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Author Topic: Converts from Orthodox Church to Catholic or Protestant Churches, Please Share  (Read 14203 times) Average Rating: 0
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sprtslvr1973
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« on: November 29, 2012, 07:28:13 AM »

If there are any people on these boards who used to attend an Orthodox church and consciously changed to another, but still keeps in touch with their Orthodox roots in one method or another, I would like to hear how and why you left.
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 08:56:14 AM »

How's visiting those other churches working out for you?
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2012, 11:07:43 AM »

I am moving from a Baptist background to Orthodox, but my aunt's husband is moving from Orthodox to Evangelical.  Kind of like two ships passing I suppose.  I have spoken about it with him, he was in the Serbian Orthodox Church and he complains be cause his parish only preaches what he calls "Serbianism" and never talks about God.  I have never attended his parish, so I don't know if it is true or not.  He also has developed very strong ideas about the end times which are quite apocalyptic.  He is big into John Hagee. He has told me how wrong he thinks it is that the Orthodox Church has never told him about the "rapture" and other "end time events".  I have tried to explain that John Hagee's ideas are a bit wacko, and encourage him to look at another parish that might be more vibrant, but he seems to have written off Orthodoxy.  It's sad to see him as a cradle Orthodox with a whole lifetime of opportunity to learn about his faith, but never took up the opportunity actually learn about the Church and its teaching.  Instead, he chases after the very things that I have fled.
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 01:39:05 PM »

How's visiting those other churches working out for you?

If you're asking me and referring to the time I mentioned floating and independent study, it's OK and I believe where I belong right this very moment. I was blessed to visit my old OCA church last weekend and may go back again Sunday, but not sure
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 10:52:43 PM »

If there are any people on these boards who used to attend an Orthodox church and consciously changed to another, but still keeps in touch with their Orthodox roots in one method or another, I would like to hear how and why you left.
Peace

There are probably threads in which one or more ex-Orthodox discuss such things ... but I'm not sure the best way to go about finding those threads.

Alternatively, have you considered making your question more specific?
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2012, 11:06:56 PM »

Interesting. As someone who's seriously considering converting to orthodox, it's hard for me to imagine going the other way. I was raised in mixed types of protestant churches. On my own I started with dispensationalism evangelicalism but quickly evolved away from that to more Reformed. I could see an OCA person possibly somewhat enjoying or at least being comfortable with a good, formal liturgical Presbyterian service (a setting that I still love, but have certain issues with as well). I can't see someone going from orthodox to fringe evangelical like that. I never even see Reformed people move that far out. I've only seen migration the other way.
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2012, 08:33:07 AM »

Interesting. As someone who's seriously considering converting to orthodox, it's hard for me to imagine going the other way.

As a non-Orthodox who hasn't decided to convert to Orthodoxy, I think many people just assume that if I were in Orthodoxy I would leave it.
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2012, 09:29:53 AM »

I am moving from a Baptist background to Orthodox, but my aunt's husband is moving from Orthodox to Evangelical.  Kind of like two ships passing I suppose.  I have spoken about it with him, he was in the Serbian Orthodox Church and he complains be cause his parish only preaches what he calls "Serbianism" and never talks about God.  I have never attended his parish, so I don't know if it is true or not.  He also has developed very strong ideas about the end times which are quite apocalyptic.  He is big into John Hagee. He has told me how wrong he thinks it is that the Orthodox Church has never told him about the "rapture" and other "end time events".  I have tried to explain that John Hagee's ideas are a bit wacko, and encourage him to look at another parish that might be more vibrant, but he seems to have written off Orthodoxy.  It's sad to see him as a cradle Orthodox with a whole lifetime of opportunity to learn about his faith, but never took up the opportunity actually learn about the Church and its teaching.  Instead, he chases after the very things that I have fled.

While I can empathize with your uncle's displeasure with the Serbian church's ethnocentric,  one of the things I never like about Hagee was his religious nationalism concerning the US.
Two sides of the same coin to me.
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2012, 10:25:09 AM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2012, 10:30:16 AM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.


Excellent points. Continuing the "easy" line of thought, Islam is far easier yet; this might explain why it's grows apparently.
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2012, 10:51:08 AM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.


Excellent points. Continuing the "easy" line of thought, Islam is far easier yet; this might explain why it's grows apparently.
To be fair, they do have the ramadan.
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2012, 11:04:02 AM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.


Excellent points. Continuing the "easy" line of thought, Islam is far easier yet; this might explain why it's grows apparently.
To be fair, they do have the ramadan.

Given that I've had more than one Muslim colleague tell me that they were glad they only had Ramadan and didn't need to fast like we do, I think that still counts as easy. From my perspective, fasting during the day and feasting at night simply doesn't seem much of a difficulty. Where Islam looks hard to me is in its complete prohibition of pork and alcohol. I come from German stock - can't imagine life without sausages and beer.

