Another Response to Myself (Wink, Wink)

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A thought-provoking essay sent to me by a certain Ivan Swift. (As always, Monomakhos welcomes thoughtful essays for publication.)

By Fr. Robert Lachanodrakon

It is melancholy to modern souls who traverse Orthodox Christian writings, from diverse centuries, languages, and lands, to countenance such unity of thought, such devotion to Tradition, such a yearning for sacred purity that transcends any worldly culture. One might think that the Truth really was handed down once for all by the Apostles; that the unchanging message was never to be improved; that self-styled Orthodox are impervious to the mores of this age.

But behold, new, courageous voices emerge, such as expressed in this essay, which, penned by an prominent Orthodox clergyman who has no fear of Fathers, Confessors, or Bishops, living or dead, fell into my hands. A similar essay by a namesake, published two years prior, will strike not a few readers as some sort of coincidence, although what exactly I shall not speculate. Both arguments, however, aligned in learning, logic, and clarity, will no doubt bring much comfort and boldness to those who love our present culture above all others. —Ivan Swift, Jan. 2013

Is the legalization of public nudity a threat to the Orthodox Church’s stance on decorum? This question is again becoming the focus of many Orthodox Christians in light of the recent passage by numerous state legislatures to legalize nudity, as a first-amendment right, in all public places.

As a priest in a state where nudity has been legal for some time, the law of the land has never intruded upon my ministry nor has it sought to alter the Church’s vision and theology of dress. That some Orthodox Christians feel obliged to voice their opposition to public nudity for fear that the Church will inevitably be coerced to comply and therefore oblige the public with nudist-friendly liturgies seems premature. On the one hand, civil law does not and will not become the standard for what takes place within the precincts of the Church. (Please do not recall the Ottoman era, the Soviet period, etc. Encroachments such as happened then are by definition impossible in our land of liberty.) On the other hand, the legalizing of nudity in some of our states offers the faithful the opportunity to reflect on the long and complex history of clothing within the Church.

Beginning with our Lord’s public ministry, the Gospel accounts reveal that what he understood clothing to be was not quite in tune with that of the Pharisees. This is especially clear in discussion about vestments. The Pharisees justified their clothing based on the authority of Scripture in the person of Moses. Christ responds: “They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.” (Mt. 23:5) In the same Gospel an additional detail is contained in Jesus’ response: “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?”(Mt. 6:28-30)

While the Pharisees and Sadducees argued with Christ over the nature of clothing, in the case of the Matthew the discussion focuses on the worthiness of those that by are by nature disposed not to adorn themselves with clothes. The Pauline letters indicate that the great missionary grappled with issues relative to nudity in light of what he anticipated to be the imminent second coming of our Lord. Combing the Pauline corpus regarding garments one is struck by the inconsistency of the missionary’s message. For example, was the raiment on a woman’s head to be encouraged or discouraged? (1 Cor. 11) St. Paul is silent on clothing when he discusses how the Christian should be armored for spiritual warfare, an odd omission. (Eph. 6) He seems to be of two minds about clothing when he meditates on the Resurrection, eagerly anticipating heavenly clothing, but holding out as a possibility not to be discounted the desirability of an unclothed state in this life: “For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:1-4)

St. Paul is, typically, confusing and unclear. Because he was a missionary his approach (or approaches) to clothing should not be perceived as a systematic treatment of the subject. As the Apostle to the Gentiles, he was encountering the new and unexpected not as a Jew but as a Jewish Christian newly converted to the crucified and risen Lord. Over the course of centuries the Church continued to face new and unexpected challenges. The canons of our Church attest to this fact especially when it comes to clothing. Once the symphonia between Church and State was established the ideal of dress would eventually be undermined not from without but from within the confines of the Church.

In spite of the many holy traditions and examples seeking to strike a balance between degrees of dress and which sought to protect underdressed and less-clothed laity and clergy (e.g. the Baptism of Christ, St. Mary of Egypt, both of which attest to early proclivities to public nudity) from abundantly clothed extremists, the balance inevitably tipped toward the latter. A striking example of this imbalance are the many-layered, complex elements of the Bishop’s vesting ceremony that creeped into the Liturgy. The superiority of vestments over less-cumbersome, secular clothing for clergy continues to be a prevailing ethos for many in the Orthodox Church.

Dress was not the only challenge the Church would have to face with regards to the place of clothing in society. The issue of slavery also drew the Church and Christian State into new waters. While Christianity contributed to a more humane treatment of slaves, slavery remained an established institution which, for the most part, was necessary for maintaining the natural order. From a Christian perspective this meant that slavery was a social phenomenon established by God. The Letter to the Colossians helps to make this point. St. Paul implicitly states that the relationship between slave and master is just as important as the relationship between wives and husbands, children and parents. (3:18-25) Slavery was a cornerstone in the foundation of a well ordered society. That St. Paul returns the runaway slave Onesimus to his owner – presumably Philemon a “fellow worker” in the Gospel – also shows that slavery as an institution was not to be tampered with. (Philemon 8ff) Parenthetically, one has to ask how the return of Onesimus to his owner stands in relation to Deuteronomic teaching: “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you…”(23:15)

By the 4th century slavery as a component of natural law began to be articulated in the writings of the Church Fathers. Yet, with regards to slavery, natural law was understood as a product of sin. As such, slavery was sustained by God’s will as punishment due to human folly and transgression. As Chrysostom misguidedly stressed, from the beginning God created all men free but because of sin, war and greed slavery ensued. (Eph. Hom. 24)

As the Fathers, both East and West, stumbled blindly, trying to figure out the nature and source of slavery the slave continued to hold the legal and social status as a non-person. Among other things, this meant that slaves could not marry. While St. Gregory of Nazianzus condemned slavery he remained a slave owner who, in his will, offered them their freedom and personhood. St. Basil the Great saw slavery as a necessary evil. St. Theodore of Studios forbade monks to possess slaves and yet slave holding monasteries were not unknown. Canon 3 of the Council of Gangra anathematized those who encouraged slaves to flee their masters. What idiots.

The slave as a non-person also comes across in various hagiographies. In these accounts the freeing of slaves owned by a holy person was not first and foremost an act of charity but a way to dispose of property. (cf. the hagiographies of St. Melania the Younger and St. Symeon the Fool) It would take a period of about a thousand years before civil and ecclesiastical law, adopting principles rooted in the non-Christian, secular axioms of the Enlightenment, would bestow upon slaves the status of person, which in turn allowed them to marry in the Church. Indeed, when God so wills the natural order is overcome. Or so we must conclude, now that we realize that the Fathers, typically unreliable, fundamentally screwed up one of the most basic, obvious teachings about human nature.

Given our Church’s biblical, patristic, liturgical and canonical sources, conflicting and benighted, one eventually detects that there is no universally consistent and accepted teaching on clothing as to its origin, purpose and goal. Is it prelapsarian or postlapsarian? Is it eternal or temporal? Is it dissoluble or indissoluble? Is it legally binding, ecclesiastically or civilly, to wear clothes? Are they an accommodation to human passion — a form of legalized window-shopping — and therefore subordinate to the nudity of the holy fool, or are they gates of the Kingdom, leading to salvation? Each question has been answered in two ways, yes and no.

If the Church is going to respond to the legalization of nudity it seems that it should begin by considering how to minister to those people who, recognizing that they cannot change their natural disposition to public nudity, knock on the doors of our parishes seeking Christ. Do we ignore them? Do we, prima facie, turn them away? Do we, under the rubric of repentance, force them or other non-Christian nudists in their family to clothe? Or, do we offer them, as we offer anyone desiring Christ, pastoral care, love and a spiritual home?

Indeed, the Church has never sailed these uncharted waters. But our history teaches us that what is new need not compromise Christ who is the “same yesterday, today and forever.”

©2013 Father Robert Lachanodrakon


  1. Henry Chinaski says

    This seems like a modest proposal.

    • Archpriest Jo hn Morris says

      Is this article some sort of sick joke?

      • Yes, Fr. Morris, it clearly is. Not being of a generation whose first inclination is to perform a Google search or check everything with Snopes and having thoroughly missed the “wink wink” as evidenced by my comment below, I myself was taken in by the author’s uncanny ability to capture the spirit of what regretfully all-too-often passes for Orthodox scholarship and ‘pastoral care’ these days.

      • Fr. John,
        This article was originally written by a priest-without the nudity sarcasm. It is a very serious proposal and one that people on this web site and elsewhere have been trying to warn everyone about. This direction is the direction the OCA has been turning to for a while. Because the faithful are not hungry to understand their faith and because of the climate of the culture they are lambs being led into confusion, inconsistency and immorality-willingly.

      • Trudge at SmartVote says

        Father John,

        Here is Fr. Robert Arida’s original statement, the target of the satire:

        Father Arida is rector at Archbishop Nikon’s Cathedral in Boston:

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I now see the point of the article. It was sarcasm. I read Fr. Arida’s article and am also confused at what he is proposing. Actually the acceptance of same sex marriage by a state changes nothing. We are already counter cultural. We do not accept the values of our secular society that glorifies personal reason, the quest for pleasure or self-fulfillment above all else and the rejection that there are unchangeable moral values. Therefore, same sex marriage is just one more way in which we as Orthodox Christians are counter cultural. We are called to be in this world but not of this world. Our Lord said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19

          • Carl Kraeff says

            The important paragraph for me was:

            “If the Church is going to respond to the legalization of same sex marriage/union it seems
            that it should begin by considering how to minister to those same sex couples who being
            legally married come with their children and knock on the doors of our parishes seeking
            Christ. Do we ignore them? Do we, prima facie, turn them away? Do we, under the rubric
            of repentance, encourage them to divorce and dismantle their family? Or, do we offer
            them, as we offer anyone desiring Christ, pastoral care, love and a spiritual home?”

            I think that he is right that we need to figure out how to respond. I would think that we would not ignore them or turn them away. I would think that we would provide pastoral care, love and a spiritual home–but not to them as a couple. That would not be something that is according to the Holy Scriptures, Canons or Tradition–in short, it would not be the approach of any Orthodox Church that I can think of.

            • Personally, I believe Noah’s two sons, Shem and Japheth, would provide an appropriate example for us. Of course, that only helps with the spoof on what to do with nudists.

              But seriously, this is not as complicated as Fr. Arida would have us believe. The Church provides a “spiritual home” for repentant sinners, but she does not provide this “home” in order to allow us to feel comfortable in our sin, nor does she allow us to be members of Christ while in the midst of unrepentance. In spite of all the foolish rhetoric to the contrary, we cannot save the world by ‘sensitivity’ and accommodation, nor should we countenance Fr. Arida’s implicit redefinition of a what a family is. Same sex couples do not come “with their children.” There is no “their” about these children.

              It is simple. We welcome them, and when their circumstance is known we invite them to repent. If they are unwilling to do so, they are not “seeking Christ.” And if we welcome them into the Eucharist in spite of their refusal to repent, then neither are we.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Sure. We are of the same mind as long as we understand that it is not the laity’s function.

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                Well said, Brian. Fr. Arida’s proposed “dilemma” is, for any clear-thinking Orthodox acquainted with the Orthodox moral tradition, not a dilemma at all.

    • An IMmodest proposal, as the case may be.

  2. Brilliant!

  3. Sean Richardson says

    A very nicely written and thoughtful consideration of a difficult topic. Two things you said appealed to me: “…civil law does not and will not become the standard for what takes place within the precincts of the Church.” Amen! Secondly, your conclusion. We need to begin to see the vision of Christ and His Holy Church, in this case, WWJD might apply. In my humble estimation, we must see The Church as the Kingdom of God and we must see our role as ministers in brining people into the Kingdom. This, necessarily, forces us to deal with challenges, because people coming out of our “civil” society do not, yet, know or carry with them the “standard for what takes place within the … Church”.

    Thank you for directly addressing a difficult subject and asking us to prayerfully consider an approach.

  4. Ladder of Divine Ascent says

    “If the Church is going to respond to the legalization of nudity it seems that it should begin by considering how to minister to those people who, recognizing that they cannot change their natural disposition to public nudity, knock on the doors of our parishes seeking Christ.”

    Next stop the public masturbators, public fornicators, public urinators and defecators, who recognize they cannot change their natural disposition to the natural urges of public masturbation, fornication, urination and defecation. Because opening the door to sodomy means breaking the door which means there is no door against anything at all.

    • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

      But seriously,once gay marriage becomes law of the land,how can we then prevent the Moslem,who is allowed by his faith to have up to four wives at one time,from practicing polygamy?Then the Mormon offshoots who also practice this,could become legitimate.

  5. Trudge at SmartVote says

    Thank you Ivan. A well-executed and well-deserved lampoon. But Fr. Arida would receive more than a lampoon if the OCA was functioning properly as Shepherds.

    I also got a history lesson out of it:
    Michael Lachanodrakon was a distinguished Byzantine general and fanatical supporter of Byzantine Iconoclasm under Emperor Constantine V (r. 741–775).

  6. Yet another example of why the label “Orthodox” before the word priest increasingly means little until his fruits are known.

    “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus [and apparently Fr. Robert Lachanodrakon] are of this sort…”

    God deliver us from priest-fools who dare to call our God-bearing Fathers “idiots”

    “…men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith…”

  7. Well, these nudist need to know, that when one grows in the church, and is working out one salvation ; no matter how natural and free the state may be, there is a certain way to. Behave as an orthodox christian. I gave up neing a fornicator, I thimk they can suffer some undies, then mabey.a sock or two. Who knows, mabey one day a full set of clothing! With the mirical of babtisim, it is.amazing how one can change!

  8. Well, the first bone I have here is that this writer does not go into Chrysostom’s relation with slavery and rather contorts the picture. I believe St. John set all his slaves free in his life time because he felt so strongly against it except one or two which he needed to function, freeing them at his death.

  9. M. Stankovich says

    Having read this afternoon the musings of an Orthodox priest who is studying the medieval service of “ἀδελφοποίησις” or “brother-making” (“brother-joining”) between monastics (some help with the translation, Mr. Papoutsis, as I suspect it is a colloquialism rather than a literal translation) – which most assuredly was not a sexual union. He believes that “as the Church saw the need to create a service for second heterosexual marriages, it needs to create such a service for same-sex couples.” This strikes me as a frank proposal. Therefore, for the number of times I have read Fr. Robert’s essay, I am unable to grasp what exactly he is thought to be “proposing.”

    I read his analytical demonstration of what, at face value, appears to be conflicting understandings of Christian marriage – and I would add, the near-identical questions of the conflicts raised in the parallel development of monasticism & empire are raised by Fr. Florovsky in “Antinomies of Christian History: Empire and Desert” – but my questions are resolved in Fr. Meyendorff’s discussion of Canons & Oikonomia in Byzantine Theology. All that remains is his pastoral question of what to do with a same-gender couple familes, presumably meaning with children, who are civilly married by statute (and perhaps by another denomination in a religious ceremony). It does not strike me as far from the the question I posed here myself: what to do pastorally with someone who has already undergone gender-reassignment surgery, and would now repent? The supposition is that Fr. Robert is “proposing” a “paradigm shift” in eternal Truth and Tradition to accommodate “uncharted waters.” This, in my estimation, is taking gross liberty and a hearty invention, because it is simply not found in this simple, tentative essay.

    • Trudge at SmartVote says

      M. Stankovich,

      Your and Father Arida’s statements demonstrate why gay marriage is a destructive social policy, and should be opposed with all energy by any who claim allegiance to Christ and to good sense.

      It only leads to confusion and tentativeness from those who should be standard-bearers of Truth and Tradition. If a priest can’t figure it out, how will ordinary people?

      Instead of Fr. Arida providing a dose of moral clarity, plumbing the Scriptures and Church Fathers and the heart of Orthodox Tradition so that all could see its goodness by bringing a ray of light on the nature, purpose and problems of our created and marred sexuality, he succumbed to the confusion of the gay marriage mess and promoted sympathy for the Anti-Christian and Anti-American forces at work. And from what I saw of how it went down among the Episcopalians, that was the purpose of Fr. Arida’s essay, and why it and other pro-gay links are posted prominently on the cathedral site.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Trudge at SmartVote,

        I do not recall making a statement regarding “gay marriage” ever, but be my guest searching, should you wish. More importantly, I have maintained the same, unchanging, identical position regarding Orthodox anthropology and sexuality for 18 months, insisting there is no contradiction with the Scripture, Patristical Fathers, Canonical Fathers, or Holy Tradition. I do not promote myself as a “standard-bearer of Truth and Tradition,” but rely on the Fathers and the fathers of our generation. I have openly invited correction of errors in theology and in human medicine, because in my mind, inaccuracy does, in fact, “lead to confusion and tentativeness,” and it is essential to be correct, rather than to simply appear “authoritative.” In that 18-months, Trudge at SmartVote, no one has challenged me pursuant to substance.

        You offer interpretation and “intrigue” without a shred of evidence or corroboration with fact – even so bold as to presume “purpose” from a man I’ll bet you have never met nor experienced the content of his heart. Let me repeat myself from above: you are, in my estimation, taking gross liberty and a hearty invention, because it is simply not found in this simple, tentative essay. This is not “thoughtful consideration,” this is dumb.

        • Michael Bauman says

          MS, a whole lot of people have challenged you on substance but you refuse to acknowledge it because, for you, substance rests only with your scientistic interpretation of so-called facts. Its a nice game when you decide what the rules are an only your statements meet the rules. Its all hogwash. Nothing needs to change in the Church to deal with any of the anthropological anomolies that the world is triying to foist on us as normal. The approach is tried, true and unchanging. The course that Peter outlines below.

          There is not lack of acceptance of sinners in the Church, only those who refuse to acknowledge themselves sinners, broken and in need of healing.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Bauman,

            You have never, not one single time spoken to substance! Never. Please, Mr. Bauman, I challenge you: disprove one single medical issue, one biogentic or epigenetic statement, one endocronological report I have offered as hogwash. Show with Scripture or Patristic source anything I have said that is in contradiction to the Orthodox Faith. Post one single statement I have made suggesting anything in the Church must change! One statement that anything I have described is normal and not directly consequential to this fallen, broken, calamitous world!

            And when your finished with your mouth full of all the right phrases of “repentance,” “open to healing,” and the broken world, hop on a plane and spend a few days with me on a whirlwind to prison, shelter, crisis house, and ER and you can instruct me on just how we translate your “dynamo hum” of buzzwords into action. I am the first to admit that my faith is so weak that I am unable to raise one of the sick and suffering from the pavement upon which they sleep, or from the broken, junked wheelchairs they push to the church-sponsored “feeds.” But apparently my “hogwash” – summarized in promoting the notion that we are all called to a life of chastity, purity, holiness, and wholemindedness in the fullness of the Church as the fountain of healing – is nothing more than some supposed “scientific interpretation of so-called facts.” So, Mr. Bauman, here’s your chance: Put up or shut up.

            • Michael Bauman says

              MS, I have consistently questioned your fundamental anthropology and the other assumptions underlying your presentation. You deny those as substantive, but basic logic tells me that one’s assumptions are the heart of substance. But, again, you have a paradigm that you cherish and believe in so anything that is outside your paradigm is unsubstantial. You “win” because you set the rules as to what is substantial and what is not, what is a ‘fact’ and what is not. Anything you disagree with is neither substantial nor a fact. Even your cut and past quotes from the Fathers are evaluated and interpreted from within your paradigm.

              When questioned, you lapse into ad hominum vitriole and claim an authority you don’t have simply because you were a student of so fine and faithful men who are no longer here to hold you to account. Such behavior is normally considered an indication that you have indeed ‘lost’ the battle.

              Within your paradigm, I am sure your are quite right and your ‘facts’ all align. It is the substance of your praadigm that I question and that seems to me, and others, to be outside the traditional teaching of the Church.

              You have consistently refused to engage those questions.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Bauman,

                Nothing. You consistently present, empty, rhetorical, mind-numbing, repetitive, $5 hoo-hah nothing. You criticize based on nothing. You would place me outside the Tradition of the Church, previously even accusing me of undermining, all based on nothing. Elsewhere you have claimed I “worship at the altar of science,” claimed “there is no objective scientific truth,” suggested I have “created a paradigm” (I wish!), and should turn to gardening to “save my soul.” And you justify these grandiose, “mark of the Inquisitor” judgments – you know what’s coming – on nothing. And now, after enduring 18-months of your unfounded, unsupported, and unsubstantiated diagnosis of heresy, delusion, and the “fast lane to hell,” you would complain of “ad hominum vitriol” by being asked to put up or shut up?

                Don’t read my posts. Your world will be better for it. Steep in the dark & broken castigation that becomes you. End of conflict.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  MS, like Mr Bauman, I’ve tried to read your posts. He’s right –they’re impenetrable. And I’m not dense, I had to read cinder block-sized books like Goodman and Gilman’s Pharmacalogical Basis of Therapeutics which are so soporific that they’re coma-inducing.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    I take commentary & critique very seriously. For example, a poster here noted the combination of colors on my site made it difficult to read for aging viewers & those with corrected vision, etc. I changed the colors to simple dark text on a light background. The readers of my thesis at SVS noted that the style was “dense,” requiring several re-readings to appreciate. In response, I now write, and purposely edit to remove 50% of what I’ve written. The point is that the discussion regards style, reading level, reducing concepts to a general reader, etc. It is an historical issue, and I take no offense.

                    My “complaint” is that there is a profound difference between “impenetrable” and being “outside the traditional teaching of the Church.” As I’ve noted, in other settings, Mr. Bauman has been bold enough to refer to my “hogwash” as outright heresy, and undermining the moral teachings of the Church. Perhaps the seriousness of such statements escape many – and him, I suspect – because it suggests beliefs and teachings separating one from the Saving Grace of the Body of Christ. What is the way of the Fathers in such matters? To confront the “accused” with his own words; to demonstrate his specific “missing the mark,” and the teachings by which he removes himself from the Church. Show me error. Plain & simple. Show me.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Of course there is a difference between “impenetrable” and “outside the traditional teaching of the Church” but if enough people are telling you your essays are impenetrable, they probably are.

                      A clear thesis statement would help clear up whether the confusion exists on the reader’s end or yours. .

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      You posit that homosexuality is an unchangeable genenic condition and should be treated as such, at least that is what you seem to say. Bp Basil specifically said that such was not the teaching of the Church. It is the materialistic anthropology to which you resort which is not in accord with the teaching of the Church as materialism of all types has been condemned.

