“Preach to Us the Smooth Things”

zosima-maryIn this present age of darkness, the counter-argument offered by those who wish to change the moral of the story is often to scream “Fundamentalist!” or “You don’t understand the context!” Usually some variation, anything to change the subject.

Of course, error exists on all sides of an argument. In our present fallen state, it’s impossible to avoid agendas. Nobody’s perfect. That being said, some things are so stark, so glaringly obvious, that even an ignoramus who defends the time-honored position can count himself on the side of the angels.

The glorification of sodomy is one such issue. Now we understand that the collapse of identity onto activity is the first mistake which allows — nay, necessitates — the normalization of this particular vice. I dare say that most don’t see this — regardless of which side of the argument they find themselves. If it’s one thing that we here at Monomakhos have tried to understand, it’s that the human being (who is in the image of God) is more than the sum of his parts. He is certainly more than his sins. And sin can never be an identity. The equation of “Gay = race/gender therefore I am” is false on its face. It is for this reason that we reject the entire concept of “gayness” or homosexuality for that matter. There is only sin and virtue.

Regardless, it is the inability to see this that brings us to the present struggle. It’s a ingenious stratagem by the way in that it allows us to forgo timeless truths. For a better exposition on this, please watch the attached video.

Comments

  1. Protopappas says:

    The best line in this is that there are all too many who try to remove all the obstacles to hell to make the ride as comfy as possible for the people. There are all too many that approve of disgusting abominations, or at least turn their head from them. I do believe that a majority of priests stand for what is right. However, the MINORITY that consist of abomination-approvers are the LOUDEST. Sometimes the squeaky wheel needs REPLACED, rather than getting greased. We need to stop putting unbelievers in on the parish council because of their “gifts” …if you catch my drift

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  2. In the face of the many evils we are seeing, a few words from St Peter of Damaskos may provide us light, hope, and a broad scope through time, and stir us toward the labors that are necessary for us.

    Introduction to A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, St Peter of Damaskos

    I went through all these (the Scriptures and Fathers that had he had borrowed) slowly and diligently, trying to discover the root of man’s destruction and salvation, and which of his actions or practices does or does not bring him to salvation. I wanted to find what it is that everyone seeks after, and how people served God in the past, and still serve Him today, in wealth or poverty, living among many sinners or in solitude, married or celibate: how, quite simply, in every circumstance and activity we find life or death, salvation or destruction.

    Even among us monks there are different situations: obedience to a spiritual father in all matters pertaining to body or soul; the stillness that purifies the soul; spiritual counsel in the place of obedience; the offices of abbot and bishop. In each of these situations, some find salvation and others perish. This in itself astonished me; but I was astonished also by the fall of that erstwhile angel in heaven, immaterial by nature, clothed with wisdom and every virtue, who suddenly became a devil, darkness and ignorance, the beginning and end of all evil and malice. And, then there was Adam, who enjoyed such honor and so many blessings, such familiarity with God, who was adorned with wisdom and virtue, alone in paradise with Eve: he suddenly became an exile, filled with passions, mortal, forced to labour with sweat and affliction. From him sprang the only two brothers in the world, Cain and Abel; and between them jealousy triumphed, and deceit, and these gave rise to murder, cursing and terror. I was astonished, too, by their descendants, whose sins were so many that they provoked the flood; and then, after God in His compassion had saved those in the ark, one of them – Canaan – was cursed, although it was his father Ham who had sinned: for in order not to abrogate God’s blessing, righteous Noah cursed the son instead of the father (cf. Gen. 9 : 22-27). Then there were the tower of Babel, the people of Sodom, the Israelites, Solomon, the Ninevites, Gehazi, Judas, and all those who were endowed with blessings and yet turned to sin.

    I was also astonished how God, who is good beyond all goodness, permits all the many and various trials and afflictions of the world. Some He allows as sufferings conducive to repentance. These include hunger, thirst, grief, privation of life’s needs, abstinence from pleasure, the wasting of the body through asceticism, vigils, labors, hardships, prolific bitter tears, anguish, fear of death, of cross-examination, of being called to account, of living in hell with demons, the appalling day of judgment, the ignominy that is to fall on the whole world, the terror, the bitter searching out and assessment of one’s acts, words and thoughts, the threats and the wrath; and in addition to these, the various agelong punishments, the useless lamenting and the ceaseless tears; the unrelieved darkness, the fear, the pain, the exile, the dismay, the oppression, the throttling of the soul in this world and in the next. And then there are all the dangers facing one in this world: shipwrecks, illnesses of every kind,lightning, thunder, hail, earthquake, famine, tidal waves, untimely deaths-all the painful things that God allows to happen to us against our will.

