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Author Topic: Episcopal Church Elects Lesbian as "Bishop"  (Read 30272 times) Average Rating: 1
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« Reply #315 on: December 10, 2010, 10:00:09 AM »

The Bible does make room for divorce due to infidelity so one could say the case of your sister in law doesn't apply here. I would say esp. so since her ex husband would not stop cheating.

That said if he had admitted to cheating and repented sincerely, begging for forgiveness then I woluld say non-cheating partner should try to repair the marriage. FTR I have even known of cases where the victim had been willing to repair the marriage even when the cheating partner was not.
You've help delineate the rather broad difference then between a divorce that has broken a marriage and someone who openly embraces a pattern of behavior condemned by the Bible.
I will say that divorce has become a fad in this country, a symptom of our modern McSociety where everything has to be quick easy and cheap, and if things aren't just as we want them we do a trade in.
I'm not aware of any observant Orthodox Christians engaging in such behavior since doing so would put them in conflict with being an observant Orthodox Christian.

Do you know anyone who is?

Just saying that it has become so institutionalized, more than homosexuality, and that it is often overlooked.

I think there is a 3 divorce rule in the Church I attend...3 divorces and you're out and 3rd marriage is your last.
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« Reply #316 on: December 10, 2010, 01:08:27 PM »

Has the moratorium ended or something?
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« Reply #317 on: December 11, 2010, 04:50:29 PM »

The Bible does make room for divorce due to infidelity so one could say the case of your sister in law doesn't apply here. I would say esp. so since her ex husband would not stop cheating.

That said if he had admitted to cheating and repented sincerely, begging for forgiveness then I woluld say non-cheating partner should try to repair the marriage. FTR I have even known of cases where the victim had been willing to repair the marriage even when the cheating partner was not.
You've help delineate the rather broad difference then between a divorce that has broken a marriage and someone who openly embraces a pattern of behavior condemned by the Bible.
I will say that divorce has become a fad in this country, a symptom of our modern McSociety where everything has to be quick easy and cheap, and if things aren't just as we want them we do a trade in.
I'm not aware of any observant Orthodox Christians engaging in such behavior since doing so would put them in conflict with being an observant Orthodox Christian.

Do you know anyone who is?

Just saying that it has become so institutionalized, more than homosexuality, and that it is often overlooked.

I think there is a 3 divorce rule in the Church I attend...3 divorces and you're out and 3rd marriage is your last.
Cute...
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« Reply #318 on: December 14, 2010, 03:36:04 PM »

I'm not aware of any observant Orthodox Christians engaging in such behavior since doing so would put them in conflict with being an observant Orthodox Christian.

Do you know anyone who is?

Just saying that it has become so institutionalized, more than homosexuality, and that it is often overlooked.

By whom? Not the Orthodox.

I think there is a 3 divorce rule in the Church I attend...3 divorces and you're out and 3rd marriage is your last.
Cute...

But accurate.
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« Reply #319 on: December 14, 2010, 04:42:28 PM »

I am fairly confident homosexuality is still a sin in Christianity and I think homosexuals shouldn't be serving as clergy in any church. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned but I don't think feygelahs should be priests. Not mentioning the fact that I don't think women should be serving as priests or heading services either. Seems wrong on multiple levels.
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« Reply #320 on: December 14, 2010, 04:43:27 PM »

I am fairly confident homosexuality is still a sin in Christianity and I think homosexuals shouldn't be serving as clergy in any church. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned but I don't think feygelahs should be priests.

What's a feygelah?
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« Reply #321 on: December 14, 2010, 04:44:19 PM »

What's a feygelah?

To put it politely, it's Yiddish for a homosexual man.
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« Reply #322 on: December 14, 2010, 04:48:36 PM »

What's a feygelah?

To put it politely, it's Yiddish for a homosexual man.
Oy.
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« Reply #323 on: December 14, 2010, 04:49:27 PM »

I am fairly confident homosexuality is still a sin in Christianity....
Homosexuality is the condition of having same-sex attraction. That condition itself is not a sin in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #324 on: December 14, 2010, 04:52:29 PM »

Homosexuality is the condition of having same-sex attraction. That condition itself is not a sin in Orthodoxy.

Elaborate.
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« Reply #325 on: December 14, 2010, 05:01:11 PM »

Homosexuality is the condition of having same-sex attraction. That condition itself is not a sin in Orthodoxy.

Elaborate.

I think he means predisposition.  Some are more easily tempted than others to perform homosexual acts, but as long as they don't act upon it, then they're not sinning.
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« Reply #326 on: December 14, 2010, 05:03:00 PM »

Homosexuality is the condition of having same-sex attraction. That condition itself is not a sin in Orthodoxy.

