A Gauntlet from Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov, Wappingers Falls, NY

Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster

Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster is a retired military chaplain and colonel. When he served in the Army Reserve, he visited Orthodox troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on a dozen month-long deployments. He is also a moral theologian, writer, and archpriest in the OCA. Fr. Alexander wrote the response posted below to Fr. Alexis Vinogradov’s essay praising Fr. Arida’s advocacy of the homosexualist agenda in the Orthodox Church. A friend of mine asked me, “Why are the homosexualists bringing the culture wars into the Church?” Good question. Why are they?

This essay first appeared on the AOI Observer.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Just when we begin to wonder whether some of the recent musings of OCA priests and laity on homosexuality may not be what they seem, along comes another one that raises the rhetorical ante and reminds us that we are, indeed, whether we desire it or not, engaged in spiritual warfare.

In a bizarre, presumably unintended way, Fr. Alexis Vinogradov’s latest “reflection” on the OCA”News” website is another case of the gift that keeps on giving. It affords us who cherish the moral tradition of the Church, along with all the wonderful facets of Orthodoxy as the light of the world as long as we reflect Christ the True Light, an unexpected windfall—a sobering glimpse of the way the spirit of the world (note the lower case) has captured the minds, speech, and, actions of some who would take it upon themselves to lecture and even scold us [fill in the blank: simplistic, frightened, totalitarian, intolerant, superficial, intransigent, self-centered, unrestrained, callous, spiritually weak—Fr. Vinogradov hurls all of those epithets our way in his brief for affirmation of the “other”] Orthodox Christians who reject the tiresome, very au courant notion that the times are a-changin’ and we must change with them.

He has thrown down a gauntlet for all the Orthodox world to see, a public challenge to abandon ancient Christian verities under the guise of a “conversation.” I, for one, am ready—and, I hope, able—to retrieve that gauntlet, brush aside the pseudo-dialogue, and engage in spiritual combat.

Here is the link to this, at once, erudite and tedious essay: http://www.ocanews.org/news/Vinogradov7.12.11.html. I invite a “conversation” about its content, what it portends, in particular, for the Orthodox Church in America, and how we can repulse this frontal assault on Orthodox moral tradition.

May God the Holy Trinity, the God of Truth and Virtue, sustain us in the dark times ahead.

Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD
Chaplain (Colonel), U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.)
Board of Advisors, American Orthodox Institute (AOI)


  1. Louis Renault says

    Over and over we are told that the people who say there is a movement to normalize homosexuality in the OCA are a bunch of paranoids and haters. I read a priest saying that it was horrible to publicize Mark Stokoe’s homosexuality, even though it was an open secret in OCA circles, and it could be proved by public records that Stokoe and his lover shared a house together, and that Stokoe’s lover is considered to be Stokoe’s spouse by his own family. It is only a coincidence when the Number One enemy of Jonah, the man leading the crusade against him, is openly gay and serves on the Metropolitan Council … and not a single bishop complains.

    Recently this site pointed out an essay by the archpriest of Bishop Nikon’s own cathedral, in which he made an argument for welcoming gays unrepentantly into Orthodoxy. Nikon, as far as we know, didn’t say a word. I guess he doesn’t care. People in Jonah’s own cathedral are pointing out that he has on the clergy staff there a priest who is openly living in a same-sex relationship, and that two open lesbians who proclaim their “marriage” to other women continue to receive communion — and he does nothing. He gave an order that they ought not to receive communion, I hear, but that is being ignored. Either Jonah doesn’t care, or he is too weak to take a stand.

    George has said over and over again that the OCA is at risk of going the way of the Episcopalians. This essay by Vinogradov is the most amazing example yet of that process. Notice how he is only calling for “dialogue” on the gay issue. What could be more reasonable than that? Well, the truth is, this is how it always begins with these people. First they ask for “dialogue,” and then, after the orthodox have made the fatal first error of putting basic moral dogma up for discussion, the liberals push and push for as long as it takes until they have the upper hand. And then, there is no more dialogue, because how can you tolerate dialogue on a matter of fundamental justice! The orthodox, who were browbeaten into being “fair,” find themselves exiles in their own church. Ask the traditional Episcopalians how this process works.

    I despise corruption, and despise it most of all in the clergy, who are supposed to be the best. I can put up with ordinary corruption that doesn’t threaten to change moral and theological truth. If a Metropolitan Herman is a crook, shame on him, but at least church teaching is not affected by his own sins. But if they start to change doctrine, they are by definition heterodox. This is the real danger. We are facing it right now in the OCA. You priests, wake up and understand what is happening! If you keep quiet now, you will have much to answer for.

  2. Im a parishioner in DC–i dont think there is a priest that is “openly” in a same-sex relationship.

    Regarding Fr. Vinogradov’s article. It is more of the same from the liberal thinkers–“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Which some can argue is a heretical stance, as they should always finish a gospel–which is “Go and sin no more”.

    Finally, I personally will speak up for Orthodoxy and the Sanctity of Marriage. I suggest everyone do the same.
    Do not stay quiet–to borrow a phrase Silence IS death.

  3. Heracleides says

    Since Fr. Robert Arida, Ms. Inga Leonova and Fr. Alexis Vinogradov have all three seen fit to push themselves to the forefront in advancing the homosexual agenda upon the Orthodox Church in America, I thought I’d take a closer look (literally) at the villainous trio. Here are the results with some slightly irreverent commentary thrown in gratis:

    Fr. Robert Arida baptizing and communing Inga Leonova on 1/11/2009 http://holytrinityorthodox.org/photos/baptism_inga.htm – only Orthodox for 2.5 years and already Inga knows what’s best for our 2000 year old faith. Gotta love it.

    New Skete pilgrimage on 8/13/2006 http://holytrinityorthodox.org/photos/new_skete.htm featuring Fr. Robert Arida and Fr. Alexis Vinogradov – that’s Fr. Alexis wearing the moonbeam-hippie vestments (confirmation from the photographer at: http://badvestments.blogspot.com/2009/09/illusions.html ). Gifted by children or not, those “vestments” are straight from an Episcopalian sacristy – and need to be returned asap! Anyway… why am I not surprised that such vestments were worn at New Skete? Care for an icon of Pope Paul VI anyone? ( http://holytrinityorthodox.org/photos/new_skete.htm )

    And the OCA wonders why many (myself now included) have a hard time taking it seriously.

    • Good catch finding those photos of the baptism.

      Here’s Inga Leonova’s reflection for OCANews in 2006. If that’s her baptism, this is her claiming to be Orthodox nearly three years before she was baptized.

      The only thing I can think is that maybe they are not the same person. The Inga being baptized and the Facebook Inga don’t quite look the same to me.

      Oh, and here’s Inga Leonova on the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of New England.

      • NIcholasIV says

        Diocesan Council? She openly advocates for heretical teaching on sexuality! On the other hand, this is not surprising in a church that lets Mark Stokoe serve on the Metropolitan Council.

      • Catherine says

        The facebook picture looks like the same person as in the baptism photos, but at a younger age.

      • Heracleides says

        “The only thing I can think is that maybe they are not the same person. The Inga being baptized and the Facebook Inga don’t quite look the same to me.”

        Good catch yourself Helga; you appear to be correct. The Inga listed on the Facebook site looks more like the lady in the right column, 12th & 25th (etc.) row down on the baptism site, not the lady being baptized & communed. Given the physical similarities between the two, they are likely some family relation I suppose. In any event, my apologies to the Inga M. Leonova being baptized and the Inga Leonova on Facebook for evidently confusing the two.

        • Baptism Inga may be Facebook Inga’s mother. They do resemble each other, but Baptism Inga looks old enough to be Facebook Inga’s mother. Facebook Inga is from Russia; it’s possible that someone of her mother’s generation was never properly received into the Church until she came to the States.

    • Brian Jackson says

      I was surprised to see the wall icons pictured at New Skete. Not just the pope, but also St. Theresa of Calcutta and Fr. Alexander Schmemann… Can someone briefly explain this New Skete to me? With which archdiocese is it affiliated?

      • New Skete is a stavropegial group of monasteries under the OCA.

      • CodeNameYvette says

        And there you have one very clear reason why some of us quiet lookers-on do not and cannot trust Metropolitan Jonah.

        His first 24-hour day as Metropolitan should have been sufficient time to call these people to account by whatever means necessary. Instead, we have the spectacle of blatant heresy tolerated within the OCA.

        • Yvette, in a better world, I’d say that you were right. (Of course, in a better world we wouldn’t have to be fighting this nonsense.) But the reality is that it’s going to take time for +Jonah and any sane bishops and priests to effect the kind of right change. Personally, we traditionalists may fail, simply because the gay lifefstyle/agenda is no longer controversial on the East and West Coasts.

          If you will permit me to digress: I don’t know where you live, but for those of us in the South, we’re used to being called bigots. Soon people in the Midwest will know what it is like to be tarred with this brush. If you’re living in New England or California, it’s not going to matter because the homosexual agenda will become even more entrenched throughout society. I predict that in some of the ethnic GOA and OCA parishes that are struggling, we will see increasing reliance on homosexual clergy and lay leadership. In time, commitment ceremonies will be performed in these parishes because of financial need and also because the traditionalists/conservatives have decamped for ROCOR or moved to Flyover Country (where the jobs are). We can call this the Boston Model of Orthodoxy.

          Some may think that this is extreme, but if we look at the Diocese of Boston’s recent history, we can see that unconcern for Orthopraxy is probably the norm, given the leadership of the Boston cathedral. Not only is it’s priest at variance with Orthodox teaching but prominent homosexual-agitators are sitting on the diocesan council.

          • Not to mention, Bishop Nikon is the bishop of Boston, the very bishop who refused to allow Metropolitan Jonah to resume his position as locum tenens over the Diocese of the South, even though Metropolitan Jonah has an explicit right to do so under the Statute. He also refused Metropolitan Jonah’s request regarding the archdeacon in Florida.

          • CodeNameYvette says

            If what you say is true, George, then there is one question for those of us who attend OCA parishes. No matter how highly we regard our own priests, and no matter how devout our own parishes, is it possible to remain within the OCA as a jurisdiction, and still be faithful to Christ?

    • These pictures a worth a lot more than a thousand words. They explain a lot. Why do the sane people in the OCA tolerate this sort of nonsense?

      • Fr. John, that’s a good question. After all, their bishop is Metropolitan Jonah. The vision of monastic life he’s lived out at Valaam and St. John’s is pretty much diametrically opposed to New Skete’s way of life.

        I would think, though, that Met. Jonah takes a light touch with New Skete out of love, and he can’t really overturn thirty years of hierarchical laissez-faire attitude overnight. He can easily go to St. Vladimir’s and issue a directive for them to cense a different way in the chapel (which he did on his very first visit there after his election as Metropolitan), because it’s a small change, and Three Hierarchs is liturgically above-board for a parish in the Northeast. But shoveling out the manure from New Skete is going to take a long time, and a lot of incremental movement.

