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Poll
Question: Homosexuality comes up frequenbtly on Orthodox forums because..
Some folks who need Prozac aren't on it yet. - 19 (26.8%)
Since drunkeness, adultery, theft and dishonesty have been eradicated it's the only sin left to fight - 10 (14.1%)
Apparently most Orthodox Christians have lots of gay family, friends and associates - 7 (9.9%)
Orthodox forums attract a lot of self torturing closet cases and men with doubts about thier own masculinity - 20 (28.2%)
Some folks who need Prozac aren't on it yet. - 15 (21.1%)
Total Voters: 71

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Robert W
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« Reply #405 on: May 25, 2009, 08:59:26 AM »

 Cry

This discussion is so soul destroying that my English is lacking in describing it.

I have found an article (actually two articles) that would be of interest to anyone seriously interested in what is going on in Finland.

http://www.aamunkoitto.fi/pages/keskustelua.php

I was going to translate it, but now that I have read the recent posts on this thread I don't have the energy to do so anymore.
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« Reply #406 on: May 25, 2009, 09:32:00 AM »

Cry

This discussion is so soul destroying that my English is lacking in describing it.

I have found an article (actually two articles) that would be of interest to anyone seriously interested in what is going on in Finland.

http://www.aamunkoitto.fi/pages/keskustelua.php

I was going to translate it, but now that I have read the recent posts on this thread I don't have the energy to do so anymore.

I'm completely aghast that this was published in an official Finnish Orthodox forum. It's like being in a collapsing ECUSA all over again. I'll try to do an English translation later tonight.
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« Reply #407 on: May 25, 2009, 09:44:18 AM »

Thank you CRCulver for taking the time to do "my job".

For anyone that knows Finnish, I can bring to attention a blog post by bishop Arseni of Joensuu (auxiliary bishop to the archbishop).

http://ortodoksi.net/ortodoksi/blogi/arseni/2008/11/18/kaksi-kirjaa/
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 09:47:21 AM by Robert W » Logged
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« Reply #408 on: May 25, 2009, 12:54:24 PM »

About all we can do is break off communion with heretics.  I think churches have tried the idea of persecuting heretics with the idea of forcing them to recant.  Much good that did. Roll Eyes

It does pretty well. Perhaps the heretics don't recant, but persecution does limit their ability to spread their heresies. Look at how Russia, for example, has succeeded fairly well with resisting the onslaught of American Protestant missionaries compared to, say, Romania.
Also very well said.
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« Reply #409 on: May 25, 2009, 01:05:14 PM »

About all we can do is break off communion with heretics.  I think churches have tried the idea of persecuting heretics with the idea of forcing them to recant.  Much good that did. Roll Eyes

It does pretty well. Perhaps the heretics don't recant, but persecution does limit their ability to spread their heresies. Look at how Russia, for example, has succeeded fairly well with resisting the onslaught of American Protestant missionaries compared to, say, Romania.
Depends on how you define persecution.  I was thinking of it more in terms of the Spanish Inquisition, the heresy trials, and the mass murder of heretics that have been carried out by various churches in the name of the Church.
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« Reply #410 on: May 25, 2009, 02:01:57 PM »

Cry

This discussion is so soul destroying that my English is lacking in describing it.

I have found an article (actually two articles) that would be of interest to anyone seriously interested in what is going on in Finland.

http://www.aamunkoitto.fi/pages/keskustelua.php

I was going to translate it, but now that I have read the recent posts on this thread I don't have the energy to do so anymore.

I'm completely aghast that this was published in an official Finnish Orthodox forum. It's like being in a collapsing ECUSA all over again. I'll try to do an English translation later tonight.


May I ask you - has it been presented as an official position of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the aforementioned forum? Or could it be just another opinion, published in a forum?
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« Reply #411 on: May 25, 2009, 04:02:00 PM »

Here's the first letter from the oh-so-appropriately titled "Dialogue" section of Aamun Koitto. Robert W., please correct any mistakes you find, as I'm nowhere close to a native speaker of Finnish.

