The Amsterdam Symposium: An Abuse of Authority?

Source: American Orthodox Institute

By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

The recent meeting in Amsterdam by various academics, one bishop, seminary faculty, priests and others (names listed below) to “to reflect on a wide range of matters concerning human sexuality” was ostensibly “not monolithic” in opinions about sexuality according to one participant. No doubt that is true given the range of participants but it is far from informative.

More instructive is that only a few of the participants have any substantive experience or training in pastoral theology. Why is this important? Because many of the ideas most likely bandied about in the symposium have grave pastoral ramifications. Ideas are one thing. The effects that the ideas have once they are adopted are another thing altogether.

So why did they meet? It’s a fair question to ask because some of the participants draw their ideas from the left wing of the dominant political culture rather than Orthodox tradition (more on this below). Secondly, since the participants listed the institutions with which they are affiliated, those institutions lent their authority to the symposium whether they intended to or not.

Academics are free to call any symposium they want to but are they are not free to invoke the imprimatur of the institutions they represent, particularly as an afterthought and especially when they lack expertise in the subjects discussed. They abuse their authority when they do.

Many of the academics are associated with St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS). They include:

  • Fr. Michael Bakker
  • Fr. John Behr
  • Fr. John Jillions (adjunct, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America)
  • Fr. Philip LeMasters (adjunct)
  • Gayle Woloschak (adjunct)

This is a strong showing by SVS faculty, some of whom work with organizations that hold views on sexuality inimical to Orthodox moral teaching. Gayle Woloschak for example serves on the advisory board of The Wheel, an online journal populated with homosexual apologists, gay “marriage” activists, and more. Woloschak is free to associate with anyone she pleases and The Wheel is free to publish anything it wants. SVS however, is not free to associate its name and reputation with the the self-styled “reformers” at The Wheel and their social justice activism.

Other participants included Aristotle Papanikolaou who along with George E. Demacopoulos edits Public Orthodoxy, another online journal that publishes occasional articles that undermine Orthodox moral teaching. In a recent issue Public Orthodoxy published “Conjugal Friendship” by defrocked priest and homosexual Peter J. (Giacomo) Sanfilippo that argued that the Orthodox moral tradition implicitly sanctions sanctions homosexual activity and homosexual “marriage.”

Like The Wheel, the editors of Public Orthodoxy are free to publish anything they want. They are not free to represent the journal as Orthodox when it publishes essays such as Sanfilippo’s. St. Vladimir’s Seminary has a close association with Papanikolaou and Democopoulos through the work of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University where both men teach.

Fr. John Jillions’ participation is dicier because even though he is the Chancellor of the OCA, he represented himself as a member of the SVS faculty. He is also on the record as sympathetic to secular political definitions of homosexuality. This is one reason why he failed to anticipate the outcry over Fr. Robert Arida’s essay “Never Changing Gospel, Ever Changing Culture” a few years back on the OCA youth blog that made a (laborious) case for sanctioning sodomy. Reaction was swift especially by priests and the essay was quickly removed but he offered no explanation why it was posted in the first place.

Not all participants at the symposium hold to a secular reading of the homosexual condition of course, but it should be clear to any informed observer that the long-term ramifications of homosexual behavior for both the individual and the Church are more than what The Wheel or Public Orthodoxy think that they are. The folks at The Wheel draw their ideas exclusively from the secular left. They argue using the language of identity politics. The folks at Public Orthodoxy take a different approach. They teach that only the dogma of the Church (theological statements about the nature and character of the Trinity and Jesus Christ) is unchangeable. The moral teachings on the other hand are culturally conditioned and therefore relative.

The homosexual issue arises in Orthodoxy because folks at publications like The Wheel and Public Orthodoxy make it one. They have a very poor grasp of why the the moral tradition prohibits the behaviors in the first place. They lack pastoral training and concrete pastoral experience and either don’t see or refuse to see that homosexuality distorts authentic manhood. Men are not created to engage sexually with other men. Doing so retards the development and can even destroy the masculine self-identity necessary for healthy and mature manhood.

The activists are captive to the primary moral assertion of identity politics that states if a person has been abused for being homosexual, then we must submit to the claim that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable without any criticism or dissent. The Orthodox moral tradition makes no such claim. No one should be abused for being homosexual but homosexual behavior is nonetheless prohibited because it inflicts harm to the soul of the person engaged in it.

There is also a deeper anthropological shift taking place. Homosexual ideology argues that homosexual desire is innate, part of a person’s created being. Put simply, if a person experiences homosexual desire, that desire ought to considered good and true and given by God. Homosexual desire is seen as part of our human identity, and not as a passion or sinful desire, or an occasion for struggle as all other sinful desires are. If homosexual desire is part of created identity (“God made me gay”), then there is no reason to help the person struggling with same-sex desire and ultimately no rationale by which he can be helped.

On a Church wide level the shift is more ominous. If we sanction homosexual behavior in the Church as normative (as blessed by God), then the Church becomes emasculated. Healthy men don’t want anything to do with it and they will leave. This is why the mainstream Protestant and Episcopalian churches collapsed after they became homosexualized.

Does SVS President Fr. Chad Hatfield understand that when seminary professors lend their credentials to views inimical to the moral tradition that they confer the moral authority of the seminary to those views? Does the SVS Board of Directors? Do Metropolitan ZACHARIAH Mar Nicholovos, or His Grace, The Right Reverend DAVID, or Metropolitan JOSEPH who serve on that board? Certainly they must because they are men of the tradition. Do they want the seminary associated with the kind of social justice activism that The Wheel and Public Orthodoxy promote? Are they aware that the seminary appears to be complicit, even unwittingly, with attempts to drag the American culture wars into American Orthodoxy?

Orthodox polity is conciliar and the locus of conciliarity is the Synod of Bishops. The OCA bishops appear reluctant to address the growing conflict about homosexuality (Fr. Arida for example has never been publicly reprimanded). If they do not assert their leadership, then the issue will be decided for them. The secular juggernaut is powerful and it will swallow emasculated Orthodox men as easily as it swallowed emasculated Protestants and Episcopalians.

Orthodox practice is local and occurs in each parish. Priests are the people who deal with the real problems caused by the deleterious ideas that some participants in the conference hold and promote. Priests who understand the dynamics behind homosexual desire and who comprehend human anthropology as it is handed to us, can instruct and guide a person struggling with same-sex desire. We don’t need or want the fanciful locutions of those who market ideas but have no real experience with the ramifications that their ideas unleash.

Given the consternation and confusion promulgated by the Amsterdam Symposium, several things need to happen.

  1. SVS President Fr. Chad Hatfield needs to clarify if the seminary knew about the meeting and condoned participation in it. Is he aware of the symposium’s content, aims and objectives?
  2. Given Fr. John Behr’s prominence at the seminary and his international reputation, he should publish a record of his participation in the symposium and clarify its purpose and goals.
  3. The SVS Board of Directors should publish a statement to clarify the seminary’s position on Orthodox anthropology and marriage givens the strong representation of SVS faculty at the symposium.
  4. The bishops of the participants attending the symposium should clarify if they gave their blessing to hold and attend the meeting.
  5. Met. Tikhon of the OCA should clarify if the participation of the OCA Chancellor Fr. John Jillions met with his approval and blessing.

When academics swim in waters outside of their specialty, others are enticed to swim with them and the weaker drown. That’s why the Church needs to correct these abuses of authority.

The participants included:

Amsterdam Conference

  • Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, ACOT)
  • Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter)
  • Edith Humphrey (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)
  • Fr. John Jillions (SVOTS)
  • Pantelis Kalaitzidis, (Volos Academy)
  • Fr. Philip LeMasters (McMurry University, SVOTS)
  • Fr. Joan Lena (ACOT)
  • Fr. Andrew Louth (Emeritus Durham University, ACOT)
  • Fr. Nicolae Mosoiu (Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu)
  • Aristotle Papanikolaou (Fordham University)
  • Fr. Vasileios Thermos (University of Athens)
  • Gayle Woloschak (Northwestern University, SVOTS)
  • Comments

    1. Not so long ago olden days. I remember when “Domestic Partners” first came up on the ballot in San Francisco. I wrote .. way back then .. to the SF Examiner arguing something along the lines that I can make my dog a domestic partner, there were loopholes, “domestic partner what?” essentially. They printed it and I thought cool, someone on the muni bus riding with me might read it, anyway, this is San Francisco, and, and, “Domestic Partners” lost. It was close, but it lost. Maybe I may have swayed a vote, maybe, but at that point The City was saying no, we don’t want to give benefits to folks who just register. No one though was talking about “gay marriage.” The idea itself actually did not exist yet. Even most gays back then would likely give you a smirky look and take that to be something outlandish and probably superfluous anyway, Harvey Milk never even suggested it they just wanted of course a level of official recognition of their ‘dp’ status and some legal perks like getting to use sick pay to care for a domestic partner things along those lines. Today, SF City Hall is all lit up in rainbow colors .. a week ahead .. of the parade. And back then I had the occasion to brush aside their event saw sacrilegious stuff, then their Folsom Street event where they advertised it depicting the Last Supper with gays and so forth, Miller Beer had to take their name off however Nancy Pelosi thought it was ok, sex toys not to belabor further yup, at least once The City said no.