        I feel that a lot of New Skete’s wackiness is just a generational artifact of baby boomers, Vatican II, and all that iconoclastic, populist liturgy, inclusive stuff. While they have a lot of supporters in the Northeast, I don’t think they have that many new prospective entrants. (I don’t know about the celibate men and women, but their “companions” have been one married couple and a widow for awhile now.) Considering that they were the ones who insisted that traditional Orthodox monasticism had to adopt their style or die out, it seems that they may be the ones who will die out after all.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Helga, I imagine you are quite correct. It is going to take a generation I believe for +Jonah to clean out the Augean Stables that the Syosset/Stokovite/Aging Hippie Axis have saddled our Church with.

          Personally, in looking at the photos Heracleides posted, I feel that I can spot the type of priest we are talking about: self-satisfied, smug, sanctimonious, of a certain age in which like most Baby Boomers he’s realized that his best days are behind him. There is no historic “Iakovos-Marching-with-MLK-Moment” on the horizon. How to stay relevant? Gay Rights! Your parish may be marginal, your cathedral dying, but you’ll still be invited to break bread with the Best and the Brightest. (Look at Frankie! He did it! Who cares if he said out loud “Screw St Paul”?) What’s a little heresy among friends? It’s better than being associated with icky Christians like those that voted for Reagan.

          But I digress.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Fr, I believe it’s a cultural thing. This type of nonsense is par for the course in New England. Or perhaps I should say, it’s not scandalous anymore.

  4. Heracleides says

    And now Dr. David J. Dunn, an Antiochian Orthodox “theologian”, adds his two cents in support of Homosexual “Marriage” with an article entitled “Civil Unions by Another Name: An Eastern Orthodox Defense of Gay Marriage” (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-j-dunn-phd/eastern-orthodox-gay-marriage_b_894982.html ).

    Aside from the article itself, what I find particularly disturbing is that this man taught Orthodox youth from 2006-2008 (see: http://www.davidjdunn.com/ under Vitae) and has been published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly (see: http://www.svspress.com/product_info.php?products_id=4178&osCsid=1uql3pju6i3bhd26jklr1jike2 ). Hopefully neither will reoccur in the future.

    Dr. Dunn’s closing comment quite fairly sums up for me what those advancing the homosexual agenda really mean when they carp about dialog: “In polite company, and for the sake of keeping peace with each other (because mutual apostasies take so much effort), we can do with marriage what we do with our disagreements about eucharist and baptism: keep our mouths shut and let God sort it out in the end.”

    Would that Dr. Dunn followed his own advice.

    • Hey, there’s one brilliant part of Dunn’s article, which I agree with absolutely:

      Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post belong solely to the author and are not representative of the Orthodox Church.

      I couldn’t have said it better myself!

      P.S.: I think that statement should be tattooed on Frankie Schaeffer’s forehead.

    • And what’s with Dunn calling the Holy Spirit “She” all the time? I realize God is sexless, but HE always is referred to as HE/HIM/FATHER/SON and never as female.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Hi Alec:

        In the Greek New Testament the Holy Spirit is referenced as both a “She” – Agion Pneuma and as “Neutral” – Agion Pneumatos. In both Septuagint Greek and Biblical Hebrew the Glory of God is referenced in Female terms.

        There is nothing wrong with these references as this is how the Holy Writers were inspired to reference God so as to represent different aspects of God. This is why the whole Gender Inclusivness issue in English Biblical Translation is so incredibly stupid.

        Jesus Christ refers to God the Father as “Father.” Christ reveals an aspect and nature of God as God the Father. Just as “Logos” reveales the Rational part of God, and, The Glory and Wisdom of God are referenced in Female terms to reveal the loving and merciful side of God, and the Neutral reference to God reveal his utter separation and transcendence of all these material and human references.

        In other words scrpture reveals God as imminently personal and connected with us and at the same time transendent. The words of scripture reveal the truth of God. Translations, if honestly and faithfully done, do the same. If not, and are saddled with agendas, then no, and can lead many astray.

        Thus, go back to the original languages, and don’t worry about the English translations too much.


        • R. Howell says

          Translations matter. We should use the translations that have been authorized by the Church. The Orthodox Church endorses the Revised Standard Version (RSV) for liturgical use. The RSV uses the masculine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. I do not believe any English text authorized by the Church for worship or study uses a feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. So I strongly suspect anyone who insists on such usage is following an ideological agenda contrary to teaching of the Church.

          I also doubt the accuracy of Peter’s Greek. Every authority I have read states that “Pneuma” in Greek is of the neutral gender.

          • When did the Orthodox Church endorse the RSV? The Holy Synod of the Russian Church endorsed the KJV before the revolution, but I am not aware of any official endorsement of the RSV. It is in fact a very flawed translation.

            • R. Howell says

              I apologize for my error. The RSV is the translation used and recommended in my parish, and I think throughout my jurisdiction. I forgot that others prefer the NKJV. This doesn’t alter my main point (the NKJV also refers to the Holy Spirit as he/him) but was an unfortunate mistake anyway. Sorry for sidetracking the discussion.

          • In Fr. John Behr’s recent lecture at St. Vladimir’s, he said that there was nothing in God that corresponds to male or female, specifically referencing Orthodox writers who refer to the Holy Spirit as female. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dreams in New Testament Greek.

            • Exactly right, Helga. Then why, ask the feminists and Orthodox liberals, use the masculine pronoun? If there is no sexual differentiation in God, then isn’t referring to God as “He” wrong? Doesn’t it reflect cultural bias?

              The answer is no. Look at it this way. If God were “She” (what the feminists want to believe and what the ancient pagans could easily believe), then it implies that the creation came out of the womb of God.

              Start by looking at the creation. The creative prowess (the ability to create life) lies with the female, not the male. All human life comes out of the body of the female. The male contributes only one half of the genetic code to the new creation of a human being.

              In a manner of speaking you could say that all of us (male and female alike) received our body and blood from the female.

              This manner of creation from the female is replicated in all organisms beyond those with only rudimentary complexity. It is written into the fabric of creation and reaches even deeper than biology, well into in our souls and psyches as well. Any married person knows it. Ask yourself, who does your child run to when he falls of his bike? Mom or Dad?

              If we refer to God as “She” however, this deep symbolic meaning gets read back into God. It is unavoidable. It happened with the pagans and it happens with feminized Christianity. And this reading back into God also has concrete ramifications, the confusion about sexuality, particularly the preoccupation with same-sex issues being one of them.

              When the language describing the Creator gets distorted, it is inevitable that our concepts about sexuality (since sexuality is closely tied to creative prowess), get distorted right along with it. It’s no accident that, say, the homosexualization of the Episcopal Church goes hand in hand with its femininization. Once a church get feminized, it will get homosexualized.

              So does calling God “He” mean God is male? Of course not. It only serves as a barrier to the inevitable confusion that results when the feminine pronoun is applied to God. All that the pronoun “He” affirms about God is this: God’s manner of creation is not replicated in the created order. This goes hand in hand with God creating the world by speaking it into existence. Creation was not “born” in any sense of the word. It does not come out of the stuff or substance of God, God did not give birth to it. It came out of nothing by the power of God’s word. (This applies to the preaching (speaking) of the Gospel too, but more on this some other time.)

              This also is why we don’t have women priests. The creative prowess of woman (even is she is not a mother) has deep symbolic power. If a woman holds up the chalice to proclaim “In faith and in love draw near”, the symbolic meaning of that liturgical act conflicts with the symbolic truth each of us carry within us. If this truth would rise into consciousness the question we could ask the priestess could be framed something like this: What body and blood are you representing? The one you can create out of your body, or the one given to us by the Son?

              In the feminized Churches the distinction between the life Christ offers through the chalice (His body and blood) and the life the women offers (the body and blood that makes a new person) can hold for a decade or two. After that however, the whole enterprise falls into the worst sort of confusion. They end up perceiving God as a cosmic Oprah, and usually only homosexuals are left to take up leadership. It’s a mess.

              A male priesthood doesn’t allow for this symbolic confusion because a male has no natural power to create a new life. When he lifts the chalice there is absolutely no question about whose body and blood is being offered. The ontological distance between the Creator and created is preserved, and the truths deep in our souls and psyches are protected and preserved.

              I used to think that the feminization of the Churches would portend a neo-paganism. I’ve since come to the conclusion that neo-paganism is a cultural impossibility and the enterprise serves only to distort and destroy the historical memory of Christianity in order to tear down the barriers against nihilism. It is as a revolt of the first order.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Amen and correct.

                • Father Hans,

                  This is one of the most clear explanations that I have read, of why there shouldn’t be a female presbyterate. It resonates truth with the “nous,” with sort of that receptive quality in us that says yes, this is of God.

                  I live in Philadelphia, which used to abound with strong, historically mainline protestant, but also many Catholic, churches. (There are many Orthodox in Philadelphia as well, but as we know, to a large extent we unfortunately remain ethnically separate and very small in number, comparatively.)

                  Of these hundreds of beautiful, historic, often gothic/western churches in this part of the country, many sit empty. As I drive around I often wonder who fills the pews of these gigantic Episcopal churches? This is generally a “liberal” part of the country, and I would venture to say with some certainty that many, if not most, people who continue to go to these mainline churches (and even the Latin Catholic ones), perceive God as a “cosmic Oprah,” as you put it in an amusing, yet sadly precise, manner.

                  The truth of the matter is that men do not respond to God as a cosmic Oprah. Men yearn for a loving father, for being taught and encouraged to have courage, strength, honor, humility, service in Christ, meaning to their lives. Nebulous “feel good,” Oprah-esque Christianity is emasculating to men, and, sadly, begets the feminized men who continue to worship at such churches, and as you write, who lead these churches. I imagine that many may not even realize it is occurring. But if they did, what would they do about it? I knew a Presbyterian minister who loved Orthodoxy (so he said) but was afraid to leave Presbyterianism because he said that he would be out of a job. But yes, that’s what he needed to do — leave.

                  Men and women approach God in different manners. I have a protestant friend who seems very interested in and attracted to Orthodoxy, yet is holding back because his wife remains leery. This is probably normal, for men to be drawn to Orthodox Christianity in ways that women may not be — I think that Frederica M-G has written about this phenomenon.

                  Men across liberalized, feminized America are yearning for a God to whom they can relate, who asks something of them more than simply being “nice,” whatever that means. And honestly, I also think that women (to a large degree) want men who value courage, humility, honor, sacrifice, devotion, and loyalty, cultivated in the traditional Orthodox Christian sense. Most men don’t buy garbage, which is why many mainline/liberal protestant & Catholic churches are empty of real men.

                  As a kid (I was fortunate to have grown up Orthodox), I remember loving going to church — I was attracted to Orthodoxy as a child. Home was often chaotic, but when we went to church, there was a peace that I got even as a 10 year old that I couldn’t describe. Yet my friends who were mainline Protestant hated church. I could never understand why until I was older, when I started to realize what I had and what (sadly) they were missing. Their churches failed them, yet the sacraments I was receiving were giving me what I needed. (As an aside, I recall what I read that Fr. Alexander Schmemann said: the church is a sacrament with organization, not an organization with sacraments!)

                  Often times I drive through west Philadelphia when going to work. West Philly is by a heavy majority an African-American area. Yes, many run-down and neglected beautiful old churches are there too, from a by-gone era when people would sacrifice to make sure they had beautiful houses of worship after they moved to an area. But what is thriving in west Philadelphia now? The mosques. The mosque is where many African Americans are going. Why? I imagine in part it may be driven by searching for a faith that is “not white,” but also (in a very distorted form) are they looking for a faith that asks something from them? I only pray that God saves them if they don’t know what they are doing. If only we Orthodox were effective in reaching out to our African American compatriots!