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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2012, 09:38:54 AM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.


Excellent points. Continuing the "easy" line of thought, Islam is far easier yet; this might explain why it's grows apparently.

I wouldn't say so. Like conservative Baptists and Jews they have some very strict prohibitions. Personally, I alwayc considered the ban on pork, beer, and miniskirts to be 'works-based salvation'.
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2012, 02:49:05 PM »

Given that I've had more than one Muslim colleague tell me that they were glad they only had Ramadan and didn't need to fast like we do, I think that still counts as easy. From my perspective, fasting during the day and feasting at night simply doesn't seem much of a difficulty. Where Islam looks hard to me is in its complete prohibition of pork and alcohol. I come from German stock - can't imagine life without sausages and beer.
They also have to perform ritual prayers 5 times per day, every day of the year and every prayer requires ritual ablutions beforehand that include washing the arms to the elbows, the feet up to the ankles, etc. While the required purity may be maintained between prayer times it is invalidated by bleeding however slight, by sex, shitting, pissing, farting, etc., etc..  So in practice they have to perform ablutions before each of 5 daily prayers and this has to happen at least twice during the time most people are at work! Their annual month of fasting also includes sex, smoking, and consuming food and liquids of any kind and it's the thirst that is most difficult. Just try it and see.  As their fasts are defined between sun up and sun down this becomes even more difficult in locations with significant seasonal variations in length of days. In comparison I'd say Orthodox fasting is simply "meal planning" in comparison and is more of an inconvenience than a hardship.  This in no way implies they are better in any way, just that the average observant muslim is no less austere than the average observant Orthodox - if anything I'd say it's the opposite.
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2012, 07:03:02 PM »

I came from a mixed Evangelical background--which, I have to admit, is actually quite strange. Both of my parents--being Mexicans--were raised Roman Catholic, but never really took it seriously and were pretty much lapsed. I was never Baptised in the RC Church--which is strange, because I still vaguely remember attending a Mass or two with my mother and grandmother when I was like 2. Anyhow, afterward, they just gradually became more and more Protestant, constantly Church hopping between different Churches--all of Evangelical stock. The longest they stayed at a Church was for three years--and that was because it was also a Private School that my father worked at. I had to go to school there from 6-8th grade and that's where I got most of my exposure to Evangelical Protestantism--which is actually what drove me into an odd atheist-pseudo Buddhist phase for about two years until I gradually returned back to Protestantism and then Orthodoxy. Anyhow, I honestly cannot imagine attending ANY Church other than an Orthodox Church. It all seems so wrong, foreign and not-right to me. Being honest, I've never even heard of an Orthodox Christian converting to Evangelical Christianity for any legitimate reason other than economic support in the Old Country. It's always the other way around. Evangelical folks move up to more liturgical, traditional forms of Christianity and then finally make their way to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2012, 11:51:39 PM »

  I was an Orthodox catechumen...

  Now I attend an Episcopalian church.  I spent a year and a half trying to live as a Buddhist and dealing with a brain tumor.  I've returned to some Christian faith, at least attempting to do so, after finding Buddhism marginal spiritually.  I can't say it was worthless though, Buddhists were my friends when I had nobody else and I was alone.

  I like Episcopalians and Anglicans, I feel sad at one time I had contempt for them in my quest to find a "pure church".    In my heart I know my feelings were ugly and sinful, but my desire to have the correct ecclessiology and ideology blinded me to being a loving human being.  In the time, I've realized that right religion is not so simple, and I've come to realize the pride that motivates this triumphalism.   I have only begun to repent of this sin.  I also delt with anger at the Orthodox Church, and I realized it was something I needed help to overcome, the anger had spilled over into a gradual contempt for Christian community.  Contempt is truely blinding, easy to hide behind piety.  For several weeks I would not receive the Eucharist at the cathedral, only a blessing from a priest, because I realized my sins would render the Mystery empty of value.

  I do not agree with the average Orthodox Christian's views of gay and transgender people though, and I find the Anglicans more hospitable.  Honestly I have encountered the spirit of Jesus more there than I have in Orthodox churches.  It is a gentle, welcomming religion, something I missed in Orthodoxy sometimes with the focus on fasting and asceticism.  I especially like the Episcopalians Eucharistic practices.  Even when I tried to be a faithful Orthodox Christian, I found the Orthodox approach to the Eucharist offputting, my intuition told me this is not what the Lord Jesus really wanted, it was far too "demanding" in tone.

  I still like icons and the Orthodox way to pray, the candles and images, and saints (St. Martin is one of my favorites).  I am a spiritual mongrel but the dean of the local Episcopalians told me that God can work with that.