                      A materialistic anthropology renders the rest of your points moot especially when you leap from there to suggesting, but never proposing specifically, some sort of change to the ‘pastoral’ approach the Church takes toward homosexuals. That leads me and others to believe that you would prefer an accomodation for active homosexuals that is simply not in the tradition of the Church.

                      When questioned repeatedly on this by me and Fr. Hans you lapse into long tirades instead of just answering clarifying as requested. Given your ad hominum responses, it is only logical to assume our interpretation is the correct one.

                      That is the crux of our disagreement, it has always been the crux of our disagreement. It is a disagreement of substance and one which you have consistently and repeatedly avoided engaging.

                      I have apologized for my previous intemperate language toward you and I do so once again. Forgive me for the excess. If I have misinterpreted, I ask once again for a direct response that is not filled with hyperbolic flourishes and emotional vitriol.

                      BTW, I quite agree with you that the best approach is to articulate, progate and live a high understanding of Christian marriage that includes a clear practice of sexual restraint which you seemed to suggest on AOI.

                    • Hmmm, I have no problem understanding what you write though, I have the decoder ring.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On August 22, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

                      Mr. Bauman,

                      Homosexuality is not iconoclasm of the worst kind. Homosexuality is defined as “same-sex attraction.” Sexual activity between members of the same gender” is not synonymous with homosexuality. Genetic researchers no longer use the criterion of “same-sex activity” (e.g. number of same-gender sexual partners) in order to “confirm” homosexuality; they were surprised at the number of males who reported engaging in same-gender sexual activity, but did not identify themselves as “homosexual.” They now ask about “attraction” and “fantasy content.” It is same-gender sexual activity that is sinful; “same-sex attraction” is the podvig, the Cross to be borne. I believe I made this point above: the blurring of this distinction, intentional or not, is truly lamentable.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On August 21, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

                      You and “Gay. Inc.” have built identical arguments that rise or fall on the presumption that there would exist a single, known, intransient DNA sequence on a specific chromosome – a “genetic marker.” This would be appropriate if you were arguing earlobe attachment, tongue rolling, Duchenne/Becker Muscular Dystrophy, Fragile-X Syndrome, or Sickle Cell Anemia (and the existence of approximately 6,000 other known conditions), as their existence rely solely on a single gene – thus said to be “phenotypic.” This is simple, classic Mendelian Inheritance. The problem, however, is that the more complex the phenotype, or trait, becomes, the less likely its association with a single gene – thus said to be “polygenic” – and in contrast to Mendelian Inheritance. I have written (above, below, who knows!) that it is my opinion that a single gene specific to homosexuality will never be found, but that is significantly different than saying there is no “heritability” to homosexuality.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On August 19, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

                      I fully agree that there is no “gay gene,” and I believe it reasonable to suspect that a single genetic determinant wil never be found for most “disorders.” But perhaps you could explain why there is no “height gene,” “skin color gene,” or “body mass gene?” Or why my maternal-grandmother succumbed to an adenocarcinoma of the colon, my mother survived an adenocarcinoma of the colon, and I myself survived an adenocarcinoma of the colon; I do not carry any of the known genetic errors, yet, I am considered to have a “heritable” cancer

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On August 26, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

                      I have made absolutely no comment or insinuation suggesting that homosexuality is anything other than disorder and in opposition to the creation “as it was in the beginning.” Neither have I made any argument, in any shape or fashion, that would suggest I believe homosexuality or same-sex attraction to be “normal” or, for that matter, to be “normalized.”

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 23, 2011 @ 12:14 am

                      Fr. John [Whiteford],

                      Let’s be “crystal,” shall we: I do not believe, nor have I ever suggested, hinted, intimated, or implied, that it is possible to “sanctify” same-gender relationships akin, likened to, or analogous to the sacrament of marriage. I would have thought this obvious, but apparently I was wrong. I say again, I being to resent this tone of questioning as somehow suggesting there will come an “Aha! J’accuse!” moment. There will not be, and I stand by my integrity. I do, however, appreciate your questioning me directly.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 22, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

                      For the record, Fr. John, I have consistently stated I do not believe that SSA, in and of itself, is sinful; tempered by, and appreciating the fact that, like all traits and conditions in our fallen humanity, in our broken creation, it is the consequence of sin. Secondly, I have consistently and unwaveringly held that sexual activity, in any form, outside the God-created and God-provided sacrament of holy marriage is in direct opposition to the Scripture, Patristical teachings of the Fathers, and the fundamental Tradition of the Church.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 22, 2011 @ 12:15 am

                      Mr. Bauman,

                      You have crossed a line that I find especially disconcerting, astonishingly repugnant, and which saddens me terribly. You would refer to me as “monstrous,” denying the “person of Jesus Christ” and the “eschatological teachings of the Church,” and analogize my writings with “pornography?”

                      In a matter of a handful of posts on a blog you liken to a pornography site, you boldly accede to a “special insight” into my very thoughts, motivations, and heart, attempting to establish standing in the language of what Met. Anthony (Bloom) referred to as, “churchianity” ; hearing the music but missing the lyrics. I am greatly hurt by your lack of restraint and simple charity, and your attribution to me of things you could not possible know. I urge you to re-evaluate your boundaries.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 25, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

                      Most impor­tantly, our human genome – con­sti­tut­ing the entire “set” of the genetic cod­ing instruc­tions of inher­i­tance – must, of neces­sity, be first ref­er­enced to the cre­ation, “as it was in the begin­ning,” κατ’εἰκόνα θεοῦ (Gen 1:27), in the very image of God (and I take this to refer, as well, to the Lord’s body after the Resurrection; to be cer­tain, accord­ing to St. John of Damascus, “it was a real body,” but “changed”) What will be describe here, how­ever, is a fallen and bro­ken human­ity, brought to us by our first par­ents, into a bro­ken and fallen world. It fur­ther seems impor­tant to acknowl­edge that some her­i­ta­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics, as we shall see, are believed to be a direct result of our inter­ac­tion with this bro­ken world.

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 23, 2011 @ 4:13 am

                      In my “borrowing” of the thought of Met. Kallistos – and there is a similar quotation of Fr. G. Florovsky on the opening to the blog where I participate – I would specifically note to you that you do not find the words, nor the implication, nor the instruction, nor the advocacy of “change,” amendment, revision, or reconsideration of the eternal Truth and Tradition of the Orthodox Church. These are your interpretations; a projection of your fears; and apparently your uncanny ability to both “lie detect” by inflection and smell demons, but most certainly are not my words. If you would fashion me to be a “renovationist” or apologist for the acceptance of behaviour that contradicts both Orthodox anthropology and Tradition, you are wildly mistaken.

                      This is impenetrable? This is hogwash and heresy? This is “hyperbolic flourishes and emotional vitriol?” This is coma-inducing Goodman and Gilman’s Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics? Seriously?

                      Jane Rachel: M. Stankovich whispers. “Who the hell is Kenneth R. Tobin, who is he to me, and why should I care?”

                      Anna Rowe: If you send in two more barcodes from Cheerios boxes, I will send you the 2-way wrist radio AND a photo of me and Gov. Jerry Brown as he signs the proclamation for “I (heart) Anna Rowe Day” Congratulations!

                    • M. Stankovich,
                      Clearly you need to make your posts more “ducky-horsey”.

                    • M. Stankovich,
                      “I now write, and purposely edit to remove 50% of what I’ve written. ”
                      I’ll avoid the obvious cheap shots (to borrow an Americanism), but I do respectfully suggest that your writing style still stands in need of more openness and clarity…or, shall we say, “reader friendliness”? We’ve been over this ground before and I take your words above regarding homosexuality at face value, but others misunderstand you, I’m sure, because your prose appears so impenetrable to the casual reader, which – let’s face it – most readers of blogs are. The format does not really serve close reading and argument.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Basil, I “get” what he’s saying. I also take his “words above regarding homosexuality at face value.” I’ve read his articles. I don’t read him “casually.” I don’t “misunderstand” him. I don’t need a decoder ring..

                      Stankovich is not impenetrable. He is evasive.

                      I don’t like smart-alecky, “I am superior because I have a degree in la-dee-dah and you don’t,” religiosity. I don’t like it when people verbally slap people in the face to discredit them. It’s especially distasteful when it’s subtle. It’s a tactic, I realize, but it sheds far more light on the character of the person who’s doing the slapping than it does on the receiver of the slap.

                      I don’t believe humans have the corner on truth, so I have no personal desire to judge what he’s supposedly saying about homosexuality. I’ll leave that part up to Fr. Hans Jacobse and others.

                      I believe I remember reading that Anna Rowe doesn’t like it that Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell refused to give Communion to a lesbian couple. Now she comes into this discussion and makes a couple of cute, “I’m-smarter-than-you-are” remarks. Michael and Anna Can’t Be Wrong; after all, it’s the rest of us.

                      Michael Stankovich’s long-time friends are Archbishop Benjamin Peterson, Father John Jillions, Fr. Robert Arida, Father Alexis Vinogradov, Mark Stokoe, and Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. Read what they have written. Look at their track records. Look at their history within the OCA. We know what they are saying. It’s not rocket science.

                    • “Stankovich is not impenetrable. He is evasive.”

                      His writing is not impenetrable, but it is often opaque, JR, to the point of appearing impenetrable to the casual reader, as I said. I don’t know MS personally and do not know enough about his past writings to make the judgment that he is evasive or purposely obfuscates in order to conceal the truth of his positions and further a harmful agenda. Therefore, I’m inclined to be charitable – that is my modus operandi in life generally. Some call it foolish but it keeps my conscience clear. Good on you if you take the time to wade through his website; personally, my eyes would glaze over within minutes. I do enough reading of poor writing in my profession not to want to spend my leisure hours doing the same! I do not move in OCA circles and do not know any of the people whose names you mention, except by mention on this website, with the exception of one. I take it they are all proponents of revision of the church’s teaching on homosexuality? How tragically sad for the OCA.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Jane Rachel,

                      You have never laid eyes on me nor heard my voice. As near as I can tell, your “knowledge” of me is completely and totally derived from words arranged on a monitor, and considerably fashioned by the words others have written about me, whose “knowledge” of me is less than or equal to yours. So honestly, you do not “know” me from anyone on this earth! And yet, you would somehow presume to grasp my motivations, my intent, my sincerity, my ego strength, my ability for compassion & empathy, my integrity, in other words, the content of my heart, from Google! And while that alone would be interesting enough, you take this a step further, believing it justified, even responsible, to develop an entire essay to dog me to my face in a public forum. Nice touch.

                      You suggest I am “evasive,” as in purposeful, as if a manipulation. Show me. Quote me. Cite me. If you would correct me, correct me. I know what I have written; I know my motivation & purpose and have stated it; and as I have said from the beginning, I stand by my integrity.

                    • Jane Rachel says


                      Heck no, you don’t come across as manipulative in the least, and I mean that. You seem sincere, you appear to have integrity, to stand by what you believe, and to have a lot of compassion and empathy. My “essay” was directed towards your smart-alecky, “you have no clue” -type remarks, and those I can find a-plenty. Those types of remarks seem unnecessary, and they have nothing to do with the discussion, which is very important.

                      “Evasive” as in “Tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation, esp. by responding only indirectly.” As in not answering this question directly:

                      “I would like to know whether Mr. Stankovich believes the Orthodox Church should eventually make it official (or write a statement or something like that), to the effect that Orthodox people who are sexually active outside marriage should be sanctioned by the Church to receive Communion regularly and participate fully in the Sacraments, even while remaining sexually active outside marriage. Of course this includes homosexuals. (I may not have worded that very well, so if you decide to reply, please reply to the gist of what I’m trying to ask.).”

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Jane Rachel,

                      In a post above, I had highlighted especially for you to see, my direct response to Fr. John Whiteford:

                      Posted By M. Stankovich On October 22, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

                      I have consistently and unwaveringly held that sexual activity, in any form, outside the God-created and God-provided sacrament of holy marriage is in direct opposition to the Scripture, Patristical teachings of the Fathers, and the fundamental Tradition of the Church.

                      As to the matter of individuals being “sanctioned by the Church to receive Communion regularly and participate fully in the Sacraments, even while remaining sexually active outside marriage,” I am neither a priest nor a pastor, and grateful not to be responsible for such decisions. Fr. Thomas Hopko – who was a parish priest while a faculty member at SVS – summarizes this relationship of confessor/penitent marvelously in his talk found on the Ancient Faith Network, and I have quoted him directly on this site. Search my comments. I would further refer you to Fr. Meyendorff’s Byzantine Theology, specifically the section dealing with “Canons & Oikonomia.” This would give you some insight into the reasons the Church has no “policy statements” on the terms of repentance in the transcendent intimacy of the relationship of the confessor & penitent.

                      I cannot recall the number of times I have stated that I am not an “original thinker.” I truly wish I could lay claim to the ideas I have presented, but the fact is, I was not blessed with this gift. Whatever “superiority” you seem to experience is not mine, I assure you, because my “gift,” as it was, was the ability to listen, learn, and by repetition, comprehend and remember. Nothing more, nothing less. But at this, I excel.

                    • Jane Rachel says


                      In the midst of the fray, I managed to miss that. Thank you for re-posting it.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    “Ooh! ooh!” (raises hand in the peanut gallery, waves it wildly about)

                    Wanting to try to understand, I googled something or other just now, I think it was “Michael Stankovich” + Arida -monomakhos. I was directed to a discussion that took place in the comments section on discussion on Father Vinogradov’s article. Does this help to clarify Mr. Stankovich’s position, or would it help the stalemate?

                    I would like to know whether Mr. Stankovich believes the Orthodox Church should eventually make it official (or write a statement or something like that), to the effect that Orthodox people who are sexually active outside marriage should be sanctioned by the Church to receive Communion regularly and participate fully in the Sacraments, even while remaining sexually active outside marriage. Of course this includes homosexuals. (I may not have worded that very well, so if you decide to reply, please reply to the gist of what I’m trying to ask.).

                    (There is more discussion by Mr. Stankovich if you scroll down the comments.)

                    Kenneth R. Tobin wrote: Quite simply, Father Hopko, who I respect, is wrong. He is “hanging his hat,” so to speak, on the now discredited notion that homosexual orientation is a choice, or the result of early childhood influences that can be overcome. The overwhelming scientific and medical evidence that exists rejects this assumption. Thrown into this mix is a curious resort to original sin–meaning, of course, that from their conception homosexuals are somehow “fallen” in ways unique to them.

                    The whole issue of human sexuality is one on which the Church’s message is increasingly irrelevant because it is based on false assumptions and information. It is heavily influenced by Gnostic notions that the material world is evil and that sexual impulses are inherently sinful. So we are left with an ideology that only allows sexual relations in a married, procreative context as a sort of second best choice to celibacy. The overwhelming majority of modern Christians, including Orthodox Christians, reject this construct as self-evidently outdated and wrong.

                    We are a long way from formulating a new expression of human sexuality in a Christian context that makes sense. Father Vinogradov’s reflection is at least a first good step in that direction.

                    #20.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-07-19 06:58

                    Kenneth, you’re not quite correct.

                    Fr. Hopko believes, as he states in his little book on same-sex attraction, that the science is irrelevant — that science studies the way things are in a post-fallen world.

                    While I’m debating that and its numerous implications within myself (The Fall as a bit of a theological cop-out is a challenge for me in a number of ways.), it isn’t correct to assume that Fr. Hopko doesn’t consider the science, which your posting implies.

                    Btw, the book on same-sex attraction has a lot of surprises in it, and its audience is not just those with homosexual orientation.

                    It ought to raise many eye-brows several times.
                    #20.2.1 Rdr. John on 2011-07-20 11:45


                    Thank you for your correction/clarification. It helped me to understand the basis of Fr. Hopko’s position. Like you, however, I have problems with the explanation of the Fall by our theologians and how that relates to human sexuality.

                    Of course, for most of us, the Creation mythology contained in Genesis and the resultant Fall are not literal historical events. As C.S. Lewis would say however, they are true myths. But how they are interpreted and understood is critical to the “truths” they may contain. And those interpretations and understandings can change with time and greater knowledge. All of this is very disconcerting to our fundamentalist friends who like clear and simple explanations for everything. But this is not how the Almighty necessarily works in revealing the wonders of His creation.

                    Frs. Arida and Vinogradov, as well as Mr. Stankovich, are breaths of fresh air in grappling with the issues of homosexuality and more broadly, human sexuality as well. I do caution, however, that the defenders of the status quo (i.e. a rigorous condemnation of homosexuality and presumably all sexual behavior outside a married procreative context) are determined to reduce this discussion to a matter of pastoral care for “Class A” sinners. Thus the emphasis on repentance. The honest response from the rest of us is that that is not sufficient or acceptable.

                    These last two reflections restore my confidence in the vision of Orthodoxy I embraced many years ago, even prior to my formal conversion. They are a light in the darkness.

                    # Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-07-21 07:46

                    As much as I disagree with Kenneth’s conclusions, I appreciate that he doesn’t mince his words or hide behind softly chosen phrases. I wish both Frs. would just forward as Mr. Kenneth, because many believe they aren’t advocating that the Church should change her teachings, while other’s do. What is the result: confusion and ambiguity. Frs. Arida and Vinogradov, please speak plainly and clearly, like Kenneth has.
                    #20.2.2 Anonymous on 2011-07-21 02:03

                    • Jane Rachel,

                      In response to your post February 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm. You wrote:

                      I believe I remember reading that Anna Rowe doesn’t like it that Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell refused to give Communion to a lesbian couple.

                      -I don’t believe it is any deacon’s place to refuse communion to anyone.

                      Now she comes into this discussion and makes a couple of cute, “I’m-smarter-than-you-are” remarks. Michael and Anna Can’t Be Wrong; after all, it’s the rest of us.

                      -OK. I think my face should hurt but, it doesn’t.


                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Hello, Anna,

                      The comments were cute, and they did imply “smarter than you are.”

                      So what I wrote wasn’t a slap. Implying you are smarter than someone else is rather a slap, but my face doesn’t hurt either.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      The modern, innovative OCA practice in some parishes whereby a Deacon imparts BOTH the Body and Blood of Christ is appalling.
                      In the earliest time, in SOME places, the Deacons assisted by imparting from the Chalice AFTER the Priest whom they were assisting imparted the Body. There was no question of a Deacon admitting or denying admittance to the Mysteries which is within the authority of the Bishop and his substitute, the Priest, ALONE.
                      Anna Rowe is quite right that it is not any deacon’s place to refuse communion to anyone. The priest who abdicates his stewardship of the Holy Mysteries to a Deacon is not only a frivolous hobbyist who loves to resurrect what he imagines once was done out of his hobbyist (and dilletantish) sense of self-indulgence, and “initiative.” Unfortunately, there are no Bishops on today’s OCA Holy Synod who have any sort of depth of understanding of the Mysteries of the Church. The OCA has now a history of reviving DEAD tradition, which is a total anomaly and nonsense. The tradition which developed peacefully and “naturally” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is overthrown because someone’s research has revealed “The Original Way It Was Done!” In this case, they don’t even get “The Original Way It Was Done” right! Tradition is what is passed along or down; it is not what is no longer passed along or down.

                    • “The modern, innovative OCA practice in some parishes whereby a Deacon imparts BOTH the Body and Blood of Christ is appalling.”

                      I didn’t know that, but now I do. In any case, I wasn’t defending the deacon.

                      Here is the link to the page where the discussion occurred on Monomakhos last July.

                      I was referring to this comment:

                      “Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:
                      July 9, 2012 at 11:40 am
                      By the way, Fr. Denis Bradley is still regularly communing the woman on the right in this embrace and telling people at St. Nicholas Cathedral that her sex life is none of their business.”

                      So, what are we to think? I’m asking. Every time I try to accept that scenario as a practiced activity that regularly occurs in more than one Orthodox parish, as if all that is fine and dandy and okay with everyone, a big door slams in my face. A. BIG. DOOR.

                    • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                      With the Bishop’s approval Deacons have been allowed to give Communion since ancient times. It is neither modernist, nor is it an innovation for a Deacon to give Holy Communion. Whoever, gives Communion must act as a guardian of the Chalice. If I had a Deacon give Holy Communion in my parish to help because there are lots of people, or because of my knee problems, I would expect him to only give Communion to Orthodox Christians in good standing. A woman living in a lesbian relationship is not in good standing and must be denied Communion.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Father Morris writes: ‘With the Bishop’s approval Deacons have been allowed to give Communion since ancient times.” That’s what is known as a half-truth. In the “ancient times” of which Father Morris makes mention, ONLY the Blood of Christ was imparted (sometimes by Deacons) from the Chalice. When the practice of imparting BOTH Body and Blood from the Chalice wasestablished, Deacons did not (or, rather, Bishop no longer gave approval to Deacons to) “give Communion”.
                      PS (Preemptive statement): I don’t want to get into any spitting match.

                      That the practice did NOT continue “since ancient times” is proved by the necessity of a special approval by bishops today.

                    • Heracleides says

                      “ONLY the Blood of Christ was imparted (sometimes by Deacons) from the Chalice.”

                      The bishop might want to inform St. Tarcisius (a third century acolyte) that it was NOT the Body of Christ he died defending from pagans whilst on his way to a Roman prison where he was to distribute it to Chirstian captives.

                    • Heracleides says (February 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm, quoting Bp Tikhon Fitz gerald): “ONLY the Blood of Christ was imparted (sometimes by Deacons) from the Chalice.”

                      The bishop might want to inform St. Tarcisius (a third century acolyte) that it was NOT the Body of Christ he died defending from pagans whilst on his way to a Roman prison where he was to distribute it to Chirstian captives.
                      Protochristian practice allowed deacons to bring Holy Communion to people who were unable — for various reasons — to be present at the Divine Liturgy. Deaconesses brought Holy Communion to women. so as not to cause scandal.

                      Whether St Tarcisius was a mere acolyte is another matter.

                      Given our contemporary and long-standing practice of intinction, both in our ordinary communion of the laity and in the reserving of the presanctified Holy Gifts, it’s reasonable to infer that ancient practice involved the intinction of the eucharistic bread brought by deacons and deaconesses, therefore clearly indicating that deacons and deaconesses imparted both the eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ to those whom they were sent to serve.

                      This intinction business and the spoon it involves ought to stop. We are told by our Lord, Jesus Christ, to ‘eat’ His Body and ‘drink’ His blood. This pretty much doesn’t happen when we’re being spoon-fed both of them. We need to abolish the distinction between the way the clergy and the laity receive Christ’s own Body and Blood, a practice which Fr Alexander Schmemann consistently described as abject clericalism.

