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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #315 on: May 02, 2015, 01:01:59 AM »
Tradition ought to weigh pretty heavily. It is hubris to think otherwise.  If we can turn what has always been regarded as a sin into a sacrament of the Church, why bother with tradition at all? Christianity has placed great value on tradition for its entire existence. You can disregard that, but then it really isn't Christianity anymore; it becomes Daedelus' Self Help Group. You can say that God is using these unions as means of grace, but that doesn't mean that He actually is any more than I can proclaim polyamorous relationships as a means of grace.

To borrow a phrase from evangelicals, it's a relationship not a religion.  The religious aspects are superficial in comparison, and Jesus criticized the Pharisees for whitewashing their misdeeds in piety.  Do not focus so much on the religion that you lose sight of these:

"Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

God cares about those things, not if we have observed the traditions perfectly.




« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 01:04:14 AM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #316 on: May 02, 2015, 01:08:31 AM »
Tradition ought to weigh pretty heavily. It is hubris to think otherwise.  If we can turn what has always been regarded as a sin into a sacrament of the Church, why bother with tradition at all? Christianity has placed great value on tradition for its entire existence. You can disregard that, but then it really isn't Christianity anymore; it becomes Daedelus' Self Help Group. You can say that God is using these unions as means of grace, but that doesn't mean that He actually is any more than I can proclaim polyamorous relationships as a means of grace.

To borrow a phrase from evangelicals, it's a relationship not a religion.  The religious aspects are superficial in comparison, and Jesus criticized the Pharisees for whitewashing their misdeeds in piety.  Do not focus so much on the religion that you lose sight of these:

"Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

God cares about those things, not if we have observed the traditions perfectly.

Now you're the one making assumptions. If homosexuality is in fact a sin, then doing justly and having mercy on your neighbor involves helping them to overcome it.
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Offline WPM

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #317 on: May 02, 2015, 01:12:38 AM »
So much for being clinically diagnosed by people on the Internet.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #318 on: May 02, 2015, 01:28:24 AM »
Tradition ought to weigh pretty heavily. It is hubris to think otherwise.  If we can turn what has always been regarded as a sin into a sacrament of the Church, why bother with tradition at all? Christianity has placed great value on tradition for its entire existence. You can disregard that, but then it really isn't Christianity anymore; it becomes Daedelus' Self Help Group. You can say that God is using these unions as means of grace, but that doesn't mean that He actually is any more than I can proclaim polyamorous relationships as a means of grace.

To borrow a phrase from evangelicals, it's a relationship not a religion.  The religious aspects are superficial in comparison, and Jesus criticized the Pharisees for whitewashing their misdeeds in piety.  Do not focus so much on the religion that you lose sight of these:

"Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

God cares about those things, not if we have observed the traditions perfectly.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others."  (Mt 23.23)
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Offline FinnJames

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #319 on: May 02, 2015, 04:13:21 AM »
It seems odd that homosexuality is such a hot button issue among some more conservative Christians today. There is an epidemic of overweight worldwide, and gluttony is a sin. Why aren't people jumping all over the pudgy ones who waddle through the church door, shouting that they're sinners who need to join Weight Watchers and refusing to bake cakes for their weddings?

But seriously:
This discussion of homosexuality seems quite theoretical so far. Everyone has their opinion on the subject of homosexuality and brings support for it from Bible, tradition or science. To nudge discussion in a more practical direction, how does your Orthodox congregation deal with the homosexual people who are or wish to become active in parish life?

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #320 on: May 02, 2015, 06:19:56 AM »
Now you're the one making assumptions. If homosexuality is in fact a sin, then doing justly and having mercy on your neighbor involves helping them to overcome it.

My point was not to directly debate if homosexuality was sinful, but responding to the question of what happens if we let go of traditions we thought were holy and necessary.  There is still the Christian faith remaining, receiving pardon from God, being accepted as his children, doing justice and loving mercy in Jesus name- that is at the very heart of our faith as I see it.  And we still need the sacraments of the Church, because living like that on our own is difficult due to our fallen nature.

I guess Mor is deeply confused.  I am not suggesting that sin as a concept is a tradition we should do away with.  It's more like I'm talking about a shift in perspective away from focusing on sexual asceticism intensely and looking at how our attitudes and behaviors affect things like how we care for the environment and the things God has given us, how we treat those with less power than ourselves in society, such as those with different races or religions, and so on.

I still view some things as sexual sins.  I think pornography is sinful, for instance (mostly because of what it does to the people involved in that industry).  I believe sexual exploitation is wrong.  I don't believe sex without commitment is "OK" in a general sense.  But it's important to keep some of this in perspective.  Two people having casual protected sex are not committing near the same degree of harm to God's creation that a businessman who dumps chemicals into a watershed does.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 06:32:39 AM by Daedelus1138 »
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #321 on: May 02, 2015, 07:45:53 AM »
how does your Orthodox congregation deal with the homosexual people who are or wish to become active in parish life?

I know one that is a 3rd-in-charge choir conductor.
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #322 on: May 02, 2015, 08:34:57 AM »
Now you're the one making assumptions. If homosexuality is in fact a sin, then doing justly and having mercy on your neighbor involves helping them to overcome it.

My point was not to directly debate if homosexuality was sinful, but responding to the question of what happens if we let go of traditions we thought were holy and necessary.  There is still the Christian faith remaining, receiving pardon from God, being accepted as his children, doing justice and loving mercy in Jesus name- that is at the very heart of our faith as I see it.  And we still need the sacraments of the Church, because living like that on our own is difficult due to our fallen nature.

I guess Mor is deeply confused.  I am not suggesting that sin as a concept is a tradition we should do away with.  It's more like I'm talking about a shift in perspective away from focusing on sexual asceticism intensely and looking at how our attitudes and behaviors affect things like how we care for the environment and the things God has given us, how we treat those with less power than ourselves in society, such as those with different races or religions, and so on.

I still view some things as sexual sins.  I think pornography is sinful, for instance (mostly because of what it does to the people involved in that industry).  I believe sexual exploitation is wrong.  I don't believe sex without commitment is "OK" in a general sense.  But it's important to keep some of this in perspective.  Two people having casual protected sex are not committing near the same degree of harm to God's creation that a businessman who dumps chemicals into a watershed does.

Actually, applying asceticism to sexuality is about the only thing that makes sense to me about traditional Orthodox teaching on sex. Arguments grounded in natural law or old ideas about "purity" are hard to justify in our age: natural law is a very questionable philosophical foundation for ethics, and intuitions about purity seem too culturally contingent. Our society just doesn't feel the same repugnance towards homosexuality or other "non-traditional" forms of sexuality that it used to, so anyone not brought up in a highly conservative family and community won't have the same intuitions about what sexual acts are "clean" and what are "unclean". But the idea that there is more to life than pleasure and that there is value in voluntarily undergoing suffering is more powerful, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 08:36:03 AM by Jonathan Gress »

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #323 on: May 02, 2015, 09:51:17 AM »
But the idea that there is more to life than pleasure and that there is value in voluntarily undergoing suffering is more powerful, in my opinion.

