The “Outcast” or The Shape of Things to Come?

One of the criticisms leveled against Monomakhos and other traditionalist Orthodox is that we harp on the existence of a “gay cabal,” or “lavender mafia,” or some such notion. We harbor conspiracy theories the accusers say about the imminent takeover of the Orthodox Church in America by the heterosexually challenged and their defender in order to it into an Eastern Rite Episcopalian Church.

Surely there is not a sitting bishop on the present Synod who would allow such a thing to happen. After all, we’re Orthodox. Unlike the Episcopal Church of America (ECUSA), which was founded by a lusty king who wanted to get a divorce, we Orthodox are both “little-o” orthodox as well as “capital-O” Orthodox. We are the Church of Christ, against “whom the gates of hell will not prevail.”

Sure, we’ve got some questionable bishops and priests (and not a few laymen) but even a compromised bishop has the smarts to preach the right things at least in public. At the end of the day there is no need to worry because no bishop would be so foolish to give a false sense of hope to Orthodox Christians who are conflicted about sexuality.

Right?

Well, maybe not. Please read the following testimonial from a male-to-female individual named “Xenia” who is openly “married” to a woman whom s/he describes as being a lesbian. (Get it? They are two “women” who are “married” but supposedly “celibate.” Barbara-Stan, call your office!) According to this person, they have been welcomed with open arms into Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, the “oldest Orthodox parish in the West.”

When they tried to commune at the Monastery of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Manton, they were turned away by Fr Martin. (It was Fr Martin who led six other brothers from Manton to Platina in order to avoid any further taint with the heresies being preached by Abbott Meletios Webber.) This understandably hurt them immensely. For solace, they turned to His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin Peterson of San Francisco.

Rather than comment on post, I humbly direct you to read for yourself what advice given to the distraught couple by His Eminence.

Source: Orthodox and Gay.

Thank you for this website, I’ve felt at a loss lately due to turmoil in the OCA here in California.  And though I also noticed you speak about  gay, lesbian, and bisexual people  in your first sentence on this page, you happened to omit transgender people.

My question is this:  What is “unrepentant transsexual delusion”?

First the background….

I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church of America in San Francisco on Lazarus Saturday this spring, in Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest orthodox parish in the west.  I and my legal wife.   We had both been catechumens for a full year before christmation, and at the very beginning had discussed with our priest the fact that we are in a loving, yet celebate, relationship, a secular marriage still legal in California (we were married before Proposition 13 passed, so we remain fully legal in marital status).

I am 66 years old and my wife, [female name], and I, together, have three children and four grandchildren.  Until I was 51 I lived as a male, but since the age of three I have felt myself to be fully female, except for the wrong physicality.  In 1998 I transitioned from male to female, a long, expensive (in many many ways), and difficult journey.  I met [present wife] in 1999 and we have shared a house ever since, fully accepted by our extended families as loving and caring people.

We were so happy to be accepted fully into the orthodox church, and had met so many loving people in Holy Trinity, that we felt truly blessed. Starting in January we drove the four hour trip up to northern California to stay on retreat at St. John’s Monastery in Manton, an OCA monastery, and became friends with some of the monks there.  It was so beautiful that we looked for and found a lovely cabin in the forest and took all of our savings to buy the cabin, to be only seven miles from the monastery.   Then one Sunday, arriving for liturgy, we were met by a monk named Fr. Martin and denied access to eucharist.  Apparently he had been suspicious of our relationship and done a great deal of searching on the internet and discovered my birth name.  We were devastated and still are.  Back in San Francisco, we spent an entire afternoon with Archbishop Benjamin, at his request, to discuss our past and the problems of being transgender in the orthodox church.  He was very kind, intelligent, and asked great questions, and told us that though the orthodox church seemed to ‘move glacially’ at times, that it still is growing in wisdom, love, and understanding.

Meanwhile several monks left the monastery, partly, it seems, in condemnation of myself and Susanne’s being accepted into the church. In short we were “judged” and certainly not forgiven, as we find in the injunction in the Lord’s prayer.

All I can say is that I pray daily for the church and all those people who mean well but have not yet been able to see past their own ignorance of the condition and hearts of LGBT people.

Here is one of the comments posted on the web:

Archbishop Benjamin gave his blessing for the Orthodox Church in America to receive at least one transgendered couple at the cathedral in San Francisco. They were refused communion at the monastery by the substitute blagochinie during Fr. Meletios’ and Fr. Nektarios’ trip to Greece because they were continuing to participate in an unrepentant transsexual delusion despite the position of Moscow Patriarchate’s 2005 Encyclical on receiving homosexuals and transgenders into the Orthodox Church.

What are we to take away from this? In my humble opinion, the uncanonical and illegal removal of Jonah was in fact orchestrated by morally questionable people who have a modernist agenda for the OCA. Even if His Beatitude’s administrative weaknesses were in fact a sore point with his brethren on the Synod, the fact remains that without him, the ability of the OCA to remain steadfast in the Faith becomes increasingly difficult. Indeed the drift towards modernism will continue apace, “glacially” or not.

Comments

  1. M. Stankovich says:

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    Yesterday, a man leaped from a plane at a height of 128,000 ft. My thought is that your leap is equally remarkable.

    While the OCA may or may not be anything you claim, your appeal to an obscure character’s obscure characterization as a legitimate “source” of accuracy is unprecedented, even by your ever-diminishing threshold for truth. While it certainly fits the “story,” is this the form of “source” by which you would stake your reputation? Not a year ago, it wasn’t.

    A criticism of Mark Stokoe was that he spoke in the “third person,” as if he were an “impartial” news service – as you are doing now. Each and every time you rely solely on tertiary sources, particularly anonymous – and to this day I cannot conclude if it is a lack of courage, or obstinance, or lack of a sense of fair-play – without contacting those you would accuse, I find your claims less plausible, less likely, and less credible.

    The day rapidly approaches when everyone and everything is again seen in the real world of absolutely no context with Jonah, and he will remain in the silence and obscurity he has chosen. The OCA will then need to set its eyes on future, and as St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow noted, “The night will be long.”

    • Michael, the source you call tertiary is actually a primary source. When you tell your own story, that’s a primary source. This blog has a citation and link to the primary source. You may check it out for yourself, if you like. As a primary source there is no more direct source of evidence. The individual used a pseudonym, but is not exactly anonymous. There are many identifying details in the story itself. But since the individual chose to post under a pseudonym, and since their legal name is irrelevant to the story, it would seem inappropriate to proclaim their legal name here, don’t you agree?

    • M.S. said:

      The day rapidly approaches when everyone and everything is again seen in the real world of absolutely no context with Jonah, and he will remain in the silence and obscurity he has chosen

      Here is context Jonah, whom we would sorely miss if he were to be gone. Thank God he is not silent, nor obscure.

      Here, you might enjoy this biography as Jonah weaves in and out of his life:

      http://dosoca.org/files/esc/Gerasim.BiorevisedMarch14_27_2009.pdf

  2. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    If this is true, we as Orthodox have problems. Howevr, these facts must first be vetted to see if they are true and some sort of complaint needs to be filed so a Spiritual Court can be convenied to investigate this situation. This must be done as soon as possible as this cannot allow to grow and spread.

    Peter

  3. The Russian Orthodox Church has made a clear statement on this issue.

    “Sometimes perverted human sexuality is manifested in the form of the painful feeling of one’s belonging to the opposite sex, resulting in an attempt to change one’s sex (transsexuality). One’s desire to refuse the sex that has been given him or her by the Creator can have pernicious consequences for one’s further development. «The change of sex» through hormonal impact and surgical operation has led in many cases not to the solution of psychological problems, but to their aggravation, causing a deep inner crisis. The Church cannot approve of such a «rebellion against the Creator» and recognise as valid the artificially changed sexual affiliation. If «a change of sex» happened in a person before his or her Baptism, he or she can be admitted to this Sacrament as any other sinner, but the Church will baptise him or her as belonging to his or her sex by birth. The ordination of such a person and his or her marriage in church are inadmissible” (Basic Social Concept, XII.9).

    It would behoove the OCA to issue a similar statement.

    • If «a change of sex» happened in a person before his or her Baptism, he or she can be admitted to this Sacrament as any other sinner

      It seems to me that the situation described in the post, where the person in question appears to have received the sex change prior to becoming Orthodox, is very much like what is described here in the Social Concept, especially given that he’s married to a woman (not a man) and claims to be celibate. The particularities of a any person’s life situation make it pretty well impossible for us to be able to judge at the distance of the internet how to handle a specific pastoral situation! Given that there are many details that none of us know– nor should know–we as Christians are obligated to give Bishop Benjamin the benefit of the doubt (at the very least) in his pastoral decisions.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        If we can’t tell right from wrong in this case, then we’re doomed.

        • I very much doubt that refusing to judge our brother whom we don’t even know will doom us! The Gospel seems to advise differently…..

        • Matthew 16:3-4

          ‘Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the end times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’ And Jesus left them and departed.

  4. Carl Kraeff says:

    George–Couple of questions. First, are you saying that the 2005 Encyclical by Patriarch Kyrill is normative for the OCA? Before you read too much into this, please know that this is just a question. Second, how does one address someone who has done the deed and become a transgender–delusion or not? Is the Church’s position that he/she must submit to the knife one more time? Please note that this person has confessed to everything and that we should therefore believe in her statement that she is leading a celibate life.Isn’t that what is expected of SSAs and transgenders?

    • I think Moscow’s statement is quite clear, and it makes sense. Stop dressing up and discontinue the hormones. Beyond that stop claiming you have “changed sex”. You raise an interesting point about the effects of plastic surgery. A person at that point would face very difficult decisions. Never the less to continue to live as their “changed sex” would be spiritually very dangerous.

      • Lance Hogben says:

        Pretty soon we’re going to be seeing a lot more than ‘simple’ transgenderfication (sic) coming into the Church. There will be all sorts of monstrous surgical, even genetic modifications coming into the mainstream so that we will hanker for the days of simple male/female confusion. What a job it will be for clergy to navigate that mess. We all need to get ready for a rough ride.

        • I think we have already seen various surgical changes in the churches, maybe we are unaware of them-nose jobs and other such alterations . . . All are disrespectful to who we are and how God made us.

          • Dear Colette,

            How true what you say.