                      In antiquity, people didn’t bother to write about things they thought were commonly understood, so such distinctions as we are discussing here might not have occurred to them.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Is the priest to decide who is to be given Communion and who isn’t? Don’t they have guidelines?

                    • Heracleides says

                      “Whether St Tarcisius was a mere acolyte is another matter”

                      A mere quibbe Fr. James:

                      Christians were still persecuted in the 3rd century and what follows most likely happened during the persecution of Emperor Valerian. The Christians in order to escape notice used to worship in the catacombs which were and are underground cemeteries outside the walls of Rome. One day Tarcisius, a twelve year old acolyte, was present and since there was no deacon to bring communion to Christians in prison, he agreed to go.

                      On the way he met a group of pagan boys who invited him to play with them. He refused. Somehow he was identified as a Christian and when the boys saw he was carrying something “Holy mysteries” they demanded to see them. When he refused, they became a mob who turned upon him with fury. It is believed that a fellow Christian drove away the mob and brought Tarcisius to the Catacombs where he died. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus and his relics are now in the Roman Church of San Silvestro in Capite. Pope St. Damasus l in the 4th century wrote a poem commemorating Tarcisius martyrdom as follows:

                      “When a wicked group of fanatics flung themselves
                      on Tarcisius who was carrying the Eucharist,
                      wanting to profane the Sacrament, the boy preferred
                      to give up his life rather than yield up
                      the Body of Christ to those rabid dogs”.

                      [Emphasis mine.]

                      As for Body vs. Blood vs. both, in this instance tradition holds that Tarcisius carried the Body, wrapped in cloth, and died with it clutched to his chest.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Monk James writes:

                      This intinction business and the spoon it involves ought to stop. We are told by our Lord, Jesus Christ, to ‘eat’ His Body and ‘drink’ His blood. This pretty much doesn’t happen when we’re being spoon-fed both of them. We need to abolish the distinction between the way the clergy and the laity receive Christ’s own Body and Blood, a practice which Fr Alexander Schmemann consistently described as abject clericalism.

                      That’s how it is done in St. James Liturgy which a friend and I did yearly on his feast day a while back. I presume that ancient practice was carried forward in the Chrysostom Liturgy at least for the priests but I don’t know for sure.

                      We needed two priests to do the St. James Liturgy. One would place the body in the cupped hand of the recipient like a bishop does for priests in a hierarchical liturgy and the second would pour the chalice in the same way (recipient holds bottom to take a sip, the priest pours a little and wipes the cup). Of course we told everyone the proper way to receive before Holy Communion started.

                      It would solve the shared spoon issue too.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Jane Rachel,

                      I would note to you that my commentary regarding Deacon Mitchell’s turning away a woman from the Eucharist had absolutely nothing to do with her sexuality. My objection to this day is that Deacon Mitchell refuses to acknowledge that he served in obedience to the clergy over him, most notably the Metropolitan in whose very cathedral he was assigned. He purposefully and willfully chose not to inform the Rector of the cathedral of his intention specifically because he knew he would be forbidden to take such an action. His disobedience was opposed to St. Paul’s direction, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” (1 Cor. 14:40) “for God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33). The result of his “bravery” was scandal, forcing the Metropolitan to call a parish meeting to “mop up” the Deacon’s mess himself. “Righteous acts,” in my estimation, occur in the light: openly informing the woman in question & the Rector beforehand, and accepting the consequences.

                      It seems to me that that the measurement here is whether God, the Just Judge, is unable or somehow “powerless” to manage the wrong decisions of the clergy – whom St. Paul instructs are specifically held responsible “on [our] account” – or “occasionally” requires the intervention of an arrogant proxy. Obviously, some have even managed to justify bombing abortion clinics & murdering doctors who perform abortions as the “greater moral good,” missing the implication that God is rendered “impotent.” Even half-baked martyrs in their own minds are fooling themselves.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says (February 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm):

                      Monk James writes:

                      This intinction business and the spoon it involves ought to stop. We are told by our Lord, Jesus Christ, to ‘eat’ His Body and ‘drink’ His blood. This pretty much doesn’t happen when we’re being spoon-fed both of them. We need to abolish the distinction between the way the clergy and the laity receive Christ’s own Body and Blood, a practice which Fr Alexander Schmemann consistently described as abject clericalism.

                      That’s how it is done in St. James Liturgy which a friend and I did yearly on his feast day a while back. I presume that ancient practice was carried forward in the Chrysostom Liturgy at least for the priests but I don’t know for sure.

                      We needed two priests to do the St. James Liturgy. One would place the body in the cupped hand of the recipient like a bishop does for priests in a hierarchical liturgy and the second would pour the chalice in the same way (recipient holds bottom to take a sip, the priest pours a little and wipes the cup). Of course we told everyone the proper way to receive before Holy Communion started.

                      It would solve the shared spoon issue too.
                      Since my nameday is 23 October (St James, Brother of the Lord), I prepared a translation of the Liturgy of St James which, with the blessing of our bishops, was served each year on the evening of that day, local clergy of all jurisdictions paricipating, for all the many years I was in Kansas City. A serbian-style slava followed at the monastery. I miss that!

                      The clergy distributed Holy Communion just as Father Hans describes, and no one skipped a beat, not even the old ladies. It felt ‘normal’, and it was beautiful.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      It’s funny, but father has long complained about the spoon. It got tiresome after awhile hearing him preach against it but it may be that he’s on to something. I’ve come to change my mind. Usually when a wise, decent, and good man of a certain age speaks about something with a singular passion, it’s wise to listen to him.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      For what it’s worth, an elderly friend of mine who emigrated from Greece some forty years ago, told me the true story about a partisan who was going to be executed by the Nazis in his village in northern Greece. The commanding officer allowed a priest to bring the condemned Communion but at the last minute, the priest was so grief-stricken that he fainted. An altar boy instead took the chalice to the condemned and held it to the man’s lips while he sipped. 2 minutes later he was dead.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Michael Stankovich, who still refuses to admit that he was wrong to write many times that same-sex attraction and same-sex sex are “mutually exclusive,” here are the facts:

                      1. All of the clergy at the cathedral knew what I thought and how I felt about communing unrepentant, unashamed, and outspoken gays.
                      2. No one ordered me to commune them.
                      3. The protodeacon in fact advised me to turn them away, saying, “That’s what I would do.”
                      4. A priest, who had heard about the problem from me and done nothing about it for six months, handed me the chalice.
                      5. The woman herself dared shamelessly to approach the Body and Blood and on her own chose the chalice entrusted to me.
                      6. I did as I was advised to do by the seminary-trained protodeacon with 25 years in the diaconate.
                      7. It was the only thing I could do in good conscience, for letting the woman commune, while being openly unrepentant of gross immorality, could not possibly do her or anyone else any good.
                      8. Unrepentant, unashamed, and outspoken gays must never be communed by anyone under any circumstances.

                      Finally, to everyone, when we start communing unrepentant, unashamed, and outspoken gays, we cease to be the Church, and in that case it no longer matters what deacons may do.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Rev. Deacon,

                      So are you set out to actually prove yourself the living “if the shoe fits?” What, exactly was the outcome of your act of great conscience? Was the woman moved to repentance? No. Was the rector of the cathedral corrected in his practice? No. Was the Metropolitan corrected in his practice? No. Were the people educated and enlightened? No Then what ensued? Confusion & scandal. What does St. Paul have to say: “Take heed lest by any means this [ἐξουσία] moral authority of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” (1 Cor. 8:9) or that it be an “[προσκοπήν] offense” and in turn they would “[μωμηθῇ] slander the [ἡ διακονία] the ministry/diaconate” (2 Cor 6:3) by “[τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἢ σκάνδαλον] putting scandal in the way of your brothers.” (Rom. 14:13).

                      Vous êtes aussi arrogant et comme désobéissant aujourd’hui comme alors! Oorah!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      MS, your criticism of Dn Mitchell makes no sense. In fact, it’s stratagem used by the clever to prevent others from standing on principle. Not unlike Soviet apologists saying something along the order of “Well, sure Stalin obliterated the Crimean Tatars but we had the KKK!”

                      Whether Dn Mitchell’s stalwart stance on protecting the Holy Mysteries as he (and others more senior to him) saw fit worked for the repentance of the woman in question is beside the point. Speaking as a parent, I can honestly say that my children didn’t always appreciate what I made for supper but my duty was not to let them eat chocolate pudding every night but to make a nutritious meal for them to the best of my ability.

                      In fact, that excuse has been used for too long by Orthodox priests here in America in order to avoid conflict, hence the haphazard practice of Orthodoxy.

                      As an ordained clergyman, Dn Mitchell will have to answer before God for any willful knowledge he may have regarding the Mysteries.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Monk James:

                      The Church shifted to giving the Eucharist to the Faithful with a spoon for a legitimate reason. If the priest puts the consecrated lamb into the hands of the people, they would drop crumbs of the Sacred Body of Christ all over the place. When a Priest receives the Lamb in his hand, he consumes it and wipes his hand off with the sponge holding his hand over the diskos so that any crumbs of the Sacred Body will fall onto the diskos.

                    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

                      Monk James writes:

                      “This intinction business and the spoon it involves ought to stop. We are told by our Lord, Jesus Christ, to ‘eat’ His Body and ‘drink’ His blood. This pretty much doesn’t happen when we’re being spoon-fed both of them.”

                      Bread without wine to my senses is just bread, the wine in a chalice without the bread seems like a glass of wine in a fancy cup.

                      The bread together with the wine to my senses are like pieces of living flesh that have bleed out, thus much easier to focus on my mind that what I’m consuming has actually been changed by the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      You are absolutely incorrect, and you only need look at the Service for the Ordination of a Priest and the Service for the Ordination of a Deacon for instruction.

                      A priest is ordained immediately following the Great Entrance – the offering of the Gifts – prior to the Anaphora. He is vested and takes his place among the priests. Immediately following the Anaphora, the Bishop places the consecrated Lamb into the hands of the newly ordained priest, saying: “Receive this Divine Trust, and guard it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand It from you.” [Λάβε τὴν παρακαταθήκην ταύτην, καὶ φύλαξον αὐτήν, ἕως τῆς δευτέρας παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου ἡνῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅτε παρ’ αὐτοῦ μέλλεις ἀπαιτεῖσθαι αὐτήν.]

                      Later, deacons are ordained following the exclamation, “And may the mercy of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, be with you all.” Without comment, the new deacon is handed the sacramental fan, placed at the altar, and shown how to fan the Holy Gifts. There is no admonishment to “guard” or “protect” anything. Period. It is not according to his office, his ordination, or his obedience.

                      There are many ways to stand on principle, Mr. Michalopulos, while remaining faithful to the instructions of St. Paul, but none of them include anger, disobedience, arrogance, and unilateral decisions that result in scandal and confusion. None. You know it, Mr. Michalopulos, I know it, and that leaves only one man in the dark.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      This is called straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. I’m sorry, but the time has come for our clergy to act and behave as men. All our rubrics are created to strengthen our priests as they stand on principle. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. If a clergyman (in this case Dn Mitchell) sees something awry and has given this scandal due consideration (i.e. time to discuss this with other clergymen) and the hierarch (Met Jonah) has even issued encyclicals to the clergy and the people to stand up straight and fly right, and the communicant continues to remain defiant, then no amount of legalism can trump the rectitude of the deacon’s actions.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      I’m going to assume that everyone can see the absurdity in Michael Stankovich’s comparison of ordinations, according to which priests are charged to protect the Body and Blood with their lives but deacons must give it out unthinkingly to whomever comes to get it.

                      To answer his earlier questions/challenges concerning outcomes, here’s what actually happened:

                      1. The woman I turned away was moved to tears. They could have been tears of repentance if the people she ran to for comfort told her, “Well, it’s true: You can’t marry another woman without turning your back on Christ.” Then she would have known the truth and at least had the opportunity, at last, to turn and live.

                      2. Instead, the people she ran to for comfort told her, “It’s all the deacon’s fault, what he did was cruel, deacons shouldn’t be distributing communion, and anyway, we only turn away people who are not Orthodox,” which only encouraged her to think that she didn’t need to repent. (Some people might even have told her that, though none dared to say so publicly.)

                      3. The Metropolitan did finally send two letters, one to the diocesan clergy and one to the people of the diocese, stating the obvious: People married to people of the same sex may not commune. The diocesan clergy also met to discuss these letters, and the expressed consensus was entirely in line with the letters. No one in fact contradicted the stated policy, though You-know-who did argue that priests are not “communion cops” and shouldn’t be interrogating people at the chalice.

                      By the way, the consensus among the clergy was always that we should not be communing these women. The priests just showed no initiative in taking action, so, when they handed me a chalice after 11 months of me trying to get them to do the right thing, I took the initiative and did it. What others did afterward they did on their own, out of faith or the lack thereof.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      A lot went on IN ancient times, but has not gone on SINCE ancient times.
                      For example, the Faithful sometimes could take the Body of Christ home in a special receptacle for Communion (obviously, OUTSIDE the Divine Liturgy) at a later time. It is no wonder that a Deacon would be dispatched by a Bishop, like the Bishop of Rome, to distribute the Body of Christ to the seven or more Church-parishes of Rome after Liturgy at the Bishop’s own Church/parish. In those days, Deacons imparted the Blood of Christ DURING the Divine Liturgy. But Deacons have neither transported nor communed the Faithful since the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, began communing the Blood AND the Body of Christ from the Chalice.
                      See that word: “Since?” It was clearly stated by Father Morris that with the permission of Bishops (duuuuh) deacons have imparted the Body and Blood of Christ SINCE ancient times.”
                      NOTHING OF THE SORT. Rather, Deacons had NOT imparted the Body and Blood of Christ to the Faithful since ancient time, although they had once distributed the Blood of Christ from the Chalice, long ago, in the ancient Church.
                      “But I don’t want to get into a spitting match.”

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Well, Deacon Tartuffe, let’s try another approach, shall we:

                      1) Because you served in obedience, a week earlier, you could have informed the rector of the cathedral of your intention. It was His decision alone to make, and his responsibility to accept. You knew he would have forbidden you.

                      2) Somehow, setting your arrogance & anger aside, by the example of the Lord, “Jesus looked upon him and loved him,” (Mk. 10:21) you could have gone to this woman privately, respectfully and informed her of your intention.

                      3) You could have declined to offer serving Communion that day, had an altar boy direct her to the another communion line – to the Rector, for example – anything to defuse what you knew was contrary to the wishes of the rector & the Bishop in his own cathedral, but you purposely and arrogantly orchestrated this scandal for your own need, not her, and most certainly not for the Eucharist!

                      Man, I’ll never forget the acoustics in the National Cathedral. Wow. Are you a singer, Deacon? Come on, Deacon: me, you, and Tina Turner. Pardon me, Mr. Michalopulos, defender of the righteous, I didn’t mean to exclude you! Oh, and let’s find that unemployed DC choir-director! And I’ll bet that Anglican Canon of a Canon Lawyer sings bass and can help defend self-righteous arrogance, defiance, and hubris. And on the downlow, I heard the drunken rape-accused hieromonk is back! Maybe he can fire off a couple shots for effect! One window-rattling chorus of “We don’t need another hero!” then it’s “Tango down.”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Michael, you didn’t call me by my right title. It’s “Defender of the Faith.” (I’ll also answer to “Champion of Orthodoxy.”)

                    • Michael, even I can figure that when a deacon (or deaconess, as the case may be) is entrusted with the Eucharist, he (or she) also carries the responsibility to protect the Gifts as the priest himself is obligated to do.

                      Say there is a deaconess in ancient times, who is charged with bringing Communion to a woman at home. When the deaconess arrives, she finds her would-be communicant fornicating with someone not her husband. Is the deaconess obligated to commune the woman in the face of an obvious sin?

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Rev. Deacon & Champion of Holy Grail,

                      Anyone with common sense prays for perspective. Apparently, my above-average theological education is insufficient for Mr. Michalopulos who suggests I am swallowing camels and questions my masculinity – causing me to question my motivation for pausing at the window of the “Post-Valentines Day Sale” at Victoria’s Secret today – I arrive home to a “missal” of sorts; and not just any “missal,” mind you, but a clarifying missal of perspective. Got your attention, Joan, D’arc? It is titled, “Summary Metropolitan’s (sic) Jonah remarks on Sunday, August 14th.” Holy Cow. Most pertinent are the final points:

                      His Beatitude reaffirmed traditional and sacramentally correct pastoral practice: that it is, first of all, the Father Confessor’s responsibility to counsel whether or not his penitent should receive the Holy Gifts (Communion).

                      His Beatitude reaffirmed that, in those cases that require a publicly stated policy or a pastoral decision (communicated ‘publicly’ or outside of Confession) about an individual person, it is the sole responsibility of the Bishop, in conjunction with the person’s Father Confessor, to state any such policy or make any such public decision to exclude someone from receiving the Holy Gifts (Communion). No other person, clergy or lay, may presume to do so.

                      His Beatitude mentioned that, in line [with these points] it did not fall under the pastoral competence, authority, or responsibility of a deacon to make policies or individual decisions, private or public, about the moral and spiritual eligibility, of an otherwise eligible Orthodox Christian, to receive the Holy Gifts (Communion).

                      WAT? Dude, are you kidding me? Shame on a brotha’ what try to run game on a brotha’!

                      I tip my gifted US Border Patrol cap to the former Metropolitan Jonah. When you’re right, you’re right.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      George Michalopolos authoritatively stated:
                      “As an ordained clergyman, Dn Mitchell will have to answer before God for any willful knowledge he may have regarding the Mysteries.”

                      As an 80-year old Orthodox Christian who also is an Orthodox Bishop and who has also read an awful lot of books in many fields, I’d like to ask George Michalopolos to tell me exactly what he means by “wilful knowledge.” I am completely in the dark on that, and I’ve never heard of it. How would one say it in French or German or Russian or Greek?
                      “Wilful knowledge.”
                      Do I have any of that? Will I have to answer for it? Before GOD?!?!

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Your Grace, I believe my point was that Dn Mitchell and his colleagues in the Altar had long displayed some concerns about certain unrepetant parishioners.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      I’m somewhat distressed by the line of reasoning by many on this thread, that Dn Mitchell refused to commune the person in question because she suffers from same-sex attraction.
                      I keep hearing the phrase “because she’s married to another woman” being bandied about.

                      First of all, it’s an ontological impossibility for two people of the same sex to be “married.” They can be cohabiting and their relationship can be sanctioned by some states (erroneously in my view) as a “civil union,” but a “gay marriage” is an oxymoron.

                      Second (and more importantly) he refused to commune her because she considers her affliction to not be a sin. I imagine that any priest or deacon who communes flagrant adulterers, pornographers, known bigamists, prostitutes, etc., would do the same thing. Especially if they don’t see the sinfulness of their ways. “All have sinned and fallen short of God.”

                      Let us please keep these points in mind when discussing Dn Mitchell’s courageous stance.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Father Deacon Mitchell says: “The priests just showed no initiative in taking action, so, when they handed me a chalice after 11 months of me trying to get them to do the right thing, I took the initiative and did it.”

                      I do not think that he had the authority to take such an initiative. No wonder that he got booted off. I also wonder how any other jurisdiction can put up with such a self-important and arrogant deacon.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Hi Michael:

      The word itself “ἀδελφοποίησις” or “brother-making” is better translated, given its monastic and religious context, “to make one my spritual brother,” in the sense of what nature could not do the grace of God can. I know the late John Boswell attempted to craft an argument that this was “Covert” Gay Marriage in the Orthodox Church, but this completely ignores 1.) the precise nature of Greek, and 2.) it ignores the monastic and liturgic seting that this service sprang from and the history of martyrdom that it connected itself.

      From the actual service itself its states: “As Thou didst find thy holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus worthy to be united together, bless also these thy servants, N. and N., joined together not by the bond of nature but in faith and in the mode of the spirit, granting unto them peace and love and oneness of mind.” Sergius and Bacchus were martyrs under Maximian. They were soldiers, Christians, and friends. Their “Passion” recounts: “Being as one in their love for Christ, they were also undivided from each other in the army of the world, united not by the way of nature, but in the manner of faith, always singing and saying, ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.’” (Touchstone article).

      This was done NOT in and off itself to join two men together in Holy Matrimony, and NO Sexual Union is talked about like in a traditional Orthodox Service, “To be fruitful Like Sarah” or in raising chldren or being a family. This was about joining forces to spread the Gospel of Christ and engage in true spiritual warfare that only devout Christian brothers can fight against passionately.

      I have always compaired this to the ancient and even modern concept of Male Bonding in a Military Unit. When you go into a fight, battle, etc., you go in with your “Brothers” and you fight for them and for each other. No difference in a spiritual fight or in spiritual warfare. Monastics are not just secluded, but also “Brothers” in the great spiritual arena. This has always been my understanding, and where, I believe, Boswell and others misunderstand this monastic service and turn it into some absured notion of an Orthodox service of Gay Marriage that it was never meant to be.

      The Touchstone article on this issue is very well written and worth a read and serious contenplation.


      • Good answer. There are also records of actual blood brothers going through the “brother making service”. Boswell did not include these in his examples but knew of them. He was very desperate to make this service into something it was not.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          John Boswell was a gay activists whose interpretations are highly suspect. It is rather easy to prove that he is wrong. The canons of St. Basil approved by the Council in Trullo and ratified by the 2nd Council of Nicea, the 7th Ecumenical Council, placed a person guilty of homosexual sin under penance unable to receive the Eucharist for 15 years. How could a Church that excommunicates a person who commits an homosexual act bless a same sex marriage? Clearly Boswells’ work was a fraud.
          If a same sex couple comes to an Orthodox Church, we have to treat them as any other sins. They have to repent of the sin of homosexual acts before they can join receive the Eucharist if they are Orthodox. If not and they want to join, they have to repent of their sin before they can be Baptized or Chrismated.
          As far as so called scientific evidence dealing with this subject. Let us be honest, the pro-gay activists have established a reign of terror that threatens any scholar whose work dares to challenge the gay argument that they are born that way and cannot change. Last year a sociologists at the University of Texas produced a study that showed that a child does better when raised by a mother and a father than by a same sex couple. He almost lost his job as a result and had to face a hearing by the faculty. Therefore the so called science on same sex attraction is highly tainted and unreliable.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Fr. John,

            As I have thoroughly addressed this issue elsewhere, I will not trouble you with the research data. But I ask you, and let’s be honest, do you make these emphatic statements because you are actually familiar with the literature? Have you addressed this as you would with the objectivity of the discipline of an academic historian, for example?

