sexual identity, then, is at the very core of a man’s spiritual identity, his essence, how he perceives the world and evaluates what he perceives in relation to his self-perception. And it cannot be changed.

    As a matter of fact, there is not a single scientifically documented case of a homosexual man who has changed his sexual identity to heterosexual, anecdotal evidence not counting as scientifically documented cases.

    Shamefully revealing is the fact that not one reparative therapist in the last several decades has met the challenge of scientists to provide statistical proof of his claims to have “cured” homosexuals, not one. Why is that? Guess.

    Telling is the disbanding of Exodus International last year with the abject confession by its leaders that not a single conversion from homosexual to heterosexual identity had occurred to their knowledge through the duration of their organization’s existence. And they should know. They were in the middle of the reparative therapy racket. And that racket was loaded with orthodox and fundamentalist true-believers, too.

    Sorry, but my brain’s firing in all directions. Free association is unwieldy. I need another post to finish replying to Anonymous.

  64. stephen Said,

    Anonymous cont.

    I accuse you throughout your post of using the argument from motives to question my point of view. I dismiss such a tactic with disdain. I can overlook one ad hominem. But a bucketful of ad hominems? Huh uh.

    I accuse you of repeatedly using a threat as a “persuader” instead of rational argument, such as “Believe in my religious point of view, my take on what Theosis is, if you don’t want to burn in hell forever and ever,” not counting as rational argument. [I only slightly exaggerate.]

    I accuse you of deploying the argument from consensus, instead of using reason, as the Scriptures tell you to do, “Because all the Saints and the righteous think like I do–or is it vice versa? I get mixed up about you on that score–so I must be right and you must be wrong for disagreeing with me” not counting as “using reason, as the Scriptures tell you to do.”

    I accuse you of blind loyalty to religious authorities and Saints, the Nuremberg Defense. You’re guilty of thinking you’re right simply and solely because some Saint or ecclesiastical says you are, or you interpret them so that you imagine they would say you are if they were here.

    You’re guilty of the Nuremberg Defense in this context because of your over-reliance on orthodox religious authorities, scholars, and Saints that puts loyalty to them above truth or above your own rational faculty and independent conscience. You’ve abdicated your cognitive autonomy, that which gives you the potential of possessing the power of awareness like unto God, in order to be the creature of some mortal, fallible man or men.

    The resistless authority you blindly obey can be political [Nazis and “progressives”] or social [friends and family members] or religious [Father Schmemann and the Saints].

    I accuse you of drawing a phony curtain of privacy around yourself and your actions, cutting off rational discussion because “My spiritual life is a mystery to you, taboo, not accessible to you to be profaned by your ‘secular reasoning’.”

    I accuse you of supplanting reason with rank sloganeering.

    I accuse you of unilaterally declaring your thoughts to be sacrosanct and therefore not open to discussion, arbitrarily taking them off the table beforehand.

    I accuse you of the straw-man fallacy, setting up a phony version of my arguments and then proceeding to knock them down with an appeal to heaven, an appeal to your special covenant with God with which you are blessed–but so far have proven to be totally incapable of defending at all against my objections, by the way–but not I, nor Andre, nor the man sitting next to you in the pew on Sunday. In your fantasy world we are the dispossessed and the damned.

    Could you be more affectedly grand than that?

  65. Takis Said,

    These lengthy posts go way beyond the time I can afford unfortunately! sorry… but reading the end: “Could you be more affectedly grand than that?” I admit it is starting to sound a bit less than polite to put it very mildly.
    This conversation is not what I thought it would be…
    may God have mercy on us all.

  66. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    I am old and I cannot read all of these very long answers -let alone respond point by point- as I said earlier, but I do not want to become a stumbling block to anyone. I noticed a few heated characterisations, accusations etc. which are not to the credit of what you are saying, no matter what that is.
    Overall, I clearly admit that I would rather be part of what the beholders of God -the Saints- and the Orthodox tradition -firmly watered by their first-hand experience- says, rather than my own, or anyone else’s fallen reasoning…
    you perhaps trust Aristotle and modern psychologists more than the Saints?

