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Author Topic: Can I be an Orthodox Christian?  (Read 6916 times) Average Rating: 0
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Feanor
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« on: October 31, 2009, 12:25:12 AM »

I adore Orthodoxy: its rituals, traditions, icons, history, theology and mysticism. I also believe the Eastern Orthodox Church to be one holy, catholic and apostolic church continued directly from the early church established by the Apostles and the early Fathers in the first few centuries AD.

However, I hold a few beliefs which I don’t think fly particularly well in Orthodoxy. I believe in the sanctity and inclusiveness of all love, and that love is a thing to be celebrated and cherished. This includes homosexual love. Whilst not a homosexual myself, I feel very strongly that homosexuality is not a sin, and that homosexual love can be cherished in the eyes of God. Of course, promiscuity, cheating, having multiple sexual partners, casual sex, etc… are all sinful for homosexuals, just as they are with heterosexuals, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with two men or two women sharing a loving relationship. I’m not attempting to persuade any of you and I’m not here to argue or promote my own beliefs; simply, that is my belief on the matter.

Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

As one who professes these two beliefs, which are considered against the teaching of the Orthodox Church, would I still be welcome in Orthodoxy? Could I still participate in Orthodox worship, study, ritual and life despite holding personal beliefs which could put me at odds with other Orthodox Christians? Or am I altogether unwelcome, and should find another church? I feel strongly connected and drawn towards Orthodoxy, and would like to join an Orthodox Church sometime soon.

Also; are all the ‘denominations’ of Orthodoxy, such as Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian, etc., identical in their social attitudes, or are some more conservative/liberal than others as a result of the culture from which they come?
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2009, 12:42:28 AM »

I adore Orthodoxy: its rituals, traditions, icons, history, theology and mysticism. I also believe the Eastern Orthodox Church to be one holy, catholic and apostolic church continued directly from the early church established by the Apostles and the early Fathers in the first few centuries AD.

However, I hold a few beliefs which I don’t think fly particularly well in Orthodoxy. I believe in the sanctity and inclusiveness of all love, and that love is a thing to be celebrated and cherished. This includes homosexual love. Whilst not a homosexual myself, I feel very strongly that homosexuality is not a sin, and that homosexual love can be cherished in the eyes of God. Of course, promiscuity, cheating, having multiple sexual partners, casual sex, etc… are all sinful for homosexuals, just as they are with heterosexuals, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with two men or two women sharing a loving relationship. I’m not attempting to persuade any of you and I’m not here to argue or promote my own beliefs; simply, that is my belief on the matter.

If, you believe that Orthodoxy is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, how to concile that with your next statement.

Since you say that you are not homosexual, hence it wouldn't be a personal issue, I don't know how it would be handled. Plenty her are members of the Orthodox Church but hold or at least defend similar views.

Quote
Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

Fathers like St. Maximus it is said believed in apocatostasis.  He, however, never taught it.

Quote
As one who professes these two beliefs, which are considered against the teaching of the Orthodox Church, would I still be welcome in Orthodoxy? Could I still participate in Orthodox worship, study, ritual and life despite holding personal beliefs which could put me at odds with other Orthodox Christians? Or am I altogether unwelcome, and should find another church? I feel strongly connected and drawn towards Orthodoxy, and would like to join an Orthodox Church sometime soon.

I am intrigued about how the issue would come up.  You're not asked about gay marriage or the ultimate fate of everyone in the rite of conversion.

Quote
Also; are all the ‘denominations’ of Orthodoxy, such as Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian, etc., identical in their social attitudes, or are some more conservative/liberal than others as a result of the culture from which they come?

They each have their spectrum.
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2009, 01:16:23 AM »

I adore Orthodoxy: its rituals, traditions, icons, history, theology and mysticism. I also believe the Eastern Orthodox Church to be one holy, catholic and apostolic church continued directly from the early church established by the Apostles and the early Fathers in the first few centuries AD.

However, I hold a few beliefs which I don’t think fly particularly well in Orthodoxy....

Furthermore, I believe strongly in ...


In my opinion (and that is all it is... my opinion since I'm not a clergy person nor have authority outside of what an Orthodox lay person may possess), it seems to me that you have established with your statement above, a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory. You say that you believe the Orthodox Church to be the... Church. But then you turn around and declare what you happen to believe. The issue is this: the Church and the Church alone has the authority to determine right belief, not the individual. When individuals find themselves at odds with Church teaching, then it is vital that they realign their thinking with what the Church teaches and not expect the Church to accommodate them. St Paul tells us that the Church (not the individual) is the pillar and foundation of truth. Thus, if the Church teaches that homosexual union is wrong (and it does), then it is a given that the individual must recognize that his belief, no matter how cherished and heartfelt it might be, is in error.