            Not to belabour the point, but you have suggested that a U of T sociology professor – and you are referring to Mark Regnerus – faced career-threatening consequences because of his research findings regarding homosexual parents. Had you investigated beyond USA Today, you would have found that Dr. Regnerus and the journal Social Science Research were harshly criticized for allowing the admittance of poor science methodology, so as to be “highly tainted and unreliable,” and grossly at odds with the concurrent literature. As there are legitimate, objective historians who have reached a similar, uninfluenced & unbiased conclusion regarding John Boswell as you have done – and I am not an historian, but it is even obvious to me – the same is true in regard to Regnerus’ science. Further, you have made no mention of the fact that Regnerus is openly affiliated with the Christian Right (e.g. Focus on the Family, and the charlatans of NARTH), who have aggressively promoted this study (e.g. attempting to influence CA’s ban on “reparaitive therapies” for children & adolescents), despite significant academic challenges.

            My point is a simple one: I cannot imagine that as a disciplined academic historian, working within a scholarly research environment, you would allow, for example, a student to offer you emphatic, even dogmatic assertions without a familiarity with the basic literature. It would be irresponsible. You are well-read here, your opinion is respected, and with good cause. It seems to me incumbant on you to be equally responsible.

            Regnerus, M. “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” Social Science Research, 41 (2012) 752–770.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              My point is also very simple. It is a fact that political correctness has overwhelmed our American academic institutions. I once taught a Western Civ class at Kent State that used a text that cited Boswell’s conclusions as fact. What has really happened is that the politically correct pro-gay fascist have imposed their will on our American academic institutions and are trying to impose their will on our entire society through trying to force every one to accept their dogma that gays are born gay and cannot change. They have already won same sex marriage in several states, and will continue until enough conservative justices die or retire and Obama or his successor appoints liberals to take their place. It is a disgrace that they are so powerful that the Obama gave a plea for gay rights during his Inauguration speech.

              As an Orthodox Christian, I do not believe that Christ cannot help a person overcome the temptation to engage in homosexual or lesbian sexual acts.
              Besides science is not absolute truth, only Christ is absolute truth. Science is the opinion of scientists based on their investigation of the data they have at the time filtered through their own personal prejudices. Right now scientists are forced to view the data through a lens that is tinted with political correctness. I saw it happen. Feminism and gay liberation with it swept through American academic institutions in the mid 70s like a tidal wave using affirmative action to wipe out a whole generation of while male academicians.

              I do not believe that it is possible for anyone to conduct true unbiased scientific research on same sex attraction. If you have studied the case of the American Psychiatric Association, you would know that they were badgered and intimidated by gay activists until they removed the classification of homosexuality as a form of mental illness from their handbook. Their decision was not made on the basis of truly scientific research. It was made in response to a riot by gay activists and their supporters. Now that it is dogma in psychology, no psychologists will dare risk their career by crossing the pro-gay lobby in their profession.

              I am not a scientist, but I do know the teaching of our Church and believe that the Holy Spirit has led the Orthodox Church through the centuries to maintain the fullness of the truth. There is no doubt that the Holy Scriptures, the Fathers and the canons of the Ecumenical Councils treat homosexual acts as sinful. Therefore as an Orthodox Christian, I am bond to believe that homosexual acts are sinful. As a Priest, I am required to teach the moral principles of our Church. If someone does not like the teachings of our Church, they would be welcomed in the Episcopal Church. They put on a good show with vestments, incense and chanting. They also let you believe or not believe anything you want and have sex with whomever you want. I will fight with my life to keep that from happening to the Orthodox Church.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Fr. John you must realize that Mr. Stankovich drinks deeply from the academic paradigm you criticize. If someone does not agree with that they are automatically wrong, ignorat and have no standing to question the results.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Fr. John,

                  To be frank, I have neither the energy nor the interest to again pursue this dead end. I have written regarding these matters extensively, they are available for you to examine, though I hardly suspect you will.

                  As to the matter of the American Psychiatric Association, however, you are describing history. not theology, or philosophy, or science and you are seriously misinformed. Again, I have written extensive in regard to this matter as well. The person credited for removing homosexuality from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Robert Spitzer, MD, of Columbia University, was not “badgered and intimidated by gay activists” until it was removed, but was a gifted researcher who made a convincing argument . But Spitzer was so objective that, based on original research he personally conducted indicating that some individuals appeared capable of “re-orienting” themselves to a semblance of heterosexuality – i.e. they seemed to “change” – he later advocated for more research into “reparative therapies,” putting himself in direct opposition to the gay lobby who previously championed him.

                  I say to you again, to offer emphatic, even dogmatic assertions without a familiarity with the basic history is irresponsible.

                  • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                    Read “A Freedom too Far” by Charles Socarides for a complete account of the intimidation campaign by the gay rights advocates on the American Psychiatric Society to force them to change the classification of homosexuality in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
                    A person who is considered perfectly normal by the psychology community still commits sins.
                    Besides the subject of their studies is corrupted because they are studying fallen and sinful humanity as if the fallen condition is natural. However, according to Orthodox theology fallen and sinful humanity is not natural, because we were not made by God to live our lives in rebellion against His moral standards. God’s moral standards as clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures and the other expressions of the Holy Tradition of the Church forbids sex outside of marriage, which is between one man and one woman. Therefore by Orthodox standards, homosexual acts are not natural because they are in violation of God’s moral law. An Orthodox Christian who commits homosexual acts must repent and cease all homosexual activity. There is no other alternative.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Charles Socarides was a creep & a charlatan – the founder of NARTH & a demonstrated fabricator of science and history. His hatred for homosexuals, beginning with his own son, is well documented. While I have nothing but disdain for the APA, the process of the removal of homosexuality from the DSM occurred as I described it.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Michael states:

                      Charles Socarides was a creep & a charlatan – the founder of NARTH & a demonstrated fabricator of science and history. His hatred for homosexuals, beginning with his own son, is well documented. While I have nothing but disdain for the APA, the process of the removal of homosexuality from the DSM occurred as I described it.

                      I never knew Charles Socarides so I cannot comment on his charcater. However, for his time he expressed views that were in keeping with the scienticfic community and APA. I will leave his family out of this as I do not know anything about that so I cannot comment about his “True” motivations in his field of research.

                      However, what I do know about in that ALL scientific research and opinions being put through so-called “Peer Review” is nothing more than whether a given political motivation within a given scientific or learned community approving of your views or not. This has to do with several factors:

                      1.) The Political Agenda of the community

                      2.) The funding that the community needs (i.e. Grants and the like) to do research in certain fields and to stay away from other poltiically charged fields that would cut funding immediately

                      3.) The Political connections that keep certain departments open.

                      In a field that I am all to familiar with, Autism and its link to vaccines, the official position of the scientific community and their financial backers in the vaccines producing companies, have denied that there is any link between Vaccines and Autism. Drk. Wakefield was officially stripped of his license and castigated in the public media as being one fo the first to make this link in 1998 between Autism and the MMR vaccine.

                      Just recently as May of 2010 the Federal Government made a huge payout to several families whose children were injured by vaccines and developed Autism ranging greatly on the Autism Spectrum. and even more recently the Federal Government finally admitted to the link between Autism and Vaccines, and their preservatives.

                      The amount of money that would have been lost by the pharmactical companies, like Merck, would have been anormous. But what happened? Time was bought, reserves of money were put aside for lawsuits, by both the Government and the private companies, for the lawsuits they KNEW were coming. They knew there was a link as early as 1998 and did nothing because it would have devastaed their bottom line and many in the NIH would have lost much political clout as the go-between between the private companies and the Fed. Govt.

                      So Dr. Wakefield loses his license, is humiliated on public television by Anderson Cooper, and a message is sent out to other Doctors, as was recently done by the Flu vaccine, that hurt many in Europe, that Doctors knew was hurting them but didn’t want to be “Wakefileded” (Now his name has become a verb).

                      So instead of early efforts to clean up our vacines, conduct genetic research to identify children that might be suseptable to Austism from a genetic point of view thus delaying their vaccinations or giveing differen purer vaccines, no doctors did ANYTHING about it and today 1 in 22 boys gets diagnosed with Autism. Why? Money? Politics? Power? All of the Above.

                      So while I support true scientic research if the politics do not suit the research its not going anywhere and careers can be destroyed.

                      This IS what happened with the APA and the issue of Homosexuality. To believe otherwise is just sticking your head in the sand and pretending that its not going on when in fact it is. How many people have suffered because we care more about OUR research and OUR political agenda? How many suicides among young men trapped in the Gay lifestyle? How much true and legitimate theraputic measures could have been structured and made by legitimate researches and therapists thus avoiding the bad therapy going on out there right now?

                      So yes the reparative therapy that we have right now is probably bad, but that’s because the APA and other researches have abandoned such things as initially wrong, thus providing NO oversight , NO research except to debunk, which is poltically motivated, and NO continuing Education and therapist to Therapist communication to figure out what works and what does not. The APA shut this down right from the get go and now that these therapies are out there with no APA backing, support or regulation you are surprised that bad things are happening?

                      Agenda, Power and Money drive Scienticfic truth. If this were not true The Roman Catholic Church should never have prosecuted Galileo nor apologized to him for his treatment.


                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Papoutsis,

                      You make a very important point that I did not pursue because I’ve made it repeatedly…

                      Robert Spitzer, MD was championed by the gay community following the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973. Spitzer presented his study regarding “reparative therapy” in 2000 at the annual convention of the APA in Miami, but it was not published until 2003. In those 3 years, Spitzer was hammered by gay activists as a traitor, etc. and criticized harshly by his own colleagues. The worst reaction, in Spitzer’s mind, was the APA’s decision that the practice of reparative therapies was unethical, even among voluntary patients in research settings; this meant that any professional or institution that proposed to examine the efficacy and/or safety of reparative therapy potentially jeopardized their funding & professional licensing. In his comments to the 2003 publication, Spitzer railed against the APA for being unduly influenced by the gay community and for ending the possibility of ever determining the efficacy – or danger – of such therapies.

                      Contrary to Mr. Bauman’s unfounded & ridiculous statement that I believe homosexuality is “unchangeable,” I would clarify by saying I do not know. For anyone who has been delivered from same-sex attraction, by whatever means, I rejoice at this gift from the very hand of Jesus Christ the Physician. I will state with some certainty, however, that there appear to be some individuals with a significant genetic risk & significant contributing epigenetic factors that renders them less amenable to conventional “treatment” approaches – “treatment refractory” – where it is pointless, even harmful, to focus on re-orientation. And it has been my entire thesis that it is not sinful to have same-sex attraction and possible to live one’s life in purity, chastity, “singlemindedness” (σωφροσύνη), and obedience in the fullness of the Church to which we are all called. It is sexual activity outside the God-given relationship of one man and one woman in the Sacrament of Marriage, be it same-genger or opposite-gender directed, that is unacceptable.

                      I believe it is deplorable on the part of the APA to forbid investigation of reparative therapies as unethical because of the possibility of psychological “harm” when they have no evidence that it is more likely than the possibility that it might be helpful.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Michael I believe also raise an important point. That there could be a genetic “risk” to addictive behavior such as we know exists with alcoholism and drug abuse, both legal and illegal. So yes, a genetic risk could exist, I do not know, but it is a possibility. However, genetic risk does not necessarily equate with genetic unchangeability.

                      A recent study done with fruit flies no less actually changed their sexuality from homo to heterosexual and vise versa by changing the blood chemistry of the files by injecting them with more or less testosterone. Now that will not necessarily work in humans but what I found interesting is that it was a change in body chemistry not the testosterone that caused the change.

                      Now could a change in psychological make up lead to a change in brain/body chemistry? Is there a link between one’s psychology and brain/body chemistry? I do not know, but that is the type of research I would like to see. Will we ever see it? That I do not know.

                      Take care and have a good night.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

                  • Michael Bauman says


                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    I think M. Stankovich is correct in this message. I value his opinions in his field. I have some problems when he and others make pronouncements in fields not at all their own, unless backed by majority scholarly opinion in the given field or endeavour.

                    • Michael Stankovich is often unable to figure out the perspective of other individuals when he is talking to them. It is his burden. When talking to him, one must share this burden with him.

                      Over a very long period of time now, Michael has shown that he does not realize he is arguing against a straw man when it comes to the specific issue of same sex attraction.

                      Let me try to simplify if I can, on the outside chance that a miraculous breakthrough in mutual understanding is possible:

                      Everyone here is in agreement that same sex attraction is a disability. It makes it more difficult to marry the parent of your children and share a fulfilling life-long relationship with that person, who must as a matter of biological necessity be of the opposite sex. Many in the secular arenas of government and higher education cannot even recognize this basic fact anymore, but 99% in a traditional religion still can. Most religious people are also in agreement (a good 90+% consensus) that we do not know what causes this disability. We just don’t. Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us that sin and hardness of hearts can play a role, but his condemnation seems to be directed toward large scale social and moral decay rather than to the sin of a specific individual. In any event, Paul’s perspective is consistent with an epigenetic explanation, and with the idea that same-sex attraction might be difficult to change once it develops. Personally, I have not met a single person in any context in my life since the early 80s who actually condemns a person for having a same sex attraction. Certainly the condemnation of individuals for having this attraction is much less severe than the condemnation directed toward those who lust for blood, bath salts, or other men’s wives.

                      I will eat my shorts if you can document a case of any non-gay-activist priest in the OCA withholding the Body and Blood from an individual because they are “resisting a same sex attraction”. This simply is not among the problems in the OCA today.

                      I’m open to correction on this, but I think it is time for Michael to move on from the straw man to real discussions with real people about the real world. His talents could be used rather than wasted, if he can find a way to do this.

              • Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post Fr John. I am grateful that you and other faithful clergy will continue to prevent what has overtaken the Episcopal Church from gaining any further foothold in the Orthodox Church. I fear there are many people in the Church who, in the name of post-modernist reconstructions of the words “love” and “tolerance”, seek to liberalize the Church’s de facto position on this issue.

                Know that you have the prayers and support of many faithful across Orthodox jurisdictions. As I discussed with many Orthodox friends at an OCF retreat this weekend, what we traditionalists are advocating for is not the hatred of anyone struggling with homosexual temptation– far from it! We reject the notion of hating anyone because of their sins, and instead believe that we must reach out carefully and lovingly to help anyone struggling in temptation to, in cooperation with God’s grace, build up resistance to overcome this temptation.

                The world today preaches that sexuality is an unchangeable aspect of personality, entirely ingrained in a person’s nature, and so acting on it is all but inevitable in this mindset. Thus, the world preaches, effectively, that complete slavery to the passions is not only inevitable but natural. What the Church offers, in contrast, is truly liberating- the radical idea that we can all choose how to act, and that we are beholden to succumb to no forces beyond our control, save the wonder-working grace of God which offers countless blessings.

                • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                  The whole idea that behavior clearly identified in the Holy Scriptures and the canons is unchangeable is a denial of the Orthodox doctrine of salvation. Our who understand of salvation is that we are changed by God’s deifying grace. I do not know if a person suffering from same sex attraction can be turned into a normal heterosexual, but I do know that with the help of God’s grace they can have the strength to resist the temptation to commit homosexual sins, just like the unmarried heterosexual can be given the strength to resist the temptation to commit heterosexual sins, or the married heterosexual can be given the strength to resist the sin of adultery. To teach anything less by embracing the dogma of the pro-gay movement that gays are born gay and that it is not a sin for them to engage in gay sex is heresy from an Orthodox point of view.
                  I still believe that the decision of the American Psychiatric Association was made under intimidation by the gay rights activists. The best studies show that only about 3% of our population is gay or lesbian. Why are we allowing such a small minority to gain such power in our society?
                  Why is this debate going on among Orthodox Christians? I left the Episcopal Church to get away from this sort of thing and thought that Orthodoxy is a refuge from the secularization of our society.

                • Thank you Ryan and Archpriest John for your articulate and well informed expressions on this topic. I just want to point out that it is a lie that one can not change in this area. I know many people -male and female-who once identified and struggled with being “gay” (although not all lived the lifestyle) and now simply live in Christ, this identity is behind them. Most of them have chosen marriage and have all the problems and glories of any marriage. We, of all people should be sharing the answer to this not joining the lost sheep out side the Church and staying there. . . .

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            To M. Stankovich

            Science is not truth. Science like my discipline, history, is merely the opinion of scientists based on the data they have a the moment, filtered through their personal prejudices. Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientific theories are constantly changing. What was considered scientific truth 100 years ago is no longer recognized as true by contemporary scientists on many issues. The whole same sex attraction matter has been so politicized that it is impossible for any scientists to conduct truly unbiased studies of the subject, because if he or she reaches conclusions that contradicts the dogma of the pro-gay rights politically correct fanatics, that gays are born that way and cannot change, they risk being driven out of the profession. Anyone who treats same sex attraction as an abnormal condition that needs to be cured, will also risk their professional lives. Regardless of whether or not scientists conclude that persons suffering from same sex attraction are “normal” the Scriptures and other expressions of the Holy Tradition of the Church are crystal clear on this matter, homosexual and lesbian sex acts are a serious sin. According to the canons of St. Basil approved by the Council in Trullo in 692 a person guilty of committing a homosexual act is placed under penance for 15 years. I am not advocating that severity, but an unrepentant homosexual or lesbian must be denied Holy Communion regardless of whether a deacon or a priest is administering the Mystery. That is the teaching of our Church and will not change.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Very well said Fr. As someone who is in a scientific discipline, it amazes me how much subjectivity is found in research. This is especially true of Anthropology but no other discipline is immune from such pettiness.

              • Michael Bauman says

                The discipline of history teaches the proper evaluation of evidence and the necessity to evaluate the bias and assumptions of the author as well as the data and the narrative in which the data is presented. Science has assumed the mantle of truth based on the utterly false idea of objectivity and the deadly philosphy of materialistic empiricism.

                God and Christ are not encouraged companions in science.

                The teaching and the life of the Church, which is history, is far more reliable in revealing the nature of humanity than anything science can produce. Further anything science produces must be evaluated from the pespective and teaching of the Church, not the other way around.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  Yes historians are supposed to try to be unbiased, but it is not humanly possible for any scholar to be completely uninfluenced by his or her personal beliefs or by the pressure of something as persistent as political correctness. Two qualified historians can look at the same sources and develop completely different and conflicting interpretations. My first lecture in any history class that I taught was “History is not Truth.” I also believe that scientists are subject to the same human limitations as historians..

            • M. Stankovich says

              Fr. John,

              I’m going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet that when you lay down on that surgical table for the arthoplasty of your knee in December, you trusted that the scientific evidence-base upon which your surgeon relied was, at minimum, “sufficient,” that you would awaken, and that eventually you would return to a relatively normal, pain-free gait. I’m sure you did not give it a thought that the monitors guiding the anesthesiologist to keep you properly sedated & oxygenated were precise, that blood loss was minimal, and so on. Imprecision, the loss of objectivity, false readings by precise instruments, or misinterpretations by your physicians could have cost you your life. I have said numerous times to Mr. Bauman, should he enter an ER with chest pains radiating down his left arm, & difficulty breathing, blood panels & an EKG will likely determine a heart attack, not “the deadly philosphy of materialistic empiricism.”

              I have argued this point so many times I am dizzy, but let me simply limit my comment to this: I have attempted to scrupulously differentiate what is according to our humanity by creation, “as it was in the beginning,” and what it has become in this fallen humanity, in our broken world. If, in fact, history is “more reliable in revealing the nature of humanity than anything science can produce,” and “science is not truth,” then you must explain why, specifically, St. John begins the Gospel, [Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο] “and the Word became flesh.” (Jn. 1:14); why the Nicean Fathers specifically stated in their Creed, “was incarnate [σαρκωθέντα] of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.”; or St. Matthew so dramatically presents the [Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] the book of the origin/descent of Jesus Christ” in the form of what we now refer to as a “genetic pedigree.” If, in fact, Fr. John, we accept the dogmatic formulations of the Holy Fathers & Councils – that the Lord “assumed,” σὰρξ ἐγένετο, everything that is our humanity except sin – then we must accept the bio-molecular composition of his human nature:

              consubstantial with us as touching his manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, [and] distinctly.

              Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon

              Be very clear: in the Kingdom of God there is but one humanity, one biology, one genome, one psychology “in the image and likeness, as it was in the beginning” not to be confused with what we have become in ther calamity of this fallen world. God fashioned this world and all of its physical elements and principles. To say there is “no truth” in science, or to say “science is relative or subjective” is nonsense and foolishness.

              By the way, Fr. John, it was my honor to pray for you during your recent surgery & recovery, and thanks be to God through the intercessions of St. Panteleimon!

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                Thank you for your prayers. Yes, I trusted the latest medical science when I had my surgery. However, in 100 years it is entirely possible that physicians will have new more advanced methods. I remember the scene in the Star Trek movie, I believe that the title was “The Journey Home,” when Dr. McCoy walks through a 20th century hospital and comments about how barbarous the methods are. Science is constantly changing. Besides, the pressure of political correctness is impossible to deny when evaluating the studies of homosexuality and lesbianism. Anyone who questions the gay dogma that they are born that way and cannot change is viciously attacked by the political correct storm troopers.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Mr. Stankovich is also making a false comparison. He is comparing what is fundamentally an enginerring problem that is amenable to simple physics to matters ot ontology which are about as deep and mysterious as one can get. Empirical science has very little to offer in the ontological area.

                  Even the simple physics of joint replacement is subject to the level of sacredness the body has and the appropriateness of our messing with what we’ve got for the physics to be applied.

                  So, in short, Mr. Stankovich’s analogy is logically flawed.

                  And, everything in human experience is subjective. Even carefully constructed double-blind research studies can have statistically significant experimenter bias. We can attempt to account for the subjectivety and reduce it, but it never goes away.

                  It is one of the great problems with modernity that so many people from scientists to journalists claim to be objective and un-biased. Ain’t happening folks.

                  Only God Himself is not subjective because He is. All creation is contingent and relational. Facts only acquire meaning and relevance in context. Even then the same data can acquire vastly different meaning and importance when placed into a different context.

                  Science is dependent for its ‘truth’ for the narrative in which it rests and from which it comes.

                  Only revelation, the word has enough substance to be dynamically unchanging and therefore true, indeed The Truth.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Bauman,

                    Again nothing by way of Scriptural or Patristic support for your dogmatic contentions, only, as Hamlet muses, “Words, words words…” It seems to me that your “haggling” is not with foolish me, but with Him who is the Fashioner of the Elements and Natural Principles of this world, which he declared as “very good.”