    I fell for the word ‘orthodox’ on this site perhaps. It has been proved to me at least, more than once that there isn’t an agenda of “seeking” orthodox truth here on the matter of homosexuality, but of trying to make orthodoxy at all costs conform with the justification of homosexuality. Am i wrong?
    I consider carrying on fruitless. Forgive me please. May God illumine us

  67. stephen Said,

    Anonymous and Takis,

    This is a two-fer.

    I do confess to being a talker. That’s because when I get started it’s all free association, synapses firing in all directions. I compose music in the same way. I try to give form to my posts by replying point by point. But I know I digress. I don’t think, however, that my digressions are irrelevant. My experiences in the struggle count, too.

    Having said that, you two have wasted my time. You’re not interested in ideas, which is precisely what is wrong with the orthodox membership today, or many of them, they who relish remaining ignorant while gripping ever tighter to their increasingly discredited, narrow, unscientific homophobic orthodoxy that has nothing to do with Jesus’ words nor His life, mindlessly repeating their orthodox mantras as if to ward off the rising flood of scientific knowledge swirling all around them.

    Orthodox homophobia is killing young men and making the lives of those who don’t kill themselves a living hell. I think the time has come for men like I to speak out and against orthodoxy’s guilt, the hands of the orthodox dripping with the blood of the innocent, of them whom they have tormented over the centuries and continue to torment because of their homosexual nature, such as the disgraceful head of the Russian Orthodox Church today.

    You refuse to read a few pages total I posted that would take no more time than your reading the morning newspaper or Matt Drudge. In fact, after posting them, I read over them keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t find too many typos. Didn’t take that long. Bet you waste more time than that every day.

    I sense a total absence of intellectual curiosity in you. So, yes, I agree with you, it would be a burden for you to read a few pages of argument that exposes your beliefs as indefensible. Your last post is a confession, whether you know it or not, that you’re incapable of responding to my critique of homophobic orthodoxy. Furthermore, you don’t even want to.

    When Jesus was 12 He accompanied His parents to Jerusalem for Passover. When they left for home Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents that night found Him missing and went back to Jerusalem to search for Him. Three days later they found Him in the Temple disputing with the teachers of Law, fielding deep questions with them and amazing them with His answers, His understanding far greater than theirs.

    Now, three days is a long time. Longer than reading my posts would take. And He wasn’t mindlessly repeating, like you and Anonymous, rote memorizations of orthodox dogma. How do we know that? Because the teachers of the Law were amazed with His answers, that’s how. A 12 year old merely repeating the words of others He had memorized would not have amazed them.

    Now, we know that the Jewish tradition is disputatious. Ever been to an orthodox Jewish yeshiva? Nothing but disputation over the Law using logical reasoning. So we know that the teachers of the Law were disputing with Jesus. And he fielded their questions with aplomb for three days. He didn’t complain, like you two, about how the conversation wasn’t what He thought it would be.

    And to confirm my suspicion, you never attempted to respond to a single point I posted, appealing to heaven as what you think is a plausible excuse for your short-fall. It appears to me that all you two are interested in on this site is confirmation of your preconceived orthodox homophobic bullshit. I’ve seen how you push Andre around because he isn’t homophobic.

    I have discovered that you’re not interested in exchanging ideas in dispute, as Jesus was, but rather in bloviating repetitiously your orthodox catechism. Be my guest. But don’t expect me to find it in the slightest interesting.

    Except, unlike you, I will slog through your repetitious meaningless posts, full of ambiguous, other-worldly, and therefore, other-than-Christ language that sounds to you so important and deep precisely because of its other-worldliness, but to me sounds like cotton candy for the religiously deluded that, I suppose, supplies some deficiency you feel.