In short, you cannot come into the Church on your terms. You do not presume to sit in judgment upon the Church. In fact, the Church judges us and not the other way around. I know it's not a particularly popular or politically correct position to voice in this day and age, but the Church is the Truth and has not deviated from that position over two millennium.
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2009, 02:05:37 AM »

I'm really not sure if these would be obstacles to baptism and communion, because most "culturally Orthodox" Christians (which probably constitute the majority of the Church) don't have any idea what the official position is on any number of issues.  They just go for once a year for Pascha and maybe to take the Eucharist.  Many of them feel free to believe whatever they want to on any number of issues, so in all likelihood you would probably appreciate the depth of the tradition and worship far more than such people ever would.  A while ago on the forum someone mentioned how most Orthodox Christians they know don't actually believe in a physical bodily resurrection, just that their spirits go off to 'Heaven' or whatever.  They would find the concept of real resurrection, not merely as a symbol, to be absurd.

But the difference with many of them is that on particular points they are ignorant, but not necessarily willfully ignorant.  They just are.  You probably know your stuff, and so that puts you in a difficult position as you are willfully denying the teaching of the Church.  But at the same time, it doesn't seem fair that there are so many millions of nominal Orthodox shirking the grace of the Mysteries, and that you should be denied them for holding a few unconventional positions.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with hoping that none should perish and praying for it, as that is the desire of the Father.  I think all you need to do is modify your attitude concerning the ultimate destination of human souls/bodies/whatever to 'God.'  As far as I understand things, the Orthodox Church teaches that the trajectory of all is toward God, and that one either cooperates with this or willfully and continually rejects it, thus experiencing either perpetual bliss or perpetual torture.  Also, the old 'I don't know' card works wonders in matters that are up to God.

Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2009, 02:07:55 AM »

Feanor, welcome to the forum. If I understand you correctly, what you are asking is whether you can hold the personal opinion that a homosexual relationship is not intrinsically morally wrong simply by virtue of being homosexual in nature and still enter the Orthodox Church. This is, ultimately, a pastoral question, not a dogmatic one, and I strongly suggest you ask an Orthodox Priest your question who has come to know you over time rather than ask it on a forum.
I too have my personal beliefs about this issue which I have expressed here when I was asked to, and I also happen to be a Practicing Orthodox Christian. I have discussed my personal beliefs with my Spiritual Father and the Priest where I am Churched, and neither the roof came in on me and nor did they; but this does not mean that it is automatically OK for anyone else to hold the same beliefs. What I believe about homosexuality is simply a part of my entire spiritual being, not the whole of it and neither does it permeate it all. So when I discuss it with the Priests who know me, they know the context.
If you were discussing a matter of Dogma, then I would say: "absolutely not", but homosexuality is not a matter of Dogma. The Incarnation is a matter of dogma, the consubstantial Trinity is a matter of Dogma. This does not mean that the Church does not have an opinion on the issue of homosexuality, but rather that this opinion is not of the same value as for instance her opinion about the Veneration of Icons. The Matter is the subject of Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and is a matter of Faith.
In short, this is the wrong place to ask your question. The right place to ask your question is the pastoral milieu of those who in fact do represent the Orthodox Church, and that is the clergy of an Orthodox Church. And you should do this a clergyman who has come to know you over time, so there can be no misunderstandings.
Even making it clear that this is your own personal belief will not protect you from unhelpful answers on this forum.
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2009, 02:41:33 AM »

Welcome to the forum, Feanor.  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2009, 02:52:43 AM »

Welcome!
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2009, 02:53:45 AM »

I remember when I was exploring Orthodoxy, and had become a catechumen, I still had unresolved issues. I tried to adapt and apply a Chestertonian principle to such situations. In the book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton brought up the concept of a truth-telling thing. I tried to approach the Church from that perspective. If the Church was what she claimed to be, then I had no choice but to follow her, even if I didn't understand her reasoning on certain issues. Also, to use another idea of Chesterton, to rebel against the Church without sufficient reason would be like the Chestertonian character who knocks over lampposts (or gates). Better to ask why the gate or lamppost is there, than to presumptuously assume that we know all we need to know, and attempt to knock it down. It might just be the gate that keeps criminals (demons) from robbing us blind (harming us), or the lamppost which gives us light (knowledge) so that we don't trip on the curb and break our arm (fall into delusion). Of course, I left Orthodoxy, so I no longer hold to these ideas or principles, at least as they relate to Christianity. However, I still found the ideas to be of use when I was Orthodox, so I figured I'd mention them.

And welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2009, 03:17:56 AM »

Thank you all for your responses, you've been extremely helpful.

I have a few questions about Eastern Orthodox doctrine and pastoral positions... any help on these matters would be greatly appreciated also:

- Does the EOC believe that scripture is 100% literally true? ...or that scripture represents deeper spiritual truths through metaphors and analogies but may have some error in details if interpreted literally?

- Does the EOC officially endorse non-Darwinistic Biblical Creationism? ...or Divinely-directed Evolution? Or a different viewpoint altogether?

- Does the EOC officially condone the use of contraceptives?

- Does the EOC officially condone premaritial sex?

- If I become a member of a church which 'sings' the Divine Liturgy in a language other than English, am I obliged to learn that language so I can understand what is said?