We can teach that without having to emphasize harsh monastic asceticism on laity.

There are religious approaches out there that absolutely do not believe the purpose of living is pleasure, and yet they have very accommodating attitudes towards morality.  Shin Buddhism comes to mind.   Like Lutheranism, it's based on absolute acceptance of the person apart from any works they can do.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 09:53:44 AM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #324 on: May 02, 2015, 09:52:21 AM »
But the idea that there is more to life than pleasure and that there is value in voluntarily undergoing suffering is more powerful, in my opinion.

We can teach that without having to emphasize harsh monastic asceticism on laity.

There are religious approaches out there that absolutely do not believe the purpose of living is pleasure, and yet they have very accommodating attitudes towards morality.  Shin Buddhism comes to mind.   Like Lutheranism, it's based on absolute acceptance of the person apart from any works they can do.

You seem to be rejecting asceticism entirely. In Orthodoxy, asceticism is not just for monks.

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #325 on: May 02, 2015, 10:01:33 AM »
You seem to be rejecting asceticism entirely. In Orthodoxy, asceticism is not just for monks.

There's asceticism, and then there's asceticism.  Demons don't eat, don't sleep, and yet their "asceticism" doesn't profit them at all.  I'm hesitant to use the word asceticism, simply because it is associated in the West with monasticism, rigor, and an attitude that has contempt for the body and the world.

Putting a heavy burden on laypeople is the same sort of thing St. Paul decried in some of his epistles.  There are not just burdens but also liberties in being a Christian.  Jesus promised us his yoke was light.  The Christian life is not essentially about fasting, eating the right foods, and so on.  It is also about cultivating love, joy, and gratitude, abundant life
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #326 on: May 02, 2015, 10:08:28 AM »
You seem to be rejecting asceticism entirely. In Orthodoxy, asceticism is not just for monks.

There's asceticism, and then there's asceticism.  Demons don't eat, don't sleep, and yet their "asceticism" doesn't profit them at all.  I'm hesitant to use the word asceticism, simply because it is associated in the West with monasticism, rigor, and an attitude that has contempt for the body and the world.

Putting a heavy burden on laypeople is the same sort of thing St. Paul decried in some of his epistles.  There are not just burdens but also liberties in being a Christian.  Jesus promised us his yoke was light.  The Christian life is not essentially about fasting, eating the right foods, and so on.  It is also about cultivating love, joy, and gratitude, abundant life.

When I hear that "even demons fast" I'm tempted to respond "well, they don't need to eat so they're not really denying themselves". But people seem quite attached to that argument nonetheless.

You have the wrong idea about asceticism. Yes, not everyone has the same strength or can endure the same levels of self-denial. But we are all called to deny ourselves as much as possible. That's the ideal at any rate. You're making your ideal be "just do such and such and that's good enough". In Orthodoxy, only your best is good enough.

Offline Volnutt

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #327 on: May 02, 2015, 10:15:05 AM »
You seem to be rejecting asceticism entirely. In Orthodoxy, asceticism is not just for monks.

There's asceticism, and then there's asceticism.  Demons don't eat, don't sleep, and yet their "asceticism" doesn't profit them at all.  I'm hesitant to use the word asceticism, simply because it is associated in the West with monasticism, rigor, and an attitude that has contempt for the body and the world.

Putting a heavy burden on laypeople is the same sort of thing St. Paul decried in some of his epistles.  There are not just burdens but also liberties in being a Christian.  Jesus promised us his yoke was light.  The Christian life is not essentially about fasting, eating the right foods, and so on.  It is also about cultivating love, joy, and gratitude, abundant life.

I don't detect the same unrelenting harshness that you do in Orthodoxy. Fasting is not a one size fits all. It's supposed to be worked out with one's priest according to one's spiritual needs. If a strict fast is doing more harm than good, it can be relaxed.

This post by Father Stephen Freeman is illustrative:

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2015/04/17/the-work-that-saves/

Quote
One form of moral effort (the most common) is indeed of no use. It belongs to the same category as the works criticized by Protestant theology. We pray, with no understanding, laboring to complete a prayer rule that amounts to little more than “going through the motions.” We fast as though every slip were a matter of sin in need of confession. Some go so far as to carefully search through the labels on every grocery product, seeking for tale-tell signs of “milk products,” having invented for themselves a new yoke of bondage that turns Orthodox fasting into a new version of kosher. In short, there is a form of asceticism that is ill-taught and ill-practiced and produces either despairing Christians or oppressive Pharisees (sometimes in one and the same person).

The grounding of the Christian life is thanksgiving. If you cannot fast with thanksgiving, your fast will be of little use. The same extends to all Christian practices and commandments. The essential work of the Christian life is grateful thanksgiving. It is for this reason that Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote: “Anyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation.”

There are very deep forms of asceticism, but even these are rightly rooted in the giving of thanks. In the 20th century, perhaps no saint is better known for his ascetical achievements than St. Silouan of Athos. He is known to have endured some 15 years of the experience of hell in his prayers. At its depth, he heard Christ say, “Keep your mind in hell and despair not.” His interpreter and biographer, the Elder Sophrony of Essex, however, is reported to have said, “If you will give God thanks always and for all things, you will fulfill the saying, ‘Keep your mind in hell and despair not.’”

The first duty of a spiritual father is to lead a soul into the practice of giving thanks. In this manner they will acquire the Spirit of Peace and be able to sustain the Christian life. But without thanksgiving, they will only fall into despair or delusion. Thanksgiving is the foundation of the Christian life. When this is understood and in place, other things can be properly understood.

There are Orthodox priests who are too firm with their spiritual children and there are Orthodox priests who are too lax. It happens when you're dealing with people.

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Offline Volnutt

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #328 on: May 02, 2015, 10:18:47 AM »
Quote
When I hear that "even demons fast" I'm tempted to respond "well, they don't need to eat so they're not really denying themselves". But people seem quite attached to that argument nonetheless.

That's not just an argument though. It's from the Desert Fathers (actually, in this case, Amma Theodora).
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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #329 on: May 02, 2015, 12:04:25 PM »
I don't detect the same unrelenting harshness that you do in Orthodoxy. Fasting is not a one size fits all. It's supposed to be worked out with one's priest according to one's spiritual needs. If a strict fast is doing more harm than good, it can be relaxed.   

I've dealt with the harshness first hand.  It was not an issue of sexuality, it was an issue I feel I cannot openly talk about to protect the involved.  But the harshness can be there.  I moved on from it, but I have not forgotten, and it was really what made me reconsider my decision to become Eastern Orthodox and really be willing to question Church teaching, an emotional reaction lead to an intellectual quest to discern more and be sure I was really prepared to be hurt like that to be an Orthodox Christian.  I decided I wasn't, an atmosphere ripe for spiritual abuse was not a safe place for me to be when I was dealing with so many mental and physical health problems.