    Other things are willed not by God but by ourselves or by the demons. These include battles, passions, the whole range of sins from folly to despair and final destruction, of which our treatise will speak as it goes on; the attack of demons, wars, the tyranny of the passions; the derelictions, dislocations and vicissitudes of life; the anger, slander and all the affliction that we of our own will bring upon ourselves and one another against God’s will. Again I was astonished how, though beset by such evils, many have been saved, and that nothing has been able to prevent this. On the other hand, many have perished against God’s will.

    When from my laborious study of the Scriptures I became aware of all these things, and many more, my soul was shattered and often I felt quite helpless, like spilt water. I did not fully grasp the significance of what I read; indeed, had I done so, would not have been able to remain in this life, filled as it is with sin and disobedience to God, which produce all the evils of this world and the next. Nevertheless, through God’s grace, I came upon the answers I sought for, and saw, from my reading of the holy fathers, that we have to make certain distinctions.

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  3. M. Stankovich says:

    Wow, Mr. Michalopulos, I can’t find a single “smooth nothing” in the SeptuagintL

    For the people are disobedient, false children, who would not hear the law of God [τὸν νόμον τοῦ Θεοῦ]: who say to the prophets, “Report not to us; and to them that see visions, Speak [them] not to us [μὴ λαλεῖτε ἡμῖν], but speak and report to us another error [ἑτέραν πλάνησιν ] and turn us aside from this way; remove from us this path, and remove from us the Holy One of Israel [τὸν ἅγιον τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ].

    Some much drama, dude, to reach such an illogical, and ridiculous conclusion.

    I believe I am a legitimate scientist in every sense of the word, and in that capacity, I have defended several “aspects” of homosexuality as a state limited and entirely consequential to this fallen and broken world, and characteristic of our fallen humanity. Likewise, I have defended this opinion as entirely consistent with the Holy Scripture, the Patristic Fathers, the Ancient and Holy Canons, and the Holy Traditions of The Orthodox Church such that it is not sinful, in and of itself, to be same-sex attracted, but what is sinful is any sexual activity outside Christan Marriage between one man and one woman. And finally, we are all, without exception, called to the path of purity, chastity (soprosyni/tselomudrye), and obedience. Never, Mr. Michaolopulos, have you ever read me to state that a human being is “identified” by their sexual attraction or orientation – and I might add that I have written about this topic extensively here.

    Your statement:

    The equation of “Gay = race/gender therefore I am” is false on its face. It is for this reason that we reject the entire concept of “gayness” or homosexuality for that matter. There is only sin and virtue.

    demonstrates two equally ridiculous and co-dependent leaps of silliness which you cannot logically or factually support. I say, if I am incorrect in suggesting that there is no support in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church that same-sex attraction, in and of itself, is sinful, correct me and I will repent. If there is evidence that negates the already discovered epigenetic and endocrinological data that there is a moderate risk for some individuals to develop homosexuality, correct me and I will withdraw this insistence. If there is any significant data that specifically correlates homosexuality with paraphilias such as bestiality and pedophilia, I will withdraw this insistence. The point is very simple: the truth is more important than me, and my threshold is infinitely higher than yours. And if you intend to make brash, unfounded “smooth talk” that makes the Orthodox Church appear to be populated by inarticulate, uneducated yokels, do not mix the Holy Icons – Zosima & Blessed Mary of Egypt – with heterodox mumblers and your hot-blooded illogic.

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    • Dr. S,

      I fear to tread here lest I be thoroughly slapped down along all the others who, like me, are lost in ignorance. But I do wonder if you aren’t forgetting something when you write with such confidence in your convictions.

      If by the word “sinful” you mean “blameworthy transgression” I find myself in general, although still not complete, agreement. But if by the word “sinful” you intend to say that sinful desires (that is, those desires that cannot be fulfilled either by God Himself or by those temporal means He provides for their fulfillment until the fullness of His Kingdom ), then I have to wonder if you are not possibly neglecting to consider the words of our Lord…

      Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

      In our disordered (dare I say sinful?) existence, we all have desires that are disordered (or perhaps misdirected would be a better word) in the sense that they cannot be fulfilled either by God Himself or by those temporal ‘lawful’ means He provides for their fulfillment. Thus the desires themselves are sinful; are they not? Otherwise, the man who lusts after a woman in his heart without physically engaging in sexual intercourse with her (or the man who covets without stealing, etc.) remains (according to your definition) sinless contrary to the very Word of the Lord.