    2. Monk James says:

      While most of what Fr Hans writes here is important and true, it seems to me that we have so far failed to make one major point clear, and that is that the Amsterdam meetings had/have no authority over the life of The Church.

      Rather than offer postulations and suppositions now, reasonable as they might be, it would be better to wait for position papers to emerge from those meetings, and then have competent people respond to the issues they raise and bring their reasoned responses to the attention of the bishops.

      • I generally concur that the article was well written until the ‘demands’ were made. If you wanted to talk about homosexuality and the church; bringing 10 Fr Hans wouldn’t be any better a method. But Jacobse points out the numbers of potential alternate views and that is important if anything is published by this body et al.

        Gay marriage outside the church might even fail someday. But for now the doma set a course of 14th equality that has backfired. Marriage in the eyes of the government should be nothing less than contractual and offer no discriminatory rights like spousal healthcare coverage. Then if gays want to marry; they can, but we don’t have to celebrate it, sanction it, or treat it as a protected right and throw state sanctioned Holy Water on it.

        This view bothers Jacobse. But true liberal view does not allow us to reject something we don’t like. It allows liberty, but it never requires us to celebrate others liberty for that is tyranny. And that is what some on the left believe now. That we are all going to someday celebrate the farse. When an in law posted to facebook how beautiful it was; I disagreed that it wasn’t and she of course deleted my words. But liberty does not work the way she wishes.

        Jacobse, of course, rejects liberty fully. But in so doing, he also rejects the concept that progressives can be tyrants and not liberals.

        Any true liberal can never agree that the cake baker must bake a cake for gay partnerships or any partnership. The irony here is state tyrany is needed for some things, so it must be measured. But making a business work for any partnership is absolute tyrany.

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Anon writes:

          Marriage in the eyes of the government should be nothing less than contractual and offer no discriminatory rights like spousal healthcare coverage. Then if gays want to marry; they can, but we don’t have to celebrate it, sanction it, or treat it as a protected right and throw state sanctioned Holy Water on it.

          Jacobse, of course, rejects liberty fully. But in so doing, he also rejects the concept that progressives can be tyrants and not liberals.

          This is confused but for the record:

          I reject gay “marriage” because I reject that marriage is a creation of the State (in this case by judicial fiat). And no, I don’t reject the concept that “progressives can be tyrants.”

          See the essay I wrote before Obergefell: Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty

          • But you do reject liberty and you want marriage to be a protected priviledge; thus driving it to the 14th, where it never belonged.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

              You will have to explain what “reject liberty” means because I don’t follow you at all. As for marriage being a “protected privilege” (although I am not really sure what you mean by this term either), marriage doesn’t originate with the state. Marriage is grounded in the order of creation. State codification of marriage is merely the recognition of that which already exists in nature. Stable civilizations require stable families, and stable families require stable marriages. It is thus in the interests of a society not to undermine natural marriage. This used to be common sense.

              • Good old Jacobse…

                Offending those that disagree with you in the slightest. Suggesting I’m confused, or lacking common sense. Hilariously teaching the use of expletives effortlessly.

                Liberty is when two gay people live together without imposing their views on the rest of us. They can call it marriage and the rest of us don’t give a darn. But DOMA and a host of other rights marrieds get in the USA set the stage for marriage equality!

                I find your approach Fr. Jacobse to be very, unlibertarian. Irony is I find the gay activists to be very unlibertarian even more. How dare they make a cake baker bake a cake for them. Functionally, for the state, a marriage is nothing more than an official partnership. What partnership is given rights over any other? Marrieds.

                Things will change, but probably not the way you expect.

                I have the confidence the scotus will realize someday marriage does not deserve special treatment.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  I have the confidence the scotus will realize someday marriage does not deserve special treatment.

                  The opposite has happened. SCOTUS declared that homosexual couplings are indeed worthy of very special treatment, so much so that they declared a “right” where none ever existed at any time in history or across most cultures.

                  You don’t seem to mind this vast overreach by the State. I do. I don’t like the expansion of State power. You don’t seem to care, despite calling yourself a libertarian.

                  Here we see the Achilles heel of libertarianism, BTW. Libertarians have no real sense of history and tradition, so they end up jumping into bed with the progressives. They just enter the bedroom through a different door.

                  • Not true. Marriage per the state is only a partnership. And no partnership is due rights over any other.

                    • Well, we at least agree judicial fiat is a problem. It results from the lack of governance. We have it in many critical matters such as policing, abortion, now marriage.

                      I am not a libertarian, but my views on this subject are libertarian, so the wacky libertarian convention does not offend me. Not sure why you can’t stick to the subject matter. If you wish my respect and the title you bear; there is no need for such things and you ought to limit the use of offensive remark. I am honestly trying to find common ground with you; genuinely and sincerely.

                      Marriage, for me, from the state’s view only needs to be that which is the state’s concern. The state’s concern is only a legal one for matters of contract, or rights and privileges. I firmly believe that a marriage partnership deserves no special treatment than the lawfirms of Bill and John, or Sally and Mike. This business of expecting society to embrace homosexual couplings is bizarre to me and I reject it. It is not required that I enjoy that which others may. And, in fact, it is my right to dislike that which others might like.

                      The proglib view seems to believe I ought to enjoy gay marriage. They are full of it.

                      The conservative view seems to think man n woman marriage (the real deal) deserves special treatment; it does not. In fact this is the view the gay activists lusted to attack as it was easy prey in a nation with equality laws.

                      The libertarian view says do as you wish, but don’t bother me and don’t tell me to like what you do in your bedroom.

    3. In addition why is St Vlads promoting a conference in October that is sponsored by a group pushing for Women’s Ordination?

      • Fr. Demetrios says:

        In the past there has been a more active female diaconate in the church until the 12th century. It has just fallen into disuse. The church of Alexandria under the guidance of their Patriarch and Synod has seen fit to revive this ministry. Five women in the Democratic Republic of Congo were ordained making history. They are deaconess’s. This is an important ministry in assisting the cannonically ordain priest to minister to the women of the area. Their role is an important one and there are many examples in the history of the church of the role that they will serve.

        • I get that and it makes sense to rivive a role that served a traditional society for a traditional society today. It makes no sense in the west where it is just a wedge issue. Note that the WO sponsor is pushing for female clergy.

        • Monk James says:

          Fr. Demetrios (June 23, 2017 at 12:36 am) says:

          In the past there has been a more active female diaconate in the church until the 12th century. It has just fallen into disuse. The church of Alexandria under the guidance of their Patriarch and Synod has seen fit to revive this ministry. Five women in the Democratic Republic of Congo were ordained making history. They are deaconess’s. This is an important ministry in assisting the cannonically ordain priest to minister to the women of the area. Their role is an important one and there are many examples in the history of the church of the role that they will serve.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          Much work awaits these good women as catechists and pastoral liaisons, but not as deaconesses.

          The reports which I saw, including photos, indicated that they had been ‘blessed’ for their tasks in a ceremony apart from the Divine Liturgy. On the other hand, deaconesses were ordained at the same point in the DL as deacons, that is, after the conclusion of the Anaphora.

          So, whatever these women are, they’re not deaconesses.

          • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            The idea of making these women deaconesses did not originate with the Ugandans. It originated with the Patriarch in Alexandria. The Ugandans had no choice but to comply. They didn’t know what to do with their new deaconesses, so they assigned them the duties of readers, which is unprecedented. Ancient deaconesses never acted as readers in non-monastic churches.