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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2009, 03:27:54 AM »

Does the EOC believe that scripture is 100% literally true? ...or that scripture represents deeper spiritual truths through metaphors and analogies but may have some error in details if interpreted literally?

Either and/or both.  Whatever.  All sorts of people hold all sorts of positions on this.  I don't know that there is anything dogmatic to believe about the Holy Scriptures other then that they are inspired by God, whatever one means by 'inspired.'

Does the EOC officially endorse non-Darwinistic Biblical Creationism? ...or Divinely-directed Evolution? Or a different viewpoint altogether?

The Church has been silent on this issue on an official level.  You will find varying opinions.  This is not a dogmatic issue.

Does the EOC officially condone the use of contraceptives?

There is no official position.

Does the EOC officially condone premaritial sex?

No.

If I become a member of a church which 'sings' the Divine Liturgy in a language other than English, am I obliged to learn that language so I can understand what is said?

No.  You only have to understand as much as you want to.  NEWSFLASH: None of the other congregants understand those ancient languages either.
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2009, 03:59:58 AM »

In substance my answers are going to mirror those of Alveus Lacuna, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in anyway...

Quote
Does the EOC believe that scripture is 100% literally true? ...or that scripture represents deeper spiritual truths through metaphors and analogies but may have some error in details if interpreted literally?

Different people will have different positions on this. I don't think many will say that everything has to be taken 100% literally, if that means taking the parables of Jesus and such literally as well. Generally the Orthodox take things literally unless there is reason to do otherwise. Sometimes there is a spiritual interpretation, as for example when the Orthodox take passages in the Psalms about destroying enemies as talking about sins rather than actual humans (e.g. Ps. 18:40). And then there are passages which can be taken both literally and spiritually. For example, the "coats of skins" in Gen. 3:21 seem to speak of clothing, and that interpretation is a valid one. However, many Church Fathers also saw in this expression those things which make up our fallen human condition, and so also took it in a spiritual sense.

Quote
- Does the EOC officially endorse non-Darwinistic Biblical Creationism? ...or Divinely-directed Evolution? Or a different viewpoint altogether?

You'll get various opinions depending on who you ask. One of the longest threads ever on OC.net is about discussing this very subject. So far as I know, there has been no authoritative Orthodox pronouncement on the subject like you find in Catholicism (ie. acceptance of God-driven evolution). Almost certainly if you're Orthodox then you will include God as an active participant in the creation and sustaining of the world, whether you believe in an evolutionary model or something closer to a literal understanding of Genesis.

Quote
- Does the EOC officially condone the use of contraceptives?

You'll get various opinions on this one as well. More traditional Orthodox don't allow it, some others do allow it on a case by case basis. There's even a disagreement over whether Orthodox Church Fathers of the east ever actually condemned it's usage or not; I've read Orthodox authors argue for both sides. This is really one of those "ask your priest" questions.

Quote
- Does the EOC officially condone premaritial sex?

Nope, Orthodoxy doesn't allow pre-marital sex or living together before marriage. Maybe there are some extreme examples as far as living together that someone in authority (e.g. bishop) could look past using economia (relaxing the rules), but there still couldn't be pre-marital sex. Back when we were Orthodox, my wife and I had to move up our marriage and get married on short notice because of this idea that you shouldn't be having sex or living together before you got married.

Quote
- If I become a member of a church which 'sings' the Divine Liturgy in a language other than English, am I obliged to learn that language so I can understand what is said?

No, you wouldn't have to learn it fluently, though there's no reason you couldn't look for a parish that uses the language most familiar to you. Of course, learning a few key terms would be of help, so you can at least participate by crossing yourself and whatnot.
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2009, 04:42:30 AM »

Feanor, welcome to the forum. If I understand you correctly, what you are asking is whether you can hold the personal opinion that a homosexual relationship is not intrinsically morally wrong simply by virtue of being homosexual in nature and still enter the Orthodox Church. This is, ultimately, a pastoral question, not a dogmatic one, and I strongly suggest you ask an Orthodox Priest your question who has come to know you over time rather than ask it on a forum.
I too have my personal beliefs about this issue which I have expressed here when I was asked to, and I also happen to be a Practicing Orthodox Christian. I have discussed my personal beliefs with my Spiritual Father and the Priest where I am Churched, and neither the roof came in on me and nor did they; but this does not mean that it is automatically OK for anyone else to hold the same beliefs. What I believe about homosexuality is simply a part of my entire spiritual being, not the whole of it and neither does it permeate it all. So when I discuss it with the Priests who know me, they know the context.
If you were discussing a matter of Dogma, then I would say: "absolutely not", but homosexuality is not a matter of Dogma. The Incarnation is a matter of dogma, the consubstantial Trinity is a matter of Dogma. This does not mean that the Church does not have an opinion on the issue of homosexuality, but rather that this opinion is not of the same value as for instance her opinion about the Veneration of Icons. The Matter is the subject of Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and is a matter of Faith.
In short, this is the wrong place to ask your question. The right place to ask your question is the pastoral milieu of those who in fact do represent the Orthodox Church, and that is the clergy of an Orthodox Church. And you should do this a clergyman who has come to know you over time, so there can be no misunderstandings.
Even making it clear that this is your own personal belief will not protect you from unhelpful answers on this forum.