                    Most importantly, you need to carefully read the history, the proceedings, and the declarations of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon which constitutes the dogmatic theology of the two natures of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity: our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, assumed our entire human nature with the exception of sin in order to transform and save us. What He did not assume, He did not save. This means, Mr. Bauman, that intrinsically, fundamentally, and essentially, Jesus, the Son of Mary and Joseph, was genetically of the pedigree (the “house,” lineage) of David, as a bio-molecular, genetic, epigenetic, normal embryologically developed, endochronologically-influenced human being, “in context” and in reality. He was subject to the biological principles that sustain life in humans, and ultimately, succumbed to conditions that result in death. And to those who would not accept this, say the Fathers, “Let him be anathema.” Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο – And the Word became fleshour flesh, identical to us in every way, because what He assumed, He saved. The Fathers apparently were unconcerned with “selection bias” and other research errors, and what are “facts” but relationships with God who is the Truth?

                    Yours is a cynical, pervasively dark place, Mr. Bauman. Mine, most assuredly, is not. It is said that Blessed Seraphim Sarov sang the Pascha Canon to himself every day of the year to fight cynicism and despair. Imagine, the Hiermos on the First Ode, “Now, all things are filled with Light! Heaven, the earth, and all the places under the earth. For Christ is risen as All-Powerful!” I keep it my wallet. I struggle to remember to take it out at the worst times. But I do struggle.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Mr. Stankovich, you have no knowledge of my world, my life or my soul. I have no knowledge of yours. I don’t pretend to such knowledge

                      I observe this: if I, or someone else, were to bring to you isolated quotes from various Fathers in support of my contentions, I would likely be accused of “cut and paste’ theology–why, because you know better. That has happened.

                      On the other hand, when one so lowly, ignorant and un-educated as I question methtodology you condem me for not bringing quotes from the Fathers.

                      In other words, IMO, you are a practioner of the Catch-22.

                      This is not a scholarly forum. The only people who post here that I would consider scholars to any degree are Fr. Reardon, Peter and Deacon MItchell (with my apologies to others whose work I do not know). I find it interesting that you mostly seem to disagree with two of them.

                      I rather doubt that you are any more a theologian than am I.

                      However, as has been noted by several people, you seem to put your faith in a materialistic determinism that is at total odds with the patrictic quotes you offer. That is the impression you give. Even your interpetation of the teaching of Chalcedon implies a level of genetic determinism which I absolutely reject as does the Gospel and my Bishop Basil.

                      My discipline, though never practiced professionally, is history. I have been a student of history all of my life. I learned how to evaluate evidence, trace ideas from genesis to current expression and see the human striving in all of that. I understand the power of belief and the power of ideas. Undoubtedly I am still ignorant.

                      From that study, I came to belief in God, His goodness and transcendence (with a great deal of help from Him). Does that comport with the cynacism of which you accuse me?

                      I was able to see the salvific Christ in the works of Nietzche and began to long for Him because of that. Does that comport with the cynicism and darkness of which you accuse me? Forgive me, but I have far greater difficulty seeing Him and His salvation in much of what you write than I did in Nietzche.

                      I saw Him in the classic plays of Greece and in Shakespeare as well as in the dances of the Native American cultures and rejoiced at seeing Him.

                      I found Him in the Church clearly and without veil and daily thank Him for all my blessings and trials, including you: and as I write this here is what comes to mind:

                      A Psalm of David 103
                      Bless the Lord, O my soul;
                      And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
                      2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
                      And forget not all His benefits:
                      3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
                      Who heals all your diseases,
                      4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
                      Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
                      5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
                      So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
                      6 The Lord executes righteousness
                      And justice for all who are oppressed.
                      7 He made known His ways to Moses,
                      His acts to the children of Israel.
                      8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
                      Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
                      9 He will not always strive with us,
                      Nor will He keep His anger forever.
                      10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
                      Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
                      11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
                      So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
                      12 As far as the east is from the west,
                      So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
                      13 As a father pities his children,
                      So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
                      14 For He knows our frame;
                      He remembers that we are dust.
                      15 As for man, his days are like grass;
                      As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
                      16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
                      And its place remembers it no more.[a]
                      17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
                      On those who fear Him,
                      And His righteousness to children’s children,
                      18 To such as keep His covenant,
                      And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
                      19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
                      And His kingdom rules over all.
                      20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
                      Who excel in strength, who do His word,
                      Heeding the voice of His word.
                      21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
                      You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
                      22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
                      In all places of His dominion.

                      Bless the Lord, O my soul!


                      Psalm 104

                      Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
                      2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
                      3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
                      4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
                      5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
                      6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
                      7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
                      8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
                      9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
                      10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
                      11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
                      12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
                      13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
                      14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
                      15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
                      16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
                      17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
                      18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
                      19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
                      20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
                      21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
                      22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
                      23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.
                      24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
                      25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
                      26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
                      27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
                      28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
                      29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
                      30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
                      31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.
                      32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
                      33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
                      34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.
                      35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.


                      Psalm 118

                      King James Version (KJV)

                      O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
                      2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
                      3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
                      4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
                      5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
                      6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
                      7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
                      8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
                      9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
                      10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
                      11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
                      12 They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
                      13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.
                      14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
                      15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
                      16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
                      17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
                      18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
                      19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
                      20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
                      21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
                      22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
                      23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
                      24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
                      25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
                      26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
                      27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
                      28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
                      29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

                      These are words and thoughts that inspire me and I return to them often and they give drink to my thirsty soul. They also speak of the ordering of creation and our place in it. It is to these words and others in the Bible that I hearken, each of them sprang to my mind, not after researching which ones might fit my argument, but they arose in my heart as I wrote.

                      I did not have the opportunity to systematically study the Fathers of the Church in the academic manner in which you did nor learn their native language. All I have done is read what I could find in the time that I have, listened to my pastors, prayed and applied what gifts I have based on what I have been taught. Apparently, to you, that disqualifies me from ever raising objections to what you say. I obviously don’t buy that which seems to annoy you.

                      In history, stringing together quotes is not considered good practice and the few times I resorted to that in my history classes it was because I had failed to do the research. I was graded down appropriately. Were I writing a formal paper, rest assured, I would document my sources. The ability to quote sources does not mean understanding. I was told that repeately by my professers at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Plus as Fr. Seraphim Rose often noted (paraphrase): It is more important to acquire the mind of the Fathers rather than to be able to quote them.

                      It is my prayer that, by the grace of God, that this be so for the Church in this land.

                      Therefore to imply that I am not conversant with the Fathers and that my mind and heart, and thus my thoughts, have not been formed by patristic teaching is to denigrate the teaching of my pastors and the grace imparted in the sacraments of which I am an unworthy partaker.

                      I have never leveled such an accusation against you. I have maintained only that what you write on the complex of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that is generically called homosexuality is not in accord with the the Tradition as it has been delivered to me and I understand it.

                      Nothing you have written in response, most of which is ad hominum in nature (including this most recent reply) coupled with evasive rhetoric has been most unpersuasive to the contrary.

                      As I have remarked before that my training and the teaching I received from my brilliant and accomplished parents has always been to go from the general to the specific. You, it seems to me, prefer to go from the minutuae and attempt to work up. I find that approach pedantic, stultifying and ultimately not fruitful.

                      The general principal in our contention is most clearly stated by St. Paul in Romans Chapter 1 (note a direct reference to Holy Scriipture): homosexuality is a sin that is poisonous to the soul and damning to the person that is trapped in it and has bad consequeces for the community in which it exists. Most explicity to me is St. Paul’s admonition not to love the created thing more than our creator. All of our disordered sexual passions whether homosexual, hetrosexual or some other form are a result of loving the created thing more than the creator. All sophistry to the contrary, its as simple as that.

                      Your writings, while superficially not denying that, make a case for the Church not to treat such feelings and thoughts as sinful or in need of the treatment of repentance.

                      While not calling directly for the normalization of homosexuality, your writing does go in that direction, IMO. That is what I oppose and out of love for the Church, you and those who suffer from the horrible tempations involved in the homosexual syndrome and other sexual brokenness, to whatever degree, I am compelled to bring it your attention.

                      As far as your charge that I am arguing with God and His grace, that is not for you to decide. My pastor and my bishop seem to disagree with you (except that which is too much a part of the human condition and that we all share and of which we are to repent). I would be careful of equating opposition to your ideas as opposition to God.

                      May our great God and savior have mercy on us both and unite us in His love.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    If you see the phrase “behavioural science” anywhere in this thread – particularly sourcing from me – kindly point it out. Aside, there was an excellent discussion in the Sunday NY Times (late Nov/early Dec?) regarding this silliness of hard science v soft science; you might look it up as I’ve done far too much research for you. Likewise, if, in fact, our Lord assumed, σὰρξ ἐγένετο, everything that is our humanity except sin, he was a psychological being as well, dogmatically, and in context. To believe otherwise is heresy. Enough said.

                    I say again, I find no inappropriateness nor impertinence in questioning you & Mr. Bauman as to whether your contentions “join with the Holy Fathers before you.” This is our Tradition and the manor by which we uphold & defend the Faith. You and Mr. Bauman employ the “language” of dogma – and you are frequently complimented on your insight – but it is unreasonable to expect your opinion to be accepted based solely on your authority. You insist this is the “public square,” so argue in the way of the Fathers: compelling, convincing, and unmistakable to any Orthodox Christian who pursues the path.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Thanks for expressing my thoughts with greater clarity and I did myself Fr. Hans. I would only add this, the findings of the behavioral sciences need to be evaluated in the context of Scriptural and Patristic teaching, not the other way around. We have fine people who are doing this.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    The common thread is the arrogance that allows the positing of dogmatic statements like the “goal of homosexuality is to diminish the fatherhood of God,” homosexuality is a paucity of masculinity, Orthodox writers are “treating same-sex behavior as normative (ontological; same sex-desire is a constituent of created personhood),” and “there is no truth in science” with absolutely no corroboration. Are these statements supported in the Holy Scripture? Not that I can find. Are these statements supported in the writings of the Orthodox Patristic or Canonical Fathers? I’ve not found it. Are these serious statements with grave theological implications? In my estimation they most certainly are. And so, you reason that sarcasm is the best approach to actually addressing my comment?

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    Let’s take these points one by one.

                    “goal of homosexuality is to diminish the fatherhood of God,”

                    I don’t think that is an accurate quote. I think I said the goal of homsexualism is to diminish (deny ultimately) the Fatherhood of God.

                    St. Paul deals with the homosexual questions in two ways. The first we can call the pastoral dimension where he mentions that some of the redeemed were involved in homosexual relations before their redemption.

                    The second deals with homosexuality as a cultural force where St. Paul relates homosexuality to a loss of divine awareness, a progressive distortion of the inner life, and so forth in Romans 1. Reading Chrysostom’s commentary on this passage it is clear that no condemnation of the person struggling with same-sex desire is implied.

                    Most discussion today conflates the two approaches under the rubric of compassion. Many people perceive that a critique of homosexualism is a personal attack on both practicing homosexuals and persons struggling against same-sex desire. It’s not of course.

                    Nevertheless, false compassion is a powerful lure and exists largely because the homosexual lobby successfully hitched their wagon to the Civil Rights Movement. This strategy (brilliant in its own way) was laid out in After the Ball, the blueprint for the homosexual rights movement, by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen.

                    The denial of the Fatherhood of God is a bit too detailed to lay out here but I gave the outline in my post about the moral and theological collapse of the Episcopal Church. Essentially, I argue that the collapse of the ontological distinctions between male and female (sex is collapsed into gender) will abolish the cultural memory of God as Father. (Much liberal theology consists of obliterating classical distinctions.)

                    Seen in this way homosexualism differs little from radical feminism which at its foundation is a denial of the feminine. (And, yes, I have read the radical feminist literature — Rosemary Reuther, Sallie McFague, and the rest of the crew and know of what I speak.)

                    What feminism destroys by fanning the flames of female discontent, homosexualism destroys by appealing to the male impulse of unbridled sexual activity. The removal of the moral barriers against homosexual behavior is in fact the licensing of all sexual behaviors.

                    The cultural institution affected most deeply by this shift is the family. When the family is weakened, the culture weakens. If fatherhood loses its cultural authority, then the God of Abraham will that much harder to find.

                    Perhaps Pope Benedict was right back in 1993 when he wrote that the Church will shrink in size and be forced underground. Then, after a generation and man’s soul knows only barrenness, he will discover Christianity anew and wonder at this new thing that gives life.

                    homosexuality is a paucity of masculinity

                    This should be self-evident. Men who have sexual intercourse with other men violate their own manhood.

                    This is not true of the man struggling with same-sex desire and chooses a life of celibacy. His journey of masculine self-identification and maturity is achieved in a different way.

                    Nor is it true that a compulsive fornicator with women is somehow more masculine than the man who practices self-control. Here the radical feminist is the compulsive fornicator’s best friend. She frees him of responsibility. (Playboy Enterprises was the first company that put its corporate weight behind unrestricted abortion.)

                    When homosexual behavior becomes an ideology (and homosexualism is an ideology), then same-sex relationships take on a culture-shaping power. Here is where the denial of the divine enters in; what Paul meant when he wrote, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.”

                    Think this through. Depositing the progenitive seed into the waste canal of a same-sex partner and heralding it as an act of liberation is an act of nihilistic irrationality. Awareness of the God ordained natural order is diminished and the memory of God may disappear altogether. Reading Romans 1 from the post-Christian side two millenia later, Paul’s passage lays out Christendom’s path to cultural suicide.

                    Orthodox writers are “treating same-sex behavior as normative (ontological; same sex-desire is a constituent of created personhood),

                    Yes. The concept of ‘sexual orientation’ does not exist as a distinct anthropological category in Orthodox theology. Moreover, every passion effects an orientation of some kind if left unrestrained. Your assumption that ‘orientation’ applies only to male desire for another male or female to another female is arbitrary. There could be other sexual orientations as well (bestiality, inanimate objects) or even non-sexual orientations (the alcoholic’s passion for the drug, the glutton’s passion for food, etc.). Your use of the concept requires more deliberate reflection.

                    Your work, as far as I understand it, attempts to locate a biological basis for homosexual orientation although your writing is obtuse so it is hard to know for sure. Nevertheless, you are required to explain yourself if you claim the effort is an “Orthodox” quest — one you make as far as I can tell.

              • You seem to be saying that what is is what ought to be, universally, when it comes to the nature of man. You totally ignore the effects of the fall. Now I realize that we do not embrace the doctrine of Original Sin the same way the west does, but you would be hard pressed to find any Orthodox saint or father who did not acknowledge the deep and profound stain of sin in mankind since the fall. It is this stain of sin that requires cooperation with grace to work out our salvation.

                You seem to believe that if Science determines that some people psychologically lust for a same sex partner, that is good, becuase it is part of the human make-up, and the human make-up is good. If that were the case, when science discovers that some psychopaths enjoy killing people, then that would be good, because what is human is good. The argument is absurd. We do not discover morality from nature, at least not primarily (the doctrine of natural law is still rooted on scriptural foundations and has to do with the created order as it was originally created, not the stains that resulted from the fall).

                Let me make this simple for you. There are two incontrovertible facts upheld by the scriptures and universally by the fathers:

                1. Homosexual sexual activity is sin, and not only sin, but very serious sin of which it is said “those who practice such things cannot enter the kingdom of God”
                2. There is no salvation apart from repentance from our sins.

                QED: Those who justify or encourage people to unrepentantly follow their homosexual passions rather than repent of them are leading them on the path to damnation, not salvation.

                Now I’m sure you will quibble and say these exact words are not in the fathers. I would be happy to provide you with copious excerpts from the fathers affirming these distilled doctrines. Anyone who has read anything from the fathers knows that these doctrines are pervasive. If anyone questions either of these assertions, I highly recommend you immerse yourselves in the writings of the fathers, because these doctrines are central, not ancillary, to our salvation.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Miller,

                  If you are, in fact, addressing this comment to me, I recommend you immerse yourself in what I have actually written because you obviously have not read my writings, silly goose.

                  If you hold that I “seem to believe that if Science determines that some people psychologically lust for a same sex partner, that is good,” or “justify or encourage people to unrepentantly follow their homosexual passions rather than repent of them,” or I have even remotely suggested we derive “morality from nature” you need to provide direct quotation. And, hey, since I strongly suspect you will not be bothered to actually read what I have written, let me say this: you will never find such assertions because I have never made them. Read this again: I have never made them. I do not hold such beliefs; I do not make such justifications; I provide no such encouragement; I lead down no such path. And frankly, Mr. Miller, it amazes me that you could be so jackass ignorant as to confront me without even knowing what I have written. I highly recommend you immerse yourself in an apology.

                  • Michael S.,

                    I have read your posts as carefully as I can for a VERY long time, and I agree that you have never made these assertions. However (if I may be so bold), I also find myself in agreement with those who find your writing confusing at times because of the way you mingle science (or, more accurately, research findings) with theology/anthropology.

                    Please don’t accuse me of denying the Incarnation – I ‘get it.’ I am simply being honest.

                    Your posts would be far easier to read and your Orthodoxy impugned with far less frequency if you clearly separated your thoughts about theology/anthropology from your sharing of research findings. While I confess that I do not share your apparent…I suppose faith is an appropriate word…in the objectivity of scientific research, that doesn’t mean it is unworthy of consideration.

                    I hope you will take this to heart because I mean it sincerely and with respect.

                  • M. Stankovich:

                    I apologize, as it seems I misunderstood your train of thought. My comments were in reference to your statements in response to Fr John that Christ shared our biology and that science does establish absolute truth. Your comments were in response to Fr John’s observation that science is not reliable to address the same sex attraction issue. I thought you were making the point that, since Christ shared our nature, science is a valid way to determine acceptable human attraction/behavior. I see that I did not read your comments carefully enough on that point, and I apologize for mis-characterizing what you said.

                    I have followed your comments on this and other sites over the years, and I do know that when someone defends what I would call the scriptural/patristic view that homosexual behavior is sin and must necessarily be called to repentance and not accommodated, you take the contrary view. It was against this backdrop that I posted the second part of my comments, which is a simple syllogism defending what I believe to be the traditional Orthodox view on homosexuality. I still stand behind that syllogism, and if you believe it to be flawed, I would like to hear your rebuttal. For convenience, allow me re-iterate the syllogism here:

                    1. Homosexual sexual activity is sin, and not only sin, but very serious sin of which it is said “those who practice such things cannot enter the kingdom of God”

                    2. There is no salvation apart from repentance from our sins.

                    QED: Those who justify or encourage people to unrepentantly follow their homosexual passions rather than repent of them are leading them on the path to damnation, not salvation.

                    If your answer is that you agree with the syllogism, then I will be very glad to hear that, and it will mean that I have misjudged your comments over the years.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Miller,

                      I am reminded of the lyric from Steely Dan’s Deacon Blues, “I take one last drag as I approach the stand…” as an appropriate analogy for the deep breath I have taken before offering my response to your “putting me to the test.” I, again, can only conclude that you have not read my essay beginning here, but always dedicated to provoking gladness, I completely agree with your syllogism. Nevertheless, I have contended that while same-sex attraction is consequential to the fall of our humanity and not according to our nature “as it was in the beginning,” it is possible to live one’s life in a state of chastity, obedience, singlemindedness (tselomudryie/soprosine), and as you say, repentance for sins, in the fullness of the Church without inordinate shame or stigma. In other words, it is not the attraction that is sinful, it is the sexual activity.

                      Homosexuality is not attributable to God, nor is it as God ever intended. In fact, I firmly believe it is a prime symptom of the calamitous outrage that constitutes our broken world. But only in a cartoon playground of “Conservative” babble can it be claimed that it does not “exist,” or that orientation is “contrived.” By the same reasoning, Terry Schiavo was aware of her surroundings. I have never contested the fact that some of the research I have presented is emergent, is speculative, and may well prove absolutely incorrect. But a moderate amount is indisputably correct and will not change despite hours of debate about “ontology” and “masculinity,” or “materialistic empiricism.” Foolish people would have us all appear as fools. And so my point: in this fallen and sinful humanity, for some people, the science helps us understand the derivation of the attraction, which in my mind and intention should do noting more than reduce inordinate shame and stigma.


                      You, my friend, are a breath of fresh air. Your comment is direct – though needlessly tentative – specific, and most importantly very helpful. It’s an ongoing problem, dyslexia & verbosity – such that what seems perfectly logical in my head sometimes does not translate to writing. I appreciate the feedback and I strive to correct.

                    • M. Stankovich:

                      Thanks for your reply. I am heartened by your statement that you agree with the syllogism, and therefore believe that homosexual activity is sin, and requires repentance. It seems we agree that the correct path for those with SSA is a life of celibacy, and if one follows that path, there is no limit to their spiritual development. What I don’t understand is what I perceive is your animosity toward the “conservative” viewpoint, which I believe is consistent with this.

                      By the way, your link does not work on my computer.

                      Even +Jonah, whom I don’t think you are a fan, makes a distinction between shame and repentance. Shame is something you get stuck in, and don’t progress out of. Repentance always has Divine forgiveness and restoration as its end. As for “stigma”, my concern and that of my conservative colleagues is that de-stigmatization can be interpreted as taking the “sin” out of the sin, or making it something no longer in need of repentance.

                      As far as attraction vs activity, the primary qualification for staying in communion with the church needs to be activity, not attraction. The same standard applies for adultery, fornication, etc. However, I do believe the mystical tradition of the church has much to offer even in the area of our mind and desires – what we are attracted to, etc. I would posit that delving deeply into the Jesus prayer, deep repentance, selflessness, and mental stillness, it is possible to achieve complete “dispassion”, and it is possible to develop such a deep passion for the pure kingdom of God that all earthly desires pale in comparison. If a person remains celibate and pursues this course, the end of that course would be a reality in which the same-sex attractions that seem so overwhelming now would fade to almost non-existence. I believe St Mary of Egypt achieved this state of dispassion, despite devoting the early part of her life to pleasure and carnal lust.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Miller,

                      Sorry about the link. Here is the correction.

                      To understand my “animosity,” you would need to explore the personal dogging I have taken here and elsewhere for simply raising the issue – from questioning my motivation as subtle “normalizing” homosexual activity & marriage with narcotizing argument, to carrying the “bucket” for others, to the length of my hair, my education, and the not so subtle questioning of my sexuality & masculinity. Whatever As I noted previously, there are more posts regarding me personally than paschal greetings among the usual suspects. And with all due respect, what may appear as animosity and aggression is frustration at answering the same questions regarding the Orthodox Faith. Again, Brian, point taken, I accept responsibility.