Elaborate.
Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.
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« Reply #327 on: December 14, 2010, 05:19:30 PM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?
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« Reply #328 on: December 14, 2010, 05:24:27 PM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?
Correct.
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« Reply #329 on: December 15, 2010, 06:39:52 PM »

The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.
Do you believe that the Episcopalian Bishop is celibate, then?
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« Reply #330 on: December 15, 2010, 06:50:12 PM »

The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.
Do you believe that the Episcopalian Bishop is celibate, then?
I don't have any personal experience in that area.

But in the Episcopal Church, a priest or bishop (whether homosexually oriented or heterosexually oriented) need not be celibate.
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« Reply #331 on: December 16, 2010, 01:54:09 PM »

But in the Episcopal Church, a priest or bishop (whether homosexually oriented or heterosexually oriented) need not be celibate.
But as you pointed out, if the "homosexually oriented" clergy acts on his/her "orientation", they are choosing to sin.
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« Reply #332 on: December 16, 2010, 04:54:45 PM »

But in the Episcopal Church, a priest or bishop (whether homosexually oriented or heterosexually oriented) need not be celibate.
But as you pointed out, if the "homosexually oriented" clergy acts on his/her "orientation", they are choosing to sin.
According to Orthodox Christianity, yes. According to many Episcopalians, no.
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« Reply #333 on: December 16, 2010, 05:38:21 PM »

Mary Glasspool is shacked up with a lady, so the celibacy thing is not an issue here.
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« Reply #334 on: December 16, 2010, 06:17:27 PM »

Mary Glasspool is shacked up with a lady, so the celibacy thing is not an issue here.
If you mean that Glasspool is living (or is in a relationship) with a woman, that's common knowledge. Whether they are actually sexually active, I haven't heard anyone who should know, speak about that. In any event, her sexual activity has no bearing on her qualifiedness to the episcopacy in the Episcopal Church.
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« Reply #335 on: December 22, 2010, 04:55:33 AM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?

I'm gonna have to disagree here. Lustful desire is a sin, period. Perverse desires are sins. Orthodoxy does not teach that we can maintain any and all manner of sinful thughts and desires just as long as we do not act upon them. Thus homosexuality is itself a sin, because it is a perversion of what God intended. Heterosexuality is not a sin in and of itself, because it is God's will and intention for all human beings. However, let me again stress that any lustful thoughts or desires - be they homosexual or heterosexual - are sinful, and thus we should struggle against them and plead for the grace of God to assist us in our efforts to be holy and pure. I know many will disagree with me on this point, but that is my humble opinion, FWIW.

BTW, I think the alcoholic analogy is a poor one. The desire to drink alcohol is not sinful, but the desire to get drunk is. Orthodoxy does not teach the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous which encourages alcoholics to identify themselves as such for the rest of their lives. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes the doctrine of “theosis,” which teaches that by the cooperation of our free will with divine grace we can become completely transformed and wholly restored to God’s image and likeness. Therefore, I personally reject any concept of identifying oneself as a “sober alcoholic” or a “celibate homosexual” as contrary to Orthodox Teaching. Just my opinion. 

Selam
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« Reply #336 on: December 22, 2010, 09:49:33 AM »

But as you pointed out, if the "homosexually oriented" clergy acts on his/her "orientation", they are choosing to sin.
According to Orthodox Christianity, yes. According to many Episcopalians, no.
As time goes by, I feel less inclined to follow what happens theologically outside of the Orthodox Christian Church.
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« Reply #337 on: December 22, 2010, 03:03:32 PM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?

I'm gonna have to disagree here. Lustful desire is a sin, period. Perverse desires are sins. Orthodoxy does not teach that we can maintain any and all manner of sinful thughts and desires just as long as we do not act upon them. Thus homosexuality is itself a sin, because it is a perversion of what God intended. Heterosexuality is not a sin in and of itself, because it is God's will and intention for all human beings. However, let me again stress that any lustful thoughts or desires - be they homosexual or heterosexual - are sinful, and thus we should struggle against them and plead for the grace of God to assist us in our efforts to be holy and pure. I know many will disagree with me on this point, but that is my humble opinion, FWIW.

BTW, I think the alcoholic analogy is a poor one. The desire to drink alcohol is not sinful, but the desire to get drunk is. Orthodoxy does not teach the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous which encourages alcoholics to identify themselves as such for the rest of their lives. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes the doctrine of “theosis,” which teaches that by the cooperation of our free will with divine grace we can become completely transformed and wholly restored to God’s image and likeness. Therefore, I personally reject any concept of identifying oneself as a “sober alcoholic” or a “celibate homosexual” as contrary to Orthodox Teaching. Just my opinion. 

Selam

I don't know what an alcoholic or a homosexually inclined individual feels like.  But the fact that these temptations don't even phase me and I don't struggle in them at all makes me feel sympathetic to the alcoholics who have to stay away from alcohol indefinitely and homosexual people being celibate as well.  That is in fact the Orthodox recommendation for people struggling in these issues.  It's not so much that these things are wrong or right.  But for each person who's struggling with something different, sometimes relatively speaking, abstinence from something that's not inherently evil can help fight their struggle.  It's the concept of fasting, even the foods we fast from are not also evil.  There's nothing unOrthodox about that.

