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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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« Reply #450 on: November 01, 2009, 02:29:10 AM »

I just came back from my first experience at an Orthodox church.

It was an Antiochian Orthodox Church. I arrived as they were beginning the Matins, an hour before the Divine Liturgy. The church was beautiful: the walls covered in colourful icons, elegant gold Arabic script above each painting and on the walls, stained glass windows, and candles everywhere. In the corner a small group of people in black robes stood around a 4ft-high marble pillar/table upon which there were several professional-quality microphones, chanting in a mixture of Arabic and English. Research had told me to expect no seats - that Orthodox worship was carried out while standing, and that people moved around the room and worshipped personally throughout the whole service. This wasn't the case at this church - there were rows of pews. When I entered there was no immediate response from anyone, which calmed me considerably - I had been expecting 'go away, you're too early,' or 'what are you doing here?' in the back of my mind, so it was a relief that I wasn't immediately chased out for not being an Arab.

I took a seat in one of the pews towards the back of the room. It was my plan to just pray silently until the Liturgy, and then just watch everyone else and follow what they did. I sat in silence for a few minutes before a nun (I later found out that she is a lecturer on Orthodox Theology for the University of Melbourne... wow!) greeted me and asked 'are you an Orthodox Christian?'
I said, 'No, I'm a former Roman Catholic, but very interested in Orthodoxy.' She handed me two booklets, with English on the left page and Arabic on the right. They were scripts for the chanting and prayers for the Matins and Liturgy. She told me to follow the chanting in the booklet, and join in if I wished to. Because the Matins and Liturgy were in both English and Arabic it was very difficult to follow in the book - a few lines would be read in English, and the next few lines in Arabic, changing back-and-forth. I got lost several times. A girl sat next to me and helped me throughout the service by explaining what to do, where we were up to in the booklet, etc.

The Matins and the Liturgy were both incredibly beautiful. The chanting in English and Arabic was beautiful and the smell of incense was a delight. I appreciated the fact that if I wasn't so distracted by trying to follow the chanting in the booklet, I would easily be able to enter into a higher state of consciousness through the atmosphere generated by these sensory wonders. By doing so, I could commune with God and feel his presence. Although it was impossible for me to do so this time, I figure that if I can get used to the format of the Liturgy and things like when to sit down, when to stand, when to recite the Nicene Creed or the Lord's Prayer etc., so that I wont be distracted by trying too hard to follow,  I could utilise this environment for personal meditation with God, in addition to the prayers of the Liturgy.

During the Liturgy everyone sat down, except during Bible readings and some other parts. Some of the parishoners in the pews sung along with the choir, others sat/stood in silence; some reading along with the booklet, others not. People were not conducting private conversations or private prayers, however, as I'd read that they would.

The only hesitation I have about this church is that I feel a bit isolated due to my ethnicity. There are a few converts, who (like all converts) had a genuine interest in spirituality and theology, and I had some great conversations with them afterwards. These include the nun, who was formerly an Anglican presbytera, who now teaches theology professionally and lives in a convent as the Superior. I hear she's the only nun in her convent, though. Perhaps the only Antiochian Orthodox nun in Melbourne, or even Australia, but I'm not sure. There's also a former Pentacostal minister, who is an extremely nice man and very interesting to talk to. When he converted, his family did also, but they are just good kids who participate but aren't interested in studying and discussing spirituality and theology outside of Church. There's also an Asian couple who are in the choir; I didn't talk to them but don't doubt that I will. The rest are Arabs who prefer to converse amongst themselves in Arabic. They are 'cradle Orthodox' who stay after the service to chat amongst their ethnic community, not to discuss theology.

It was an awesome experience, and I'll definately be back next week, and I look forward to becoming part of this community. How long should I wait before I request to be Baptised? Also, how does Baptism occur? - Does it form part of the Sunday service, or is a seperate private service organised for it?
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« Reply #451 on: November 01, 2009, 02:36:33 AM »

Great to hear that you had such a positive experience!

Whenever you have the chance, I would speak with the Priest privately.  He will get a better sense of you, and you of him.  As you continue your journey, either though private meetings or classes (depends on the parish), your Priest will inform you about entrance into the Orthodox Church.  How, when, etc.  Depending on the jurisdiction, Bishop, Priest, and your personal spiritual state, the Catechumante can last from multiple months to multiple years.
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« Reply #452 on: November 01, 2009, 04:19:51 AM »

Quote
It was an awesome experience, and I'll definately be back next week, and I look forward to becoming part of this community. How long should I wait before I request to be Baptised? Also, how does Baptism occur? - Does it form part of the Sunday service, or is a seperate private service organised for it?

As Nebelpfade mentioned, the length of your catechumenate will depend on various factors. I've heard of everything from a couple months to a few years. My own time as a catechumen was about five months. Regarding being received, I've seen a number of different practices. I seem to remember a baptism on a Saturday, and I also was Chrismated on a Saturday to be brought into the Church. On the other hand, both my infant daughters were brought into the Orthodox Church on a Sunday after Liturgy.
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« Reply #453 on: November 01, 2009, 09:40:45 AM »

Furthermore, I believe strongly in the infinity of God’s love, and that it is impossible for God to abandon any soul, no matter how wicked or faithless, for all eternity. I believe that through God’s love all beings shall eventually repent and reconcile and all creation shall one day exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there will be punishment, justice, etc, as part of a long spiritual journey that transcends mortal life, but it will all eventually lead to an incredible harmony for all creation. I believe this is called apocatostasis.
No, that's technically not apokatastasis. That's generic universalism. Apokatastasis is a specific type of universal salvation.

