Ancient Faith Radio: Is Religious Freedom in Peril?

ancient-faith-todayI don’t know if you caught this program on Ancient Faith Radio last Sunday but it was good. I listened to it only yesterday. It’s worth you time. The threat of religious persecution is real.

Source: AOI

Last night syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly and myself (Fr. Hans Jacobse) discussed where religious freedom in America was under assault. The discussion was, I believe, informative. I was very impressed with Mattingly’s comprehensive knowledge and analysis of the legal challenges concerning religious liberty. The discussion focused on the moral issues, particularly gay rights, as the locus of the conflict.

I pointed out that gay rights is an anthropological question at its core that challenges the increasingly fractured moral consensus necessary to hold a society together because it fundamentally redefines what we understand male and female to be.

I see “gay marriage” as a threat to liberty because it grants government the authority to deem relationships not found in nature or the moral tradition of Western Civilization as morally licit, thereby establishing the State as both the source and final judge of the morality that shapes the moral consensus. Religion is the ground of culture I argued earlier in the program and the government arrogation of moral authority within the culture (all “rights” come from the State) portends great danger down the road.

Both of us concurred on the inviolability of the First Amendment. I am as protective of the right to free speech as Mattingly or very close to it (Mattingly says he is about as close to a “First Amendment absolutist” as one can be). I want the freedom to speak out on issues even when (especially when, I corrected myself) I am in the minority, a place I increasingly find myself. I pointed out that the language of the Constitution regarding freedom of religion is virtually identical to the language outlining freedom of the press.

I also mentioned that “gay rights” could create the legal ground for the persecution of Christianity in America.

Both of us concurred that the Orthodox Churches in America need more visible and vibrant leadership from our Bishops. I pointed out the first calling of a Bishop is to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” and we need them to divide that Word more clearly for us.

There is, I contended, “great moral confusion in the Church” about these issues, a point that will not be welcomed by Orthodox Progressives but I stand by it. Mattingly suggested that every week at least one Bishop in America publish a sermon or essay that defines the teachings of Scripture and the moral tradition so that some of the confusion can be cleared.

It was a good talk I think although it is always difficult to judge your own work. I am looking forward to hearing thoughtful criticism.

The podcast is available through Ancient Faith Radio.

Listen here:



  1. Pere LaChaise says

    There is one technical phrase to describe this lazy and loose kind of thinking: Slippery Slope Argument. It’s a category of rhetorical fallacy.

    • William Harrington says

      Rhetorical fallacies are used all the time. Note, the fact that it is a rhetorical fallacy simply means that it has been used a lot, and not always correctly. However, this does not mean that in this case it is a logical fallacy. In fact, much of what has been predicted in slippery slope arguments of the past has been born out by the march of history. Here’s the one rhetorical fallacy that I have been hearing lately, even from Fox News of all places. “It can’t happen here”. History also argues that when you hear this, there is a good chance that this phrase is actually a harbinger for what it denies.

  2. Sean Richardson says

    I know I am going to tred on very thin ice, and most may suggest that I’ve fallen through and am drowning, but I take issue with some of what you say. I work in a profession where it is critical for everyone to be welcomed and served, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It makes me uncomfortable when someone suggests that the Church should be less welcoming, more exclusive and judgemental than where I work. Following the example of Jesus, who sat at the table with the outcasts of His society, I would hope that the Church is more welcoming than our society. I was raised in an evangelical Bible-banging church, that defined themselves by who they kept out of the church. When I converted to Orthodoxy I briefly attended an Antiochian church where an African-American family was told by members of the Parish Council that they shouldn’t attend any longer because they “weren’t ‘our’ kind”. I have also mentioned here before, that I have been a member or actively attended Greek, Russian (ROCOR & OCA) and Antiochian parishes and I’ve never attended one of any size that didn’t include self-acknowledged gay men and women. In my humble opinion, it is time that we sit down at the Table with everyone that Christ would have welcomed.

    • Engaged observer says

      “In my humble opinion, it is time that we sit down at the Table with everyone that Christ would have welcomed.”

      As well we should — and Orthodox Christians have always sat at the table, celebrated Pascha and the Nativity, etc etc with people struggling with sexual temptation.

      The issue, however, is not sitting at the table with those struggling with sexual temptation or with self-proclaimed gay or lesbian folk. We have always done that and always will. The issue now is the forced imposition and forced acceptance of a novel entity called “gay marriage,” which is supported by the state and will be defended by the state.

      If you look at recent gay/lesbian history, back 40 years ago, “gay marriage” was not even in the picture — why would anyone want to do that, they thought. But over the years, the homosexual lobby has realized that forcing the “gay marriage” issue is a very clever way to not only advance “homosexual rights” but to also cripple religious freedoms. In America, you can’t deny “rights” to anyone — no way! It’s un-American!

      Same sex marriage and freedom of religion cannot coexist in the same society (at least not for long — right now we’re in the early stages, but once things get going, religious persecution will increase).

      The issue is that “gay marriage” does not exist in nature — and much of state law historically has been merely recognizing and codifying what is known to exist in nature. Heterosexual marriage has indeed existed for millenia, irrespective of whatever political entity one lives in or doesn’t live in (that is, heterosexual marriage existed in Classical Rome as it does in tribal Papua New Guinea — it transcends state/political entities and boundaries). I still have never heard or read of any natural culture/tribe/whatever where gay marriage has been found. That isn’t to say homosexual activity hasn’t existed before — of course it has. But “gay marriage” as we know it today is a novel creation of modern late 20th/early 21st century Western society. Since “gay marriage” isn’t found in nature, in supporting its existence (and in defending its existence), the state establishes itself as the authority deciding that a “gay marriage” must be supported and defended.

      The problem arises when you have a conflicting viewpoint that doesn’t agree with the state. The state has already decided that gay marriage must be supported and defended. Well, then, what to do with traditional Christian churches that operate within the state’s boundaries which have never acknowledged gay marriage to exist? An Orthodox parish in California looks on the tradition of the entire 2000–year church history, which has never acknowledged or blessed an entity called “gay marriage.” What happens when a same-sex couple (maybe one of whom is nominally Orthodox) sues in civil court an Orthodox parish for refusing to perform a gay wedding for them? The state has already decided that it will support and defend gay marriage. In return, the state *must* persecute the Orthodox parish for refusing to acknowledge this “gay marriage entity” which the state has already decided is important to support.

      And this is certainly not just a theoretical argument that the state will persecute those people and organizations who do not agree with its decision that gay marriage must be supported and defended. There have been instances already where people who run bed & breakfasts, wedding reception venues, bakeries, etc., have been sued *successfully* for following their faith convictions and not wanting to host or participate in a gay wedding or wedding reception. Very recently, a baker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for two men who wanted cake for their wedding has been found guilty of discrimination and ordered to serve future same-sex couples or face stiff fines.

      Here’s the link to this story:

      The government is acknowledging in these types of rulings that it believes that defending and supporting “gay marriage” is far more important than religious liberty.

      The fact remains that same-sex marriage and religious liberty cannot coexist in the same society. We’re seeing religous liberty go down the tubes in subtle ways now — and these will become not-so-subtle later on, I would think.

    • Fr John Chagnon says

      The question isn’t the welcome, the question is “To what are we being welcomed?”. Christ indeed welcomes all but he welcomes us to a new life and this new life, regardless of where our prior life was, is a life in union with Him and rooted in who He is and what he teaches within His body, the Church. So yes, we are called to be radically welcoming but that welcome is to a life of radical holiness, a holiness that touches every area of our life from our bedrooms to our boardrooms. Our welcome as the Church is not simply a welcome of generic hospitality but rather a welcome that includes within it an invitation to authentic life in Christ. This life in Christ is challenging and the people in the parish you mention who excluded an African American family should take that challenge to heart, as well as you, and I, and all of us, regardless of what we believe ourselves to be or where we we find ourselves. What hospital would open its doors to all of the sick and struggling without providing the means to remedy their ills and what Church worth its salt would welcome a broken world into its life without giving it a way to mend its brokenness however it’s found? Where there is irrational fear of the “other” we do need to be challenged to be welcoming, yet to dilute the high calling of Christ in the name of “welcome” makes the Church something other than what its supposed to be and actually puts people, all of us, who are struggling with the illness of sin in even greater harm because the one place that God has ordained to help us in our struggles actually affirms the very thing that is doing us damage.

    • Thomas Barker says

      “…the example of Jesus, who sat at the table with the outcasts of His society…”

      He wasn’t sitting at the table with them to tell them their sins were acceptable or normal. Most of the time He taught people the error of their ways, exhorting them to repent. So when you say “it is time that we sit down at the Table” with self-acknowledged gays, just what would you have the Church offer them?

    • Michael Kinsey says

      As a man thinks, so is he. This scripture is Truth from the Mind and Heart of Jesus Christ..
      In the many scriptures where the Christ healed people, He mentions their faith as a essential factor in their healing. Faith in God is a quality of the soul, which all do not possess. It is the substance of things hoped for and unseen. The existence of Faith is spiritual, a spiritual reality that has wondrous effects. The Christ knew it when He saw it.
      This faith holds the holy scriptures as God revelations to the human heart, through the Lord Jesus Christ and many holy fathers. They are all in one accord concerning this Word of God. God made them male and female. Faith in His Words makes all men think and know they are men. unquestionably so. This is equally so of the true faith in women. It is impossible for True faith to think, that being born physically, genetically men that they are something other, homosexual. This unnatural affection is mentioned by St Paul.
      I was born male, physically and genetically, and I have true faith in the Holy Scriptures. I have never experienced anything other than being male. I have understanding of true faith, but no understanding of homosexuality. I do not welcome someone who claims faith in Jesus Christ and claims he is other than what he was genetically created. As a man thinks ,so is he. If he has genuine faith in the Word of God, he cannot claim to be homosexual. Only a male bound by Satan, who now seek to strengthen his faith, and trust absolutely the Word of God. God created them male and female. It is an egregious disservice and a help towards eternal damnation to accept the lack of true faith in a professing homosexual, to be authentic Christian brotherhood. Lord have mercy.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Sean Richardson,

      You are assuredly on solid ground. The Lord railed against the hypocrites, the self-righteous, the cowards, the cynical, the faithless, those who led others astray, those that ignored the widows, those that did not protect the children, those that abandoned the orphans, those that did not feed the hungry, those that did not minister to the sick, and those who did not visit those in prison. He scorned those who sought the “first place,” who required “recognition” and undeserved honor, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister.” (Mk.10:45) Where was the Lord to be found? Among sinners. Healing and giving counsel. But most importantly, he forgave their sins: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins be forgiven you.” (Mk. 2:5) “Why I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Lk. 7:47-48) “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” (Jn. 8:11) His was a magnanimous hospitality that excluded no one, and as you say, He welcomed everyone. But unless we forget, He also very specifically instructed us in the parameters of leniency: “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” (Lk. 9:5)

      Yet, our Lord never once speaks of homosexuality; not an allusion, not a metaphor, not a “riddle,” not as generalized immorality. Nothing. Will Fr. Hans & Mr. Mattingly ascribe Him a sort of “responsibility” for the “moral confusion” that so disturbs them? And is it possible that men – Orthodox Christians – who have studied the Scripture (or at at least listened just to the readings of Holy Week) imagine the Church will escape persecution and the loss of religious liberty? Are we not the Remnant who has been prepared specifically for this purpose:

      All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. (Jn. 16:1-4)

      As Fr. Florovsky wrote, it is as the Church we are a “peculiar People,” “the People of God’s own possession,” and will be saved. But any attempt at “direct Christianization of the state has only led to more or less acute secularization of Christianity itself.” And in my mind this fantasy of engaging the government in the manipulation of morality is a waste of time and demonstrative of the loss of faith in the gifts given to us. I’m no proponent of Pastor Rick Warren, but I saw him on CNN the other night asked about his differing opinion of “gay marriage.” He said simply & succinctly: “The problem is they are calling marriage something which is not, and I fear God more than I fear the LGBT movement and the government.” Perhaps the bishops could speak to that statement. And finally, Fr. Florovsky:

      In our time nobody would consider it possible for everyone to be converted to a universal monasticism or a realization of a truly Christian, and universal, State. The Church remain “in the world,” as a heterogeneous body, and the tension is stronger than it has ever been; the ambiguity of the situation is painfully felt by everyone in the Church. A practical program for the present age can be deduced only from a restored understanding of the nature and essence of the Church. And the failure of all Utopian expectations cannot obscure the Christian hope: the King has come, the Lord Jesus, and His Kingdom is to come.