            The ancient office of deaconess was problematic from the beginning. It is not certain they existed in apostolic times, even though people later came to be that they did. They were unheard of in the West before the fourth century. They were actively resisted in the West and do not appear to have ever existed in Egypt. Even in the East, many, many bishops decided against ordaining them. That’s why deaconesses disappeared.

            The bottom line is that the whole Church has never had a tradition of having deaconesses, but the whole Church has had tradition of NOT having deaconesses after parts of the Church tried having them.

            For more, read my master’s thesis on the subject here.

    4. “Homosexual desire is seen as part of our human identity, and not as a passion or sinful desire, or an occasion for struggle as all other sinful desires are. If homosexual desire is part of created identity (‘God made me gay’), then there is no reason to help the person struggling with same-sex desire and ultimately no rationale by which he can be helped.”

      The thing is that everyone can see that genitalia of men and women are complimentary (plug in socket) and designed to produce offspring while the genitalia of men with men or women with women are not complimentary and produce nothing.

      It is not rocket science. Everybody knows that something is wrong with these people at a deep psychological level but the Western World is increasingly becoming divided between those who can face that fact and those who arrogantly chose to proceed in denial of it against all traditional religion and against the witness of primitive nature itself.

      It is simply an act of willful disobedience to Divine Law, much like the Fall which got us into this trouble to begin with.

      The problem that advocates of such twisted perversion face is that the Universe is not programmed to operate in its day to day fabric in accord with their preferred twisted social development.

      “As the prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught,… as the Church has received… as the teachers have dogmatized,… as the Universe has agreed,… as Grace has shown forth,… as Truth has revealed,… as falsehood has been dissolved,… as Wisdom has presented,… as Christ Awarded,… thus we declare,… thus we assert,… thus we preach Christ our true God, and honor as Saints in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in Holy Icons; on the one hand worshipping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord; and on the other hand honoring as true servants of the same Lord of all and accordingly offering them veneration.

      This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith which has established the Universe.”

      We do not say that to be dramatic or triumphalist. We say that because the Orthodox phronema is the phronema of God insofar as human beings can experience it. It is theosis and the world is organized based on the theology which has been explicated for us by the saints, including St. Gregory Palamas. We are invited, in a limited way, to think as God thinks, not as man thinks.

      But the way to this understanding is confounded by sin – willful departure from the Plan of God, the Law of God. It obstructs grace. And it needlessly complicates the lives of people who would be better served by leading them to the Pillar and Ground of Truth, the Church and its Tradition, which is the Holy Spirit living within it.

    5. Oh how I wish the OCA was never given autocephaly.

      • Michael Woerl says:

        Ditto!

      • Antonia says:

        Amen.

        • Estonian Slovak says:

          The problem is not so much the autocephaly; it’s what they did with it. Likewise, the OCA making the New Calendar official. Not because the New Style is heretical in itself; but rather because the change opened the floodgates to other changes. This is the observation of one OCA priest I know. He is the son of my wife’s cousin.
          Then you have private confessions reduced to a minimum. I am not against frequent communion, it’s a good thing, but it’s probably not a bad idea to have communicants confess not less than once a month. I was at one OCA parish where the deacon told me that he’d NEVER seen anybody there do confession at all! Now that’s troubling, and I am fairly sure Archbishop Dimitri of Blessed Memory would not have countenenced such a thing.
          So then one gets the notion that NOBODY can be turned away from the chalice and thus people become scandalized when a deacon denies communion to a woman known to have married another woman in a heterodox “sacrament”. Incidently, an Orthodox who marries in a non-Orthodox ceremony excommunicates himself or herself from the chalice.
          Next, we’ll have female deacons because after all, Alexandria did it. There’s no knowing where the insanity will stop and I’m afraid we will see more people and parishes voting with their feet, going to uncanonical groups like the “Kyiv” Patriarchate or the Macedonians. I’m not wishing this or saying it’s a good thing, but it could happen. I’m also not saying the autocephaly in itself is a bad thing, it’s what they’ve done with it that’s troubling.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            A lot to chew on there ES. I think I can say that you may have distilled the entire problem facing the OCA in a few brilliant sentences.

    6. Your clarity on this issue is worth of genuine admiration, especially all the facts spelled out. The apostles on Pentecosts, St. Paul, the 4 major theologians, and all authentic Holy Fathers all acquired the Holy Spirit. Those assembled at this conference, despite their academic credentials, have not acquired the Holy Spirit which is the Divine Authority of the Holy Trinity. As it appears they may well be challenging the dogmas established for the faithful by the Holy Trinity for their salvation, this has to bee the works of the antichrist. We will all have to pick a side. As Christian with children who they love, will vastly side with authentic Church. The sneaky way it was assembled reminds me of the underhanded way they got rid of Met Jonah. Expect more of the same. I have met Bishop Maxim, but was forbidden to speak to him by Fr Gerasim and Protopresbyter Lubliner. He still impressed me. He may will have attended to see what they were up to. I hope so.

    7. It took nearly 14 centuries for The Church (the churches, by that time fractured by splits) to finally accept that our solar system is indeed heliocentric. No matter what early academics, astronomers, even scientist/theologians said, published or proved, The Church would not believe it. It simply defied scripture, they said. Those who propagated a non-geocentric view were called
      “Very dangerous” by Church Cardinals
      “foolish and absurd, heretical” by Inquisitors
      “teachers of false doctrine altogether contrary to the Holy Spirit.” by a Pope
      Those who “would pervert the order of nature.” By Calvin

      And yet, by the 18th century, even The Church had to accept that they had indeed been wrong. Science had finally proven that the Earth did, factually and without doubt, orbit the Sun.

      This is the issue I have with entire Christian denominations, Popes, Metropolitans, Priests, Deacons and Orthodox Laiety claiming to know, without a doubt, that homosexual desire is not innate or inborn. We know that – factually, and without a doubt – there are infants born intersex. At the very least, what are we to say about that? If a child is born intersex, did God not make him/her that way as He is the Creator of all? What is this child to do regarding biology vs. organs possessed vs. who they are attracted to?

      Whether the Church likes it or not, science is starting to unravel some of the mystery behind why babies are born intersex….which is naturally leading into the study of why, it seems, some infants are born predisposed to “be gay.”

      In this fallen world, more and more children are being born outside the norm. As woman put off having children later and later, Down Syndrome is on the rise. Autism is on the rise. And, for some reason, intersex children and the number children who claim to be gay is also on the rise. Religion yells liberalism & feminism. Liberals yell lack of environmental care, toxins, overpopulation. Science doesn’t yell anything, it just looks for why.

      In the case of intersex infants and children who later identify as gay, there is compelling research that is just in its infancy. (Like 4th century “early astronomers” who theorized that the Earth circled the sun, but just didn’t have quite enough proof to satisfy those shouting “Heretic!”) A recent article links incorrect levels of testosterone in the 4th month of pregnancy with a much higher likelihood of birthing an infant “predisposed” to SSA. Think about the implications if this were to waaaay down the road prove to be true. All of a sudden, SSA wouldn’t be a “personality trait” or a “deviant choice,” it would be a matter of biology (as is with an intersex infant).

      So, if a group of theologians or priests or specific Orthodox lay persons wish to hold a symposium on the subject of SSA (as it appears has happened), I see that as a good thing. And, as an Orthodox priest, if you feel that the group didn’t have enough people present with Real Pastoral Experience, maybe instead of point your finger at their efforts….maybe instead of pointing out the specific people you disagree with….maybe instead of quoting scripture (because that worked so well re:the Earth vs the Sun)… maybe you should join them in prayer and discussion.

      The subject of SSA isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, I predict, it will only become larger and larger as a topic The Church must deal with: not because of screaming liberals, not because of feminists, not because of deviants, but because science moves a whole lot faster in these days, in this century. It’s not going to take them 14 centuries to scientifically prove that being gay is likely not a choice, nor simply a “personality” trait for most people, it’s just a biological fact.

      • Saunca,

        That is the peril in trusting science. It keeps evolving from ignorance into greater erroneous accuracy. God is Alpha and Omega. He alone knows reality’s ultimate nature and where it is going.

        First of all, the Orthodox Church has not had a problem with science. You are referring to the heretical sect known as the “Roman Catholic Church”.