                  In sum, I suppose the bottom line is that Orthodoxy has a lot of missionary work to do here in America, not only in converting souls but in proclaiming the Truth that so many (including many, many American men) are hungry for and may not even realize it.

                  Yes it could be uncomfortable — we are going to have to tell our mainline protestant and liberal Catholic friends that they are wrong — to say the truth in love, as Fr Tom Hopko would put it. And possibly we’ll lose some friends. But I think that is what God wants us to do. We can’t keep proclaiming liberal garbage in order to “fit in.” That was marginally acceptable for Orthodoxy in America 100 years ago. There is certainly no excuse for it today.

            • The KJV was translated from the Jewish Masoretic text, not the Septuagint, so I don’t think that makes it “normative” on how the Most Holy Trinity is referenced by way of gender. I find it much “safer” to trust a Greek who knows Greek and says that the Greek language uses masculine, feminine, and neuter gender to refer to the Most Holy Trinity to communicate that God is none of the above.
              The stuff posted in reply here about paganism and feminism being “read back” into understanding the Most Holy Trinity may be “interesting” from the standpoint of typical modern, cerebral, academic, Prussian style PHd, MDiv dissertation, but it doesn’t have a bit of patristic basis, only usual shallow human speculation no different than that of secular cultural “liberal bias”.
              To state that using the female pronoun in any way shape or form is the evil “seed” by which the Church will be laid low is nothing but the usual fear tactic for which “Reagan voters” are so infamous.
              Much more depth of “reasonable” sense can be found in approaching the gender situation from the patristic standpoint of Typology as does Archbishop Lazar Puhalo.
              See – Synaxis Press, The Mystery of Gender and Human Sexuality
              and link to audio talk by †Lazar The Mystery of Gender and Human Sexuality at bottom of this page
              In the typological approach, Christ is “male” and bridegroom, the lover of humanity, while humanity is Theotokos and “female”, the “body” of Christ, virgin who awaits the coming of the bridegroom and fulfillment of her “marriage” union/communion (theosis, divinization) with Him. Men are typological “icons” of Christ, the “glory of God” and “servants of the Lord”, while women are “icons” of the Theotokos, the “glory of humanity” and handmaiden of the Lord. Women cover their heads/hair in the temple, because they are icons of the “glory of humanity” and the purpose of their presence in the temple is to glorify God, not mankind.
              Homosexuality NO DIFFERENTLY than any other “sin” is a distortion, a tarnishing of the icon of the Divine Image and Likeness. It is IMPERATIVE that this be communicated in the utmost compassion especially by those who have no idea what it is like to suffer from homosexual attraction. Without a willingness to “bear others burdens”, harsh abstract, external, legalistic communication does nothing but drive other sinners whom God loves just as much as He loves the Churched to depression and possible suicide. Any discussion of the sin of homosexuality must QUALIFY and distinguish the “sin” from the “sinner”, from PEOPLE, BEings, human creatures with homosexual attraction, and must make clear that no one is to be HATED and persecuted for their “sin” (which happens all too often “in the news”), for “missing the mark” (amartyria) because we ALL miss the mark, otherwise such “discussion” is demonic, does nothing to help those who are suffering in homosexual attraction battle their inner demons much less heal, and may very well lead to depression and their suicide, which could be considered a form of murder.
              Homosexual behavior needs to be seen psychologically as produced by homosexual attraction, which when acted upon distorts the human icon of the Divine Image and Likeness. Such attraction may be the product of genetic deformation and/or behavioral conditioning, but either way it is a terrible thing to have to struggle against, and those who don’t have to suffer so should be the first to acknowledge that.
              The conjugal image of man-man or woman-woman does not typologically convey the icon of the Most Holy Trinity as the only true Lover of Humankind, which should be the goal of every Christian. Homosexuals who in order to pursue Christ, must by way of their sexual attraction deprive themselves of spousal love expressed sexually and blessed with progeny need special understanding from others. They should be helped to find love and fulfillment in platonic relationships that aren’t expressed sexually, by those who most want homosexuality kept at bay from the Church, because “sex”, “marriage” and children are not “essential” ingredients of Love, which can still be enjoyed even though such things are lacking.
              If those with the loudest voices of “concern” aren’t providing such help to homosexuals, then they should stop wagging chins, shut up and sit down, because they are just as much a source of the problem as “liberals” who have no real understanding either of the Mystery of Gender and Human Sexuality, and the need to avoid gender/sexual confusion.

              • The very most retired Archbishop Lazar Puhalo is no authority on this subject. Where in the Fathers of the Church will I find any mention of a “Mystery of Gender”? Since the retired Archbishop thinks that sex change operations are a legitimate solution for people who believe that they are women trapped in men’s bodies or vice versa he may see some mystery that no one else in the Church has ever seen before, because having learned it all those decades in Vagante jurisdictions. However the real Church has condemned such loopy ideas:


                • Finding distortions of Orthodox teaching in the works of Archbishop Lazar is like shooting fish in a barrel.

                  Thank you for your wonderful piece expounding the truth against the anonymous person’s distortions, Fr. John. Unfortunately, I fear that giving them responses is largely preaching to the choir at this point, because those who demand the approval of sexual sin are not listening. Apparently, they think that if heterosexual couples get to “live in sin” (in a subsequent marriage) with the blessing of the Church, so should homosexual couples. Never mind that the whole point of giving couples a second marriage in the Church was so that they WOULDN’T be living in sin.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    I just read a quote on a discussion list: “Your friends will argue with you. Your enemies don’t care.” There are people who don’t care whether their homosexuality is being discussed; in fact, they welcome all these wisely written articles and comments because it takes all those curious sheep eyes off what they really did wrong: Their crimes.

              • Jane Rachel says

                There are two issues and we MUST keep them separate lest we fall into judgment. The first is hypocrisy in the Church leadership. The second, separate issue is that of homosexuality becoming an accepted practice in the Orthodox Church.

                When I find it hard to control my anger over what is going on in the OCA, it is over hypocrisy, not homosexuality. It’s against the hypocrites, not the homosexuals. If the hypocrites are homosexuals, I rage against the fact that they are hurting people, not the fact that they are gay. Hypocrisy is the most harmful and hurtful sin there is as far as I’m concerned. Unrepentant hypocrites, especially blatantly hypocritical religious leaders (not only clergy), are walking directly and with their eyes wide open down the road to hell. It’s because they leave so many innocent people dying in the ditches. Because the word “hypocrisy” has been downplayed by overuse, here’s a good article on the word “hypocrisy” from Wikipedia:

                Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have.[1] Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie[1].

                Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of “hypocrisy” in Rambler No. 14:

                Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.[2]

                Thus, an alcoholic’s advocating temperance, for example, would not be considered an act of hypocrisy as long as the alcoholic made no pretense of constant sobriety.


                The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means “Jealous” “play-acting”, “acting out”, “coward” or “dissembling”.[3] The word hypocrite is from the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokrites), the agentive noun associated with υποκρίνομαι (hypokrinomai κρίση, “judgment” »κριτική (kritiki), “critics”) presumably because the performance of a dramatic text by an actor was to involve a degree of interpretation, or assessment, of that text.

                Alternatively, the word is an amalgam of the Greek prefix hypo-, meaning “under”, and the verb krinein, meaning “to sift or decide”. Thus the original meaning implied a deficiency in the ability to sift or decide. This deficiency, as it pertains to one’s own beliefs and feelings, informs the word’s contemporary meaning.[4]

                Whereas hypokrisis applied to any sort of public performance (including the art of rhetoric), hypokrites was a technical term for a stage actor and was not considered an appropriate role for a public figure. In Athens in the 4th century BC, for example, the great orator Demosthenes ridiculed his rival Aeschines, who had been a successful actor before taking up politics, as a hypokrites whose skill at impersonating characters on stage made him an untrustworthy politician. This negative view of the hypokrites, perhaps combined with the Roman disdain for actors, later shaded into the originally neutral hypokrisis. It is this later sense of hypokrisis as “play-acting”, i.e., the assumption of a counterfeit persona, that gives the modern word hypocrisy its negative connotation.
                [edit] Hypocrisy and vice

                Although hypocrisy has been called “the tribute that vice pays to virtue”,[5] and a bit of it certainly greases the wheels of social exchange, it may also corrode the well-being of those people who continually make or are forced to make use of it.[6] As Boris Pasternak has Yurii say in Doctor Zhivago, “Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike… Our nervous system isn’t just fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and it can’t be forever violated with impunity.”

                The over-attribution of hypocrisy, however, could lead to excessive tolerance of deceit and destructive behavior.
                [edit] Jung on the General Hypocrisy of Man

                C. G. Jung a few times referred to the hypocrisy of people who are not aware of the dark or shadow-side of their nature.

                Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility or any of the other beautiful euphemisms for unconscious urges to personal power (Jung, 1966:5).

                It is under all circumstances an advantage to be in full possession of one’s personality, otherwise the repressed elements will only crop up as a hindrance elsewhere, not just at some unimportant point, but at the very spot where we are most sensitive. If people can be educated to see the shadow-side of their nature clearly, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more self-knowledge can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures (Jung, 1966:par. 28).

                In New Paths in Psychology (1916) Jung pointedly referred to the “hypocritical pretenses of man”.

                Dream-analysis above all else mercilessly uncovers the lying morality and hypocritical pretences of man, showing him, for once, the other side of his character in the most vivid light (Jung, 1966:par. 437).

                Jung omitted this characterization from his later essay On the Psychology of the Unconscious (1943), which developed out of the former.

                This is why we have such a terrible crisis in the OCA. We are witnessing it right before our eyes, yet we can’t do anything about it. Our leadership has to act to clean house. I hope Metropolitan Jonah is taking action to clean up the hypocrisy. Hypocrisy lies at the core of the corruption in the Church. Without repentant, humble leadership we have no leadership at all.

                The fog is lifting as the truth emerges. We are beginning to find out about the coverups, the destruction of those who pose a threat, the lying, the altering of documents, the changing of the truth. The hidden agenda. The hypocrisy. The Lord Jesus Christ took a whip to the money changers and drove them out of the Temple. He allowed the hypocrites to crucify Him.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Wait a second… change that last sentence to this: “The Lord Jesus Christ took a whip to the money changers and drove them out of the Temple, and then (and only then) He allowed the hypocrites to crucify Him. He was buried, He descended into Hell, He set the captives free, He overcame death by death, He rose from the dead, He appeared to His Disciples, He ascended into Heaven to the Father’s Right Hand. And then, Pentecost. The Church. So, in following Him, we must start with Him and what He did. Go back to the basics and follow Him from there.”

          • The KJV is based on the the Byzantine Majority Text while the RSV, when faced with a variance in the majority text and other texts, chooses the variance. The theory was that the variance was more likely correct because a mistake, once accepted in the majority text, would never be corrected but just passed down from one generation to the next. The variances then, serve as a corrective.

            The NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) is “gender-neutral” meaning that all nouns and pronouns do not reference sex. It’s a politically correct monstrosity. (Don’t be fooled. Eliminate the sex of Christ, and down the road you will discover a denial of the materiality of the incarnation. It’s a new Gnosticism.)