My point is that none of us knows other peoples circumstances and we should not be hasty in trying to figure out the spiritual situation of another person and what is best for them... can't we trust in the Holy Spirit to do that?  I know orthodox are supposed to be helping people grow in holiness, but often that just is insensitive, as any mental health worker worth their salt will tell you, often helping someone is simply listening to them nonjudgmentally.  Advice is often simply a way of dismissing someone, of putting them down.  I know some will scream "Pride!" in response but having some self-regard is necessary for some people to maintain mental health.  You have to have a self before you can lose it.

That quote from Fr. Stephen is a good example...  it's a nice ideal in Orthodoxy but one that often is missed altogether.  We need to look at the actual behavior of people, not their ideals, when we evaluate a religion's claims.  And I find the Orthodox ascetic ideal often crushing in its demands, especially in the hands of converts, who make up more than half the laity in some Orthodox jurisdictions.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 12:13:23 PM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #330 on: May 02, 2015, 12:12:45 PM »
Quote
When I hear that "even demons fast" I'm tempted to respond "well, they don't need to eat so they're not really denying themselves". But people seem quite attached to that argument nonetheless.

That's not just an argument though. It's from the Desert Fathers (actually, in this case, Amma Theodora).

Yeah I know that. I also know you need to interpret the statement in the context of the way the ascetic ideal is framed: mastery of spirit over matter. We should strive to be like angels in the sense that, as they have no desire for food, we should also have no desire for food, since the desire for food is a passion. What the angels have by nature we aim to have by grace. But it's still true that the angels, and demons, expend no effort in their fasting.

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #331 on: May 02, 2015, 12:17:02 PM »
I don't detect the same unrelenting harshness that you do in Orthodoxy. Fasting is not a one size fits all. It's supposed to be worked out with one's priest according to one's spiritual needs. If a strict fast is doing more harm than good, it can be relaxed.   

I've dealt with the harshness first hand.  It was not an issue of sexuality, it was an issue I feel I cannot openly talk about to protect the involved.  But the harshness can be there.  I moved on from it, but I have not forgotten, and it was really what made me reconsider my decision to become Eastern Orthodox and really be willing to question Church teaching, an emotional reaction lead to an intellectual quest to discern more and be sure I was really prepared to be hurt like that to be an Orthodox Christian.  I decided I wasn't, an atmosphere ripe for spiritual abuse was not a safe place for me to be when I was dealing with so many mental and physical health problems.

My point is that none of us knows other peoples circumstances and we should not be hasty in trying to figure out the spiritual situation of another person and what is best for them... can't we trust in the Holy Spirit to do that?  I know orthodox are supposed to be helping people grow in holiness, but often that just is insensitive, as any mental health worker worth their salt will tell you, often helping someone is simply listening to them nonjudgmentally.  Advice is often simply a way of dismissing someone, of putting them down.  I know some will scream "Pride!" in response but having some self-regard is necessary for some people to maintain mental health.  You have to have a self before you can lose it.

That quote from Fr. Stephen is a good example...  it's a nice ideal in Orthodoxy but one that often is missed altogether.  We need to look at the actual behavior of people, not their ideals, when we evaluate a religion's claims.  And I find the Orthodox ascetic ideal often crushing in its demands, especially in the hands of converts, who make up more than half the laity in some Orthodox jurisdictions.

Hm. I'm sorry to hear about your bad experiences. I've had some of my own which caused me to challenge my faith, but after time has passed I could reevaluate my views.

We need to remember that, when you get down to it, the Christian ideal is impossible for anyone to attain. That's why we confess our sins and repent of them. Not even the saints are completely without sin. So you can't blame the ideal when people fail to live up to it. The ideal has to be questioned on its own merits: is it a worthy ideal, or are there better ones out there? And I would be skeptical of an ideal carefully crafted to be easily attainable by just anyone.

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #332 on: May 02, 2015, 12:21:51 PM »
Yeah I know that. I also know you need to interpret the statement in the context of the way the ascetic ideal is framed: mastery of spirit over matter.

If there were no passions, life as we know it would not exist.   Trying to kill the passions goes in a very life-denying direction eventually, not that different from the Cathars or the Gnostics, all of whom were excellent fasters, but they were not orthodox.

Mastery of spirit over matter is the ascetic ideal?  How about love?  Jesus said that love was the highest commandment, not achieving paranormal feats.  Indeed, St. Paul says it is possible to work miracles, even beat our bodies into submission, and still be damned due to lack of love.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 12:23:15 PM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #333 on: May 02, 2015, 12:32:17 PM »
Yeah I know that. I also know you need to interpret the statement in the context of the way the ascetic ideal is framed: mastery of spirit over matter.

If there were no passions, life as we know it would not exist.   Trying to kill the passions goes in a very life-denying direction eventually, not that different from the Cathars or the Gnostics, all of whom were excellent fasters, but they were not orthodox.

Mastery of spirit over matter is the ascetic ideal?  How about love?  Jesus said that love was the highest commandment, not achieving paranormal feats.  Indeed, St. Paul says it is possible to work miracles, even beat our bodies into submission, and still be damned due to lack of love.

Christ said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. Sounds pretty life-denying to me.

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #334 on: May 02, 2015, 12:36:46 PM »
You seem to be rejecting asceticism entirely. In Orthodoxy, asceticism is not just for monks.

There's asceticism, and then there's asceticism.  Demons don't eat, don't sleep, and yet their "asceticism" doesn't profit them at all.  I'm hesitant to use the word asceticism, simply because it is associated in the West with monasticism, rigor, and an attitude that has contempt for the body and the world.

Putting a heavy burden on laypeople is the same sort of thing St. Paul decried in some of his epistles.  There are not just burdens but also liberties in being a Christian.  Jesus promised us his yoke was light.  The Christian life is not essentially about fasting, eating the right foods, and so on.  It is also about cultivating love, joy, and gratitude, abundant life.

Why can't we achieve both ascetics and love? Are they mutually exclusive?

If, in practice, many Orthodox Priests are overemphasizing ascetics and under-emphasizing love, then yes, I agree that that is inexcusable. But love is highly emphasized in Orthodox theology, and lack of love is a struggle for everyone in practice, so I hardly see this issue as a reason not to be Orthodox. Resorting to Protestantism would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, at best. Don't get me wrong, I love my Protestant background. If it wasn't for the very outreaching Evangelicals, I might not even be a Christian, right now. 
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #335 on: May 02, 2015, 12:47:49 PM »
My point is that none of us knows other peoples circumstances and we should not be hasty in trying to figure out the spiritual situation of another person and what is best for them... can't we trust in the Holy Spirit to do that?  I know orthodox are supposed to be helping people grow in holiness, but often that just is insensitive, as any mental health worker worth their salt will tell you, often helping someone is simply listening to them nonjudgmentally.  Advice is often simply a way of dismissing someone, of putting them down.  I know some will scream "Pride!" in response but having some self-regard is necessary for some people to maintain mental health.  You have to have a self before you can lose it.
I know what you mean. Sometimes, just listening to the person is the best option.