I fall into temptations that I've seen others not being phased by.  In that I can have sympathy in the struggle.  Since everyone has their own "thorn in the flesh," I don't see anything wrong with saying one is naturally predisposed to it.  We just have to fight against these predispositions.
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« Reply #338 on: December 23, 2010, 06:42:31 AM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?

I'm gonna have to disagree here. Lustful desire is a sin, period. Perverse desires are sins. Orthodoxy does not teach that we can maintain any and all manner of sinful thughts and desires just as long as we do not act upon them. Thus homosexuality is itself a sin, because it is a perversion of what God intended. Heterosexuality is not a sin in and of itself, because it is God's will and intention for all human beings. However, let me again stress that any lustful thoughts or desires - be they homosexual or heterosexual - are sinful, and thus we should struggle against them and plead for the grace of God to assist us in our efforts to be holy and pure. I know many will disagree with me on this point, but that is my humble opinion, FWIW.

BTW, I think the alcoholic analogy is a poor one. The desire to drink alcohol is not sinful, but the desire to get drunk is. Orthodoxy does not teach the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous which encourages alcoholics to identify themselves as such for the rest of their lives. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes the doctrine of “theosis,” which teaches that by the cooperation of our free will with divine grace we can become completely transformed and wholly restored to God’s image and likeness. Therefore, I personally reject any concept of identifying oneself as a “sober alcoholic” or a “celibate homosexual” as contrary to Orthodox Teaching. Just my opinion. 

Selam

I don't know what an alcoholic or a homosexually inclined individual feels like.  But the fact that these temptations don't even phase me and I don't struggle in them at all makes me feel sympathetic to the alcoholics who have to stay away from alcohol indefinitely and homosexual people being celibate as well.  That is in fact the Orthodox recommendation for people struggling in these issues.  It's not so much that these things are wrong or right.  But for each person who's struggling with something different, sometimes relatively speaking, abstinence from something that's not inherently evil can help fight their struggle.  It's the concept of fasting, even the foods we fast from are not also evil.  There's nothing unOrthodox about that.

I fall into temptations that I've seen others not being phased by.  In that I can have sympathy in the struggle.  Since everyone has their own "thorn in the flesh," I don't see anything wrong with saying one is naturally predisposed to it.  We just have to fight against these predispositions.

I completely agree with you brother. We all have our own temptations, weaknesses, and predispositions, and none of us should self-righteously disparage the struggles of others. But we should struggle against these sinful predispositions; and it is difficult to effectively struggle against something if we resign ourselves to it or define ourselves by it. Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives. God has called us to theosis and Sainthood, and by His grace we can conquer sin and be transformed into the divine likeness. We are the image of God, and that should be the definition of our identity. If we define ourselves as “alcoholics,” “homosexuals,” etc. then we limit ourselves and sell God and the Cross short.

Selam
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« Reply #339 on: December 23, 2010, 11:24:50 AM »

The Tewahedo Church must have a different approach than what I am used to.

I'm not aware of any Father of the Church who ever stated that he was no longer a sinner.

Could you please elaborate on this?


Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives.
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« Reply #340 on: December 24, 2010, 02:37:02 AM »

The Tewahedo Church must have a different approach than what I am used to.

I'm not aware of any Father of the Church who ever stated that he was no longer a sinner.

Could you please elaborate on this?


Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives.

Father bless,
Indeed the holiest of Saints considered themselves the chiefs of sinners. My point is that if we define ourselves primarily by our weaknesses and resign any hope of overcoming and transcending our sins and perversions, then we cast aspersion upon the efficacy of the Cross and thwart our path toward theosis. Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it.

It seems possible that Father Seraphim Rose struggled with homosexuality prior to his conversion. But after his conversion he never identified himself as a homosexual, nor did he advocate the view that Orthodox Christians can embrace their homosexuality as long as they remain celibate and do not physically act upon their homosexual impulses. Father Seraphim Rose is a great example of the power of God to transform lives.

We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be. That is my own humble opinion, which I hope and believe is an Orthodox opinion. Forgive me if my previous statements were unclear.

Selam
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« Reply #341 on: December 24, 2010, 12:14:20 PM »

Dear Gebre,

God bless you!

I'm going to take issue with your dichotomy between identifying as a 'sinner' and identifying as a particular type of sinner based on one's proclivities.

Frankly, I have never seen the Fathers teach that theosis means anything like what you are saying.  Rather, I have seen just the opposite: the Holy Ones not only identify with their former sins, but also with those for whom they care, even the entire world.

So, I will challenge your premise by saying it is important to never stop identifying with your previous sins, because you are but one misstep from being cast back into them by temptation.  If you are sober or chaste or clean from them even for a moment, it it truly a miracle from God, to who is due all the praise!  The addict lives moment to moment in that connection, which is renounced when he decides he has been 'cured' of his passion and thus is no longer 'as one who is thus afflicted.'