In the darkness of values

Hannu Pöyhönen has written a book called Homosexuality in the Light of Orthodox Tradition

In Pöyhönen's thought, an opinion is stressed that homosexual drives are a quite exceptional pleasure and are always lurking in ambush. According to researchers homosexuals are 3–7% of the population and bisexuals around 10–30%, while among the people of the Church sinners make up a firm one hundred percent. Questions from churchgoers to administration on homosexual relationships raise the challenge of tolerance and respect for human rights in these binding ties.

It's dangerous if the teaching of the church is expressed by fragments especially chosen to mislead. What ought one to think about the tale Pöyhönen has borrowed about a "person", where his blessing is requested when "a young man in his teens, who felt a strong attraction to other young men" ..."got trapped under a car and died"?

The American Westboro Baptist Church teaches that God is angry at Finland, because its government has approxed homosexual partnerships. Is the same message of love to be taught in the popular courses at Valamo?

I am concerned about our neighbours, who think that Pöyhönen's little book reflects Orthodox tradition other than darker shadows.

I ask the clergy to discern with wisdom and strength and cure the superstition of parishioners or wounds inflected while in the grip of fear.

-- Janne Huttunen
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 04:02:49 PM by CRCulver » Logged
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« Reply #412 on: May 26, 2009, 02:44:10 AM »

Thanks again CRCulver for the translation. I cannot find any flaws with it myself, but then my again mothers tongue isn't Finnish either.

Interestlingly Mr. Janne Huttunen does (perhaps by mistake?) call homosexuality "sin" with his comparison of procentiles.

May I ask you - has it been presented as an official position of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the aforementioned forum? Or could it be just another opinion, published in a forum?
There is a part of the website of the newpaper aamun koitto that is labelled keskustelu (discussion). It is there that two short text by different authors are presented.

The "discussion" is about a small book, that takes a traditional standpoint, published by doctor of theology Hannu Pöyhynen.
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« Reply #413 on: May 26, 2009, 10:17:13 PM »

Dear CRCulver and Robert W,
Thank you very much for your translation and explanation.
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« Reply #414 on: May 29, 2009, 10:25:00 AM »

While Theoprovlitos' rhetoric may occasionally be over the top, it is not his imagination that the Finnish Orthodox Church is moving to embrace homosexual relationships. Spend a few weeks participating in church life in Helsinki's Uspensky Cathedral, or read the introductions to the Church written by clergy in the Finnish national press, and this will be very obvious to you.

I've been going to the Uspensky cathedral for years (normally at least once a week), and I don't know what you are talking about...
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« Reply #415 on: May 29, 2009, 10:35:00 AM »

I've been going to the Uspensky cathedral for years (normally at least once a week), and I don't know what you are talking about...
You mean that this is all just hogwash!!!! Never!  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #416 on: May 29, 2009, 10:39:58 AM »

For my part, even more disturbing than the increasing tolerance of homosexual relationships, which is not yet fully implemented, is the Church of Finland's open communion. Every Sunday in Uspensky you can see tourists going up and being given the Eucharist, some of whom aren't even Christian (I spoke to one such tourist once after the service, who turned out to be happily Hindu). Isn't the Lord's Body and Blood to be guarded with severity?

Then you have a problem with the Church of Finland commissioning liturgical music from non-Orthodox (or even non-Christians).

Again, I just can't wait to get out of here and spend all my time in a Church that seems in tune with world Orthodoxy.