            Translating from the Greek can be difficult because where English indicates case by position in the sentence and by prepositions, Greek indicates case by the ending of the word. In Greek you can change the word order around without losing the meaning of the sentence. Also, it allows for greater inferences and such making it an excellent language for theology and philosophy.

            If a non-Greek speaker wants to study the scripture more, get three of for good translations (KJV, RSV, etc.) and a copy of the Greek interlinear text (Greek with English words underneath it). Then look up the hard words in a lexicon. You can can a pretty good idea of what the Greek text says that way.

            English suffers because we use words from both Latin and Greek that mean the same thing but because they are interspersed, relationships get lost. Take for example the name” St. Demetrios.” “Saint” comes from the Latin sanctus which means “holy” (Gr. agios) We can just as easily say “Holy Demetrios.” Or take the word “santification” (“…sanctify those who put their trust in thee”). It means to “make holy” or even (to coin a word) “holify.” Then think of the Trisagion hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy…”) To the Greek speaker the relationships are obvious. To an English speaker they remain hidden until you start studying the original Greek more closely.

            • But the Majority Text is the text that the Church has preserved, and is what is reflected in both the Greek and Slavonic Lectionary Traditions. The RSV also has a liberal theological bias, most notably reflected in its translation of Isaiah 7:14.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                T.S. Eliot opined that the makers of the RSV were men who didn’t know they were atheists.. Could be; however, to me the most horrible error of the RSV is setting aside a special pronoun for God. I don’t believe that principle can be found in any other language. They reserved use of the singular pronoun for God and “the Divine.” What then, did THEY believe about Christ’s nature(s)?

                Is Christ to be considered all Divine and not at all human? It’s hard to accept that leading modern Christian teachers and “churchmen” would be so indifferent to Christ’s divine and human natures in one hypostasis. In the KJV, when Abraham entertains the angels, he addresses them alternately with the singular and the plural: One God, but three Persons. Such theology is not supported by the RSV or its creators, obviously.

                Again, assigning a special pronoun to divinity alone is a grammatical, linguistic novelty. The RSV creators should have been asked immediately, “But what do you think of Christ?

              • Yes, I should have made that more clear. The KJV preserves the majority text the best, which is why it is good that the Orthodox Study Bible uses the New King James Version. The NKJV is also the version I recommend when people ask me what bible to buy.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I strongly suggest then you brush up on your Greek as this is very basic Greek, and not heretical in anyway. In fact, the RSV which I and many Orthodox grew up on it heretical on many levels, especially in regards to Orthodox theology which is based on the Greek Old Testament (LXX) and the official Greek New Testament of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Not the RSV.

            As for my Greek proficiency eh, I’ve translated a few things here and there, but I’m definitely not perfect.


            • John Christopher says

              @Peter: You are right that this is very basic Greek, but, unfortunately, you are totally wrong about the grammar involved. πνεῦμα is a neuter noun — always, no matter what case it is in.

              The first example you gave (agion pneuma) is in the nominative or accusative case, meaning “holy spirit”. Both parts of this phrase are grammatically neuter, not feminine. And the second example (agion pneumatos) is actually nonsensical, as the adjective agion is not in the same case as the noun you want it to modify. It should read tou agiou pneumatos, which, of course, is simply the genitive form of the phrase, meaning “of the holy spirit”. Again, this example is neuter, as it always must be, since the noun itself is neuter.

              The confusion might arise from the fact that pneuma is a neuter, third declension noun, so it does not follow the lexical characteristics of its more common cousins. Still, you can find such nouns even in present-day, Demotic Greek. Think of το φως, which is the nominative or accusative, but του φωτός, which is the genitive — all cases being neuter.

              EDIT: None of the above is a theological statement. It deals solely with Greek grammar, about which there is absolutely no doubt. Now, there are many theologians, ranging from Orthodox like Bulgakov to modern-day scholars, who make much of the fact that (a) “spirit” is actually a feminine word in Semitic languages; and (b) the sophia of God is an actual (mystical) feminine reality within the Godhead. But, again, this has absolutely no bearing on the Greek of the OT and NT.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                All, I must say that I’m enjoying this discussion. I wish that I could add to it but unfortunately my knowledge of ancient Greek is abysmal and being public school-educated, I never learned what exactly “dative” meant. (I still have trouble parsing sentences, esp knowing the difference between direct object and indirect object).

                Oh well, I’m gonna have to sit this one out but I am learning things! I will say this howevr, that in Hebrew (which has only two genders) the attributes of YHWH are usually feminine: Hokhma (wisdom), Shekina (glory), and Torah (word). (Kavod is also glory and I believe that’s masculine.)

                In the Middle Ages, the Shekhina aquired a discreet identity of her own, being called the Matronit or the Queen of the Sabbath. She almost became a Mrs YHWH. When the Kabbalah craze first erupted centuries ago, many Christians (such as Pico della Mirandolo) latched on to it and Christianized it. It’s possible that Pneumatology started taking off at this time and the Spirit started being spoken of as feminine. I’m guessing here though.

                Anyway, in the early 20th century, a Pneumatological craze called Sophiology started taking off in Russia around the same time that Theosophy (which is non-Christian) started.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I totally disagree and would again state that Pneuma has a distinct feminine quality as well as neutral quality especially in the LXX OT. Both Hebrew OT and Greek OT have pneuma as a distinct feminine quality. That IS basic Greek given its context. You want examples, give me untill thursday and I’ll give you very detailed examples as my schedule will free up then.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Here is a little taste:

                The Septuagint is the ancient Greek edition of the Old Testament. The Septuagint is the source of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament. The ‘Wisdom of Solomon’ was included in the Septuagint. In ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’ the Holy Spirit is feminine.

                The book of Proverbs declares ‘God’s Wisdom’ is female. The Greek ‘feminine’ term for wisdom’, sophia; translates a Hebrew ‘feminine’ term, hokhmah. In the book of ‘Proverbs’ contained in the Bible as well as ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’ contained in the Apocrypha; It is clearly shown that the early Hebrews saw God’s Wisdom and SPIRIT as female.

                The “Odes of Solomon” is the earliest known Christian book of hymns or odes. It dates from before 100 A.D. In the ‘Odes of Solomon’; the Holy Spirit is female. Again this is in the Septuagint – i.e Greek Old Testament.

                Also, Jesus spoke of Wisdom as female; ( Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35)
                The Hagia Sophia is the largest church in Constantinople (and in the ancient Christian world). The historian Socrates indicated that the church was named Sophia during the reign of Emperor Constantius. The name given to the church symbolized the second divine attribute of the Holy Trinity. Originally, Sophia, which means “Holy Wisdom“.

                The original tongue of the Hebrew or Aramaic would translate ‘Holy Spirit’ as female. Also, Greek would translate ‘Holy Spirit’ as either female or ‘neuter in reference to the subject’ and She only became ‘He’ in Latin and English bibles. Yet, even Milton, in his writing of Paradise Lost, refers to the Holy Spirit and Divine Reason as his Celestial Patroness!

                Clearly, the ancient church traditions refer to the Holy Spirit in feminine and not masculine terms. It is important to speak of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Reconciler, with a feminine pronoun. The mother aspect of God is real and Holy.

                Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . .”
                The functions of the Holy Spirit as characterized in Biblical texts are often those which have been associated with women: consolation, inspiration, emotional warmth, and birth of the spirit.

                If you want to be pro man ok but don’t butcher God’s Word, and limit your concept of God’s aspects and attributes that both connect and transcend us at the same time.

                I’m not pushing a heresy, but just a deeper understanding of Almighty God. Feminist be damned, I have no care for them and their agenda. But God’s word is God’s word and I am obedient unto it.


                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  These references are from my personal files. Lets debate.

                  • John Christopher says

                    Peter: These are all fine examples of exegesis. But they have absolutely no bearing on the grammatical reality. There’s really no debate to be had when it comes to the lexical entry of the Greek word “pneuma”. Look it up in any scholarly dictionary. Its grammatical gender is plain as day and unwavering: neuter. You are talking about biblical theology, not Greek grammar. See the difference?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      The biblical theology is based on the Greek. I don’t have to look it up in a dictionary, I was taught it since I was Greek school when we learned to conjugate words, and I was taught it when I learned Hellenistic/Byzantine Church Greek in Clearwater, Florida, and The Greek language and Orthodox theology at Loyola University from both a Greek Orthodox priest and Serbian Orthodox theologian. I also learned it directly from the then Greek Orthodox bishop of Bethlehem in 1994.

                      In fact, it was this Greek Orthodox bishop who first told me about the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit from the Greek. He started to connect the dots between the Greek language, especially the Greek Septuagint, and Orthodox Theology, especially on this point.

                      I also remember the detailed discussion on this subject how the Greek language shows God in masculine terms, feminie terms and neutral terms and that all these sexual references have meaning especially in connection to the incarnation. If you have a problem with this I will direct you to contact a Greek Orthodox Bishop and ask him.
                      The Greek is clear to me, I am sorry it’s not clear to you.

                      Whether its the Hebrew RUCHAK or the Greek PNEUMA they have feminine aspects to them. In fact, the reason why SPIRIT/BREATH has a feminie quality is because it is associated with the act of creation a female quality. God breathed life into creation as God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. You see how context acts upon a word?

                      I bid you peace.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Also I said that Greek would translate Holy Spirit as either feminine or neutral in reference to the subject. That is Greek for ya.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                The Greek word itself in isolation is neuter, but in the biblical context it’s feminine. Context determines the masculine/feminine quality of the word. The Septuagint, as I quoted below, demonstrates this.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          English is not a gendered language, and so the use of gender-specific pronouns in English definitely expresses the sex or gender of the person to whom the pronouns are applied. This is not true of gendered languages like Greek. The writers of Holy Scripture did not understand feminine terms as expressing feminine qualities or the female sex, and when the issue came up the Fathers were quite clear in saying, with St. Gregory the Theologian, that there is “nothing feminine in God.”

          Take a look at my article “The Problem with Hierarchy” in the fall 2010 issue of St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly. It sorts the whole business of gender out very nicely in regards to both God and man.

          • Monk James says

            Christ is risen! Truly risen!

            Dear Friends —

            Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell is mistaken here. English does indeed have gender in language, but it’s natural rather than grammatical. EG: ‘Rooster’ is naturally masculine while ‘hen’ is naturally feminine. Same for ‘ram’ and ‘ewe’ or ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

            For reasons of political correctness, language has been distorted these last forty years or so in order to avoid expressing English (at least) in sex-specific terms.

            Please, let’s understand that SEX is a biological distinction, while GENDER is a linguistic distinction, in spite of all the PC blather we’ve been afflicted with.

            In Modern (our contemporary) English, we have four options for grammatic gender: masculine, feminine, neither, both. Just below, I’ll include a section of a paper I wrote about twenty years ago as part of my application to a PhD program in theology (yes, they let me in). My comments are specifically directed toward the effort to translate the Greek 70’s Psalms into English.

            We must be aware that language is being manipulated — especially in theological contexts — in order to advance feminist and homosexual agendas, which seek to blur, if not altogether eliminate, any and all referents dependent on the sex of the agents under discussion.