I agree with, ozgeorge. This is something that you will need to discuss with a priest; and one that knows you.

Wecome to the forum!!
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2009, 07:06:39 AM »

the issue of homosexuality in general and in particular how it relates to the reality expressed in the church is one i have thought long and hard about, as my father is now leading an openly gay lifestyle.  being raised in a politically correct environment, it has been a challenge for me to come to terms with how the church sees the issue without involving to a high degree personal resentments toward my dad or a horror at how the church describes or alludes to the ultimate fate of individuals actively defending such a lifestyle.  What i have come to understand is this:

1.  although some language about the possible reform of homosexuals in the church often openly expressed by evangelicals may seem trite, such a healing is and should be absolutely possible, given a right orientation and commitment by the person.

2.  The american society loves to polarize and simplify:  you are either gay or straight, with a minority being bisexual but not really finding s substantial place in the debate.  The fundamental problem with this approach is that it simplifies the issue by portraying it in its most base terms; i.e. with sex as the determining factor.  The church certainly recognizes and condones close loving relationships between men as do many other cultures.  In addition this type of relationship is evident in scripture, indeed woven throughout it as a given, most notably the relationship between David and Jonathan in the OT a "love that surpasses that of a woman".  But nowhere are these relationships sexual in nature.  So what may be required and what is already recognized by the church is a broader understanding of what love between men can and should be, as opposed to the narrow channels of relationship we experience in the U.S. (interesting how my dad used to use this same language to defend homosexuality against what he saw then as an oppressive culture)

3.  Homosexuals certainly do exist in the church, and probably very many in the monastic community.  Having this sexual orientation is not the problem; actively living it out and defending it as part of your identity is.  The church rejects the very popular modern idea that sexuality is an inherent and important part of our identity.  As christians, we are called to step out of this natural condition and orient ourselves differently.  There is a creativity (not only physical) that comes out of the union of man and woman that is impossible for the same sex union, a creativity that fundamentally expresses the relationship between Christ and His Church, and thus is considered holy in light of this.




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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2009, 09:19:41 AM »

the issue of homosexuality in general and in particular how it relates to the reality expressed in the church is one i have thought long and hard about, as my father is now leading an openly gay lifestyle.  being raised in a politically correct environment, it has been a challenge for me to come to terms with how the church sees the issue without involving to a high degree personal resentments toward my dad or a horror at how the church describes or alludes to the ultimate fate of individuals actively defending such a lifestyle.  What i have come to understand is this:

1.  although some language about the possible reform of homosexuals in the church often openly expressed by evangelicals may seem trite, such a healing is and should be absolutely possible, given a right orientation and commitment by the person.

2.  The american society loves to polarize and simplify:  you are either gay or straight, with a minority being bisexual but not really finding s substantial place in the debate.  The fundamental problem with this approach is that it simplifies the issue by portraying it in its most base terms; i.e. with sex as the determining factor.  The church certainly recognizes and condones close loving relationships between men as do many other cultures.  In addition this type of relationship is evident in scripture, indeed woven throughout it as a given, most notably the relationship between David and Jonathan in the OT a "love that surpasses that of a woman".  But nowhere are these relationships sexual in nature.  So what may be required and what is already recognized by the church is a broader understanding of what love between men can and should be, as opposed to the narrow channels of relationship we experience in the U.S. (interesting how my dad used to use this same language to defend homosexuality against what he saw then as an oppressive culture)

3.  Homosexuals certainly do exist in the church, and probably very many in the monastic community.  Having this sexual orientation is not the problem; actively living it out and defending it as part of your identity is.  The church rejects the very popular modern idea that sexuality is an inherent and important part of our identity.  As christians, we are called to step out of this natural condition and orient ourselves differently.  There is a creativity (not only physical) that comes out of the union of man and woman that is impossible for the same sex union, a creativity that fundamentally expresses the relationship between Christ and His Church, and thus is considered holy in light of this.

Although I said in my original post I wouldn't press my beliefs on the matter, I see that it is something which affects you personally through your father, so I will offer my two cents.

The Bible contains many profound spiritual truths, but the actual words of the Bible's many books were not, in my opinion, dictated to its authors by God. The spiritual truths were inspired by God, most certainly, but the way they are expressed throughout the Bible's various books is the product of human minds. The Bible contains many things I consider to be products of the culture and attitudes of the times in which those books were written.

Many people interpret the destruction of Sodom as being due to homosexuality. I don't see any indication to this in the story. The men of Sodom wanted to rape the men/angels who were with Lot. Being a homosexual rapist is not the same as being a homosexual. Being a rapist is a sin, regardless of who you rape, whether it is men, women or children. If there was a whole town of rapists I'd probably want to blow it up, too.