 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 01:06:37 PM by byhisgrace »
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #336 on: May 02, 2015, 01:28:56 PM »
I guess Mor is deeply confused. 

About what?
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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #337 on: May 02, 2015, 01:40:55 PM »
Christ said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. Sounds pretty life-denying to me.

How do you explain the Bible and Christian tradition affirming the goodness of creation?  When I think of life-denying, I think of a religion like Theravada Buddhism, that has sutras that portray the Hindu Creator Brahma as an idiot and the Jataka that mock the Creator in a hymn (echoing Epicurus).  The monks in Theravada Buddhism are also highly ascetic, probably even moreso than Eastern Orthodox.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 01:42:39 PM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #338 on: May 02, 2015, 02:09:13 PM »
Christ said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. Sounds pretty life-denying to me.

How do you explain the Bible and Christian tradition affirming the goodness of creation?  When I think of life-denying, I think of a religion like Theravada Buddhism, that has sutras that portray the Hindu Creator Brahma as an idiot and the Jataka that mock the Creator in a hymn (echoing Epicurus).  The monks in Theravada Buddhism are also highly ascetic, probably even moreso than Eastern Orthodox.

Orthodoxy believes in the goodness of creation. I was just drawing out the irony of your use of the term "life-denying".

Offline Volnutt

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #339 on: May 02, 2015, 02:09:17 PM »
Ascetism properly construed is an act of love. We empty ourselves in order to be filled with love for the other. We crucify our flesh because it leads us into sin which brings suffering and disrupts our love of God and others.

I think Jonathan goes too far in saying that the very desire for food is sin, we were not created incorporeal like the angels. God intended His Creation to be enjoyed properly. Still, self-denial is there to make us master of our appetites so that they do not master us. That's no different in essence than diet and exercise.

I'm also terribly sorry that you had a bad experience. But is it really fair to judge all of Orthodoxy by one priest?
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #340 on: May 02, 2015, 02:12:29 PM »
Ascetism properly construed is an act of love. We empty ourselves in order to be filled with love for the other. We crucify our flesh because it leads us into sin which brings suffering and disrupts our love of God and others.

I think Jonathan goes too far in saying that the very desire for food is sin, we were not created incorporeal like the angels. God intended His Creation to be enjoyed properly. Still, self-denial is there to make us master of our appetites so that they do not master us. That's no different in essence than diet and exercise.

I'm also terribly sorry that you had a bad experience. But is it really fair to judge all of Orthodoxy by one priest?

I didn't mean that desire for food was sin; it's more that being enslaved to that desire is a sin.

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #341 on: May 02, 2015, 02:21:53 PM »
Ascetism properly construed is an act of love. We empty ourselves in order to be filled with love for the other. We crucify our flesh because it leads us into sin which brings suffering and disrupts our love of God and others.

I think Jonathan goes too far in saying that the very desire for food is sin, we were not created incorporeal like the angels. God intended His Creation to be enjoyed properly. Still, self-denial is there to make us master of our appetites so that they do not master us. That's no different in essence than diet and exercise.

I'm also terribly sorry that you had a bad experience. But is it really fair to judge all of Orthodoxy by one priest?

I didn't mean that desire for food was sin; it's more that being enslaved to that desire is a sin.

Oh, ok. My bad.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 02:22:10 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #342 on: May 02, 2015, 04:09:23 PM »
It seems odd that homosexuality is such a hot button issue among some more conservative Christians today. There is an epidemic of overweight worldwide, and gluttony is a sin. Why aren't people jumping all over the pudgy ones who waddle through the church door, shouting that they're sinners who need to join Weight Watchers and refusing to bake cakes for their weddings?

But seriously:
This discussion of homosexuality seems quite theoretical so far. Everyone has their opinion on the subject of homosexuality and brings support for it from Bible, tradition or science. To nudge discussion in a more practical direction, how does your Orthodox congregation deal with the homosexual people who are or wish to become active in parish life?

I've lost nearly 100 lbs since becoming Orthodox largely thanks to the fasting discipline, although now I've withered a bit and am on a dispensation.  But if you have a problem with obesity in your parish, your priest is possibly being lax on the fasting guidance.  There are some people with biological conditions that predispose them to be obese.   But this is not the norm in any parish I've attended,

Also the Church of Finland has a known disciplinary problem with pro-gay priests that has scandalized the Orthodox world.  It makes me very sad as a Swedish American as the Church of Finland is effectively the closest thing to Scandinavian Orthodoxy, and there is an urgent need for tougher enforcement of the canons.

There is nothing theoretical about the stance of the church on homosexuality.   Read the Pedalion, especially the canons of St, John the Faster.  Read the Pauline epistles.  Read the Pentateuch or Torah, and verify its interpretation by asking the Orthodox Jews about homosexuality (the real ones, not the Conservative, Neolog, Masorti or "Modern Orthodox").  Read Ss. Gregory of Nyassa and John Chrysostom, among others.  There is unbroken scriptural and Patristic consensus against homosexual activity.

On the other hand, the church recognizes deep friendships between persons of the same gender.  As recently as a few years ago, a Syriac Orthodox priest blessed two heterosexual women who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and made them sisters.  The Byzantine Rite used to have such a service but it was struck from the Euchologia ages ago, according to some, due to abuse, presumably of a homosexual nature.

Virtually every church, including your own, has issued statements defining marriage as between one man and one women.  The early church did for a time allow reception of polygamists as the lesser of two evils, as an act of oikonomia, but this was phased out once, thanks to the church, polygamy disappeared outside of the Isalmic population.

My parish regards homosexuality as a sin like any other.  If the person struggling with it is repentant they can be received.  But not someone who embraces it and is unrepentant.  The same applies to gluttony and to all the other sins. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 04:11:51 PM by wgw »
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #343 on: May 02, 2015, 04:21:53 PM »
Yeah I know that. I also know you need to interpret the statement in the context of the way the ascetic ideal is framed: mastery of spirit over matter.

If there were no passions, life as we know it would not exist.   Trying to kill the passions goes in a very life-denying direction eventually, not that different from the Cathars or the Gnostics, all of whom were excellent fasters, but they were not orthodox.

Mastery of spirit over matter is the ascetic ideal?  How about love?  Jesus said that love was the highest commandment, not achieving paranormal feats.  Indeed, St. Paul says it is possible to work miracles, even beat our bodies into submission, and still be damned due to lack of love.

The Philokalia stresses the training of the passions.  The sex drive is either directed towards good (procreation)'or sublimated.

Also many Gnostics fasted not at all, but readily and capriciously indulged their senses.  The Borborites were the most extreme example.  Read St. Irenaeus or the Panarion of St. Epiphanius of Salamis before spouting off about Gnosticism.  The Gnostic myth of Simon of Cyrene being crucified in Jesus place, while Jesus laughed at him, ought to tell you what an evil religion it was (this later made it into Islam, albeit with Judas being given the appearance of our Lord; that the Muslims don't see this as an intolerable offence to the dignity of a Prophet shows how warped they are. 