            This problem has been analyzed (not by me) to identify four areas of grammatic referents to human beings: sex known, sex unknown, sex irrelevant, sex concealed. It’s the last of these four considerations which most concerns us now, since this has become a propaganda tool for people who oppose or at least resist the authetically orthodox catholic christian Tradition regarding human sexuality.

            My quote follows below, and I hope this is at least a little helpful.

            Peace and blessings to all.

            Monk James

            BEGIN QUOTE


            The written or literary form of any spoken language is almost always a more formal vehicle of expression than common speech. As such, except as a deliberate exercise in dialect or colloquialism, the written language will avoid `low’ speech: contractions, slang, vulgarities, and so forth. Some of these distinctions are really clear, while others demand much more sensitive attention. The written language, for example, will almost certainly prefer to say `excrement’ where the spoken language will use another biological term or one of several colloquialisms with varying degrees of acceptability in polite circumstances.

            Other distinctions are less obvious. There is a subtle sense of elevated style in the use of `no one’ rather than `nobody’; `can’t’ and `don’t’ are more informal and less elevated than `cannot’ and `do not’; but, except in a really well-turned phrase, the latter forms are likely to sound heavy and wooden. This is the province of diction: to allow the words to interact with each other to convey not only meaning, but style and sonority. This is especially important in the Psalms, since they will be sung.

            Although some translations of the Psalms, both from Hebrew and from Greek, are undeniably at fault for failing to reflect it in English, the Greek 70’s Psalter and its accurate translations make full use of inclusive language. Terms which mean `human being’ are intended to include both male and female human beings. Terms which mean `male human being’ are not intended to include female human beings, and vice versa. Personal and political agendas which require the degenderizing or (especially) the `demasculinizing’ of all pronouns and concepts are on a collision course with reality and ethical integrity. Contrary to the erroneous but `politically correct’ theories promoted by misguided feminists, there truly does exist, in English, a generic `he’ which is inclusive, but its use is clearly defined and appropriately restricted: it works only for those who are sufficiently educated in the language to be able to use its grammar and syntax successfully.

            In translating the Scriptures, there are situations where the masculine form must be used, not only because it is grammatically and syntactically correct, but required by an authentically christian and christological understanding of the text. For example, Psalm 1:1 says `Blessed is the man’; this is accurate.

            From a purely linguistic standpoint, it cannot correctly be made to say `Blessed is the person’, `Blessed is one’, `Blessed are they’, `Blessed are we’, etc. The underlying hebrew word is _’iysh_, unquestionably meaning `male human being’. The Greek renders this as anEr and the Latin says _vir_ while the Slavonic uses _mouzh”_; all these words have exactly the same meaning. The sense of the Slavonic is so strongly male that this very word has come into modern Russian with the meaning `husband’.

            It would have been possible to translate this as `person’ or `someone’ or with another generically human, inclusive term only if the Hebrew had started out with _’adam_, and if this had been rendered _anthrOpos_, _homo_ and _cheloväk”_ in the respective languages just cited. But this is not the case, and this translation of the Psalms has no personal or political agenda which would skew the rendering to satisfy such agendas.

            A further complication arises from the `demasculinization’ of pronouns in translations of the Scriptures: Christ becomes invisible. Much of the Old Testament must be read with a recognition of its christological subtext if it is to mean anything to us at all. The Christians are guided in this by the Tradition, and the Jews would understand it much better if they adopted the christological point of view, since the Gospel was proclaimed primarily for the Jews (MT 10:5-6; ACTS 11:19-20; ROM 1:16); if the Old Testament’s predictions concerning Christ were not fulfilled, then there really is no point to our faith.

            Eradicating the masculine pronoun from our translations of the Scriptures is like depriving a ship of its rudder. There is no possibility of finding our way to Christ in a translation which speaks only in vague generalities about `them’, but never about `Him’. Other comments about the implications of the translator’s need to be faithful to the Tradition will be found in this paper’s section titled `Christianisms’.

            At the same time, not every pronominal referent needs to be cast in the masculine gender. Where the Tradition does not assert a clearly christological meaning, there is no reason why generic terms for human beings cannot be employed. Psalm 103, discussing daily human life is a good example of the possible use of `people’ to translate _anthrOpos_. The pronoun, by grammatical logic, then becomes `they’ instead of `he’. But this will not be true in Psalm 1, or in any other christological context where the Tradition tells us, unequivocally, that this `man’ is Christ.

            Although it has many other good points to recommend it, the failure of the New Revised Standard Version to acknowledge these distinctions has earned it, alone among all other English-language translations of the Bible, the condemnation of the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, who will not permit it to be read in the services. For the same reason, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States recently took similar action against ‘The Grail Psalms: An Inclusive Language Version’.

            That there is some male/female imbalance in human thought is undeniable; what its causes are and what its cure might be are beyond the scope of this paper, and are not the subjects of this translation. Perhaps language, in general, ought to be kept from the fray.

            If there is indeed oppression of the female half of the human race by the male half, I suggest that this problem will not be solved by spurious translations or by doing violence to standard english usage. People who propose aberrant forms (`womyn’, `herstory’) are clearly misguided in their zeal, as are those who would `demasculinize’ all pronominal referents. I would like to call to their attention the fact that there are languages (Chinese and Turkish come to mind) which employ genderless pronouns in common speech. This is not as odd as it might at first sound; we do it all the time in English, but in the plural, when we say things like `They’re in the house’. `They’ conveys nothing about gender; `they’ could be men, women, children, dogs, plants, bugs or books.

            The larger context in English, as well as in Turkish or Chinese, would tell us all we need to know, but the pronoun itself would not. But even the most casual observation of turkish and chinese societies will reveal that women in those cultures, genderless pronouns notwithstanding, are far more repressed than are English-speaking women who balk at being included within `mankind’.

            Language cannot be legislated, not by the civil government and not by the pressure of groups who claim that their ox has been gored. There are notorious failures of fascism on record to demonstrate this truth. The status of women in any society is probably not indexed by `inclusivity’ in language; I strongly suggest that language is not the problem, nor is it the solution.
            END QUOTE

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I agree. However, I stand on my previous post. There is deeper more profound relationship between God and humanity. The very mostest of the incarnation unites God to humanity. Christ was incarnated as a man, but this does not separate women from the salvation Christ. Further, it is not heresy to understand male/female/neutral qualities in God while at the same time understanding that God is above and separate in such limiting and finite matters.

              What I propose is more of a mystical monastic approach to understanding God and to understand that gender specific language in scripture in the original languages is intentional. If God does not possess male qualities then why did Christ teach us to pray “Our Father?”

              This is also in regards to the female and neutral qualities or aspects of God. These qualities, especially through the mystery of the incarnation, truly unites us, men and women, to Almighty God. These are just my two cents for what they are worth.


              • Hello, Peter. I thank you for your reply, and all for the great discussion. I am fully aware that feminine attributes are part of the Godhead. However, in English, God, whether speaking of the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit has always been referred to as masculine. It is only in recent times that people have begun to think of the Holy Spirit as “mother” and God as some sort of family unit. When anyone uses “she” for the Holy Spirit, you can bet there is an agenda behind that use and it was used for a specific reason.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Hi Alec:

                  That may be English but that is not the original biblical languages. Listen I’m not pushing a feminist agenda I am certainly NOT. All I am saying is the various masculine/feminine langauge references as well as the neuter references are intentional and express qualities of God that bind us to God as well as expressing God’s transcendence. That’s all I was saying,and NOT pushing some heretical idea.


                  • Peter, I didn’t think you were pushing an agenda. My reference was to Dunn. When the feminine is used in a published article such as he wrote, there is an agenda behind it. Unless he is going to discuss the original languages, he should stick to the common usage.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi again Alec:

                      I think some clarification is in order. The rules of Greek grammar are clear that Pneuma is neuter. However, in Gen.1:2 those grammatical rules are not clear. Pneuma has a gender ending that is feminine, but add a descriptive “To” Pneuma and it becomes neuter. But now look at Gen. 1:2 and πνεῦμα takes on a descriptive feminine function -the act of creation, giving birth. This is a distinctive feminine function. In this context πνεῦμα takes on a feminine aspect or side.

                      Further, there is no article in Gen. 1:2 – I.e. “To.” thus it reads Pneuma Theou (LXX). Thus, Pneuma is not rendered technically neuter. Then add into this the context of Gen. 1:2 and one legitimately sees a feminine quality come about.


                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Peter, why does the action in Gen. 1:2 appear feminine to you? The Spirit “moved upon the face of the waters”? If I had to imagine genders in this verse, I’d say the Spirit is male and the waters are female. The Spirit is moving upon the waters the way a man moves upon a woman in coitus, also the way the Spirit covered the Virgin to beget the Son in the flesh.

                • It’s salient here to point out that in Syriac, the word for ‘spirit’ is grammatically feminine, but in all but the earliest (mostly heretical) texts, ‘Holy Spirit’ is always treated as masculine.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  So we ignore biblical Greek and context for fear of a feminist agenda? Not me. Further, if the original languages show a feminine qualify that’s bad, but a masculine quality and that’s good? Not even my heresy fighting nature will go that far.


              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Peter, your approach still seems to me to end in ascribing femininity to God, which the Fathers loathed to do because it fundamentally changes the character of God in our eyes.

                Instead of projecting male and female characteristics on God, we should rather look for Godly characteristics in the man and the woman. That’s what I do in the fall 2010 issue of SVTQ, using gender-neutral terms to explain relations within the Trinity, and then using those same terms to explain relations not only between the man and the woman, but also between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, masters and servants, priests and parishioners, kings and people. This is a much safer approach, and a much more revealing one as well.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Hi Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell:

                  I do not disagree with your overall assessment. In fact, I agree that God is sexless and transendent. However, through the mystery of the Incarnation God took on human form. God did not take on a male form or a female form but a human form. Further, Christ taught us to pray saying “Our Father…” Christ also said that THE FATHER and I are one. There is a clear masculine/maleness to the nature of God that Jesus Christ revealed and affirmed.

                  Gen. 1:2 has the Breath of God invoking creation into being, and God breathing into Adam and making him a living soul. Also, Jesus Christ breathed upon the Apostles and imparted the Holy Spirit unto them. The creative act that the BREATH/SPIRIT of God is engaged in is a feminine act. To deny this aspect of God is to cut off certain qualities attributable to God.

                  All three attributes are at play – Male, Female, and Neuter (i.e. Transcendance). These three aspects of God are also three aspect of human physical and spiritual life, which are fully realized and binds humanity to God through Christ’s incarnation.

                  Also, this does not make God a female, just as the male attributes do not make God a Male. These are attributes NOT the nature and essence of God as this WOULD be in violation of the Church’s and the Father’s teaching on the nature and essence of God.

                  So I do not disagree with you, but want to expand our thinking on this. Of course, this must be kept within the bounds of the Church, and I will be the first to jettison this line of thinking if it ever becomes heretical.


                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Peter, there is nothing distinctly feminine in breathing, and if we’re talking about breathing onto or into something and were to pick a gender, breathing would be masculine. The male part goes into the female part, right? You seem to be allowing the feminine gender of the word for spirit in some languages to prejudice your perception and interfere with commonsense.