  God may have answered a prayer I had during my darkest hour, when I felt myself slowly giving up on faith in God and all alone.   I'm not sure a moralistic EO churchman would understand, but I got a unique friend and she is my girlfriend now and we are very close.   Though she is a Christian, she feels hurt alot by Christians h due to her identification with the LGBT movement, and rejection she received due to who she is.    Maybe eventually we will be married, or not, but we both are commited to each other as much as we can in our brokenness.  I prayed to God that I would not be alone forever, I wanted a partner, male or female.  Sometimes we go to the cathedral together but she has more of a pentecostal/charismatic background.
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« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2012, 06:57:48 AM »

Sorry, I could smell a gay slant to where this ^ post was going before the end of the second sentence.
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2012, 05:17:13 PM »

Sorry, I could smell a gay slant to where this ^ post was going before the end of the second sentence.

     I had many reasons for leaving Orthodoxy.  My status as a queer person was just one.  Honestly, I was seriously contemplating a life of celibacy as a monastic, and unafraid to do that. What genuinely bothered me was the conviction that I would stand before the Dread Judgement Seat of Christ and realize that Jesus probably would not agree with what Orthodox priests had to say about gays, and the fact this seems to bother few Orthodox Christians is genuinely disturbing.    I've met many gay people deeply wounded by organized religion, and it should bother more Christians.  Its a sin, frankly.   Many people hide their homophobia and ignorance behind religion- even if homosexuality were sinful, the effort most Christians give to combatting this "vice" is inordinate and reflects more on the fear, closed-mindedness, and even misogyny and sexism (women are lesser, hence men that act effeminate are debased) than genuine love for truth.

  I also believe women can and should be priests and bishops if they are called to do so.  Anything less is to deny that Christ saves them in their humanity, the way I see it.   Nor should baby girls be kept away from the altar.

  Having said that, leaving Orthodoxy was heartbreaking, and I've done some things in the meantime that I feel are genuinely sinful because I gave in to despair (however, comming out and getting involved in the LGBT community is not one of them, neither is being honest and open about my feelings and attractions).   For all its faults, Orthodoxy has many truths and now I'm trying to learn to look with discernment at more things, without assuming things are merely "all good" or "all bad".  However, Orthodoxy also really weakened my personal belief in God's love, because it really attacked this idea that God personally loved me, instead God tended to feel more and more mediated through my priest and the clergy.  I love the rituals and liturgy of Orthodoxy, but not the sacerdotal mindset.  Priests aren't infallible, neither are bishops, they are just men (and maybe in the future, women too).  Life is a messy business, truth is always seen through a glass darkly, and the world needs more love, compassion, and humility in response, not more triumphalism.

  Merry Christmas.
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« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2012, 06:23:51 PM »

Fine, you've many other reasons not to be Orthodox as well.
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« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2012, 06:27:01 PM »

Daedelus1138, is your problem the mysticism or the fasting and asceticism, or both, or neither? Or one at one time and one at another?
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2012, 04:45:18 PM »

    What genuinely bothered me was the conviction that I would stand before the Dread Judgement Seat of Christ and realize that Jesus probably would not agree with what Orthodox priests had to say about gays, and the fact this seems to bother few Orthodox Christians is genuinely disturbing.    

  I also believe women can and should be priests and bishops if they are called to do so.  Anything less is to deny that Christ saves them in their humanity, the way I see it.  

Yes, with those convictions and beliefs I suppose TEC would be the place for you. 
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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2012, 05:04:57 PM »

There's no denying that in many ways, Orthodoxy is hard. All that standing and fasting, for instance. Also, you have the responsibility and obligation to face yourself and your sins honestly, and strive to the best of your ability to overcome them.

Also the culture in many Orthodox parishes is literally "foreign" to Protestant Americans.

Often it's like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't know the relationships, the food or the inside family jokes.

Many, if not most, Protestant churches are much more comfortable and easy.

Only problem is, they don't have the Faith, in fullness and in truth.


Excellent points. Continuing the "easy" line of thought, Islam is far easier yet; this might explain why it's grows apparently.

I wouldn't say so. Like conservative Baptists and Jews they have some very strict prohibitions. Personally, I alwayc considered the ban on pork, beer, and miniskirts to be 'works-based salvation'.

How could it possibly be any more than Christian fasting? Christianity recognizes that food influences us, so does Islam - Christianity says take a break from some things some times, Islam says just abstain from the altogether.
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2012, 05:40:42 PM »

Honestly I have encountered the spirit of Jesus more there than I have in Orthodox churches.  It is a gentle, welcoming religion, something I missed in Orthodoxy sometimes with the focus on fasting and asceticism.

Jesus never struck me as very welcoming or hospitable. Kind of demanding and inconsiderate in many instances throughout the New Testament.
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« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2012, 05:44:01 PM »

      I also believe women can and should be priests and bishops if they are called to do so.  Anything less is to deny that Christ saves them in their humanity, the way I see it.  