Regarding the prohibition of homosexuality in Leviticus, it absolutely makes sense that the Jews would have rejected homosexuality. The Laws recorded in Leviticus apparently were written during the time when the Jews, a nation struggling to survive in the desert having just escaped a long period of slavery, were intent on preserving their nation/'race' and strengthening themselves as a people. A non-procreative lifestyle such as homosexuality would be a threat to a nation which, at that time, desperately sought to regain its power and survive. The Jews knew they would have to fight for the Holy Land, and they knew they would be met with great hostility in time to come, so logically they would have wanted as much procreation as possible. The Jewish laws, in my opinion, are in many instances a reflection of culture and historical context, not just spirituality. For this reason homosexuality was forbidden by Jewish Law, and therefore Jewish converts to Christianity would have retained this attitude.

Jesus himself said nothing about homosexuality, but from his behaviour, I have no doubt that if he was presented with a loving homosexual couple who cherished each other and their shared love, Jesus would not at all condemn them. The man who epitomised unconditional love would never say 'sorry, you two need to stop loving each other.'

Furthermore, in Greece in ancient times married men often practiced homosexual relations with young boys or other men, despite being married. The idea we have in our modern society of 'you can be gay, straight or bi' didn't exist back then - often men who were married and had kids (and certianly loved their wives, and were definately 'family men') additionally had homosexual relations to increase the enjoyment they got from their sex-lives and as an accepted social custom. It was acceptable to have a wife AND a boy-lover. The ancient Greeks were a sexually liberal people, and that sexual promiscuity would no doubt have involved married men having sex with other males, or casual sex in general (both homo and heterosexual). When Paul condemned homosexuality in the various epistles, he was coming from the perspective of a Jew (as I discussed above) and responding to practices such as this.

I therefore believe that sex outside of love is the sin, not sex outside of heterosexuality. A gay, sexually active couple who love each other and share a strong relationship are no different in the quality and sanctity of their love than a man and woman who feel the same way. When you truly love someone you love everything about them, not just their organs which bring you physical pleasure. Love is love, love is pure, love is sacred, love is what led God to create us. When love is real it doesn't matter if it is between a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman - it is still the greatest and most beautiful of all human emotions manifest in the greatest of all human relationships.

On the other hand, having sex simply to satisfy carnal desires amongst people who are simply indulging in lust is sinful. This includes both homo and heterosexual acts of polygyny (that is, having multiple sexual partners at once), prostitution, casual sex, orgies, etc.

Of course, my rationale goes out the window if you consider sex outside of marriage to be the sin (rather than 'sex outside of love') but I don't. And niether do most Christians.
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« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2009, 09:55:42 AM »



The Bible contains many profound spiritual truths, but the actual words of the Bible's many books were not, in my opinion, dictated to its authors by God. The spiritual truths were inspired by God, most certainly, but the way they are expressed throughout the Bible's various books is the product of human minds. The Bible contains many things I consider to be products of the culture and attitudes of the times in which those books were written.



I personally believe you are in error on all of your thinking relating to this matter.

I quote: The Church's teaching is very clear with respect to homosexuality. The Encarta dictionary defines homosexuality "as an attraction to the same sex; sexual attraction to and sexual relations with members of the same sex." There are numerous references in Scripture with regard to same sex relations and sexual activity. Starting with Genesis 19 where there is reference to homosexual activity among the men in Sodom (hence the term sodomy), as well as in Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) which makes reference to the adopted "Holiness Code" and the penalty for such an action—"If there is a man who lies with a male as those be with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act"—was death. The Old Testament viewed sexual relations to be "normal" as those between a man and woman (confined to intercourse facing one another) with the express purpose of procreation. This view, thinking, and teaching continued to the New Testament as well with St. Paul writing the most extensively on this subject. He condemns male prostitutes and homosexuals in 1 Cor. (6:9-10): "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral nor the idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (arsenokoitai), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers shall inherit the kingdom of God." These two examples do show the evolution of the Church's view on homosexuality. The Old Testament's view is consistent with its "judgment and retribution" (death penalty) ethos found in Jewish society in those times. The New Testament writing by St. Paul reflects Christ's teaching, where the "judgment" consisted of a stern yet "tough love" warning that these types of activities would prohibit you from 'inheriting' the kingdom of God. This evolution of thought and teaching is significant for it signals the importance of the eschaton and a genuine concern for the individual in a loving, outreaching, yet solemn way. St. Paul's writing is also significant because the activity of homosexuality is mentioned in the same context as other sinful activities and passions. The "pastoral concern" for the individual will be addressed in the next section of this article. The Fathers of the Church also wrote on this and expressed the same view and teaching that homosexual acts are immoral and wrong. The Didache, as well as St. Basil (Canons 35, 77), Sts. John Chrysostom, Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, John the Faster (Canons 9, 18) contain some of these writings as well as the 6th century code of Justinian and the Quinisext Synod (Canon 87). In all the writings of the New Testament and of the Fathers, "there is no example ... of approval, acceptance, or even tolerance of homosexuality."2 In fact, this is one topic that all Orthodox jurisdictions are in agreement on, as indicated in the 1978 SCOBA statement on homosexuality.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Homosexuality
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« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2009, 10:55:11 AM »

Yes, I realise that the church's stance on homosexuality is derived from a few lines of scripture, but I've already given my reasons as to why I believe those to be manifestations of socio-cultural attitudes rather than the Holy Spirit.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It was out of love that we were created, it was out of love that we were saved, and it was through love which we shall return to loving harmony with God and all creation. I don't believe there is such a thing as 'wrong' or 'sinful' love.