                    Again, you need to approach the issue from the opposite direction, starting with what God has revealed to us about relations between the Father and the Son, and then look for similarities in relations between the man and the woman, between fathers and sons, etc. When you do that, you see that the Father and the Son relate to each other archically on account of the Father being the arche of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which is to say their beginning. You then see that the man and the woman are also meant to relate to each other archically, the woman being made from the man, but that this is just one example of archical relation among humans, because fathers and sons are also related archically, as are mothers and sons. But no one says that sons are feminine and mothers are masculine on account of their place in the family archy.

                    Sex or gender is therefore just one expression of archical relation as it appears in humans, on account of their being made in image of God. And since it is just one expression, we need not use gender to explain the Trinity and ought not describe God as in any way feminine because of the confusion that that would most certainly cause.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      the creative act has always been identified with females. The Lord God breathed life into existence. Breathed life into Adam making him a living soul. I am rather socked that you have no problem accepting male attributes of God but not female. Which is ok as it does nothing to hurt you Orthodoxy, but may be limiting your understanding of God and the connection God has with his creation.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Peter, your statement that “creation has always been identified with females” is factually not true, especially in Christianity. God creates, and God is not female. You are confusing creation and procreation. The key difference is that creation is an act, whereas procreation is the result of an act — the male act of insemination.

                      Please, before you offer any more opinions on this subject, do some research. Read my article in SVTQ.

                  • Prospective Nomad says

                    Mr. Papoutsis,

                    I hesitate to raise this question, because it risks undermining the legitimacy of arguing from original texts in gendered languages, which I don’t wish to do. But I’m sincerely curious: How does your approach avoid the risk of succumbing to an anachronism, given that the language preceded the revelation? For example, isn’t it at least theoretically possible that the word Sophia is feminine, not because there’s anything specifically feminine about the Wisdom of the True God, but rather because the pre-Christian Greeks wrongly anthropomorphized wisdom as the goddess Athena a millennium before the LXX was translated? After all, the ninth ode of the Paschal Canon, paraphrasing St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, identifies Christ as the Wisdom of God. The editors of the Orthodox Study Bible identify Christ as the Wisdom named in the Solomonic texts (not that those editors are infallible, but they seem to have a typologically defensible position). Although I don’t pretend any knowledge of Hebrew, its Semitic roots surely predate Moses by many centuries. Might the gender of certain words have been determined by the fertility cults that predated Judaism? Methodologically, how do you sort this out?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      No the use of certain words were directly used by the biblical authors under God’s inspiration. Wisdom or Sophia is feminine and always associated with God’s Spirit. In fact Sophia is the opposite of Logos. Christ is both Logos and Wisdom. Male and Female attributes of God, while at the same time God transcends these things because is sexless, beyond sex.

                      Attributes of male and female exist in all of us. They existed in Christ as well as He was human just like us except He did not have a fallen nature.

                      I have no problem with this. I read scripture as it is and in context. Just because we used or borrowed pagan words, concepts and/or Ideas does not bother me as this was done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

                      In fact, it was Greek philosophical (i.e. Pagan) though that shaped and defined much of the Christian faith that God gave us from the nature and Person of Christ, the Personhood of the Holy Spirit and God the Father as the Arch of the Holy Trinity.

                      If God uses it then God sanctifies it and put it towards His purposes.

                      As a side note I have a problem with the OSB, but that’s another post for another day as I believe that we have been sold garbage claiming to be Orthodox Christianity. But that’s just me, we can talk about it later.


                    • Prospective Nomad says

                      Mr. Papoutsis,

                      You have persuaded me to concede your original point: that a text can have a spiritual meaning that transcends the grammatical gender of the words being used. But surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no? If the Wisdom in the Solomonic texts does not refer to Christ, why does the Church prescribe that Proverbs 9:1-11 (“Wisdom hath built her house…”) be read at Vespers on the Eve of the Nativity of the Theotokos? The typological interpretation makes contextual sense: If Christ is the Wisdom (grammatical gender notwithstanding), then the Theotokos is the house that He built for Himself. If the typological interpretation is incorrect (because wisdom must be feminine), what does that passage have to do with the feast?

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Again, Peter, when you write that “Wisdom and Sophia is feminine and always associated with God’s Spirit” and that Sophia is the opposite of Wisdom, it’s obvious either that you’re not talking about Christianity or that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi prospective nomad. I never said it did not.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi Dn Mitchell

                      I think I said wisdom is the opposite of Logos the male and female attributes of God. If I said otherwise I mistyped. Sorry.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Dn Patrick was not mistaken; he just didn’t intend “gendered language” the way Monk James chose to take it. (Is there a language that does not recognize natural gender, no male and female at all?)

        • Prospective Nomad says

          Having taken three semesters of Attic and one semester of koine Greek in college, I can assert confidently that, at least in New Testament times, pneuma was a noun of the neuter gender. The variation that Mr. Papoutsis cites is in fact a different case of the same noun:

          Pneuma is the nominative and vocative case–the form used when the word is the subject of the sentence. For example: “O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth” is “Basileu Ouranie, Paraklete, to Pneuma tis Aletheias.

          Pneumatos is the genitive case–the form used in English when a noun is the object of the preposition “of” or “from.” For example: “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” is oti Sou estin e Basileia, kai e Dynamis, kai e Doxa, tou Patros, kai tou Uiou, kai tou Agiou Pneumatos.

          While we’re at it, pneumati is the dative case–the form used in English when a noun is the object of the prepositions “in”, “to”, or “for.” For example: “Unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” is Soi doxan anapempomen, to Patri, kai to Uio, kai to Agio Pneumati. (Although the articles in the nominative/vocative and dative cases appear identical when rendered in Latin letters, to in the nominative/vocative case ends with an an omicron, while in the dative case it ends with omega.)

          The idea that the Holy Spirit is feminine is not only bad theology: It’s bad grammar.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I disagree. Not to say that my Greek Orthodox Professor at Loyola University knew everything, but was a true mystic and monastic the delved deep into the scripture. I assert again, the Holy Spirit in Greek is both feminine and neutral depending on context.

            Further, even context cannot tell us if Pneuma is Spirit or Breath or Wind. In further fact, it would be much more accurate to translate “Spirit of God” in Genesis 1 as “Breath of God,” but trying to explain this to people especially Orthodox people seems to them/us as an attack on the Holy Trinity, which it most definitely is not.

            Oh well.


          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Also, where is the preposition in Gen. 1:2 to the word πνεῦμα?

            • Prospective Nomad says

              Mr. Papoutsis,

              Just as in English, so in ancient Greek: Sometimes nouns are preceded by articles, and sometimes they’re not. Take, for example, the Orthros hymn, “God is the Lord and hath shown us light. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord”: “Theos Kyrios kai epefanen emin. Eulogemenos O Erchomenos en Onomati Kyriou.” In that sentence, only “Erchomenos” is preceded by an article, but the absence of articles doesn’t affect the gender of any of the other nouns.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Septuagint Greek is NOT ancient Greek. Septuagint Greek was used to translate Hebrew words with specific gender qualities. The rules of Greek grammar somewhat breakdown. Now is the term Pneuma neuter? Yes, but it was used by the LXX to translate Ruah which is feminine. Now I am all for Pneuma being neuter, but why drop the article in Gen.1:2? The translators of the LXX, to stay true to Greek Grammar could have said “to Pneuma Theou,” but they did not? Why? To be slavishly literal to the underlying Hebrew word Ruah.

                Pneuma in and of itself without any preceding article is feminine, but with the artcile, as in all basic Greek words, is modified and transfortmed into a neuter word in regards to gramatical gender. But drop the article and its gender is, at the very least, becomes uncertain, and quite possibly feminine.

                Then take into account the underlying Hebrew word of Ruah that is feminine, and one sees that the droping of the article may have been intentional to convey in Greek the same/similar meaning found in the underlying Hebrew.

                One cannot take LXX Greek out of context and dependence on its parent Hebrew text. Genesis was incredibly literal and slavish on the underlying Hebrew, and the Translators(s) of LXX Genesis IMHO and those of others used Pneuma to translate Ruah quite literally in meaning and gender quality.

                Again, I am not saying, nor will I ever say that this means God is a Female, just as I will not say that God is a Man. But female and male qualities abound in the Septuagint as well as Neuter qualities. IAM NOT DISAGREEING WITH YOU, but I am putting forward an understanding that is not strictly within the proper rules of Greek Grammar, if it was strickly within Greek Grammar rules then you would be right and I would be wrong, but we and the LXX are not opperating under strict rules of Greek grammar.


                • Jane Rachel says

                  If you have ever watched a hen when she’s broody or felt the eggs underneath her soft warm breast while she incubates them, or tried to move her (her metabolism slows way down and nothing else is on her mind until they hatch) you will get the real sense of Genesis 1:2. Like a hen broods over her eggs (not my interpretation, that’s the Hebrew sense of the word translated “hovers”), so the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. After the chicks hatch, they hide safely under her wings and peep out at the world. We have been given this image at the very beginning of the Bible as a way to begin to learn about our Creator. We know it fits.

                  I think the Scriptures give the sense not only of fatherhood but also motherhood when speaking about the character or characteristics of God as the All-Holy Trinity condescends to relate to Creation. It seems to me that father/mother/family – one unit – is an icon of the Godhead. Father. Mother. Child. Man. Wife. Son, Daughter.

                  From the Fathers:

                  1:2 And the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

                  St. Ambrose: “There was still to come the plenitude of the operation in the Spirit, as it is written: ‘By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established and all the power of them by the Spirit of His mouth’ (Ps. 32, 6)… The Spirit fittingly moved over the earth, destined to bear fruit, because by the aid of the Spirit it held the seeds of new birth which were to germinate according to the words of the Prophet: ‘Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth’ (Ps. 103:32).”

                  St. Ephraim: “[The Holy Spirit] warmed the waters and made them fertile and capable of birth, like a bird when it sits with its outstretched wings on its eggs and by its warmth gives them warmth and produces fertility in them. This same Holy Spirit represented for us then an image of Holy Baptism, in which by His moving over the waters He gives birth to the children of God.”

                  God is condescending to act like a Father, and act like a Mother.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    St. Ephraim notwithstanding, the action expressed in Gen. 1:2 is not the feminine role of conceiving and bearing, but the masculine role of dominating and inseminating, consistent with the pagan myth of Father Sky and Mother Earth.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      The action word is “brooding.”

                      The Hebrew action word in Gen. 1:2, is rachaph (raw-khaf’) which means, “to brood; by implication, to be relaxed — flutter, move, shake.” (source)

                      Definition of “brood” (source):

                      transitive verb
                      a : to sit on or incubate (eggs) b : to produce by or as if by incubation : hatch
                      of a bird : to cover (young) with the wings
                      : to think anxiously or gloomily about : ponder
                      intransitive verb
                      a of a bird : to brood eggs or young b : to sit quietly and thoughtfully : meditate
                      : hover, loom
                      a : to dwell gloomily on a subject b : to be in a state of depression
                      a : to sit on or incubate (eggs) b : to produce by or as if by incubation : hatch

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Believe it or not, the hen I think of when I ponder this verse was named “Mama Gert.” She was a large, golden Buff Orpington who went broody on a batch of tiny blue bantam eggs that she adopted because it was her nature. It was quite a sight watching those puffs of black feathers with tiny black eyes poking their heads out from under her wings as she sat on the ground, or running around her as she taught them how to live. In other words, if we can apply that imagery here, there is no implication on my part, or anyone’s part, that there is “conceiving and bearing” in the action of the Holy Spirit over the water in Genesis 1:2. “Brooding” is a perfect word for it, and that’s why it’s the word that was used.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      First, incubating eggs is not a strictly female act. The males of many bird species also incubate.