      • Sean Richardson says

        Thank you for your words. My thought was to open the discussion and I’m glad that I’ve heard a good many responses, both positive and negative. This is one of the issues of our time, and thoughtful consideration by those of the Faith is always a delight.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I don’t see where the subject of homosexuality ever came up in Jesus’ earthly ministry. He was in an entirely Jewish community where this would be unlikely to have come up as an issue. There was no ambiguity about this in the Jewish world.

        St. Paul preached to the Roman world, where it was an important matter, indeed.

        Why should Jesus have had to have preached “against” every thing, or pronounced on every question, for it to be wrong?

        Far more important are his direct positive statements about marriage, about a man leaving his parents and cleaving unto his wife, and they becoming one flesh. There is no room for homosexuality in this; it never can even enter the picture.

        Why are positive teachings not conclusive? There doesn’t need to be a ‘negative pronouncement’ from the Lord to answer the question.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Mr. Mortiss,

          Such was my point. It seems to me that the Lord’s message in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Lk 16:31) is sufficiently conclusive in and of itself. Nevertheless, I could quote to you pages from the Psalms and Proverbs of the Lord’s abhorrence for pride, self-righteousness, and injustice, yet it was never far from the lips of Jesus. Likewise, He who spoke to a Samaritan woman, healed on the Sabbath, and declared, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn. 2:19) seemed certain to raise an issue when it seemed unlikely.

          My point was that the seemingly endless contrivance that homosexuality stands to destroy the society, the family, common morality, anthropology, philosophy, blah, blah, blah, and ultimately the Church itself is a scandal and symptomatic of the helpless state of impotence felt by its proponents. I continue to raise the issue that the Lord never mentions the issue once, not to suggest that it is insignificant or trivial (as you and Mr. Papoutsis note, St. Paul addresses it directly), but to emphasize what He condemned: self-righteousness, pride, and injustice. How is it possible to pass through the Holy Week readings and hymnography and not be overwhelmed by this message? Pay attention to the Dogmatikon of Tone One sung at the entrance for Great Vespers:

          Let Us Praise The Virgin Mary,
          The Gate Of Heaven, The Glory Of The World!
          The Song Of The Angels, The Beauty Of The Faithful!
          She Was Born Of Man, But Gave Birth To God!
          She Was Shown To Us As The Heaven, The Temple Of The Godhead,
          She Destroyed The Wall Of Separation,
          She Began The Peace And Opened The Kingdom,
          Since She Is Our Foundation Of Faith,
          For Our Defender Is The Lord Whom She Bore!
          Courage, Courage, O People Of God!
          Christ Will Destroy Our Enemies As All‑Powerful!

          Courage, indeed.

          Kudos to Pere LaChaise for going to the ballpark and bringing his mitt.

          • Kentigern Pavlos says

            Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

            Dear M. Stankovich,

            You offer on one thread systematic theological study as a seemingly Scholastic requirement for understanding Orthodoxy, and here what seems like a kind of biblical fundamentalism that ignores the Church’s living tradition.

            But giving you the benefit of the doubt (that you genuinely seek to find and shed light), our Lord is quite clear in the gospels in defining marriage as being between man and a woman, and relating this directly to the original creation of Adam and Eve. Romans 1, right at the start of the Pauline Epistles in Christian scripture, is very clear in laying out a related Christian anthropology and cosmology.

            So it has been understood in the Church’s anthropology and cosmology, across millennia.

            You keep the argument on the moralistic, and in my view counter-productive, side of the discussion by continual criticism rather than offering apologetics for that tradition. The living iconography of marriage finds expression in the mystery of physiological sexual difference between male and female, not in socially constructed gender and sexual identities, be they heterosexual, homosexual, or whatever.

            The cultural threat to the Judeo-Christian tradition of family, and to related anthropology and cosmology and to evangelism and inter-generational community in some countries as a result, is real, as seen in the effects of changes in Western European culture in its post-Christian mode. All these issues are inter-related with others such as divorce and abortion.

            If you could help articulate an effective 21st-century apologetics for Christian tradition on sex and marriage, this would be much more helpful than merely repeating what has been said many times before also by others in a similar vein to your remarks here.

            Please pray for me the sinner,


      • Michael Kinsey says

        I wholeheartedly agree with the condemnation of the sin of homosexuality. I also wholeheartedly grieve for the unhappy condition of the gays, who are created men, but are lost in demonic deception. I love my mankind, and condemn the sin. I cannot see any other way to answer what appears to be a contradiction to you. I am thrilled, genuinely at the enlightened discourse this discussion has produced. It creates love for the faithful, that says, I am on your side, an aspect of authentic Christian brotherhood.. Glory be to God.

  3. under assault says

    from Russian TV, after watching a documentary on Valaam, what should I see in the new videos list but something on topic:

  4. cynthia curran says

    “Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.[1] The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”[2]
    In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.[3]
    Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.[4] The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.[5] The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.[6]
    The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs may have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.[7]”

    What they are talking about that effective Christmas is the old pagan Saturnalia.

    • Sean Richardson says

      Interesting comments Cynthia. I would sure like to be around in the year 2100, because the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars will shift one additional day, putting the celebration of the Nativity on January 8th. I can only imagine the three groups … those who maintain December 25th, those who will demand, as has “always been done” that the celebration be on January 7th, and those “innovators” who will celebrate on January 8th. It should be fun times (sic).

    • William Harrington says

      I would not disagree, but lets put ourselves in pagan Rome and consider Christmas. The pagans are partying their hearts out. What are the Christians doing? Fasting and praying. Saturnalia is over. For a few days everything is quiet, but then, what do those crazy Christians do while the pagans are recovering? They celebrate. Far from being an usurpation of Saturnalia, Christmas drew a sharp line of distinction between Christians and Pagans.
      The modern commercial Christmas can’t be considered a continuation of Saturnalia, but it sure does look like a revival, doesn’t it? We really need to find a way to popularize the advent fast and the nativity feast among Christians so that sharp line can be drown once again. No one looks at Christians and wonders what is different about us if there is nothing different about us.

  5. Michael Bauman says

    As to persecution: “If it be now, it is not to come; if it is not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.”

    William Shakespeare with these lines from Hamlet covered a multitude of possibilities.

    Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Mt. 25:13

    Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. Mt 14:38

  6. Thomas Barker says

    Great podcast and well worth the time to listen. Should have been 2 hours longer. Fr. Hans Jacobse and Terry Mattingly presented a disturbing and informative (though hurried) overview of the threats to religious liberty and many related issues. One case I don’t recall being mentioned was that of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al. Conestoga is owned by the Hahn family of Mennonite cabinetmakers, who are fighting Obamacare’s HHS mandate for contraceptive/abortive coverage. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on the issue of whether the free exercise rights of the religious owners or their corporation are violated by the Affordable Care Act.

  7. Daniel E Fall says

    I did not bother listening to the podcast because the content is certain and the hour late; forgive me if I miss horribly.

    The interesting thing is George and I agree government has no business condoning personal relationships. That includes heterosexual ones per me; not per George and Fr. J.

    The battle to ban gay marriage here in MN was rewarded with gay marriage. And Christians struck the first blow.

    So, was the persecution of gays by Christians in the first place summarily rejected by secularists? I know the response by Christians is that it is our DUTY to help gays turn from their sinfulness, but do we help fats by supporting Bloomberg’s antipop campaign? Heck no; even liberals laugh at such. But that is the claim made, so where is your support for the antifat campaign George?

    The problem isn’t that marriage is being persecuted; but rather marriage offers unjust rewards. And now, even the gays can reap those as well. Way to go supporters of ‘traditional’ marriage…now even the gays get unequal treatment like the heterosexual marrieds.

    It is perhaps one of the greatest perversions of our time, that single people get different treatment under the law.

    Don’t blame the gays without looking in the mirror. They only want the same inequity for them! Just think; now singles are even more a minority…

    As for religious freedom getting trounced on visavie healthcare-Bob Marley’s rasta ideals got in the way of antibiotics. We all know how that ended for him.. I say individual freedom for one’s own health absolutely must trump the rastas! Otherwise, may we all enjoy the rasta medical plan as long as possible (or until gangrene sets in-or later).

    And then the Catholics turning over the names of strongly accused sex offenders to the public…I think that is the only thing I find at odds with my notion of US law, but I won’t win any popularity contests there. It is more a case of the churches getting some justice for failing to bring their own to justice, but I still don’t think that is our law. Furthermore, I don’t see covering up for an accused priest as religious freedom, but that probably wasn’t discussed in the story.

    I actually don’t see how religious freedom is under attack per se, unless you believe there is a balancing scale with individual freedom on one and religious freedom on the other. And we all know it isn’t quite accurate.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. Fall, here is one incident that relates directly to religious freedom:

    Back in June, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Windsor case, ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, was unconstitutional. Six months later, judge Robert N. Spencer, an administrative law judge in Colorado, ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver must serve same-sex couples by making wedding cakes, or face fines.

    In New Mexico a New Mexico Supreme Court Judge said in an opinion that is was “the price of citizenship” for those who had religious objections (Christians) to same sex marriage to not express their religious scruples in the way they did business.

    Several Christian bakeries have gone out of business because of social and legal pressure not to exercise their faith.

    In Canada and England Christian pastors have been fined for expressing the Biblical view of homosexuality.

    Frankly, you are being obtuse if you do not recognize the threat to religious liberty posed by the homosexual activists.

    My own pastor 10 years ago (when I first broached the subject with him) thought that the First Amendment would be sufficient to protect us. Two weeks ago he gave a sermon in which he expressed the opposite view, i.e. persecution because of the homosexual agenda is likely but we need to stand up for the truth in any case. He went further than just the homosexual agenda and spoke about the essence of tyrannical governments is that they can and will not allow any opposition.

    It is not hard to see that, unless something changes, the statist secular folk will do all that they can to silence authentically Christian voices. It is nothing new and was obvious decades ago to anyone with a sense of history that it would come to this.

  9. THOMAS:

    Thank you for being the only commenter — unless I missed someone else — who seems to have actually listened to the podcast. Much appreciated.

    • M. Stankovich says


      You missed me in specific, and you’re welcome. It is more time than you deserved, and hopefully my previous comments adequately reflect my opinion.

      You would do well to immerse yourself in the writings of Fr. Georges Florovsky and Fr. Alexander Schmemann, men who truly understood the existential crisis of the Church in Western culture, and America in specific. With Mets. Basil (Krevochaine), Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Anthony (Bloom), Apbs/Bps. Averky of Jordanville, Blessed Basil (Rodzianko), St. Nikolai of Zica, St. John Maximovitch, Frs. John Meyendorff, SS Verhovskoy and the rest, they proposed a path of “return” that did not rely on “founding fathers,” but on re-immersing ourselves in the Holy Fathers and the Holy Tradition.

      Blaming our lack of faith, lack of initiative, lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, lack of leadership, lack of obedience, lack of courage, and tolerance for incessant anonymous internet bitching & complaining on “gay marriage” and LGBT rights is pitiful. It is not the erosion of rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution that limits our voice in the public square, but rather our own fear, discomfort, and shameful lack of courage:

      For whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Lk. 9:26)

      Is religious freedom in peril? Certainly. The Lord warned us and prepared us. How is it you are surprised?

      • Michael Bauman says

        Michael, you are essentially correct. On the “rights” front we’ve lost.. Christian response is not about “rights”. By “rights” we’d all end up in hell.

        Part of the problem of relying on natural law arguments is the logical outcome is not an incarnate Lord but an absent of non-existent anthropomorphized pseudo-god. AND the state assumes the place of such.

        There is no protection in the Constitution.

        We Orthodox in the US are unworthy of persecution, we are unprepared, the anger and the hand wringing are indicative of that.

        Nevertheless, we must not loose sight of the common spiritual struggle we have against passions of all kinds and that sexual passions seem to be paramount these days.

        Chastity and celibacy before marriage (one man, one woman); chastity and faithfulness after marriage. Our communities acknowledging the struggle and not leaving anyone alone in it.

        Without Christ, I am my sin. Only in Christ is freedom from sin possible. We just can’t allow the world to tell us what is and is not sin.

      • Blaming our lack of faith, lack of initiative, lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, lack of leadership, lack of obedience, lack of courage, and tolerance for incessant anonymous internet bitching & complaining on “gay marriage” and LGBT rights is pitiful.


        Amazing. At what point did I do that? My own views on the religious-liberty side of this topic — in a secular, public-square context — are almost identical to those of the noted gay write Jonathan Rausch and Marc Stern of the American Jewish Committee.

        But your remark is very consistent with your writings on this site, so there is no need to attempt another response.