The Fathers wept bitterly for their previous sins, though they were confessed and forgiven and even healed.  Why did they weep?  Not from guilt, but from sorrow when they experienced the goodness of God.  THAT is theosis.  It is not that we are no longer this or that, but that we are able to have that kind of powerful awareness of God's mercy and love.  This is why the Fathers could weep, but not be depressed.  They could identify with all manner of sin, but not commit any.

The moment you lose that identification with your past, when you think it is no longer 'you,' then the connection is broken, my friend.  Theosis is not an escape from ourselves, but the transformation of the sinful self into a repentant sinner.  Your sins remain with you for all eternity, how can you forget them?  If you did, then you would forget the forgiveness you have received from God for them.  You would be someone else.

God is not ashamed of our sins.  He understands what they are: our destructive and weird way of dealing with His abscence from our consciousness.  This is why He embraces us sinners while we are in our sins and patiently leads us out of active sin.  He is not afraid of our fallenness, so why should we be?

Fr. Seraphim would have had a very rough time identifying as a repentant homosexual in the church community and society of his time.  If you had been around 70 years ago, the same would be true for alcoholics and addicts.  He could not talk about it because there were so few real Christians around (the same is true today) and it was far less stylish than it is now to discuss homosexuality and addiction.  So, I think using him as an example is a poor one.  Our society is so weird that I think there is probably more shame in being a chronic masturbater than a repetitive sodomite.  In his time, both were socially unacceptable.

By identifying with our sinfullness, we are not saying it comes from God, but rather that we have a continuous need for His presence and healing.  It permits us to continue to repent, even when we have lived a pure and chaste life.  It becomes the means of our repentance and the path of our compassion for others.

While I appreciate your effort, Gebre, I think this theory is not helpful for you or others, which is why I am speaking up.  I do not believe it represents Orthodox Tradition.

I've just finished reading a wonderful, little book: Return by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos (Akritas Publications).  It is a wonderful approach to this topic, and I highly recommend it.


The Tewahedo Church must have a different approach than what I am used to.

I'm not aware of any Father of the Church who ever stated that he was no longer a sinner.

Could you please elaborate on this?


Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives.

Father bless,
Indeed the holiest of Saints considered themselves the chiefs of sinners. My point is that if we define ourselves primarily by our weaknesses and resign any hope of overcoming and transcending our sins and perversions, then we cast aspersion upon the efficacy of the Cross and thwart our path toward theosis. Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it.

It seems possible that Father Seraphim Rose struggled with homosexuality prior to his conversion. But after his conversion he never identified himself as a homosexual, nor did he advocate the view that Orthodox Christians can embrace their homosexuality as long as they remain celibate and do not physically act upon their homosexual impulses. Father Seraphim Rose is a great example of the power of God to transform lives.

We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be. That is my own humble opinion, which I hope and believe is an Orthodox opinion. Forgive me if my previous statements were unclear.

Selam

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« Reply #342 on: December 26, 2010, 09:39:48 PM »

Father Bless,

I hope you had a joyous and peaceful Feast of the Nativity!

Thank you for your comments. Let me try to clarify my position, because it appears you misunderstood me. You said, “Frankly, I have never seen the Fathers teach that theosis means anything like what you are saying.” Please read my statement again, and tell me how this contradicts the teaching of the Fathers:

“We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be.”

You wrote, "The Holy Ones not only identify with their former sins, but also with those for whom they care, even the entire world." I agree completely, but I also believe the Fathers would agree with what I said:

"Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it."

You wrote: "It is important to never stop identifying with your previous sins, because you are but one misstep from being cast back into them by temptation.  If you are sober or chaste or clean from them even for a moment, it is truly a miracle from God, to who is due all the praise!  The addict lives moment to moment in that connection, which is renounced when he decides he has been 'cured' of his passion and thus is no longer 'as one who is thus afflicted.'"

Again, I completely agree with you that we should never stop identifying with our previous sins. There is no sin or perversion under the sun of which I am not capable of committing. Until God removes me from this temporal world, I shall never consider myself “cured” of the potential to sin. But by the power of the Cross and the Sacramental graces of the Church, we have been given the divinely granted opportunity to transcend sin and be remade in the very likeness of God. That is why I said that even though we confess and acknowledge our sinfulness, we should not resign ourselves to sinning for the rest of our lives. In other words, we should hope in the Cross and avail ourselves of the divine graces that will enable us to fight the passions so that we might experience God in fullness.

You state, “Theosis is not an escape from ourselves, but the transformation of the sinful self into a repentant sinner.” I agree with you again.