Well, during all these years, I remember one occasion when some Asian looking people joined the communion line. I was horrified (although I knew there was a slight possibility that they were Japanese Orthodox), but fortunately someone (a lay person) went up to them, and after a short conversation they quit the line. However, the way communion is distributed does have some risks. If you know how to behave, and don't look too touristy, you most likely won't be asked any questions, and the priests assume you are Orthodox. There is no chance the priests would be able to know everyone, so the only way to avoid this problem would be to introduce some kind of an Orthodox ID you had to show to the priest when approaching the chalice. The other option would be to expel any non-Orthodox from the church at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful, but then again there would have to be some kind of an ID to be able to find out who is Orthodox and who is not. I know about one obstinate Lutheran who thinks he has the right to get communion wherever he feels like it who was able to get communion there, but I don't really think it is such a big problem. Usually they say just before the pre-communion prayer that the communion is only for the Orthodox, and normally the non-Orthodox visitors respect that.
 
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« Reply #417 on: May 29, 2009, 10:49:05 AM »

I've been going to the Uspensky cathedral for years (normally at least once a week), and I don't know what you are talking about...
You mean that this is all just hogwash!!!! Never!  Roll Eyes

I wasn't talking about the gay issue as such, only about the Uspensky cathedral. I haven't noticed any gay activity in the Uspensky cathedral, but I know there are certain things going on in the Orthodox church of Finland, and much of what has been said here is true, although I must admit I feel it is highly exaggerated. It's not quite as bad here as it has been made to look like. Anyway, I'm happy about the international attention. Most Finnish Orthodox know very little about what Orthodoxy outside of Finland is like, which makes them easy targets for any kind of propaganda. I hope the international attention will gradually make people realize that the Orthodox church is one, and it cannot be changed by a small group of "reformers". 
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« Reply #418 on: May 29, 2009, 10:55:28 AM »

I know about one obstinate Lutheran who thinks he has the right to get communion wherever he feels like it who was able to get communion there, but I don't really think it is such a big problem. Usually they say just before the pre-communion prayer that the communion is only for the Orthodox, and normally the non-Orthodox visitors respect that.

I think I have to clarify that one. Of course I didn't mean to say it's not such a big problem if a Lutheran receives Orthodox communion, because it of course is a huge problem, and should never happen. What I was trying to say was that I don't think it happens often. I know other Lutherans who like to go to Orthodox services, but they know they are not supposed to receive communion, and they respect that.
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« Reply #419 on: May 29, 2009, 11:35:02 AM »

Someone also mentioned fasting before communion. I can't find the post now. The normal practice in Finland is to fast (no food or drink) from midnight if the liturgy is in the morning or from noon if the liturgy is in the evening, or from 6 p.m. if the liturgy is part of a longer vigil service, the communion taking place during the early hours of the day, which would mean that the usual practice of fasting from midnight would mean less than 6 hours of fasting (which is the absolute minimum). These are the rules normally followed by anyone who hasn't received blessing from his/her priest to follow some other rules, and I think most people follow the rules, although I can't possible know because it's considered inappropriate to inquire about other people's fasting. I know about some diabetics or people who have to take medicine who don't follow the general fasting guidelines with the blessing of their priest, but I'm quite sure there are people who deliberately break the rules without the blessing of their priest, but I don't have any reason to believe that it is common in Finland not to follow the guidelines about the communion fast. Although my impression is that the communion fast rules are normally followed quite well in Finland, I have enough concrete evidence of Finnish Orthodox not following other fasting rules, e.g. eating dairy products is very common also during the four longer fasts (to the extent that many people don't even seem to be aware of dairy products being off limits during the fasts), and I'm afraid most people don't fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
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« Reply #420 on: June 06, 2009, 01:39:56 PM »

Any updates on the "Gay Conference"?

Have Moscow or Constantinople said anything?
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« Reply #421 on: October 31, 2009, 02:59:10 PM »

This thread was split from the following discussion:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24121.0.html

-YtterbiumAnalyst



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

Are you sure, Maureen?

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

Of course. But the views of the Church on matters of ethics and morals DO change. Again, just a couple of centuries ago it was UNTHINKABLE for a person who committed suicide to get an Orthodox burial. And it was a common understanding of everyone in the Church that fathers give their daughters in marriage. And a lot of Fathers wrote and preached that if you are having sex with your spouse without aiming at producing a baby, you are perverted and do abomination. (I can find you quotes.)