Since you are clearly such a fan of comparative religion, allow me also to introduce you to the Mandaeans.  They are the last surviving Gnostics; worshippers of John the Baptist.  Not all Gnostics were Christian; some worshipped Cain or "The Great Seth" or other figures.  The Mandaeans ban monasticism and allow polygamy; they have some ascesis in their praxis but it's obviously not to the degree of Orthodoxy.
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #344 on: May 02, 2015, 04:41:37 PM »
But the idea that there is more to life than pleasure and that there is value in voluntarily undergoing suffering is more powerful, in my opinion.

We can teach that without having to emphasize harsh monastic asceticism on laity.

There are religious approaches out there that absolutely do not believe the purpose of living is pleasure, and yet they have very accommodating attitudes towards morality.  Shin Buddhism comes to mind.   Like Lutheranism, it's based on absolute acceptance of the person apart from any works they can do.

Asking the laity not to fornicate or commit sodomy is not harsh monastic asceticism.   But our laity have lived by these ascetic rules for a great many years.   They are essential to our faith.  Unlike Shin Buddhism or Lutheranism, we are not a monergistic religion that accepts people as they are.

Rather, we believe ina divine synergy between God and man.  The believer receives grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the reception of the Eucharist and other Sacraments that strengthens him and allows him to conquer the passions and train them in the service of virtue.  The most famous Orthodox homosexual, Fr. Seraphim Rose, who was also an alcoholic living a decadent lifestyle in the Bohemian North Shore of San Francisco in the early 50s, received divine grace calling him to Orthodoxy; he repented and was delivered from his homosexuality and was able to build a highly successful monastic community in ROCOR and write the definitive work on occult New Religious Movements, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, and also a well received traditionalist treatise on Orthodox eschatology.  This he did not by himself, but through the grace imparted to him as a member of the Church.  Through God all things are possible including deliverance from homosexuality.

This is why we don't accept people as they are, but rather, as what they should be; we practice ascesis so that we may receive Theosis, or deification.  God became man so that man might become like God, by grace what God is by nature.  This requires purification through asceticism and detachment from worldly snares.

The creation of God is beautiful and the Church is life-affirming in the true sense, affirming that which is alive in the present and will lead to life in the world to come.  But homosexuality and other sins are of death.  And it is written in the Gospel that all sins are equal before the Lord.  Two men committing sodomy are the same as the businessman dumping chemicals; he might have to dump them to pay his mortgage and feed his family.  Sin is a disease, and the wages of sin are death.  But our Lord trampled down death by death, allowing us to slowly overcome sin through repentance, ascesis, and the reception of divine grace through the sacred mysteries.

This is our religion.   We are not Lutherans or Shin Buddhists.  We believe in a loving God who loves us so much that he has provided medicines to rid us of the disease that is sin, deliver us from slavery to the passions, and allow us to become his adopted sons by grace, in one lifetime, without reincarnation.  If one studies the history of Christianity it is clear this is the ancient faith from the substantial commonality with Roman Catholicism and the Assyrian Church of the East.  All the ancient churches lean in the direction of ascetic purification.  The Roman Catholics deviated a bit with a forensic understanding of sin and purgatory, which were innovations.  The Assyrians are very close to us on these issues.  But in essence, this is the ancient Christian Faith.  If one reads the Gospel Jesus says many loving things but makes many imposing demands that are quite terrifying, and the Orthodox believe we must live the gospel by practicing the virtues and controlling the passions in order to obtain salvation by Theosis.
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #345 on: May 02, 2015, 04:45:58 PM »
Quote
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #346 on: May 02, 2015, 04:58:16 PM »
It seems odd that homosexuality is such a hot button issue among some more conservative Christians today. There is an epidemic of overweight worldwide, and gluttony is a sin. Why aren't people jumping all over the pudgy ones who waddle through the church door, shouting that they're sinners who need to join Weight Watchers and refusing to bake cakes for their weddings?

But seriously:
This discussion of homosexuality seems quite theoretical so far. Everyone has their opinion on the subject of homosexuality and brings support for it from Bible, tradition or science. To nudge discussion in a more practical direction, how does your Orthodox congregation deal with the homosexual people who are or wish to become active in parish life?

I've lost nearly 100 lbs since becoming Orthodox largely thanks to the fasting discipline, although now I've withered a bit and am on a dispensation.  But if you have a problem with obesity in your parish, your priest is possibly being lax on the fasting guidance.  There are some people with biological conditions that predispose them to be obese.   But this is not the norm in any parish I've attended,

Maybe we should advertise Orthodoxy in the West as a dietary regiment, that would attract converts.  :laugh:

Quote
Also the Church of Finland has a known disciplinary problem with pro-gay priests that has scandalized the Orthodox world.  It makes me very sad as a Swedish American as the Church of Finland is effectively the closest thing to Scandinavian Orthodoxy, and there is an urgent need for tougher enforcement of the canons.

There is nothing theoretical about the stance of the church on homosexuality.   Read the Pedalion, especially the canons of St, John the Faster.  Read the Pauline epistles.  Read the Pentateuch or Torah, and verify its interpretation by asking the Orthodox Jews about homosexuality (the real ones, not the Conservative, Neolog, Masorti or "Modern Orthodox").  Read Ss. Gregory of Nyassa and John Chrysostom, among others.  There is unbroken scriptural and Patristic consensus against homosexual activity.

On the other hand, the church recognizes deep friendships between persons of the same gender.  As recently as a few years ago, a Syriac Orthodox priest blessed two heterosexual women who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and made them sisters.  The Byzantine Rite used to have such a service but it was struck from the Euchologia ages ago, according to some, due to abuse, presumably of a homosexual nature.

Ages ago? As in a bit more than a century? I just read an article about adelphoposeisis occurring in the United States sometime in the late 1800s.
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #347 on: May 02, 2015, 05:52:14 PM »
Well, that's ages enough.  But if it was that recent, which surprises me; I had heard it was more like a Millenium, well, it's probably still in the Euchologion.  It might be nice to do it to brothers and sisters in law Followimg a wedding as a means of tying the two families together in intimate union.
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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #348 on: May 02, 2015, 09:24:54 PM »
Asking the laity not to fornicate or commit sodomy is not harsh monastic asceticism.   But our laity have lived by these ascetic rules for a great many years.   They are essential to our faith.  Unlike Shin Buddhism or Lutheranism, we are not a monergistic religion that accepts people as they are. 

I have found acceptance one of the greatest healing forces in my life and in the life of others.  I am disappointed that you do not agree.

I am facing too much pain trying to find the true church.  It is simply not worth it.  I am losing my faith as a Christian I fear . I want to believe in Jesus, but I see no church to turn to.  Your church teaches half-truths, the Anglicans teach half truths.  I don't know what to believe anymore.