There are some arguments that can be made for women's ordination. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. It makes no sense, and seems to be an example of sloppy thinking and even sloppier theology. IMHO, of course.
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2012, 06:07:10 PM »

Honestly I have encountered the spirit of Jesus more there than I have in Orthodox churches.  It is a gentle, welcoming religion, something I missed in Orthodoxy sometimes with the focus on fasting and asceticism.

Jesus never struck me as very welcoming or hospitable. Kind of demanding and inconsiderate in many instances throughout the New Testament.

I agree.. Jesus was pretty strict and demanded a lot and wasn't sorry about it. When people talk about "gentle, welcoming" Jesus I think they're actually thinking of an archetypal ideal of their own culture, which happens to be middle class well to do Midwestern boy of German/Scandinavian/Victorian England background.
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« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2012, 06:43:14 PM »

When people talk about "gentle, welcoming" Jesus I think they're actually thinking of an archetypal ideal of their own culture, which happens to be middle class well to do Midwestern boy of German/Scandinavian/Victorian England background.

Please do elaborate as it may give me something to say in response to the OP.
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« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2012, 10:34:08 PM »

There are some arguments that can be made for women's ordination. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. It makes no sense, and seems to be an example of sloppy thinking and even sloppier theology. IMHO, of course.

   Do women bear the image of God?   Can they stand in place of Christ, be icons of Christ?  Why just pick on the sex/gender bit  of women as breaking the "icon" of Christ?  Maybe only Jews should be priests, or perhaps only men with beards?    I mean this with the deepest respect to the Orthodox faith but the idea that women should not be priests because they cannot be icons of Christ reduces Christ's essential characteristics to his biological sex, hardly what I think Christians want to say about the Incarnation.  The Bible says "God is love" not "God is male".
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« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2012, 10:40:15 PM »

I agree.. Jesus was pretty strict and demanded a lot and wasn't sorry about it. When people talk about "gentle, welcoming" Jesus I think they're actually thinking of an archetypal ideal of their own culture, which happens to be middle class well to do Midwestern boy of German/Scandinavian/Victorian England background.

  Christ's harshest words were reserved for the pious and religious, not for the despised outcasts of society.   I don't think Jesus welcoming attitude is overstated, in fact this is precisely what his opponets accused him of doing, being unseemingly friendly with "sinners", not having proper ascetic discpilne, and so forth.     Jesus promises his burden is light, and he rebukes people that place demands on people before they can have a relationship with God and know God's love (the rabbi's that travel far to get a proselyte, only to make them a son of Hell even more than themselves).
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« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2012, 10:42:01 PM »

 Maybe only Jews should be priests, or perhaps only men with beards?

Traditionally Orthodox would agree with you about the bearded bit...
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« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2012, 09:37:59 AM »

I'm sorry you had a bad experience in the Orthodox Church, but my experience has been just the opposite.  There has been very little judgementalism and a very loving approach to those struggling with same sex feelings as with any other sin.  That is not to say that the Orthodox will glorify those feelings and praise them.  If you are offended that the Orthodox Church calls it a sin, that is more of personal issue, not an issue with the Church.  If a Church is going to not take any stands for fear of offending someone, it isn't much of a belief system then, its just a social club.  I don't agree with those who have said that Jesus was demanding or unkind.  Some of his actions may not necessarily translate well into modern social constructs, but there is a reason that Jesus is the most famous individual ever to walk the surface of the earth, He revolutionized how mankind relates to each other.  Even most non-believers will admit that much.
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« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2012, 10:35:51 AM »

There are some arguments that can be made for women's ordination. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. It makes no sense, and seems to be an example of sloppy thinking and even sloppier theology. IMHO, of course.

   Do women bear the image of God?   Can they stand in place of Christ, be icons of Christ?  Why just pick on the sex/gender bit  of women as breaking the "icon" of Christ?  Maybe only Jews should be priests, or perhaps only men with beards?    I mean this with the deepest respect to the Orthodox faith but the idea that women should not be priests because they cannot be icons of Christ reduces Christ's essential characteristics to his biological sex, hardly what I think Christians want to say about the Incarnation.  The Bible says "God is love" not "God is male".


More sloppy thinking, I'm afraid. Consider, if you will, why God chose to be incarnate as a human man? Does that reduce the Incarnation to His "biological sex"? Btw, it has nothing to do with whether or not women are worthy - no one is worthy of the priesthood.
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« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2012, 10:37:22 AM »

I agree.. Jesus was pretty strict and demanded a lot and wasn't sorry about it. When people talk about "gentle, welcoming" Jesus I think they're actually thinking of an archetypal ideal of their own culture, which happens to be middle class well to do Midwestern boy of German/Scandinavian/Victorian England background.

  Christ's harshest words were reserved for the pious and religious, not for the despised outcasts of society.   I don't think Jesus welcoming attitude is overstated, in fact this is precisely what his opponets accused him of doing, being unseemingly friendly with "sinners", not having proper ascetic discpilne, and so forth.     Jesus promises his burden is light, and he rebukes people that place demands on people before they can have a relationship with God and know God's love (the rabbi's that travel far to get a proselyte, only to make them a son of Hell even more than themselves).