And there is nothing in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed about gay marriage. Nor there is much about gay marriage in the Bible.
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« Reply #422 on: October 31, 2009, 03:09:00 PM »

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

Are you sure, Maureen?

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

Of course. But the views of the Church on matters of ethics and morals DO change. Again, just a couple of centuries ago it was UNTHINKABLE for a person who committed suicide to get an Orthodox burial. And it was a common understanding of everyone in the Church that fathers give their daughters in marriage. And a lot of Fathers wrote and preached that if you are having sex with your spouse without aiming at producing a baby, you are perverted and do abomination. (I can find you quotes.)

And there is nothing in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed about gay marriage. Nor there is much about gay marriage in the Bible.

You are confusing economia with belief.
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« Reply #423 on: October 31, 2009, 03:10:28 PM »


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.

I appreciated this post.  It made me think of a question I asked our priest during the inquirer's class this past week.  I asked how a former Protestant with no previous interest in (and in fact probably a negative reaction toward) the Theotokos gets over this resistance.  I was probably looking for something to think about, some Scriptures to look at (again), something that would change the way I thought.

His simple answer was, "Repent." There's nothing to figure out, and nothing to reconcile.  Just repent of an incorrect belief and submit to what the church teaches.  So to me that means just start honoring her, start bowing and crossing at the appropriate time in prayers, start including "Most holy Theotokos save us" in my prayers, etc.  

So in relation to the original question (about homosexuality) and this reply, perhaps it's the same thing?  If the church teaches homosexuality is wrong, perhaps we just need to get in line with that instead of trying to reason out why the church might be wrong.  This is just my thought, and forgive me if I'm speaking where I ought not.  
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« Reply #424 on: October 31, 2009, 03:13:43 PM »

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.

I am very new to Orthodoxy and have been a catechumen since August.  I've been to two monasteries in my life, both in my home state within the last few months, and at both of these catechumens were expected to either leave the church (at one), or step to the back part of the church (at the other), once the portion of the service leading to the Eucharist began. 
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« Reply #425 on: October 31, 2009, 03:16:18 PM »

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?

Sinner Servant has given the succint response. There is a significant element of will in belief. If there wasn't, St. Paul wouldn't praise Faith and Hope as two of the highest virtues. One can have default 'beliefs', where the mind falls without any exertion, generally set up by one's environment (parents, school, culture--accepting or rejecting). However, these are really closer to suppositions or simple knowledge until and unless the will is engaged to defend them--or reject them. So, if it is the decision of the will to believe *and* follow God, then as a corollary, the will must also embrace the idea that 'God knows better', and submit itself  to believe even where it doesn't understand/agree.

That said, I agree with the early respondents that the OP needs to be taking this up with a real priest in a pastoral setting. There are some items that are absolutes that one must accept to join the Church (the existence of God, the Creed, etc), but there are other things where the Church is generally content to present its position and allow the Christian to grow into an understanding and acceptance of that position. That is, in fact, one point of the catachumenate, but the process continues after baptism as well.
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« Reply #426 on: October 31, 2009, 03:20:14 PM »

Feanor, welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #427 on: October 31, 2009, 04:22:48 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)



And while at that, convince others around you in YOUR belief if you really hold it true and if it does not go blatantly against the DOCTRINE of the Church as expressed in the Creed and decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #428 on: October 31, 2009, 04:22:49 PM »

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

Are you sure, Maureen?

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

Of course. But the views of the Church on matters of ethics and morals DO change. Again, just a couple of centuries ago it was UNTHINKABLE for a person who committed suicide to get an Orthodox burial. And it was a common understanding of everyone in the Church that fathers give their daughters in marriage. And a lot of Fathers wrote and preached that if you are having sex with your spouse without aiming at producing a baby, you are perverted and do abomination. (I can find you quotes.)