You write, “God is not ashamed of our sins.  He understands what they are: our destructive and weird way of dealing with His abscence from our consciousness.  This is why He embraces us sinners while we are in our sins and patiently leads us out of active sin.  He is not afraid of our fallenness, so why should we be?” I agree that God is not ashamed of our sins, but certainly we should be ashamed of them. God is not pleased with our sins; and because of His great love for us, He grieves over our sins which hinder us from experiencing Him more intimately and more fully. Sin is not God’s problem, it is ours. Therefore, although God is not afraid of our “fallenness,” we would be foolish to wallow in our fallen condition and not avail ourselves of the grace that makes it possible to rise to eternal life.

Regarding Father Seraphim Rose, you write:  “Fr. Seraphim would have had a very rough time identifying as a repentant homosexual in the church community and society of his time.  If you had been around 70 years ago, the same would be true for alcoholics and addicts.  He could not talk about it because there were so few real Christians around (the same is true today) and it was far less stylish than it is now to discuss homosexuality and addiction.  So, I think using him as an example is a poor one.  Our society is so weird that I think there is probably more shame in being a chronic masturbater than a repetitive sodomite.  In his time, both were socially unacceptable.” Here I must respectfully disagree with you. Father Seraphim Rose was certainly not one to shy away from controversial subjects. Many people today castigate him for his politically incorrect views. So I find it a very implausible argument that he refused to identify himself as a homosexual merely because of the cultural climate of his times. I also think it is a dangerous presumption to state whether or not there were few or many “true Christians” then or now. Let us not forget that God had to inform Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

“By identifying with our sinfullness, we are not saying it comes from God, but rather that we have a continuous need for His presence and healing.  It permits us to continue to repent, even when we have lived a pure and chaste life.  It becomes the means of our repentance and the path of our compassion for others.”  Well said Father. In all of our efforts to promote righteousness and truth, we should never lose sight of Christian compassion. All of us are equally in need of the mercy and grace of Our Lord. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Thank you for the good discussion, and I apologize if my words were unclear before.

Peace to you.

Selam
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« Reply #343 on: December 27, 2010, 11:58:24 AM »

Thank you and, yes, I did have a joyous feast.  I hope you have the same very soon!

While I appreciate your post and agree with most of it, the issue I had was with this previous bit:

I completely agree with you brother. We all have our own temptations, weaknesses, and predispositions, and none of us should self-righteously disparage the struggles of others. But we should struggle against these sinful predispositions; and it is difficult to effectively struggle against something if we resign ourselves to it or define ourselves by it. Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives. God has called us to theosis and Sainthood, and by His grace we can conquer sin and be transformed into the divine likeness. We are the image of God, and that should be the definition of our identity. If we define ourselves as “alcoholics,” “homosexuals,” etc. then we limit ourselves and sell God and the Cross short.


Your latest post does not directly come into contact with this section, which was at the heart of my response.  Your latest post does not address how one continues the path of repentance while, as you stated, "not resign[ing] ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives."

Again, my point is that the fathers teach that we should not only identify with our sins, but even develop to the point where we identify with the sins of all mankind and suffer and repent of them as our own.

By identifying as an alcoholic or an addict, one is not saying 'God made me this way.'  What he is saying, if one properly follows the 'traditional AA formula, is that the sufferer will always have this temptation and will therefore always need God's help to avoid a fall.  It is, in fact, a very Patristic notion even if it came from heterodox.  This is one reason why I identify Orthodox Tradition with 'natural law' in a sense: Orthodoxy describes how things really are, rather than man's theories.  It is all practical.

Someone who identifies with his sin for the sake of limiting his repentance (i.e. 'God made me a homosexual, so why should I fight it?') is doing it wrong.  The one who says, 'I am a homosexual and I will always need God's help to avoid falling into sin' is doing it right.  The latter has by respect, because he not only has a great struggle, but also a greater degree of God's mercy and power to overcome the temptations that will beset him.  The former is just as lost as the rest of us who make excuses for our sins.

Anyway, it seesm as though you have backed away from the quote above, which is well and good.  I am very glad we agree on far more than we disagree.



Father Bless,

I hope you had a joyous and peaceful Feast of the Nativity!

Thank you for your comments. Let me try to clarify my position, because it appears you misunderstood me. You said, “Frankly, I have never seen the Fathers teach that theosis means anything like what you are saying.” Please read my statement again, and tell me how this contradicts the teaching of the Fathers:

“We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be.”

You wrote, "The Holy Ones not only identify with their former sins, but also with those for whom they care, even the entire world." I agree completely, but I also believe the Fathers would agree with what I said:

"Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it."

You wrote: "It is important to never stop identifying with your previous sins, because you are but one misstep from being cast back into them by temptation.  If you are sober or chaste or clean from them even for a moment, it is truly a miracle from God, to who is due all the praise!  The addict lives moment to moment in that connection, which is renounced when he decides he has been 'cured' of his passion and thus is no longer 'as one who is thus afflicted.'"