            How many women are even willing to allow their own hair colors? In society, people have become so used to false faces that they look in the mirror and frighten themselves. Yet how beautiful older women can look unadorned, how wrinkles enliven a face and how makeup degrades it. It seems that we do not even see some generations much anymore although we know they exist. Some kind of plastic conformity is eclipsing God’s diversity.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Isn’t “this person” a he and not a she? Granted, he’s horribly mutilated, and that can’t be undone, but God created him male, and that can’t be undone either.

    • lexcaritas says:

      Carl, she’s claiming to be married to a wife. Celibacy is not the only, nor even the main issue. Marriage was instituted by Christ as a holy mystery uniting a man and a woman to consummate their fruitful and potentiall procreative union as one flesh in the image of Christ and His Church. This cannot be accomplished or properly reflected by pseudo-marriage between two men or two woman or two transgendered persons.

      Already on the news and in sitcoms we are being told of same sex couples/transgendered couple and the children they have together. That is delusion in spades and yet people are coming to use this language–which means having this kind of utterly illogical thinking. The Church cannot accept this. It never has; and never will. An eccelsial communion that does will no longer be of the Church but a counterfeit of it and simply antiChrist.

      lxc

    • Grammarian says:

      Undergoing gender reassignment surgery a grave sin for which one needs to repent before participating the Sacraments of the Church, otherwise such participation is unto condemnation (1 Cor. 11:27-31). What should be outward manifestations of such repentance? Three things occur to me:

      1. Use the name appropriate to your original, God-given, sex.
      2. Dress in a manner appropriate to your God-give sex.
      3. Stop taking the hormones.

      However it does not seem to me that further mutilation is appropriate or necessary. That will be corrected in the resurrection.

      For my understanding this man still thinks of himself, behaves, and goes by the name of, a woman. Whether he is celibate or not he is not living a life of repentance. We can, and must, forgive him, as the Lord’s Prayer says, but this does not mean we should condone his sin and tell him everything is alright. No, everything is far from alright, and we are sorely lacking in love for this confused person by acting in a way that indicates to him that the Church has no problem with his actions and his ongoing state.

      On this subject, please check out: http://vimeo.com/channels/purepassionchannel/3273904

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        All of you (Grammarian, lexcaritas, Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell and Caritas) make good points. I am with y’all on objecting to the use of “marriage” to depict such a union. Also, although the Moscow statement does not address what happens after the admision of a transgender person, I have to admit that the normal consequence would the expectation that they repent of their sin and do that no more (The Moscow statement does talk about one instance of a lasting after effect; the person is barred from ordination). So, what is that they are not to repeat? I happen to agree with Samn! above who said “Given that there are many details that none of us know– nor should know–we as Christians are obligated to give Bishop Benjamin the benefit of the doubt (at the very least) in his pastoral decisions.”

        Now, I would be up in arms if the Diocese of the West or the OCA were a mecca for transgenders and SSAs. That is not the case and the miniscule number of cases that there are seem to be more than anything else exceptions to the rule. Personally, I am not fond of “zero defects” mentality; we had that problem with Donatus Magnus once and I thought that we had left that sort of attitude behind. Don’t take me wrong; I think that there should be one goal but there may be differing approaches. Sometimes, the wise pastor will demand complete adherence and knowledge, as well as cessation of sins; sometimes, he will adopt a gradual approach. None of us should judge such pastoral decisions.

        • Carl and Samn write:

          “The wise pastor will demand complete adherence and knowledge, as well as cessation of sins; sometimes, he will adopt a gradual approach. None of us should judge such pastoral decisions.” (Carl)

          “We as Christians are obligated (at the very least) to give Bishop Benjamin the doubt in his pastoral decisions.” (Samn)

          I am curious… What do you think of the way Met. Jonah’s pastoral decisions were judged?

          The Synod disagreed with the pastoral decisions Met. Jonah made in three cases of sexual misconduct, and these three cases were referenced by the SMPAC in their memorandum and the Synod in their slanderous and deceitful letter in July regarding their decision to ask Met. Jonah to retire. These three pastoral decisions were in regards to three priests who have demonstrated repentence, and Met. Jonah’s pastoral guidance of these priests has reflected Christian love and true compassion.

          When will Met. Jonah be extended that same benefit of the doubt by us “Christians”?

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            NateB–I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of +Jonah’s inability (to use a polite euphenism) to follow his own policy as a matter of pastoral decisions. Obviously, I also disagree with your less than charitable characterization of the Holy Synod’s letter as “slanderous and deceitful.” You have in effect called our bishops (indeed the entire Holy Synod) as slanderers and liars. Such a bold and great accusation. Such a tragedy for you if you are guilty of the sins that you are attributing to our bishops. Lord have mercy!

            • No, Mister Kraeff. When you write: “Obviously, I also disagree with your less than charitable characterization of the Holy Synod’s letter as “slanderous and deceitful.” You have in effect called our bishops (indeed the entire Holy Synod) as slanderers and liars.”
              If you are referrring to that STINKBOMB of a “Statement”, that was NOT written by the bishops, but by Gregg Nescott and others. There is no copy of that Statement at Syosset or anywhere which has appended at the bottom the signatures of the members of the Holy Synod, as has been customary for Synodal “Statements.” So the slanderous and deceitful contents of that STINKBOMB do not besmirch the Holy Synod at all, except insofar as the Synod members allowed (if they knew of it) a a statement go out that they did not author. “Slanderous and deceitful” accurately characterize the assumption of that ‘Statement” that Father Sharon was a cleric of the OCA and had been received into the OCA. We are STILL waiting for an acknowledgement of that slander and deceit and an apology for them.
              Another most egregious characteristic of that badly written, noxious statement was its claim that the hierarchs were “bewildered” by Metropolitan Jonah’s conduct!!!!! This is bona fide prima facie evidence that they had not done due diiligence before THEY elected the tyro-bishop Jonah to be the first among them!!! While previous Holy Synods had had the b.. I mean, courage, to overrule the popular vote when in their considered judgment it was a mistake, THIS Holy Synod went ahead and slavishly followed the popular vote, perhaps out of “fear of the people.’ And now they had the nerve to complain about being “bewildered” in their choice? Metropolitan Ireney was elected in spite of an overwhelming majority of popular votes for Bishop Vladimir (Nagossky). Metropolitan
              Theodosius was elected by the Holy Synod in spite of an overwhelming majority of popular votes for Bishop Dmitri. Metropolitan Herman was elected by the Holy Synod in spite of an overwhelming majority of popular votes for Bishop Seraphim (Storheim). Who wants to say that those Synods were defective? Metropoliltan Vladimir Nagossky retired in disgrace, while Archbishop Seraphim is in an even more problematic situation.
              When today’s Holy Synod allows an incredible barrage of negative information to be bruited (often by themselves, collectively and individually) about Metropolitan Jonah, they have NEVER owned up to their responsibility for him and his incumbency. They and they alone elected him and there were others they could have elected: not only the aqed Archbishop Dmitri but even an Archbishop with a long history of alcoholic blackouts in New England and the Midwest, but, NO, THEY elected Bishop Jonah. WHEN have they ever asked for forgiveness for that from the Clergy and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America? Surely, if half of what they are saying about Metropolitan Jonah is true, such an apology and repentance is indicated, no? WHATEVER Metropolitan Jonah’s failings, he did not deserve the prideful and petty treatment meted out to him by his brother hierarchs, the ones who consecrated him Bishop and who CHOSE him as their own Primate.
              To use a polite word to characterize someone, Carl, and then qualify it as a ‘polite euphemism”, is a very sleazy sort of personal attack and backbiting. Man up, for heaven’s sake!

              • Anagnostes says:

                Vladyko,
                To the question you asked:
                WHEN have they ever asked for forgiveness for that from the Clergy and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America?,
                I would add – when will they have the decency of asking forgiveness of Met. Jonah, b/c even if it were true that his primatial tenure was a “disaster”, THEY were those who imposed upon him this service which (according to his public statement) he neither sought nor desired.
                As a comment to what you wrote elsewhere, would you think that Bp Michael, if elected (and it seems you perceive his election as very likely), would treat Met Jonah with fairness and decency as befitting a former primate?
                Thank you.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                  Actually at least in our Antiochian tradition, a Priest or Bishop asks forgiveness from the clergy and servers in the Altar and then turns and bows to the people to ask their forgiveness every time that he takes Communion. In our tradition, the presiding Priest or Bishop also asks for forgiveness before the Great Entrance. It is somewhat humbling when the Bishop bows to me before he takes Communion and asks for my forgiveness. When you bow back to the Bishop, you are forgiving him and asking him to forgive you.

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                Your Grace–I am not going to “man up” and call a spade a spade, as you recommend. I think that it is clear that I agree with the Holy Synod’s action and I do not think much of +Jonah’s conduct. The parenthetical “to use a polite euphenism” was meant to convey the strength of my thought and I believe it has served its purpose.

                That said, I am perplexed at the conventional wisdom that at the 15th AAC, +Jonah received the vast majority of the votes in the nomination process.