        • M. Stankovich says


          Consistency is hard to come by these days, and I humbly accept that as a compliment. It is fairly obvious you had no worthwhile response to begin, and you would have done better to accept my advice regarding the fathers of our generation in silence, rather than attempting the backhanded smackdown. As the French say, “faute de grives on mange des merles,” I suppose. Should you reconsider, I offer you Fr. Florovsky’s The Lost Scriptural Mind. Now that is amazing.


    I saw this today and wondered how long it would take for someone to do the math and ask this question. I don’t think he is a paleoconservative but that he has a lot in common with their social values – an ally perhaps.

  11. Thomas Barker says

    St. Andrew, Fool for Christ, of Constantinople weighs in on the sodomites

    This very interesting excerpt from the book “The Perfect Servant, Eunuchs and the Social Construction of Gender in Byzantium” by Kathryn M. Ringrose, was posted by J. Sanidopoulos on his blog Mystagogy last Friday.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Mr. Barker,

      What is “very interesting” is that Mr. Sanidopoulos, who has actually read the book – published and in print since 2007 – refers to this excerpt from the Life of Andrew, the Fool for Christ as the story of the “homosexual eunuch,” which is a statement of orientation. If anyone reads the account, however, there is no evidence available to determine anything other than this slave engages in forced sodomy with his master in order to save his own life. You, on the other hand, who have not read the book, mislead all of us by stating, St. Andrew “weighs in on the sodomites,” an obvious pejorative, when, if anyone reads the account, St. Andrew is quoted as saying, “This is not my vocation, to rebuke sinners, but to run the straight road which leads to a better life.” The fact is, St. Andrew rebuked the servant’s lack of courage in confronting his master’s demand he engage in soul-destroying behaviour, albeit – and perhaps specifically – because such a confrontation would have cost him his life. Thus the Saint said,

      “‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Thus if the slaves do not bow to the abominable sodomitic passion of their masters they are blessed and thrice blessed, for thanks to the torments you mention they will be reckoned with the martyrs.”

      Had you read the book, Mr. Barker, you also would have found St. Andrew’s account of the 15-year old Martyr Theodore:

      After he had spent a few days in prison together with all the others who had been confined on this occasion, that apostate and lawless emperor was killed in the war and the revered boy was released together with all the other prisoners. When he came home, his friends, comrades, and relatives together with his parents, kissing his wounds, questioned him and said, “What did you feel, Sir Theodore, when you hung on the stake and your holy flesh was torn by the claws?” He refused to tell, but at last yielded to their entreaties, giving them the following account: “At first when I was hung on the stake and they began to touch me I had to force my- self, and to encourage myself. I said, ‘Poor Theodore, be courageous and endure this bitter suffering, for if you fail, you will be thrown into the eternal fire!’ As I said this I looked up, and behold, there were four eunuchs with beautiful faces, like roses, and one of them held a basin, as it were, which was white and very bright, through its appearance blinding the vision of a human being and throw- ing him into ecstasy, while another held a golden flask filled with divine oil which was like rose water, the other two held linen cloths, white as snow and folded into four, on their outstretched hands. When they were beside me, one of them said to the one holding the shining basin, ‘Bring it here!’ And when he had brought it, he said to the one holding the golden flask, ‘Pour here!’ As he poured, the oil came out and struck my eyes like a flash of lightning, spreading through my en- trails to all my limbs, so that the sweet smell of the oil conquered and overcame the terrible pains inflicted on me by the torture. One of the two holding cloths came forward, soaked his cloth in the basin and put it over my face, holding it there for a long while, so that, as I said, from this most sweet pleasure I was made to forget my pain. When he removed it the other stood ready to put his cloth over my face, and so they continued until my tormentors stopped and took me down from the stake.The moment this happened they departed from me at once. Deprived of this most sweet pleasure I felt very sad. I wanted my torments to continue, for God assures us that this matter is such that the human mind cannot imagine anything similar. It is only the beginning of the sufferings and the sight that contain the testing; the full force of the tortures applied is not felt thanks to the power of the grace of God.

      The point, Mr. Barker? Not one, but two Saints compare the acts of four sexually mutilated men to the angels themselves! The Martyr Theodore felt no pain “thanks to the power of the grace of God” at the very hands of these deviants! What to make of it?

      Your “very interesting” post was unfortunately swallowed up in your own ignorance, lack of charity, and ill-conceived intent to mislead others. Please accept a “thumbs-up” from me in the spirit it is given and bon chance.

      • Thomas Barker says

        Mr. Stankovich,

        Ever testy and pertinacious, you have been (once again) unbalanced by your anger. People who choose to read the Sanidopoulos post will likely not interpret such phrases as “the sick practice of the sodomites,” “cursed and disgusting abnormality,” or “abominable sodomitic passion” through the contorted lens you have proffered. Obfuscation by misdirection is an old trick, but not usually handled so clumsily.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Mr. Barker,

          You might have guessed I too read the book. My “contorted lens” is adequately answered in “What is Jesus writing on the ground?” (Jn, 8:6) Trust the Saints to explain it. If I am “clumsy,” it can only because those shoes I took from you are way too small, but you knew that. And finally, “unbalanced by my anger,” Mr. Barker? I ain’t even mad, bro!”

      • M. Stankovich,

        The interesting thing is that even a slave – not fighting against sodomy from a master due to fear of even death – is told that his actions are “soul-destroying.” How much more are those who freely engage in it, and worse, justify it to the world?

        Am I missing something in your comments?

        • M. Stankovich says

          Michael C,

          Certainly you are not asking me if I deny that engaging in sodomy – or for that matter – any and all sexual activity outside Christian Marriage is sinful, the repercussions for which are cosmic! Nevertheless, do you imagine, Michael C, we would ever be having this discussion if Mr, Barker had posted, “St. Andrew, Fool for Christ, of Constantinople weighs in on the fornicators?” (as an aside, I heard a prof. from Yale Divinity ask a moderator on CNN last night how many requests A&E received from “fornicators” to cancel Duck Dynasty!)

          Apparently what you are missing in my commentary is that the book from which this very small quotation is excized is a truly fascinating examination of the “layer” of sexually mutilated individuals – eunuchs – who significantly influenced Byzantine culture. And as the quote I provided from St. Andrew would indicate, not necessarily in negative ways. Certainly St. Andrew railed against sodomy! There is no minimizing the enormity of the abomination. But how will you reconcile St. Andrew’s story of the “Child Martyr Theodore” ministered to by the “child-faced eunuchs” likened to the angels? By not reading the book and nit-picking without the context of its intention, in my estimation, was cheap theatrics in this case.

          As I noted in my response to Mr. Barker, the appropriate lens through which to view this – “What did Jesus write on the ground?” (Jn. 8:2 ), of course, comes from our Blessed Father Nikolai Velomirovich, which can be read here.

          Fidelity to the Scripture, the Fathers, and to the Tradition means always and in every way. To condemn the soul-destroying actions of another is in fact demanded, but in so doing, it does not relieve us of our responsibility to equally show mercy, charity, and hospitality. As long as a sinner maintains the capacity to draw air, they have the capacity to repent.

      • Kentigern Pavlos says

        Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

        Dear M. Stankovich,

        The Ringrose book is interesting, thanks for the link to the Mystagogy post on it. What is interesting about it, is that it articulates in current gender theory terms how an Orthodox Christian view of sex (although she’s focused on Byzantine culture specifically) does not fit contemporary identity politics.

        This seems a no-brainer, but is hard to articulate, given how easy it is to be captured by our current culture, and how anachronistically our culture would try to force into its own categories Orthodox tradition.

        For example, she writes:

        “As Michel Foucault has so ably shown, we must not assume that other societies operate using our categories, no matter how obvious and basic they might appear to us…to make quick assumptions about the sexual nature of a society in a world that was very different from ours…. In Byzantine society, gender categories were determined in ways that remind one of some American Indian societies in the nineteenth century in which the primary determinants of gender were social roles and conventions dictating external appearances, physical mannerisms, facial expressions, and manner of dress. While their inability to procreate was part of the construct, their sexual preferences, although sometimes discussed discussed by innuendo, were not.”

        She also describes how Byzantine culture expressed a “single-sex structure,” nonetheless related to two biological sexes, following from Genesis 1. In all this eunuch was a category that could include ascetics as well as the physically impaired (castration itself being condemned by the Church as a voluntary physical disfigurement, as she notes).

        In all this, today’s queer theory discourse interestingly is closer in some respects to the Byzantine culture that she describes than identity politics. The gap between those two contemporary approaches forms a major fault line in Western secular approaches to sex and marriage today, which science has not bridged.

        Please pray for me the sinner,


    • Michael Bauman says

      Thank you Mr. Barker.

  12. Michael Bauman says

    Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty recently said, with Scriptural support that homosexuality was sinful and those who did it would not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven along with slanderers, adulterers, etc., etc. He added that he did not hate them because that was against the Scripture.

    Now we will see if $$$ trumps political correctness.

    A spokesman for GLADD, a homosexual political action group said that Mr. Robertson was not a ‘real Christian’–and, of course, his show should be canceled because that would silence him (not explicit, but there nonetheless).

    Nice of them to set the guide lines for a real Christian don’t you think?

    Dan, what is your definition of religious freedom?

    • The show was canceled.

    • Thomas Barker says

      The GQ interview with Phil Robertson could not have occurred without signed contracts and an A&E publicist (and a few execs) reviewing and approving the content. Robertson’s remarks were known well before this week. There was obviously a media decision to stir this pot right before Christmas (but after the merchandizing tie-ins had paid off). Note that the “pride of Gomorrah dream team” chosen to populate Obama’s delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics was announced this week too. And add to that the U.S. District Court judge’s ruling on same-sin marriage in the state of Utah. All in the days preceding the Nativity. Coincidence?

    • “Now we will see if $$$ trumps political correctness.”

      Apparently they do. Phil didn’t give, A&E did. He’s been reinstated.

  13. Kevin Allen says

    I find it fascinating and a bit strange that the majority of comments on this thread are about homosexuality when the pod cast that this post featured was about religious freedom!? This indicates to we that we have apparently not done a sufficient job of clarifying this issue and/or that Orthodox do not want to accept the moral teaching of the Church.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Kevin, thank you for this corrective. I pray that all heed it. This posting was about religious freedom as Mr Allen pointedly states. There are more than enough postings that deal with problems of sexuality, race, identity politics, government excess, clerical corruption, etc. Please confine your opinions about any concerns that you all have to the appropriate postings.

      thanks, geo

    • Michael Bauman says

      Mr. Allen at the moment, IMO, hate speech is the single most potent tool to curtail religious freedom and political freedom as well.m

      The homosexual activists are the ones wielding that both nationally and internationally.

      The case of Duck Dynasty is the most recent proof. Even though they are not, the secular avengers think that anyone who express or even holds anything approaching traditional Christian understanding about anything PARTICULARLY homosexuality are illiterate, hateful hicks who ought to be silenced.

      God bless them but they are a big threat to religious freedom and all freedom. They are tyrants who will brooke no opposition. Of course the real live breathing human homosexuals are just fodder who, in time will be gobbled up by the evil perpetrated in their name.

      So, if we can’t talk about the most palpable threat to religious freedom currently manifesting–what should we talk about?

      • MIchael B., do you think it’s OK to refer to citizens of the US who self-describe as gay as sodomites? Not asking whether it ought to be against the law, subject to hate-speech legislation, or anything like that but whether you think such language is consistent with Christian norms of interpersonal ethics. Do you have any sympathy with those who think the label sodomite is malicious and defamatory? Have any reservations about its use at all?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Peter, you bring up an excellent point. If I may expand on your critique. Specifically: does anybody ever wonder how and why new phrases come into being, especially those that have to do with the vices? I’m thinking especially of “sex worker” instead of prostitute. I read something by Theodore Dalrymple last month (a medical doctor who’s an atheist btw) and he said something to the effect that modern secularists believe that by changing the terminology, they drain the sin out of a vice. He was specifically talking about the great prostitute/sex-worker switcheroo.

          • Engaged observer says


            Most likely, new phrasing/terminology has to do with trying to use non-judgmental words to refer to someone. A “prostitute” connotes more judgmentalism than a “sex worker.” Likewise, a “gay American” is much less judgmental than a “sodomite.”

            What people forget is that in many (?most) cases, homosexual activity has much more to do with an unfilled emotional longing — it’s essentially a sexualized emotional need — than it does with sex. Men need to bond with men — but in 21st century secular culture, many men have forgotten how do to that, or for societal reasons are not able to (male-only social clubs, for example, are virtually nonexistent now — if not illegal. One of the only places men can bond with other men as adults is on the playing field, but once they are in their 20s and 30s, how many men play in soccer or football or hockey leagues?). But you get a young (or not-so-young) man who never learned how to bond with other men and who has a huge emotional need to do so (it’s built in us — we are social beings) but who has a ton of sexual feelings rolling around inside as well — you can see how things get messed up.