                      Understand, Mr. Miller, I did not set out as the Don Quixote of sexuality, in any of its manifestations. My intention was discuss the fact the field of human medicine is considerably more progressive in viewing our fallen humanity as “symphonic”: biological (including genetic & biomolecular), psychological, environmental (including epigenetic and social), and spiritual. We know this and this is our anthropology. Yet we continuously segregate this symphony into its component “voices,” which necessarily results in error as to conclusions reached regarding the “symphony.” I have likened to the ancient story of the 12 blind men attempting to identify an elephant.

                      And such is my explanation to anyone who would ask: I am not wed to empiricism or science. This is truly an ignorant and insulting thought. I have unwaveringly insisted that it is no more significant than any other aspect or “voice” in the symphony of our anthropology. It is, however, the primary source of more ignorant debate than I could ever have imagined among “learned” people. Imagine, “science has no truth.” Please, go stand in the yard when it’s raining. But don’t look up. You might drown. Or so I’ve heard.

                      Disregard the “animosity,” Mr. Miller. Nothing to do with you.

                    • M. Stankovich:

                      I read your work-in-progress at the link you provided. I agree that, to the extent that science contains truth, it is a unified truth. All truth is a coherent symphony, and it is true because it exists in the mind of God.

                      Regarding science, allow me to posit some claims. I won’t pre-judge whether you agree or disagree – you can speak for yourself in that regard.

                      In principle, science is not at odds with theology if its limitations are properly acknowledged. Unfortunately, scientists do now always acknowledge those limitations. Some of these limitations are:

                      1. The domain of science is that which is observable – the physical world. One of its limitations is that it can say little if anything about the transcendent God, morality, the immaterial part of man, etc.
                      2. A corrolary of this is that science can only speak of what is, not what ought to be. The soft sciences such as psychiatry do cross the line to prescriptive, not just descriptive, assertions, such as what is a malady, and how should a malady be viewed by society and by professionals. When science crosses that line, it is subject to scripture and tradition, not the other way around.
                      3. The assertions of science are theories, not fact. There are certainly some theories that can be easily tested and that model the data with 100% accuracy. However, in the “soft” sciences, the theories rarely model the data with 100% accuracy.
                      4. Like other disciplines, scientific fields can be very political. The research that gets published is a political decision by a small number of elite researchers who peer review articles for publication. Dissenting and minority views can be ignored, or worse, vilified. Sometimes those minority views originate from a Christian world view.
                      5. One of the most profound developments in modern science is the field of genetics. Scientists are mapping every genome and what trait it represents. Unlike Mendel’s peas, human genomes often represent tendencies, not deterministic traits. Genetic traits can be positive – intelligence, talent, creativity, empathy, and so forth, and they can be negative – propensities toward psychological disorders, sociopathic behavior, narcissism, and so forth. Whether a genetic propensity is considered good or bad is a religious question, not a scientific one. The best science itself can do is apply a utilitarian standard, but Christian ethics is not utilitarian. Every individual is born with some positive and some negative propensities. From the standpoint of the Christian faith, same sex attraction is a negative propensity, but what we do with our natural strengths and weaknesses is determined by our free will and our willingness to cooperate with grace.

                      You make the observation that Christ shares the same genetics as we do. It does seem apparent that Christ had the same number of genomes as the rest of us. In the miracle of the virgin birth, it is possible that Christ was endowed with perfect genes, but lets suppose for a moment that his genes were just as random as anyone else’s. Since He lived a life without sin, it means that, through the power of free will, He overcame whatever genetic weaknesses he may have had. In the case of the rest of us, we have access to grace with which we can cooperate to overcome our weaknesses. Fortunately, our salvation depends not on perfection, but on repentance. For those who struggle with same sex attraction, there isn’t anyone who demands perfection. Those who wish to remain in communion with the church should acknowledge sinful actions as sin, should repent of their sins when they fall, and should renounce any lifestyle that is sinful or presents inordinate temptation to sin.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Miller,

                      I appreciate your thoughtful and considered response. It is somehow satisfying to note your return from a supposed land of “impenetrability,” seemingly none the worse for the wear. Your are a titan, Mr. Miller.

                      The “long response” to what you have written is, as you observed, “in progress,” The “short response” is somewhere between “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men,” (1 Cor.:25); and the apophatic vision of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, such that, for all intents & purposes, the Nature & Energy of our God so transcends our ability to appreciate, let alone comprehend, wiser we say nothing at all.

                      Coming from the 5th most funded research institution in this country, I am well aware of the endemic dilemmas, demands, and complicated dynamics that are the business of human medical research. If you did not notice, my use of terminology is precise. as are the delineation of concepts. Why? Because the majority of your claims would be resolved pre and post fact to my contention that the “segregating” of any aspect of our symphonic humanity will result in an error as to whole: i.e. science cannot convey the “truth” of our humanity, but you cannot convey the truth of our humanity without science, or only by means of theology/spirituality or without theology/spirituality.

                      In this same vein, assertions, approximations, theories, observations, null hypothesis, and finally, the canard of “hard science v soft science.” Blah, blah, blah. Tell me about. I don’t know about you, Mr. Miller, but I have stood so many times at the всенощное бдение – all-night vigil that was never all-night – anticipating the Six Psalms, knowing them so well, fully prepared to hear, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Ps. 102:15-16) [As an aside, I had a truly unfortunate experience this past weekend I titled Death at the Most Appropriate Time for what it’s worth]. The point? You can read about the poor jamoke who changed his entire lifestyle: quit smoking, lost weight, started exercising, and changed his diet. Leaving the hospital after having the $2500 “Executive Diagnostic Workup” not covered by his insurance, he was told he had the fitness and bloodwork of a man half his age. And as he placed the key to unlock his car, he keeled over with [slect one] a burst undiagnosed congenital cerebral artery defect OR an undiagnosed abdominal aortic aneurysm OR the same form of heart attack that killed his grandfather & father. It is all soft science in a broken world of fallen beings. “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted…” (Matt. 2:18)

                      Mr. Miller, I am honored that you took the time to read my essay, and it is heartening to speak as to content.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Papoutsis,

        It is always a pleasure to defer to a true scholar. Many thanks.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Thanks Michael.

          I wanted to post something interesting that came to me last night, but did not know where to post it so George place it where you want.

          Recently I have been reading three books that originally had no connection in my mind, but last night I was looking at them on my dest at home and I had a so-called moment of clarity. The three books I am reading are:

          1.) On the Incarnation – St. Athanansios

          2.) The Abolishion of Man – C.S. Lewis

          3.) World War Z by Max Brooks

          The First two were for spiritual nourishment and depth. The Third was for pure entertainment and escape. However, last night it just hit me – “These three books are connected!”

          First, On The Incarnation tells us about the Incarnation of Christ in how by Jesus Christ taking on our Humanity redeems Humanity. In other word “God Became Man so that Man could become Divine.” Father Hopko took it a step further and stated that God Became Man so that Man could become Divine and could become truly Human. This is true. As you read On The Incarnation Christ’s Incarnation redeemed Humanity in such a way so as to make us fully Human as Christ became Fully Human. The very action of the Incarnation was the thing we needed to regenerate back to our original state of nature – Truly Human.

          Second, The Abolishion of Man tells us how we as Human Beings are throwing away the very essence of what it means to be Human. By destroying all objective values of Good, Beauty, Evil, etc., morality is reduced to pure relativism if not nihilism. In fact, Lewis surmises that in the end people will be ruled only by their own unreflected whims and desires. They will have surrendering rational reflection on their own motivations, and will no longer be recognizably human, but be like unthinking robots; meaning without rational thought or mind acting only on passions and desires without any controls or breaks on their actions whatsoever. When this occurs the total Abolition of Man will have occurred.

          Third, World War Z. The end result of the Abolition of Man and his degradation down to a sub-humanoid with no rational thought being completely and utterly controlled by his desires and passions. In WWZ this is depicted as mindless regenerated zombies that desire human flesh and pursue this passion with complete and terrible abandonment. This is obviously NOT the intent of WWZ, but if read in the context of the other two books and if the state of zombies and the rampant virus that causes the zombie condition is interpreted in light of the other two books it can easily be thought of as the Ultimate End of the abolition of Man’s Humanity to the disease of sin and death thus Humanity losing its humanity and made lower than animals when once Humanity was higher than the angels.

          The utter dispare and terror of the final book, WWZ, sheds such incredible light and hope upon the first On The Incarnation and drives home the Importance of Jesus Christ and His Holy Gospel and puts a sharpe point upon the warnings of C.S. Lewis in The Abolishion of Man.

          Just wanted to share. That’s all.

          Peter A. papoutsis

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Peter, you might like my essay “Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World” that I wrote a while back and incorporates the themes you bring out in your note above.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Peter, one other point: What the debate about homosexuality in both Church and culture represents is the elevation of passion to ontology. This leads to a redefinition of what constitutes the human person in fundamental ways. Those who claim to speak for the Church should understand this but often they don’t.

            I also believe that any Orthodox Church that tolerates homosexual activity in leadership but pretends the misbehavior does not need to be addressed as long as the behavior remains private, will experience the same internal fracturing we see playing out today in the OCA.

            On one level this concerns treating same-sex behavior as normative (ontological; same sex-desire is a constituent of created personhood) or as a passion (same-sex desire is disordered). On a deeper level and the place from where the ecclesiological conflicts about homosexuality originate, the issue is that two variant definitions of the human person (anthropology) come into irreconcilable conflict. Arguments about the moral licitness of homosexuality encompass much more than homosexual behavior, in other words.

            Much is a stake. The collapse of the Episcopalian Church over homosexuality shows us that. I think the conflict is first cultural and only second polemical, however. In other words, Churches that tolerate homosexual behavior in leadership inculcate the conflict into their internal culture and only when the conflict can’t be suppressed through internal mechanisms does it come to the surface and become polemical. By the time the discussion becomes public however, it may be too late. The internal culture may become so distorted that renewal becomes impossible. In that case the only thing that can bring healing is judgment. If God deems not to bring judgment, all that awaits is collapse.

            If I am correct, then the same kind of conflict we see playing out today in the OCA will occur in the GOA as well. Two jurisdictions that may be spared will be ROCOR and the Antiochians because they strictly apply the moral prohibition against homosexual behavior in the clerical ranks.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Is there a coherent transcript of this anywhere (like AP, Reuters, or on the ROCOR website)? The verbiage is somewhat confusing.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              The Orthodox Wiki article on Bishop Varnava, while indicative of grave problems in ROCOR, does not have a same-sex union allegation.

              The same-sex allegation seems to have come from Bishop Agafangel, another former ROCOR bishop.

              “Situation in Cannes
              From Vladyka Agafangel’s blog

              Situation in Cannes

              The current delay is due to the need to convene a meeting of the association that governs the Church of Archangel Michael in Cannes, France. The bylaws state such a meeting can only be called by the association’s Chairman, Bishop Varnava, who has been Chairman since 1996. Since Bishop Varnava has joined the MP and has also committed a series of actions which frankly place him outside of Christianity (he entered into a same-sex union with a male and was convicted of fraud for his financial wrongdoing), he clearly cannot head the association. In order to convene a legitimate meeting, the court must appoint a representative who can attend the meeting.

              The court had a hearing on May 2, 2012, where representatives of the MP asked the hearing be postponed to the end of December of this year. The court agreed to a postponement, but only to May 30.

              We hope a date for the meeting of the association will be set on May 30. At that meeting the married couple of Varnava Prokofiev and Seraphim Baranchikov (as they are called in the court case as representatives of the MP) will be voted out of the association and order can be restored in the parish.

              It is amazing that ROCOR(MP) has fallen so low that it reaffirmed the title of bishop to Varnava (Prokofiev) after taking it away earlier, only for the sake of having him be the rector of the parish and blesses his serving there and even ordinations performed by him (these are being done quickly to increase the number of “defendants” in the parish), while this person is in a same-sex union and was convicted of fraud! One could not even imagine this in one’s worst nightmares. What other proof do the blind need of how far the ROCOR(MP) Synod has fallen in order to finally see?”

              • Catherine9 says

                This information has been known for a long while, since well before the 2007 union with Mosco, about the homosexual character
                of this “Bp varnava”.

                He was suspended once before – in early 2000’s? – for unnamed accusations.

                Now it is CLEAR what at least ONE of the charges against him was !

                It has simply been brushed under the carpet by Rocor-MP.
                That’s why few in other jurisdictions have even heard of it.

                A GIGANTIC SCANDAL for Rocor-MP.

                The Rocor-MP Synod MUST get rid of these horrible 2 and any minions they may
                be harboring. There are always a few accomplices in the wings, too, who need to be
                flushed out of their hiding places and expelled from Rocor-MP, pronto.

                The entire “Cannes Affaire” is a big stain on the record of Rocor-MP that should never have been allowed to persist this long.
                It has only because of the silence on the internet. That’s why I am adding to this, hoping to embarrass the parties involved into defrocking “Bp Varnava” and shipping his crew away from that parish, to maybe an
                uninhabited out island of Solovetsky Monastery !

                Good riddance, plus end to the Cannes Circus.

                • ProPravoslavie says

                  In all this bashing of Varnava of Cannes, no one, least of all “Catherine9”, has ever bothered to mention under WHOSE presidency the ROCOR Synod decided to make him a bishop in the first place.

                  Hint: it’s the same Metropolitan who has been rapidly glorified by the schismatic splinters of “ROCOR”-Vitaly, and whose non-glorification by ROCOR (for now) is being used by these desperate schismatics to try to drag more souls into perdition.

                  • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                    Hold on a second.ROCOR IS considering the glorication of Metropolitan Philaret.It certainly isn’t his fault if some bishop consecrated during his watch turned out to be a whacko.I understood that the bishop in question was consecrated secretly for Russia.It’s easy for us 30 years after the fact to condemn,but 30 years ago,the MP really was under Soviet control.
                    Let’s remember that St.John of San Francisco performed some questionable ordinations,including one episcopal consecration.BTW,it appears that Metropolitan Vitaly was one of the bishops who opposed St.John.Whether or not God chastised Vladyka Vitaly in his later years for this,I wouldn’t care to speculate.I remember a younger Vladyka Vitaly who never would have tolerated the opportunists who surrounded him during his declining years.Whatever his faults,he was the only bishop that a generation of Canadian ROCOR members knew,hence some of them were led into the unfortunate schism(s).

                  • ProPravoslavie says

                    Fr. Andrei,

                    My intention was not to condemn Vladyka Philaret, who I also consider a saint, but to point out Catherine9’s double standard. For her, the fact that Bp. Varnava is with what she calls “ROCOR-MP” proves that it is bogus. She conveniently forgets that Met. Varnava was also with the same pre-Met. Vitaly ROCOR that all the splinter pseudo-ROCOR schisms of today trace their origin to, and that Met. Varnava was with the ROCOR schismatics for a very long time. So what does that make them?

                  • Well, Pro-Pravslavie,
                    I am not sure how much of the bad news about Rocor-MP to spill.
                    But the fact is : under Met Hilarion [Kapral] and his predecessor, Met Laurus,
                    Rocor was swept off into an entirely new direction, which flew in the face
                    of all that Rocor had been founded for.

                    I am saying I don’t believe EITHER of those Metropolitans. They seemed to have been
                    agents of Moscow put in place way before – or at least, cultivated by Moscow – until they could be maneuvered into supreme power over
                    “Prime Enemy Rocor”.
                    Then the two would be able to carry out all orders from KGB-Central.

                    Look at the record of Met Hilarion [Kapral].

                    He was made a bishop against the better instincts of – guess who ? Yes,
                    Metropolitan Philaret. Others, mainly then- Bp Laurus of Manhattan,
                    pushed and pushed and pushed, exclaiming with false joviality : “This is SUCH a NICE guy ! We have
                    to consecrate him”. So Hilarion was in the Holy Land when he got the phone call from
                    New York and supposedly expressed surprise [I know a clergyman who was right there with
                    him at that moment.]

                    After the consecration of Hilarion was performed, Metropolitan Philaret told his closest spiritual children that he DESPERATELY REGRETTED having gone along with the demands of Laurus. The Metropolitan KNEW that it was A SERIOUS MISTAKE from Heaven’s point of view.

                    Sure enough, later we find Bp Hilarion of Manhattan as caught red-handed handing over
                    important documents about the Holy Land to – yes, a RED representative. Someone from the MP, that is.

                    When asked WHY he was allowing the man to carry away such important files, Bp Hilarion shrugged and laughed, murmured some vague nothing.

                    You see ? The man is a traitor. As was his sponsor, Met Laurus, before him.

                    Their regime simply made sure that you in the OCA will never hear ANY of this !
                    They muzzled any monks or priests or laity who tried to reveal the truth. Or quietly threatened them using any lever they could find. After all, these 2 were long-time
                    assets of the MP – KGB. Parallel organizations, not distinct !

                    Today, we don’t know, but if the same LEADERS are STILL in place guiding the direction of the MP, then how much has REALLY changed, one must question carefully.

                    There is documented PROOF that Bp Hilarion [Kapral] LIED in a U.S. COURT !
                    What kind of shady character – let alone a Prince of the Church – would ever do such a thing?
                    When caught out in his lies, he resorted to same “oh well, heh heh” routine
                    that he had when found in the Synod Archives giving away critical documents to
                    unknown MP sources ! Of course, later the MP probably used those to steal away — by brutal force, in fact —
                    several Rocor ecclesiastical properties in Palestine.

                    So if i were you OCA people, I wouldn’t rush to send your Jonah to this Met Hilarion – !!

                    Some other outlet would be a MUCH better fit.

                    Back to the question at hand, if Metropolitan Philaret made a mistake in consecrating
                    the PRESENT HEAD OF ROCOR-MP, and realized it immediately afterward,
                    so any hierarch is capable of permitting consecrations to go through which should NOT have.

                    Since he honestly acknowledged his gigantic error [in the sense that this same Hilarion
                    would help change the entire direction of Rocor in a way that Met. Philaret would NEVER
                    have approved in 1,000 years ], I think we can exonerate him in the case of the much lesser Bp Varnava.

                    The point I was making was that…[defamatory remarks removed by editor]…it is the Synod’s DUTY to immediately adjourn the ecclesiastical court. If found guilty, DECISIVELY remove ANY such Bishop – or any clergyman.

                    Not to shuffle on and on for years, betting on the fact that outsiders
                    will never notice. Or, that such scandal can be readily brushed under the carpet.

                    Hence, it’s the moment of truth.
                    Time for the GOOD to be honored : Met Philaret glorified
                    and the BAD to be removed : bp Varnava and probably a few OTHER prominent Rocor-MP problem-cases !

                    Metropolitan Vitaly had his negative sides. But compared with the
                    subsequent two Metropolitans, he was an angel.

                    Did anyone see that nicely done film about 20th century Russian
                    Church history which features an interview with him ?
                    It had a one-word name. He did well in projecting a strong image
                    for Rocor around the world.

                    As for St John Maximovitch’s mistakes, they aren’t actually proven.
                    Perhaps for example, the Dutch hieromonks Adriaan and Jacob might have left Orthodoxy entirely and returned to their former Benedictine monastery had they not received the close guidance
                    of Bishop John when he was based in nearby Brussels.

                    We can only speculate about whether such cases as the French Bp Jean-Nectaire Kovalevsky
                    were such disastrous choices as many believe.
                    From this distance, we cannot tell so easily. One would posit that St John with his clairvoyance, must have calculated that despite a risk, it was worth it to take a chance and elevate or consecrate the Europeans.

              • Fr. John Whiteford says

                It is not true that he entered into any same sex union. In France, “civil solidarity pacts” are entered into for all sorts of reasons. A mother and her son could enter into one, simply for tax reasons.

                Varnava has been an extremist, a schismatic, and could justly be deposed for many reasons, but this does prove is a homosexual.

                • ProPravoslavie says

                  Fr. John,

                  I believe that what you mean is “this does NOT prove that he is a homosexual”?

                  The situation is a bit more complex. My understanding is that a mother and a son or a brother and a sister cannot enter into a civil solidarity union or a PACS. The PACS was, at the time of its creation, designed by politicians to mollify homosexuals in a way that also avoided or delayed the question of gay marriage, which had far less support about a decade ago. As such it was and is informally seen by many as a way of facilitating gay unions. That having been said, PACS is most assuredly not in itself a form of “gay union” and it is not limited to those in a sexual partnership of some sort. Heterosexuals can also enter into a PACS, and it is perfectly possible to enter into a PACS purely in order to take advantage of the tax breaks it provides for two persons who happen to be living together — France, after all, is known for its exceptionally severe tax regime.

                  So, I would say that if Bishop Varnava is in a PACS with a hieromonk, that is a potential source of scandal; however, it does not necessarily prove that he is a homosexual, and may simply be a way for these two men to avoid having more taxes placed on their shoulders. I imagine that a ROCOR bishop who is banned by his own Synod from serving anywhere else but in one church (the Archangel Michael church in Cannes) that does not have a very large congregation, does not exactly have a large income.

                  It is an understandable situation, not at all comparable to a bishop actually entering into what the law itself sees and declares as a gay civil union, but it still doesn’t look good.

                  • There are good reasons why Varnava has been suspended and now has been retired without the right of serving anywhere except his house chapel. He has been the source of considerable scandal and embarrassment for ROCOR more than once. Indeed, I was told that the only reason he hasn’t been deposed is extreme patience of the ROCOR Synod. Yet despite all his scandalous behavior, there has never been evidence of homosexuality.

                  • Fr. John Whiteford says

                    The law was designed to accommodate homosexuals, but was intentionally left broad enough to not be specific to them. There is no need under that law for their to be any romantic element to the relationship, and I believe it does not exclude siblings, or parents and children. It is limited to two, probably because they did not want to accommodate polygamy (since they have a large moslem population that would have made use of it..

                  • It is clear that Rocor-MP grabbed onto anyone they could to try to hang to that
                    probably immensely valuable PROPERTY.

                    This is a standard MP objective : rake in the properties ; don’t let even one “escape”
                    without massive prosecution by Rocor-MP, so that the MP can become ALL the
                    wealthier !

                    Hence no objections seem to have been expressed publicly to this sinister Bishop
                    Varnava and his highly suspicious behavior.