Missed the whole "take up your cross" thing, huh?
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« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2012, 11:28:28 AM »

Ah yes, the Episcopal Church. They're so tolerant and easy-going. Wide is the gate and broad is the road...
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« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2012, 11:45:03 AM »

Ah yes, the Episcopal Church. They're so tolerant and easy-going. Wide is the gate and broad is the road...

  I'd rather be damned for being tolerant and easy going than rigid and intolerant.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience in the Orthodox Church, but my experience has been just the opposite.  There has been very little judgementalism and a very loving approach to those struggling with same sex feelings as with any other sin.  That is not to say that the Orthodox will glorify those feelings and praise them.  If you are offended that the Orthodox Church calls it a sin, that is more of personal issue, not an issue with the Church.  

 What was really hurtful was when my priest told me, after I approached him seeking chrismation, that I he wished to see more enthusiasm from me.  Despite the fact I'd duitifully attended Vespers, Mattens, and the Divine Liturgy for months and was very knowledgeable about the Orthodox life and Christianity in general.  I was in the process of being diagnosed with adult autism and apply for disability, and then later the priest started asking questions about me, suspicious that I might be gay, so I came out to him about my feelings about the LGBT community (I never came out as LGBT myself, but I think it didn't matter).  When I told him about my autism months later, he gave me his sympathies, but there was no attempt to accomodate me as a person into the Church.  I felt abandoned.  After a mental breakdown during Holy Week that landed me up in the county mental clinic, I decided I had a duty to the people that loved me to stay sane, and I would abandon the heavy, abusive demands of my religion after Easter.  I needed less penance and contrition in my life and more hope and genuine community caring about me in my suffering.  Easter Vigil two years ago was the last time I went to an Orthodox church.  

    A few months later I was told I had a brain tumor by a neurosurgeon, and I delt with the fears and worrries of cancer for a year, feeling abandoned by a religion I had alot of "enthusiasm" for, but I guess didn't show.   In the end I even started to feel abandoned by God as God became more and more distant in my life, and I developed fibromyalgia, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, and often times it left me unable to sleep.  Life became all about pain, and I was left a sad, hurting person.

  When I went to the Episcopal cathedral months after leaving the Orthodox Church, Dean Clarke answered my questions and attempted to comfort me as best he could, even though in the end I think he knew I was deeply hurt.  I told him I was not ready to go back to a church, but I thank him for his time, and for the book he gave me on an Anglican monastery in Michigan (I'd expressed interest in monasticism).  Rev. Clarke said it would be OK for me to attend his church and receive the sacraments even though I was openly bisexual (note, that doesn't mean "unchaste") and involved in LGBT community groups, making friends there, and I supported gay rights, and he did his best to answer my frustrations with some words of wisdom from experience, not church dogma (but officially, I know, the diocese here doesn't bless same sex unions, but they do have gay and lesbian couples in the churches).  He explained my religious confusion as something that God could work with, it didn't require enthusiasm, just a willingness to start participating.  This made a huge difference to me, and I wish my Orthodox priest could have handled my situation in a similar way, by treating me as a human being that God loved instead of a pastoral problem.

  I visisted a massage therapist a few months ago to deal with some of my pain, and she turned out to be Greek Orthodox (not a convert) and she said that at her church, she knew of several people that were openly gay and tolerated, and didn't understand why it would be an issue at other Orthodox churches.  I suspect the attitudes to gay people vary alot in different jurisdictions     My OCA priest was a convert from Presbyterianism ten years before, and I'm not sure he really had internalized a good, healthy spiritual life, nor did he really understand how to help me and still keep his integrity in his beliefs.
  
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« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2012, 12:05:33 PM »

Ah yes, the Episcopal Church. They're so tolerant and easy-going. Wide is the gate and broad is the road...

  I'd rather be damned for being tolerant and easy going than rigid and intolerant.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience in the Orthodox Church, but my experience has been just the opposite.  There has been very little judgementalism and a very loving approach to those struggling with same sex feelings as with any other sin.  That is not to say that the Orthodox will glorify those feelings and praise them.  If you are offended that the Orthodox Church calls it a sin, that is more of personal issue, not an issue with the Church. 