                Here is the official report on OCA.org: “On the first ballot, the two hierarchs receiving the greatest number of votes were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and Bishop Jonah; neither received the two-thirds majority. On the second ballot, Archbishop Job and Bishop Jonah again received the greatest number of votes, after which their names were submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for consideration and canonical election.” http://oca.org/news/archived/15th-all-american-council-a-watershed-event-for-orthodox-church-in-america

                Here the tally from a PDF of the Official Minutes:
                http://oca.org/PDF/15thAAC/15AAC.minutes.pdf

                FIRST ROUND:

                Archbishop DMITRI 10
                Archbishop NATHANIEL 9
                Archbishop JOB 212
                Archbishop SERAPHIM 33
                Bishop NIKON 5
                Bishop TIKHON 27
                Bishop BENJAMIN 75
                Bishop IRINEU 0
                Bishop ALEJO 0
                Bishop JONAH 233
                Bishop BASIL (Essey) 6
                Archpriest Michael Dahulich 16
                Igumen Alexander (Golitzin) 5
                Hieromonk Callinic (Berger) 1
                Archimandrite Zacchaeus (Wood) 1
                Bishop HILARION of Vienna 2
                Archbishop LAZAR (Puhalo) 2
                Archpriest Basil Summer 1
                Archimandrite Zacharias
                St. John’s Monastery, England 1
                Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) 2
                Archpriest Dennis Bradley 1
                Number of uncast votes: 3
                Total: 645
                Needed for 2/3: 430
                (Carl’s calculations) +Job: 212/645= 32.87%, +Jonah: 233/645=36.12%

                SECOND ROUND:

                Archbishop DMITRI 35
                Archbishop NATHANIEL 9
                Archbishop JOB 364
                Archbishop SERAPHIM 42
                Bishop NIKON 19
                Bishop TIKHON 75
                Bishop BENJAMIN 140
                Bishop IRINEU 3
                Bishop ALEJO 3
                Bishop JONAH 473
                Bishop BASIL (Essey) 22
                Monk Stavros (Lever) 2
                Archpriest Michael Dahulich 31
                Igumen Alexander (Golitzin) 6
                Archpriest David Mahaffey 2
                Archbishop LAZAR (Puhalo) 3
                Archbishop Nikiphoros 1
                Archpriest Basil Summer 6
                Igumen Patrick (Carpenter) 2
                Bishop MARK of Toledo 1
                Archimandrite Juvenaly (Repass) 1
                Archpriest Oleg Kirilov 4
                Archimandrite Zacharias
                St. John’s Monastery, England 2
                Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) 16
                Archpriest Dennis Bradley 2
                Metropolitan HILARION (ROCOR) 2
                Bishop Hilarion of Vienna 2
                Archpriest Dennis Pihach 2
                Archimandrite Vladimir (Wendling) 1
                Archpriest David Brum 1
                Archpriest Cyprian Hutcheon 1
                Priest David Mezynski 1
                Number of uncast votes: 12
                Invalid Votes: 4
                Total: 1290
                (Carl’s Calculations) +Job: 364/1290= 28.22%, +Jonah: 473/1290= 36.67%

          • I have no interest in judging either Met. Jonah or the Synod, nor do I have the knowledge or competency to. On the other hand, it is the job of bishops to judge in cases where their judgment is needed. That’s an important distinction- how we as ordinary Christians are to deal with others’ sins and how pastors are to deal with the sins of those under their care.

            I’m not saying that this whole business about Met. Jonah’s resignation isn’t very confusing. It’s clear that something was going on beyond what has been publicly stated. But when in our questions and conversations we replace Christian love and humility with the spirit of political conflict– or worse, the spirit of idle judgment– we’ve ceased to act as members of the Church and have fallen into behaving like a quarreling faction.

            The man described in this post is our brother in Christ, new to the faith and suffering from an affliction that is perhaps so foreign to our experience or our imagination that it might be hard to empathize. The exotic, politicized nature of his affliction does not somehow make it okay to parse, as though it were a sport, the details of his sins and to judge the bishop into whose care God has placed him!

            I’m not saying that it’s wrong to discuss or ask for clarification about how the Church deals with a given moral question…. But talking about the particulars of the situation or the sins of a brother of ours amounts to nothing more than gossip! And how many of us could handle our own sins being treated with complete akriveia?

            Those who are worried about Orthodoxy following the path of the Episcopal Church should realize that when they replace a Christian mindset for a partisan mindset, they are encouraging and not fighting such a trajectory!

            • George Michalopulos says:

              Samn! I beg to differ. The idea that those who are critical of bishops when criticism is warranted are not necessarily pursuing a “partisan” program (though some may be). ECUSA did not become the blasphemous laughing-stock it is today because the orthodox Anglicans were being “partisan.” It became the laughing-stock because the leadership became heretical. We in the OCA have the right and the duty to stand up and take our leaders to task. We may very well fail, regardless we shall be able to face our Lord on that dread day and say “at least we tried.”

            • Carl Kraeff says:

              I agree that the mindset has unfortunately changed into a partisan one. I pray that we can all eschew partisanship and return to our usual concerned and cautionary one.

        • If you reread the post you will note that the author characterizes +Benjamin’s council as being supportive of so called TG’s. This would be a completely different discussion if +Benjamin had been reported counselling this person that they would eventually have to stop living as a woman. Smiling and nodding does nobody any good.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            Andreas, thank you for pointint out what I beleve to be the real travesty in all this (besides the fact that “Xenia” mutiated God’s creation), and that is the teaching that the Orthodox Church will gradually move in his direction. In the meantime, she can continue to be “married,” attend Church, partake of the Sacraments, and overall be a pillar of HT in SF.

        • Carl

          The couple in question cannot be admitted to the Body and Blood of Christ while existing in the delusion that they are married. Whatever the union they have that they called marriage is not according the The Holy Church actually marriage. For Bishop Benjamin to allow this novel doctrine and redefinition and give access to the Holy Mysteries reveals that He is not rightly dividing the Word of Truth. The Monks who did not allow them to eat and drink to their condemnation where in fact acting as the “good Shepherd ” for their souls.

          B. Benjamin had as a guide the statement from the MP and the teaching of Marriage itself and Ignored both and created by himself without the input of brother Bishops/Churches a novel doctrine. This is not Economia it is a new teaching. The rest of the OCA bishops sit and without condemnation allow for the novel teaching which makes them culpable. This is not the normative Orthodox approach to pastoral care. It is an approach informed by a norm of the present culture but is ignorant of what is necessary for the healing of these people’s soul. Thankfully the statement from the MP shows a very great awareness of the care of souls and should be used as normative.

          • Kathy Erickson says:

            If the MP’s statement is “normative,” then Archbishop Benjamin has followed it. The surgery happened before admittance, the couple are living celibate lives (I hope we can all agree that it is sexual activity and not just same-sex attraction that is inadmissible), and refer to their marriage as a “legal” marriage, also occuring before baptism, suggesting they understand the difference between sacramental marriage of the church and the legal process. They are obviously young in the faith and searching for truth and help. I have been Orthodox nine years. I am not the same person I was on the day of my baptism and nine years from now if they remain faithful and serious in their faith, they will not be the same persons either. I also agree with Samn!.

            By the way, where is the retraction on this site for the false accusation that Archbishop Benjamin allowed the sacramental marriage of a homosexual couple in the San Francisco Cathedral?

            • Carl Kraeff says:

              Kathy–It is very comforting to know that other folks feel the same way. Thank you very much for stepping forward and sharing your opinion. In Christ, Carl

            • Actually, it’s not. The problem is

              1) This man continues to live as a woman
              2) +Benjamin smiled and nodded
              3) This is a kind of test case. There is some room to maneuver because the couple is technically of opposing gender. However, if you read the spirit of this person’s posting you can see that they have an agenda that is contrary to the Church and they are in complete denial that what they are doing is spiritually harmful for themselves, the children of the family, and the parishioners of the Cathedral.

            • Kathy,
              “I hope we can all agree that it is sexual activity and not just same-sex attraction that is inadmissible”
              I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say with that sentence (what is the import of the “just”? If it was left out, would that convey your meaning, or am I doing you an injustice in interpreting it that way? Only your apparent support for the couple would seem to indicate that my interpretation is correct). I think it is better to say that same-sex attraction is disordered; that is, it is a reflection of the sinfulness of humankind and therefore “inadmissable”. Same sex activity is then the sinful act that grows out of the sinful orientation. In the same way, one can say that stealing is an act of the covetous heart: “for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Please understand that I am not writing specifically about the couple in question, about whom I know nothing, but about general principles. Do you understand my point? I am concerned that homosexuals in the church will get a “leave pass”, so to speak, from the matter of addressing their hearts, while the rest of us “ordinary sinners”, the murderers, adulterers, fornicators, thieves etc., of course, do not. In the end, that is a failure to address the spiritual needs of the homosexual, a failure to apply the Gospel to them in all its fulness. “Oh, we’re progressive here; we understand about your orientation, it’s OK. Live together? Sure! Just don’t commit the act”. No, the disordered orientation must be repented of as well, only then can the Spirit begin to renew the homosexual person in God’s image and likeness. Furthermore, the failure to deal with this issue properly will undoubtedly cause scandal and confusion among the faithful, not to mention placing temptation in the path of the homosexual person who may very well be trying to live a God-pleasing life.

              • M. Stankovich says:

                I have heard this concept, “leave pass,” and “free pass” which leads me to conclude that there was a sort of Plessy v Fergusson ruling I missed in Orthodox Ethics? This is terminology utilized exclusively by heterosexual men who appear to be expressing dissatisfaction at being “shortchanged” on an immorality “technicality.” And the stupidity culminates in another thread where Fr. Thomas Hopko is falsely accused of preaching a separate “morality” altogether for homosexuals: “sin while we talk about it over a little communion.”

                I have made the argument, and I will continue to make the argument that the Church condemns any and all sexual activity outside the marriage of one man and one woman. But it is not sinful, per se, to have same-sex attraction and entirely possible to live one’s life in a state of chastity, singlemindedness, purity, faithfulness, and obedience to which all Orthodox Christians are called – in the complete and total fulness of the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. And far too often, it is in shameful spite of many of us. The theology is clear and unchanging. The science is “moderate” and emergent. It is the pastoral approaches that pitifully lag far behind.

                We should be ashamed that we allow clergy to advocate sending our loved ones & children to heretical Protestant charlatan practitioners with unproven “methods,” when the Orthodox Church is the Fountain of Healing, the very Throne of the Physician and Healer. Mr. Coin has a headache. Mine is from the heart.

                • Mr Stankovich,

                  I quote from Fr Thomas Hopko:

                  “Given the traditional Orthodox understanding of the Old and New Testament scriptures as expressed in the Church’s liturgical worship, sacramental rites, canonical regulations and lives and teachings of the saints, it is clear that the Orthodox Church identifies solidly with those Christians, homosexual and heterosexual, who consider homosexual orientation as a disorder and disease, and who therefore consider homosexual actions as sinful and destructive.” (http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/ethics/hopko_homosexual_christian.htm)
                  [italics mine].
                  Note Fr Hopko uses the same term as I did in reference to homosexual orientation: disorder.
                  We are at least agreed that persons of homosexual orientation can and should aspire to live God-pleasing lives, which necessarily involves chastity, but I ask you how that can be possible without at least beginning to address the problem of the disordered state that leads to the sin of unchastity? As with all sinners, such a project will likely not be complete this side of heaven, but why do you deny the appropriateness of addressing the heart in such cases? Is not that how you would approach the habitual thief, adulterer, drunkard/idolater…? Can the Gospel not heal the disease of the sinful heart? (And btw, I am not thinking of the various programs apparently run by Protestants, of which I know nothing, but of the application of Orthodox principles of spiritual theology.)

