Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Orthodox Church on Homosexuality and Gay "Marriage"

Not surprisingly, a certain transsexual blogger who styles himself both a woman and Orthodox is unhappy with comments I have made about homosexuality. He asserts: that my position on this issue is "that not only are homosexuals sinners, they’re pariahs." This is of course completely untrue, but anyone familiar with the the hateful nonsense that is posted on his blog would know that distorting the facts and falsely accusing people are no novelty for him.

Homosexuality is a sin, but like any sin, it can be repented of. St. Paul said:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God"
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

That is the position of the Church on the matter. But St. Paul goes on to say:

"And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

So contrary to those who today claim that homosexuality is some intrinsic characteristic that defines a person, it is not. It is a sin. A person who struggles with such a sin, but does not yield to it is not a homosexual... at least not in the way the Church understands the term.

The Russian Orthodox Church has an official statement on the matter that is part of the Social Concept Document approved in the 2000 All Russian Sobor, and it states:

XII. 9. Holy Scriptures and the teaching of the Church unequivocally deplore homosexual relations, seeing in them a vicious distortion of the God-created human nature.

«If a man lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination» (Lev. 20:13). The Bibles relates a story about a heavy punishment to which God subjected the people of Sodom (Gen. 19:1-19) precisely for the sin of sodomy. St. Paul, describing the moral condition of the Gentiles, names homosexual relations among the most «vile affections» and «fornications» defiling the human body: «Their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise the men, leaving the natural use of women, burned in their lust one towards another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet» (Rom. 1:26-27). «Be not deceived: neither effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind… shall inherit the kingdom of God», wrote the apostle to the people of corrupted Corinth (1 Cor. 6:9-10). The patristic tradition equally clearly and definitely denounces any manifestation of homosexuality. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, the works of Sts Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa and Blessed Augustine and the canon of St. John the Faster — all express the unchangeable teaching of the Church that homosexual relations are sinful and should be condemned. People involved in them have not right to be members of the clergy (Gregory the Great, Canon 7; Gregory of Nyssa, Canon 4; John the Faster, Canon 30). Addressing those who stained themselves with the sin of sodomy, the St. Maxim the Greek made this appeal: «See at yourselves, damned ones, what a foul pleasure you indulge in! Try to give up as soon as possible this most nasty and stinking pleasure of yours, to hate it and to fulminate eternally those who argue that it is innocent as enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and corrupters of His teaching. Cleanse yourselves of this blight by repentance, ardent tears, alms-giving as much as you can and pure prayer… Hate this unrighteousness with all your heart, so that you may not be sons of damnation and eternal death».

The debate on the status of the so-called sexual minorities in contemporary society tends to recognise homosexuality not as a sexual perversion but only one of the «sexual orientations» which have the equal right to public manifestation and respect. It is also argued that the homosexual drive is caused by the individual inborn predisposition. The Orthodox Church proceeds from the invariable conviction that the divinely established marital union of man and woman cannot be compared to the perverted manifestations of sexuality. She believes homosexuality to be a sinful distortion of human nature, which is overcome by spiritual effort leading to the healing and personal growth of the individual. Homosexual desires, just as other passions torturing fallen man, are healed by the Sacraments, prayer, fasting, repentance, reading of Holy Scriptures and patristic writings, as well as Christian fellowship with believers who are ready to give spiritual support.

While treating people with homosexual inclinations with pastoral responsibility, the Church is resolutely against the attempts to present this sinful tendency as a «norm» and even something to be proud of and emulate. This is why the Church denounces any propaganda of homosexuality. Without denying anybody the fundamental rights to life, respect for personal dignity and participation in public affairs, the Church, however, believes that those who propagate the homosexual way of life should not be admitted to educational and other work with children and youth, nor to occupy superior posts in the army and reformatories.

Sometimes perverted human sexuality is manifested in the form of the painful feeling of one’s belonging to the opposite sex, resulting in an attempt to change one’s sex (transsexuality). One’s desire to refuse the sex that has been given him or her by the Creator can have pernicious consequences for one’s further development. «The change of sex» through hormonal impact and surgical operation has led in many cases not to the solution of psychological problems, but to their aggravation, causing a deep inner crisis. The Church cannot approve of such a «rebellion against the Creator» and recognise as valid the artificially changed sexual affiliation. If «a change of sex» happened in a person before his or her Baptism, he or she can be admitted to this Sacrament as any other sinner, but the Church will baptise him or her as belonging to his or her sex by birth. The ordination of such a person and his or her marriage in church are inadmissible.

Transsexuality should be distinguished from the wrong identification of the sex in one’s infancy as a result of doctors’ mistake caused by a pathological development of sexual characteristics. The surgical correction in this case is not a change of sex.

I agree with this position entirely. I have the greatest sympathy for people who struggle with a passion of this nature, but who recognize it to be a sin, and are striving to live the Christian life. But to tell someone that a sin is not a sin, and they have nothing to worry about when the Scriptures and Tradition of the Church says otherwise is not only unloving and unpastoral, it is heretical and a sin against the unity of the Church and the souls of those deceived by such nonsense.