        Secondly, there was the cosmology of Ptolemy, the cosmology of Copernicus, the cosmology of the more modern scientists who know that the entire universe does not revolve around the sun but merely our little solar system, and the cosmology of Einstein. Now, even the cosmology of Einstein is being revised.

        Who knows what science will come up with next? It is nothing in which to base ones faith, merely man’s continuing exploration of the infinite, which he cannot ultimately fathom.

        What came before the Big Bang?

        Crickets chirping.

        Exactly.

        Man is limited by the fact that he lives in God’s universe, created by God, under God’s laws. Orthodox Christianity is the faith which established the universe – the Law of God. Man cannot understand infinite past, infinite future, infinite space. It boggles the mind.

        God alone always has been and always will be, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He has given us the Truth. The Church is the pillar and ground of Truth. Holy Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ, the Church.

        It is that simple, and that complex.

        But that is Reality – the way things actually are. And Western man is just going to have to come to terms with it because God is tired of all the shenanigans. He is winding things up before our very eyes even as we speak.

        You see it in the news every day.

      • Michael Bauman says:

        saunca,

        I would be interested in any Orthodox pronouncements on the non-heliocentric universe if you can find any.

        Science is not at odds with God. Scientism which is what we mostly have today is.

        Even if there are physiological predispositions to all sorts of non-normative sexual desires that says nothing at all about there virtue or need to accept those practices as OK by the Church.

        We are all sexually disordered because of our sinfulness. We are all subject to sexual ascesis.

        The male-female antinomy is as firmly a part of the cosmos as heliocentric solar systems.

        You are the one arguing for a Ptolomeic sexual system with all of the attendant cycles and epicycles, not the Church.

        Such confusion is without beauty and therefore in conflict with the eternal mind of God and His will.

        A paraphrase of Copernicus intial defense of his model BTW.

        • “First of all, the Orthodox Church has not had a problem with science. You are referring to the heretical sect known as the “Roman Catholic Church”.”

          Misha, Michael –
          The only Orthodox pronouncements on a non-heliocentric universe I have read come from online sources. They could be suspect, since I don’t have the actual material in my own hands to read through. My research & reading always seems to point to the Fountain of Knowledge of John Damascene and Saint Basil as the two main opponents of the Heliocentric model. This would be long before Galileo and Copernicus’ run-ins with the RCC.

      • Lexcaritas says:

        Dear to Christ Saunca, your description of the scientific basis for a heliocentric understanding of the solar system and your depiction of the Church’s view of it is erroneous. Equally shallow is the suggestion that ChristGod makes intersex infants or persons with an inborn, genetically biological or emotional predisposition to engage in sexual activity with persons of the same sex. This is delusion and attributes the effects of sin to God. By the way heliocentricity is as man made ways of understanding as was the more complex Ptolemaic system of egocentricity. Neither is a matter of truth only poor descriptions of it.

        As for the suggestion of a rise in intersexual births and homosexuality (and now transgenderism), if true. Perhaps each a sign and consequence of the cultures rebellion from divine law? As are the rise in breast and cervical cancers linked with the use of pharmaceutical contraception and induced abortions–i.e. The rejection of infants or their secret slaughter.

        Christ is in our midst though He come to His own and His own things reflect Him.

        Lxc+

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Lex, thank you for these comments.

          If I may go on a tangent regarding “intersex” children. Our civilization is at an inflection point in many ways. From a biochemical standpoint, I can honestly say that due to a variety of factors, teratogenesis, breast cancers in women, gynaecomastia in men and homosexuality as well as cuckoldry are on the rise in the West because of increased estrogens in the food/water supply.

          The decrease in testosterone levels in men is remarkable. According to latest information, the average male today has a T-level of only 400ng/dl (nanograms/deciliter) whereas his grandfather back in the 50s had an average testosterone level of 750ng/dl. That’s astounding.

          The ubiquity of soy in the food supply is most probably the culprit but the presence of estrogen in the water table is another. Where does this excess estrogen come from? From being consumed by tens of millions of adolescent girls/young women through their oral contraceptives over half a century now and then being expelled via urination into the sewage system, whereby it is taken up by fish, who are at the bottom of the food chain.

          For an informative summation of this, I would ask all to take 10 minutes to watch this short video, it’s called: “Is Soy Feminizing the West?”: https:/youtube/mduUBJTdXag

          • George,
            I would agree that the rise in environmental estrogen and the decrease in testosterone (particularly during pregnancy) is in large part responsible for the resulting rise in intersex and homosexual births; as well as the feminization of males.
            Perhaps, the solutions lie in environmental study and biological advances/prenatal testosterone level testing as opposed to vilifying the children and adults born from such situations. At the very least, being born intersex is not the infant’s fault.
            Also, someone commented earlier that (paraphrasing) God doesn’t create intersex babies. I am interested in who does then?

      • Centurion says:

        Speaking of scientific evidence…

        Not ‘Born That Way’: New Scientific Analysis Questions ‘LGBT’ Orthodoxies
        JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND
        http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/not-born-that-way-new-scientific-analysis-questions-lgbt-orthodoxies

        A comprehensive new survey about sexuality and gender, undertaken by leading medical experts, concludes that key theories are unsupported by scientific evidence.

        A new report that examines nearly 200 peer-reviewed studies on sexual orientation and gender identity concludes that science hasn’t confirmed key theories about these subjects, including the belief that homosexuals are “born that way.”

        And it rejects surgical and hormonal interventions for children who identify as “transgender,” on the grounds that the large majority of such children outgrow identities that conflict with their biological sex.

        “Examining research from the biological, psychological and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence,” reads an introductory note by Adam Keiper, editor of The New Atlantis, a leading journal of science, technology and ethics that published the report, “Sexuality and Gender.”

        “The report has a special focus on the higher rates of mental-health problems among LGBT populations, and it questions the scientific basis of trends in the treatment of children who do not identify with their biological sex,” said Keiper.

        “More effort is called for to provide these people with the understanding, care and support they need to lead healthy, flourishing lives.”

        “Sexuality and Gender” was written by Dr. Lawrence Mayer, scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University, and Dr. Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who served for 25 years as psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The study was released Aug. 22.

        The report asserts that scientific evidence does not support the theory that “gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body.’”

        The authors also question the adoption of new interventions for children and teens who do not identify with their biological sex.

        “Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood,” the report concludes.

        “There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.”

        The report takes no position on related public-policy debates and legal questions regarding same-sex “marriage” or new bathroom rules for transgender students. Rather, the authors make clear that people who struggle with a range of sexuality and gender issues need the highest standard of care, and they call for additional research to provide a solid foundation for effective treatment.

        • George Michalopulos says:

          If I may interject something about our slavish devotion to science, I don’t know if y’all are aware but two weeks ago, it was revealed that a proto-hominid was uncovered in southern Bulgaria. It upends the “out of Africa” theory about human evolution. It was named Graecopythecus freyborgi (“El Greco” for short) and it pushes back the break-off between bonobo chimps and hominids by 200,000 before the supposed break-off happened in sub-Saharan Africa.

          This means that man “evolved” in the Balkans, not Africa. At this point, as an Hellene, I can say to all humanity: “You’re welcome!” but I’m more humble than that. Regardless of what this means for Darwinian orthodoxy (i.e. does this mean that modern Homo sapiens evolved separately on different continents from different pithecine ancestor in a type of convergent evolution and thus the races are in fact different sub-species [at least]), what we should take away from this is that science is never “settled” and today’s orthodoxy can be overturned in a nonce.

          That goes for global wa climate change, Darwinism, human sexuality, etc.

          • I mean if you want to be Bulgarian be my guest, but I’ll pass on that theory.

            Only joking btw. I am glad research is starting to disprove the “Out of Africa” theory. There is also research out there that shows the ancient Egyptians were closer to Indo-European peoples (can’t remember if this is proto-IE or modern IE) than to modern Copts.

          • M. Stankovich says:

            Wow. I’m learning so much today. I first heard the word, “nonce” in prison, interchangeable with the word, “diddler,” both referencing (according to the legal jargon) “lewd & lascivious behaviour perpetrated against a child 14-years of age or younger” and generally preceded with the forceful modifier “f*****g” (e.g. “You f******g nonce,” or diddler). You learn something new everyday. An obscure, but interesting choice, Mr. M.