                      Second, caring for children is also not a strictly female act. Bearing children is, but the Spirit does not merely bear creation; It (or He) creates it. The waters, the earth, bear it.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Look guys I’m done with this. I made what I thought was a statement in passing that obviously people have a hang up on. I understand your fears as I have been an opponent of gender inclusive language in English bibles. I was not talking about English but the original biblical languages and context. I bid you peace, and hope you work this out, and I’ll do the same.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      All, I agree with Peter. Speaking for myself, I’m way out of my league here so I can’t contribute anything pro or con other than mere speculation. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. Namely, the normalization of sin within our Church, including liturgical recognition of same. I’m ecstatic about what Bp +Michael did and can barely contain my glee as to his chancellor and deans. The hermeneutic discussion about gender is utlimately to no avail.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      I’ve got no problem with it either. I just like St. Ephraim’s statement on Gen. 1:2 and the sense of the Spirit of God “brooding” over the waters like a hen so I brought it up, hoping to lighten up the conversation… there’s nothing wrong with learning from chickens. Onward and Upward, boys and girls!

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi Deacon:

                      Can you please direct me where I can read your article on this subject. I do not what to think I have all the answers, and I do want to have the true mind of the Church on this. Please let know where I can find it on line and read it.

                      Thank you and God bless

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          Peter et al.: May we return to the main subject at hand (combatting the overt and subtle intrusion of homosexual “marriage” into Orthodoxy) instead of following rabbit trails regarding feminist misinterpretations of Holy Scripture and the Greek language of the LXX and New Testament?

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Ok I’m no feminist,and if I ever told people this who knew me would die laughing. but I am done. Let’s just move on.

    • After reading Dr. Dunn’s views, I wonder if the only response to the civil redefinition of “marriage” that the Church may be able to muster will be to refuse to recognize any marriage, real or so-called, performed outside the Church.

      • That’s exactly the conclusion that has to be made DM. Dunn and other pro-homosexual marriage advocates, first have to conclude that marriage outside of the Church is merely a contract. St. Basil refutes this view (I’ll get the citation). Also, consider Genesis. Marriage (a monogamous relationship) is within the the order of creation. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

        Marriage in the Church places it on the proper teleological trajectory as a means of salvation. It does not reduce a marriage outside of the Church to merely a contractual relationship no different than, say, the two year contract I signed for my cell phone.

        The assumption Dunn brings into it is that marriage has no intrinsic meaning or value until this redemption takes place. If Dunn is correct, shouldn’t his distinction apply to all things? Why would human beings have value before baptism, for example? For that matter, why did Christ even bother to destroy the death that separated creation from Him in order to redeem it? Instead, He restores that which has value intrinsic back to its proper value. To hear Dunn tell it, there is nothing to redeem.

        What bothers me most though is the indifference the Orthodox liberals seem to have toward the rest of society. They have the mindset Protestant fundamentalists, an us vs. them outlook except that their approach is clouded in that constant questioning and positing of hypotheticals all held together with self-congratulatory bromides about how enlightened they are.

        Don’t they have any compassion? Don’t they see the suffering unleashed by the moral confusion they help foster?

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Heracleides, the links you provided are priceless! I must say I’m shocked at the fresco of Pope Paul VI on the wall. Curious though, my shock would be mollified somewhat if in the late Pope’s hand the iconographer had drawn a scroll entitled Humana Vitae. 🙂

      (I wonder if he would have painted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or –let’s be daring!–Ronald Reagan in iconographic form?)

  5. O Hamartolos says

    Here’s just something I’ve been thinking after reading the two anti-Orthodox articles on ocanews.org and reading pravmir’s “let you yea…” article:

    If we are to take the two priests'(anti-Orthodox) views as truth, we would have to say, then, well maybe the Church has been wrong on other “less important issues”, such as, the ordination of women, or the ordination of homosexuals men, or women, to the priesthood.

    Perhaps the Church is wrong about the Liturgy. Indeed, such an archaic form of worship should be updated to include modern sensibilities: genderless references to god, instruments, shorter sound bites, dancing.

    What about our pantheon of saints? Perhaps the Church has been wrong about who are saints. Why not Cezar Chavez, or MLK, or Ghandi, or Malcom X, or Buddha, or even Mohammed? We might as well paint them on our walls as well.

    Perhaps the Church has been wrong all along about its own self understanding as Church, and in reality the church is all of us, Christian and non-Christian.

    Perhaps it is wrong then on who should should commune of the chalice and that limiting it to only baptized Orthodox Christians is a thing of the past and we should invite all people of all faiths to commune with us.

    Perhaps it has been wrong about other sexual questions such as adultery. Modern science has now proven that man genetically tends to polygamy. We should not discourage sexual activity out of marriage, but even encourage it, and even with people of the same sex. Indeed, bishops should be allowed to have affairs with men, then divorce their wives, marry their lover, and still continue to be bishops.

    If the Church has been wrong on all those issues, perhaps it is even wrong in its interpretation or understanding of who Jesus is. Perhaps he is not the son of God. Perhaps, he was even gay or at least engaged in sexual activity with them and his women disciples, as some of or fine modern theologians would have us believe.

    Perhaps the Church has been wrong about the virgin birth and if we are to believe, once again, our fine modern new testament scholars, Mary was raped by a Roman soldier and thus concieved Jesus. Perhaps then, the Church has been wrong about understanding God to be Trinity. Wait a minute, has the Church even proved God exists? Perhaps the Church is wrong on all accounts. God does not exist. All that is exists is matter. There is no “ought”, simply “is”. Which if that is the case, this little, unimportant, frivolous debate about with whom one chooses to copulate is just stupid and boths sides are right in the same way they are both wrong.

    This is the logical conclusion of wanting to change the Church’s timeless doctrines. If you need proof, look up St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Indeed, if you don’t believe the Church is holy and true, the honorable things would be to leave. It is disingenuous and dishonest to remain in an institution you believe to be wrong simply to change it to what you feel to be “true”. It is like those atheist priests and deacons in pre-1917 Russia who were simply clerics because their fathers were clerics.

  6. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    It seems to me that “the elephant in the room” is the tacit ignoring of “what has always been taught,” and “what the Holy Fathers have always taught” and so on; in fact, many regard “what has always been taught” and ‘”what the Fathers have always taught” with great discomfort, or even distaste. Many academically trained clergy now seem to regard correct thinking ABOUT theology, rather than correct theology, as being more patristic than anything the Holy Fathers themselves could have uttered. It is the teaching of the Orthodox Church (now, I’m involuntarily hunkering down, in Lyndon Johnson’s phrase, “like a rabbit in a hailstorm”) that we must interpret Scripture in accordance with what has been handed down by the Holy Fathers and with what the Church has always held and does hold. Further, hierarchs are sworn to prevent “customs contrary to Christian piety and good morals” from injuring Christian conduct. Perhaps the trinity of priests, the Three Apologists for License whose self-indulging meanderings are repeated with awe and appreciation on what I call “the Accountability of Desolation” blog, dread nothing more than to have to account for what they actually know about what has always been taught, because some have deliberately run from what has always been taught. I’m glad someone has put up a link where one may view some of the Franciscano-Byzantino-Russo iconography one may behold at the Novel Skete. The Christian West (for example Charlemagne/Karl der Grosse) seems not to have understood the Icon as more than a teaching tool for the ignorant: perhaps that explains the failure of the Novel Sketers to understand how inappropriate their wall paintings are: they feel that the images of Pope Paul and others “teach people” Orthodox Christianity, even if the instances portrayed denied what the Church and the Holy Fathers have always taught.

    The Holy Synod of the OCA is alarmingly mute on the topic of same-sex marriage, and even for Metropolitan Jonah his signing of the Manhattan Declaration seems to have been a single-shot event or “flash-in-the-pan” phenomenon. I wonder, at the recent diocesan assembly of the Bulgarian Diocese, were the candidates for diocesan bishop asked about their views on same-sex marriage? Seems to me that would have been appropriate. Wouldn’t Mrs. Steve Brown approve of that? Let’s face it: Mrs. Steve Brown is absolutely invulnerable. Perhaps we should all “get over it?” I’m retired. Don’t expect any prophetic voices to be heard from the Holy Synod. Apparently the affair of Bishop Mark (Forsberg)’s Archdeacon is deemed to be non-existent or moot. Oh, if only there’d been a Father Zacchaeus to clandestinely tape the Archdeacon’s marriage in San Francisco and, later, his filing for divorce, right?!. THEN we’d have something to sink our false teeth into!

    THEN we’d have something which could be justified by Faith S. alone!

    I KNOW there are priests “out there” who are fully capable of telling us all “this is what the Church teaches about that.” They are silent. But we won’t get that from Frs. Bobosh, Arida, or Vinogradov, will we? Perhaps they covet the idea of becoming the members of a new, specifically American Orthodox category in hagiology: The Holy “Equals-To-The-Holy-Fathers”? Of course, they’ll all have to get in line behind the great popularizer of Orthodox thought, the Protopresbyter who told the world on the day after Forgiveness Sunday not to believe a word that comes out of the mouth of a priest with whom he disagreed, “based on his record.” How’s that for a blanket condemnation of one’s neighbor? Well? Vanity of vanities, indeed! And chasing after the wind.

    • Jane Rachel says


      There’s a kind of profession of belief, but it’s not faith; an outward piety, but it’s not holy; a semblance of faith, but not in God; a knowing but it’s only skin-deep; a kind of “praying” before icons that is atheistic because it bounces back.

      There’s a deep and abiding doubting, yet it is wholly acceptable to God; an invisible kind of holiness; an atom of faith most pleasing to God; a knowing and hearing to be found deep in the bowels of one’s humanity; and a memory of an icon, which is true veneration even when the icon is not in front of you. There is a constant praying that has no words. Except, maybe, “HELP!”

      I keep thinking about all the OCA priests I know in the Midwest who might be feeling trapped under the weight of their past support of Mark Stokoe, et al. . I don’t feel one bit sorry for them. I don’t see how they can say they didn’t know, but maybe they can. Maybe they ignored or didn’t bother to read what you, Vladyka Tikhon, wrote over and over when you said, “The allegations are false” and (in so may words) “The SIC is a sham,” and then explained why over and over again. So, I think the excuse, “I didn’t know!” is weak enough to be invalid. I’m just a tiny nobody, and I figured it out years ago. What you were saying was verified by what I was seeing as a Midwest parishioner expected to believe everything my priest and bishop were saying. I didn’t, and it wasn’t easy.

      Certainly, in the past on ocashoes these priests have spoken out loudly and frequently, throwing all their weight behind Stokoe et al. What about today? Do they still support Stokoe, and Archbishop Job, and the new teachings of Father Arida?