Even if we assume that Origen's apokatastasis was condemned at the 5th Ecumenical Council, Origen's apokatastasis was characterized by distinctive ideas, such as that the original state of humans as non-physically embodied spirits existing in communion with God, and the ultimate return of all such spirits back to communion with God. That's a literal "apokatastasis", or "restoration to one's previous condition".

Universalism, however, is simply the belief, or hope, that all will, or may, be saved. Universalism itself is not necessarily a "restoration to one's previous condition"; it might mean entering an even greater state of existence than the one I knew before. I might fall from a sail-boat, and then be saved from drowning by the captain of a yacht, who then lets me live on her yacht for a few days. In such a case, my being saved did not mean I was simply restored to where I was before (on a sailboat); I was actually given an even greater gift (living on a yacht).

Other Christian theologians, besides Origen, have taught some version of Universalism, different in various ways from Origen's distinctive version. Universalism as a hope for the salvation of all, has never, ever been condemned.

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« Reply #454 on: November 01, 2009, 11:32:22 AM »

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.

Exactly. Similarly there is nothing in the Bible about automobiles, which does not mean that automobiles are evil. In the time when the Biblical canon was compiled, people could not yet have conceived of gay marriage. They saw gay sex outside of what they understood marriage was, and rightly judged it bad. We are different now, AFAIK. Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different. Certainly we have a choice to reject all that and stick to "one man, one woman" paradigm, but is that a good thing to do? Don't we thus spit in the face, humiliate, dehumanize millions and millions of our homosexual brothers and sisters, impose on them something that as few of them can bear (i.e. lifelong chastity) as as few of us heterosexuals can bear?
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« Reply #455 on: November 01, 2009, 12:03:12 PM »



where does our different understanding of sexuality come from, and why should it trump the views held by  those in the church who have come before us?  My opinion is that our ideas of gender identity are different, but not in a progressive way but a digressive way.  As a culture, americans and by extension much of the world is "progressively" moving farther and farther away from what is natural to the human nature.  To lose the critical distinctions between the genders would severely undermine the christian faith. 
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« Reply #456 on: November 01, 2009, 12:25:39 PM »

Don't we thus spit in the face, humiliate, dehumanize millions and millions of our homosexual brothers and sisters, impose on them something that as few of them can bear (i.e. lifelong chastity) as as few of us heterosexuals can bear?
Uh, life-long chastity is what heterosexual marriage is all about. If you mean "celibacy", then that's a different issue.
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« Reply #457 on: November 01, 2009, 12:31:53 PM »

I wasn't sure about that usage of the word either, but when I checked Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Dictionary.com I found that it can mean both "refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion" and "not engaging in sexual relations".
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« Reply #458 on: November 01, 2009, 12:42:46 PM »

Don't we thus spit in the face, humiliate, dehumanize millions and millions of our homosexual brothers and sisters, impose on them something that as few of them can bear (i.e. lifelong chastity) as as few of us heterosexuals can bear?
Uh, life-long chastity is what heterosexual marriage is all about. If you mean "celibacy", then that's a different issue.

Yes, of course, lifelong celibacy. Sorry, English is not my first language.
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« Reply #459 on: November 01, 2009, 01:32:07 PM »

where does our different understanding of sexuality come from,

Science.

and why should it trump the views held by  those in the church who have come before us?

Not quite "trump" but, rather, complement, extend. The Fathers lived when science as such did not exist. They could not have possibly conceived that there exist things like genes, neurotransmitters, determination of sexuality in the brain, etc. Also, back in the centuries where the currently held views of the Church on marriage were formed, heterosexual mariage was to a very large extent a commercial venture: fathers "owned" their daughters and "gave" them in marriage; daughters had no status of their own, no rights, no property. Men "took" these girls to father children with them - which, again, was a common cultural thing of those times. So marriage was "one man, one woman" deal. Homosexual sex was by necessity (given the cultural and economical considerations) viewed as extramarital and therefore sinful. Not so now: there hardly exists an economical necessity for fathers to "give" their daughters in marriage and for bridegrooms to enter an essential socioeconomical contract by "taking" them; girls and women are now fully human with all the rights to choose whom THEY want or not want to marry; people are not under great economic pressure to fave children who will take care of them when they get old, etc. etc. etc. So, the world moves away from the "one man- one woman" paradigm. Of course, the Church is not "of" this world and is not under any obliogation to obey every single new trend in the world. Yet, including the small minority of people who are really homosexual and who can have lifelong monogamous relationships only with the persons of their own gender would be, I believe, a good, truly LOVING thing to do.

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« Reply #460 on: November 01, 2009, 03:20:09 PM »

The scriptures and the Church's interpretation of the scriptures on the issue of homosexual relationships are rather clear, I believe.
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« Reply #461 on: November 01, 2009, 03:22:59 PM »

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.

We should rely on the scriptural interpretation of the Holy Fathers of the Church with regards to this matter. 
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« Reply #462 on: November 01, 2009, 05:28:04 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.

Exactly. Similarly there is nothing in the Bible about automobiles, which does not mean that automobiles are evil.

There is lot on chariots and wagons, most of it neutral.  There is nothing neutral on gay sex.  So we can't make organe juice out of this apple.


Quote
In the time when the Biblical canon was compiled, people could not yet have conceived of gay marriage.