Anyway, I'm not here to argue this point so I will drop the matter here and not respond to other posts in regards to my beliefs on the matter of homosexuality. I'm not giving the 'silent treatment,' I simply don't wish to fight.




Anyway, I have a new question. When I go to an Orthodox Church, am I allowed to stay during the Eucharist (as in, remain in my seat), or do I have to leave the church at a certain point during the Divine Liturgy because I am not yet baptised?
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2009, 11:09:32 AM »

Dear Feanor,

Welcome to the forum!

To your question: I am an Orthodox Christian, and am absolutely, wholeheartedly with you regarding homosexuality and homosexual love.

So, if I CAN be an Orthodox Christian, so can you!

Best wishes, brother.

--George
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2009, 11:23:19 AM »

Anyway, I have a new question. When I go to an Orthodox Church, am I allowed to stay during the Eucharist (as in, remain in my seat), or do I have to leave the church at a certain point during the Divine Liturgy because I am not yet baptised?

Unless you are on Mt. Athos, you may stay for the entirety of the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2009, 11:54:46 AM »

Unless you are on Mt. Athos, you may stay for the entirety of the Divine Liturgy.

Most monasteries like you to leave at the dismissal of the catechumen, but most parishes are very lax about this.
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2009, 12:10:55 PM »

Yes, I realise that the church's stance on homosexuality is derived from a few lines of scripture, but I've already given my reasons as to why I believe those to be manifestations of socio-cultural attitudes rather than the Holy Spirit.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It was out of love that we were created, it was out of love that we were saved, and it was through love which we shall return to loving harmony with God and all creation. I don't believe there is such a thing as 'wrong' or 'sinful' love.

Anyway, I'm not here to argue this point so I will drop the matter here and not respond to other posts in regards to my beliefs on the matter of homosexuality. I'm not giving the 'silent treatment,' I simply don't wish to fight.

Not to go into detail about this, but what you have said about homosexuality can also be said of polygamy and bestiality.

It is a much deeper problem trying to put this square peg in the round hole: it is not the issue of the Sin of Sodom, but the whole Theology of marital life, which dwells on the image and likeness of man, woman and their uniting and having children (and the barren canard is also dealt with) with the life of the Most Holy Trinity.  Homosexual "unions" would not fit in that at all.

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« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2009, 12:23:01 PM »

Most monasteries like you to leave at the dismissal of the catechumen, but most parishes are very lax about this.

I can only think of maybe five non-Athonite monasteries that encourage non-Orthodox to leave at the dismissal of the catechumen. Even many Athonite monasteries in the US, Canada, Greece and Western Europe don't encourage it. Can't think of one monastery out of the dozens that I went to in Romania where it is practiced. Point being, it's rare, even at monasteries.
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« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2009, 12:29:17 PM »

IMHO, we need to love sinners and remember that we too are sinners, but let's not accept their sins.

As far as you becoming an Orthodox Christian. The Church is the One, Holy, and Catholic----Catholic meaning Universal and accpeting all who will accept Her.

However, you either believe that the the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT. We may not understand and agree with what the Church teaches, but if we believe it is TRUTH, then we must submit ourselves to those teachings and remember even the Apostle Peter was rebuked for not understanding Christ's mission and teachings, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)"

The Orthodox Church is not one of the thousands of Protestant denominations or a social club that we join membership in solely because it makes us fell happy, or because we enjoyed glittering censors, incense and beautiful vestments. No, Orthodoxy is not a set of doctrines and otherworldly services, Orthodoxy is life itself and it is something that is lived. When we are baptised and brought into the Church Militant we die to ourselves and live in Christ and "And He (Christ) is the of the body, the church (Col.1:18)." Alas, we must believe the Church as all TRUTH becuase the Church is Christ and we must follow Christ and his Church as commanded, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (and his will), and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)"
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« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2009, 12:50:52 PM »

mispost.
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« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2009, 01:00:32 PM »

Yes, I realise that the church's stance on homosexuality is derived from a few lines of scripture, but I've already given my reasons as to why I believe those to be manifestations of socio-cultural attitudes rather than the Holy Spirit.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It was out of love that we were created, it was out of love that we were saved, and it was through love which we shall return to loving harmony with God and all creation. I don't believe there is such a thing as 'wrong' or 'sinful' love.

Anyway, I'm not here to argue this point so I will drop the matter here and not respond to other posts in regards to my beliefs on the matter of homosexuality. I'm not giving the 'silent treatment,' I simply don't wish to fight.

Not to go into detail about this, but what you have said about homosexuality can also be said of polygamy and bestiality.