            I’m not justifying homosexual behavior. But there’s more to it than just waking up someday and saying, “I think I’ll be gay.” Many homosexuals realize that their activities are probably not what was intended when they were made as human beings — but they don’t know what to do about it, and society tells them that they shouldn’t worry about it.

            By far, one of the biggest fallacies perpretrated by our secular society is that homosexuality is innate and there is nothing we can do about it. Hogwash. Countless stories abound of how men (and women) learned how to bond with their same sex as adults — yes it’s difficult, yes it’s something best learned in elementary school. But many people don’t have peaceful childhoods where they are able to do that. Christ and His church offer much-needed relief from militant secularism — He is able to teach men how to be men, in the true sense of being a man.

            Men need close male friends — and it is harder and harder to do that these days. Here’s an excellent piece on “Whatever happened to male friendship”:
            It’s an excellent read. Homosexuality is often an (inappropriately) sexualized fullfilment of an emotional need.

            Sad, isn’t it. It’s even more sad that our society continues to be willfully blind to the truth.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Papoutsis & Mr. Michalopulos,

            First, on this site, it would be necessary to suspend reality that the terms “sodomy” & “sodomite” have only been used as a pejorative and antagonistically. Secondly, the proof of my first point is the shallowness of your approach to the use of the terms in general: the surveillance date indicates that “sodomy” (which I am presuming you are referring to as “anal-receptive intercourse”) is less likely among male couples than you obviously imagine, and much more likely among heterosexual couples than you imagine. Case in point, in an off-campus, open-ended therapy group I have been co-facilitating with a female psychologist colleague of mine, we now have our sixth member from the “adult entertainment industry” who, like several before her, speaks about the tremendous market for videos featuring anal sex. One previous member of the group had participated in an “instructional video” for adults in the same subject. She said this particular video sold several hundred thousand copies. Holy Cow! The “sodomites” could be your neighbors, your friends, your siblings… Other young women in the group speak of the pressure from boyfriends & partners to engage in anal sex. The World Health Organization battles absurd embedded ideas that “vaginal sex transmits HIV,” so prostitutes along the trans-African trucking routes only engage in unprotected anal sex for years. On and on the foolish goes… So brothers, let’s not suspend reality on this site and admit that the use of the terms is for no other reason than to be crude and insulting and serves no real purpose but the pejorative. I ask you, if you were struggling on a daily basis to remain chaste, pure, and dedicated to the path of righteousness to which we are all called in the fullness of the Church, would you wish to come to this site and be referred to as a “sodomite?”

            • Michael Bauman says

              A sodomite is a sodomite. Does it really matter that some who engage in that activity call themselves ‘heterosexual’ and others ‘homosexual’?

              Would “unnatural sexual intercourse” be preferable?

              In any case it is sexual activity that has nothing to do with why God created sexuality. It is a debasement that is wholly carnal, wholly selfish. That is the reason that those who engage in such acts (and fornication, adultery, etc, etc). are barred from the Kingdom is it not?

              So, once again the rule of the life in the Church is the same whether one is called heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual or asexual or polysexual or mutlisexual or metrosexual or, or, or……………

              Chastity (purity of heart, mind, body and soul) and celibacy before marriage, Chastity and faithfulness after marriage and (does it really need to be said?) marriage is ONLY between one man and one woman.

              Chastity covers the way in which one perceives sexual intercourse in marriage and prohibits a number of practices that our perverse minds are capable of imagining.

              So in the future, I will no longer think of sodmites as being exclusively or even mostly among the homosexual populace.

              The Church needs to teach and promote and support chastity in all of its forms (one of the reasons we fast BTW). If one concentrates on chastity, I would think it becomes easier to be both celibate and faithful sexually. It also diverts the attention away from all of the fighting over terms, categories, genetics, legal states and states legal requirements.

              What it won’t do is change the fact that the Church requires repentance from sin. Anything that is unchaste requires repentance and God’s grace to avoid doing again.

              Marriage is not a panacea for unchaste sexual desires, in fact, in can create a situation that allows the unchaste thoughts to be come sinful actions with bad results for all.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Re: GRIDS; great point Peter. I forgot about it even though as a pharmacist from 1984 on we were regularly exposed to seminars and lectures about AIDS (which Newsweek Magazine called “The Gay Plague”.) When I got seriously into compounding (ca 1988-1995), we were experimenting with formulating vehicles that would carry both protease inhibitors and other adjuvants (SMZ-TMP, cephalosporins, etc.) by way of intravenous cassettes, sublinguals, orals, etc. We were working feverishly to come up with new combinations and/or vehicles over and around the FDA with its glacial approval process. We didn’t make a lot of money but we were concerned with the rash of young men dying all around us. Time was of the essence.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Myers, first of all the unnecessary co-opting of a perfectly good word into a euphemism for unnatural sexual attraction is offensive to me. I love the song “Deck the Halls” but one just cannot sing that song any more. That is a loss don’t you think? I do.

          Second do you think there are those who self-describe with a euphemism who engage regularly in sodomy? Since the definition of sodomite is one who engages in sodomy, why would it not be OK?

          The larger question is why the euphemism and why a simple description of behavior is considered offensive it the activity is OK?

          The word is not important. It is the attitude behind the word and in the heart of the one using it. It is perfectly possible to call someone “gay” with as much vituperation and hatred as to call the same person a sodomite don’t you think? The appellation of Christian was originally considered an insult don’t you know.

          In general, it is unacceptable for Christians to hate their enemies even and especially when said enemies hate us, which is unfortunately true with many of the aggressive homosexual activists. That does not mean it is unacceptable to call sinful behavior sinful even in graphic and uncompromising terms.

          It is equally unacceptable to condemn people out of hand just because you don’t like what they say or how they express themselves. I find that there is generally much more hate-filled speech coming from those who support the political/social agenda of normalizing homosexual activity and forcing everyone else to praise it, not just tolerate it.

          But, hey, you gotta remember, I’m just a rural, hick anyway, right? What do I know about nothin’? I’m just one of them hateful, misogynistic, intolerant no-nothin’s who ought to shut up and go away.

          Personally, I find this

          I’d only remind you that “negativity” about specious reasoning, rhetorical fallacies, bigotry, sectarian prejudice, indifference to incontrovertible facts and enthrallment to all-too-human traditions dubiously hallowed by their mere antiquity is no vice, and that a loveless, narrow, merely conventional and even narcissistic “piety” is no virtue. To paraphrase Sen. Goldwater.

          far more offensive and hateful than calling an active homosexual a sodomite.

          • Mr. Myers, first of all the unnecessary co-opting of a perfectly good word into a euphemism for unnatural sexual attraction is offensive to me.

            You may dislike the attraction, find it personally repulsive and regard it as “intrinsically disordered” and “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil***,” as they say in Rome, but to assert that this sort of sexual attraction is “unnatural” is flatly false by definition. It is typical among human beings, even if not acted on, or acted on and “outgrown,” and similar behavior, and therefore the inclination and attraction itself, is commonly observed in all higher primates and many other mammals studied. Recall the 8% of sheep who are pretty clearly “gay,” for instance.

            Isn’t it time to stop using such rhetoric? Better to modulate. I call this sort of talk the “Reefer Madness” approach to moral persuasion. A clearly losing one.

            So, I take it that your answer to the question I put to you is a resounding and enthusiastic Yes! Another one: Would you be in favor of laws in the US similar to those passed last week in Uganda?

            *** Which of course could be said about heterosexual attraction, too, outside the bounds of marriage. Which is to say, all extra-marital sexual attraction is “intrinsically disordered” and “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” Even though they leave that unsaid, there in Rome. For some reason.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Mike, the reason that Philo may have “redirected” the rabbinic scribes in the way you describe is because same-sex activity was not a concern in Palestine proper when it was populated overwhelmingly with Jews. Philo was esconced in Alexandria however, a Greek city outside the cultural bounds and norms of Judea in which the Jews were a minority (admittedly a very large one).

              As for sodomy being “unnatural,” you are right if we take “natural” to mean anything found in nature. That would include cannabilism, gang rape, genocide, etc. The Church Fathers view “nature” however in the way that God intended it and hence “unnatural” meant anything that was sub-prime or less than ideal. Since God created Adam and Eve to populate the earth, the Fathers understood man and woman’s anatomy and the complementarity of their sexual organs as being natural.

              • The problem is that such notions about “nature” appear anachronistic now, reflecting a pre-scientific, Platonic essentialism that has had its day. It’s necessary to demonstrate why this isn’t just a stubborn refusal to squarely face the facts as we now know them. I assume you’re aware that many regard such a take on things as more like a fairy tale than sound modern theology. Facts generally prove even more stubborn than we do.

                Nature is what it is, and a lot of it isn’t pretty and doesn’t seem to jibe with any sort of “ideal.” Much of nature looks awfully harsh and cruel, entirely indifferent and even hostile to kindly human wishes and utterly red in tooth and claw. To blame all that on Adam’s sin is more than most moderns can swallow. Next to no evidence supports this.

                God created Adam and Eve to populate the earth. But the wild kingdom of Nature howling outside the Garden cannot be wished away by myth. That sort of thinking is incoherent and has no future. Christian revelation has much in it that can only appear “anti-nature” as that now is. What is fallen, and what was built-in to things need to be distinguished. This has never been adequately addressed.

              • Mike, the reason that Philo may have “redirected” the rabbinic scribes in the way you describe is because same-sex activity was not a concern in Palestine proper when it was populated overwhelmingly with Jews. Philo was esconced in Alexandria however, a Greek city outside the cultural bounds and norms of Judea in which the Jews were a minority (admittedly a very large one).

                Many scholars have speculated about why he did what he did. Whatever the why may have been, it has little bearing on the what. Focusing on the why looks to some like an urgent desire to change the subject.

                The what is a clear distortion of the Jewish tradition and the clear testimony of the Holy Scriptures and prophets. That he definitely did it is no longer a controversy among scholars. The question is how to respond to this gross distortion going forward, now that his reductive deformation of the tradition is seen and understood.

              • Since God created Adam and Eve to populate the earth, the Fathers understood man and woman’s anatomy and the complementarity of their sexual organs as being natural.

                Not the construal of “natural” that poses an obstacle to the scientifically literate mind. Manifestations of logos in nature such as complementary genitalia are not the problem. The problem is all the loose threads that simply are not tied up by conveniently fairy-tale notions about consequences of the Fall. I’m afraid you won’t soon come to an end of those messy facts that won’t fit into any patristic consensus – which in itself is a lot messier than most suppose. Ostrich poses or a desperate clasping of hands over ears while shouting pious nostrums has no future. The challenges to a theology currently unequipped to cope with modern science and its knowledge aren’t going away.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Only my middle post of the three directly above this one seems really worth anything now. I didn’t express myself well at all and on a reread I now see that they don’t even approach saying what I was trying to get at. Because I don’t really know what I’m talking about in this area. A lot of people like to chatter about these things and I do know better than to add to the static.

                  The first one is just confused and vague. The last one points to something I think is a real question, but it’s a trivial one compared to the dire emergency, the tsunami of problems the human race faces, much if not all of which are due mainly to our corrupt desires and passions and our neglect of what matters. About that core pathology the Church has the answers and is up to the challenges, I think, or at least up to making the correct diagnosis. Although I do sometimes think we should have been able to work out a more effective and coherent ascetic therapeutics after two millenia, the diagnosis seems sound, and that’s certainly a good start.

                  So anyway, I retract the 2:15 and 4:33 posts as pretentious chaff. I’m way over my head commenting on these things. I know better than this Big Picture sort of posing, and I apologize for it.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Mr. Myers, many things in the fallen world appear natural and may even be in our flesh. That does not make them natural or virtuous. Sexual attraction, the fundamental desire to be unified with someone of the opposite sex is intrinsic as it is a subset of our desire for union with our creator and to manifest the creativity as is proper for those made in His image (male & female). It need not be carnal and, I suspect, was not prior to the fall. Since we are no longer united with our Creator as we are meant to be, we look for substitutes: sexual gratification, gluttony, greed, power being some of the most common. While there are an almost infinite number of ways of rationalizing our disordered excess, there is no way of making those excesses a virtue or ‘normal’ by God’s standards.

              Mr. Myers you make the exceedingly common mistake of reasoning from the bottom up. That is you look at our fallen state (which includes all of creation) as normative and extrapolate from there.

