Sunday, August 21, 2011

The bottom line in the current debate

There was a recent exchange on a Pro-Homosexual Facebook group that I think highlights where the rubber meets the road on the debate about homosexuality that is going on in the OCA.

A discussion was prompted by the posting of an editorial by an Antiochian priest that was attempting to be irenic on the subject, but at the same time affirmed the moral stance of the Church. Many of the people in that group found it encouraging. However, Inga Leonova, one of the founders of the group made this statement:

"I think the point of the article is crystal clear even though the author is very careful in actually NOT spelling it out. He addresses the perception that gay people are "persecuted" by the Church in being required to live celibate lives by saying that everyone is called to transform their lives by the ascetic ordeal of Christian life. This is yet again a very clever way of dismissing the question of gay companionship."

One contributor to the group then asked this question:

"?"gay companionship"? What is that, may I humbly ask? Like David and Jonathan? Not sexual? Why call it "gay"? I get so confused on what people are saying in these groups. Forgive me."

Inga has thus far ignored the question. The reason for this is simple. To come right out and say that she meant homosexuals should be allowed to have active sexual relationships with people of the same gender is clearly contrary to the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church. If the people who hold such views would state them clearly, they would necessarily provoke their bishops to respond firmly in opposition to them. So their strategy is to hint, suggest, and question, at this point. Get the camel's nose into the tent, and allow time and cultural decay to do the rest. They know that they will not have openly homosexual clergy or the blessing of gay marriage today, but they want to start the snowball rolling. However if one needs to use deception to promote a view in the Church, that should tell you that what you are promoting is contrary to the Truth... or dishonesty would not be necessary to promote it.

I have had some experience in dealing with people who struggle with homosexuality, and I know the struggle is very real and difficult for them. I can also understand the temptation to rationalize a justification for a sin that you don't want to give up. Most of us have done it ourselves at one time or another, and just about everyone has had the temptation if they didn't succumb to it. However, while rationalizing away the clear teachings of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church may successfully fool some people, and may even allow you to fool yourself -- God is not fooled. Indeed "God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). And St. Paul warns that we should "not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-8).

If you really believe in God, and if you really believe that the Orthodox Church is what it claims to be, than you have to be willing to submit to the teachings of the Church, even when they are hard to submit to. And all of us have some area that is hard for us, and presents us with a struggle. If we submit to the teachings of the Church and struggle, even feebly, God will honor that, and we will find grace and mercy. If we thumb our nose at the Church, and refuse correction, we have already separated ourselves spiritually from the Church.

Let us "no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting" (Ephesians 4:14); but rather "seek God, and your soul shall live" (Psalm 68/69:32).

As for the legitimate desire for companionship, I think that a group of Orthodox Jews are on to something. There have have some pious Jewish men who are struggling with homosexuality, and they have some pious Jewish women who are struggling as well. They are matching them up, and encouraging them to marry each other. Each party goes into the marriage aware of the other person's struggles. Both of them obviously have the ability to be supportive and sympathetic, because they have similar struggles. And it seems to be working out pretty well so far. See:

No one is saying that they have to live alone. No one is saying that they have to live as celibates for the rest of their lives. They can get married, just like anyone else... to someone of the opposite sex, and hopefully someone who is understanding and supportive. But they cannot engage in sex with people of the same sex, which is inherently in contradiction to the teachings of the Church, and expect the Church to say it is "OK".