It is a much deeper problem trying to put this square peg in the round hole: it is not the issue of the Sin of Sodom, but the whole Theology of marital life, which dwells on the image and likeness of man, woman and their uniting and having children (and the barren canard is also dealt with) with the life of the Most Holy Trinity.  Homosexual "unions" would not fit in that at all.



QFT
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« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2009, 01:33:10 PM »

I adore Orthodoxy: its rituals, traditions, icons, history, theology and mysticism. I also believe the Eastern Orthodox Church to be one holy, catholic and apostolic church continued directly from the early church established by the Apostles and the early Fathers in the first few centuries AD.

However, I hold a few beliefs which I don’t think fly particularly well in Orthodoxy. I believe in the sanctity and inclusiveness of all love, and that love is a thing to be celebrated and cherished. This includes homosexual love. Whilst not a homosexual myself, I feel very strongly that homosexuality is not a sin, and that homosexual love can be cherished in the eyes of God. Of course, promiscuity, cheating, having multiple sexual partners, casual sex, etc… are all sinful for homosexuals, just as they are with heterosexuals, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with two men or two women sharing a loving relationship. I’m not attempting to persuade any of you and I’m not here to argue or promote my own beliefs; simply, that is my belief on the matter.

Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

As one who professes these two beliefs, which are considered against the teaching of the Orthodox Church, would I still be welcome in Orthodoxy? Could I still participate in Orthodox worship, study, ritual and life despite holding personal beliefs which could put me at odds with other Orthodox Christians? Or am I altogether unwelcome, and should find another church? I feel strongly connected and drawn towards Orthodoxy, and would like to join an Orthodox Church sometime soon.

Also; are all the ‘denominations’ of Orthodoxy, such as Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian, etc., identical in their social attitudes, or are some more conservative/liberal than others as a result of the culture from which they come?


I heard a nice saying once, I cant remember from where: "God doesn't care who you love, only that you love"

This is a true statement. However. the restriction the Church places on us don't have to do with Love, they have to do with sexual acts.
For example, if you are not married and have  heterosexual sex you have transgressed in the same way as someone having Homosexual sex. The sin is the same, sex outside of marriage..

As you observed the Eastern Church has a mystical tradition. If some Zen Master or New Age Guru were to tell his students" No homosexual relations if you wish to achieve enlightenment"..that would be understood as "cool". We are saying something similar, if you wish Theosis ("Becoming like God), then there are do's and don'ts. It has nothing to do with our personal preferences and our personal understanding.  Why some things are prohibated is a above our pay grade. What we do know is that we are relying on the Wisdom of the Church which has consistently advised the same thing on this matter throughout time.   
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« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2009, 01:58:17 PM »

Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

Apokatastasis is a heresy condemned by the Church on the 5th Ecumenical Council.

Does the EOC officially endorse non-Darwinistic Biblical Creationism? ...or Divinely-directed Evolution? Or a different viewpoint altogether?

A good article: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Evolution

Does the EOC officially condone the use of contraceptives?

Another good article: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Contraception

Does the EOC officially condone premaritial sex?

Yet another one: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Sex#Sexual_sin

If I become a member of a church which 'sings' the Divine Liturgy in a language other than English, am I obliged to learn that language so I can understand what is said?

You are not obliged to anything, but you are expected to have an English service book.
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« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2009, 02:33:10 PM »

IMHO, we need to love sinners and remember that we too are sinners, but let's not accept their sins.

As far as you becoming an Orthodox Christian. The Church is the One, Holy, and Catholic----Catholic meaning Universal and accpeting all who will accept Her.

However, you either believe that the the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT. We may not understand and agree with what the Church teaches, but if we believe it is TRUTH, then we must submit ourselves to those teachings and remember even the Apostle Peter was rebuked for not understanding Christ's mission and teachings, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)"

The Orthodox Church is not one of the thousands of Protestant denominations or a social club that we join membership in solely because it makes us fell happy, or because we enjoyed glittering censors, incense and beautiful vestments. No, Orthodoxy is not a set of doctrines and otherworldly services, Orthodoxy is life itself and it is something that is lived. When we are baptised and brought into the Church Militant we die to ourselves and live in Christ and "And He (Christ) is the of the body, the church (Col.1:18)." Alas, we must believe the Church as all TRUTH becuase the Church is Christ and we must follow Christ and his Church as commanded, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (and his will), and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)"

I have wondered about this before. Without wanting someone to profess false belief, or to exert some kind of mental censorship on his or her own beliefs, how is a person who believes that the Orthodox Church is Truth but does not believe in one of her doctrines meant to proceed? It's all very well to say that a person must submit to the Church's teaching. And I accept that submission is possible when it applies to negative aspects (don't get into a homosexual relationship, for example), but how is it possible to force yourself into believing something you don't hold true?
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« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2009, 02:33:22 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

I find it interesting that you think your select interpretation of scripture trumps that of 2000+ years of Church Fathers studying the scriptures. That the Church Fathers could have gotten everything right but this does not make sense.

You either accept the Church as a whole or you don't.