    I’m no mind reader. But I’m good at smelling a rat, meaning I’m good at sniffing out a compensatory strategy to help cope with feelings of inadequacy in some personal aspect or other. In that case, religion becomes a pretext, not a faith.

    I’ve run before into the ploy you attempt to use on me, a threat really, that because I don’t swallow your “orthodox truth on the matter of homosexuality” I’m beyond the pale, the Spirit has left the conversation. Orthodox ignoramuses, university professors of religion no less, in my own Church have tried that ploy on me when they found they couldn’t defend their usual claptrap against my objections. I’m unimpressed by such an obvious defense mechanism.

    One thing you said, Anonymous, that intrigued me is that you find relevant the first-hand experiences of the Saints with heavenly matters. I, too, take such experiences of others seriously. And because of you I’m going to read about them. Any suggestions who?

    But I don’t surrender my mind to them. And you do. How do I know that? Because immediately after you said that you quickly reminded me that you would rather be part of what the Saints say in consideration of their first-hand experiences with heavenly matters–so far so good–than rely on your own or anyone else’s fallen reasoning.

    Why is reasoning always in your mind fallen? Why is it either-or to your way of thinking? Why can’t you do both, as the Scriptures even tell you to do, study the Scriptures, even what the Saints say, though what they say is not Scripture, plus reasoning?

    Did not Jesus use reasoning in the Temple when He was disputing with the teachers of the Law? Again, He amazed them with His answers. They wouldn’t have been amazed if all He did was show how much dogma a 12 year old could memorize. He was involved for three days in a free-for-all, exchanging back and forth, using reasoning to field their, no doubt, increasingly pointed questions. It would be human nature for them to test Him on His ability to land on His field more and more as He amazed them more and more with His landing on His feet.

    You harm yourself by calling the only thing about us that is like God, our rational faculty, “fallen.”

    Don’t forget to guide me to some reading material about the Saints.

    Question Anonymous: Did any Saint address homosexuality in particular such that he said indulging in one’s desire for another man in and of itself is a sin? If so, who?

  68. stephen Said,

    Typo: “. . . His ability to land on His field . . .” should read “. . . His ability to land on His feet . . .”

  69. stephen Said,

    Typo correction: “. . . His ability to land on His feet . . .”

  70. Dee Said,

    Stephen,

    Wow! man! do you even realize how many conclusions you jump into?
    It does NOT serve what you are saying well, (if anything, someone who jumps into your type of accusations come across as slightly delusional, and intolerant – all in the name of come “clarity of reasoning” and “tolerance”) I might not fully agree with either of the parties – but this conversation does feel like it is wasting anyone’s time because of your uncecessary long comments, not because of the other guys with whom I won’t get into an argument.
    They do not sound like they are going to ‘spill any blood’ as you accuse them (!) and one is old -not young as you assume (!) – it would have been nice if this conversation was kept a little more civil, couteous and Christian-like as well as more to the point?

  71. Anonymous Said,

    Stephen,
    here’s a suggestion since you asked about saints, you might know of him already, Saint Silouan the Athonite. Also here’s a quote from an older Saint (the great Symeon the New Theologian) who encountered God many a time, first-hand, at the limits of what is possible on this earth…

    Having been joined with Your divinity, having been made Your most pure Body, I see the beauty. I reflect the Light of Your grace! And I wonder completely embarassed as to where I should sit, and what I should approach, and where I should put Your members down. What things shall I do, for what deeds shall I use the awesome and the divine?

    Goethe meanwhile would say: “I have my frogs as my favourite company on earth”

    (….)

    And tell me how can anyone then have any form of sexual relations that are not (at least) ‘procreative’ and in ‘marriage’? I am jsut as ensleaved as the next person to them and more, but I do have the question… don’t you? How can one take holy communion and then be sodomised?
    I am certainly NOT ever saying to punish anyone, I am just saying that we are called for something far higher than modernity’s language of constant self-justification calls to.