                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Basil,

                    Of course it is disorder! It is evidence par excellence of fallen humanity and no reflection of the intention or desire of our God in the creation, “as it was in the beginning.” But so is autosomal recessive familial adenomatous polyposis, a genetically influenced form of colorectal cancer that is devastatingly morbid in its pathology. The question then becomes, when the Lord says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6) did He intend qualifiers of “the way,” specific” to how one has been affected by our fallen humanity? Or is the Church not satisfied in calling everyone to a life of chastity, singlemindedness, piety, purity, and obedience? I have never attempted to segregate same-sex attraction as “unique” or of a special classification or consideration. In fact, exactly the opposite. It is no more or no less than any other disordered state consequential to our fallen humanity.

                    • Thank you for that clarification, Mr. Stankovich. I do confess I sometimes have difficulty understanding what you write, but that was eminently clear.

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                Basil–I do agree with everything that you have said. My problem is one of timing and approach and not the principle or the end goal. I am in the behavioral health field (I am not a counselor but a planner) and have encountered many different approaches amongst substance abuse clinicians towards sobriety. The approach that seems to my amateur eyes to be the most logical one is to meet the client where he is and to work with him to achieve his objectives. Other approaches, such as demanding 100% disclosure or imposing the goal complete abstinence sound good but do not work in practice. One sees less of client buy in, but sees more relapses and a longer period of time until sobriety is achieved. In other words, I see a parallel here where folks are legitimately concerned with the principle and perhaps not so much with the sinner, or they are emphasizing the goal in such absolute and strident fashion that they risk violating the principle of :”hate the sin but love the sinner.”

                As I indicated above, a spiritual father, under the guidelines of his bishop, is best situated to use economia or akribia. Indeed, it is the prerogative of a bishop to decree that in his diocese certain cases will be handled with economia, akribia or both. One of the attractive features of Orthodoxy is such flexibility. I would hate us to become legalistic as the RCs. Most of all, I deeply regret this flood of second guessing of pastoral decisions, especially in public. I mean that I can understand such public display of alarm and condemnation as a result of a numerous instances of bad pastoral decisions. I just cannot understand why this is happening on the basis of a handful of cases. Unless of course, some folks are perfectionists and have no logs to worry about.

                ADDED: I came across these and wonder how we can incorporate them into our approach.

                “14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5

                “1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Galatians 6

            • lexcaritas says:

              But, Kathy, they are still claiming to be married and they can’t be. Marriage was instituted by the Word of God at Creation so that a man his wife could be united as one flesh and together be fruitful and multiply and filll up the earth exercising their priesthood and lordship over creation in His image and likeness and reflecitng the union between Christ and His Church.

              A woman who has “married” a man who made himself into a woman cannot be his wife and he cannot be her husband in this sense. Certainly the may live together as friends and brethren sharing the same roof and the same table and offering each other mutual support and companionship. They may love each othe.r. But they cannot be married and to claim to be so gives the lie to the meaning of the word and fosters disorder in God’s creation. I fail to see that their celibacy is the issue. Their characterization of their relationship is.

              lxc

  5. Harry Coin says:

    These sex change issues give me a headache like thinking about ‘would you be alive if you went back in time and made sure your parents never met?”

    So, someone male, marries a woman then pays doctors to change appearances, and then continues to live with his wife? Is that what happened?

    Or did someone male cause the doctors to change his appearances to female, then get some non – church marriage to a woman (like, the sort that can bear children)?

    What are we going to do? Require the doctors change him back, then get a church wedding? I mean, you know, some things you can’t reverse even if you’d like to.

    I have a headache. I’m glad these are one in several million sort of questions.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

      I’m with you on this. This is why we need crystal clear teachings, not dancing around the issue.

    • lexcaritas says:

      Harry, see Grammarian’s advice above:

      Undergoing gender reassignment surgery a grave sin for which one needs to repent before participating the Sacraments of the Church, otherwise such participation is unto condemnation (1 Cor. 11:27-31). What should be outward manifestations of such repentance? Three things occur to me:

      1. Use the name appropriate to your original, God-given, sex.
      2. Dress in a manner appropriate to your God-give sex.
      3. Stop taking the hormones.

      lxc

      • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says:

        To cease taking the hormones would have very serious and possibly life threatening consequences.

        Guy
        (Born a guy, still a guy, married to a great gal)

        • Are you saying one can never stop taking hormones??

        • Sorry, not going to buy that one. A person can be weaned from them etc..

          • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says:

            I’m amazed at how many experts on transgender medical issues and androgen hormonal therapy we have reading this forum! Just based on statistics alone, I am shocked that so many well educated and informed experts read such a conservative Orthodox blog!

            Colette or Andreas, did you attend the recent forum at John Hopkins on HRT for FTM featuring Dr. Toby R. Meltzer? I would really like to get a copy of the paper he presented.

            While I am FAR from an expert, from what I have read and the one conference I attended on post surgical psychiatric care, I came away with the understanding that once the HRT is stopped there there are severe medical consequences that lead to a slow death in FTM long term recipients of HRT. Though unlike Andreas, I would not DARE render a medical opinion as I am unqualified to do so.

            GW

            • Don’t tell me medical opinions don’t change over time and that horrid mistakes have never been made by experts of the day. We as human beings are always growing in knowledge about such things. 100 years from now, they may think your recent papers silly.
              Tell me though, how does this differ from a menopausal woman whose hormones have stopped and now “needs” to take them? Is it the same kind of affect to stop the hormones?

              • George Michalopulos says:

                Collette, as someone who’s in the healthcare field, I can tell you without a doubt that horrible mistakes are made all the time, all based on the latest “science”. Waterboarding for example was once an accepted method of treating people in psysochtic states. Electro-shock therapy and the severing of the corporus collusum (the nerve that binds both hemispheres of the brain together.) Pre-frontal lobotomies were popular as well.

                • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says:

                  Pre-frontal lobotomies were popular as well.

                  Perhaps a revival of this technique would be appropriate for several members of the oca synod?

                  GW

            • Michael Bauman says:

              “…once it is stopped it leads to a slow death” All the more reason never to start it in the first place.

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

              What is FTM?

              • Female-to-Male — i.e., biological females “transitioning” to “present” as males despite still being biological and genetic females.

            • According to his surgery guide website, HRT is stopped a couple weeks before surgery. Later, I don’t know but the site allows email and telephone access to him if you want his papers

              http://www.tmeltzer.com/

              http://www.tssurgeryguide.com/Dr_Meltzer.html

      • Archpriest John Morris says:

        Despite the propaganda from the so called Transgendered crowd, there is no way to make a man a woman. Until they can change his chromosomes by replacing a Y chromosome in a man with an X chromosome so that he has two X chromosomes and can get pregnant and have a baby, all a transgendered man is a castrated man. He is not a real woman.
        It is quite ironic that the pro-gay crowd argues that they are born that way and cannot change and that any effort to help them change into heterosexuals does great damage to them. However, the same crowd argues that if a man who wants to become a woman, they can mutilate his body, fill it with hormones and dress him up like a woman although in reality he is still genetically a man.

        • Priest Justin Frederick says:

          Exactly right, Father. Genetic science is clear on this.

        • Lord Save says:

          Thank you for saying it father!

        • M. Stankovich says:

          Fr. John,

          I likewise find it equally ironic that a man, and a priest at that, responsible for ministering to homosexuals however inadvertently, could be so demonstrably misinformed and ignorant of human genetics and reparative therapies. No one of any legitimacy claims that genetics predispose homosexuality, no one. Secondly, you obviously have no insight into the distinctions between desires, inclinations, and orientation. Nor do you seem to have the vaguest idea as to what, exactly, the heretical, Protestant, charlatan practitioners of “reparative therapies” for homosexuality are doing. In my academically contentious Dept. of Psychiatry, you would be a laughingstock.

          I have posted links to what I have written regarding these matters, not as dogmatic admonishment, but as “dialog” in bioethics & pastoral approaches. I painstakingly have documented my sources – from Scripture, to the Partristic Fathers, to contemporaneous medical science – in order that everything might be transparent & scrutinized, that it is not simply “opinion” I have drawn indiscriminately. It is quite obvious that you have concluded you have nothing to learn. I would suggest ignorance is not bliss. It is foolish and unbecoming. These pastoral confrontations will only increase, and talking off the top of your head is insufficient.

          • Anonymous Triple says:

            Stanky, how come most of your posts are always about you?

          • David Yentzen says:

            I generally try to simply read and not post here as I think it is best but I am wondering why so many Orthodox both on this site and in general are attempting to reinvent the wheel. The entire issue of sexuality, sexual identification, and sexual multilation has been fully and comprehensily addressed by the Church and the Holy Fathers already. As well as the Church has, long ago, placed a through system of treatment for what can be termed acts of mental unhappiness, that is acts of immorality. It is probable that most parish priests are unprepared for this type of orthodox therapy but surely can help a needful person to the appropriate spiritual physician. It might benefit your readers to stop relying so much on modern/secular pyschology and pay more attention to what the Fathers have taught( already) on the issue of sexuality and gender identity. Of special interest, H. Tristram Engelhardt’s book ” The Foundations of Chrisitian Bioethics” addresses most if not all of the bioethical issues being inadequately discussed in this post. He is Orthodox and a professor of Philosophy, Ethics, and medicine at Rice University. He gives the topics of sexuality, gender identity, and sexual mutilation a very concise, very orthodox perspective…..citing appropriate Church canon where needed.

            • M. Stankovich says:

              Mr. Yentzen,

              I suspect the Patristic Fathers never quite imagined that it would be possible to surgically re-configure male genitalia, for all intents & purposes save reproduction, into a near-perfect replica of its female counterpart; implants could mimic the “look and feel” of human breasts; adjunctive hormone therapy would suppress or encourage gender-specific characteristics such as body hair, pitch of the voice, and so on; and other collateral surgical procedures that, in many cases, render transformations indistinguishable from their birth-gender. And only later, perceiving their error, should such a person return to the Church… what? A 30-year old genetic man with an expertly crafted replica vagina, perfect breasts from implants, surgically-created female facial and body characteristics, and a soft alto voice and a smooth complexion secondary to adjunctive hormone administration. Which canons and which Fathers have provided us the “wheel” you suggest? By “analogy,” or by “extrapolation?” And who will determine the appropriateness of these “analogies?” Shall we all consult H. Tristram Engelhardt?