Again, I completely agree with you that we should never stop identifying with our previous sins. There is no sin or perversion under the sun of which I am not capable of committing. Until God removes me from this temporal world, I shall never consider myself “cured” of the potential to sin. But by the power of the Cross and the Sacramental graces of the Church, we have been given the divinely granted opportunity to transcend sin and be remade in the very likeness of God. That is why I said that even though we confess and acknowledge our sinfulness, we should not resign ourselves to sinning for the rest of our lives. In other words, we should hope in the Cross and avail ourselves of the divine graces that will enable us to fight the passions so that we might experience God in fullness.

You state, “Theosis is not an escape from ourselves, but the transformation of the sinful self into a repentant sinner.” I agree with you again.

You write, “God is not ashamed of our sins.  He understands what they are: our destructive and weird way of dealing with His abscence from our consciousness.  This is why He embraces us sinners while we are in our sins and patiently leads us out of active sin.  He is not afraid of our fallenness, so why should we be?” I agree that God is not ashamed of our sins, but certainly we should be ashamed of them. God is not pleased with our sins; and because of His great love for us, He grieves over our sins which hinder us from experiencing Him more intimately and more fully. Sin is not God’s problem, it is ours. Therefore, although God is not afraid of our “fallenness,” we would be foolish to wallow in our fallen condition and not avail ourselves of the grace that makes it possible to rise to eternal life.

Regarding Father Seraphim Rose, you write:  “Fr. Seraphim would have had a very rough time identifying as a repentant homosexual in the church community and society of his time.  If you had been around 70 years ago, the same would be true for alcoholics and addicts.  He could not talk about it because there were so few real Christians around (the same is true today) and it was far less stylish than it is now to discuss homosexuality and addiction.  So, I think using him as an example is a poor one.  Our society is so weird that I think there is probably more shame in being a chronic masturbater than a repetitive sodomite.  In his time, both were socially unacceptable.” Here I must respectfully disagree with you. Father Seraphim Rose was certainly not one to shy away from controversial subjects. Many people today castigate him for his politically incorrect views. So I find it a very implausible argument that he refused to identify himself as a homosexual merely because of the cultural climate of his times. I also think it is a dangerous presumption to state whether or not there were few or many “true Christians” then or now. Let us not forget that God had to inform Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

“By identifying with our sinfullness, we are not saying it comes from God, but rather that we have a continuous need for His presence and healing.  It permits us to continue to repent, even when we have lived a pure and chaste life.  It becomes the means of our repentance and the path of our compassion for others.”  Well said Father. In all of our efforts to promote righteousness and truth, we should never lose sight of Christian compassion. All of us are equally in need of the mercy and grace of Our Lord. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Thank you for the good discussion, and I apologize if my words were unclear before.

Peace to you.

Selam

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« Reply #344 on: December 27, 2010, 03:39:04 PM »

Father Bless,

I think the key word is "resign." By that, I mean giving up and abandoning hope of being transformed by the grace of God. We should never think we have "arrived" spiritually, that we no longer need mercy and forgiveness. But neither should we give ourselves over to perversion and think that God cannot remove it from us. I think if we define ourselves as sinners who have been created in the image of God and are striving by grace to be transformed into His likeness, then we cannot go wrong. But by defining ourselves as "homosexuals," "alcoholics," etc. then we can actually lose sight of other sins and perversions that are waiting to ensnare us. The "alcoholic" who lives the rest of his life in sobriety may also be completely unaware of other weaknesses, perversions, and sins that are crippling him spiritually. I just think we should focus on the fact that we are sinners who by grace have been given the power to fight and conquer sin, not on defining ourselves primarily by a praticular sin or perversion. But that's just my two cents. I do think we are mostly in agreement however.

Thank you Father.

Selam



Thank you and, yes, I did have a joyous feast.  I hope you have the same very soon!

While I appreciate your post and agree with most of it, the issue I had was with this previous bit:

I completely agree with you brother. We all have our own temptations, weaknesses, and predispositions, and none of us should self-righteously disparage the struggles of others. But we should struggle against these sinful predispositions; and it is difficult to effectively struggle against something if we resign ourselves to it or define ourselves by it. Even though we say, “I am a sinner,” we should not resign ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives. God has called us to theosis and Sainthood, and by His grace we can conquer sin and be transformed into the divine likeness. We are the image of God, and that should be the definition of our identity. If we define ourselves as “alcoholics,” “homosexuals,” etc. then we limit ourselves and sell God and the Cross short.


Your latest post does not directly come into contact with this section, which was at the heart of my response.  Your latest post does not address how one continues the path of repentance while, as you stated, "not resign[ing] ourselves to being sinners for the rest of our lives."

Again, my point is that the fathers teach that we should not only identify with our sins, but even develop to the point where we identify with the sins of all mankind and suffer and repent of them as our own.

By identifying as an alcoholic or an addict, one is not saying 'God made me this way.'  What he is saying, if one properly follows the 'traditional AA formula, is that the sufferer will always have this temptation and will therefore always need God's help to avoid a fall.  It is, in fact, a very Patristic notion even if it came from heterodox.  This is one reason why I identify Orthodox Tradition with 'natural law' in a sense: Orthodoxy describes how things really are, rather than man's theories.  It is all practical.