            Yesterday I received my entire genome pre-packaged in a zip file, and with some analysis as the FDA currently allows. I am free to enter any or all my SNP’s into, for example, the Mendelian database of the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man at Johns Hopkins University, a project of the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Library of Medicine. This, if you think about it, is absolutely astonishing. But more to the point, it emphasizes the fact there is much in genetics and science that is not “volatile” and unsettled, to be overturned “in a nonce.” In fact, at its core, this underlying genome is fashioned at the very Hand of our Creator, and was shared – in fact and in reality, in form and in substance – by our Lord and Savior to achieve our redemption and salvation. And how would a geneticist see the generations of Jesus of Nazareth as read from Matthew 1 on the Sunday Before the Nativity but as a concise “pedigree” of Him come to save us.

            My point here is simple. Anyone who has read the contemplation of St. Gregory the Theologian as he marveled the order of nature in a forest; shared the Psalmist’s awe of the creation expressed in Ps. 103; or sensed the power of the simple observation of the Genesis writer’s conclusion of the creation – that having finishing all His work, God looked upon it and concluded it was “very good” appreciates those elements of our salvation history that are “scientific” and always true. If there is a seeming “contradiction” with science, unlike others. we simply do not feel “compelled” to provide explanations for what we do not know or understand. We believe the Truth that was revealed to us, and the Truth that will be revealed to us an that day when our God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).

            • Michael Bauman says:

              Michael S. …Yes! And one of those revealed truth is that we are created male and female as part of God’s plan to unite Himself with what He created. To dress and keep the earth(the commandment prior to be fruitful and multiply).

              To dress and keep the earth. How easily we forget that. How easily we remove it from our male and female natures.

              It ain’t just about sex folks.

      • Fr Chris Moody says:

        them 14 centuries to scientifically prove that being gay is likely not a choice, nor simply a “personality” trait for most people, it’s just a biological fact.

        That is presumption. The very fact God forbade the behavior settles it. Along with incest and other sexual deviancies. The canard about flat earth is inaccurate for the eastern church, as well. Epigenetics and cultural engineering account for a lot of this craze.
        That is fact, as well.

        • So setting aside my “assumptions,” your reply still fails to address the births of intersex babies. Fact: their assigned genetics (XX, XY) do not match their biological organs. Sometimes, it is even more complicated with a baby born (XXY).
          These are not perverts, deviants, devil incarnates. They are babies, with a very long road ahead of them…through no choice.

          What does The Church teach about this? How would an Orthodox Priest be advised to handle a young child or teen in their parish with these inborn conditions?

          • George Michalopulos says:

            Saunca, you bring up some excellent points. Largely I am in agreement with you. Where we part company is with the condition termed “intersex”. Those who have indeterminate genitalia still possess the chromosomes of either the female (XX) or male (XY) sex. Those who suffer from polyploidy (such as Down’s syndrome or XYY) are still male.

            Now I realize that these are not ideal conditions nor (obviously) ideal exemplars of their sex, in the same way that a eunuch is not a virile, fertile male but like the eunuch, he they are still either male or female.

            By the same token, we can’t get around the fact that there are only two chromosomes: X and Y. The case for true hermaphroditism can only be made if there is yet a third, unknown chromosome. For the sake of argument, let’s call it “Z”. Then and only then, if a child is born with this pair (XZ) could we posit a third sex. This is impossible however because both of the parents would have had to have this genetic profile: XX (the mother) and YZ (the father). Unfortunately, the father would be non-existent because that means he wouldn’t have had a mother! (It’s the mother who provides the X chromosome.)

            Therefore we have to conclude that bisexualism (i.e. essential femaleness and maleness) are part of the fabric of nature.

            • Ok. Question still not answered though. If a child is born XY, but presents with female genitalia at birth due to a biological condition known as Androgen insensitivity syndrome, what is the precedent for how this child will be handled by The Church?
              Such children are often raised as females for years before finding out around puberty that they are not genetically female. What would the Church then consider them – Female (by medical condition) or Male (by chromosomes)? Can they marry?
              Has there been anything, anything at all, written about this by The Church?

              • George Michalopulos says:

                Saunca, again there is no personal quarrel between us. Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding on my part but the way I read the argument against the essential, organic dual-sexuality that exists in creation is that there is actually such a thing as “intersex” or hermaphroditism, in other words an authentic third sex.

                While there are a lot of pathologies associated with so-called intersex individuals (such as the one you described in this latest comment), that doesn’t obviate the fact that patient in question was really a male. In the ancient world, eunuchs were derided as less-than-men in many hurtful ways; this is true but they were still men. Men in which their testicles had been removed.

                That’s what my argument is, not that intersexual pathologies cannot or do not exist. They do, it’s just that they are pathologies, or variations from the masculine or feminine mean.

                I hope that this explanation cleared it up.

            • Michael Bauman says:

              George, it is not about logical points. It is about what is our true humanity. saunca is correct on this that we need to find away to respond in Christ to the particular manifestations of sin we find and experience around us. That does not require anything “new”. It requires that we mine the depths of the resources we have already been given by the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead us into all truth.

              Repentance and thanksgiving are the keys. As they always are.

    8. Joseph Lipper says:

      From the AOI website, listed as a footnote where this article was originally published:

      “Fr. Hans is the founder of the American Orthodox Institute, and is a recognized authority on the impact of ideology and narrative on culture.”

      Who is it that recognizes Fr. Hans as an authority on the impact of ideology and narrative on culture?

      Could it be that this very article by Fr. Hans is an abuse of this said authority?

      The thing about the meeting in Amsterdam is that it does not proclaim itself as authoritative, and it was not even intended to be publicized…whereas Fr. Hans is proclaimed as an authority by the AOI blog that he founded.

      We should be reminded that secret meetings are not always a bad thing. We are admonished to initially confront our brothers of their sin in secret. Let us not forget that going to confession is essentially a secret meeting also.

      • Fr. Johannes is widely respected and sought out for debates on issues which intersect religion and the historical development of culture. He is a “name” in Orthodoxy. I do not always agree with him. However, he most certainly has earned his spurs.

        • Joseph Lipper says:

          Wouldn’t it be better if we charitably considered this meeting in Amsterdam to be an informal and discrete pastoral visit of a very small group of clergy and to a very small group of disparate academicians? That’s how it appears to me.

          This meeting did not proclaim itself as public or authoritative. Until there actually is a public and authoritative document to judge, it would be better not to presume too much about it.

          Instead, in his article Father Johannes casts a narrative that raises suspicion and possibly slander on those who attended this meeting. The AOI website he founded, and where this article is originally published, proclaims him as an authority. Is this article an abuse of Fr. Han’s authority?

    9. The church that persecuted accurate science the Catholic church has maintained it’ forced compliance with .war, black ops, and excommunication. Where in Orthodox history does this it prove the Orthodox have interpreted the Holy Fathers the same as the Catholic’s did?.

      • Can you type that one more time?

        • Being that The Church did not officially split until 1054, and the theological disagreement regarding the Earth circling the sun started around the 4th century, I would think it clear that between the 4th century and 10th there were religious figures in The Church who disagreed with the rising scientific theory.

          • Michael Bauman says:

            The schism began much earlier of course with erruptions in the 5th and 9th centuries which began to indicate a very different orientation in the West from the East. Given that difference which was clearly defined in the Schism and the Palamas controversy, I have a difficult time seeing the East following the same dichotomous thought pattern.

            I will have to go back to St. Basil’s Hexaemeron to see what that says unless anybody knows.

    10. Will Harrington says:

      Saunca

      RE History. This is nonsense. Galileo Galilei did face the inquisition. The inquisition wanted to find out which side of a fight between astronomers was correct. Galileo argued for a heliocentric solar system. This is true. It was, by Occam’s razor, the simplest solution. His opponents though. had a good argument. If the earth moved around the sun then we should observe parallax in the stars (look it up, I don’t want to type that much). They were right. If the earth circles the sun, then parallax must exist. It does, but they couldn’t detect it at that time. The inquisitions verdict? A heliocentric model is possible but unproven. How is that somehow anti science? Lets just kill that propaganda now. Why did Galileo end up in house arrest? Because he threw a fit (he was by all accounts an unpleasant person), and wrote a screed about the whole affair and insulted the Pope. So, of course the Inquisition pulled him in and demanded he recant what he wrote (remember the insulting the Pope part). He refused and ended up under house arrest. This wasn’t about the Church denying science and it isn’t about that now.