Christ established ONE Church body; either Orthodoxy is the true Church or it is not. There is no maybe.
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« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2009, 02:47:00 PM »

It's all very well to say that a person must submit to the Church's teaching. And I accept that submission is possible when it applies to negative aspects (don't get into a homosexual relationship, for example), but how is it possible to force yourself into believing something you don't hold true?

Pray... "with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

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« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2009, 09:44:28 PM »

edit: wrong thread
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 09:45:58 PM by Feanor » Logged
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« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2009, 09:47:40 PM »

Out of respect for the purpose of the Convert Issues Forum, the point on this thread at which this ceased to be a discussion of conversion to Orthodoxy and started becoming a polemical discussion have been moved to this thread in the Faith Issues forum:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24174.0.html
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« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2009, 11:12:12 PM »

Out of respect for the purpose of the Convert Issues Forum, the point on this thread at which this ceased to be a discussion of conversion to Orthodoxy and started becoming a polemical discussion have been moved to this thread in the Faith Issues forum:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24174.0.html


Thank you, Mr. Y.
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« Reply #32 on: November 08, 2009, 12:06:46 AM »

Welcome to the forum!

I find it interesting that you think your select interpretation of scripture trumps that of 2000+ years of Church Fathers studying the scriptures. That the Church Fathers could have gotten everything right but this does not make sense.

You either accept the Church as a whole or you don't.

Christ established ONE Church body; either Orthodoxy is the true Church or it is not. There is no maybe.

Exactly.
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« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2009, 01:15:09 AM »

Don't accept anything simply because it comes from 'authority.'
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« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2009, 01:34:53 AM »

Don't accept anything simply because it comes from 'authority.'

You mean like "God"?
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« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2009, 01:43:24 AM »


However, I hold a few beliefs which I don’t think fly particularly well in Orthodoxy. I believe in the sanctity and inclusiveness of all love, and that love is a thing to be celebrated and cherished. This includes homosexual love. Whilst not a homosexual myself, I feel very strongly that homosexuality is not a sin, and that homosexual love can be cherished in the eyes of God. Of course, promiscuity, cheating, having multiple sexual partners, casual sex, etc… are all sinful for homosexuals, just as they are with heterosexuals, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with two men or two women sharing a loving relationship. I’m not attempting to persuade any of you and I’m not here to argue or promote my own beliefs; simply, that is my belief on the matter.

We are of one mind in this matter.


Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

I hope for, look forward to, and expect this to probably be the reality, but I am not certain it is the case.


As one who professes these two beliefs, which are considered against the teaching of the Orthodox Church,

I would not say this is really the case about your latter opinion. The Second Council of Constantinople condemned Origen's particular understanding of apocatastasis. However, there were a number of other Fathers who held to other (more orthodox) forms of apocatastasis, and their views were not condemned. Most people today would say that we should hope for and be open to the possibility of apocatastasis, but should not assert that it will be necessarily what happens. I do not think you would receive any condemnation for this view, and I don't think it would constitute an obstacle in full sacramental participation.

The first view is more complicated, but needless to say there are some others who hold this view and even who are partnered homosexuals who are upfront with their spiritual fathers and still are able to participate in the full sacramental life of the Church. But you are much more likely to run up against obstacles with this.


would I still be welcome in Orthodoxy? Could I still participate in Orthodox worship, study, ritual and life despite holding personal beliefs which could put me at odds with other Orthodox Christians? Or am I altogether unwelcome, and should find another church? I feel strongly connected and drawn towards Orthodoxy, and would like to join an Orthodox Church sometime soon.

Also; are all the ‘denominations’ of Orthodoxy, such as Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian, etc., identical in their social attitudes, or are some more conservative/liberal than others as a result of the culture from which they come?

I personally think that you should explore the EOC and be upfront with the priest(s) you encounter and see what comes of it. There isn't really a simple yes or no answer to this question, it all depends on the community.
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« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2009, 01:45:27 AM »


Thus, if the Church teaches that homosexual union is wrong (and it does),

Disagreed.
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« Reply #37 on: November 08, 2009, 01:53:51 AM »


- Does the EOC officially condone the use of contraceptives?

There is quite a variance of views on this. So the Church doesn't really teach anything in particular.


- Does the EOC officially condone premaritial sex?

Most EO actually condemn premarital sex. I don't know if this translates to ecumenical definition.


- If I become a member of a church which 'sings' the Divine Liturgy in a language other than English, am I obliged to learn that language so I can understand what is said?

Well, there are various approaches that could be made to this situation. You could try to push for this particular community to use more English in the liturgy for the sake those who do not speak the ethnic language. If you try this approach, it is particularly important You could see if they have liturgy books which have translations and follow along while only having to have a minimal knowledge of the language. You could go out of your way and really learn the language. Any way, it is definitely preferable that you understand what is being said in the liturgy. However, no, such is not really required of you.
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« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2009, 02:26:09 AM »

Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.

Apokatastasis is a heresy condemned by the Church on the 5th Ecumenical Council.

No. Origen's apocatastasis is a heresy condemned by the Second Council of Constantinople. Not apocatastasis in general.
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