And there is nothing in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed about gay marriage. Nor there is much about gay marriage in the Bible.

You are confusing economia with belief.

I don't know whether I do.
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« Reply #429 on: October 31, 2009, 04:22:49 PM »

That said, I agree with the early respondents that the OP needs to be taking this up with a real priest in a pastoral setting. There are some items that are absolutes that one must accept to join the Church (the existence of God, the Creed, etc), but there are other things where the Church is generally content to present its position and allow the Christian to grow into an understanding and acceptance of that position. That is, in fact, one point of the catachumenate, but the process continues after baptism as well.

Very well put. Thank you, Witega.
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« Reply #430 on: October 31, 2009, 04:32:34 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful and informative posts.

Unfortunately I don't think anything is as simple or black-and-white as 'you either believe that the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT.'
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« Reply #431 on: October 31, 2009, 04:36:44 PM »

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?

Sinner Servant has given the succint response. There is a significant element of will in belief. If there wasn't, St. Paul wouldn't praise Faith and Hope as two of the highest virtues. One can have default 'beliefs', where the mind falls without any exertion, generally set up by one's environment (parents, school, culture--accepting or rejecting). However, these are really closer to suppositions or simple knowledge until and unless the will is engaged to defend them--or reject them. So, if it is the decision of the will to believe *and* follow God, then as a corollary, the will must also embrace the idea that 'God knows better', and submit itself  to believe even where it doesn't understand/agree.

That said, I agree with the early respondents that the OP needs to be taking this up with a real priest in a pastoral setting. There are some items that are absolutes that one must accept to join the Church (the existence of God, the Creed, etc), but there are other things where the Church is generally content to present its position and allow the Christian to grow into an understanding and acceptance of that position. That is, in fact, one point of the catachumenate, but the process continues after baptism as well.

I understand that one must often say (and devoutly hope) that 'God knows better'. And you can strongly discipline yourself to try your hardest to examine your beliefs. But I do not understand how anyone can brainwash themselves into believing something they do not.

There are those things in faith that we accept knowing we cannot understand them, knowing that they simply cannot be completely comprehended by our reason. Then there are those things that are to do with morality, which are not inherently irrational. We are taught that it is wrong to murder; we (I hope!) accept this as something that is not only doctrine, but also something we can rationally and intuitively agree with. We are also taught, when someone we love dies or something terrible happens, that we do not and cannot let our own natural, sorrowful reactions outweigh our faith that God acts for the best.

But here, we are really being asked to accept the limitations of our own knowledge. That's easy. What I do not think is possible, is to truly eradicate a belief in one thing from your mind and replace it with the opposite. You might do it over time, by reason, but you can't just will it to happen.

Can anyone explain?
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« Reply #432 on: October 31, 2009, 05:21:27 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful and informative posts.

Unfortunately I don't think anything is as simple or black-and-white as 'you either believe that the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT.'

Feanor,

Truth is BLACK and WHITE. There is no partial truth when it comes to Christ. The Church is Christ and and Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) The only thing gray is our morallity if it is based upon relativism and secular modernism, which is a huge issue of today and a stumbling block for many. Archbishop Hilrion discussed this several years back see: http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_1 .

With that said, I don't want to come across as though there is no room for freedom of thought within the Orthodox Church, especially in matter undefined by the Church, but our opinions should not go against Church Doctrine. Fr. Sergius Bulgakov wrote an interesting article on Freedom of Thought in the Orthodox Church: http://www.pravmir.com/article_457.html.
 

May God bless you on your journey.
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« Reply #433 on: October 31, 2009, 05:31:18 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful and informative posts.

Unfortunately I don't think anything is as simple or black-and-white as 'you either believe that the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT.'

Feanor,

Truth is BLACK and WHITE. There is no partial truth when it comes to Christ. The Church is Christ and and Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) The only thing gray is our morallity if it is based upon relativism and secular modernism, which is a huge issue of today and a stumbling block for many. Archbishop Hilrion discussed this several years back see: http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_1 .