              And what do you suggest we do with emergent data regarding genetic and epigenetic influences on human behaviour? Ignore it? Deny its significance? Even at this preliminary, seminal stage of investigation, no legitimate researcher proposes any genetic determinate or mitigation for any human behaviour, but simply insight that may be of value in the future in regard to treatment and prevention. Nevertheless, it is clear that for some individuals, as a result of our fallen nature, in this broken life, they have a heritable increased risk that the Fathers undoubtedly never suspected. Would any of this knowledge have altered our theology? Certainly not. But it may well have altered their pastoral directives sooner.

              If all has been said that needs to be said, Mr. Yentzen, then why preach “about” the Gospel? Why read Florovsky, Schmemann, Pomazansky, Evdokimov, Meyendorff, Verhovskoy, and Engelhardt? The Scripture and the Fathers have said it already. Of special interest to you would be St. Gregory Palamas, who rejected any notion that would limit the Divine Energy of the Father: ever-active, ever-working, ever-directive; and St. Andrew of Crete, who speaks of the Holy Spirit: God from God, Fire from Fire, inspiring, leading, teaching, “going wherever He wishes.” In every case, “uncontainable and dynamic.” We are not a “museum” to Orthodoxy,” but a living Church directed by the wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit

              We are bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings at the Hand of the Creator as “symphonia,” and attempts to address these issues as if they are “simply” spiritual disorders, or “simply” psychological disorders, or “simply” medical disorders needlessly results in failure. And this whole time, during the immeasurable human suffering, the protracted intolerance, the shameful hate and exclusion, the answer was right under our noses in the person of H. Tristram Engelhardt. Why didn’t I think of that?

              • George Michalopulos says:

                They did understand castration though. Castration before puberty resulted in the victims growing long, luxurient hair and having high-pitched voiced –females for all intents and purposes. And that these eunuchs often served as sodomites in homoerotic relationships.

                • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says:

                  Excellent point.
                  So, when our Lord spoke of eunuchs from the womb, what did He mean?
                  Matt 19:10-12

                  • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says:

                    No one? Really?
                    Probably best.

                    • Guy, it seems to me this is a very encouraging clue in the Scriptures that atypical biological conditions can exist as an accident of genetics or in-utero conditions from birth, and that this does not mitigate the remainder of the instructions in Scripture regarding the place for a physical sexual relationship, i.e., one man with one woman monogamy. It is important to realize that the context of the passage is the place of “not marrying” within the Kingdom, and in the context as well as the whole context of Scripture, this implies sexual abstinence.

                  • “For there are some who are eunuchs from their mother’s womb, that is by their physical temperament are never aroused towards sexual intercourse, so they are chaste without thereby deriving any profit. And there are those who have been made eunuchs by men. Those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake are not those who have castrated themselves (for that is an accursed deed), but those who exercise self-control…”THE EXPLANATION BY BLESSED THEOPHYLACT, ARCHBISHOP OF OCHRID AND BULGARIA OF THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.'”

                • George, please tell me you’re no priest. The pejorative use of the term “sodomite” comes right out of the lexicon of the Evangelical Synagogue and is beneath the dignity of even a layman in Orthodoxy.

                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    OK, I’m not a priest. And what’s wrong with “sodomite”? It’s a perfectly good word. If it was good enough for the Church Fathers it should be good enough for you (unless of course you know better than they).

                  • The word itself is a pejorative.
                    And my online dictionary gives no synonyms for it.
                    The rest of Antaeus’ comment about it is simply incomprehensible.

                  • Anteaus,

                    I resemble that remark! I was an Evangelical for most of my several decades life and never heard that term employed unless the particular passage in the OT from whence it hails was being exposited. In the context of the “culture wars,” I never heard it used in my former Evangelical circles, and I have great respect for our Evangelical brethren.

                  • Antaeus,

                    Which is worse: the term? Or the deed it describes?

                • George, I think you meant “catamite” when you characterized eunuchs, who are incapable of sodomizing anybody or anything, as becoming sodomites, didn’t you?

                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    Not really. “Sodomy” as I understand it is any type of extra-marital sexual contact at least as broadly understood theologically. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) From a sexological standpoint, “sodomist” = catamite whereas “sodomist” = perpetrators.

              • Michael Bauman says:

                A living Church, yes by taking on more of the life of Christ. A living Church that is dough in the hands of the arrogance of modernity…not so much.

                And of course the wisdom of the Holy Fathers all needs to be reinterpreted in the light of modern knowledge because we know better.

                Mr. Stankovich. over a year of the same clap-trap inverting priorities of knowledge and methods of thought. Why don’t you stop?

                • M. Stankovich says:

                  Mr. Bauman,

                  I intend to stop when I have been corrected as being in conflict or opposition to the Scripture, the Patristic Fathers, the Canonical Writings & Codex, and sacred Traditions of the Orthodox Church. Until that time, I am proposing information that equalizes emergent biogenetic data in the bio-psycho-social-spirital “symphonia” that is at the Hand of the Creator: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27)

                  Clearly, Mr. Bauman, you are unable to distinguish the difference between “reinterpret” and “rearticulate” in the light of modern knowledge. The issue I address is neither theology nor anthropology; as Mr. Yentzen has stated, these are abundantly clear and unchanging. The issue(s) I have attempted to address are pastoral.

                  Over a year of your inability of grasp my position, Mr. Bauman. Not one single reference to anything outside your own head, your “opinion.” And what? Lack of courage to even approach your own Bishop? You have no business “correcting” me, Mr. Bauman, none, because you are incapable. This is not arrogance, it is fact.

                  • Michael Bauman says:

                    Since you, Mr. Stankovich, are the one offering alternative opinions to Holy Tradition, it is up to you to approach any bishop you choose. but how do you know I have not? Would you even believe me if I said I had? Doubtful. Just another straw man to foment about.

                    I personally don’t believe that long quotes of dubious relevance culled from a reading of a certain father amounts to any proof at all. In fact I have always been taught that one should use quotes only as a last resort when it is absolutely necessary to make a point otherwise they weaken one’s argument. Plus, I dare say your opinions are just as much in your own head.

                    Your opinons seemed to be formed by non- even anti-Christian sources arrived at within a philosphy of humanity which is dubious at best and down-right evil at worst. Taken out of that context, your facts are not facts.

                    The context is and always has been the contention. You consistently demand that everything be considered only in your context with a little Orthodox icing to make it look good. I don’t buy the authority of that context at all. There is certainly no authority there to question or reinterpret Holy Tradition as you seem to think.

                    Of course, when challenged you blow up in a stirring stream of ad hominum attacks and boring recitations of your own superiority and the progress of modernity. What is the psychology of that type of behavior?

                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Mr. Bauman,

                      I guess that pretty much settles the issue as to whether he you have the courage to test your contentions with an independent arbitrator. Again, I don’t appreciate you projecting your insecurities onto me.

              • Michael Bauman says:

                A living Church, yes by taking on more of the life of Christ. A living Church that is dough in the hands of the arrogance of modernity…not so much.

                Dr. Englehardt is one of the leading experts on bioethics in the world and a faithful Orthodox man. I dare say Mr. Stankovich that he is a good site smarter and more expert than you. The kind of expert who you say we should consult…except he doesn’t buy into your scientistic assumptions therefore his facts are not facts.

                • David Yentzen says:

                  I expected the near hysterical response to my post from Mr. Stankovich I was however surprised nonetheless. Surprised that he would indirectly criticise me by maligning the good, honest and reasonable work of a Christian. Surprised that in order to criticise me he would border on treating the teachings of the Holy Fathers in a condescending manner. How utterly pathetic, small minded, and throughly unchristian to attack me by demeaning someone else. Mr Stankovich knows full well that research in the social sciences are so loaded with political correctness as to render the possiblity of value free research unattainable.
                  But let me return to my orginal post, that which engendered Mr Stankovich’s response. I did not suggest to eliminate the use of modern pyschology but merely to add to it and at times make use of alternatives. It is not as if I suggested using solitary confinement or sensory deprivation or even lobotomies( all of which have been “treatments” of modern pyschology in the past). No, no, no I had the audacity, the uppity to suggest looking to the teaching of the Holy Fathers as a help and to look outside of modern pyschology towards christian-based deontological ethical standards instead of looking towards a soft science based largely on situational ethics. And me a mere clover. It is not as if we are to die to the world and put on Christ, leaving the world……how else do we do that but by taking on a new way of relating to the world, a new mind if you will instead of bringing the old dead world in with us.
                  I have far, far better tasks to do than to play word games with Mr Stankovich. I posted to give people alternatives, I did that. I let Mr Stankovich’s caustic posts speak for themselves. Indeed, his posts make my case for me better than I can for myself…….Thanks!

                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Mr. Yentzen,

                    I come from an environment of academic debate, and while the debate may at times be contentious, it is never personal. It was not my intention to “attack” you personally, and I apologize if that is how my response appeared.

                    I would note that human genetics, neurology, and psychiatry are not social sciences, and while I disagree with you opinion of the character of social science, this is not the time to do so. I am trained in human medicine, not psychology. Further, I am a proud graduate of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; and to offer some perspective, first and foremost, my heart is filled with love of the Patristic Fathers, not scientists.

                    I will not belabour the point, but simply say that had you taken the time to familiarize yourself to what I have actually written, I could hardly imagine you charging me with appealing to “soft science and situational ethics.” If I am not mistaken, I have devoted considerable effort in attempting to merely equalize biogenetic factors with social, psychological, and spiritual factors that constitute our Orthodox anthropology. I ask you again, what are we to do with emergent hard science data regarding human behaviour?

                    Let me be clear, Mr. Yentzen, I am not offering answers and I do not promote them as such. By offering emergent data, I am encouraging dialogue and discussion of pastoral approaches based on “alternatives.”

                    • Michael, what makes hard science hard?

                      I’ve spent many years in academic settings, and the real debates always become personal. You spend too much time complaining that people aren’t listening to you and too little saying the things that you believe are so important. A link will suffice if you have said it well already.