Someone who identifies with his sin for the sake of limiting his repentance (i.e. 'God made me a homosexual, so why should I fight it?') is doing it wrong.  The one who says, 'I am a homosexual and I will always need God's help to avoid falling into sin' is doing it right.  The latter has by respect, because he not only has a great struggle, but also a greater degree of God's mercy and power to overcome the temptations that will beset him.  The former is just as lost as the rest of us who make excuses for our sins.

Anyway, it seesm as though you have backed away from the quote above, which is well and good.  I am very glad we agree on far more than we disagree.



Father Bless,

I hope you had a joyous and peaceful Feast of the Nativity!

Thank you for your comments. Let me try to clarify my position, because it appears you misunderstood me. You said, “Frankly, I have never seen the Fathers teach that theosis means anything like what you are saying.” Please read my statement again, and tell me how this contradicts the teaching of the Fathers:

“We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be.”

You wrote, "The Holy Ones not only identify with their former sins, but also with those for whom they care, even the entire world." I agree completely, but I also believe the Fathers would agree with what I said:

"Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it."

You wrote: "It is important to never stop identifying with your previous sins, because you are but one misstep from being cast back into them by temptation.  If you are sober or chaste or clean from them even for a moment, it is truly a miracle from God, to who is due all the praise!  The addict lives moment to moment in that connection, which is renounced when he decides he has been 'cured' of his passion and thus is no longer 'as one who is thus afflicted.'"

Again, I completely agree with you that we should never stop identifying with our previous sins. There is no sin or perversion under the sun of which I am not capable of committing. Until God removes me from this temporal world, I shall never consider myself “cured” of the potential to sin. But by the power of the Cross and the Sacramental graces of the Church, we have been given the divinely granted opportunity to transcend sin and be remade in the very likeness of God. That is why I said that even though we confess and acknowledge our sinfulness, we should not resign ourselves to sinning for the rest of our lives. In other words, we should hope in the Cross and avail ourselves of the divine graces that will enable us to fight the passions so that we might experience God in fullness.

You state, “Theosis is not an escape from ourselves, but the transformation of the sinful self into a repentant sinner.” I agree with you again.

You write, “God is not ashamed of our sins.  He understands what they are: our destructive and weird way of dealing with His abscence from our consciousness.  This is why He embraces us sinners while we are in our sins and patiently leads us out of active sin.  He is not afraid of our fallenness, so why should we be?” I agree that God is not ashamed of our sins, but certainly we should be ashamed of them. God is not pleased with our sins; and because of His great love for us, He grieves over our sins which hinder us from experiencing Him more intimately and more fully. Sin is not God’s problem, it is ours. Therefore, although God is not afraid of our “fallenness,” we would be foolish to wallow in our fallen condition and not avail ourselves of the grace that makes it possible to rise to eternal life.

Regarding Father Seraphim Rose, you write:  “Fr. Seraphim would have had a very rough time identifying as a repentant homosexual in the church community and society of his time.  If you had been around 70 years ago, the same would be true for alcoholics and addicts.  He could not talk about it because there were so few real Christians around (the same is true today) and it was far less stylish than it is now to discuss homosexuality and addiction.  So, I think using him as an example is a poor one.  Our society is so weird that I think there is probably more shame in being a chronic masturbater than a repetitive sodomite.  In his time, both were socially unacceptable.” Here I must respectfully disagree with you. Father Seraphim Rose was certainly not one to shy away from controversial subjects. Many people today castigate him for his politically incorrect views. So I find it a very implausible argument that he refused to identify himself as a homosexual merely because of the cultural climate of his times. I also think it is a dangerous presumption to state whether or not there were few or many “true Christians” then or now. Let us not forget that God had to inform Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

“By identifying with our sinfullness, we are not saying it comes from God, but rather that we have a continuous need for His presence and healing.  It permits us to continue to repent, even when we have lived a pure and chaste life.  It becomes the means of our repentance and the path of our compassion for others.”  Well said Father. In all of our efforts to promote righteousness and truth, we should never lose sight of Christian compassion. All of us are equally in need of the mercy and grace of Our Lord. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Thank you for the good discussion, and I apologize if my words were unclear before.

Peace to you.

Selam

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« Reply #345 on: January 02, 2011, 03:47:01 AM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?

I'm gonna have to disagree here. Lustful desire is a sin, period. Perverse desires are sins. Orthodoxy does not teach that we can maintain any and all manner of sinful thughts and desires just as long as we do not act upon them. Thus homosexuality is itself a sin, because it is a perversion of what God intended. Heterosexuality is not a sin in and of itself, because it is God's will and intention for all human beings. However, let me again stress that any lustful thoughts or desires - be they homosexual or heterosexual - are sinful, and thus we should struggle against them and plead for the grace of God to assist us in our efforts to be holy and pure. I know many will disagree with me on this point, but that is my humble opinion, FWIW.