If there were of a mind to, they could.  It is not like gay sex was invented in our lifetimes.  It was quite common in Greco-Roman society and in some ways far more accepted.



Quote
They saw gay sex outside of what they understood marriage was, and rightly judged it bad. We are different now, AFAIK.

LOL.  Judging by ancient art, it seems our parts are the same, and they work in the same manner.

Quote
Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different.

Judging by the ancient record, it doesn't seem so.

Quote
Certainly we have a choice to reject all that and stick to "one man, one woman" paradigm, but is that a good thing to do?

Yes.

Quote
Don't we thus spit in the face, humiliate, dehumanize millions and millions of our homosexual brothers and sisters, impose on them something that as few of them can bear (i.e. lifelong chastity) as as few of us heterosexuals can bear?
No.
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« Reply #463 on: November 01, 2009, 06:55:39 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.

Exactly. Similarly there is nothing in the Bible about automobiles, which does not mean that automobiles are evil.

There is lot on chariots and wagons, most of it neutral.  There is nothing neutral on gay sex.  So we can't make organe juice out of this apple.

This, to me, is crucial. If you wish to read the Bible very literally, or to follow Holy Tradition, there is no away of whitewashing this issue.


Quote
In the time when the Biblical canon was compiled, people could not yet have conceived of gay marriage.

If there were of a mind to, they could.  It is not like gay sex was invented in our lifetimes.  It was quite common in Greco-Roman society and in some ways far more accepted.
[/quote]

Sex and marriage are different, though. Homosexual sex may have been accepted; homosexual marriage not so. The Greco-Roman society might - possibly - have thought that a sacred union between two men for the purposes of monogamous love was ok, but they would hardly have understood why this should preclude heterosexual union and the production of children.



Quote
They saw gay sex outside of what they understood marriage was, and rightly judged it bad. We are different now, AFAIK.

LOL.  Judging by ancient art, it seems our parts are the same, and they work in the same manner.

Quote
Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different.

Judging by the ancient record, it doesn't seem so.
[/quote]

Please, elaborate. My understanding was that gender identity is really quite fluid. For example, it is no longer customary to identify womanhood with slavery, nor with intrinsic evil.



Quote
Certainly we have a choice to reject all that and stick to "one man, one woman" paradigm, but is that a good thing to do?

Yes.

Quote
Don't we thus spit in the face, humiliate, dehumanize millions and millions of our homosexual brothers and sisters, impose on them something that as few of them can bear (i.e. lifelong chastity) as as few of us heterosexuals can bear?
No.
[/quote]
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« Reply #464 on: November 01, 2009, 07:47:20 PM »

Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different.

Judging by the ancient record, it doesn't seem so.

Please, elaborate. My understanding was that gender identity is really quite fluid. For example, it is no longer customary to identify womanhood with slavery, nor with intrinsic evil.

You're going to have to be more specific with whose custom (and when) it was to identify womanhood with slavery and intrinsic evil.


Btw, an example of ancient homosexual "marriage":
XVIII.[44] Shall we then examine your conduct from the time when you were a boy? I think so. Let us begin at the beginning. Do you recollect that, while you were still clad in the praetexta, you became a bankrupt? That was the fault of your father, you will say. I admit that. In truth such a defense is full of filial affection. But it is peculiarly suited to your own audacity, that you sat among the fourteen rows of the knights, though by the Roscian law there was a place appointed for bankrupts, even if any one had become such by the fault of fortune and not by his own. You assumed the manly gown, which your soon made a womanly one: at first a public prostitute, with a regular price for your wickedness, and that not a low one. But very soon Curio stepped in, who carried you off from your public trade, and, as if he had bestowed a matron's robe upon you, settled you in a steady and durable wedlock. [45]  No boy bought for the gratification of passion was ever so wholly in the power of his master as you were in Curio's. How often has his father turned you out of his house? How often has he placed guards to prevent you from entering? while you, with night for your accomplice, lust for your encourager, and wages for your compeller, were let down through the roof. That house could no longer endure your wickedness. Do you not know that I am speaking of matters with which I am thoroughly acquainted? Remember that time when Curio, the father, lay weeping in his bed; his son throwing himself at my feet with tears recommended to me you; he entreated me to defend you against his own father, if he demanded six millions of sesterces of you; for that he had been bail for you to that amount. And he himself, burning with love, declared positively that because he was unable to bear the misery of being separated from you, he should go into banishment. [46]  And at that time what misery of that most flourishing family did I allay, or rather did I remove! I persuaded the father to pay the son's debts; to release the young man, endowed as he was with great promise of courage and ability, by the sacrifice of part of his family estate; and to use his privileges and authority as a father to prohibit him not only from all intimacy with, but from every opportunity of meeting you. When you recollected that all this was done by me, would you have dared to provoke me by abuse if you had not been trusting to those swords which we behold?

THE SECOND SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST MARCUS ANTONIUS. CALLED ALSO THE SECOND PHILIPPIC
http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0021&layout=&loc=2.18.45
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« Reply #465 on: November 01, 2009, 07:55:18 PM »

The scriptures and the Church's interpretation of the scriptures on the issue of homosexual relationships are rather clear, I believe.

Relationships yes, mariage - no. There is simply no concept of homosexual marriage in Scripture, like there is no concept of biological evolution, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, protons, neutrons, women having rights independently of fathers or husbands, integrals, differentials, other galaxies...
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« Reply #466 on: November 01, 2009, 07:55:18 PM »


Quote
They saw gay sex outside of what they understood marriage was, and rightly judged it bad. We are different now, AFAIK.