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

              David, haven’t you been paying attention? The problem isn’t that we don’t have what the Church has taught us, the problem is that we’re NOT getting proper guidance from those who should be giving it, keeping in mind what the Church has taught us.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            I make no claim to be a psychologist. I do know this. The pro-gay lobby is so powerful that they prevent any serious scientific study of the subject of homosexuality. Recently at the University of Texas, a sociologists wrote a paper that shows that children do better when raised by a mother and a father. The politically correct crown tried to have him fired because his conclusions did not fit into their agenda.
            Frankly, I took as little science as possible when I was an undergraduate. History is my subject. But I do know a few things. I do know that the difference between a man and a woman is that a man has XY chromosomes and a woman has XX chromosomes. Until they can change a man’s chromosomes and make it possible for him to get pregnant and have a baby a transsexual man supposedly made into a woman is simply a castrated man dressed up as a woman.
            I also know that no matter how much you try to rationalize it, the primary purpose of sex is reproduction. As an Orthodox Christian, I believe that God created sex for marriage, which by divine decree is between one man and one woman.
            Whether or not a homosexual can be turned into a normal heterosexual, I do not know. I do know that with the help of God a homosexual can live a moral life, which in this case is a chaste and celibate life because any sex outside of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is sinful. A non-married heterosexual also has desires and is tempted, but is called by God to refrain from sex until he or she is married. After marriage, he or she is required by God to have sex only with his or her spouse.

            • Troubled Soul says:

              God created the divine/perfect, & the imperfect. Here’s just a sample of genetic disorders that can plague any of us.

              http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/Y
              http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/X

              It’s not as simple as X and Y. You may think you’re theologians, but genetic experts, you are not.

            • It’s not that simple, Fr. John. Sometimes a female is born with X and Y chromosomes: it’s a condition called Swyer Syndrome. She will be a woman, with female genitalia, and a uterus, but she will not have functioning female gonads and will therefore be sterile.

              Also, males can have two X chromosomes, which is de la Chapelle Syndrome. They are men, but they too will be sterile.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                I’ve also read of cases where the person was born as one sex, and then somehow, the body started producing hormones (around puberty) that caused it to change to another sex. There is a medical term for this condition. But this is a very, very, very rare case. I might have saved a link to that blog somewhere on my hard drive but I’m not positive; it was years ago that I read through that blog where she documented her case (she was born a male).

                • Yes the Yanomami Tribe. I read this years ago, but they have a place in their society for such a person.

                  • Rdr. James says:

                    ber·dache (br-dsh)
                    n. Usage Problem
                    Among certain Native American peoples, a person, usually a male, who assumes the gender identity and is granted the social status of the opposite sex.
                    [North American French, from French bardache, catamite, from Italian dialectal bardascia, from Arabic bardaj, slave, from Persian bardah, prisoner, from Middle Persian vartak, from Old Iranian *varta-; see wel- in Indo-European roots.]
                    ber·dachism n.
                    Usage Note: Due to the derogatory implications implicit in the etymology of berdache, contemporary Native Americans have suggested that its scholarly use be discontinued. Among the alternatives in current use, the most widely employed is two-spirit. Other scholars use specific native terms, such as winkte (from Lakota) or nadle (from Navajo), or else use a literal translation, such as “man-woman,” of a native word.

              • Charles Demetrios says:

                Yet, they are still distinctly male or female, Helga. Transgendering is a phenomenon that is, due to the medical tech available, unique to our present time. I agree with those who say that it is prelest to do this, and that the person involved needs to be lovingly exhorted to give up this charade and start living as he was created by God and his parents.

                • Of course they are, Charles… but not by their phenotype. Fr. John was incorrect.

                  • Charles Demetrios says:

                    Yet these examples you cite are of chromosomal abnormalities which occur in utero. Fr. John’s point is still valid, as it is impossible to change one’s phenotype, just as it is impossible to change one’s DNA. And I also agree with the post below by Fr. Hans about the examples you’re citing. Born male = male; born female = female. Sadly, due to the sinfulness of the world and the times in which we find ourselves, we must deal with these issues. Kyrie eleison imas! Maranatha kai soson imas!

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                These rare cases are biological anomalies and have no real bearing on the norm. The resultant sterility makes the point too in its own way. It’s no different than, say, Downs Syndrome.

            • NIH search

              Results 1 – 10 of about 121 for homosexuality and genetics. Search took 0.12 seconds

              Chat Q&A: Is homosexuality genetic?
              … 337, Is homosexuality genetic? Amy Gaviglio, MS, CGC: This question
              has been asked and explored many, many times …
              http://www.genome.gov/DNADay/q.cfm?aid=337&year=2011 – 37k – 04-01-20112011-04-01 – Cached

              Chat Q&A: Is homosexuality a genetic trait?
              … 483, Is homosexuality a genetic trait? Christy Haakonsen, BS: According to
              current scientific knowledge, there isn’t a “gene” for homosexuality. …
              http://www.genome.gov/DNADay/q.cfm?aid=483&year=2010 – 38k – 04-01-20102010-04-01 – Cached
              [ More results from http://www.genome.gov/DNADay/q.cfm ]

              Genetic Factors and Interrelationships for Sexual Orientation …
              … levels, or HLA haplotype; and 3) that alcoholism and other psychobehavioral
              conditions are associated with homosexuality on a genetic basis and …
              clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00001294 – 32k – Cached

              [TEXT] cd;* Yale: Gender Matters (September 17, 2001) 4Je …
              … [ KV\OW Ic%~CL ab” rww\ i The second story concerns the search for a genetic
              predisposition or predilection for male homosexuality in at least …
              profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/DJBBQV.ocr – 16k – 08-30-20072007-08-30 – Cached

              [PDF] SG q )cc
              … characterize as main-stream areas of molecular genetics. The search … Page
              10. 10 homosexuality might be inherited, just as only a small subset of …
              profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/DJBBQV.pdf – 08-30-20072007-08-30 – Text Version
              [ More results from profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access ]

              2011 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript
              … Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. … Her
              background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. …
              http://www.genome.gov/27544125 – 300k – 04-01-20152015-04-01 – Cached

              Genetic Testing Report-Chapter 1
              … Several respondents asked the Task Force to comment on genetic testing
              for non-medical conditions, such as homosexuality or other behavioral …
              http://www.genome.gov/10002405 – 87k – Cached
              [ More results from http://www.genome.gov ]

              NLM Classification Index P
              … Gaucher’s Disease see Gaucher Disease Gays see Homosexuality, Male Mesh …
              WS 200 Prenatal diagnosis QZ 50 Veterinary genetics SF 756.5 …
              http://www.nlm.nih.gov/class/index_g.html – 228k – 06-22-20122012-06-22 – Cached

              Genetics May Help Fine-Tune Warfarin Dosage
              … Genetics May Help Fine-Tune Warfarin Dosage. Formula that includes
              DNA data proves faster, more accurate in early tests. …
              http://www.nigms.nih.gov/News/Mentions/dnatest_022709.htm – 51k – Cached

              [PDF] From: A Vashlishan_Murray [mailto:A_Vashlishan_Murray …
              … have already been developed for establishing meaningful genetic associations
              (Chanock … appear to play a role in homosexuality, criminality and …
              oba.od.nih.gov/oba/gtr/comments/Genetics_and_Society_Working_Group.pdf – 09-17-20102010-09-17 – Text Version

              • M. Stankovich says:

                loh,

                I would only hope that if you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to experience something as complex as, say, a cardiac event, you will not be forced to rely on your physician’s foolish grandstanding of medicine via internet in order to save you.

                You can bet your little ol’ common sense that I did not learn human medicine or genetics from Google. Nor did I earn my seminary degree continuously speaking of what I had no knowledge. In both cases, I closed my mouth and listened with respect and dedication. This is how I earned authority and standing. It is the wiser course and the way of the Fathers. You are embarrassing.

                • Dear MS,

                  I hope I am not grandstanding. Someone or another suggested there is little written on the subject. I merely reproduced a very tiny search of aticles on the NIH website, and did not suggest any of these articles were useful, only that masses of them existed and were associated in many cases with our national health institutions.

                  I think you have raised some some very interesting ethical questions concerning our human complexity. Perhaps, like belief, it all comes down to individual determination and choice and maybe pride. Does a menopausal woman, with her own individual characteristics, take HRT to avoid her voice lowering in register so she can continue to sing in the choir in the range to which she has long been accustomed or aspired, to keep her skin more supple, to prevent more hairs growing on the chinny chin chin? Does she risk a heart attack or stroke for that? Does a parent of a hemaphroditic child play God and predetermine their child’s eventual sex or leave the child with options accompanied by almost inevitable bullying? Should any woman give in to public fashion or a husband’s desires and provide herself with mammary padding with dangerous implants? What about guys who get face lifts in hope of getting hired? Calf implants? Booty ;implants? Where to draw the line for ourselves? For others? All the above are procedures real life friends have subjected themselves to.

                  A lot of women have gone off HRT for the health risks and cursed feeling they have had to. I always think of these increased risks when I consider the physical sacrifices that transgender folks make. Concerning those who accept their gender destiny, how rare it is to see women without makeup, who don’t color their hair after forty, who don’t wear girdles, who forego the tummy tuck with the hysterectomy. And yet, when we do see the ordinarily lined face without makeup, the many colored silvering hair, the cadences of an aging voice, don’t we love them because they are sort of imprinted on our genetic memory. And yet, some people seem afraid of aging and react adversely to some reality of aging as a memento mori.

                  Colette’s remark reminded me that some cultures make room for differently oriented people rather than ostracize them.

                  Just musing. Enjoyed your articles. I have no pretense to knowledge. Enjoy life. Thanking God. Praying for lotsa things. Sure prayer works.

                  As for the competence of whatever physician is stuck with whatever remains of me, that physician will be whoever has not taken the hypocritical oath and still takes insurance. After that, we usually have to go to Angie’s List for the ratings and pray.

                  • God bless you, loh. I like the way you think here, and your last paragraph really made me chuckle. Thanks!

                    From one with lotsa grey, wrinkles and sagging parts . . . 🙂

                    • Dear Karen,

                      I will take any blessing I can get gratefully!