With that said, I don't want to come across as though there is no room for freedom of thought within the Orthodox Church, especially in matter undefined by the Church, but our opinions should not go against Church Doctrine. Fr. Sergius Bulgakov wrote an interesting article on Freedom of Thought in the Orthodox Church: http://www.pravmir.com/article_457.html.
 

May God bless you on your journey.

There is indeed no partial truth when it comes to Christ. But our perception is clouded. How are we to approach this problem in practical terms, that is the question. Are we culpable if we strive to understand, but fail? Surely not.
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« Reply #434 on: October 31, 2009, 05:33:10 PM »

Feanor,
I just wanted to say "told ya so" Cheesy!
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« Reply #435 on: October 31, 2009, 05:35:47 PM »

But our perception is clouded.

Thus, we rely on the teachings of the Church!
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« Reply #436 on: October 31, 2009, 05:37:01 PM »

Feanor,
I just wanted to say "told ya so" Cheesy!

laugh!  These threads always play out the same way eh?
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« Reply #437 on: October 31, 2009, 05:42:24 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful and informative posts.

Unfortunately I don't think anything is as simple or black-and-white as 'you either believe that the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT.'

That's what I've been trying to say. But again, Feanor, being who I am (which some people evaluate as rebellious, un-disciplined or even "weak, stumbling and confused in faith") - I know that I AM an Orthodox Christian and I will always be one. The same applies to you, or, rather, will apply to you when you are received in the Church. The Church consists of people like us; we ARE the Church. Just because you and I may have certain thoughts about homosexual love etc., cannot possibly put us outside of the Church. Other things can - for example, if we preach that there is no God, or that Christ is not God or not man, or that there is no such thing as resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. As far as I understand, propagating views like those will automatically put us outside of the Church and in this case, our priests will not be able to give us the Eucharist. However, just thinking, and forming and even openly discussing our opinions/beliefs about various issues (which are outside of the matters explicitly evaluated by the Councils and reflected in the Creed) cannot put us outside. See Witega's very succint and thoughtful post.

Keep us posted! You are in my unworthy prayers. I do look forward for the day when you will be received into the Church.
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« Reply #438 on: October 31, 2009, 05:42:25 PM »

Truth is BLACK and WHITE.

Like the "truth" that he who takes his own life must be buried outside of the cemetary gate without any service done by the Orthodox priest? That was the "truth," which gazillions of Orthodox thought to be "black" and not "white" or "white" and not "black," for centuries.

our opinions should not go against Church Doctrine.

Which is.........?
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« Reply #439 on: October 31, 2009, 06:02:55 PM »

But our perception is clouded.

Thus, we rely on the teachings of the Church!

Oh dear, I think we're going in circles! I guess there's some good both in the kind of faith that is very comforting and has an answer for everything, and in the faith that is constantly worrying about how to get closer to God. Well ... I hope so, anyway.
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« Reply #440 on: October 31, 2009, 06:37:11 PM »

But our perception is clouded.

Thus, we rely on the teachings of the Church!

But the Church is US, you and me...
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« Reply #441 on: October 31, 2009, 07:11:24 PM »

I understand that one must often say (and devoutly hope) that 'God knows better'. And you can strongly discipline yourself to try your hardest to examine your beliefs. But I do not understand how anyone can brainwash themselves into believing something they do not.

There are those things in faith that we accept knowing we cannot understand them, knowing that they simply cannot be completely comprehended by our reason. Then there are those things that are to do with morality, which are not inherently irrational. We are taught that it is wrong to murder; we (I hope!) accept this as something that is not only doctrine, but also something we can rationally and intuitively agree with. We are also taught, when someone we love dies or something terrible happens, that we do not and cannot let our own natural, sorrowful reactions outweigh our faith that God acts for the best.