LOL.  Judging by ancient art, it seems our parts are the same, and they work in the same manner.

No. The point is, ancients had no clue about WHY these "parts" work the way they do. We know it.
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« Reply #467 on: November 01, 2009, 08:02:05 PM »

This thread is realyl starting to suck.  Let's jsut forcus on our new poster's exploration into Orthodoxy and leave the arguing over the morality of homosexuality for another thread.  There are plenty of them.

I'm glad you had a good first encounter with the Church.  My advice is to run from this message board, and just ask all of your questions in real life with real people.
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« Reply #468 on: November 01, 2009, 08:09:55 PM »

Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different.

Judging by the ancient record, it doesn't seem so.

Please, elaborate. My understanding was that gender identity is really quite fluid. For example, it is no longer customary to identify womanhood with slavery, nor with intrinsic evil.

You're going to have to be more specific with whose custom (and when) it was to identify womanhood with slavery and intrinsic evil.

I was thinking (as usual) of the English medieval period. Women were thought to be weaker and more subject to evil. Women were also considered to be inherently more sinful than men, because (like Eve) they were subject to temptation by the devil. In fact, you can see this in the standard iconography of Genesis, in which the serpent is represented with a woman's face!

However, when I was growing up in the UK, one still heard that women could not be raped by their husbands, the reason being that their bodies and sexuality belonged absolutely to these men, and that therefore their consent or lack of consent could be discounted. The bodies of women belonged to men: this is slavery. Fortunately, we have progressed and a man can no longer claim his absolute right to have sex with his wife: but even now, it is very hard to prosecute such rape cases. The same is true even when women have been coerced into a legal marriage, as still happens.

To go beyond the Christian context, don't Orthodox Jews still make a formal prayer of thanks to God 'for not making me a woman'? It is very, very recently that women have been able to do such things as owning property and even living in a house alone without fear of being accused of criminal activities (for which read, prostitution). My own mother remembers that when she first rented a flat on her own, her father was required to co-sign her agreement: her signature, as a single woman, did not count.

Clearly, our ideas of gender identity change. I for one am thankful that we no longer assume that women are biologically passive in the production of children, or that real men are unable to cry in times of emotion.

Surely, it is not too much to expect that gender identity will change, but that men and women will remain men and women in the eyes of God, complete with their own particular qualities?



Btw, an example of ancient homosexual "marriage":
XVIII.[44] Shall we then examine your conduct from the time when you were a boy? I think so. Let us begin at the beginning. Do you recollect that, while you were still clad in the praetexta, you became a bankrupt? That was the fault of your father, you will say. I admit that. In truth such a defense is full of filial affection. But it is peculiarly suited to your own audacity, that you sat among the fourteen rows of the knights, though by the Roscian law there was a place appointed for bankrupts, even if any one had become such by the fault of fortune and not by his own. You assumed the manly gown, which your soon made a womanly one: at first a public prostitute, with a regular price for your wickedness, and that not a low one. But very soon Curio stepped in, who carried you off from your public trade, and, as if he had bestowed a matron's robe upon you, settled you in a steady and durable wedlock. [45]  No boy bought for the gratification of passion was ever so wholly in the power of his master as you were in Curio's. How often has his father turned you out of his house? How often has he placed guards to prevent you from entering? while you, with night for your accomplice, lust for your encourager, and wages for your compeller, were let down through the roof. That house could no longer endure your wickedness. Do you not know that I am speaking of matters with which I am thoroughly acquainted? Remember that time when Curio, the father, lay weeping in his bed; his son throwing himself at my feet with tears recommended to me you; he entreated me to defend you against his own father, if he demanded six millions of sesterces of you; for that he had been bail for you to that amount. And he himself, burning with love, declared positively that because he was unable to bear the misery of being separated from you, he should go into banishment. [46]  And at that time what misery of that most flourishing family did I allay, or rather did I remove! I persuaded the father to pay the son's debts; to release the young man, endowed as he was with great promise of courage and ability, by the sacrifice of part of his family estate; and to use his privileges and authority as a father to prohibit him not only from all intimacy with, but from every opportunity of meeting you. When you recollected that all this was done by me, would you have dared to provoke me by abuse if you had not been trusting to those swords which we behold?

THE SECOND SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST MARCUS ANTONIUS. CALLED ALSO THE SECOND PHILIPPIC
http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0021&layout=&loc=2.18.45



Fixed quote tags  -PtA
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« Reply #469 on: November 01, 2009, 08:31:52 PM »

Feanor, I really enjoyed reading your description of the church service.  Thank you for coming back to post about that. It's one thing we love about Orthodoxy, the multi-sensual approach to worship (incense, candles, icons, music, bowing/crossing, etc.). We started attending an Orthodox church regularly in March, become catechumen in August (I'm a married mom of seven) and will be baptized probably sometime next year (we will wait for our priest's timing).  May God be glorified in your journey into His church. 
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« Reply #470 on: November 02, 2009, 12:02:48 AM »

Feanor, I really enjoyed reading your description of the church service.  Thank you for coming back to post about that. It's one thing we love about Orthodoxy, the multi-sensual approach to worship (incense, candles, icons, music, bowing/crossing, etc.). We started attending an Orthodox church regularly in March, become catechumen in August (I'm a married mom of seven) and will be baptized probably sometime next year (we will wait for our priest's timing).  May God be glorified in your journey into His church. 