              The falleness of creation and we humans is not normative. If it were, Jesus Christ would not have had to become incarnate, die on the Cross, rise from dead and ascend into heaven. The Law would have been sufficient. That is kind of the point St. Paul is trying to make in Romans.

              All of us have disordered sexual passions, in fact, all of our passions are disordered and tend to sin and death because we live in a fallen world. Death is not normal or natural really. Neither is sin.

              Without Jesus Christ, we become our sins, sexual or non-sexual and they consume us leading us to ‘dusty death’.

              That is precisely why I have begun to read Wesley Hill’s book: “Washed and Waiting” which is his story of being faithful to Jesus Christ despite the fact that he is troubled by homoerotic temptations and always has been.

              The first mistake we make, IMAO, is to single out homosexual sexuality as if heterosexuals are intrinsically better. The second mistake we make is to throw in the towel and refuse to acknowledge how broken and disordered we are in our sexuality and in our passions altogether and give others a pass because we don’t want to acknowledge our own sinfulness and the change such an acknowledgment would lead us to.

              The trio of virtues: chastity, celibacy and faithfulness cannot be lived without acknowledging God with humility, thankfulness and simple obedience to the teachings of the Church as they have been revealed, modeled by the saints and always known. They cannot be lived outside of a God-centered sacramental community.

              If homosexuals are granted a special dispensation from the struggle against sexual passions, why should anyone be held accountable. All homosexual sexual activity is fornication since same-sex marriage is a sacramental impossibility, no matter what secular law says. A great deal of heterosexual sex partakes of the attitude of fornication even if the parties are married (selfish, human-centered pleasure being the prime or only reason for it). Sex has become an idol. Indeed, because of our collective winking at the disordered expression of sexuality in our culture that began with ‘free love’ and continued into adultery, divorce, abortion, the pill and the ‘hook-up’– friends with benefits mentality that homosexuality has even become an issue.

              All those words to come back to my simple statement: chastity and celibacy before marriage; chastity and faithfulness after marriage.

              The journey to chastity is the journey to theosis.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Michael Bauman! The “perfectly good word” (gay) used to refer to prostitutes. A ‘GAY WOMAN” was a prostitute, usually a street-walker, ESPECIALLY in the day when the idiotic ditty “Deck the Halls” became popular. I can’t imagine why you would be afraid to sing “don we now our gay apparel”, unless you are afraid others will suspect you of something, and embarrass you with a “Nudge, nudge” a la Monty Python!
            How about the “perfectly good word” ‘HOT?” If you date females, are you now afraid to tell your date, ‘Oh, I’m just so HOT here in Georgia?’ Can you still say to your mother (or a little girl) “Oh, you look hot!”
            Have “sodomites” ruined that word for you, too?

            Anyhow, anyone who LIKED to go around singing, “Fa la la la la la la la la!” might be considered ineligible for membership in the Duck Dynasty Cult on that basis alone!

            • Michael Bauman says

              Oh,your Grace I guess the meaning of the word has come full circle. It is fortunate that there are many other Christmas songs I like much better.

        • Peter, due to my experience thus far of what you regard as argumentation I’ll decline your offer, but thanks anyway. Please research the fallacy of petitio principii, also known as “assuming what must be demonstrated.” When you can show some appreciation for why this is recognized as seriously defective reasoning, maybe we could try again. My understanding of the “sin of Sodom” is very different from yours because mine’s based on what the Bible actually says about that. Therefore our definitions of “sodomite,” and what that word would legitimately be “descriptive” of, are very different, too. As a translator, I assume you understand what *eisegesis* is.

          “. . .because it keeps the severity of their sin ever before thier face.” If memory serves, you’re a lawyer as well as a translator of the Septuagint. Isn’t that right? Would you be in favor of laws in the US similar to those passed this week in Uganda? You’ve expressed your views as a translator and interpreter of the Septuagint but I’m curious about your legal opinion, too.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            The fallacy “petitio principii” is better known as begging the question.

            • Yes, it used to be but “begging the question” is understood differently by most people these days.

          • In my rebuttal of Misha’s pseudo-authoritative comments here, I explained why you or anyone else are wrong to maliciously defame gay persons with this language. If you read it carefully I don’t think this should be all that difficult to understand.

            I know that some of you will want to confuse the issues here and claim that I support the Church going wobbly on its teachings with respect to extra-marital sexual activity, simply because I’m one of those who criticize the fact that this baseless slander has been allowed to petrify in the tradition (East and West). But I have no problem with the Church’s teaching on chastity and its importance to spirituality. These are completely separate issues. If you want to be taken seriously, however, you must learn to modulate your failing rhetoric. Your appeal risks becoming even more restricted than it already is, to the unjust and to ignorant bigots. Not very evangelical.

            Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23.

            I doubt very much that it’s God will for anyone to ignore what His book and His prophets had to say, where these matters are placed in their proper perspective, because some prefer to be in thrall to any number of the serious problems in the received tradition. You might want to rethink that.

            Nor would I support any job discrimination based on one’s sexuality. To even raise that question (i.e. imprisonment and/or discrimination) to me or to any one on this board shows your complete devotion to the god of homosexuality.

            Res ipsa loquitur.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I doubt very much that it’s God will for anyone to ignore what His book and His prophets had to say, where these matters are placed in their proper perspective, because some prefer to be in thrall to any number of the serious problems in the received tradition. You might want to rethink that.



              • Nor would I support any job discrimination based on one’s sexuality. To even raise that question (i.e. imprisonment and/or discrimination) to me or to any one on this board shows your complete devotion to the god of homosexuality.

                This is an extremely strange and utterly dishonest comment. At least a dozen different posters on this blog, including at least three priests and you yourself Peter, have placed in scare quotes “gay rights” in numerous posts. I can’t recall how many times posters here have questioned “gay rights” as if it were perfectly righteous and uncontroversial to oppose them and even to mock the very concept. Such mockery is commonly expressed here. It escapes me, however, how it could be possible to recall or revisit these allegedly unjust rights, much less to actively oppose them, in accord with the sort of opinions typically expressed here, aside from favoring legal discrimination. Opposing gay rights means …. opposing laws, thinking it was wrong to change discriminatory and punitive laws in the first place, and bringing them back. Be at least that honest — if only privately, with yourself.

                Rhetoric on this issue is hopelessly confused and disingenuous, typically. It really is quite fascinating. It might be better to just state straightforwardly what you really think. The anonymous, self-described lawyer Mr. “Misha,” for example, is in favor of violent repressions, if necessary, and is definitely in favor of repealing gay rights legislation. He’s stated this quite openly here. Just as he’s quite openly stated on a number of occasions in some detail that he wants and prays for a military coup to overthrow the US constitutional republic, because autocracy is far more godly, in his traditional opinion. He wants a dictatorship. Full stop.

                So I’m bemused by your confusion, Peter.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  As I am of yours Mike.


                • Yes, Misha is in favor of homosexuality returning into the closet since that is probably the only way to avoid its being normalized in society. And I doubt this will happen by agreement. Nor do I believe that the people of the United States or any other Western democracy will freely choose to free themselves from the death spiral of progressive liberalism. That said, I’m open to alternatives as to how to facilitate a rebirth of decency.

                  However, given the status quo, I never treat those who identify themselves as openly gay differently in any professional or business context. And, when it comes to polite interaction in social contexts, I also treat them in a manner indistinguishable from the way I treat “straights”.

                  It is not because I have the slightest respect for their chosen lifestyle but because I have respect for the human beings who suffer from this inclination and because I know that my approval or disapproval in a business or social context will not change anything. To put it another way, “hiss less, purr more”. I do not like to engage in emotionally hostile behavior and will only do so when I believe it is necessary and will be effective. When discussing doctrine or politics in a forum such as this, it is appropriate sometimes or at least difficult to avoid since many make it a point to lead with their shield and plead offense at dispassionate truth. But the world is not such a forum. Life goes on despite these little tempests.

  14. Kevin Allen says


    I think the Duck Dynasty issue is something quite different. Robertson’s right to freedom of speech was not restricted by the government (about which the First Amendment was written). It is being restricted by a network who owns air time with whom he has a financial relationship and for whom he works. Mr Roberston does not have a “right” to access a network’s paid-for broadcast if what he says violates the views of the network. This IMO is not a matter of religious freedom or First Amendment but a matter for the labor relations court (if it gets to that point).

    I do agree that the gay marriage and gay rights lobby and the US Government (ACA) has created an environment where religious liberty is being assaulted in the public square and courts.

    However my point was that this post was about a pod cast that it is clear very few – if any – listened to and simply became a platform for the spouting of views on homosexuality.

    • this is a problem because why? says

      Mr. Allen,

      A & E hired Phil Robertson and his clan to do a “reality show”. This implies that the A&E network recognizes that the “Duck Dynasty” Clan has a certain appeal and shares common values with their target audience. If Phil Robertson didn’t fit the bill (no pun intended) they would have found someone else who did. Fact of the matter is A&E KNEW that Phil Robertson and his family held these beliefs when they hired him. They hired him SPECIFICALLY FOR THAT REASON. Otherwise, they would have hired somebody else. He was not acting on behalf of A&E while being interviewed. He was being himself. He essentially allows A&E to film his family and broadcast it as entertainment and people actually like it. You know what? A&E has made a pretty penny off of them folks. NOW it is a problem?

      Meanwhile, in Times Square in NYC, atheists are exercising their Constitutionally protected First Amendment Right to free speech. Didn’t you know that it’s the Christians that are the rabid ones? Quick…call animal control!!

      • James Bradshaw says

        The question is whether employers have the right to terminate employees who they feel may prove a liability because of their views expressed on or off the job.

        A PR exec was recently fired for this comment she made on Twitter:

        “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

        I’m not suggesting that her view is exactly analogous to Phil’s. Rather, the question is which rights take precedent. My impression by conservative commentators and writers is that the employer’s rights ALWAYS take precedent over the right of the employee to not be fired. After all, it’s their company … their “property”, in essence.

        Or does this right only extend to employers when implementing a particular ideology?

    • M. Stankovich says

      Mr. Allen,

      Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

      Mr. Mattingly stated:

      There was a lively coalition in defense of traditional concepts of religious liberty that went all the way from the ACLU all the way over to Pat Robertson were actually working together on religious liberty legislation, in harmony. And we were seeing unanimous votes in the House and near unanimous votes in the Senate. But what has come along to explode that coalition… what has come along, everyone agrees, the coalition has been shattered by the battles over gay rights.

      and Fr. Hans discusses (and introduces this podcast to us):

      I pointed out that gay rights is an anthropological question at its core that challenges the increasingly fractured moral consensus necessary to hold a society together because it fundamentally redefines what we understand male and female to be. I see “gay marriage” as a threat to liberty because it grants government the authority to deem relationships not found in nature or the moral tradition of Western Civilization as morally licit, thereby establishing the State as both the source and final judge of the morality that shapes the moral consensus. Religion is the ground of culture I argued earlier in the program and the government arrogation of moral authority within the culture (all “rights” come from the State) portends great danger down the road.

      I find your criticism – that this “simply became a platform for the spouting of views on homosexuality” – disingenuous. If my transcription is inaccurate, by all means correct me, but enough with the claim that no one listened. The Gettysburg Address it was not.

  15. Mr. Allen, thank you for your contributions to Ancient Faith Radio. I don’t think I could get through the day without having it streaming on my computer at work and at home. This was a wonderful interview about religious freedoms in America, and–as always–I learned a lot from this offering on AFR.

    But you DID write, above, in regards to homosexuality:

    “…We have apparently not done a sufficient job of clarifying this issue and/or that Orthodox do not want to accept the moral teaching of the Church.”

    I think this is a very good synopsis, and that both sides of that coin are true. Following up on the idea of clarifying this issue, I propose a forum of sorts—a panel discussion—you could host on AFR. Subject: the Church’s “moral teaching” on homosexuality. And may I be so bold as to suggest some panelists for your radio forum on this subject?

    How about you begin with His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin? I’d love to hear his personal interpretation of the Church’s “moral teaching” on this. After all, he oversaw the tonsuring of a man into the Monastery of St. John in Manton, CA (Diocese of the West) who was scheduled for a sex change operation. This monastic novice became “Larissa” under Archbishop Benjamin’s watch and it was arranged for him/her to live at St. John’s as a nun-monk. Then there is the documented case of two women who are married in the state of California who were receiving communion at the OCA’s church in San Francisco as well as the Monastery of St. John. On a day when the abbot of the Monastery was traveling, one of the monks did not give communion to this lesbian couple, and one of the women took to her online blog “Orthodox and Gay” to share her subsequent conversation with Archbishop Benjamin. Archbishop Benjamin told her that “The Church moves glacially slow on these matters.” The monks who protested bringing “Larissa” into the Monastery and communing an open lesbian couple were told that if they didn’t like it, they could leave. They did. I sure would love to hear His Eminence’s explanation of the Church’s moral teachings (which move “glacially slow”) regarding sex-change operations and homosexuality.