BTW, I think the alcoholic analogy is a poor one. The desire to drink alcohol is not sinful, but the desire to get drunk is. Orthodoxy does not teach the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous which encourages alcoholics to identify themselves as such for the rest of their lives. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes the doctrine of “theosis,” which teaches that by the cooperation of our free will with divine grace we can become completely transformed and wholly restored to God’s image and likeness. Therefore, I personally reject any concept of identifying oneself as a “sober alcoholic” or a “celibate homosexual” as contrary to Orthodox Teaching. Just my opinion. 

Selam
You misunderstand.

A temptation to homosexual behavior, that is, being born and psychologically formed in a way that causes you to feel attraction to persons of the same gender, is not a sin. It is not a sin anymore than it is for me to be attracted to a married woman.

If I fantasize about the married woman, or a man, then I am committing a serious sin.

If I masturbate, then it makes the sin even worse.

Then sex with the married woman is an even greater sin.

Then, sodomy with the married woman (or contraceptive sex) or sodomy with the man are even worse sins.

However, merely feeling the temptation to one of those sins does not make me guilty of anything.

You are of course, correct, that the natural order of man is not towards homosexual acts. However, Adam's sin had effects on the whole of creation. Because of this, some people are born in intrinsically disordered states, such as having temptation to homosexual acts, or to unspeakable acts with children, or to acts with animals.

However, if they resist the temptation, which is very hard, and I applaud those who live with this silent struggle, then they are not guilty of any sin.
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« Reply #346 on: January 02, 2011, 04:52:51 AM »

Someone with same-sex attraction who doesn't act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction behaves differently than someone with same-sex attraction who does act (either physically or mentally) on that attraction. The one who acts, sins. The one who does not, does not.

Ah, I see, much in the same way one could be an alcoholic and not drink, correct?

I'm gonna have to disagree here. Lustful desire is a sin, period. Perverse desires are sins. Orthodoxy does not teach that we can maintain any and all manner of sinful thughts and desires just as long as we do not act upon them. Thus homosexuality is itself a sin, because it is a perversion of what God intended. Heterosexuality is not a sin in and of itself, because it is God's will and intention for all human beings. However, let me again stress that any lustful thoughts or desires - be they homosexual or heterosexual - are sinful, and thus we should struggle against them and plead for the grace of God to assist us in our efforts to be holy and pure. I know many will disagree with me on this point, but that is my humble opinion, FWIW.

BTW, I think the alcoholic analogy is a poor one. The desire to drink alcohol is not sinful, but the desire to get drunk is. Orthodoxy does not teach the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous which encourages alcoholics to identify themselves as such for the rest of their lives. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes the doctrine of “theosis,” which teaches that by the cooperation of our free will with divine grace we can become completely transformed and wholly restored to God’s image and likeness. Therefore, I personally reject any concept of identifying oneself as a “sober alcoholic” or a “celibate homosexual” as contrary to Orthodox Teaching. Just my opinion. 

Selam
You misunderstand.

A temptation to homosexual behavior, that is, being born and psychologically formed in a way that causes you to feel attraction to persons of the same gender, is not a sin. It is not a sin anymore than it is for me to be attracted to a married woman.

If I fantasize about the married woman, or a man, then I am committing a serious sin.

If I masturbate, then it makes the sin even worse.

Then sex with the married woman is an even greater sin.

Then, sodomy with the married woman (or contraceptive sex) or sodomy with the man are even worse sins.

However, merely feeling the temptation to one of those sins does not make me guilty of anything.

You are of course, correct, that the natural order of man is not towards homosexual acts. However, Adam's sin had effects on the whole of creation. Because of this, some people are born in intrinsically disordered states, such as having temptation to homosexual acts, or to unspeakable acts with children, or to acts with animals.

However, if they resist the temptation, which is very hard, and I applaud those who live with this silent struggle, then they are not guilty of any sin.

It is a fair point, and I have been pondering this very thing lately. Perhaps homosexuality in and of itself is not necessarily a sin - in that one's homosexual desires are shaped by factors beyond their control - but it is undeniably a perversion of God's originally created order. So, I would still argue that it is indeed a sin to resign one's self to and identify one's self primarily with any perversion. We all carry unnatural (i.e. contrary to the conditions of paradise prior to the fall) feelings, desires, and inclinations that may have been formed by hereditary or environmental factors with which we had nothing to do. But we are called to struggle and fight against these unnatural perversions, to strive by the graces afforded us through Christ and His Church to reshape our appetites and desires and bring them into conformity with God's original will and order for man. If we accept our perversions and relinquish any hope of being transformed through the Holy Spirit, then we mock God and call Him a liar. St. Paul writes: "Behold, if any man is in Christ he is a new creature. The old things have passed away, behold all things are new." [II Corinthians 5:17]

Selam
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"Beauty is truth, and Orthodoxy is beautiful." +GMK+
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