The homosexual person in light of the Orthodox Faith
My heart goes out to homosexual men and women who face a life of rejection and loneliness. I do not believe the majority of them chose to be homosexual. A person would have to be insane to chose a sexual proclivity that fosters hatred and rejection, and in many cases, being ostracized by their friends and family. Many believe there are genetic and environmental influences that cause homosexuality, but this is not provable scientifically. I believe same-sex attraction is the result of the fall, just as is all sin. And, just as all sin requires repentance and the acquisition of a contrite heart, so must the person who is actively involved in same-sex intimacy, repent, and turn to a life of chastity, with the aid of the Church’s sacramental life.
During my years as a priestmonk I have counseled many young men and women who were struggling with same-sex attraction, and trying to live chaste lives as Orthodox Christians. I have come to believe that without the support of the Church, and the Christian community, the struggle these people face will be devastating, and will often end in alienation and defeat.
Many years ago I attended a conference in which one of the speakers presented a hate filled lecture on the subject of homosexuality. Among the people attending the conference was the son of this priest. The young man had been receiving counseling from me, trying as he was to find hope for his future. He was lonely and fearful, afraid he would one day succumb to the strong sexual desires that were rising up within him, as he struggled with one of the strongest of human urges. The young man loved his faith and loved his father, but was filled with self-loathing and afraid his family would one day disown him, should they find out about his sexual proclivity.
Sitting on the platform I had a clear view of the young man, and could see the pain in his face upon hearing his fathers words. Sad to say, this young man did not remain in the Church, and eventually gave in to defeat and despair. Had his father known of his son’s struggles, I have no doubt he’d have given his son the loving assurance that he would always be his son and would never be rejected by his family. I am convinced this young man, had he stayed in the Church, would have received the support and love that was necessary to live a chaste life.
The answer to ALL passions of the flesh can be found within the Church. Just as the Founder, the Church is the fountain of compassion and mercy. It is not Christ’s Church that fails people, but sometimes the very therapists (clergy) who can get caught up in the letter of the law rather than being grounded in the mercy and compassion and love that is the foundation of the Church. Christ is the head of His Church, and we need to mirror His image when dealing with the fallen nature of ALL people. Sin, whatever form it takes, is equal in the eyes of God. We must look only at our own sins and be quick to overlook the sins of our neighbors. As priests of the Most High God, we are called to be agents of His mercy and love, ever offering encouragement to those whom God has placed in our pastoral care. That some must learn to live their lives in chastity, requires the support of loving and understanding clergy, and strong Christian communities.
Finally, I would like to say that the need for intimacy is often the driving force behind sexual promiscuity in all its forms. We all need intimacy, but to confuse this need with sex is the main reason why so many people succumb to sexual sin. The need for intimacy can be fulfilled in deep friendships, but must ultimately find true fulfillment in an intimate relationship with God.
We must submit to the Gospel of Christ, and the long tradition of the Orthodox Church as a hospital for the soul. We are ALL in need of healing, and we all need God’s love, and if we are to bask in the mercy of God, we need to be merciful to others. That Christians are being persecuted and discriminated against in this age of Islamic extremism, and leftist suppression, in no way excuses us Christians from acting in the same merciless way of the unbelievers. We must walk in the Light of Christ, and, with God’s help, serve as agents of His mercy and love, letting the transformational power of His grace change us, and through our acquired love, all those around us. Saint Seraphim of Sarov told us that if we acquire inner peace, a thousand around us will be saved.
Once a young man accompanied his father to the Holy Mountain of Athos, in the hope that the Elder Paisios could help him in his struggle with homosexuality. After hearing the young man say he couldn’t win the battle against his passions, the elder responded to him:
“Okay. Let us just take it as a given that you are not able to stop this sin. Alright? Let us just take that as a fact. That’s out of the question now. But let’s not concentrate on the things you cannot do, and instead let’s concentrate on the things you can do. Can you go to church every Sunday?” And the man replied: “Yes, Elder.” “Can you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays?” “Yes, Elder.” “Can you give alms to the poor?” “Yes, Elder.” “Can you try to say the Jesus Prayer during the day?” “Yes, Elder.” The elder then replied: “If you do all of these things, God will save you regardless of your problem.”*
Let us strive to help those who are struggling with same sex attraction with the heart and wisdom of Saint Paisios of Mt. Athos, offering the compassion and hope that pours out with the grace and mercy of our Co-Suffering All-Merciful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
With love in Christ,
Wednesday February 17, 2021 / February 4, 2021
37th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Venerable Isidore of Pelusium, monk (436-440).
St. George, prince of Vladimir (1238).
Venerable Cyril, abbot, wonderworker of New Lake (Novgorod) (1532).
New Hieromartyr Methodius bishop of Petropavlovsk (1921).
New Hieromartyrs Eustaphius, John, Alexander, Sergius, John, Theodora, Aleksander, Nicholas, Alexis, Nicholas, Alexis, Alexander, Arcadius, Boris, Michael, Nicholas, Alexis, Andrew, Demetrius, John, Peter priests, Martyr Seraphim, Virgin-martyrs Rafaila, Anna, Catherine, and Martyrs John, Basil, Demetrius, Theodore, and Demetrius (1938).
Venerable Abraham and St. Coprius, monks, of Pechenga (Vologda) (15th c.).
Martyrs Jadorus and Isidore who suffered under Decius (249-251).
Hieromartyr Abramius, bishop of Arbela in Assyria (ca. 344-347).
Venerable Nicholas the Confessor, abbot of the Studion (868).
St. John, of Irenopolis (325).
Venerable Aldate, hieromartyr of Gloucester, England (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Modan, abbot of Stirling and Falkirk.
Martyr Theoctistus (1686) (Greek).
St. Jasim the Wonderwoker (1686) (Greek).
New Martyr Joseph of Aleppo (1686) (Greek).
Hieromartyr Phileas, bishop of Thmuis and martyr Philoromus the Magistrate (303).
St. Evagrius, fellow-ascetic of St. Shio of Mgvime (6th c.) (Georgia).
The Scripture Readings
1 Peter 4:1-11
Christ’s Example to Be Followed
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Serving for God’s Glory
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Scribes: Which Is the First Commandment of All?
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lordour God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
But after that no one dared question Him.
Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?
35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”
And the common people heard Him gladly.