                    Besides the fraud and what I recall one Rocor-MP priest in the know writing some years ago that Bp Varnava HAD BROKEN ABOUT EVERY RULE IN THE BOOK –
                    surely this retention of him as the local representative of Rocor-MP in Cannes
                    is motivated by a sense of powerlessness.

                    I imagine there is a heavy campaign behind the scenes from the MP to keep that property from ESCAPING the MP’s long arm. This has been going on in many places where Rocor-MP owns desirable real estate.

                    Moral of the story : don’t make a deal with the Devil. Either by
                    trying to mollify or placate an angry or insistent Moscow, or by permitting such a disreputable character as Bp Varnava to be representing one’s interests.

                    It ALWAYS backfires.

                  • Catherine9 uses the abbreviation “ROCOR-MP” which indicates that she belongs to one of the various schismatic groups that emerged out of the Mansonville circus or to the group of Monk Agafangel, the soi-disant Metropolitan of New York.

                    The issue with the Cannes cathedral is that, first of all, it is an architectural and historical monument, built in tsarist days, and, more importantly, there are Russians there who are at least nominally Orthodox and who should be in the pastoral care of the Orthodox Church and not some vagante bishop playing dress-up with expensive toys from Sofrino.

                    In any case, the claim that the MP is wealthy is bogus. I would like to challenge her to provide an example of at least one expensive property that belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              If the GOAA did not have the Ephremite Monasteries we in the GOAA would already be there. That is hopeful and scary at the same time.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                You might like to take a look at
                If these accusations are true, it seems that things are not all that healthy at the Ephremite Monasteries. In any case if the secular press gets wind of this, it will be a major embarrassment for all American Orthodox..

                • Fr. John, the expletives and explosions of Mr. Ashley Nevins are all over this website, as well as the rest of the Internet. His son’s tragic death, as best as I can piece things together from sources not related to his parents, culminated a troubled life that started long, long before he became Orthodox. Seriously, Mr. Nevins is not a useful resource for what does, or does not, occur within the monasteries under the guidance of Fr. Ephraim.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    If Mr. Nevin’s son was given conditional Baptism at Mt. Athos after he was received into the Church through Chrismation, that is a serious offense because all authorities recognize that a convert can be received through Chrismation as an act of economy. Even the Bishops of ROCOR in their decision to receive all converts by Baptism had a clause allowing a Bishop to exercise economy and receive a convert by Chrismation. I was told by one of our Antiochian Bishops that some of the monks had told his convert clergy who had been received by Chrismation to come to their monastery for a secret corrective Baptism without the Bishop’s knowledge.
                    There are too many strange stories coming out of Ephraim’s monasteries. I hear heard shocking stories from Priests all over the country about the Ephraimites and the harm that they are doing with unsound teaching. There are too many stories from too many places not to take this thing seriously. Something wrong must be going on or there would not be so many horror stories about their negative influence. When I served in a mission in the Houston area, every time that the Orthodox clergy gathered, sooner or later we got into a discussion of the problems being caused by the monks under Ephraim. They would ask extremely personal sexual questions during Confession and teach a very negative view of marriage and sexuality. They would Baptize children from our parishes without even having the courtesy of informing us. That is wrong. If someone from another parish wants me to Baptize their child, or even join my parish, I pick up the telephone and discuss the matter with their Priest to see that there is a legitimate reason for their request. If someone were to come to me from California and want their child Baptized because they have relatives here, I would first require them to have the blessing of their Priest.
                    If they are telling people not to listen to their priest because they think that he is a modernist they are interfering in the local parish and causing problems.
                    There is an old saying, where there is smoke there is fire. There is a lot of smoke coming out of the Ephraimite monasteries. At the very least the Greek Orthodox Bishops need to reign in these monasteries and exercise more control over them to prevent any abuses and to see that only sound Orthodoxy is being taught in them.
                    A law suite is a very serious matter. If there is any merit to their case and if some of the accusations are true, this will not be good for Orthodoxy if this thing makes the press. Think the harm that could be done to the Greek Archdiocese if these people win their suite. That kind of publicity we do not need.

                    • Fr. John, I didn’t read anything in that document that suggested Scott was ever chrismated before being baptized on Mount Athos.

                      You seem to be conflating two separate issues, the issue of receiving converts through baptism despite a past heterodox baptism (which is legitimate but not universal Orthodox practice), and the issue of “corrective” Orthodox baptism of converts who have already received an Orthodox chrismation (which is blasphemy).

                      As far as I can see, Scott’s previous baptism was at a Protestant church, and the document never says he was chrismated before his Orthodox baptism. So, it seems it was received into the Orthodox Church through baptism.

                      While it is perfectly acceptable to chrismate converts by oikonomia, it is also perfectly acceptable to give converts Orthodox baptism even if they have been baptized in a non-Orthodox church. It is unacceptable to baptize someone after Orthodox chrismation, but that is not what the letter says happened to Scott anyway.

                      Another issue is the mention of Paul Schroeder, who at one time was an Orthodox priest serving as chancellor of the Metropolis of San Francisco. I believe his laicization had nothing to do with misconduct or anything pertaining to this case.

                      Unfortunately, Ashley is known to take offense at ordinary aspects of our faith, and we long-timers here at Monomakhos know that he was already like that prior to his son’s suicide. It does not appear their attorney was willing or able to weed those prejudiced complaints out of the demand letter. For instance, the Orthodox teaching that we are the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is treated as if it were indicative of a cult-like mentality. It most certainly is not.

                      Instead of passing summary judgment against Elder Ephraim and his monasteries, it would be good to say prayers for Scott’s soul and for his parents, and for Elder Ephraim, Metropolitan Gerasimos, and the community at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

                    • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                      To Helga

                      One does not hear the sort of strange stories coming our of ROCOR or the monasteries of other canonical Orthodox jurisdictions. Why are there so many accounts of shaky teaching and abuse coming out of this one group of Orthodox monasteries. Obviously since we do not hear these things from this one group of monasteries, and not about the others, there is something wrong going in in them. The horror stories are told by clergy in any area where Ephraim has established a monastery. Once again, one does not hear these sort of stories coming out of the ROCOR or other canonical monasteries. That tells me that these monasteries are not characteristic of sound Orthodox monasticism.
                      Re read the documents, they state that Mr. Nevin’s son was Chrismated in a Greek Orthodox Church near his home before he went to Mt. Athos. You are right a Bishop has every right to instruct his clergy to receive all converts by Baptism, but a Bishop also has the right to receive converts by Chrismation. My point is that once they are in the Church regardless of whether they were received by Baptism or Chrismation, they are Orthodox. To Baptize a person who was received by Chrismation is a denial of the grace that they received by their Chrismation and reception of Holy Communion and is a serious deviation from sound Orthodox teaching.

                • KVOA, a local Arizona television station is hyping the Nevins’ story.

                  I’m looking forward to the trial. Finally we’ll get some answers.

                  In the meantime, it’s funny-scary-sad how Nevins is attempting to try his case in the media or prejudice potential jurors in this “investigative” report with statements such as: “We didn’t even know he had a gun,” but in the line just before this statement, the KVOA reporter states: “Paranoid and panicked his parents say Scott got his weapon’s license and two guns.”

                  So Ashley Nevins and his spouse say that knew that their son got his weapon’s license and two guns, but at the same time they didn’t even know he had a gun? Of course this doesn’t make sense and stinks of cover-up.

                  The two guns are going to be an issue in the trial because the National Herald reported that on June 10, 2012, Scott Nevins went to St. Anthony’s Monastery armed with two guns and a knife.

                  The only kind of suicide plan that involves two guns and a knife is a murder-suicide plan, the kind of plan that we have been seeing all too often in the news of late. There was a suicide but thank God that no one else was murdered that morning.

                  You would think that even the detractors of Archimandrite Ephraim and his monasteries might have been relieved that the Greek Orthodox Church escaped a Newtown-styled shooting massacre…but no, they purpose to use this suicide-failed-murder-spree to advance their anti-monastic agenda.

                  KVOA tells us that a watchdog group and even a billionaire are on the case to take action against Archimandrite Ephraim. After the trial? No, appparently they are already convinced of the collective guilt of the monks within their Archdiocese.

                  But what if the Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios are exonerated at this trial? What then? Then it will be a pleasure to see the watchdog and the billionaire apply their resources to get the word out about their innocence.

                  Along with the exposure of the truths about the murder plot and the guns, I’m looking forward to the exposure of the “thought reform” specialist that Nevins subjected his son to.

                  Here is what the National Herald reported on June 21, 2012:

                  Paisios revealed that “on Monday June 4, he called me and threatened me saying ‘I will blow your brains with a gun.’ I told him that it would be good for him to go and see a psychotherapist. He told me that ‘I already had gone and I am well.’

                  Notice that Nevins’ attorney made not one mention of a post-monastery therapist in his preliminary investigation attachment to the shakedown letter. Strange, given that the last person to treat Scott Nevins will surely be subpoeaned to testify at the trial about the state of his patient before he committed suicide. The anti-monastics are going to be in for a treat when this person is revealed!

                  Again, I’m looking forward to the trial where the truth will out.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    I am not looking forward to the trial, because no matter how it comes out, it will make Orthodoxy look bad. You know that the secular media will sensationalize the story.
                    Someone mentioned the scandal concerning Christ of the Hills Monastery in Blanco, Texas. To their credit the Bishops of ROCOR sent a team to investigate the monastery when they heard of the problems there. The monks refused to cooperate and were suspended by ROCOR. The monastery then declared themselves independent . Once they left ROCOR, the ROCOR Bishops could do nothing about the problems of the monastery which got even worse. One monk was sentenced to life in prison for child molestation. and three monks were also convicted of the same charges. Fr. Benedict Greene, their leader, was put on 10 years probation. However, when additional charges were made against him he committed suicide when he was about to be arrested for child molestation.
                    The monastery also had a “weeping” icon that was proven to be a fake used to raise money. The whole episode was a major embarrassment to Orthodoxy in Texas.

                    • The Blanco group also put out a book called ‘A Call from the Holy Mountain’ and claimed that it was written by Archimandrite Ephraim. It was a fake like the phony weeping icon but that fact hasn’t stopped the supposed watchdogs from trying to use it against Archimandrite Ephraim in another round of attacks on their blogs.

            • M. Stankovich says

              On one level this concerns treating same-sex behavior as normative (ontological; same sex-desire is a constituent of created personhood) or as a passion (same-sex desire is disordered). On a deeper level and the place from where the ecclesiological conflicts about homosexuality originate, the issue is that two variant definitions of the human person (anthropology) come into irreconcilable conflict. Arguments about the moral licitness of homosexuality encompass much more than homosexual behavior, in other words.

              Might I inquire as to whom, specifically, you refer when you make this statement? I personally am unaware of any reputable Orthodox writer who treats same-sex behavior as normative & constituent of “created personhood” (which, by the way, is another marvelous contribution to the collective jingoism). I do believe, however, that an Orthodox theologian is scrupulous in avoiding any confusion between that which is according to creation, “as it was in the beginning,” from the calamitous interaction of our fallen humanity with this broken world. As it turns out, this consistent blurring of the demarcation is your sandbox.

              I have meticulously and scrupulously documented my argument both theologically & scientifically, and only in world of the theater of the absurd is it possible for you to dismiss it – outright & single-handedly dismiss – exclusively on your own authority! While I have been quite frank that data is emergent and will, perhaps, prove useless in the future, in the real world, it cannot be dismissed; simply put, in many it cases, it is “likely,” in most it is “moderate,” and still more, it is significant enough to be a “significant possibility.”

              You had 18 long months to correct my errors, yet you have not done so once. I attribute this to the simple fact that I have, literally, proposed nothing that is outrageous, that conflicts with Orthodox anthropology or theology, is innovative, or “renovationist.” I have called for no amendment, re-interpretation, no “exemptions” or considerations other than compassion and mercy. There is no conflict between anything I have said and Orthodox anthropology ; there is no “variant definitions of the human person” that are responsible for ecclesiological conflicts. Only in your sandbox, by a manipulation of the fundamental distinction of “as it was in the beginning,” and humanity as it has become in this calamity of our broken world, can you even verbalize such stuff with a straight face. You offer nothing compelling or convincing – in our whole extended argument – that would suggest to me that what I have proposed is “impenetrable,” as you seemed to have had no difficulty dogging me personally, my supposed motivations & ambitions, and your suppositions as to my goals.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Actually, I didn’t have you in mind at all, M. Stankovich. I’m only outlining the assumptions underlying the debate in the larger culture about the moral licitness of homosexual behavior in terms of Orthodox anthropology. These assumptions have entered the Church as well and if adopted a conflict will emerge shaped like the ones we have seen in other Christian communions such as the Episcopal Church. This is unavoidable.

                My argument with you is that you resist any examination of the philosophical/theological assumptions guding your arguments. That’s why I am waiting for a thesis statement.

                You approach seems to be this: Because a subset of research on human behavior is ostensibly scientific, the only legitimate way to address the behavior is by engaging the subset. The problem is that I know too much history to take the findings of behavioral science at face value, especially about such culturally charged issues like homosexual behavior. Remember eugenics?

                That’s why you owe your readers a thesis statement. What are the assumptions guiding the way you assemble the data that you pull from here and there? The only assumptions I see so far are materialist and deterministic. Am I wrong?

                • M. Stankovich says

                  It never crossed my mind that you would be referring to me, which is precisely why I asked to whom, specifically, you refer. What do you make of this:

                  Comments you will read here derive from a belief that medical science is a fundamental unity or a συμφωνία (meaning a unity of “sounds” that result in a single “voice”) of biology (including human genetics), psychology (including the impact of developmental experience and “events”), social (including environmental events) , and spiritual (including one’s faith, morality, integrity, transcendence, and sobriety) dimensions. And so unified, so symphonic is this relationship, that attempts to “explore” or ascertain the correctness of, say, a biological principle, in isolation from the symphonia will necessarily result in error, a likening to the ancient story of the blind men attempting to define an elephant. Therefore, the message of Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο (John 1:14), is an Orthodox anthropology as defined at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon, and by analogy, the Eighth Ecumenical Council as well.

                  Hmm. My intention was specifically prevent you from accusing me of proposing “the only legitimate way to address the behavior is by engaging the subset.” Ecoutez: it will necessarily result in error.

                  Let me make this point to you: my essay is relatively brief, as such matters proceed, divided into six segments to date. It was produced in a thoroughly systematic, carefully planned, and meticulously documented fashion, beginning with Preliminary Comments; and where I’m from, this would constitute a “statement of thesis.” Your suggestion that perhaps I have strung together a gathering of “data that [I] pull from here and there,” is as ludicrous as it is unfounded. Nevertheless, it betrays the fact that you have not taken the time to read it – and by the way, this is biological science, not behavioural science. Yup, you are wrong.

                  What I “owe readers” is a substantiated, corroborated, and accurate presentation of the argument.

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    But what is the argument? That remains unclear.

                    Your paragraph above says that “. . . a biological principle, in isolation from the symphonia will necessarily result in error. . .” Doesn’t this confirm my observation that unstated theological/philosophical presuppositions are in play?

                    So why the resistance to any examination to what the presuppositions might be given that you argue they are necessary to your method? And why do you scold those who want to examine your method as being scientific illiterates?

                    You define symphony as:

                    . . . a belief that medical science is a fundamental unity or a συμφωνία (meaning a unity of “sounds” that result in a single “voice”) of biology (including human genetics), psychology (including the impact of developmental experience and “events”), social (including environmental events) , and spiritual (including one’s faith, morality, integrity, transcendence, and sobriety) dimensions.

                    Are you trying to make a specific argument or are your contributions simply findings scientists have presented that theorize about a biological basis for same-sex attraction outside of any larger context? If the former, then you owe your readers some explanation of the presumed context. If the latter, then why the prologue about symphonia?

                    Do you see why people have difficulty following you?

                    • Fr. Hans, A side note . . . I really appreciate and admire ( and covet) your clarity of writing and formulating of an argument. Thank you for your work.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Thanks Father. I greatly appreciate your insight on these matters.


            • nit picking says

              It’s already happened. They just know how to keep it under wraps better.

          • That’s “Abolition”.
            Sorry, Peter, but I can’t help but correct spelling errors when I see them.
            I have an irresistable urge to do so.
            If it’s any consolation, I find that my own spelling gets worse with age.
            Did you speak/read/write Greek before English? Just curious, partly for professional reasons.


            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Yes I did. My mother was adamant about that. I also spent most of my youth in Greece up until 84 then went back sporadically. Too me I do not think in English, but in Greek. This has gotten me in trouble with my translation because I cannot even begin to tell you how inadequate English is in expressing a Greek word, sentence or even thought.

              This is why I do not call my translation a “translation” but an approximation. I freely admit that I do no justice to the English language in my LXX translation, but to me if I do not translate the Greek like I do most people would not even come close to understanding LXX Greek.

              If you read NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint) it is probably the best translation of the LXX out there, but it is so bone literal it is wholly unsuitable for Liturgy. The Revised Standard Version, which is an excellent translation of The Greek New Testament and the best out there on the market, even has to settle for approximations and paraphrases in places just to make the translation readable and suitable for Liturgy.

              In all biblical and liturgical translations, with probably the exception of Slavonic and Coptic, a balance has to be struck between accuracy and euphony (sp?). So get a copy of the RSV for daily meditation, reflection, study and prayer, and a good GNT for intense word study. Once you get a copy of either the LXX and/or GNT and really dive deep into it you will be surprised and intimidated at how much you discover and how much you really do not know.


    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Hi Michael:

      Fr. Hopko has tackled this issue and also spoke about this issue here in Chicago last year, which I believe was at St. George’s Antiochean Orthodox Church in Cicero, and to basically distill his thesis it was this: “Take up your Cross everyday and struggle with your same-sex attaction.” Easier said than done, and the Church should be prepared for people to “slip” along the way, but salvation is in the struggle to NOT give in to one’s passions, for the Church NOT to legitimize a sin into a lifestyle, and that a true pastoral approach to this IMHO is to be had privately between one’s spiritual father, confession and leading a life of sacrifice and struggle.

      This is what we say and do to the Alcoholic, the Drug Addict, and now to the man or woman struggling with Homosexual feelings and attactions. The Church has the Gospel and the tools of the Gospel, now its up to the individual’s own personal motivation on what he or she wants to do.

      The transgendered is not different, but maybe more emotionally damaged. I do not know. What I do know is that acceptance of a belief that this is ok and that the person finally did the “Right” thing in becoming a man/woman is just plain wrong and again Fr. Hopko was very clear in his condemnation on this issue, but that we do need to show compassion to the individuals involved, which again, should be private, filled with spiritual counseling, abundant forms of rependence and living within thye very liturgical and prayerful life of the Church.

      Again easier said than done when I cannot even keep a regular prayer life and Church attendance because of work, kids, family obligations, etc. However, salvation is in the struggle to say NO to the Devil, even when you fail and fall to get back up and say “Ok God, Let’s do this again.”

      Its when the struggle stops that sin wins and salvation is truly lost.


      • Trudge at SmartVote says

        Yes, Peter.

        Agree with you that some sinful tendencies are more complicating than others, but as you said we each have the ability and responsibility to make progress against them.

        As a sin, homosexuality should have no special allowances. It is no more difficult internally for the homosexually-tempted person to cross the spiritual sea, as St. Mark the Ascetic termed it, than for the bisexually-tempted, swingers, or anyone who lusts after other of the various forms of sexual stimulation, hookups, food or drink, recognition or crowd excitement. Crossing the spiritual sea is difficult for all of us, and requires pursuit of the virtues and the spiritual aids of the Church, and the orderly moral structures of the culture and government.

        What makes it more difficult to navigate the spiritual sea, to the point of despair, is living in a society that has the technological power to incite our lusts and simultaneously quiet our consciences through mass means in the intimacy of our homes, and repetitively and predictably satisfy them at small cost, and a state that is ridiculing and undoing the orderly moral structures.

        When the antidote to our lusts, the Church, begins to oppose Christ and accommodates, even joins sides with the lust-inciting powers, God forbid, what can help the soul escape from them?

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “What I do know is that acceptance of a belief that this is ok and that the person finally did the “Right” thing in becoming a man/woman is just plain wrong and again Fr. Hopko was very clear in his condemnation on this issue, but that we do need to show compassion to the individuals involved, which again, should be private, filled with spiritual counseling, abundant forms of rependence and living within thye very liturgical and prayerful life of the Church.”

        A man never becomes a woman, and a woman never becomes a man, regardless of self-mutilation (and insane secular laws). If someone has cut off their “manhood” from their body and distorted the image of God in themselves with hormones and implants, then I would think repentance means admitting they will never be another sex other than one they were born, dressing and identifying themselves to others as that sex again, and be willingly to do as much as possible to reverse the damage to their bodies.

        Now, if Fr. Hopko means we “need to show compassion” by allowing transexuals to take part in the “very liturgical and prayerful life of the Church” while pretending to live as another sex, then….. words fail… that’s even worse than Fr. Lachanodrakon who seems to be aiming at allowing nudists into the church while nude if the secular laws change:

        “If the Church is going to respond to the legalization of nudity it seems that it should begin by considering how to minister to those people who, recognizing that they cannot change their natural disposition to public nudity, knock on the doors of our parishes seeking Christ. Do we ignore them? Do we, prima facie, turn them away? Do we, under the rubric of repentance, force them or other non-Christian nudists in their family to clothe? Or, do we offer them, as we offer anyone desiring Christ, pastoral care, love and a spiritual home?”

        • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

          Is this what Fr. Hopko is preparing us for? An openly “gay couple” accepted into the Church by chrismation (because they were supposedly celibate). But, the breaking point for the priest and various monks was that one of the “gay” women was actually a transgendered man. The bishop apparently on their side (“told us that though the orthodox church seemed to ‘move glacially’ at times, that it still is growing in wisdom, love, and understanding”)? So I think I understand why +Jonah required of the Anti-Sodomy position of the Church in the churches, I fear it was a last gasp to save the OCA.

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

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

          “We were so happy to be accepted fully into the orthodox church, and had met so many loving people in Holy Trinity, that we felt truly blessed.

          “Starting in January we drove the four hour trip up to northern California to stay on retreat at St. John’s Monastery in Manton, an OCA monastery, and became friends with some of the monks there. It was so beautiful that we looked for and found a lovely cabin in the forest and took all of our savings to buy the cabin, to be only seven miles from the monastery.