      All is struggle – often valiant struggle. Not succumbing to the temptation to commit the ‘blameworthy transgression’ is praiseworthy in the sense that it shows we are struggling toward Christ who is Himself the fulfillment of all desire. Yet the very fact of our need to struggle against disordered passions is itself proof our sinfulness, the disordered state of our existence, and our need of Divine Grace.

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      • Indeed Brian.

        We moderns in our sophistry make things complicated that are actually simple.

        “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (lusts).”

        “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

        These are not only the commands of Christ and the Apostles to us, they are also a mirror for us to see ourselves, that is, to see if we are united to Christ, or if we are hypocrites.

        May we seek illumination from God to see ourselves.

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Brian,

        Yours is a question as to merit, and I appreciate it.

        I believe that Trudge, however inadvertently, makes a fine point regarding simplicity. I have written many times that we are all, without exception, called to a life of purity and chastity (σωφροσύνη/целомудрие). Unfortunately, chastity has taken on the single connotation of sexual “continence,” abstaining from sexual relations. Perhaps you will recall that Sophrosyne was one of the “good spirits” of Greek mythology (the spirit of moderation, discretion, self-control, and temperance) who was released from Pandora’s box, abandoned mankind, and fled back to Olympus.

        σωφροσύνη/целомудрие is, in fact, derived from the word σώφρων, referring to “soundness of mind,” soberness, prudence, moderation, or self-control. and we see this, for example:

        “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness [ἀλλὰ ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης].” (Acts 26:25)

        “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in respectable [κοσμίῳ] apparel, with modesty and soundness of mind [αἰδοῦς καὶ σωφροσύνης] (1 Tim. 2:9)

        “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety [μετὰ σωφροσύνης] (1 Tim 2:15)

        And most beautifully expressed in the prayer immediately before the Crowing in the Orthodox Service of Marriage:

        Stretch forth Your hand from Your holy dwelling place, and join together this Your servant (Name) and Your servant (Name), for by You is a wife joined to her husband. Join them together in oneness of mind [Σύζευξον αὐτοὺς ἐν ὁμοφροσύνῃ]; crown them with wedlock into one flesh

        The point I am trying to make is that “oneness of mind” and purity are the path of virtue to which we are all called, regardless of our sexual attraction. From that point, I have no argument with you. None. Dare you say sinful? Dare you say disordered? Dare you say broken? You must. Met. Anthony (Bloom) wrote that we are so far removed from our own nature we are incapable of even simple recognition (cf. Mary mistook the risen Jesus for the gardner, Jn. 20:14).

        I draw your attention below to the words of my friend, Michal Bauman: “It is not the facts, it is the context in which you place the facts and the manner in which you interpret them.” In this broken and fallen world, as you say, “we all have desires that are disordered,” and I agree, “thus the desires themselves are sinful.” But what is continuously argued is that, fundamentally, the desire is unique: it is more offensive to God, it is more shameful to God, it is more shameful to man, it is dangerous to society, it is dangerous to children, it is dangerous to the family. I have insisted that there is nothing in the Scripture, in the writings of the Patristic Fathers, the Ancient and Holy Canons, and Holy Tradition that suggests that one cannot live a life of purity and chastity (σωφροσύνη/целомудрие) as you say, “struggling toward Christ who is Himself the fulfillment of all desire.” It is the sexual expression, the sexual acts outside the Sacramental Christian Marriage of one man and one woman that are an “abomination” before God, and we must make that distinction. I hope I have clarified the point for you.

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        • Jim of Olym says:

          thanks, Stanko for your explanation. You mostly make sense to me, but sometimes you get problematical!

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  4. ChristineFevronia says:

    Thanks for posting. That was right on target!

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  5. Karen Menounos says:

    Thank you.

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  6. Centurion says:

    Once again, M. Stankovich makes this all about himself and his academic “infallibility.” He is, after all, a legend in his own mind. What a sorry spectacle!

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    • M. Stankovich says:

      Once again, I openly solicit correction if I am wrong as to merit because the truth is more important than me, and you tear your garments at the “audacity” of my arrogance and self-aggrandizing. Who should be presenting information regarding such esoteric topics as epigentics? A butcher? Where is your outrage at people who present their opinion as fact.?Who post their one-sided conjecture as fact? Who are not inviting your fact checking or challenging them whatsoever?

      I carefully invest the time to present with accuracy & specificity because THE TRUTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME. You might want to read that again. For that reason, I am not offended by correction as to merit. Now, having consistently held the same position for three years running, you might begin to appreciate just how unpleasant pointless, empty, and dumb comments like yours have become.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        M. Stankovich, once again, it is not the facts it is the context in which you place the facts and the manner in which you interpret them.