 What was really hurtful was when my priest told me, after I approached him seeking chrismation, that I he wished to see more enthusiasm from me.  Despite the fact I'd duitifully attended Vespers, Mattens, and the Divine Liturgy for months and was very knowledgeable about the Orthodox life and Christianity in general.  I was in the process of being diagnosed with adult autism and apply for disability, and then later the priest started asking questions about me, suspicious that I might be gay, so I came out to him about my feelings about the LGBT community (I never came out as LGBT myself, but I think it didn't matter).  When I told him about my autism months later, he gave me his sympathies, but there was no attempt to accomodate me as a person into the Church.  I felt abandoned.  A few months later I was told I had a brain tumor by a neurosurgeon, and I delt with the fears and worrries of cancer for a year, feeling abandoned by a religion I had alot of "enthusiasm" for, but I guess didn't show.   In the end I even started to feel abandoned by God as God became more and more distant in my life, and I developed fibromyalgia, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, and often times it left me unable to sleep.  Life became all about pain, and I was left a sad, hurting person.

  When I went to the Episcopal cathedral months after leaving the Orthodox Church, Dean Clarke answered my questions and attempted to comfort me as best he could, even though in the end I think he knew I was deeply hurt.  I told him I was not ready to go back to a church, but I thank him for his time, and for the book he gave me on an Anglican monastery in Michigan (I'd expressed interest in monasticism).  Rev. Clarke said it would be OK for me to attend his church and receive the sacraments even though I was openly bisexual (note, that doesn't mean "unchaste") and involved in LGBT community groups, making friends there, and I supported gay rights, and he did his best to answer my frustrations with some words of wisdom from experience, not church dogma (but officially, I know, the diocese here doesn't bless same sex unions, but they do have gay and lesbian couples in the churches).  He explained my religious confusion as something that God could work with, it didn't require enthusiasm, just a willingness to start participating.  This made a huge difference to me, and I wish my Orthodox priest could have handled my situation in a similar way, by treating me as a human being that God loved instead of a pastoral problem.

  I visisted a massage therapist a few months ago to deal with some of my pain, and she turned out to be Greek Orthodox (not a convert) and she said that at her church, she knew of several people that were openly gay and tolerated, and didn't understand why it would be an issue at other Orthodox churches.  I suspect the attitudes to gay people vary alot in different jurisdictions     My OCA priest was a convert from Presbyterianism ten years before, and I'm not sure he really had internalized a good, healthy spiritual life, nor did he really understand how to help me and still keep his integrity in his beliefs.
 

 I do not agree with the average Orthodox Christian's views of gay and transgender people though, and I find the Anglicans more hospitable.  Honestly I have encountered the spirit of Jesus more there than I have in Orthodox churches.  It is a gentle, welcomming religion, something I missed in Orthodoxy sometimes with the focus on fasting and asceticism.  I especially like the Episcopalians Eucharistic practices.  Even when I tried to be a faithful Orthodox Christian, I found the Orthodox approach to the Eucharist offputting, my intuition told me this is not what the Lord Jesus really wanted, it was far too "demanding" in tone.

  I still like icons and the Orthodox way to pray, the candles and images, and saints (St. Martin is one of my favorites).  I am a spiritual mongrel but the dean of the local Episcopalians told me that God can work with that.

  God may have answered a prayer I had during my darkest hour, when I felt myself slowly giving up on faith in God and all alone.   I'm not sure a moralistic EO churchman would understand, but I got a unique friend and she is my girlfriend now and we are very close.   Though she is a Christian, she feels hurt alot by Christians h due to her identification with the LGBT movement, and rejection she received due to who she is.    Maybe eventually we will be married, or not, but we both are commited to each other as much as we can in our brokenness.  I prayed to God that I would not be alone forever, I wanted a partner, male or female.  Sometimes we go to the cathedral together but she has more of a pentecostal/charismatic background.

I find that such issue are rather tricky to deal with, in practice.

An example: you'll remember a year or so ago there was that incident where a college guy made a video of his gay roommate having sex, which apparently later was a contributing factor in the latter committing suicide. Anyhow, when I was at mass shortly after the news broke, the priest referred to that incident in his homily -- mostly in a way I didn't think at all offensive, except for one comment that he slipped into it, that "he killed himself because his sin became known". I found that inappropriate, but I'm a little afraid to say so because a liberal hearing it might say "I agree. What right has he to call it a sin?" which isn't what I'm saying. (And, on the other hand, a conservative hearing it might say "Well, if you think that comment was inappropriate, then that must mean that you don't consider gay sex to be sinful!")
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« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2012, 12:12:24 PM »

More sloppy thinking, I'm afraid. Consider, if you will, why God chose to be incarnate as a human man? Does that reduce the Incarnation to His "biological sex"? Btw, it has nothing to do with whether or not women are worthy - no one is worthy of the priesthood.

  Maybe God becoming a man is a condescension to the social realities of the day and not some kind of generalized statement about the role of men and women?

  "No one is worthy of the priesthood" sounds nonsensical.  If no one were worthy, why make anybody at all a priest?  Obviously some people are found worthy by other people, the question is why men and not women?  I submit it is just prejudice masked as truth.
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« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2012, 12:22:50 PM »

"No one is worthy of the priesthood" sounds nonsensical. 