But here, we are really being asked to accept the limitations of our own knowledge. That's easy. What I do not think is possible, is to truly eradicate a belief in one thing from your mind and replace it with the opposite. You might do it over time, by reason, but you can't just will it to happen.

I think the division you are making is somewhat artificial. Yes, there are things we will never understand (because of our limited, creaturely nature) and things we can, at least in theory, understand and its important to recognize when things fall into the first category. At the same time, it is the teaching of the Church that human nature is fallen and broken. Our will and our desires our corrupt, such that we desire things that are not good for us, and even when we desire to do good, our will is overcome by other desires and we do wrong. But a further consequence of the Fall, which is not as generally recognized, is that our intellect is also fallen and corrupt. We think things are a good idea when they are not. We think things make sense when they do not. There are human societies (fewer now, but their existence is well documented) where cannibalism or human sacrifice were considered completely rational and moral behaviors.

We look at a society like the Aztecs and are appalled. But based on what they knew, and the entire complex of beliefs and presuppositions their society had built up over time, the sacrifice of thousands of people was a perfectly rational behavior. We are not immune to this. If one does not believe the fetus is an actual human being, it makes sense (or is at the least reasonably arguable) to prioritize the rights of the woman over her body over the potential of any particular clot of cells inside her. Our societies come with their own inbuilt assumptions, mistaken perceptions, and biases which make what is 'perfectly obvious and reasonable belief' to you, decidedly questionable to me.

Thus submission to God (through the Church) involves a submission of not only the will but also of the intellect. I don't mean you turn off the intellect. But it does mean you do not presume that your intellect, your logical conclusions, your 'reasonable' beliefs, are superior (or even necessarily equal) to the intellect, logical conclusions and reasonable beliefs that the Holy Fathers and Mothers which preceded us where led into by the Holy Spirit.

I did not, btw, mean to imply that one can simply will the eradication of a belief. However, one can will to work towards that. One can by will, decide that one is simply not going to actively push back against the Church. One can pray for guidance--instead of praying that others see your point or that you are given the words to convince them, pray that you can be led to an understanding. One can repent (I though Thoughtful's priest was very wise).



Or, just to use a completely separate example: We know that you are in a long-term, committed relationship. This may well have already happened. If it hasn't, then I can guarantee you it will. At some point, you are going to have to decide that you believe your significant other, or you don't. That decision may be influenced by what has happened in the past, by the specific circumstances, etc. But in the end, that faith and trust will be a *decision* made by your will in the absence of enough information for it to be made simply by your intellect.
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« Reply #442 on: October 31, 2009, 07:21:02 PM »


Thus submission to God (through the Church) involves a submission of not only the will but also of the intellect. I don't mean you turn off the intellect. But it does mean you do not presume that your intellect, your logical conclusions, your 'reasonable' beliefs, are superior (or even necessarily equal) to the intellect, logical conclusions and reasonable beliefs that the Holy Fathers and Mothers which preceded us where led into by the Holy Spirit.

I did not, btw, mean to imply that one can simply will the eradication of a belief. However, one can will to work towards that. One can by will, decide that one is simply not going to actively push back against the Church. One can pray for guidance--instead of praying that others see your point or that you are given the words to convince them, pray that you can be led to an understanding. One can repent (I though Thoughtful's priest was very wise).



Or, just to use a completely separate example: We know that you are in a long-term, committed relationship. This may well have already happened. If it hasn't, then I can guarantee you it will. At some point, you are going to have to decide that you believe your significant other, or you don't. That decision may be influenced by what has happened in the past, by the specific circumstances, etc. But in the end, that faith and trust will be a *decision* made by your will in the absence of enough information for it to be made simply by your intellect.

Thanks for replying, what you say is useful. I've quoted only some of it, just because threads get so long if we always quote everything. The point you make about the intellect is very good. But what I am asking is, how do we do this? So I am glad to find you saying that this is a matter for prayer. I pray, for example, that my own Communion will come to a better agreement amongst her members. I don't know how this will happen - and it may be that my own cherished views will be on the losing side - but I nevertheless pray for it.