Quote
Rather, we believe ina divine synergy between God and man.  The believer receives grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the reception of the Eucharist and other Sacraments that strengthens him and allows him to conquer the passions and train them in the service of virtue. 

Why don't gays conquer their passions then?  Many pray to go to be "cured" and it never happens.  Some gay kids pray every day, they cry and torture themselves for being gay.  You have no clue.  I've seen plenty of other people have their lives turn around through faith, but never a gay person become straight.  Maybe because God, whoever he is, is perfectly OK with gay kids being gay.

Quote
The most famous Orthodox homosexual, Fr. Seraphim Rose, who was also an alcoholic living a decadent lifestyle in the Bohemian North Shore of San Francisco in the early 50s, received divine grace calling him to Orthodoxy; he repented and was delivered from his homosexuality and was able to build a highly successful monastic community in ROCOR and write the definitive work on occult New Religious Movements 

He was a bigot and a fanatic, and even many other Orthodox think so.

Quote
This is why we don't accept people as they are, but rather, as what they should be;

Then you worship a brutal ideal.  The same sort of thing that inspired Calvin to launch a theocracy in Geneva.  Why should I follow that?  Why should I brutalize other human beings by telling them that a lifetime of pain and suffering will be "good for them"?  You realize how many sick twisted individuals have done that throughout history?  Why should I buy into such rhetoric.  The answer is that I should not.
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Offline Bob2

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #349 on: May 02, 2015, 10:01:33 PM »

Why don't gays conquer their passions then?  Many pray to go to be "cured" and it never happens.  Some gay kids pray every day, they cry and torture themselves for being gay.  You have no clue.  I've seen plenty of other people have their lives turn around through faith, but never a gay person become straight.  Maybe because God, whoever he is, is perfectly OK with gay kids being gay.

Who is free from temptation? Are you? Don't we all struggle against our inclination to sin? Who said they needed to become straight to conquer their passions and live out repentance?

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #350 on: May 02, 2015, 10:38:00 PM »
Who is free from temptation? Are you? Don't we all struggle against our inclination to sin? Who said they needed to become straight to conquer their passions and live out repentance?

I can't imagine the average straight person would like to be forced to live out the remainder of their days as a monk if they did not feel called to do so.

Go read some Henri Nouen some time.  A Roman Catholic priest that was a closeted gay man until shortly before he died.  His life was marked by depression and loneliness throughout his life.  The Anglican theologian Wesley Hill is in a similar boat, he wrote the rather sad, pathetic book Washed and Waiting, where he talks about his struggles with loneliness trying to be faithful to his rigid evangelical fundamentalist take on Anglicanism.  And yet I go to Orthodox churches and see that obviously plenty of young people breeding.  I don't think your church understands at all the pain gay men and women face when they live life alone, or what a blessing it is to come home to a partner who can give you a hug, kiss you, and help you live your life.  Bodies matter.

And the sex bit, well God made sex and it isn't inherently dirty, is it?  It's just gays are wired differently.   Sex is part of the deep bonding that people that live together in a house need to relate to each other in the way a spouse does, more than a superficial servant, property, or breeding machine the way that traditional societies have treated women in the past.  Go read Rowan William's The Body's Grace some time, he is a truly intelligent man, a deeply Christian man, and could enlighten you on this. 

The first book of the Bible says "It is not good for man to be alone".  I just believe he made some people gay.  He doesn't make freaks or accidents.  Equating being gay with a thief, glutton, or a killer just strikes me as very unsympathetic, to say the least.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 10:43:17 PM by Daedelus1138 »
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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #351 on: May 02, 2015, 11:35:09 PM »
Who is free from temptation? Are you? Don't we all struggle against our inclination to sin? Who said they needed to become straight to conquer their passions and live out repentance?

I can't imagine the average straight person would like to be forced to live out the remainder of their days as a monk if they did not feel called to do so.

Go read some Henri Nouen some time.  A Roman Catholic priest that was a closeted gay man until shortly before he died.  His life was marked by depression and loneliness throughout his life.  The Anglican theologian Wesley Hill is in a similar boat, he wrote the rather sad, pathetic book Washed and Waiting, where he talks about his struggles with loneliness trying to be faithful to his rigid evangelical fundamentalist take on Anglicanism.  And yet I go to Orthodox churches and see that obviously plenty of young people breeding.  I don't think your church understands at all the pain gay men and women face when they live life alone, or what a blessing it is to come home to a partner who can give you a hug, kiss you, and help you live your life.  Bodies matter.

And the sex bit, well God made sex and it isn't inherently dirty, is it?  It's just gays are wired differently.   Sex is part of the deep bonding that people that live together in a house need to relate to each other in the way a spouse does, more than a superficial servant, property, or breeding machine the way that traditional societies have treated women in the past.  Go read Rowan William's The Body's Grace some time, he is a truly intelligent man, a deeply Christian man, and could enlighten you on this. 

The first book of the Bible says "It is not good for man to be alone".  I just believe he made some people gay.  He doesn't make freaks or accidents.  Equating being gay with a thief, glutton, or a killer just strikes me as very unsympathetic, to say the least.

How many people struggle with exclusive pedophilia (an exclusive pedophile is only attracted to children and a nonexclusive is attracted to both children and adults)? They live the same lonely lives that gay Christians do, with the same impossibility that they will ever love an adult. But you're not lobbying to let them "marry" a little kid in order to have some one to come home to. The reason is that you think it is more important to protect children by upholding the truth that they cannot consent to sex with an adult then it is to assuage an exclusive pedophile's loneliness.

Well, traditional Christians think it is more important to uphold God's commands on homosexuality (even if said commands seem nonsensical) than it is assuage the loneliness of gays- as painful as it is to take that position.

Quote
Why don't gays conquer their passions then?  Many pray to go to be "cured" and it never happens.  Some gay kids pray every day, they cry and torture themselves for being gay.  You have no clue.  I've seen plenty of other people have their lives turn around through faith, but never a gay person become straight.  Maybe because God, whoever he is, is perfectly OK with gay kids being gay.

Why doesn't God heal amputees? Why doesn't God cure exclusive pedophiles? Why does God let children get cancer? Your grievance is an old one (and a painful one that all of us have to live with) and if you have your eyes open then becoming a liberal Anglican or finding a pro-gay Orthodox splinter group will do little to change it. Right or wrong, God tells all of us to endure suffering in one way or another.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 11:40:07 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #352 on: May 03, 2015, 08:21:02 AM »
I guess we will really have to agree to disagree because I see this discussion going in a bad direction (if it hasn't already).   I feel like God is nudging me away from this topic because it is no longer edifying.  I've made my thoughts clear, the only thing that can come from further discussion is hurt feelings.

My priest once told me that the Orthodox Church are not fundamentalists, that his parish tried to welcome all people as much as they could and that I could be a member there and disagree, as long as I did not misrepresent the faith.  He just didn't think I would be very happy being Orthodox if the teaching bothered me, and he wasn't sure it was the best thing for me to be doing spiritually.   