  72. stephen Said,

    Dee,

    1,600 years of Orthodox persecution of homosexuals and you want me to be the model of civility, courtesy, and Christian-like tolerance, and say, “Let’s all play nice,” with people who are preaching today the same unthinking homophobic claptrap that was the justification for persecuting homosexuals, even burning them at the stake for centuries by the Orthodox, who were ever so polite and never raised their voices as they committed their heinous crimes.

    There is more than one kind of oppression. Some forms come with a sweet smile, as during the Spanish Inquisition, a crime committed by the Orthodoxy, by the way, when the Grand Inquisitor, as he was sending heretics–men who disagreed with the Orthodoxy–off to be tortured in an underground chamber or off to be burned at the stake, would sweetly smile and ever so civil, courteous, and Christian-like intone, “This is for the good of your soul, my son.” I’m not kidding. I can’t make that stuff up.

    I’m through with being nice to homophobes who are guilty of using the same justification for persecuting homosexuals today that Orthodoxy has been deploying for 1,600 years.

    Modern Orthodox members may not say they’re advocating blood in the streets, but that’s only because they know they can’t get away with it, what with iphones all around. I only slightly exaggerate. But I’m not exaggerating when I accuse them of advocating the spiritual persecution of homosexuals and the social stigmatization of them with arguments that cannot be defended, which has been proven by my posts.

    And you prove my point, too. Instead of answering a single point, not a single, solitary one, that I made, you, like the Grand Inquisitor, urge civility, courtesy, and Christian-like behavior while you’re sticking it to me.

    Have you even read Anonymous’ posts or Takis’ for that matter? Their judgmentalism of my point of view is palpable. They condemn my ideas without answering them. You condemn my manner without answering them. I’m not impressed. I know what you’re up to. I’ve run into it before.

    In response to the UNFORGIVABLE 1,600 year old jihad against homosexuals by the Orthodox Church, I’ve declared a jihad against the homophobic jihadists. I don’t care who they are or how old they are, including the ever so polite, sweetly smiling, patient, civil, courteous, and Christian-like jihadists.

    Christ compared Himself to homosexuals without condemning them nor calling them to repentance. What, then, are we to think of the Orthodox Church’s persecution of them?

    Now you know where I’m coming from, I hope.

  73. Anonymous Said,

    It’s unjust to judge any group by the worst and the loudest of them, and the fact is when absolutely fundamental convictions are at stake, people lose their cool, their tempers, and their charity. There’s also a lamentable human tendency to say, “Your views are wrong-headed so you must be evil. “Evil”-izing an entire community (as opposed to attacking IDEAS that seem wrong) is a very scary tendency that needs to be fought tooth-and-nail, no matter how many members of the group seem to do their best to justify the caricatures. Wouldn’t you agree?

  74. stephen Said,

    Yes.

  75. Jasmine Said,

    One of the most important days of my life is happening next year, and my mom does not even want to talk about it. I’m finally going to be me a GIRL! However my mom thinks it is unnecessary. I know the Church has put things in her head, because she used to accept me. I’m desperate, I’ve tried everything, but I can’t get those thoughts out of her head. I just wish she could see me as her daughter. Like a priest said, if we were not born this way, who would choose to be this way? This is a time to feel happy, yet I feel guilty for shattering my mothers dreams.

  76. andre Said,

    Jasmine,

    I welcome your decision to live as you believe God intended you to live.  Perhaps you need to give your mother some time.  How long did it take you to realize that you had such feelings and develop them?  Years, perhaps. It may take her twice that time to accept you and may never fully understand you. You need to show your mother love and patience and understanding and simply give her time.  Pray for her and tell her you are praying that the two of you again become close and understand and appreciate each other as you once did.  This is a very difficult experience for any parent.  I will pray for the both of you.

    Andriy

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