      Maybe the priests of the Midwest can’t speak out because they don’t want to lose face. Maybe their faces have already dropped and their mouths are on the floor.

      They weren’t silent then but they sure are now! Why? The virtues of homosexuality in all its human glory are now being plastered all over Stokoe’s blog. Not only that, I agree with you that Stokoe is amoral. “You will know them by their fruits.” He’s done more damage than can be measured.

      We need to consider the now undeniable innocence of Father Kondratick and connect the dots… the Fathers are wrong? The Scriptures are wrong? Archbishop Job was a Saint? Mark Stokoe is the greatest thing since sliced bread?

      I wish they would speak out and take a stand, wherever they stand.

      I wonder if the priests of the OCA who supported Stokoe and +Job et al are troubled. They sure preach a lot of words on Sundays. I wonder about the people in their parishes who don’t read these blogs and don’t have any way of knowing what’s going on in their Church except through their priest.

      Priests, The people follow YOU! Don’t you care what’s happening? You were so brave to sign those petitions then, what about now? What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?

      I dearly love all the homosexuals in my life. I’m not as worried about them as I am about these priests. And, of course, myself.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Forgot to mention: When the mess first went public on ocaskews.org, Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) was actively posting and warning us about what was happening in the OCA. He even named names. But then, he was discredited. We only had to *think* about it a couple minutes before we could feel the hair rising up on our necks when, back in January, 2006, he wrote here, in response to a question asked by Cappy Larson of http://www.pokrov.org:

        As for answering this question, “Why is the Gay Mafia after Met. Herman,” I don’t believe I, for one, said a Gay Mafia was after His Beatitude. Father George knows I didn’t state that either, but that I used” Gay Mafia” in a well-known rhetorical device, in order to highlight the malice and impropriety and improbability and unfairness of charges levelled at, among others, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick.”

    • Vladyka,

      You hit the essence of a number of issues on the head with this:

      Many academically trained clergy now seem to regard correct thinking ABOUT theology, rather than correct theology, as being more patristic than anything the Holy Fathers themselves could have uttered.

      That’s an attitude that seems to have become the hallmark of academics and people who consider themselves to be intellectuals, but in truth it has produced a mass of dilettantes, people who know all about everything, while (to paraphrase Goldman) nobody knows anything.

      Learning “by heart” is so old-fashioned….

      To your specific point: This is what I saw happening in western Christian theological schools in the 1970s, and it did not turn out well for them. It’s surely exhilarating to debate ideas about God back-and-forth, and it’s fun to match wits with smart people, but getting to know God is vastly different from intellectualizing about God.

  7. As much as our frequent interloper and friend, the Vixen of Verbosity Ashley Nevins, misunderstands the essence of genuine Orthodox faith, she is correct about one thing. Our commonly-held Orthodox understanding of what constitutes the ‘true Church’ is rightly being challenged by the realities before us. For the hour is coming, and indeed now is, when the outward appearances on which we have relied – Apostolic succession, Eucharistic celebration, dogmatic ‘unity’, ‘love’ among brethren, etc. – will prove to be sorely insufficient for the faithful, as well as an effective means of deception for the negligent.

    “It is possible, then, in the last days when the various churches and religions will have been united and will appear as single whole, that the genuine Orthodox Church will appear disintegrated, fragmented into small, scattered, sparse parishes, so that it is even possible that one will suspect the other from lack of confidence, just as soldiers suspect each other when it is learned that the enemy is wearing the same uniform.

    “In the last days all will claim to be Orthodox Christians, and that Orthodoxy is as they understand it to be. But in spite of all this, those who have a pure heart and a mind enlightened by divine grace will recognize the Orthodox Church despite the apparent divisions and utter lack of external splendor. They will gather around the true priests, and they will become the pillars of the Church. Let the people of the world do whatever they will…let Christianity be adulterated; let the Tradition and life be changed… The Church of Christ will remain unaltered, as Chrysostom says, because if even one of her pillars remains standing, the Church will not fall. “Nothing is stronger than the Church. She is higher than the heavens and broader than the earth. She never grows old; she always flourishes”.

    -Alexander Kalomiros

    “And the brother said to him, “What then? Shall the customs and Traditions of the Christians change, and shall there be no priests in the Church so that such things happen?” And the elder said, “In times such as those, the love of many shall grow cold, and there shall be not a little tribulation: overrunning of nations and movement of peoples, apostasy of kings, prodigality of priests, negligence of those in monastic life; and there shall be superiors disdaining their own salvation and that of their flock, all of them eager and outstanding at banquets, contentious, indolent in prayers, and eager to slander, ready to condemn the lives of the Elders and their sayings, neither imitating nor hearing them, but rather reviling them… respecters of powerful persons, making decisions according to gifts, not defending the poor under judgement, oppressing widows, abusing orphans; and unbelief shall enter into the people, depravity, hatred, enmity, jealousy, rivalries, thievery, drunkenness.” And the brother said, “What then is one to do in those times and years?” And the elder said, “Child, in such days as those, he who can save, let him save his own soul, and he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven”.

    -Sayings of the Desert Fathers

  8. Besides talking about this stuff on this blog, what are YOU (yes, im talking to you) specifically going to do about it?

  9. Little man says

    This article really starts from the following notion:
    “Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today.

    So, here is a priest showing us immutability of homosexual behavior is really the starting point, but:
    1. Is a priest qualified to make that statement without references?
    2. Who is “we” that know that for sure?
    3. On what scientific basis, or hearsay, does this priest start out, covering it up with paragraphs and paragraphs of theological background only relevant if his statement is true.
    4. Why doesn’t he start simply by saying: “homosexual behavior is immutable, so it cannot be a sin”?

    Instead the article tries to show theological scholarship, and then puts this “immutability” lie into the discussion. Even just from the Scriptures we can read that homosexual behavior is NOT immutable. There is hope for these people, as they can potentially retract from their sin and vice….. but wait! i said the politically incorrect word: “sin”.

  10. Brian McDonald says

    I posted this at Mark’s website in response to the Father V. discussion. It might be worth sharing how all of this looks to someone who saw the same kind of successful “takeover” bid of radical agendas in the mainline Protestant world I left behind 20 years ago. It’s a gloomy thought that the same thing could happen in the OCA.

    “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say. . . . . ?” Gen. 3.3.

    “Fear is never helpful for a Christian.” Mark Stokhoe

    Mark, I must respectively disagree that fear is never helpful for a Christian. If it’s an instinctive reaction to a real danger it’s a good thing. How much better had Adam and Eve had been afraid of the serpent and fled, instead of sticking around to be sucked into the quicksand of his subtleties.

    And so I freely admit to a healthy dose of alarm in Fr.’s post. As a veteran of the Protestant mainline culture wars (Presbyterian pastor who became Orthodox 20 years ago), my first thought was, I’ve seen this production before and I know how it turns out.” It’s really a three-act drama that roughly adheres to the following script.

    First comes a set of sweet and charitable pleas for openness to reconsiderations of a long-held teaching or practice. Arguments are produced that don’t precisely advocate a radical change, but don’t precisely reject it either. These are often accompanied by gentle chidings not to be narrow-minded or judgmental; after all, the church has changed some of its ideas over the centuries. Examples are produced, often of peripheral or culturally context-specific practices that have been dropped or changed, or clearly ought to be. Perhaps in addition, reference is made to implications of earlier teachings that weren’t realized until later. These are then jumbled together with the enduring and hitherto nonnegotiable church teachings to produce the effect that “if some things are up for grabs, then everything might be!” This blurring of boundaries might be compared to the special effects produced by a fog machine sometimes used in stage plays. The spreading haze of argumentative mist obliterates the clean and clear outlines of even the plainest of doctrines, those that are well-supported by scripture and universally attested by church teaching tradition, life, practice, and conciliar definition.

    The fog clears off by act two when it’s done its job of confusing and softening people up for the day when the agenda pushers can step into full daylight and plainly declare who they are. By intermission, the innovation has now achieved “parity” with traditional teaching as a kind of “option” over which reasonable and faithful people can agree to disagree. Then, after intermission, in which commissions and “study groups” are formed (and stacked with supporters of radically new and improved Christianity), comes the third and climactic act. Here advocates for radical innovation emerge triumphant in church bureaucracies and courts, ghettoize the traditionalists, silence or expel their clergy, and deny ordination to their seminarians. Ask our Episcopalian friends how this works!

    So my word to others who might be posting here is this: be charitable, argue carefully and reasonably (as many of these posts have), recognize the complexities and the pain of homosexuals who find themselves caught between desires that pull them one way and the plain word of Scripture and church tradition that pull them another, but, perhaps for that very reason, don’t let anyone convince you that it’s wrong to be scared at what might be coming down the pike. The misguided temptation to please and accommodate another at the cost of truth is to be shunned as much as much as a nasty attitude that wants to judge and exclude others because they struggle with different sins than we do. Neither attitude brings us near the Kingdom of God. The truth of God is exchanged for a lie, whether it’s the “nice” lie of accomodationism or the nasty lie of judgmentalism.

    What we’re called to do is speak the truth in love. Perhaps that’s the really scary thought.

    • Brian McDonald says

      That should be “respectfully disagree,” and I thought I’d corrected the misspelling of Mark Stokoe’s name, but apparently hadn’t.

  11. Fr Patrick B O'Grady says

    agion pneuma is linguistically neuter, not female. the word pneumatos is simply the genitive (possessive) form of the same word.
    Two related errors crop up here: one, equating or even correlating linguistic gender with ontological gender. The fact is that in Greek, the word is neuter, but not the hypostasis of the Spirit, which of course transcends all gender.
    BTW, in Hebrew, the word for Spirit (ru`ah) is in fact linguistically feminine gender… But this does not mean that semitic peoples think of the Spirit as some kind of she-god.
    Two, implying that femininity resides in the Godhead. All gender specification is on the created order; revelation teaches us to worship God Who is uncreated and therefore beyond all gender.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I agree with you, but I would still like to read Dn Mitchell’s paper if someone could provide me with a link. Thanks.

      • Brian, brilliant analysis. I remember reading somewhere an orthodox Lutheran of the 19th century basically laying out this three-stage strategy. First “compassion,” then “dialogue,” then expelling the “bigots.”

        Deacon Patrick, like Peter I’d like to read your paper as well.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          I don’t think SVTQ posts its content online. You might find it in a good seminary library. (It’s in my local Episcopalian library.) Or you could order the issue from St. Vladimir’s. The issue number is Vol. 54, No. 2, 2010.

          • You can also look it up at worldcat.org, and it will give you a list of the closest libraries that have it. Once you find one, just check with the institution to see if the library is open to the public.

            • Heracleides says

              Or, he can go to his local library and as long as he has the information (title, author, publication, issue/date published, etc.) he can order the article via “Inter-Library Loan” and receive a photocopy of the article within about 10-14 days.

              • George Michalpulos says

                It’d be great if I could post it on line.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  You might ask permission from SVTQ. Prof. Paul Meyendorff is the editor.

                  Or I could write you a shorter, simpler article based on the original, which is very long and involved.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I would love that. In these heresy filled times, I don’t need to be going off the reservation. Thank you again for your patience, and your service to Christ’s Church.


          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Thanks Dn Mitchell. I will get a copy and read it and let you know what I get out of it. Thank you again for your patience.