                      Got all you describeplus an attitude but still kicking (knees may be shot but…) and ticking (some have detected an arrhythmia, some not) 😉

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            It does not take a degree in medicine or psychology to recognize that the pro-transgendered argument is false. It is simply a matter of common sense. God does not make mistakes. He makes us either male or female for a reason. To waste valuable medical resources on this travesty of sex change operations is morally wrong. We need to use our medical resources on real medical problems that saves lives, not on supporting sexual immorality. It would be much better to focus on helping a person cope with whatever mental disease is causing them to reject the body that God gave them instead of helping them mutilate their bodies.
            The real problem is that the pro-gay crowd has established a reign of terror over the mental health profession that rivals the Spanish Inquisition. They have imposed their beliefs on the entire mental health profession and relentlessly persecute anyone who dares to question their demands for acceptance of their beliefs as dogma. Perhaps if we restored real academic freedom, the mental health people could do the research necessary to cure the diseases of homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgenderism. In that way they would really help people instead of confirming them in their immoral and perverted activities.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              You know, you bring up an interesting point, Fr. One of the shibboleths that the Left constantly raises is the squandering of resources. In healthcare, what is more of a racket than this whole transgenderism business? I’m presently trying to find out how many people go back and forth again. What a delusion.

        • The so-called transgendered people are technically freaks, and deliberately so. Gender isnt simply a matter of genitalia as even THEY say, for the SKELETON, too, has gender! The gender of any skeleton is immediately and clearly identifiable as male or female. The skull alone may identify a skeleton as male or female, while the pelvic bones do so as clearly. Operations and hormones can’t alter that basic framework and inner structure of the human body.
          Eunuchs are eunuchs. Deformed, mutilated women are deformed mutilated women. Neither can change gender.
          The most comical thing to come out of this is that hilarious video of Puhalo (alias Buehler, alias Haler) pontificating like an abbess in a bad English comedy on the topic of the gender of brains!

  6. No matter what is done surgically or with pharmaceutics, the DNA stays either male or female.

  7. macedonianreader says:

    What does it mean to “feel like a man trapped inside a woman’s body” or vice-versa? I don’t get it. I understand sexual attraction and the subtleties involved in this, but the entire “I feel like another sex” just boggles my mind. I feel like a “Big Mac”, I feel like “Cheese Cake,” I feel like, “taking a nap.” etc.

    A few things. In the least, Met. Jonah+ among other Church Fathers would have a problem with laity moving so close to a monastery. That in itself shows a spiritual condition that needs work even before we get to the gender identity. Perhaps this “self-elevation” is a sign of the need for sexual change???

    Also, “judging and condemning” has reached a pinnacle in society, a chilling effect if you will. Any comment made against a particular behavior is “hate” in secular society, or “judgment/condemnation” in the Church. This is utter nonsense. Fr. Martin neither claimed that he knew if these two were condemned to eternal damnation, no did he allude to it. What we have now is a priest not being able to protect the chalice, which is an integral part of his, I repeat, HIS ministry. Anyone have a problem with this, learn to live with the disappointment and get on with things.

    A previous post I read alluded to pedophiles not being able to change, and many have posted that same sex attraction or, I guess, gender confusion is also impossible to change. The only remedy is for these people to pick up their Crosses and fight if they wished to remain in the Church. That their condition was blessed if utilized to bring them closer to God. I agree wholeheartedly. However, we must be careful not to pick up on the defeatist notion of “never any changing.” Our Church Theology believes that the individual can change with the help of God. That there is hope in the faith. Yes, “hope” and “changed” before they were cherry-picked and manipulated by politics.

    Needless to say. I say AXIOS to Fr. Martin for the courage he has displayed. AXIOS a million times over. If this “stuff” is truly happening. And there is more and more evidence that it is, then cassocks and tattoo’s in the Church are a cover-up for the real issue(s). This needs to be spoken of, loudly, sooner than later.

    I was born into this Church. This is my home. There will be no such innovation by people who think they’re entitled to innovate for the sake of being with the times, or moving faster than a glacier.

  8. M. Stankovich says:

    I note with a certain amount of irony that I have been arguing for more than a year that the Church has not addressed these emerging pastoral issues of bioethics enabled by evolving technology that, very literally, invades the sanctity of life. As I recall, my notion of “discussion” was met with claims of “shill,” “sockpuppet,” and “water-bearer,” for Gay, Inc. Frontman for the “gay agenda,” “underminer” of the Tradition and theology of the Church. Holy Cow! Now, even Mr. Michalopulos ‘hissef is relying on an anonymous, obscure transgender from an equally obscure “gay Orthodox” website as authority! Alex suggests what “behooves” the OCA to adopt as policy, while the bold Grammarian suggests “outward manifestations of repentance.” And finally, Mr. Coin, attempting to provide the all-important “context” adds, ” I’m glad these are one in several million sort of questions.” But seriously, who would have thought here, and who would have thought now?

    The emphasis on the term “mutilation” is, indeed, employed to dramatic effect, but strikes me as about similar in the extrapolation of a child “gutted” of heart, lungs, liver – up to ten separate organs – for transplantation in a single procedure. But it doesn’t change “who they are,” or does it? “It is to save their LIFE!” Ten organs in one child rather than ten children!” “Gender reassignment surgery saved my life. It “gave” me a life. Should I have just lived and suffered?”

    I believe there are two important points here: I am surprised (not really surprised) that Dn. Mitchell has not mentioned Kenneth J. Zucker, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, the world’s foremost authority on Gender Identity Disorders. I believe that Dr. Zucker could adequately defend that, for some individuals, gender dysmorphia is not delusion but epigenetic – meaning an interaction of inherited risk and environmental influence – and he claims great success in treatment for children who display vague or incongruent gender characteristics.

    And secondly, I believe that, to date, there is no known treatment for Gender Dysphoria, and surgical reassignment is not an option acceptable, morally or ethically, in the Church. The theological issues, in my mind, are clear and indisputable. The clinical and pastoral issues here, however, are enormous. For that reason, I would suggest that offering criteria of “outward sign of repentance” is ignorant at best. My thought is that stopping medication and adjusting wardrobe are the least among concerns. This is the basis, the intimacy, and the relationship of a confessor and penitent.

    As it turns out, our theology is the most accommodating for sinners who repent; it is the where and to whom that is so challenging.

    • Oh were it that simple. Unfortunately if you re-read the mutilated man’s post he has an agenda and is in complete delusion.

      • M. Stankovich says:

        These are the proposed diagnostic criteria for Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents or Adults the upcoming addition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Manual of Mental Disorders:

        A. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by 2 or more of the following indicators:

        1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics)

        2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics)

        3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender

        4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

        5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

        6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

        B. The condition is associated with clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, or with a significantly increased risk of suffering, such as distress or disability

        As a psychiatrist, in order for you to determine these “convictions” are, in fact, delusion, you would have to demonstrate they are implausible (e.g. it is improbable you are being followed, but not implausible; it is delusion that the car following you was driven by a bear). Secondly, if you were a psychiatrist, you would know that you cannot reason with delusion; it is impervious.

        Oh, that it were so simple.

        • Charles Demetrios says:

          Michael,

          I believe the word delusion is being used as the English use of the Russian word prelest. Note, I personally don’t agree with it, as it doesn’t really fit. Prelest is a much stronger word, with deeper connotations than simple mental illness (which is what delusion communicates.) We really don’t have a word that translates correctly, as is true of many words in other languages.

          However, from where I’m sitting, I see both sides. First, +BENJAMIN is right to offer pastoral care and guidance to this couple, even if the guidance he is providing (if what is posted is correct) is patently wrong. OTOH, I do see, again based on the post, that this transgendered person appears to be in prelest (which, unfortunately, seems to be encouraged by the bishop) in that he continues to live as a female, when repentance would be, IMVHO, to take whatever steps are necessary to heal the issues that led to his willful mutilation of himself and identification as a woman. Saying that, I also understand that this is probably, for this person, going to be a long and arduous journey, that, at times, will seem to the outside observer, to be going nowhere. This brother needs prayer, support, and real Christian love and compassion, not condemnation and irrevocable ostracism.

          Lord have mercy on us all, and help us to love You and each other as You have commanded us to.

          Coveting your prayers,

          Charles Demetrios

          • Michael Bauman says:

            We all mutilate ourselves in some way shape or form. For most of us the mutilations are not visible but a bit like the Portrait of Dorian Grey that we carry around inside our hearts.

            To be healed we must not be encouraged in our self-mutilation but brought to repentance/forgiveness and greater union with Christ in His Church.

        • Michael Bauman says:

          So, its all based upon the self-reported feelings of a troubled person? Wow what wonderful diagnostic and spiritual criteria to go by. Those criteria could be used to self-justify any sort of behavior.

    • Michael Bauman says:

      Human beings are human beings regardess of the technology of our created world. We are created male and female. There is no other choice within God’s economy. No amount of technology or so-called scientific knowledge built on false anthropological assumptions and philosophical naturalism will change that.

  9. Sean Richardson says:

    It is my belief that it is our essential task as Christians to bring all people to Christ, to bring all people into the Kingdom of God. This includes those we don’t agree with and those who are different than we are. In the first century, for Jesus, he reached out to the outcasts of his day, the tax-collectiors, prostitutes, Samaritans, Gentiles (that’s most of us, by-the-way), lepers and others. It does not bother me that a priest, within his parish, attempts to bring all people to Christ, and that members of his flock attempt to find God as best they can. What does bother me is when someone attempts to keep people away from Christ and out of His Kingdom. We must always keep things in perspective: It is Christ and His Kingdom, and He is the judge, not those of us who recognize our own failings and short-comings; those of us who seek His mercy and His grace.

    Honestly, I have no issue with gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc. seeking Christ through His Holy Church but I do have major issues with those who seek to keep them out of God’s Kingdom. Let’s leave the judgement to Christ and let us love one another …

    Just a thought …

    • All are invited into the Kingdom of God, but not all can come . . . If you are living IN sin and commune you commune unto Judgment-which separates you from God. No one is being brought into the Kingdom of God if they are being lied to. You can try to make your own beliefs if you want, but this is the Church and this is her wisdom. We Christians are to show love and acceptance by showing the way. We don’t have open communion in the Orthodox Church and to pretend that we do will lead people astray. That’s not love. . . .

      • Sean Richardson says:

        Colette, thank you for your comment. I agree with much of what you have said, for example “We Christians are to show love and acceptance by showing the way.” I am also well aware that “We don’t have open communion in the Orthodox Church …” Where I think we disagree is in our judgement of who makes a judgement about being welcomed into the Church and at Christ’s table, and on what basis. It is my essential understanding that no one is worthy to receive Christ. Why we are able to receive Christ without condemnation is entirely based on His action of redemption, forgiveness and mercy. In that sense, I’d prefer to leave the judgement to Christ and acknowledge my own sinfulness and my unworthiness to pass judgement on anyone. (I will yielded, however, as always, to the wisdom of my priest and my bishop, understanding that through ordination they hold a special level of grace that I often lack.)