    Your second panelist without a doubt should be Archbishop Nathanael (William Popp). Archbishop Nathanael received news that one of his priests was engaged in a homosexual affair, and the priest who reported this news asked for a spiritual court to investigate the matter. Instead, the priest who reported this news was fired by Archbishop Nathanael and defrocked by the OCA.

    Please consider inviting former Metropolitan Council member Mark Stokoe, author of the blog “OCA News”, and his lifetime partner Steve Brown, to your panel discussion. You may also wish to feature their diocesan hierarch, who may be able to shed some light on how the Church’s moral teachings and how the Church counsels actively and “out” gay couples. Perhaps Bishop Mark Forsberg might also be able to contribute to the discussion.

    And of course your panel could not be complete without inviting the Chancellor of the OCA to discuss his comparison of the current day struggles of “sexual minorities” with those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and African-Americans during the Civil Rights era. He may also be able to answer the question on everyone’s mind: why was a known “out” homosexual given the task of reading the Gospel on Pascha at SVOTS, if not to send a clear message.

    All kidding aside, Mr. Allen… I truly would love for an effort to be made to–in your words–“clarify” the Church’s moral teaching. “Without vision, the people perish.” Mr. Allen, the people are perishing because there is no clear vision with regards to the “moral teaching of the Church” on these matters. Perhaps that is why this topic arises frequently.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Nathaniel B,

      Apparently you and I both heard stories of His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin’s role in the events you report, and of his opinions regarding the Church’s moral teachings pursuant to the matters under discussion. I too had a strong desire to hear the details of the situations you describe, his reasoning and understanding of the situations, and the actions he took pursuant to the facts as he encountered them. Unlike you, however, I undertook what the Scripture and the Fathers direct, and I asked him directly, rather than make accusations anonymously on the internet without his description, as ruling bishop, as to what occurred. It is only because of my respect for Mr. Michalopulos that I do not refer to you as I wish, but suffice it to say that St. Ephriam spoke of your type as satisfying only to “Balaam son of Bezer,” upon whom the Pearl is wasted. Why whine to Mr. Allen to perform what you lack in fundamental courage yourself? Your “documented” cases are gossip and you should be ashamed for what you don’t know. You should be standing outside the doors of the church among the class of cowards that shamefully plague this site.

      • Kentigern Pavlos says

        Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

        Dear M. Stankovich,

        Elsewhere you shared your charming tombstone epitaph that you are no apologist and have no original thoughts to share, and that you close your mouth–apparently not your keyboard, though, you may want to add a disclaimer! 🙂

        However, apologetics actually does not involve sharing original thought, but applying living tradition to current situations.

        In that I’m a bit puzzled by your posts here. If you are correcting inaccurate reports helpfully, why do you not do so rather than bluster? Otherwise you can seem to engage in apologetics for positions outside of Orthodox tradition, which really would be original thought rather than apologetics.

        Indeed, your past promotion of self-published writings about sexuality points again to what seems to be your original thought rather than Orthodox apologetics as you try (in a seemingly Scholastic way) to weave a seamless robe of Catholic-style natural law between your interpretation of science and theology.

        The problem is that the science (social or natural) is quickly or already out of date, while on theology you argue from authoirty when it’s not clear what yours is.

        To start from a very basic question, a question stemming from you arguments in the past for your own authority as a legacy alumni of St. Vladimir’s, are you now a member of an Orthodox Church parish and why did you apparently leave the OCA and if so why won’t you return given your continual stream of advice to those of us in the OCA? Claiming to be a friend of the Chancellor and confidante of hierarchs is not enough to experience Orthodox life, as rewarding as that may be!

        Please pray for me the sinner,


      • George Michalopulos says

        It may surprise you to learn that over the past three years, I have taken the Lord’s exhortation to “go to your brother privately” in order to discuss a matter of grave concern. Quite a few in fact. Out of respect for their privacy and because it would be my word against theirs’, I have not disclosed who these people were. Since you mentioned His Eminence as an aggrieved party in this regard I will now break my silence in this instance. (Again, the usual caveats apply: it was a phone conversation between His Eminence and myself with nobody else on the line.)

        A little over two years ago I took the liberty of calling him out of the blue. We talked for the better part of an hour. I really wanted to know what was “really” going on. I was told that “maybe Jonah had ADD.” Ker-plunk. What I wanted to say (to scream actually) was: “ADD? and for this the Synod is destroying the OCA? Are you serious?!?” At least His Eminence had the decency to at least give me a reason, even if it was a hare-brained one. In another instance, in a call to Syosset I was flat-out lied to by one of the lackeys who worked there (although I will say that my call was taken immediately). I’ve seen priests in the OCA turn on a dime when I likewise called or confronted them about the whole debacle. I’ve seen other priests (or their proxies) send me incriminating evidence against sitting bishops but when I asked if they will back me up should it be necessary, they become mute.

        So you see, despite my best good-faith efforts to get to the bottom of this mess, the institutional corruption in the OCA is so bad that even those priests who are otherwise uncorrupt live in such fear that it enables the present corruption to continue unabated.

      • Bishop Maxim, presiding hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Western America, believed that what those monks had experienced at the OCA Monastery of St. John’s was so morally reprehensible that he immediately gave them sanctuary. Bishop Maxim would never have risked such an interjurisdictional scandal if he did not believe the monks’ version of what happened, and if he did not seriously consider the dilemma he faced. Would he have made such a monumental decision to accept these monastics over a difference of opinion or a squabble over semantics? No! Bishop Maxim is a very good, very holy man. He radiates goodness and peace, and he understands the moral struggles of our times. He believed the monks and gave them refuge. I am certain that Archbishop Benjamin and Bishop Maxim spoke, too–just like you did, Michael. What was the outcome? Bishop Maxim has given sanctuary to the monks rather than return them to the OCA. Praise God for the spiritual warrior Bishop Maxim, who is willing to stand for Truth in this age of immorality masquerading as tolerance.

        Archbishop Benjamin’s actions speak far louder than his words. His past shenanigans have been documented on this site and others, but why I don’t trust him goes beyond those actions that have gained him such notoriety. Archbishop Benjamin has been consumed by a demon of jealousy towards his brother, Jonah. It has tainted his actions of the past and continues to taint many things he does.

        Just a couple of months ago, October 2013, the Diocese of the West’s Assembly was held in one of the jewels of the DOW, St. Seraphim’s in Santa Rosa. And Benjamin began his address by jokingly saying that his frequent flyer miles were at risk because he wasn’t traveling back and forth to Syosset as much as he used to in order to deal with Met. Jonah. This is false. The only increase in travel occured in 2012, and Met. Jonah’s resignation was tendered in July during the middle of that year. I believe that certain members of the Synod were indeed “conspiring” against Met. Jonah because their travel funding proves that they met often and out of formally-convened Councils. These meetings were non-canonical. But that aside, the only increase in travel during the entire tenure of Met. Jonah occured only in 2012 before and during the time of Met. Jonah’s retirement. Here are the figures from the DOW’s payroll and travel sheets:

        Diocesan Hierarch Salary and Benefits: $73,047
        Diocesan Hierarch Housing: $6,000
        Diocesan Hierarch Travel: $21,151
        Metropolitan Council Travel: $5,522

        Diocesan Hierarch Salary and Benefits: $74,210
        Diocesan Hierarch Housing: $6,000
        Diocesan Hierarch Travel: $20,379
        Metropolitan Council Travel: $2,686

        Diocesan Hierarch Salary and Benefits: $75,333
        Diocesan Hierarch Housing: $6,000
        Diocesan Hierarch Travel: $22,576
        Metropolitan Council Travel: $1,964

        Diocesan Hierarch Salary and Benefits: $86,023
        Diocesan Hierarch Housing: $4,100
        Diocesan Hierarch Travel: $22,728
        Metropolitan Council Travel: $14,129

        Year-end reports for actual payroll are unavailable, but using last year’s figures and the budgeted funds report online:
        Diocesan Hierarch Salary and Benefits: $85,730
        Diocesan Hierarch Housing: $4,100
        Diocesan Hierarch Travel (actual as of 11/13): $28,544
        Metropolitan Council Travel (actual as of 11/13): $1,352.

        The only thing he has said of any relevance lately was at the end of his remarks at the Assembly. They are a sobering reflection of the OCA’s role (or lack of it) in American Orthodoxy. I quote his words here.

        “The Assembly of Orthodox Bishops met again this year for the fourth time. The main task of the Assembly is to prepare a plan to be presented at the proposed Great and Holy Council for administrative unity in North America. This process is going on throughout the Orthodox world. While I cannot say whether or not such a Great and Holy Council will ever meet in my lifetime given difficult relations among the Orthodox Churches world-wide, relations are as tumultuous as those in Washington DC at present, I can say the process and meetings have been a terrific opportunity for all the Orthodox hierarchs in North America to meet and to get to know each other… To be quite honest, one of the challenges for us is the exclusion of the Primate of the OCA from the Executive Committee. This was by design and has diminished the voice of the second largest Church in the Assembly. The Church of Albania, which has only ONE parish in North America, is part of the Executive Committee while the OCA with over 700 parishes is excluded. This reflects locally the very serious divisions on the larger Pan-Orthodox level.”

        • M. Stankovich says

          Nathaniel B.,

          For the record, I have known Archbishop Benjamin for forty years, and he is one of my dearest friends. On the one hand, I will not argue a claim of “bias,” but on the other, I will defend knowing this man’s heart on a very intimate level as well. I am neither his lawyer, nor his public relations advizor, but only his friend.

          Never, not once, in my presence has His Eminence ever spoken an insult, an epithet, been spiteful, aggressive, or uttered a demeaning word regarding Met. Jonah. Never. He loudly voiced his overwhelming frustration, his inability to comprehend his actions, his lack of collegiality, his repeated failure to keep his promises, etc., etc. but he never disparaged or demeaned him in my presence. I have questioned Vladyka explicitly about his relationship with Met. Jonah, and your statement:

          Archbishop Benjamin has been consumed by a demon of jealousy towards his brother, Jonah. It has tainted his actions of the past and continues to taint many things he does.

          is not only ridiculous, it malicious. Let me make this point to you:

          Vladyka Benjamin phoned me at my off-campus, Dept. of Psychiatry office because he wanted to help Met. Jonah conduct an intervention with his sister, who had been hospitalized numerous times in La Jolla, and get her into a rehabilitation program. We had long discussions about how he might assist Met. Jonah, and how they might engage the family. I offered my assistance as well. As I recall, Vladyka Benjamin’s assistance was politely refused. While I do not recall the interval – perhaps 18-months – Vladyka phoned and wanted to attempt to assist again as the situation had deteriorated. Again he was refused. Finally, I will never forget Vladyka’s text messages to me from the All-American Council in Ohio to elect a new Metropolitan, he wrote, “I’m watching out the window as people arrive, but all I can think about is that Lori will not survive the week,” and, in fact she did not.

          Secondly, let me be emphatic with you, Nathaniel B: I support no one, be they parent, sibling, spouse, or dearest of friend if they are in opposition to the Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers, or the Holy Tradition of the Church. Read it again: no one. And obviously this includes Archbishop Benjamin. In the matter of the OCA Monastery of St. John, I did not speak with Bishop Maxim, and in fact, it is none of my business. I would again refer you and anyone to the treasure that is on this site written by Fr. Alexey Kaergut concerning “Church governance, conciliarity and catholicity, and authority”:

          Conciliarity does not mean democracy. Conciliarity is not about majority or plurality or “the voice of the people”; it is not about voting and referendums. Neither is conciliarity opposed to utilizing democratic principles, voting, etc. when deemed appropriate. It is about wholeness and mutuality. Its root concept is found in the Russian word, Sobornost. This refers to conciliar structure of the Church (council of Bishops), while catholicity refers to its wholeness or integrity. The Church can only function as the Church when each part of the conciliar structure has complete integrity in its own personal life and its communal life within the Church; when each is working in the proper order to build up the whole. Each “responsibility” has to be functioning in “accountability” for it to participate in the whole.

          And just in case you can’t stop talking long enough to “get it,” conjecture is horribly, horribly destructive. My point: you cannot make your point by conjecture!