No problem, it was a pleasure to reflect on the service and write about it. I can't wait to go back.



As for everyone else... the purpose of me saying 'I don't condemn homosexuals' was to ask if this would stop me from becoming part of the Church or not, not to start a debate.
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« Reply #471 on: November 02, 2009, 12:15:33 AM »

Our understanding of human sexuality, gender identity is different.

Judging by the ancient record, it doesn't seem so.

Please, elaborate. My understanding was that gender identity is really quite fluid. For example, it is no longer customary to identify womanhood with slavery, nor with intrinsic evil.

You're going to have to be more specific with whose custom (and when) it was to identify womanhood with slavery and intrinsic evil.

I was thinking (as usual) of the English medieval period. Women were thought to be weaker and more subject to evil. Women were also considered to be inherently more sinful than men, because (like Eve) they were subject to temptation by the devil. In fact, you can see this in the standard iconography of Genesis, in which the serpent is represented with a woman's face!

However, when I was growing up in the UK, one still heard that women could not be raped by their husbands, the reason being that their bodies and sexuality belonged absolutely to these men, and that therefore their consent or lack of consent could be discounted.

That wasn't medieval England: it was overturned in Britain in 1991, and in the US in 1975-93. It wasn't that their consent was discounted, it was held implied by the marital relationship (the tort of loss of consortium is based on the same premise). Now criminalized, the problem is how to prosecute in a situation in which sexual relations are assumed by the law (and can be ended by divorce if not).  The case of the husband beating the wife senseless is an easy one (but then one wonders why the domestic assault and battery statutes aren't enough), but for the couples into bondage etc. not so easy, let alone just when the Mrs. is angry at the Mr. (and the misuse of Domestic Violence statutes show this happens quite often). In Illinois our protector of the people and women a/k/a the disgraced governor Blagojevich has some law passed that a woman must express consent throughout a sexual act.  Good luck proving that in court.

And by the way, women aren't the only ones who can be forced into sex.

Quote
The bodies of women belonged to men: this is slavery. Fortunately, we have progressed and a man can no longer claim his absolute right to have sex with his wife:

So at to avoid a steamy conversation, let's attack it from a different angle: Henry VIII wasn't free to do what he wanted with his body. He had already sired a son, but since it wasn't from his wife, he didn't count.  Katherine held him to his legal contract. The "Holy Roman Emperor" Henry IV tried to have his way with his wife Eupraxia of Kiev, and got in trouble for it (the details are rather bizarre).

I am not as familiar with English cases, but the data left in Egypt for the medieval period (Jewish, Muslim, Christian), it was hardly an absolute right. In the case of Islam, the contrast is up front, as there are long discussions among the jurists distinguishing acts that a wife's consent is needed, contrasted with a slave girl (a very common piece of property, to judge by the material).  I'll spare you the details.


Quote
but even now, it is very hard to prosecute such rape cases.

or defend against such accusations.  Given what goes on in divorce court nowadays, not a small problem.



Quote
The same is true even when women have been coerced into a legal marriage, as still happens.

Here there is a legitimate issue, though since on the books consent is required, I'm not how much this makes your case.


Quote
To go beyond the Christian context, don't Orthodox Jews still make a formal prayer of thanks to God 'for not making me a woman'?

...or a gentile or a slave: the context is a thanksgiving prayer the the Orthodox Jew thanks God for having bound him by all the Law (which is not all encumbant on the gentile, woman, or slave).

Quote
It is very, very recently that women have been able to do such things as owning property


I see this repeated often, but there are several things that do not compute on it.  For one, in all the accounts on Shakespeare's will, the fact of him only wiling his second best bed to his wife is always discussed in the context of her inheritited 1/3-1/2 of the estate even if her name wasn't mentioned.  I've come across such things here and there that don't make sense if there were no women owning property.  That's just in England: througout the Islamic World, Jewish World, and the Orthodox lands the right of women to own property was established in the law (and an array of sources show it was exercised).  I am aware of the issue being in the 1800's in common law jurisdictions, as in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, when the character Mr. Bumble is informed that "the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction". Mr. Bumble replies "If the law supposes that… the law is an ass—an idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience."
http://www.texasbar.com/saywhat/weblog/buchmeyer_article_archive/may84.asp

But it seems that it became a hard and fast rule just before the 1800's.

Quote
and even living in a house alone without fear of being accused of criminal activities (for which read, prostitution). My own mother remembers that when she first rented a flat on her own, her father was required to co-sign her agreement: her signature, as a single woman, did not count.

Clearly, our ideas of gender identity change. I for one am thankful that we no longer assume that women are biologically passive in the production of children, or that real men are unable to cry in times of emotion.

I'm not so sure that last part is a good thing:
http://www.robertfulford.com/Crying.html

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« Reply #472 on: November 02, 2009, 04:23:55 AM »

Stop hijacking my thread :p
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« Reply #473 on: November 02, 2009, 04:32:18 AM »

Don't get discouraged.  Some people on here love to get on a hobby horse.  We're really glad you're here.  Do you have any other general questions about Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #474 on: November 02, 2009, 07:42:02 AM »

Stop hijacking my thread :p

I apologize. It was lovely to read your description of the service you went to - sounds as if it really meant a lot to you.

I'll try to mend my bad manners  Sad

Liz x
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« Reply #475 on: November 02, 2009, 07:53:18 AM »

Yeah, I have one major question:

How can I explain my decision to become Orthodox to my friends?