    11. Pat Reardon says:

      Very good, Father Hans!

    12. Djordje says:

      This is a pretty good indication about Bishop Maxim’s thoughts and teachings on this matter: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2008/10/california-orthodox-bishops-issue-statement-on-proposition-8/

      • Michael Bauman says:

        One would hope Bishop Maxim shared the Church’s perspective and called those who do not to repentance as is his responsibility.

        Why do I think that did not happen? After all we must be tolerant of others opinions must we not?

        Balderdash!.

    13. Michael Bauman says:

      Saunca, since your post is refuted historically, theologically, esthetically and scientifically you might want to reconsider that your ideas are much more anti-Christian ideology than anything resembling the truth.

      Homoerotic acts are deeply sinful. Same sex attraction partakes of a disordered sexuality that stems from sin.

      Acceptance of sin is not what the Church does. Through a life of confession and repentance through the grace of God we overcome our sins and are led into deeper communion with Jesus Christ and each other.

      Part of that communion is bearing one another’s burdens in thanksgiving. Condemnation is not.

      Lack of condemnation is not acceptance though. Acceptance of sin as normative is quackery. It is a recipe for death.

      We are all sinners in the merciful hands of a living God. Why should we fear going to Him for help and healing?
      Only my own shame keeps me from really doing so.

      We are neither Roman Catholic nor Reformed.

      You seem to be a kind person with a compassionate heart. Do not allow that kindness to be missused by the political and ideological lies of the world.

      God forgive me.

      • Michael,
        I truly usually enjoy and agree with most of what you contribute here.
        But, I wasn’t talking about homosexual acts. I was addressing the argument that humans are born male or female, period. Clearly, at least intersex children defy that statement. Not because they choose to, nor because they are deviant or sinful, but because they ARE indeed “born that way.” The Church pastorally must have a plan in place on how to address such a child or teen or adult.
        Given the scientific proof for the birth of intersex babies (not transgender, as someone above took a lot of time writing about) but intersex, it is plausible that due to current hormonal shifts in the exterior and interior of human women, babies ARE being born “predisposed” to being gay.
        I never once commented on acting on those impulses, or SS couples or homosexual sin.
        I think people are afraid to admit that this could be possible. It might be possible. Then what??
        That is my concern. What, as a Church, do we do as a community and pastorally for these children? For instance being intersex in NOT a choice. So….can they marry in The Church? Would their spouse have to be the opposite of their genes or their biological organs?

        I know you are a kind, Christian man. But, for someone who was shown the highest grace, economic and compassion from The Church, you seem determined to fiercely withhold the same from others (in this particular situation). May you never have to face the trial of having a close family member born this way.

        Please forgive me also, if I have spoken too harshly.

        • Michael Bauman says:

          saunca, thank you for your kind words.

          A true pastoral response must be based on the truth. Whatever corruption there is, the truth is that we are created male OR female. A pastoral response would be focused on that.

          We are born into corruption. Because of the Fall, our bodies are corrupt. It can be a horrible reality. Often our bodies seem to betray us.

          That betrayal takes many forms mild to extreme. The conditions you site are extreme IMO, but the real culprit remains our separation from God.

          How one rectifies that separation is unique and deeply personal but also involves the constant interaction with others who are suffering and separated as well as our elders in the faith, the saints.

          Unless we follow Christ’s words: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, there is no hope. Our separation is healed by God’s grace and persistence in prayer, fasting, almsgiving with a merciful heart, sacramental worship, repentance/forgiveness.

          Repentance involves facing the fact that I am not as I should be(as God created me) because of sin, seen and unseen voluntary and involuntary; personal and communal. That extends even to our bodies for we are not separate physical-spiritual beings. Such realization causes shame.

          A pastoral approach involves working with folks to both face and heal their shame by God’s grace.

          However, the modern propaganda that shame does not or should not exist is not going to help.

          Shame is the primary existential reality of our separation from God. Jesus’ shame and humiliation on the Cross shows that.

          We must take up our Cross daily and follow Him radically trusting in Him. That is the nature of unseen warfare.

          The proclamation of Don Quixote in Man of LaMancha:. “What matter wounds to the body of a knight errant? Each time he falls, he shall rise again and woe to the wicked!” is only possible because of the Cross and God’s deep and rich mercy.

          It is that mercy on which we must rely no matter our circumstance for by our own will, we are lost. Utter and complete faith in His Providence, giving thanks for all.

          The extreme cases you site are a challenge to us all. They challenge us to expand our trust in God, our hearts and our rejoicing in the gifts He gives us in each other.

        • M. Stankovich says:

          Saunca,

          I disagree with your conclusion regarding the genetically influenced states that have become known medically as “intersex.” While there is some debate, there are generally 14 accepted genetically-mediated conditions that result in these states of genital ambiguity. I emphasize that they are, simply put, ambiguity of genital and hormonal development that may also physically affect the individual medically (and obviously emotionally), but that have no correlation whatsoever with sexual orientation. None. In fact, as we are now so disturbingly discovering, it was the mistaken belief that sexual orientation was so fluid and externally derived that, if begun early enough in the developmental life of a child, “gender orientation” could, in fact be taught. The result has been shockingly disaterous, but not apparently shocking enough to stop us from supporting parents who allow their children, as young as 3 or 5, to “select” their “gender of choice” and be treated with hormones that literally delay puberty. There are approximately 6,000 or so human traits we can identify as determined by a single, specific gene, always to be found at the same position on the same specific human chromosome of everyone. This will never be true of sexual orientation or homosexuality, or true of everyone with the deviation & derangement of intersex. While I agree that the church has no plan to manage the issue of sexual ambiguity pastorally, to be fair, it is highly anomalistic, and the chances of encountering someone is extraordinarily small. Nevertheless, your family member is in my prayers!

        • Michael Bauman says:

          To put it more succinctly, through counselling, prayer and exploration the essential male or female could be discovered despite the ambiguity.

          A physical asexual life might be necessary. There can be no specific plan or protocol only the Church’s general protocol. It would require a lot of blood, sweat and tears with a high dose of humility for all involved but if you can find a priest to struggle with you, that would be good.

          May the Lord bless and keep you.

          • Just to be clear, I am asking these questions due to the alarming rate of occurrences, that I’ve been made aware of, despite the conditions supposedly being “extraordinarily rare”
            I have no immediate or extended family member with any intersex conditions (that I’m aware of). It’s just a concern of mine, as I don’t see a solid pathway into Orthodoxy for these people.
            I also disagree with how most on the Monomakhos site apply scripture and Church Tradition in how to deal with both intersex and homosexual people. No one looks at babies born with other conditions and immediately says “well in this fallen world SIN would cause that.”
            As in:
            Baby born with cleft palette. Doctors just fix it!
            There’s no discussion regarding any particular sin that must have caused the infant to be born with this condition. And, the baby grows up and can experience a normal, traditional Church life (if Orthodox)
            The second a baby is born with a sexually based abnormality, everyone suddenly switches to the fallen world and sin being the cause of the deviation. It’s treated drastically differently. (I am aware that no one else here believes homosexuality possible as a pre-disposed, born with medical condition. I do strongly believe, due to having a heavy background and relatives in neurobiology that this will be proven true sooner, rather than later. I would like to see this happen, if only so science can provide better options on how to treat i.e. Monitoring a mother’s testosterone level during pertinent months of pregnancy)

            Michael, we have no disagreement re: the abyssal failure that gender orientation could be “taught.” The only reason “females” with androgen insensitivity DO act and feel female is because their hormone levels agree with that presentation. It has nothing to do with them being “raised” as female. Imagine they, and their family’s shock, when around puberty they are told they are genetically male.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              Saunca, you continue to bring up good points regarding the suffering of such people. However it’s important that health professionals don’t get caught up in the emotion of things. In my opinion, it makes things invariably worse.

              Let me explain further if you will. In politics, there’s a saying: “hard cases make bad law”. There’s a corollary in medicine: “first, do no harm”. That comes from the Hippocratic Oath.

              What’s my point? Simply this, some in medicine have been infected by too much empathy for a person and have abandoned dispassion. This is clearly the case with homosexuality (when in the 1970s goons overtook the American Psychiatric Association and forced them to decertify homosexuality as a mental illness). That contagion has now ripped apart our society and the pathology is pretty much everywhere.