          The Scripture and the Fathers demand that you confront the supposed wrongdoer, face-to-face. If you claim that His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin “has been consumed by a demon of jealousy towards his brother, Jonah. It has tainted his actions of the past and continues to taint many things he does,” and that he wavers in matters regarding sexual purity and Christian Marriage between one man and one woman, you must be prepared to confront him. If you are not, repent here, publicly for your vicious and unfounded conjecture of the anointed of the Church. I personally accuse you. And I’m thinking you areanother in the line of verbose internet cowards…

          • George Michalopulos says

            Dr Stankovich, I applaud your relationship with Arb Benjamin and take your words regarding your conversation with him as honest.

            Permit my own observations based on my own conversations with both him and the late Laurel Paffhausen.

            For one, His Eminence was not as effusive in his praise towards His Beatitude or as concerned about his well-being in my own conversation. Secondly, when I brought up other players in this conspiracy, I was shocked at how easily he did not come to their defense. Third, Nathanael B’s reportage stands on its own and is indicative of a mindset that is significantly out of phase than what he shared with you. In the final analysis, the evidence leads me to believe that there is indeed a “demon of jealousy” which has been allowed to work wonders on those conspirators who uncanonically removed Jonah from the Primacy.

            As for Laurie, her friends told me that she was absolutely heartbroken by the Synod’s treatment of her brother. In fact, all one has to do is go to the archives of Monomakhos, type in “madamequeen” and see her own words in this regard. Her friends got to me offline and confirmed her heartache. Regardless, I made efforts to contact her and about three months before her death, we struck up a telephonic friendship. Because she has reposed and is not around to defend herself, I can honestly say that she was an ardent defender of her brother and had very little that was good to say about his antagonists.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Michalopulos,

              In the final analysis, the evidence leads me to believe that there is indeed a “demon of jealousy” which has been allowed to work wonders on those conspirators who uncanonically removed Jonah from the Primacy.

              Personally, I, for one, am not the least bit interested in what you are led to believe “from the evidence.” I intend no pejorative or insult, but in the last several months, I have been blessed with the opportunity of visiting the clergy & faithful of the OCA in the northwest and the southeast in several capacities; and when leading group & individual discussions, other than a general concern for his well-being, the issue(s) of Met. Jonah over which you relentlessly obsess are long closed. Even when I asked directly, the response I received was, “We have a new Metropolitan.” Likewise, I only mentioned Ms. Paffhausen to suggest to Nathaniel B. that, contrary to his shameless accusation of motivation by “a demon of jealousy towards his brother, Jonah,” Vladyka Benjamin was motivated by compassion.

              Again, without speaking with Archbishop Benjamin, your claim that Bishop Maxim had “the courage to take in those few remaining Orthodox who will not submit” is without foundation and pure conjecture. So, Mr. Michalopulos, since you have already established communication with his Eminence Archbishop Benjamin, and since you make the dramatic – and I hope sincere – declaration that you would wish to number yourself among those with the courage to cut to the heart of the matter, may I suggest this: as you have said previously, accepting “the Lord’s exhortation to ‘go to your brother privately’ in order to discuss a matter of grave concern,” I would ask you to contact Vladyka Benjamin as your source for his opinions, and not perpetuate internet gossip, conjecture, and innuendo. It would serve as a wonderful model for the new year.

              • George Michalopulos says

                To which I replied that in my own conversation with His Eminence I could only discern a spirit of bewilderment on my part as to why he and his conspirators were so obsessed about getting rid of His Beatitude. It took me over a year to screw up the courage to contact Laurie to ask her what her opinions were on this matter. I can assure her that she was not nearly as understanding about the “compassion” that His Eminence supposedly evinced to her as you say he did.

                Therefore my reportage on these events is not based on feelings or even “gut instinct” but upon asking the various players face-to-face what was really going on. That Nathanael B thankfuly came in and joined the fray and reported what he saw and heard at a DOW conference only solidifies the narrative that Jonah was uncanonically thrown out by a conspiracy that existed on several levels, the final one being the Synodal level which met on at least one occasion secretly.

                I did not go to SVS, but I doubt they taught you there that episcopal meetings can take place without the knowledge or attendance of the Primate. (Carl Kraeff, our estimable expert on all things Apostolic Canon 34, could perhaps weigh in on this matter?”

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Michalopulos,

                  I understand your response to be that you lack the fundamental integrity to match your words to your actions. You do not need to enroll in SVS to align yourself with the words of the Apostle: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11)

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    How did I “lack the fundamental integrity to match [my] words [with] actions”? Someone made an accusation against His Beatitude, I made a couple of phone calls to find out from some of the principals. In the old days that was called “reporting.”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Just so it’s clear, Arb Benjamin was the third bishop I called. The only reason I didn’t go to another bishop was because he was the first to pick up the phone. And he offered me close to an hour of his attention.

          • Is it proper for you to talk about Lori and her need for a rehabilitation center ? Why would you publish that ? Doesn’t California have HIPPA ? I appreciate Archbishop Benjamin’s concern but do you have to broadcast it to this group?

            • M. Stankovich says

              It is not HIPPA, but 42 CFR, Part 2 that would be of concern.

              Factually, I obviously was aware of the reality of this situation long before many were aware, and I was troubled that Mr. Michalopulos seemed to be encouraging participation from someone so gravely impaired to the point of rejecting care. I wrote him expressing my concern that that this situation might be revealed, hoping that her participation might be curtailed. He told me he was aware of the situation. And so it goes. Whatever/whomever the source, as far as I am concerned, it became common knowledge all over the Orthodox internet.

              If you were offended at my “publishing” this, I apologize for this. I only used the example because it speaks to heart of Vladyka Benjamin, with whom I joined recently in offering someone similar help as a way of saving their vocation and marriage. That he is a “conspirator” and “jealous” of another hierarch is foolish.

              • George Michalopulos says

                If you’re talking about Laurie as being “gravely impaired” then you’re barking up the wrong tree. I didn’t “encourage” anything. I just made her acquaintance via telephone. Her version of events and the Stokovite version were out of phase. And no, she wasn’t the only one whose word led me to deviate from the official story (curious, there never really was an “official” story once the Drunk Rapist Priest Excuse was rapidly exposed as a lie). Her mother also has nothing but harsh words for the treatment of her son and her family at the hands of Syosset.

                It comes down to this: who are you going to believe: the me official story or your own eyes? I choose to believe my own eyes.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  I say again, for some anonymous person to make such a despicable, preposterous claim of “a demon of jealousy towards his brother, Jonah. It has tainted his actions of the past and continues to taint many things he does” without the slightest bit of evidence is shameful. You will answer for such a claim, Nathaniel B, and I am your accuser.

                  Mr. Michalopulos, your response to me regarding “grave impairment” is simply so ignorant, so ill-informed, and so flat out dumb, you should be ashamed of yourself! What did you see over the phone, for heaven’s sake? You saw it as an “inside track” to serve your purpose. Google the ravaging & destruction of the human body and then speak to me of “barking up the wrong tree!” I knew the reality of what was happening, and you had no clue. That is specifically the reason I wrote you in confidence. And this is the despair Vladyka Benjamin felt watching out the window at the All-American Council.

                  Hold this in moderation until all your warriors have had the opportunity to set me straight, but whatever “demon” may be driving Vladyka Benjamin, it seems capable of great mercy and affection for his brother, Jonah.

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                If you were offended . . .”?! To cite, mutatis mutandis, attorney Joseph Welch’s response to the insufferable Senator Joseph McCarthy during a memorable hearing on June 9, 1954: “Until this moment, Doctor, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. . . . Let us not assassinate this woman further, Doctor. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

        • George Michalopulos says

          Nathanael, thank you for cutting through the clutter and getting to the heart of the matter. I, for one, am gratified that there exist bishops such as Maxim, who in an act of extreme mercy (and a lot of courage) took in these monks. I pray that when the day comes that the various jurisdictions bow to Caesar here in America that there will be enough bishops left who will have the courage to take in those few remaining Orthodox who will not submit. (And I pray that I have the courage to be one of their number.)

  16. I decline to comment on the morality question. The Church’s teaching is clear. One need only look at anything written from its inception to the beginning of the 20th century to understand its attitude toward homosexual activity.

    “Sodomy” and “sodomite” are merely descriptive terms concerning the activities of those who engage in homosexual acts (though technically it does encompass some acts between heterosexuals). Perhaps not palatable, but accurate. To sugarcoat abortion, the powers that be refer to “choice” and “women’s [reproductive] health”. Better to be accurate, even graphic, about the subject – the horrific execution and dismemberment of unborn children. “Choice” just doesn’t capture the fact.

    Neither does “gay”, a synonym for “happy”. “Sodomy” cuts through the bs and presents an accurate picture of the activity in question. After all, it is the activity that is the problem. The “inclination” is nothing more than a warped passion to be controlled. One is not a “sodomite” because one has an unnatural attraction, but because one acts upon it. It is therefore more descriptive of the sin itself.

    I suppose that the New Testament references might better be translated, in modern idiomatic English, as “pitcher and catcher” or “Bruce and Betty”, but a footnote would obviously be necessary and it would doubtless be a tad too entertaining to adolescents if it were read that way in church.

    It’s very telling that some object to the term “sodomy/sodomite”. That the term is offensive is really a frank admission that the activity is repulsive.

    • M. Stankovich says


      Spoken with such authority! But good heavens, man, you’ve gone and broken the syllogism! If “Sodomy” and “sodomite” are merely descriptive terms concerning the activities of those who engage in homosexual acts” then those who do not engage in “sodomy” are not “sodomites” and guilty of the sins attributable to Sodom. Are they even homosexual? And what shall we call lesbians? Sodomessess? Though “technically,” they do not engage in sodomy at all. And what, in heaven’s name does “technically it does encompass some acts between heterosexuals” mean? Is this sexual act technically different among heterosexuals, less “repulsive” to you, than with the “sodomites?” All of which begs the question, by what authority do you make any of these “pronouncements” at all?

      I was encouraged to initially read that you did not intend to comment, but such is the frailty of wishes. I would point out to you again that undoubtedly there are individuals here who struggle with same-sex attraction, who have committed themselves to a life of chastity, abstinence, singlemindedness (sophrosyne/tselomudrye), obedience, and repentance on the path to which we are all called. They, like me, do not find your comment regarding changing the Holy Scripture to read “pitcher & catcher” amusing, but frankly quite offensive; offensive like, “What could you be thinking?” You simply add to the foolishness that is the turn in this thread.

    • “Sodomy” and “sodomite” are merely descriptive terms concerning the activities of those who engage in homosexual acts (though technically it does encompass some acts between heterosexuals). Perhaps not palatable, but accurate.

      “Merely” descriptive? Accurate? If “sodomy” were a term used to signify homosexual gang rape or more accurately, a violent and lustful mob’s “going after” “other flesh” (in this case, angelic), as Jude put it, with the intent to perpetrate a gang rape, then they would be “descriptive and accurate.” And I think it’s safe to say that there’d be little objection to the words thus used. But that’s not how they’re used. What is so hard for some of you to understand here? This story represents the epitome of inhospitality to strangers: gang rape (cf. the closely parallel incident at Gibeah narrated in Judges 19, which wasn’t merely attempted but carried out — ending in murder.). Perpetrated by the evil residents of a city infamous for cruelty to the poor and to strangers, for unbridled adulteries and fornications of all varieties, “sinners against the Lord exceedingly,” guilty of gross social injustices, whose manifold wickedness had long cried out to the heavens for vengeance. To reduce all this to “homosexuality” is a lie, and all competently educated priests and theologians know it. Or they should know it.

      It’s very telling that some object to the term “sodomy/sodomite”. That the term is offensive is really a frank admission that the activity is repulsive.

      This comment is little more than a confession of confusion. That a particular sex act obsesses many of you and that you find it so repulsive is one perfectly evident thing (setting aside the fact that these words have meant many very different things over the centuries, up to this very day in this country***). That gay men in particular and to a lesser extent gay women are consciously, maliciously and falsely associated by these words with a legend about a pair of evil cities and their many crimes and grave social injustices is another very different and quite dubious one. Two very different things. For this reason, an intent of malicious defamation is self-evident when you use these words — and that’s why they’re offensive. Very simple.

      It’s bogus and weak to plead the precedent of biased interpreters who’ve reductively misread this story out of context for centuries — very much including some Greek fathers who were misled by Philo — and suppose that you are thereby relieved of any duty to be honest about this yourself. In itself, that’s an illustrative example of mob psychology, incidentally. Grotesque anti-Jewish ranting and false scientific assertions are other instances of errors and worse that many feel justified in wallowing in to this day because “it’s in the fathers” and the “tradition.”