I was, until about six months ago, a very anti-Christian atheist. I would openly fight with people over religion, trying to free their minds of backwards dogma which was restricting their enjoyment of life. I read atheist literature, promoted atheist ideology, and would frequently mock religion - in particular, Christianity. I considered myself to be fighting in a battle for the world's freedom - freedom from religion. It was part of who I was, very much so. Many of my friends were influenced by my atheist ideals and share a similar disdain for Christianity, if not religion, or even spirituality, as a whole. However, these friends are very dear to me. They are great people, who are kind, friendly, interesting, intelligent and tolerant. When I first started believing in God I was confused and unsure - my whole world which I had built and been living in came crashing down, and I was a very unhappy convert. I told a few close friends that I believed in God, and they were okay with it... I know that they wont reject me if I tell them I'm a Christian, but they will be shocked and unable to understand it. I want to remain friends with them and retain their respect without looking like an ideological flip-flopper who a) can't stick to his beliefs, and b) is blindly jumping into the McTheology which evangelical Protestants preach left, right and centre, which today's youth now associate with 'Christianity.'

My decision to convert to Orthodoxy came as the result of years of spiritual searching - which led me to firstly believe in God, then in Christ, then that Orthodoxy was the best church for me and that it is the church which Jesus Christ established. However, as anti-religious atheists, I know that many of my friends will not understand this at all. Some will be angry, some will be doubtful, some will think I'm being an idiot, some will think I'm giving into an emotional crisis. I don't want to lose these friends' respect, and I hope that over time I can help them to become more open-minded about Christianity (we're still only very young; my friends and I have years ahead of us). Nonetheless, they are inevitably going to ask, 'why?'

How can I explain it to them in a manner that appears (as it genuinely is) rational and intellectual?
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« Reply #476 on: November 02, 2009, 08:11:07 AM »

Stop hijacking my thread :p

I apologize. It was lovely to read your description of the service you went to - sounds as if it really meant a lot to you.

I'll try to mend my bad manners  Sad

Liz x

Hehe, no need to apologise. I enjoy debate immensely and hope to find lots of it here, but I want to be self-centred and egotistic in this thread laugh laugh
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« Reply #477 on: November 02, 2009, 08:43:57 AM »

How can I explain it to them in a manner that appears (as it genuinely is) rational and intellectual?

If they are truly your friends tell them what you have told us here in this post.  If they aren't likely to be able to respect that (even if they don't understand it) then your best bet is to simply say, "It is intensely personal," and leave it at that.

For some people no amount of explanation will make them understand.  If you think that they cannot accept the explanation that you've already written then perhaps you're better off not explaining.  In truth, you need explain yourself to no one.
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« Reply #478 on: November 02, 2009, 09:27:23 AM »

the purpose of me saying 'I don't condemn homosexuals' was to ask if this would stop me from becoming part of the Church or not

By no means.
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« Reply #479 on: November 02, 2009, 09:27:23 AM »

these friends are very dear to me. They are great people, who are kind, friendly, interesting, intelligent and tolerant.

I am also blessed with friends and relatives who are like what you describe. And that's great! Just be their friend, never mind what they understand or not understand. Just a short while ago, I used to have this concern, too: just how should I better proclaim the Gospel to my agnostic wife, to my militant atheist daughter and son-in-law, to my Tolstoyist mother? I posted something on this forum about that... But then I came to seeing that I should simply keep living my life, praying in front of the icons in the icon corner of my home (even when my wife says I'm crazy and turns the TV louder or starts vacuum-cleaning right near my feet Smiley), smiling to people, suporting them the best I can... That's all there is, and that's quite a lot. Be a good icon of Christ, love people, fight sin in yourself. There hardly is anything beyond that that people like you and I can do - but again, doing that is already a lot.
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« Reply #480 on: November 02, 2009, 10:02:14 AM »

Feanor

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum.  Our object is to give simple responses to your questions with resources that you may read to gain further insight into your questions. In the case of the issue that you have mentioned, several people on the forum have given the best response, i.e. contact your local Orthodox Priest to discuss this matter.

Again welcome to the Convert Issue Forum.

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« Reply #481 on: November 02, 2009, 11:26:54 AM »

Thanks for the responses Smiley



Can anyone tell me about specific traditions of the Antiochian branch of Orthodoxy which differ from other branches of the EOC? Obviously the Antiochian Church uses Arabic in its DL. Anything else that sets it apart from other forms of Orthodoxy, or the EOC as a whole?
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« Reply #482 on: November 02, 2009, 12:17:55 PM »

Thanks for the responses Smiley



Can anyone tell me about specific traditions of the Antiochian branch of Orthodoxy which differ from other branches of the EOC? Obviously the Antiochian Church uses Arabic in its DL. Anything else that sets it apart from other forms of Orthodoxy, or the EOC as a whole?

Actually, a lot don't use Arabic.  Our parish is all English.

Antioch is more inclined to treat OO as fully Orthodox, not having an issue with intercommunion with them, not requiring chrismation for their communion etc.  Certain practices are also more in tune with OO, i.e. other Middle Eastern, practice, like no fasting on Wednesday and Friday during Pascahl tide.  Otherwise, it is more or less like the Greek usage, but Antioch is on the side of the Russians in Greek/Russian rivalry.
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« Reply #483 on: November 02, 2009, 12:25:20 PM »

I believe Feanor is in Australia, where, as far I have been told, the Antiochian churches are much more ethnic than in the U.S. and prone to use plenty of Arabic.
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« Reply #484 on: November 02, 2009, 01:09:34 PM »

If the Church was what she claimed to be, then I had no choice but to follow her, even if I didn't understand her reasoning on certain issues.