Can I ask you to explain what you meant about my relationship? I didn't quite understand that and I'd like to know what you were saying.

God bless,

Liz
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« Reply #443 on: October 31, 2009, 07:38:34 PM »

Apokatastasis is a heresy condemned by the Church on the 5th Ecumenical Council.
There is some dispute about this:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xii.viii.html
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« Reply #444 on: October 31, 2009, 10:25:07 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?

When I converted I didn't believe in the Assumption of Mary, but went along anyway because it wasn't dogma.  It wasn't until I was in the Church that it made sense.  Certain things are not expressed in the rite of convertion, perhaps because until you are in the Church, there is no reason to go into them.

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)



Yeah, like that.


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.

I appreciated this post.  It made me think of a question I asked our priest during the inquirer's class this past week.  I asked how a former Protestant with no previous interest in (and in fact probably a negative reaction toward) the Theotokos gets over this resistance.  I was probably looking for something to think about, some Scriptures to look at (again), something that would change the way I thought.

His simple answer was, "Repent." There's nothing to figure out, and nothing to reconcile.  Just repent of an incorrect belief and submit to what the church teaches.  So to me that means just start honoring her, start bowing and crossing at the appropriate time in prayers, start including "Most holy Theotokos save us" in my prayers, etc.

I can only attest that even less worked for me. Getting into the life of the Church, it only made sense after a while.
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« Reply #445 on: October 31, 2009, 10:27:07 PM »

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

Are you sure, Maureen?

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

Of course. But the views of the Church on matters of ethics and morals DO change. Again, just a couple of centuries ago it was UNTHINKABLE for a person who committed suicide to get an Orthodox burial. And it was a common understanding of everyone in the Church that fathers give their daughters in marriage. And a lot of Fathers wrote and preached that if you are having sex with your spouse without aiming at producing a baby, you are perverted and do abomination. (I can find you quotes.)

And there is nothing in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed about gay marriage. Nor there is much about gay marriage in the Bible.

LOL. I'd say there is nothing in the Bible about gay marriage, but lots on gay sex.
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« Reply #446 on: October 31, 2009, 10:57:13 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful and informative posts.

Unfortunately I don't think anything is as simple or black-and-white as 'you either believe that the Church teaches TRUTH or NOT.'

No, it's as simple as 'you believe what the church teaches because it is truth.' 
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« Reply #447 on: October 31, 2009, 11:04:23 PM »

Coming into Orthodoxy means humbling ourselves before infinite truths, even if those truths offend our own reasoning or our own subjective interpretations of God or the Bible.

I like women. I feel that it is almost impossible not to desire other attractive women that are not my wife. My own experiences, feelings, and reasoning would lead me to believe that if God exists, then He wouldn't create me with these sensual desires and subsequently ask me to forsake them. To do so would seem cruel and even sadistic.

But I am not God, and I dare not try to reduce Almighty God to the idol of my own mortal understanding. All the problems in the world ultimately stem from people living according to their own ideas rather than uniting in conformity to the teachings and Tradition of Christ and His Church.

No convert to Orthodoxy accepts everything the Church teaches with ease. But we prostrate our whole selves before Infinite Mystery, and defer to the Divine. And in this, there is the greatest liberation.

Peace to you my friend.

Selam
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« Reply #448 on: November 01, 2009, 12:13:32 AM »

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?

I do it.  I find the ever-virginity of the Theotokos difficult to swallow on historical and scriptural grounds, but I force myself to believe it because it is dogma.
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« Reply #449 on: November 01, 2009, 01:39:31 AM »

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?
If one values Jesus and His Saints' great spiritual wisdom/holiness and understands that they believed in the Church's truths, one will more easily accept the Church's beliefs.  (I cannot comprehend nanochemisty technology, but I believe in the concept because there are brilliant scientists, who are devoting their entire reputations/careers, to this technology.)
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