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      • steve knowlton says:

        Mr. Stankovich, I don’t necessarily disagree with what you’re saying, it just has nothing to do with the original post. Obviously, huge sections of christendom don’t give a fig for your point, either. The reigning paradigm of Civil Rights has now been extended to Gays, whose desires and fulfillment of those desires, has been equated with any other desire, *merely because they exist.* “Homosexuality” is not a genetic thing for them, it’s a lifestyle choice. Whether they’re sinful or not, natural or nurtural, cultural or epigentic (your word) is utterly irrelevant (to them).

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      • Jim of Olym says:

        Dear Michale and Steve, please look at what Stanko is saying, not on what you think he is. he mostly makes sense, mainly from a professional social work/psychological view, permeated from three years of patristic stuff from St. Vlad’s. Give the guy credit! He mostly has some positive things to say.

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  7. Carl Kraeff says:

    I think there is a difference between finding homosexual conduct to be sinful and proclaiming that homosexuality is the fount of all of our present problems. A matter of emphasis perhaps. OTOH, did you see the Guardian article that reported that the Church of England is considering any reference to the Devil from its baptismal services? Now, that is a worrisome indicator that Western Civilization is going to Hell in a hand basket. I submit to you that this is a result of that old human weakness–hubris, which led to Lucifer’s fall and now is causing Western Christianity to mutate into something that is no longer recognizable as Christian. Unless y’all quit seeing the gay lobby as the cause of our woes, you will miss the mark.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/20/church-of-england-baptism-service-no-devil

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Carl, the cause of all our woes? No. A sure and certain attack on the Church and all her people? Yes.

      The best way to resist is to follow the tradition in love. Calling all to repentance as the Church has always done. That will entail going against the grain of the secular world who hates those who follow Christ. That is nothing new either

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    • Jim of Olym says:

      I recall an old story: Someone found Satanbitterly weeping outside a church. Asking why he was crying, Satan responded: They all blame it on ME!

      reminder: the world, the flesh……in case you forgot!

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  8. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    That guy with the glasses and thick tongue used a word I’ve never before heard; “venemently.” Now, did he mean “vehemently” or “venomously?” Anybody?

    Also I found it perverse that his character “Mr. Conscience” points (bravely, courageously, etc) to the sins of others. Where I go to Church, conscience is given us in order to show us our OWN sins, not to point to those of others. What kind of religion is this guy vending?

    Are there really still tiny congregations like the one that must have used his example-Church? Surely they weren’t comfortable in such a cramped space…

    I think that guy needed the help of a pro, like M. Stankovich, but never got it. Speech therapy is also indicated, no?

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  9. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    ” I AM THE LORD AND THERE IS NONE ELSE. THERE IS NO GOD BESIDE ME: I GIRDED THEE, THOUGH THOU HAST NOT KNOWN ME: THAT THEY MAY KNOW FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN, AND FROM THE WEST THAT THERE IS NONE ELSE. I FORM THE LIGHT AND CREATE DARKNESS. I MAKE PEACE AND CREATE EVIL. I THE LORD DO ALL THESE THINGS.”. (Isaiah XLV: 5-7)

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  10. michael Kinsey says:

    Well, there is one accurate parallel, that does describe my situation , possibly others that could apply to my situation. I cannot receive the Holy Gifts, while those who ministered bogus Holy Gifts are still allowed to minister Holy Gifts… As for gays and abortion, I look forward to my death so I no longer have to bear these intolerable offenses. My younger brother died on the last cold day of spring. this year.It deeply grieved me ,he could experience that first glorious day of spring after suffering the worst winter we ever had here in Toledo.I was with him , in the 50’s when he was baptized at St Ann.s Catholic Church. He had a Christian soul, but his daughters told me to leave my religion at the door in the funeral parlor. I did not attend the funeral..

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  11. michael Kinsey says:

    Could not experience

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    • Jim of Olym says:

      I pray for you Michael, and for your brother. May you both experience the delights of Paradise. I am sorry that your anger has carried you this far. I wish the Lord would relieve you, like Pilgrim dropping his backpack of sins in Pilgrim’s Progress. only then could he journey on to the heavenly City!

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  12. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    Here’s something from Father Leonid Kishkovsky to warm the cockles of many hearts here on Monomakhos, especially, Father Helga and company;
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcyI5nRhkow

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    • colette says:

      Well glad to hear Georgia is addressing modern issues. . . . . .

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