              I realize that this is a controversial statement and for many, will be arguable. Let us accept that for the sake of argument. What is not inarguable is the very real damage done to people because of the fantasy of “intersexuality” that is being peddled like snake oil.

              One case in particular has come to my attention. There’s this child Jazz Jennings who has a reality show. For some reason, Jazz took it into his head that he’s a girl. His idiot parents found a doctor to give him anti-testosterone agents so that he could more easily surgery transition to female in his later teens. In other words, by chemically castrating him, he’ll avoid the manly physique which Bruce Jenner still has.

              Small hitch: in blocking the onset of male puberty, Jazz’s penis hasn’t grown, remaining in a pre-pubescent state. Why is that an issue one might ask? Because only a normal sized penis provides the tissue necessary to construct a normal sized vagina. Jazz unfortunately will have a normal woman’s outer appearance (the normal pear-shaped body of a woman as opposed to triangular shape of a man) but without a vagina. And worse, with a ten year old penis. Even if his testicles are removed, he must still possess a penis for the rest of his life in order to urinate.

              Now, let’s say he turns out to be an attractive, female-presenting person. What are his sexual prospects (as a woman) when he cannot present a normal appearing vagina to a potential husband? I’d say nil. The dating scene would be horrific, once a suitor proceeds to third base he’d probably go ballistic.

              First, do no harm. The entire “gender dysphoria” thing should have never left the train station.

              • I don’t think we are truly disagreeing on much. However, just a quick reminder. I haven’t commented or addressed “transgenderism” at all.
                You jumped from “peddling intersexuality like snake oil,” to providing Jazz Jennings as an example. Jazz isn’t intersex. He was not born with ambiguous genitalia, nor any of the approx 14 well known intersex conditions.
                Jazz was born a boy and thinks he’s a girl. That’s “transgender” NOT “intersex”
                So, I was not referring to anyone like Jazz.

                One last thing; please don’t confuse my humanity for “getting caught up in emotion.” They’re entirely separate. I have concern for any child born with a medical disability, anomaly or illness. It’s not a matter of being over-emotional. It’s just being an understanding, kind (and I think Christian) human being.

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Saunca, I did not describe your “emotion” regarding those suffering with transsexualism. Make no mistake however, emotion certainly plays a role in the onset for the “cure” for “gender dysphoria”.

                  As for those persons who are born with the issues which you describe, that’s another matter entirely, somewhat akin to those who seek plastic surgery for vanities’ sake as opposed to those who desperately need it (i.e. wounded veterans, mastectomy patients, etc.)

                  To the extent that true “intersexual” sufferers are medicated and/or operated upon, I see nothing wrong with that.

            • M. Stankovich says:

              Saunca,

              First, pardon me; I misread that you had a family member with a disorder of sex development (DSD). By definition, a true intersex disorder must be restricted to those conditions where chromosomal sex (i.e. at conception, one is assigned two XX chromosomes and is therefore a “genotypic female,” OR one is assigned one X and one Y chromosome and is therefore a “genotypic male“) is inconsistent with secondary phenotypic sex characteristics (i.e. the internal and external expressions – genitalia) or not classifiable. By comparison with the prevalence of infants born with cleft palate in the US is >100 greater than the prevalence of intersex births. I do not agree there is an “alarming rate” of DSD, as there is not an epidemic of transgender disorder; in both cases, they are statistical anomalies – although always to be our concern for anyone who suffers – do not rise to the level to draw the accusation of “pastoral neglect,” simply because they impact so few. There is an excellent article that discusses the ongoing dilemma of corrective surgeries for children with DDS, but without a subscription or library access, I can only offer the abstract. Interestingly, there is also a full-text discussion of the problems of even discussing the problems of DSD because of the anonymity of the internet, etc. as opposed to those with direct interaction. and this, which you’ll have to rely on the abstract because the original science is in Serbian (!), is very clear that the “causes” of the most frequently occurring DSD are genetic (and I provide this article, dated 2001, for its historic value).

              As to the matter of that which occurs in this fallen world, I have always distinguished our humanity “as it was in the beginning,” from that which it has become as the consequence of our choice to rebel against our God, to choose sin over obedience, and consequently to introduce brokenness and chaos into our world and our existence on this earth. In this sense, it is insignificant which disease or defect that we contract or develop in this life – be it familial adenomatous polyposis colon cancer; major depression, recurrent, severe, with psychotic features; substance use disorders; or what seem to be risk for homosexuality – they are a consequence of our fallen humanity in the context of this broken world, and in no way or fashion attributable to our God. The “distinction” you frequently read is prejudice, hatred, and fear; nothing more, nothing less. Likewise, there is a bunch of trash talk about what constitutes “orientation” from poseurs on the edge of religion and society. We are driving away the “lost children of Israel” because we are just too smart, just too righteous to sit down among the sick, and the beggars, and the needy, which ironically which is where the disciples found the Lord.

              • Oh, no pardon necessary. I was trying clarify my own remarks which weren’t clear!

                Just one consideration – because the anomalies being discussed (although seemingly rising) still really impact such a low percentage of the population overall, this is primarily why there should be an agreement amongst The Church as to how to handle such an unusual case….if one were to present itself. Right now, I don’t know as most Orthodox Priests would have any idea what to do in such a situation. Something about “serving the least of these..” (paraphrase)

                Other than that, no disagreements here

                • Trey the Virginian says:

                  The teaching of Christ on marriage and eunuchs should keep us from stumbling over these difficulties, which Chrysostom addresses in Homily LXII, excerpted below.

                  I keep thinking that with the advance of the parade of new “complications” of a sexual nature, it is not as if we face moral dilemmas that no one has faced before in the history of the world, or that they were unknown to the Church before our day. “Gay” and “intersex” are new terms for old things that have been invented for us. The new terms trip us up, as positive terms to replace terms that had moral significance.

                  Our education teaches us to approve of what is clinical and amoral, as if that were superior. So “intersex” substitutes for eunuch, so we think that Christ and the Church did not know of these things. The problem is compounded because the new term was coined by the philosophy of materialism, so that the one called “gay” or “intersex” has a body only, and does not have a soul.

                  Chrysostom lays out Christ’s teaching on marriage and becoming a “eunuch” for the kingdom of God, pointing out the different origins for someone becoming a eunuch.

                  Chrysostom puts the primary emphasis on the value of being a eunuch by choice for the purpose of heavenly reward. In contrast to this beautification of one’s soul, making someone a eunuch by surgery is a great evil, an “ordinance” of the devil, because it prevents the moral choice by a person’s free will and the energizing grace of God.

                  From Chrysostom’s Homilies on Matthew:

                  “If the case of the man be so, it is good not to marry.”

                  …but He subjoined, “Not all men receive it, but they to whom it is given,” raising the thing, and showing that it is great, and in this way drawing them on, and urging them….

                  Then to show the possibility of it, He says, “There are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother’s womb, there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men, and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake,” by these words secretly leading them to choose the thing, and establishing the possibility of this virtue, and all but saying, Consider if you were in such case by nature, or had endured this thing at the hands of those who inflict such wanton injuries, what would you have done, being deprived indeed of the enjoyment, yet not having a reward? Thank God, for that with rewards and crowns you undergo this, which those men endure without crowns; or rather not even this, but what is much lighter, being supported both by hope, and by the consciousness of the good work, and not having the desire so raging like waves within.

                  For the excision of a member is not able to quell such waves, and to make a calm, like the curb of reason; or rather, reason only can do this.

                  For this intent therefore He brought in those others, even that He might encourage these, since if this was not what He was establishing, what means His saying concerning the other eunuchs? But when He says, that they made themselves eunuchs, He means not the excision of the members, far from it, but the putting away of wicked thoughts. Since the man who has mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”

                  And very reasonably. For such a one is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander God’s creation, and opens the mouths of the Manichæans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the beginning a work of demoniacal agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the work of God, that they may mar the living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security, as being irresponsible; and doubly harm the living creature, both by mutilating the members, and by impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds.

                  These are the ordinances of the devil, bringing in, besides the things which we have mentioned, another wicked doctrine also, and making way beforehand for the arguments concerning destiny and necessity even from hence, and everywhere marring the freedom given to us by God, and persuading us that evil deeds are of nature, and hence secretly implanting many other wicked doctrines, although not openly. For such are the devil’s poisons.