Most people at the parish did not strike me as being very assertive about their religion- most of the church were not converts, even though the priest is a convert.  I doubt it is a subject that cradle orthodox really have strong feelings about, and the priest never preached about homosexuality.  Honestly, most of the people there seemed like good people, but a few seemed to be very zealous in a way that was a bit disturbing (they were all converts).  The cradle Orthodox seemed quiet about their spirituality at all (this seems true of Orthodox in general), but when they did, they spoke in profound terms about their relationship to God.  It wasn't as full of religious clichés like American evangelicals tend to be.

Even though I have strong feelings, I sort of admire the cradle types that just go because that's all they know how to do, it's so ingrained in them, and they don't think much about these issues.  There's something good about not being a decider for once in your life, but how do you decide to not be a decider?  An Episcopalian priest just told me my problem is that I need to "die to self" before I will ever be at home in any church.  That's hard to do, deep down I feel a deadness inside, like I'm trapped inside my own hurt and pain and I can't let go of it.  I wish I could cry out to God and cry my brains out but I feel nothing, but I know I'm hurting.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 08:34:24 AM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Maximum Bob

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #353 on: May 03, 2015, 09:01:22 AM »
1. Does your last paragraph have anything to do with your autism spectrum disorder?

2. You alluded to some other issue you didn't want to talk about.  Does your Priest know about it?  If not he should.

3. Though we disagree over the main topic of the thread I wish you well in the above.

Lord, have mercy on your servant Daedelus1138.
Psalm 37:23 The Lord guides a man safely in the way he should go.

Prov. 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #354 on: May 03, 2015, 10:16:59 AM »
1. Does your last paragraph have anything to do with your autism spectrum disorder? 

Maybe.  Understanding that sort of thing can come and go, it's called decompensation or regression.  People aren't always effected by it to the same degree their whole life.  I have had physical health problems and sometimes I wonder if they are related.

I am in a long-term relationship to a woman with health problems- she is blind for one, but also was an orphan and suffers from the after-effects of severe neglect (you know, sort of like those kids you heard about in Romanian orphanages.  She was later adopted but not without problems).  There is real horror in encountering that kind of deprivation and trauma in someone you love, when it only comes out progressively through therapy.  We are legally domestic partners - we can't get married because we are too poor and she would lose benefits, but we live as man and wife and the county in which we live recognizes our relationship with certain rights.  Some day we would like to be married, and I have promised I will be with her for the rest of our lives- we wear rings on our fingers and people just think we are married.  That also presents challenges, both for the potential of joining a church (which I feel we both need, she struggles with trusting God a lot and there are so many negative things assaulting her every day it is hard for her to live productively), and just day to day having to take care of someone at times when you can barely take care of yourself and your body is wracked with pain and dysfunction (I have irritable bowel; IBS-C, and I may have celiac as well.  I'm also developing a bad back and I've got torn ligaments in both shoulders, the surgery for which would be extremely time consuming in recovery.  My shoulders pop out of joint regularly.  I used to suffer from fibromyalgia pain regularly and it would make sleep difficult, but since I gave up eating wheat my health has improved, and I get less stomach problems).

Quote
2. You alluded to some other issue you didn't want to talk about.  Does your Priest know about it?  If not he should. 

I will come out and say it for the sake of clarity:  I became angry at the priest in my heart, I felt hurt by him.  He said I lacked enthusiasm.  Lack of enthusiasm was part of me trying to be humble and my temperament being autistic.  I did not want to show enthusiasm when I figured I had no right to do so as I was just barely starting out in the Orthodox faith.  I jumped through a lot of hoops to try to be Eastern Orthodox, especially when I lost my driver's license and my mother or brother had to drive me to the church (tehy are lapsed Methodist).  I preceded very slowly in discerning whether I should join the church because I knew it was a serious commitment. When I finally said I wanted to be made a catechumen and be chrismated, he said I lacked enthusiasm.  I felt deeply hurt by that, not just for myself but for my family.  I had questions about human sexuality but I didn't reveal them at the time because I figured that was just my opinion.  I had not yet started doing a lot of reading on the subject.

Since the time, I have tried to put it behind me but I never told him his words hurt me.  He eventually made me a catechumen  along with three other people, after I had attended off and on for years.  The year before I had been visiting occasionally.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 10:29:47 AM by Daedelus1138 »
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Offline Alxandra

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #355 on: May 03, 2015, 11:23:26 AM »
1. Does your last paragraph have anything to do with your autism spectrum disorder? 

Maybe.  Understanding that sort of thing can come and go, it's called decompensation or regression.  People aren't always effected by it to the same degree their whole life.  I have had physical health problems and sometimes I wonder if they are related.

I am in a long-term relationship to a woman with health problems- she is blind for one, but also was an orphan and suffers from the after-effects of severe neglect (you know, sort of like those kids you heard about in Romanian orphanages.  She was later adopted but not without problems).  There is real horror in encountering that kind of deprivation and trauma in someone you love, when it only comes out progressively through therapy.  We are legally domestic partners - we can't get married because we are too poor and she would lose benefits, but we live as man and wife and the county in which we live recognizes our relationship with certain rights.  Some day we would like to be married, and I have promised I will be with her for the rest of our lives- we wear rings on our fingers and people just think we are married.  That also presents challenges, both for the potential of joining a church (which I feel we both need, she struggles with trusting God a lot and there are so many negative things assaulting her every day it is hard for her to live productively), and just day to day having to take care of someone at times when you can barely take care of yourself and your body is wracked with pain and dysfunction (I have irritable bowel; IBS-C, and I may have celiac as well.  I'm also developing a bad back and I've got torn ligaments in both shoulders, the surgery for which would be extremely time consuming in recovery.  My shoulders pop out of joint regularly.  I used to suffer from fibromyalgia pain regularly and it would make sleep difficult, but since I gave up eating wheat my health has improved, and I get less stomach problems).

Quote
2. You alluded to some other issue you didn't want to talk about.  Does your Priest know about it?  If not he should. 

I will come out and say it for the sake of clarity:  I became angry at the priest in my heart, I felt hurt by him.  He said I lacked enthusiasm.  Lack of enthusiasm was part of me trying to be humble and my temperament being autistic.  I did not want to show enthusiasm when I figured I had no right to do so as I was just barely starting out in the Orthodox faith.  I jumped through a lot of hoops to try to be Eastern Orthodox, especially when I lost my driver's license and my mother or brother had to drive me to the church (tehy are lapsed Methodist).  I preceded very slowly in discerning whether I should join the church because I knew it was a serious commitment. When I finally said I wanted to be made a catechumen and be chrismated, he said I lacked enthusiasm.  I felt deeply hurt by that, not just for myself but for my family.  I had questions about human sexuality but I didn't reveal them at the time because I figured that was just my opinion.  I had not yet started doing a lot of reading on the subject.

Since the time, I have tried to put it behind me but I never told him his words hurt me.  He eventually made me a catechumen  along with three other people, after I had attended off and on for years.  The year before I had been visiting occasionally.