And this was the conclusion that I came to also. There are, it seems to me, only these two choices.
If the Church is who she claims to be, then I have to be obedient to her teachings.
If the Church is not, then the point is moot, and I can return to happily making up my own theology to suit myself, and remaking God and the Church in my own image.

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« Reply #485 on: November 02, 2009, 02:22:40 PM »

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.

I don't think you should try to "Force Yourself"..You simply say, This is something I must not fully understand. But I trust the Church, which knows far more than I ever will and accept their authority.

For example, I was never particularly Pro-Life before I was Christian. Had I been elected to office, I am sure I would not ever vote to restrict access to Abortion.. It wasn't my issue in any sort of emotional way. It was just another in a long list of issues. But now that I am Christian i accede to the Wisdom of the Church and accept that My Church is Pro-Life. Therefore, were I ever to be elected to office and had to act on this belief I would never vote in any way to support Abortion.. I would say" I am an Orthodox Christian and my Church teaches that Abortion is a great sin"....Case closed.
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« Reply #486 on: November 02, 2009, 06:10:14 PM »

How can I explain my decision to become Orthodox to my friends?

My advice would honestly be just to keep quiet unless it comes up.  You need to spend a good while getting acclimated to the real Christian faith.  Many converts in their zeal start thrusting their newfound ideas on everyone around them, only later to decide not to become Orthodox at all.  It is a hard life to live, and the day after baptism is the day the real work begins.  So for now embrace the holy silence and be quiet long enough for God to speak to your heart. 

Attain the Spirit of Peace, and thousands around you will be saved.  ~ St. Seraphim of Sarov
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« Reply #487 on: November 02, 2009, 06:43:16 PM »

I believe Feanor is in Australia, where, as far I have been told, the Antiochian churches are much more ethnic than in the U.S. and prone to use plenty of Arabic.
Don't believe all you hear: http://www.smg.org.au/
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« Reply #488 on: November 03, 2009, 12:25:18 PM »

I really have trouble with the idea of joining a Church whose beliefs I don't entirely agree with, or more importantly, whose beliefs I am not willing to be shaped by in the future. Here I find Sinner Servant's reply to Liz's beautiful question appropriate:

Quote
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)

Joining the Orthodox Church without being willing to submit to the entirety of its beliefs seems to me oxymoronic.

On the topic of homosexuality, or sexuality in general... I think it is actually good that the discussion lingers on these topics because the fact is that these topics trouble a lot of people. They are a source of a lot of doubt evolving into unbelief, and it is for good reason that it has been the cause of schisms in many churches. It is not a peripheral issue, in my opinion, not because of its very nature, but because it causes us to face important questions that we otherwise avoid. What I'm trying to say is that though it is not a fundamental issue in and of itself, it causes us to face the fundamental questions that we avoid.

I have a theory on this, if I may indulge. A close friend of mine, a (faithful to Church teaching) homosexual (or bisexual), explains his struggles to me as follows: Imagine an engaged heterosexual couple engaging in sexual activity and conflicted about it. We love each other, but then our religious beliefs tell us we're wrong. What to do? In a few months, the couple are married, and the spiritual conflict tends to become moot. Whatever doubts they have about the doctrine are laid aside. The question may linger, but only in the abstract. The couple don't think about it much. It is not a source of spiritual struggle. But for the homosexual Christian, his belief is tested by his doubts throughout his lifetime, and he cannot turn away and avoid the resulting spiritual struggle. That is the constant struggle.

Or another more classic example... The dark night of the soul. For Mother Teresa, her perceived absence of God troubled her very deeply. It was a source of intense anguish. Whereas for others of us spiritual novices, with other things in our lives to occupy us, etc., it would not be so troubling. We wouldn't even notice it much, and if we did, we'd manage a way of not thinking about it too much. As the fathers say, the closer you get to God, the harder the Devil fights you.

Over the centuries, and certainly over the past few decades, many people who were Christians have come to reject Christianity. Their disbelief started out in various ways. The problem of pain, perhaps, or the evidence of science, or a variety of factors, all causing their experience and knowledge to clash with Christian doctrine. In the end, they decided that they simply could not believe the very idea of Jesus' divinity, reincarnation, etc. Like Bishop John Spong, they became some type of agnostic.

Interestingly, many of these folks tried to hang on to remnants of belief, while letting go of the doctrines they disagreed with. But slowly, yearning for philosophical consistency, they end up becoming non-Christian.

This is why I think that a 'cafeteria Orthodox', one that accepts some doctrine but rejects others, is simply in a transitional period towards complete unbelief. If one cannot, for example, believe scripture and the fathers on their teachings of sexuality, how can one believe their teachings on Christ's divinity, a matter far more fantastic and unbelievable than the teachings on sexuality?! Perhaps its because many of us think that we can safely and reject the teachings on sexuality, while maintaining our belief in Christ, because our doubts about Christ do not affect us personally. We are not like Mother Teresa - we can live with these doubts, avoiding them, not thinking about the too much. We are not like Spong, yearning for consistency.

I think the evidence over the last few decades supports the theory that 'cafeteria' or 'liberal' Christianity turns out to be a rest area on the road to agnosticism. The experience of the mainline Protestants shows that. Are liberal Christians frauds? Certainly not. They are sincere, but I would venture that they hang on for the sake of sentimentality. Beliefs don't change overnight. People and community are involved. One misses the friendship and the ceremony. One resists change. But in the end, the path they're on is the path they're on. And individual may persist in this limbo until he passes away, but over generations, a Church cannot. The Church slowly begins to disappear, and we're seeing this now.