How telling.
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« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2012, 12:30:32 PM »

More sloppy thinking, I'm afraid. Consider, if you will, why God chose to be incarnate as a human man? Does that reduce the Incarnation to His "biological sex"? Btw, it has nothing to do with whether or not women are worthy - no one is worthy of the priesthood.

  Maybe God becoming a man is a condescension to the social realities of the day and not some kind of generalized statement about the role of men and women?

  "No one is worthy of the priesthood" sounds nonsensical.  If no one were worthy, why make anybody at all a priest?  Obviously some people are found worthy by other people, the question is why men and not women?  I submit it is just prejudice masked as truth.



I earnestly advise you to think these things through. This is the usual kind of stuff (propaganda, IMHO) that is trotted out when women's ordination is discussed. God, in deciding to become Incarnate as a human being, chose to become a human man. That was certainly not something that was a social reality of the day.

No one is worthy to be a priest. Who could be worthy to be a priest, according to the Orthodox understanding of the priesthood. God calls unworthy men to the priesthood according to His will.

(And, just fyi, not everyone who disagrees with you is prejudiced. They may be right or wrong or simply disagree.)
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« Reply #38 on: December 28, 2012, 01:37:10 PM »

I was born Mormon, then because I was fairly liberal at the time I became Episcopalian for a couple years. However, I found their theology to be sloppy and based upon weak arguments. As I studied Christian history and philosophy I became more conservative and inclined towards Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. After 6 months or so in RCIA I left and became an inquirer at an Antiochian Orthodox parish. For a year I read hours and hours almost every day the works of Pelikan, Meyendorff, Hopko, Ware, etc.

I can't remember exactly when it happened, but one day I scrutinized why I was converting to Orthodoxy. Was it because I believed it? Was it because I thought they offered a superior case for being the Church established by Christ? From here I realized  hadn't ever really given the Roman Catholic Church a fair chance. Thus I began to research both side by side. I considered both arguments for and against the papacy, and then rebuttals. As a result of my studies, I have returned to RCIA. I have a great deal of respect for Orthodoxy, and plan on staying in touch with the friends I made, but in the end I found myself convinced that the RCC is where I should be, in spite of all its flaws.

That is my story. I was never a baptized Orthodox Christian, but I consider myself someone who took a good hard look at it and then made way to other pastures.

P.S. Concerning women priests, I find this article to be a good case for the exclusively male priesthood:

http://peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual-symbolism.htm

"Advocates of women's ordination usually misunderstand sexual symbolism because they misunderstand symbolism itself as radically as they misunderstand authority. They think of symbols as man-made and artificial. They do not see that there are profound and unchangeable natural symbols, that things can be signs. Saint Thomas Aquinas based his multiple method of scriptural exegesis on this eminently sound but tragically forgotten principle. He writes: "The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do) but also by things themselves. So whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science [sacred science] has the property that the things signified by the words [of Scripture] have themselves a signification. Therefore that first signification, whereby words signify things, belongs to the first sense, the historical or literal. That signification whereby things signified by words have themselves a signification is called the spiritual sense, which is based on the literal and presupposes it."
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« Reply #39 on: December 31, 2012, 05:24:33 PM »

There are many things that I don't particularly "like" about the Orthodox Church, but what my preferences are ought not come into the equation about what I ought to do.  My own studies have led me to the conclusion that Orthodoxy is the only entity that is has the fullness of Truth.  That means I follow the Church even though there are teachings that I don't "like". If I could make my own religion, I would have one where no one is condemned, everyone was nice to each other and anyone got to do whatever they felt lead to do.  There wouldn't be any discussion of sin because that would lead to condemnation and fasting would be eliminated.  Unfortunately, that is not how things work and I just have to trust that God knew what he was doing when He made the world.

There are many foolish priests out there.  I have an excellent one that is very sensitive to each individuals needs in our parish, but I know that not all priests are like that.  It does no good to dismiss an entire church because of one bad priest.
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« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2012, 07:00:59 PM »

Here's something I've thought about before, from what I heard in a college class (full warning: I graduated from an RCC school). The reason that priests are chosen from men is that the priest is emblematic of God's Fatherly qualities. (Or, things that were called fatherly because they put one in mind of the ancient traditions surrounding fatherhood.) Yes, the Hebrew and Greek texts sometimes use masculine adjectives to describe something that God does, and at other times, feminine adjectives. Does this mean that God is "both a girl and a boy"? No, He is beyond all that; but women in the ancient world could indeed reflect God's "motherly" qualities by, here's a shock, being mothers. Women may not have been priests who served in the altar, but the mother in the family had been called, by a Jewish writer (I'm sorry I forget whom), "the priestess of the home." It was her task in those times to raise the children.  (The word "matrimony" borrows part of itself from the word "mater," after all.) A daunting task, and a sacred one too. As it is to this day.
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« Reply #41 on: December 31, 2012, 07:17:39 PM »

Daedalus,

I understand many of the reasons why you chose to join the Episcopal Church. I have also struggled with many of those reasons, including the stance on LGBT issues. I have simply come to the conclusion that if something was good and pure, then it shall always be so. Marriage in its proper role is a sacrament of the Church and cannot be limited to merely a secular institution.  I have often wondered if marriages outside of the Church, are really "marriages" even between heterosexual couples?

When you said he gave no attempts to accommodate you into the Church, do you mean because of your views or were there other circumstances? It sounds to me that you also were in need of a healthy relationship with a priest, as I have been. Given that you were a catechumen, were there any other Orthodox parishes in your area? The only thing I would do in such a situation is to continue to pray, and read the Bible and ask God to help me forgive those who I had felt wronged me in one way or another.  It is no easy task, but you do seem to have had a painful experience from what you write.  I hope that things are going better for you now.  Smiley

Just remember that we're all sinners in need of a Savior.  Everyone makes mistakes or offends someone without realizing it, even members of clergy.. it doesn't mean they were personally against you though.  Smiley
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« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2013, 03:46:47 PM »

 When you said he gave no attempts to accommodate you into the Church, do you mean because of your views or were there other circumstances?

  I have adult autism and I felt my priest judged me harshly because I didn't show "enthusiasm", despite frequent attendance at Divine Liturgy and feeling the pain of not being included fully into the life of the Church, which was my desire.  This happened before my views of homosexuality even came up.  I am just not an emotionally expressive person, that doesn't mean I don't have commitment or faith.

  Deep down I believed that the Orthodox Church was the Church Christ founded, I simply did not go along with the authoritarian assertions of particular bishops or laity and felt a duty to my conscience to be open to LGBT people and to NOT engage in the "culture wars".  But I still had an ear listening to the Church, I simply refused to turn off my brain or my heart to my fellow human beings.  I strongly believe this is what Jesus Christ asked of me.

 At this point I'm not sure how the priest and I can be reconciled.  What he did was wrong and I doubt he would want to admit to that, and I have no leverage over him to press the issue. In some ways the Episcopalian Church is a compromise for me, while it has many things I recognize as Christian in the same sense as Eastern Orthodoxy, it was heavily influenced by Calvinism which in my mind is decidedly Gnostic spirituality.

Quote
 Given that you were a catechumen, were there any other Orthodox parishes in your area? The only thing I would do in such a situation is to continue to pray, and read the Bible and ask God to help me forgive those who I had felt wronged me in one way or another.  It is no easy task, but you do seem to have had a painful experience from what you write.  

   I'm in a commited non-marital relationship to a woman, and she is not Orthodox and not even a churchgoer anymore (she used to be Pentecostal).. Maybe an Orthodox clergy would want to dissuade me from my relationship to her, but I do not know this for certain.   I don't want to listen to peoples judgementalism on my life, as far as I'm concerned my relationship is a prayer answered, not sin.  So, I am not sure what to think.  I miss the Orthodox Church, but I doubt the Orthodox Church misses me.  I do not miss the scared ex-Protestants who were using Orthodoxy as an excuse to hide from moral complexity, though.
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« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2013, 03:54:09 PM »

So you're convinced that the EO is the Church Christ founded but you prefer a compromise?
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« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2013, 03:59:49 PM »

 I have adult autism and I felt my priest judged me harshly because I didn't show "enthusiasm", despite frequent attendance at Divine Liturgy and feeling the pain of not being included fully into the life of the Church, which was my desire.  This happened before my views of homosexuality even came up.  I am just not an emotionally expressive person, that doesn't mean I don't have commitment or faith.
So because one man made a mistake (perhaps because he didn't fully understand your particular condition), you leave the Church, even though
Quote
 Deep down I believed that the Orthodox Church was the Church Christ founded


While I'm willing to accept as a theoretical possibility that you were asked by the Orthodox Church to turn off your brain or your heart to your fellow human beings (this is your testimony, after all), this is not my observation or experience of the Orthodox Church. In fact, I have been challenged by the Church and its clergy to be less selfish, more attentive to others and more rigorous theologically.

Quote
At this point I'm not sure how the priest and I can be reconciled.  What he did was wrong and I doubt he would want to admit to that, and I have no leverage over him to press the issue.
So you are willing to forgive and overlook some sins but not others?
  
Quote
I'm in a commited non-marital relationship to a woman...No doubt an Orthodox clergy would want to dissuade me from my relationship to her, but I do not know this for certain.
Possibly he would. But perhaps it would be because he knows how this kind of relationship can be detrimental to both of you, and he would want you to experience Orthodox marriage.

Quote
  I don't want to listen to peoples judgementalism on my life, as far as I'm concerned my relationship is a prayer answered, not sin.  
Of course you don't - nobody does. We don't like to hear what might be the truth or to have to give up doing the things we want to do, simply because they might be harmful to ourselves and other people.
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