We should strive for humility of the heart, where if we are praised or insulted our heart feels the same :)
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Offline Alxandra

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #356 on: May 03, 2015, 11:24:13 AM »
Tradition ought to weigh pretty heavily. It is hubris to think otherwise.  If we can turn what has always been regarded as a sin into a sacrament of the Church, why bother with tradition at all? Christianity has placed great value on tradition for its entire existence. You can disregard that, but then it really isn't Christianity anymore; it becomes Daedelus' Self Help Group. You can say that God is using these unions as means of grace, but that doesn't mean that He actually is any more than I can proclaim polyamorous relationships as a means of grace.

To borrow a phrase from evangelicals, it's a relationship not a religion.  The religious aspects are superficial in comparison, and Jesus criticized the Pharisees for whitewashing their misdeeds in piety.  Do not focus so much on the religion that you lose sight of these:

"Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

God cares about those things, not if we have observed the traditions perfectly.

Now you're the one making assumptions. If homosexuality is in fact a sin, then doing justly and having mercy on your neighbor involves helping them to overcome it.

+1
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Offline Indocern

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #357 on: May 03, 2015, 12:10:17 PM »
Tradition ought to weigh pretty heavily. It is hubris to think otherwise.  If we can turn what has always been regarded as a sin into a sacrament of the Church, why bother with tradition at all? Christianity has placed great value on tradition for its entire existence. You can disregard that, but then it really isn't Christianity anymore; it becomes Daedelus' Self Help Group. You can say that God is using these unions as means of grace, but that doesn't mean that He actually is any more than I can proclaim polyamorous relationships as a means of grace.

To borrow a phrase from evangelicals, it's a relationship not a religion.  The religious aspects are superficial in comparison, and Jesus criticized the Pharisees for whitewashing their misdeeds in piety.  Do not focus so much on the religion that you lose sight of these:

"Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

God cares about those things, not if we have observed the traditions perfectly.

Now you're the one making assumptions. If homosexuality is in fact a sin, then doing justly and having mercy on your neighbor involves helping them to overcome it.

According to Bible, homosexuality is sin.

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #358 on: May 03, 2015, 01:29:20 PM »

 We are legally domestic partners - we can't get married

No matter what you do that is contrary to the Churches teaching, if it is this above, or homosexuality or gluttony or anything else; it is all sin and the Orthodox Church will not change because of these passions and desires. But the Church does and will provide the resources in order to overcome them.

St. Maximus the Confessor "Scripture does not forbid anything which God has given to us for our use; but condemns immoderation and thoughtless behavior. For instance it is not forbidden to eat or beget children ... but it does forbid us to fornicate ... we are required by the commandments to love God and our neighbor, to love our enemies, not to commit adultery ... when we transgress these commandments we are condemned. But we are not commanded to live as virgins, to abstain from marriage ... These are of the nature of gifts, so that if through weakness we are unable to fulfill some of the commandments, we may by these gifts propitiate our blessed Master"

Offline wgw

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Re: formerly orthodox?
« Reply #359 on: May 03, 2015, 02:41:13 PM »
Who is free from temptation? Are you? Don't we all struggle against our inclination to sin? Who said they needed to become straight to conquer their passions and live out repentance?

I can't imagine the average straight person would like to be forced to live out the remainder of their days as a monk if they did not feel called to do so.

Go read some Henri Nouen some time.  A Roman Catholic priest that was a closeted gay man until shortly before he died.  His life was marked by depression and loneliness throughout his life.  The Anglican theologian Wesley Hill is in a similar boat, he wrote the rather sad, pathetic book Washed and Waiting, where he talks about his struggles with loneliness trying to be faithful to his rigid evangelical fundamentalist take on Anglicanism.  And yet I go to Orthodox churches and see that obviously plenty of young people breeding.  I don't think your church understands at all the pain gay men and women face when they live life alone, or what a blessing it is to come home to a partner who can give you a hug, kiss you, and help you live your life.  Bodies matter.

And the sex bit, well God made sex and it isn't inherently dirty, is it?  It's just gays are wired differently.   Sex is part of the deep bonding that people that live together in a house need to relate to each other in the way a spouse does, more than a superficial servant, property, or breeding machine the way that traditional societies have treated women in the past.  Go read Rowan William's The Body's Grace some time, he is a truly intelligent man, a deeply Christian man, and could enlighten you on this. 

The first book of the Bible says "It is not good for man to be alone".  I just believe he made some people gay.  He doesn't make freaks or accidents.  Equating being gay with a thief, glutton, or a killer just strikes me as very unsympathetic, to say the least.

You assume the monastic vocation is,the only option for gay people in the Orthodox Church.  I daresay its a lousy option for most of them; they'll be going from the frying pan of temptation into the fire by going from a mixed gender environment to a male-only environment.  And we have had problems with homosexual abuse in monasteries.  The former abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery abused many novices.  One of the impressive things about Fr. Seraphim Rose is that we have no reports of sex abuse from his hegumenate, meaning inspite of throwing himself into a sea of molten lava as far as temptation is concerned, that is to say, an all male environment, he retained his celibacy.  Also, strictly speaking celibacy is uncanonical if the homosexual despises the thought of women; in this case the ancient canons suggest he must struggle to overcome it and surrender himself to heterosexual marriage.

Furthermore, for the average homosexual, I daresay according to all reports celibacy lived in the secular world would be superior to the monastic vocation.  Because women abound, and this forces the homosexual to interact with them.  The former commander of the Swiss Guard regarded the homosexual network known to exist in the Vatican as a security risk, and he believed this network existed because homosexuals are attracted to all-male environments.  And I think this is correct.

The pastoral care of homosexuals therefore I think is best served by living in the world under the close guidance of a spiritual advisor.  But some can become monks.  However, an environment like Mount Athos, where there is no women at all, while a refuge for men who struggle with unsatiable lust, and routinely engage in one night stands or hire prostitutes, and want to stop and live free from sin, is at the same time a burning cauldron of temptation for homosexuals.  Because there are no women.  I almost think the safest bet for dealing with repentant homosexuals would be to ordain them as special priests who would be on permanent assignment to convents, allowing the nuns to have a daily Eucharist, living in a nearby cottage to avoid Nicea II's prohibition on double monasteries.

There are also ancient canons that prohibit monks sleeping two to a bed.  And it's hard to find a double bed in a monastery.  I have I believe occupied the only one at the St. Anthonys complex, in one of the rooms of the retreat house, where it was a blessed relief for my aching back.  Some of the retreat house rooms have bunk bed accommodation that I think would kill me.  But Im fragile in that respect.  But the monks pointed out one thing for me to chew on, which is true; as my body weakens it is easier to focus on the spiritual things.  My main sorrow is my inability to attend church as frequently as I would prefer.  I tend to be at my sickest on the weekend due to the stress of the week.  I am looking forward to Mid Pentecost; pray, Orthodox brethren, that I can attend, please.
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