        • Archpriest John Morris says:

          However, as a Priest, I am guardian of the Chalice and cannot knowingly give Communion to anyone who has not repented of a major sin. All sexual activity outside of Marriage is a sin and disqualified one from Holy Communion. If a Priest knows for sure that someone is engaged in premarital, extramarital, homosexual or lesbian sex, he has a sacred obligation to forbid them from receiving the Eucharist until they have repented of this sin.
          People who speak about the all inclusive Christ frequently forget that the very first thing that He preached was, “repent.” Orthodox should remember St. May of Egypt who could not enter the Church of the Resurrection until she repented of her sinful life style.

    • lexcaritas says:

      And what Sean does it mean to seek Christ? And what does it mean to find Him?

      lxc

  10. Michael James Kinsey says:

    It is , indeed a pleasure to read a thoughtful and civil discussion by right thinking Christians. Those who have a sense of the sacred, which contains,a sense of fair play, belief in Divine Justice and because of their honesty are able to respond to the divine. Guilelessness was greatly esteemed by the Christ as He stated concerning the Holy Apostle Nathanial. These never experience confusion in their orientation in their body, mind or heart in the first place. We are natural as God made us and it is easy peesey. I find the homosexual condition, incomprehensible., nor do I wish to comprehend it.. That condition violates the spirit of the Royal Law and has no place in an Orthodox Church. They carp, this is unfair. Running water through an electrical line is useless, but using electricity works just fine, but it is unfair to the water, So what?

    • Sean Richardson says:

      Thank you for your kind comments and well-thought out response. As a heterosexual, I too admit that I do not fully understand homosexuality, but in some small way I think I am beginning to understand myself and my own security in who I am. I have many friends who are homosexuals and who are members of the Orthodox Church. At times I wonder if this is one of the issues that everyone disagrees with “out there” but when it comes to our friends and members of our church, then someone our vision changes. As they often have said, “It’s much easier to be forgiven than to be given permission” (for the same issue). But again, thank you for your thoughtful words.

  11. Mutilation? That would include ALL surgery, right? Because surely God allows everything to happen according to his plan. Breast augmentation, reduction, rhinoplasty,mastectomy, amputations all are mutilations. The causes are not important. The end does not justify the means. Let the cancer spread. Let the infection invade the entire body. You can just learn to live with it! It’s God’s will!

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

      There is surgery that is necessary such as the removal of an infected appendix. There is a difference between surgery and mutilation. Sometimes we need surgery for our health. In a few weeks, I will have a total knee replacement because I need it to be end the terrible pain in an injured knee. So called sex change surgery is different. It is mutilation. God creates us either male or female. If a person has a problem with their natural sex, they need counseling to accept themselves as God made them. Unfortunately, the pro gay crowd has established a reign of terror in our academic and medical institutions that prevent unbiased scientific study of how to heal a person of same sex attraction or problems with their gender. Anyone who dares question the claims of the pro-gay lobby will be hounded out of their profession as a scholar or scientist. They have already taken over most mainline American Protestant denominations. I and others like me will fight to keep that from happening to the Orthodox Church.

      • George Michalopulos says:

        I completely agree Fr. The comparison of sex-change with corrective surgery is tendentious. It’s like comparing rape to marital relations.

    • Michael Bauman says:

      greggo:…only in the mind of an egalitarian who is either unwilling or unable to make distinctions based upon a hierarchy of values. Fortunately, to be a Christian one has to renounce egalitarianism and the tryanny that comes with it.

  12. Ken Miller says:

    I have to take issue with the phrase “administrative weakness” in reference to +Jonah. Jonah does not have administrative weakness – he delegates, and holds those to whom he delegated responsible. That is not weakness, that is strength. The last thing we need is a first hierarch who devotes himself to the minutia of administration – then he would be no better than the current crew running our admiistration. He should set the spiritual vision, and let others assist in the implementation.

    Jonah was not hated because he lacked administrative skills, but because he challenged the uncanonical structures in the OCA in which church administration runs the church rather than the bishops. This is disfuncional, and because +Jonah challenged it, he had to go. Church administrators should have power limited to specific tasks assigned them by the bishop and they should always be accountable to the bishops and most particularly the metropolitan.

  13. This is just drip-drip-drip, like it happened with the Episcopalians, and using the exact same reasoning.

    It starts with “of course we’re celibate”, “this is epigenetic”, “this is all about love and acceptance” and so on. That is level one. It’s important, because it lays the foundation of “normalcy” of the behaviors in question, even if this normalcy is based on certain conditions, initially.

    In the next levels the conditions get gradually removed and relaxed, one by one, like pins in a bowling alley going down in slow motion.

    First the expectation of celibacy gets downplayed (“after all, there are many “straight” couples who aren’t totally celibate before marriage, and although we call that a sin, the church also kind of looks the other way from it often enough, right, right?” *wink*).

    Next, the expectation that the “active practice” is sinful if conducted in a “committed relationship” — “after all, we’re only not married because of prejudice and bigotry and hate spewing from a sputtering, dying patriarchal order gasping its last breath — you’re not a part of *that* are you? Good, I didn’t think so!” *wink/smile/nod*.

    Next the expectation that marriage, which becomes available in some places as a legal matter (and is already the case now), should be constrained in the church — on the same basis, because to do otherwise is to represent a lack of love, a backwardness in vision, a hidebound clinging to a dead theology based on an inadequate understanding of the nature of human sexuality in all of its flavors and colors, if not outright bigotry and hate, which is only now being appreciated and so on and so forth.

    And finally, the expectation that, for married people, only heterosexuals can be ordained, and for the same reasons.

    The process is akin to cooking a frog in a pot. You put the frog in and only very, very gradually turn up the heat, so that the frog doesn’t notice it is being well and truly cooked until it is too late to hop out of the pot. The critical feature in this is to make the first step or two very mild, very “reasonable”, very “acceptable”, based on a mish-mash of contemporary cultural values blaring for acceptance of homosexuality and its various permutations as a non-negotiable requirement to be accepted as a member of civil society together with a single-minded emphasis on mercy, love and acceptance in a very selective reading of what it means to accept sinners into the church, and one which cries in outright condemnation of the approach of the church to these issues since time immemorial.

    So you start slow, and reasonable sounding, and everyone thinks they’re being good Christians, when in fact the stage is being set for the temperature to be turned up gradually, once level one becomes well and truly ingrained in the church, such that it cannot be overturned. That’s when the temp gets turned up to level two. At that point, some frogs begin to jump out of the pot, and get called “splitters” by the frogs who remain in the pot. But the key point is that the process can’t be reversed by then — the frogs in the pot are gonna get cooked up “real good” by then.

    The cure for this is not for bishops to be intimating (or God forbid even saying outright) that the Church moves “glacially” on these issues — as if there is some movement to be made. It isn’t for people who feel homosexual inclinations or gender identification disorders and so on to advocate for a change in the Church’s mind about these issues, and about these people. It isn’t for members of the Church who are advocates of these people in the civil society to become advocates for them inside the Church as well, and then complain that the people in the Church who are insisting that her teachings be observed are being political, bigoted, unloving and so on. It is simply for the church to be the church — to welcome sinners into repentance. This is as much the case for “straight” couples as it is for homosexual ones. Does a priest welcome a “celibate” straight couple to the chalice regularly who have been living together for years and claim to be celibate? Does the church say “it’s okay and fine for straight couples who love each other to live together as long as they say they are celibate”? Really? I know when I was married way back when in the Catholic Church (years before becoming Orthodox), the priest straight up told us that if we were living together (we were not), he would simply refuse to marry us unless and until we had an extended period of repentance from that. Is this unloving, political, hateful when applied to a “straight” couple? If not, then why would it be when applied to a same sex coupling (either de facto or in appearance, where one is a genetic female and the other claims to be female apart from genetics — oh, although also that belief is also “epigenetic”)?

    ***

    Look, there are people with homosexual inclinations in the church. Nothing new. They are not, and have never been, “excluded” from the life of the church. Like all others, however, they are required to repent of their sins, and also not to flaunt/praise/demand acceptance of their inclination to sin. That applies to “straight” people as well, who are also not to flaunt and demand praise for their inclination to lie, their inclination to commit adultery, their inclination to fornicate, to drink too much and so on.

    This is simple stuff. We only make it complicated when we agree that some sins, and some inclinations to sin, are really things we should praise and accept openly as good as long as “not acted on” — a novelty which flies in the face of the clear teaching of the church about sin and sinful inclinations in basically every other area of life and area of sin. People with inclinations towards the sin of homosexual sex are no more sinful than people who have sinful inclinations to lying, or sinful inclinations to fornication and so on — but they are also no LESS sinful, and their inclination to sin should be recognized for what it is, and not celebrated/accepted/explained away, and therefore treated fundamentally differently than other inclinations to sinful acts.

    And that, my friends, is the key. The whole enterprise is directed at un-sinning homosexuality, one small, slow step at a time. The first step is treating the inclination towards homosexual sin differently from any other inclination to sin, on the basis that if we do not do so, we are being bigots, backward, hateful, ignorant of modern science, and the like. That is step one. Let’s not let the Orthodox Church fall into that step through the back door.

  14. Charles Demetrios says:

    I remember somebody wondering about the status and firmness of the registration deadline for the AAC. Well, that shoe has officially dropped:

    http://oca.org/news/headline-news/all-american-council-registration-deadline-extended-to-november-5.

    Lord, have mercy on Your Orthodox Church in America. Lord, have mercy on us all.

  15. Tom Jeffrey says:

    So, back to the original point about the shift towards modernism withing the Church and the overall societal tendency towards the acceptance of certain deviant behavior patterns as ‘normal’ in the modern world, my lovely wife pointed out to me this recently published review / critique, by Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell, of Thomas Hopko’s 2006 book Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction:

    http://www.brianpatrickmitchell.com/2012/10/02/thomas-hopko-on-same-sex-attraction-speaking-the-truth-with-love/

    The line that really struck me was:

    “…it would seem that Hopko has inadvertently positioned himself less as the gatekeeper of Orthodoxy than as the head usher for heresy.”

    George, perhaps you could republish this piece in its entirety here as a dedicated topic, with Deacon Patrick’s permission of course.