                  Therefore I beseech you to flee from such lawlessness. For together with the things I have mentioned, neither does the force of lust become milder hereby, but even more fierce. For from another origin has the seed that is in us its sources, and from another cause do its waves swell. And some say from the brain, some from the loins, this violent impulse has its birth; but I should say from nothing else than from an ungoverned will and a neglected mind: if this be temperate, there is no evil result from the motions of nature.

                  Having spoken then of the eunuchs that are eunuchs for nothing and fruitlessly, unless with the mind they too practise temperance, and of those that are virgins for Heaven’s sake, He proceeds again to say, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it,” at once making them more earnest by showing that the good work is exceeding in greatness, and not suffering the thing to be shut up in the compulsion of a law, because of His unspeakable gentleness. And this He said, when He showed it to be most possible, in order that the emulation of the free choice might be greater.

                  And if it is of free choice, one may say, how does He say, at the beginning, “All men do not receive it, but they to whom it is given?” That you might learn that the conflict is great, not that you should suspect any compulsory allotments. For it is given to those, even to the willing.

                  But He spoke so to show that much influence from above is needed by him who enters these lists, where He that is willing shall surely partake. For it is customary for Him to use this form of speech when the good work done is great, as when He says, “To you it is given to know the mysteries.”

                  And that this is true, is manifest even from the present instance. For if it be of the gift from above only, and they that live as virgins contribute nothing themselves, then for nothing did He promise them the kingdom of Heaven, and distinguish them from the other eunuchs.

                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    I would suggest to you that you are not appreciating what St. Chrysostom – and St. Gregory Nazianzus, for that matter – were addressing. For that I would refer you to an excellent study by Kathryn M. Ringrose, entitled The Perfect Servant: Eunuchs and the Social Construction of Gender in Byzantium. This is a scrupulously detailed book, written with the assistance of Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University, and UCal San Diego. In my opinion, there is very little to be gained by way of direct comparison with what the Fathers are addressing, and if you have no personal connection to individuals suffering from these disorders of sex development [DSD,] your attachment of jingo such as “materialism,” suggestions of “amorality” and “lack of soul” are unjustified, callus, and unsustainable.

                    Both the Scripture and the Fathers are explicit: “Him who is able [ὁ δυνάμενος ] to receive it, let him receive it.” You are somehow proposing that it is in imaging DSD as “new” or “unique” human condition, or by applying new names to these disorders, we are suddenly being “tripped up” or have no clue as to how to manage these disorders. This is patently ridiculous. What we are doing differently, however, is consciously being determined not to shame individuals into hiding and secrecy. I am not sure as to what exactly you are inferring by stating that we have “[replaced] terms that had moral significance,” but I will emphatically state there are exactly 14 genetic derangements in humans that will result in a medical state whereby a child’s genotypic sex does not agree with their phenotypic sex. These are formally referred to as “Disorders of Sex Development (DSD), and colloquially referred to as “intersex” because of genital ambiguity. In all 14 conditions, we know exactly which defective gene is responsible for the disorder, no different than any genetically-based human disorder. These individuals are neither analogous to, nor bear any relationship to those being addressed by St. Chrysostom. And implying morality as of any significance is likened to the question of the Apostles, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (Jn. 9:2)

                    Finally, I point out to you the depth of emotional suffering that are the consequence at the heart of these disorders – shame, embarrassment, isolation, loneliness, the fear of discovery, and the fear of no answers and no resolution: I will never be normal. Whenever I read these long-winded, essays & treatises expounding the teaching of Holy Fathers – particularly St. Chrysostom, the instructor of pastors – I am amazed to imagine anyone believes these Homilies are to be taken as how one should, verbatim, address anyone, let alone someone who suffers. I cannot imagine the fundamental lack of empathy – the lack of ability to open one’s heart to the adulterous woman, to the young rich man, to the faith and trust of the Centurion, or (and he will pardon me) Fr. Patrick’s mention of hearing confessions for 50 years! – and not being moved in one’s heart alone for the depth of suffering.

                    The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Eccl. 1:9)

                    • Trey the Virginian says:

                      Thank you for taking the time to respond to me Mr. Stankovich.

                      I understand that you have a preference for modern writers on moral and spiritual matters, and that your guiding light is your own personal experience and training.

                      However, what has modern thought and academic research given us? Are we more at peace with ourselves, with our bodies, with each other, with our Creator?

                      Through the grace of God I am at peace with my own struggles in my identity as a man, with all my weaknesses, and the good use of my body, mainly through the Orthodox prayers and services, the intercession of saints I have come to know, and confession with my spiritual Father and with my wife, and spiritual reading. By spiritual reading I mean the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers. Chrysostom is my main companion for understanding the Holy Scriptures and for pursuing a holy life.

                      These things are of the greatest beauty and healing power.

                      I did not find peace through modern thought and academic research. I was taken by my parents to psychologists from an early age about the nightmares I had that kept me from the peace of sleep. I saw psychologists and psychologically trained counselors, and read modern thought, including modernistic Christian thought, at various points in my life.

                      The clarity and concentration of thought is not there. There is not the teaching on the soul and the struggle to be holy that is found in the Philokalia or the writings of St. Nektarios of Aegina.

                      Anyone can be brought to harmony of soul and body, in the light of the Holy Spirit, “the unwaning light,” no matter the defects of the body nor the perversion of the soul.

                      This means transcending our sexual nature or the lack of it. It is an error to amplify the sexual aspect of our nature, rather than attenuate it for the Kingdom of God.

                      Modern thought in its preoccupations seeks to amplify our sexual nature, which brings about all the turmoil that we see.

                      Transcending our sexual nature is the taking up of the cross freely chosen, that Chrysostom speaks about, and to this the Church should be calling us.

                      • M. Stankovich says:

                        Trey the Virginian,

                        I’m going out on a limb here and venture that you are one of those “traditionalists” I’ve been reading about, because they are the only ones pretentious and arrogant enough to presume they have intuition and insight into any of my preferences whatsoever, having never met me or heard me speak, yet feel comfortable even guessing as to my “processes,” motivation, and “guiding light.” Dumb idea, son. And breathtakingly so at that. If your son or daughter were born with a Sexual Development Disorder – the consequence of one of the fourteen genetic derangements occurring in humans that results in such matters – there is a good chance your Bishop will direct you pursuant to information he received from me, not from St. Chrysostom or the Philokalia. And for the record, I was trained as a psychiatrist, MD not Ph.D., not a psychologist. Wow. If I am not mistaken, we are not so medieval as to preclude “modern” intervention when it exists, relying on the words of the Lord Himself: “The wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes,” (Jn. 3:8) concluded by St. Andrew of Crete, “and the Spirit goes wherever He wishes.”

                        Blessed is our God who relieved you from whatever troubled you, in the manner in which you described. But I am not responsible for people like you. I am in a very different world than you, among people whose struggles are very, very different than yours. What brings about “all the turmoil that” I see is generally the result of traumatizing abuse and neglect that has resulted in individuals incapable of distinguishing sex from affection, acceptance, warmth, companionship, support, and even love. And far too frequently, these desperate grasps for human affection and acceptance take individuals into areas of human sexuality that are non-consensual and despicable. I closed a therapy group for young “survivors” of the porn industry this past Spring, and I suspect a fair number of the “drop-outs” returned to the industry – not for the money, but for the acceptance and attention.

                        It seems to me that it is far too easy to sit at your computer and issue elevated Sunday School lectures. I have been posting here for 6-years, son, and you owed me the respect of at least reading a sample of my comments before drawing foolish conclusions.

    14. Meanwhile, this is the holiest thing that I have ever read:

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/day-of-birth-day-of-mourning/article/2008611

    15. Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says:

      Thank you, Misha, for sharing that weblink. That article by Jeremy Lott in The Weekly Standard is one of the most moving and compelling cases for the pro-life moral rejection of abortion (also taught unanimously–i.e., without a single Church Father dissenting!–by our Orthodox Tradition) that I have ever read.

    16. http://orthochristian.com/104855.html

      OCA seems to have purged a Romanian bishop. Not sure of what is at the bottom of this.

      BTW: This is cheesecake. I know cheesecake when I taste it and this definitely is cheesecake:

      https://amgreatness.com/2017/06/30/coarse-correction-real-significance-2016-election/