This is why I think that it is important to understand that one has to submit entirely. One has to know what one is getting into. It is not just a community or buildings or people, but a well-formed set of beliefs that tinkering with simply does not make sense.
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« Reply #489 on: November 03, 2009, 12:53:13 PM »

This is why I think that a 'cafeteria Orthodox', one that accepts some doctrine but rejects others, is simply in a transitional period towards complete unbelief. If one cannot, for example, believe scripture and the fathers on their teachings of sexuality, how can one believe their teachings on Christ's divinity, a matter far more fantastic and unbelievable than the teachings on sexuality?!

Well, as one of these people who are, according to your judgment, on their way towards complete unbelief, I might try to answer this. I don't know how, but I just believe their teachings on Christ's divinity (and humanity as well). I think these teachings principally cannot be verified by science. They are outside of the scope of science, like, for example, poetry.

On the other hand, human sexuality is most definitely addressable by science. When people had no idea about genes and genetic determination of sexuality, they could not have possibly conceive that a homosexual simply cannot stop being a homosexual. Similarly, they most certainly thought that once you have physical appearance of a man or a woman, you ARE a man or a woman. Knowing what we now know about transsexuals, we no longer believe that this matter is so simple.

BTW, in patristic sources that I have studied, depression is called a sinful passion, and we are called to fight it in ourselves with the help of prayer and fasting. While prayer and fasting are certainly great, a person with a serotonin imbalance in the brain simply CANNOT be cured of depression unless he or she takes a special medication that inhibits serotonin reuptake. Yet another subject that our dear Fathers could never have predicted...
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« Reply #490 on: November 03, 2009, 04:44:01 PM »

This is why I think that a 'cafeteria Orthodox', one that accepts some doctrine but rejects others, is simply in a transitional period towards complete unbelief. If one cannot, for example, believe scripture and the fathers on their teachings of sexuality, how can one believe their teachings on Christ's divinity, a matter far more fantastic and unbelievable than the teachings on sexuality

Because if you don't believe in the Church's idea's about  Divinity you don't concurrently become isolated, horny and lonely..............  Just saying  Smiley
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« Reply #491 on: November 03, 2009, 04:48:36 PM »

On the other hand, human sexuality is most definitely addressable by science. When people had no idea about genes and genetic determination of sexuality, they could not have possibly conceive that a homosexual simply cannot stop being a homosexual.
Did the Fathers say that homosexuals should stop 'being' homosexual, or did they merely say that it is possible to alter sexual behavior?

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BTW, in patristic sources that I have studied, depression is called a sinful passion, and we are called to fight it in ourselves with the help of prayer and fasting. While prayer and fasting are certainly great, a person with a serotonin imbalance in the brain simply CANNOT be cured of depression unless he or she takes a special medication that inhibits serotonin reuptake. Yet another subject that our dear Fathers could never have predicted...
But is serotonin imbalance the only cause of depression?
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« Reply #492 on: November 03, 2009, 04:58:40 PM »

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But is serotonin imbalance the only cause of depression?

My depression may be caused partially by a serotonin imbalance, but that would be only one factor among many that are probably having an impact. Regardless, medications were needed to make me (more or less) stable.
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« Reply #493 on: November 03, 2009, 05:18:45 PM »

On the other hand, human sexuality is most definitely addressable by science. When people had no idea about genes and genetic determination of sexuality, they could not have possibly conceive that a homosexual simply cannot stop being a homosexual.
Did the Fathers say that homosexuals should stop 'being' homosexual, or did they merely say that it is possible to alter sexual behavior?


Isn't the point of Orthodox praxis to alter our behavior? Isn't that the point of fasting and confession and all the rest? Isn't our goal to alter our behavior to become more like Christ? Isn't that theosis?
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« Reply #494 on: November 03, 2009, 05:26:03 PM »

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But is serotonin imbalance the only cause of depression?

My depression may be caused partially by a serotonin imbalance, but that would be only one factor among many that are probably having an impact. Regardless, medications were needed to make me (more or less) stable.

But the Fathers never said 'don't take medicine for your depression'. What they said--that depression is a bad thing and that the individual should struggle against it with the tools available--is fully compatible with the modern realization that for many people there is a biological component which can and should be addressed with medicine. There is no conflict between the use of anti-depressants and standard Orthodox practices like prayer and fasting in the pursuit of mental health.

Heorhij appears to be trying to creat some equivalency between pre-modern and modern understandings of depression and homosexuality. But in fact he's arguing opposites--the position that modern understanding of the biological/genetic aspects of homosexuality should transform our view of the morality of homosexual behavior is as if one were to argue that since we now realize that there is a biological/genetic component to depression, we should not treat it as a mental problem but rather declare depressive mental states to be just as good and worthy as 'normal' mental states and indulge them rather than using those insights to attempt to treat/suppress/control them.

Alcoholism is another one that could fit into this pattern--the fact that we now realize that for some people there is a genetic component to being unable to control their drinking does not mean we should encourage alcoholics to embrace their problem and indulge at will. We should certainly recognize that the alcoholic has a 'harder row to hoe' than those of us who never feel tempted to drink excessively, and pastorally treat their failures. But we do them no favors by saying, 'oh, that's just the way you were born--drink up.'



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