      A minute’s thought ought to make the facts of the case clear here, if rationality and simple justice really mattered. Imagine that the two angels in the story had taken the form of women, but the story otherwise played out exactly the same: all the men of Sodom collected themselves at Lot’s house to rape the two female angels, and God then destroyed the city. Would anyone conclude that this story was a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality, or would we all conclude (correctly) that the (multiply evinced) wickedness of Sodom was epitomized by their desire to gang rape two strangers visiting their city? On top of all the other crimes and social injustices the city was infamous for, alluded to in numerous places throughout the Prophets (most explicitly in Ezekiel 16:49).

      It’s perfectly clear to us that many of you use the words in conscious bad faith and that you merely pretend not to understand why their use is so objectionable to so many people. Or perhaps, more charitably, you’re merely ignorant bigots who hold the conclusions of science and competent scholarship in contempt, preferring malicious defamation of those who at worst, in most cases, are handicapped by a developmental disorder, which is in most cases the worst one can justly say about the homosexual erotic inclination and acting out. Meaning that many of you are cruel and heartless creeps about this.

      That many Christians are so indignant about gay people, in a world overrun with monstrous crimes and horrors and injustices, strikes fair-minded people as utterly deranged. How can you not see that? It’s also clear to rational and well-informed people that most social pathologies are directly or indirectly a result of the abuse of heterosexuality and that you are blatantly scapegoating gay people.

      If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.

      Counselor may recognize the adage. You appear oblivious to another fact: you lost this argument a long time ago. On the facts. The facts have always been against you and as a result the law has at last begun to change to reflect it, everywhere civilized anyway. This is happening because it’s no longer possible for cant and hypocrisy to conceal the facts from most reasonable people (except in ever-retarded Russia. And Uganda, the world capital of cannibalism and …. wait for it …. heterosexual ***gang rape*** — probably just a coincidence . . .). Nothing remains for you now but to make a lot of incoherent and mean-spirited noise. We concede that you excel at this.

      ***The etymological history of both words reveals great changes in their meanings, depending on time and place, and on who you ask. The definitions of “sodomy” have ranged over the centuries from bestiality, masturbation, and oral sex to that act between two males which so obsesses the indignant imaginations of many present here. The Uniform Code of Military Justice defines “sodomy” as any act of oral or anal sex; the sex of the charged is immaterial, including at one time the fact that they were married. In some US states, laws still on the books define oral sex as “sodomy,” again, even when performed by heterosexual married couples. In modern German and Polish the word refers exclusively to bestiality.

      • I said that some Greek fathers had misread the story of Sodom, misled by the Hellenist Philo. Many Latin ones, too, most influentially Augustine of Hippo.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Even so, Mike Myers, while your essay on “sodom” and ‘sodomite” is hard to top, I suggest you might add to your appended mention of Augustine of Hippo something on the order of ‘but even the manichean convert was unable to get sodomy entered in the list of the seven cardinal sins which are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony! Here Peter Papoutsis also provides some correction in his comment on “The Wolf of Wall Street!”

  17. Thomas Barker says

    “That the term is offensive is really a frank admission that the activity is repulsive”. Well said, Misha.

    One has to wonder if the objections raised over “sodomy” and “sodomites” have less to do with defense of the politically correct lexicon, and more to do with the pricked conscience of the offended.

  18. Wow,

    Looks like I struck a nerve and hit pay dirt. Lots of thumbs up and all the right people were perturbed, must have said something spot on.

    Thanks, guys. It’s always good to be reassured.

    As to the tripe about homosexual activity not being condemned in the story of Sodom, it is a lie originated by the gay lobby. I recall a video I saw once (the cover, not the detestable contents) wherein Gene Robinson and Dick Gephardt try to explain that homosexuality is not actually condemned in the Bible or by Christianity. Tragic. Not that I follow Dante, but that type of twisted thinking is a straight ticket to the lowest rung.

    As others have pointed out, the Fathers have confirmed what should be obvious to all as the meaning of the story of Sodom. But those sola scripturites here (I jest, those who refuse to take the story on its face are not concerned about Scripture any more than Tradition), might look at the passages from Ezekiel and Jude mentioned in the article above which refer to the story of Sodom and make clear that it is about homosexuality. Regardless, the matter is settled in Orthodoxy. We don’t follow the latest newly minted fads but the consensus of the Fathers. Scholars can project whatever Truth they wish to create based on sophistry, it has nothing to do with Orthodoxy (Слава Богу!).

    It also seemed to ruffle Stankovich’s feathers that the language I and others used might be offensive to those fighting same sex attraction. All the better to punctuate how evil the sin they are resisting actually is. As to lesbians, I hadn’t mentioned them. However, of course, I agree with the Church’s teaching there as well.

    2 Peter 2:7

    “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:”

    Jude 1:4

    “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    • M. Stankovich says


      Looks like I struck a nerve and hit pay dirt. Lots of thumbs up and all the right people were perturbed, must have said something spot on. Thanks, guys. It’s always good to be reassured.

      This is my nomination for the 2013 Mouth-Breathing, Neck-Bearded, Self-Righteous Quote of the Year! It is also why I never fail to give you a heartfelt “thumbs-up” when I have finished reading your ego-serving posts because you obviously need them.

      This much I know: Ruffle my feathers, son? You? No, when an inmate once told me, “If I ever see you on the outside, I’ll beat the [****] outta you, cut off your pinkie finger & mail it to your wife.” Not that ruffled my feathers. You are typical of the element here that is “hardcore righteous” behind the anonymity of the internet, “traditionalist vigor,” appointed judge & jury of every element from the hierarchy down. And obviously “hardcore belligerent” behind the authority of the Scripture & the Canons – “take no prisoners” – and some how imagine you put others “in their place” by your assumption of a “Mark of Ephesus swagger”:

      It also seemed to ruffle Stankovich’s feathers that the language I and others used might be offensive to those fighting same sex attraction. All the better to punctuate how evil the sin they are resisting actually is.

      But the reality, Misha (or whomever you are), you would no more utter these words to a living human being – tête–à–tête – than you would reveal yourself here! Why? Because someone might punctuate you for your cowardice. You have neither the intellect nor wit to ruffle my feathers, and seriously, it is a lamentable, pitiful goal to begin with. On the last day of this year, better that we agree to pray for one another, that God would bless us both with forgiveness for these pointless exchanges.

      • Success again! I’m on a roll.

        How cowardly it is to project cowardice onto others, even suggesting that they would never say this or that to your face in public when you have never met them. I would be happy to say anything I have written on this or any other site to anyone here, lay or clergy, at any time, day or night. Your talk is quite cheap, Stankovich, and serves only as a distraction from the merits of these discussions, which are not affected by anonymity, ad hominems or your pointless blathering about “cowards/cowardice”.

        Isn’t macho posturing beneath someone of your “credentials”?

        • M. Stankovich says

          “Macho posturing,” you say, Misha?

          Il est très bien de jouer pendant un moment avec des fous – desserrer le cordon et ils s’élèvent dans l’air, vaste et impondérable, comme des ballons d’éléphants; tirer sur le cordon, et vers le bas, ils tombent au niveau de la terre, où ils tournoyer distraitement , ou rebondir sur en réponse à chaque secousse sur la corde, mais les imbéciles doivent être changés assez souvent ou le divertissement devient lassant…

          Step into the light and show me your “credentials,” Misha. Then we’ll discuss the merits of anonymity, ad hominems, and pointless blather on these discussions. Seriously, who respects a coward?

          • No one, Stankovich. That’s just my point. Resorting to calling someone a coward in place of addressing ideas, especially in a forum where the participants are likely never to meet makes one . . . a coward (as well as pointless), “. . . full of sound a fury, signifying nothing.”

            You challenge those here who criticize the highly questionable, sometimes deplorable, actions of certain bishops and call them cowards for not addressing these to the bishops, to their face. What, if the bishop brushes them off are they supposed to challenge him to step outside, tête–à–tête, to settle the question? Or again, if you write as if you’re perturbed or offended by the use of words like “sodomy” or “sodomite”, why then later deny it?

            If my anonymity annoys you, that’s too bad. It is only to a person who is full of hubris and thinks that some length of letters behind their name should settle an argument that anonymity equals cowardice. It is tantamount to robbing them of the only means by which they have to evaluate ideas, the recognition of academia. After all, how else are you to know whether two plus two should equal four or some other sum?

            “Хвалился черт всем миром владеть, а Бог ему и над свиньей не дал власти.”

            All the best

            • M. Stankovich says


              There is a significant difference between revealing “letters after one’s name,” and sharing who one is. Don’t play me. This issue is integrity and being personally responsible for “ownership” of one’s position. Misha, come on, already. You’re “voice got bass,” Misha? Hmm…

              • Stankovich,

                I’ll take your word for it.

                “Don’t play me.”

                Why not? That’s what Tiggers do best!


          • Thomas Barker says

            For those whose French is a bit rusty, I offer a translation of Monsieur Stankovich to English:

            “The opacity of my prose serves no purpose other than to conceal my objective, namely the normalization of homosexual behavior in the Orthodox Church. Most men are repulsed by the abominable act of sodomy. So I shall approach my subject obliquely, by degrees. Deep down I feel ashamed that I cannot declare my passions and loyalties in a forthright manner. Thus I hurl the word ‘coward’ at others with abandon, though an honest self-assessment might devastate my personal façade.”

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Barker,

              Your comment posed a great dilemma for me: on the one hand, my first reaction was rage, which, when it finally became clear as a defense, left me feeling such an emptiness & sadness. I have contributed many, many things to this site, but also endured more personal scrutiny than anyone I have seen in nearly three years of participating.

              What you wrote to me, Mr. Barker, “Deep down I feel ashamed that I cannot declare my passions and loyalties in a forthright manner,” is sourced in your own darkness. Deep down, Mr. Barker, this place has “obliquely, by degrees,” become a place, not of Christian encouragement, edification, “nourishment,” and support, but a place of vilification and darkness. I am done joining you in such darkness, if only to correct you.

              You are a rodent, Mr. Barker, and where you are, I am not. I needed a break from this fan club of mediocrity. But as always, accept the “thumbs-up” as a token of my thanks.

            • Thomas, you’re French is flawless.

            • Heracleides says

              Nail, head, score.

  19. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    I was glad to learn that the LA Weekly is still around; however, I find the crook’s daughter’s exhibitionism to be entirely reprehensible. She’s an apple that hardly fell off the tree, let alone far from it! But hey, if someone is the Wolf of Wall Street’s daughter and doesn’t get any publicity out of it she wouldn’t belong in the show-off Hollywood she so melodramatically/hysterically condemns.

  20. cynthia curran says

    I said that some Greek fathers had misread the story of Sodom, misled by the Hellenist Philo. Many Latin ones, too, most influentially Augustine of Hippo.

    Actually, it was the emperor Justinian that referred to God punishing Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexual behavior in fact its brought up by Gays that he said so. It might be a reference in his law codes.

  21. cynthia curran says

    The US State sodomy laws, IMHO, would have been constitutional if decriminalized with only an attached fine, as well as a restriction of homosexual propaganda in our schools and a ban on homosexual coupels adopting children. I nor no one that I know would be in favor of life imprisonment of men and women who engae in homosexulaity or any tupe of imprisonment as we had under our sodomy laws in the past. Nor would I support any job discrimination based on one’s sexuality. To even raise that question (i.e. imprisonment and/or discrimination) to me or to any one on this board shows your complete devotion to the god of homosexuality.

    Well neither do I. Adulterers can have jobs and so forth. I was unaware that it was life imprisonment. I thought by the 1960’s gays were thrown into jail for a short period.

  22. cynthia curran says

    Apparently what you are missing in my commentary is that the book from which this very small quotation is excized is a truly fascinating examination of the “layer” of sexually mutilated individuals – eunuchs – who significantly influenced Byzantine culture. And as the quote I provided from St. Andrew would indicate, not necessarily in negative ways.
    This is true, Narses the famous general was one but he was originally from outside the Byzantine empire.` Lots of offices in the Byzantine Empire were held by Eunuchs but the law was against castration and in the earlier period like the 6th century they came from outside the Empire. Probably Eunuchs were prized in the imperial court since they were considered less of a threat to the Emperor since the Emperor could not have mutilations and also at least in theory have the ability to produce children. Also, Eunuchs were probably trusted in the Empress court as well since they could not have an affair with the empress.

  23. I wasn’t sure where to lob this little gem so I decided, a bit tongue and cheek, that it might fit underneath religious freedom: