. As for intellectual challenge- if the local "traditional" parish constantly saying things in homilies such as "It is not important that the Resurrection be an historic event," then I'm fine without receiving that at liturgy. If you want intellectual challenge, try out the Three Hierarchs or St Gregory of Palamas or Lossky. I say this not to knock the Anglican tradition- where I found much of value and without which I would not be Orthodox today- but to point out that the criticisms of tEC as a whole are not that far off base.
I wouldn't tolerate a sermon about how the resurrection wasn't history, I'd just walk out of that church. but my views about human sexuality are more nuanced than what seems to pass for out of the pens of people like Father Thomas Hopko, whose book, "the Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction" (recommended years ago by my priest), has some intellectually dishonest or naive things to say about the lives of gay men and women. That's what really offends me about some traditionalists - the rhetoric is often dishonest and openly bigoted (Fr. - MK was here Hopko even goes so far as to slip in the slur of pedophilia, very slyly and perhaps not even consciously).
A quick aside before I get to the meat-I can't speak to Fr Thomas' book, having not read it (more on that in a second), but if he perhaps references the idea that homosexuality might stem from child abuse, this was actually the leading theory until the genetic theory finally won out. It could be less of Fr Thomas being intellectually dishonest or naive and more Fr Thomas not being as up to date on the psychological and scientific literature as you would like.
It's possible to be orthodox about your beliefs about Jesus divinity and so on, and also have grave reservations about traditionalist attitudes to sexual minorities, or minorities in general (at one time after all people justified slavery using similar reasoning to justifying brutal treatment of sexual minorities... this is thoroughly lost on people steeped in a naive biblicism that doesn't subject our readings of Scriptures to a Christian heart).
I have talked about all of this with various clergy in the CF Episcopalian diocese and nobody puts my desire to love and serve God on trial. I think we might have our honest disagreements if we pressed the matter but we acknowledge we are trying to be faithful to God in a very complicated world, in fact that pretty much is what Bishop Brewer said about the subject when it was an issue a year ago or so after his enthronement, there was an implicit acknowledgement of diversity possible on that issue, something that is often denied in the Orthodox church. In short I've found Episcopalians and Anglicans (since I know a few of those two in the UK) to be gracious, and in itself this is a good thing spiritually.
And here we come to the main point- I can honestly say that I have not read any Orthodox writings on the subject, aside from a few quick references in the Church Fathers themselves. Homosexuality is, quite simply, something I do not seek out the polemic for, either pro or con- I know my own sins and I know the reasons that these are sins, and I know that these sins are between me, God, and my confessor- I find no reason to seek out and condemn others in a sort of witch hunt (whether the rich man at the parish who walks by twenty beggars with nary an alm or the local gay couple). I do know from my online browsing that the issue is not nearly so cut and dry as your pamphlet makers would like- while the Orthodox Church is in no danger of "blessing" homosexual unions any time soon, there is indeed vigorous debate as to how such unions should be approached. In a way, those who present the Orthodox Church as if there were no debate are about as honest as those high-church Episcopalians who represented to St. Raphael that the whole of the 19th/early 20th century tEC was an Anglo-Catholic paradise of Orthodoxy.
Part of my problem is that, once again, I might indeed have stayed Episcopalian had I continued living in Central FL. Like you (I was much more concerned with everyone else in my younger days) I liked the more seemingly nuanced approach to the issue of same-sex attraction- it was indeed far more nuanced than my own Southern Baptist background. Herein lies the rub- outside of Central FL, I found the stance on same-sex attraction to be far less "nuanced" and far more approving, and triumphantly so. There is a vocal majority within tEC where there is no room for debate or intellectual engagement, the mission of tEC is clear- to champion with utmost approval the homosexual lifestyle and drown out any suggestion that there might be sin involved anywhere.
If the diocese of Central FL appeals to you, at least in this regard, more power to you. But I would caution you- there is a witch-hunt in tEC right now, and there is increasingly less tolerance of those dioceses and bishops that refuse to toe the party line. PB Jefferts-Schori has shown not only an unconstitutional and non-canonical use of the "abandonment of faith" clause but a willingness (again, unconstitutionally and uncanonally) to over-ride the local diocese's decision-making process and install bishops faithful to tEC's "new revelation from the Holy Spirit".
While I have yet to attend any Orthodox parish, period, that could be considered "welcoming" by Protestant Evangelical standards, I am perfectly okay with that- I like and value relationships that develop organically, without the feeling that people are saying "hi" just to get me to come back next week.
I'm very introverted- sort of hard not to be when you are on the autism spectrum. And yet I really do value the people that come up and greet me at the Episcopal church, even if its sometimes ackward. I used to cynically think it was all about getting you to come back, very much used to St. Stephen's aloofness, but I realize in interacting with some of the Episcopalian people, it is more about an excitement and energy at seeing a new face, than some kind of cynical agenda. They aren't doing it to win converts but because they love God and their community and want to share that with other people. And that energy is frankly a good thing, even if I cannot really convey it myself- I'm more contemplative. So I'm getting used to it. It isn't at all phoney like some "evangelical" circles who are interested in winning convert points, I've seen several people show genuine interest in our disability issues. Even if it's a conservative diocese, they are still Episcopalians and have a bit of a social conscience (my own preference is the anglo-catholic side of things and the "preferential option for the poor").
This has been fairly well-addressed by the rest of the board in this discussion thread. I would only go so far as to say that I have found the Orthodox parishes I have attended to be, for the most part (again, setting aside those richer parishes, but getting the rich to be proactive in this area is a problem that predates Our Lord's incarnation, and has been complained of in any era of Christian history. St John Chrysostom has some rather choice words on the subject), more proactive in reaching out to the poor than the whole gamut of other denominations I have attended (and I have attended quite a few). And again, something strange- the other Episcopal dioceses I have seen have, despite all their talk of loving the poor, had rather paltry outreach efforts with maybe a day a year at a soup kitchen and the occasional canned food drive. More money went to supporting "gay-is-okay" charities and Planned Parenthood than went into the pockets of the homeless.
But Orthodoxy emphasizes the relation of the person to Christ in the Church- "sin" is missing the mark, something we all do. Ask any saint and he would proclaim himself to be the very worst of sinners- and mean it. That we are sinners does not let us off the hook to attempt to defeat sin. As our Lord said to every Publican, Prostitute, and Paralytic- "Go and sin no more".
Andrew Sullivan wrote this http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2012/04/04/what-did-jesus-think-about-lust/ . Really internalizing that message during Lent, that God has high ideals but always accepts our inadequacies, has made me realize things in a different light, and it fits very well with Anglican spirituality. On the other hand, the focus on struggle against sin can miss the mark itself if it becomes a source of despair or pride and takes our eyes off God and focuses it on ourself. I'd agree more with Martin Luther's "Sin boldly, but believe more boldly still... Pray boldly, for you are also a mighty sinner". Repentance is what God does in us, not what we do to be right with God. None of us can be right with God, no matter how holy we feel we are, or how religious we are, or how many laws we obey, that's the whole point of Jesus sacrifice- it's God's initiative not our own. That message is often obscured in the Orthodox church, at least in my experience.
See, your experience is far from typical. You are much more likely to find the balanced approach in the Orthodox Church than anywhere else. I have yet to come across a parish where pride has anything to do with personal struggle or taking one's eyes off of God- indeed, the whole point of Orthodox spirituality is on the emphasis that falls happen more often due to pride in one's struggle than anything else, when one thinks they are avoiding sin due to personal effort and not the strength that comes from God.
The main source of pride I have seen in "convert" parishes is intellectual pride. Orthodox converts tend to be highly informed about theological matters, they have delved into the depths of Calvin, Luther, Hooker, and St Thomas Aquinas, Southern Baptists look like children to them, and tEC is a theological quagmire. I have yet to see anyone allow this intellectual pride to deceive them about their own personal struggles, however.
As for despair- while I am sure it happens to certain overly scrupulous individuals, this is not a problem I've seen with Orthodoxy itself, but usually with certain mind-sets we bring into Orthodoxy from our previous experiences. If you had gone past the catechumen stage perhaps you might have had a better glimpse at what goes on inside the confessional. I have been cautioned against despair and relying on myself on numerous occasions and the single most given piece of advice to combat any sin is "Give thanks to God more often." The struggle against sin is important, as this is the way we grow closer to God. We grow closer still when we forgive our brother's sins and give alms and visit the imprisoned, etc.
I have honestly considered if I lived elsewhere in the country I might not be attending an Episcopalian church. Maybe I would be Orthodox if I couldn't stomach the idea of being a Continuing Anglican (many of them are even worse in being the Frozen Chosen) or Lutheran. However I don't think its a given for me anymore that the Orthodox church is the only faithful option.
Fair enough. If you aren't convinced that the Orthodox Church is THE Church, you are better off tabling the discussion for the moment and finding a denomination that suits your needs for now. I went back and forth for years examining the evidence and exploring all the different options before I was convinced enough by Orthodoxy that I could honestly pursue membership in the Church.