          “Then one Sunday, arriving for liturgy, we were met by a monk named Fr. Martin and denied access to eucharist. Apparently he had been suspicious of our relationship and done a great deal of searching on the internet and discovered my birth name. We were devastated and still are.

          “Back in San Francisco, we spent an entire afternoon with Archbishop Benjamin, at his request, to discuss our past and the problems of being transgender in the orthodox church. He was very kind, intelligent, and asked great questions, and told us that though the orthodox church seemed to ‘move glacially’ at times, that it still is growing in wisdom, love, and understanding.

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

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

  10. Nudity! Why Not! Creation is beautiful in God’s eye but in ours it is Evil. We have so much to learn about doing God’s work rather than spending time on Fashion.

    • KJ: “Nudity! Why not?”

      Because the LORD God made them tunics of skins to cover their nakedness. And these tunics (ketonoth) were none other than priestly vestments (like Joseph’s coat and the tunics assigned to the Levites) signifying the role of Man as made in the image of God and summoned to live in His likeness. As noted by Chesterton, human beings have, among other unique characteristics, the call and desire to adorn themselves with clothes, which are frequently for more than simple protection from the elements.

      My priest and I stumbled on a nudist beach last year–he looking for shells to bring home to his children, and I to take a wade in the ocean. While I was innocently taking a photo of the sublime, turquoise sea, we were berated by the bathers for being “animals.” How strange it was since we were the ones clothed like human beings, while it was they who more ressembled mere animals.


  11. new Metropolitan Jonah video says

    latest video, from Feb. 1, Spiritual Studies:

  12. Henry Chinaski says

    Fr. John, see “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift.

    An appropriate pattern to model the actions of the Holy Synod of the OCA would be George Orwell’s, “Shooting an Elephant.”

    • Jane Rachel says

      Henry Chinaski, Thank you for suggesting we read Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant.” I did, and I see what you mean. .

      • Jane Rachel says

        Henry, thanks also for the link to Swift’s piece. Yow. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is not out of date, because humanity doesn’t change, nor are we any less, or more, moral than we have ever been. Same old problems, nothing new here, folks. For some reason, while reading Swift’s essay, the image that came to mind was Beyonce’s half-time Super Bowl performance, complete with the bedazzled, adoring crowd’s reaction. And I was foolish enough to watch it. So glad I don’t have young children. They might have been devoured too, after watching that greedy insanity.

  13. Forgive me if this has been posted already, but Christ the Savior Mission (OCA), Stafford, VA has now been dissolved as a mission of the OCA and reconstituted into ROCOR in the Eastern American Diocese as St Herman of Alaska parish. The priest is our own Archpriest Alexander Webster:

    ROCOR EA Diocese Announcement

    The question arises: Who next?

    • Jonathan Johnston says

      Fools! Now Webster can teach these people how to be 18th century Russian peasants. Stupid, so so stupid!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Beware whom thou callest “fool.”

      • Why is he an 18th Century Peasant?

        • George Michalopulos says

          At least 18th century peasants weren’t confused about sodomy. Seriously, my very wise father took me to task when I was in college and told me that the piety of his peasant grandparents was more profitable than any theological degree.

          • Jonathan Johnston says

            You seem to have this pre-occupation with sodomy. I can’t imagine why. Now you are accusing the OCA leadership to be encouraging this and practicing this. Have you been taking advantage of those funny pills being a pharmacist? You encourage rumors, lies and disinformation here along with the wackos who love to promote this stuff. Reading here, one would get the idea that ROCOR is the savior of Orthodoxy in America. Far from it. Amazing how you may be able to twist the minds of shallow converts and a disgraced bishop here to help. More work of the devil; keep up the good work.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I have no “preoccupation with sodomy.” Like most heterosexuals who find it pleasing to look at young ladies in the springtime I have my own demons to wrestle with. I was simply stating as a matter of historical/anthropological fact what it was about homosexuality among other sins that so vexed the writers of the Old Testament and St Paul. Archbishop Dmitri wrote an excellent, easy-to-understand exposition on this in his exegesis of the Epistle to the Romans. I direct all to read it for themselves in order to understand more fully the destructiveness of this particular sin.

            • Amazing how you deny abuse in the Church. But don’t let me wake you . . .

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            18th century peasants AND elites, George, did not confine their estimation of sodomy to same-sex relations at all, or even to human relations. In fact many variations on actual intercourse that are the normal habits of fundamentalist Christian husbands and wives in their bedrooms, on or off the bed, or living rooms or showers, etc., might very well be branded Sodomy by an 18th century Scotch
            Covenanter Presbyterian peasant. The questions listed in the old Russian manuals for parish clergy to be addressed to various estates at Confession indicate that peasants there may have been at least as imaginative as southern Californians or Texans.

            • George Michalopulos says

              That reminds me of a joke Your Grace: Why don’t Baptists make love standing up? Because they’re scared others will think they’re dancing.

              Seriously, I’m sure that the average Christian (of whatever country) in the 18th century would have been as outraged at the thought of a newlywed couple having a go in the hayloft with two men standing at the courthouse demanding that the local magistrate certify their “marriage.”

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                That, George, is another matter. I responded to what you wrote about the sophistication of some 18th century peasants of unknown provenance and how the understanding of Sodomy has always evolved and devolved. No one’s really sure, nor have they ever been sure, just what exactly was meant by ‘that we may know them.” Perhaps they were a town inhabited by people afllected with Helen Keller’s affliction? If not, how do you know? You said some peasants knew exactly what they meant by sodomy. They knew everything “exactly”, did they not? It’s all because Adam and Eve dined on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, no?
                Isn’t someone going to claim now to ‘know exactly” that “knowledge of good and evil” meant global warming and evolutionary science?

            • You are right! I don’t think many Orthodox realise where the boundaries are with sex either-Let alone Protestants, but then we can’t hold them to our teachings, can we. . .

    • ImHappyJustToDanceWithYou says

      There are several OCA parishes/missions which would like to remain in the OCA, but which feel compelled to look elsewhere because of the corruption among our bishops.

      I talked to Fr Alexander about his plans months before this move to ROCOR, and his church was in a unique position to make the move easier (i.e., transfer without legal action by the OCA):
      1) the mission owned no property, but rented their sanctuary, so there was no monetary incentive for the OCA to take legal action against them leaving;
      2) the mission was just that: a mission, and not an established parish, so embarrassment to the OCA would be lessened;
      3) the people were very informed and wanted to leave the OCA, because of the corruption of our Synod (uncanonically conspiring to oust Metropolitan JONAH by financial blackmail, publishing false and outrageous slander against +JONAH before the world press, allowing bishops to keep large caches of sodomy videos, firing whistleblowers of priestly sexual misconduct and deviancy, saying we have a “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct but bringing back a bishop perpetrating such, allowing an archdeacon to serve despite his marrying another man, bishops propositioning priests for homosexual sin, ruining priests’ reputations and setting up sham spiritual courts, allowing conflict of interest in financial dealings with seminaries, silencing disagreement, bullying and intimidation as the means of pastoral care, etc.) and various injustices perpetrated and/or covered up by our bishops (e.g., against +JONAH, against Fr Zacchaeus, against Fr Ray Valencia, against Fr Vacille Susan, against Fr Gregory Jensen, etc.).

      While most parishes are not in a position to leave without legal repercussions, individual parishioners and families are free to see the corruption in the OCA Synod and reject it. I know of folks who have done so.

      At Parma, V. Rev. Thomas Hopko gave a wonderful and inspiring sermon, which focused on the OCA’s history of enduring trials. He cited saints, metropolitans, bishops and priests as having brought us this holy faith through their suffering. His point was that the OCA made it through terrible trials before, and we will make it through this one (the Metropolitan JONAH resignation). His sermon was, as I say, inspiring, and I don’t want to take away from the virtues of our past. However, he was applying examples of past *outside* persecution to our present *internal* corruption, and that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Today, we have immoral, careerist, corrupt bishops who go uncorrected by their brother bishops, a general consensus to tolerate and cover-up homosexuality, and a Synod which publicly slanders its morally sound Metropolitan with false charges. That’s not persecution from the outside, but spiritual decay and death coming from the inside. And that’s completely different from trials of the past which Father Hopko cited, about St Tikhon’s suffering or Metropolitan Leonty’s and others’.

      I’m not saying we’ve never had scandal; the church has always had its wolves, and serious sin has often ensnared some leaders. In the past a lot was covered up, no doubt. But today we have open immorality undisciplined and known misconduct uncorrected and blatant corruption given public episcopal blessing. That’s a different story, and that’s why folks want to leave. Blaming the world wide web is only attacking the messenger, and is as short-sighted as our bishops’ attempts at internet gag orders.

      I’ve always said that Americans will stand for a lot of things, including terrible wrongdoing and sin, but Americans will not stand for cover-ups, flagrant hypocrisy, or corruption. That’s what we’ve got, and with every site post ignoring it, we get further from being recognized as the Bride of Christ, even by our own people.

      I believe in the vision of the O.C.A., in the teachings and intentions of Fathers Schmemann, Florovsky, and Meyendorff (and Hopko!), and I’m the kind of guy who will stick around, no matter what. But I can’t blame others for jumping ship.

      How much institutional corruption is so much that it justifies leaving, especially when there are other Orthodox jurisdictions to go to? That’s what people are asking.

      • And that about sums it up. Thank you for a well written summary of this very sad chapter in the OCA . . .

      • Jane Rachel says

        3) the people were very informed and wanted to leave the OCA, because of the corruption of our Synod (uncanonically conspiring to oust Metropolitan JONAH by financial blackmail, publishing false and outrageous slander against +JONAH before the world press, allowing bishops to keep large caches of sodomy videos, firing whistleblowers of priestly sexual misconduct and deviancy, saying we have a “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct but bringing back a bishop perpetrating such, allowing an archdeacon to serve despite his marrying another man, bishops propositioning priests for homosexual sin, ruining priests’ reputations and setting up sham spiritual courts, allowing conflict of interest in financial dealings with seminaries, silencing disagreement, bullying and intimidation as the means of pastoral care, etc.) and various injustices perpetrated and/or covered up by our bishops (e.g., against +JONAH, against Fr Zacchaeus, against Fr Ray Valencia, against Fr Vacille Susan, against Fr Gregory Jensen, etc.).

        Please explain:

        What do you mean when you say that the Synod uncanonically conspired to oust Metropolitan JONAH by financial blackmail?

        Do you know what “Madam” (a member of Met. Jonah’s family) meant when he or she wrote that Metropolitan Jonah was “forced to resign under threat of instant removal”?

      • Jane Rachel says

        The allegations stated in the second paragraph, together with the fact that these allegations are connected directly to a priest in good standing who posts here regularly using his full name, along with a named parish of members who are stated to be well-informed, should, if evidence is given to back up the claims, be enough to dissolve the membership of the Holy Synod of the OCA . Or at least make Carl wonder.

        More questions. Please explain:

        Why would an investigation into these allegations be easier said than done? I’m asking. Why can’t other Orthodox leaders outside the OCA step in? Where is the investigation? How do these parish members know so much? Did they ask for evidence and was it provided, or are they basing their decision to leave the OCA on what they’ve read on the internet?

      • Gregg Gerasimon says

        Just an FYI that Father Tom Hopko’s sermon at the 17th AAC in November is available on Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, as are most of the talks and sessions at the Parma AAC. (On the iPhone AFR app, from the main screen, touch “Specials” at the bottom, then “All Specials,” then the 17th All-American Council.)

        I really liked Fr Tom’s sermon, but I too was struck by how the prevailing sense was that all these unfortunate things have happened to the OCA recently, rather than how many active players in the OCA have contributed to causing these unfortunate events. I love Father Tom’s talks and have leared a ton from them, but a bit more introspection would have been good — i.e., how have we as a church caused all these bad things to happen to our church lately.

        And kudos to Father Alexander Webster and his parish for following their consciences and transferring into ROCOR. I’m thankful that Met. Tikhon agreed to it. I agree with the poster above that I’m also one who “believes in the vision of the OCA, in the teachings and intentions of Fathers Schmemann, Florovsky, and Meyendorff (and Hopko!).” But at some point, people have had enough, and they vote with their feet. We have an upcoming move this summer back to the south (from whence we came a couple of years ago), and we’ll be facing the decision of returning to our old OCA parish vs. going to a new ROCOR mission that just started last year. I don’t know what we will do.

        • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

          “I agree with the poster above that I’m also one who “believes in the vision of the OCA, in the teachings and intentions of Fathers Schmemann, Florovsky, and Meyendorff (and Hopko!).” But at some point, people have had enough, and they vote with their feet.”

          I wouldn’t include Fr. Florovsky in with the other three.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I am perplexed; why would anyone give a thumbs down to this post that only related a fact? It is not as if she criticized the move.

      • Jason Connerley says

        Saunca is correct, not all of our members decided to follow us to ROCOR. When we held our special parish assembly we had 39 members on our books, 28 participated in the assembly. When we voted to request our OCA mission be dissolved the 28 participating members passed it unanimously. When we voted to seek protection as a new parish of ROCOR the 28 participating members also passed that motion unanimously. I should also say we had a fair bit of discussion and this outcome was not guaranteed going into the meeting. The parish council was for it but we really did not know if the congregation would approve of this radical step. Since the results have been announced we have lost three members, none of which participated in the special assembly, because of the jurisdiction change. Our parish is poorer for the loss of these valuable members.

        This decision was not made because of internet rumors, we have members that formally attended St. Nicholas that experienced the acceptance of homosexuality by some of the clergy there. Other clergy were publicly demeaned for refusing the Chalice to open homosexuals. Another member that personal knows the deacon that refused the Chalice also spoke up to corroborate the story. I trust the testimony of these people and have no reason to doubt them. We did consider the internet rumors but the foundation of the argument was the first hand experience of our members. The treatment of Metropolitan Jonah was an issue as was the treatment of Father Alexander by the OCA. I will not say more on the latter without his express permission but to say he was treated very “unbrotherly” by an OCA bishop when visiting that bishop’s diocese. I should also mention that neither Father Alexander or Deacon Alexander were at our special assembly, as we were OCA at the time and they had already been released to ROCOR it was deemed inappropriate for them to participate in any shape or form.

        Another thing that people may not realise is that the Metropolitan Tikhon himself celebrated our Divine Liturgy the Sunday after the special assembly. He graciously allowed Father Alexander and Deacon Alexander, again now members of ROCOR, to concelebrate along with Father Gregory, Chancellor of the OCA’s Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. After Divine Liturgy his Beatitude joined the parish for a light meal and a very productive discussion on the current state of the OCA and why we wanted to leave it for ROCOR. This was a no holds barred discussion and to be honest I was very surprised at not only the number of parishioners that stood up to speak to his Beatitude but the frankness in which they did it. Again this was not choreographed, the parish council president and I were very worried that we would be the only ones to stand up, I am ashamed that I so misjudged the resolve of my fellow parishioners. The discussion was polite but his Beatitude had no doubts that we were united in our resolve and the reasons why. I do believe he wants to lead the OCA out of its current troubles, I pray for him and the OCA Synod daily, but I’m not hopeful of this happening anytime soon.

        And that leads us to the final reason we left. In the end the Church will triumph, of that I have no doubt. We will be reunited as “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” But what of the spiritual guidance for our parish and families until that time? Orthodox America’s uncanonical, fragmented state presented us with the unique opportunity to leave a branch of the Church that at some level nominally tolerates homosexual behavior for one that does not. We believe that the Russian Orthodox Church is still the defender of the faith, it is still on strong moral ground, and it is the best place to give us the spiritual structure and guidance needed to raise our children.

        I hope this helps some readers better understand our decision. I have no desire to debate and do not plan to further expound on the details. I know that not everyone agrees with our decision and that is fine. We have no hard feelings against the OCA and as I mentioned I pray for its leadership daily. We just felt that ROCOR was a better fit and Metropolitan Tikhon very graciously dissolved our mission to allow us to follow that path. The Church has far too many enemies to be divided against itself and I look forward to the day when there is just one Orthodox jurisdiction in America.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          No debate from me. I just wanted you to know that Iwas most impressed with the candor and detail in your post.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Out of everything that has been said the most deplorable treatment of the Deacon that properly refused the Chalice to an open and practicing Homosexual is the most troublesome episode that lends credence to what the current state of the OCA is and might be in the years to come. Hopefully not for long.

          As for the post’s characterization of the ROCOR standing on firm moral ground. Well, we always new that was true of the ROCOR, and continues to this day.


          • George Michalopulos says

            If true, this is most disturbing. Would you please inform us with priest and bishop in ROCOR were “involved in a same-sex partnership”? This is a serious allegation.

          • Fr. John Whiteford says

            This is not true.

      • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

        To ImHappyJustToDanceWithYou and Jane Rachel, for the record: “I’mHappy’s” list of offenses in the parenthetical section of his or her point number 3 above is neither my own wording nor a litany that I have proposed or would propose. Two items, in particular, in the list concerning videos and propositions I have not heard previously and would be news to me. Perhaps “I’mHappy” is conflating conversations with others or adding his or her own allegations.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Thanks for your reply, Father Alexander.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Fr. Alexander,

          I appreciate you making this statement and ending at least this one misstatement. You certainly could have ignored it. I pray for your success and the prosperity of your parish. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

      • Dear Happy Dancer says

        Let me first ask you questions about your Parma experiences:

        1. How did you feel justified in participating at Parma given that Parma’s only purpose was to agree to depriving Metropolitan Jonah of all his offices? I rather think Parma should not have happened, that the Holy Synod, having forced Metropolitan Jonah to resign the office of Metropolitan, should have assigned him another bishopric, as discussed, and that any council should have covered all the empty bishoprics, administrative deficits and issues, and best practices.

        2. You say Father Thomas’s sermon addressed a terrible trial in the OCA created by Metropolitan Jonah.s resignation.. That resignation was coerced and the trials at present are, as you suggest elsewhere in your message, self induced by the Holy Synod itself. Starting with the first persecution period of Metropolitan Jonah in 2011, Presbyter Thomas has shown an extreme bias against the Metropolitan as evidenced by his famous letter to the ocanews, a website run by a married homosexual member of the OCA’s Metropolitan Council, evidently a friend of Father Hopko. I think the choice of Father Hopko as a motivational speaker was no accident at Parma. Other than his recent actions since that posting against our Metropolitan on the ocanews website, I personally also find Father Hopko’s corpus motivating and his explication of Orthodoxy clear.

        In your explication of actions of our Holy OCA Synod, you mention not only a bishop having a cache of Homoerotica, but suggest that there is some kind of enabling or coverup of the same by fellow bishops. I have never heard of such things. Please illumine us on this matter so that this prelast and its enabling might cease in our holy Church. Eeuuw! Our Church should be safe for our children’s and our converts’ delicate eyes and ears and safe from such iniquities for its continuing practice.

        Lastly, not all of us can easily hop jurisdictions. Some of us are old or inform. Can our family’s Orthodoxy survive a long commute or occasional participation? Do we give up on parishes we have fostered? Are we entering an ethnic situation where we become kinda second class Orthodox? At which point do we give up on them. Well, I personally know people, including the Metropolitan, who are no longer welcome in the naves they nourished with their love and service. not to mention, I understand how hard some of us have work not to have jurisdictions at all.

        A dream deferred.

    • ProPravoslavie says

      The article does not actually spell out why the alliance is unholy, but merely assumes that it is unholy because it involves Putin. The British media has a very simple formula:

      Any collaboration with Putin = bad
      Any opposition to Putin = good

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very much agreed. I can’t stress enough that we here in America must never again fall for the Neocon snake oil. These people have a visceral hatred of Russia and of Russian Christianity, as well as an idiotic view that American democratic liberalism (of the best kind) is easily transferable to other societies.

    • Every Church has corruption, but I find ROCOR actually addressing it, where as the OCA has tossed in the towel. They seem to make bad decision after bad decision. That could change but with different players . . .

  14. From Father Victor Potopov says

    Dear Brothers & Sisters,

    Last Friday’s talk by Met. Jonah is up. It can be accessed here:

    Here is a video of Fr. Theodore Koufos and his assistant and Valentin
    Streltsov at work. They were responsible for creating the murals in the
    entire center portion of our church.

    In XC,
    Fr. Victor

  15. cynthia curran says

    I recommend Suetonius life of the Twelve Caesars.

  16. cynthia curran says

    I once taught a Western Civ class at Kent State that used a text that cited Boswell’s conclusions as fact. Boswell reinterpration history and yes its hard for a conservative history professor. I give you credit on teaching Western Civ,I or II. I took western civ I and now historians are revising their opinion of the Minoians which probably not as peaceful as they were viewed 30 or 40 years ago. If you were teaching Westren Civ II then Boswell reinterpration on medieval or early modern thinking is off the mark, sure their gays then but I doubt in either the west or east it was as socially acceptable as Boswell made it out.

  17. Jane Rachel says

    Question for the members of the clergy who post here:

    Do the individual clergy members who hear the Confessions have the final say on whether a person will be given Communion in the Orthodox Church? Are there overall guidelines for the clergy in making these decisions? What are the guidelines? I realize these questions have been answered before, but I’m puzzled by Michael Stankovich’s reply to my question where he wrote:

    “As to the matter of individuals being “sanctioned by the Church to receive Communion regularly and participate fully in the Sacraments, even while remaining sexually active outside marriage,” I am neither a priest nor a pastor, and grateful not to be responsible for such decisions. Fr. Thomas Hopko – who was a parish priest while a faculty member at SVS – summarizes this relationship of confessor/penitent marvelously in his talk found on the Ancient Faith Network, and I have quoted him directly on this site. Search my comments. I would further refer you to Fr. Meyendorff’s Byzantine Theology, specifically the section dealing with “Canons & Oikonomia.” This would give you some insight into the reasons the Church has no “policy statements” on the terms of repentance in the transcendent intimacy of the relationship of the confessor & penitent.”

    If Michael is correct, the priest is responsible, and a priest can give Communion to anyone he wants to, and it’s none of anyone else’s business.

    Maybe I’m just too dense, but I can’t wrap my head around the implications,

    • Archpreist John W. Morris says

      Ultimately the priest is responsible to the local Bishop. If a person feels that the priest has been unfair to deny him or her Communion he or she can appeal to the Bishop with authority over the parish. Priests only hear Confessions with permission from the Bishop. In America because there are so few of us and our parishes are so far apart, almost every priest has the authority to hear Confessions. That is not the case in a country with many parishes and priests. Only certain priests can hear Confessions. I wear a diamond shaped vestment on my let called an Epigonation as symbol that the Bishop has authorized me to hear Confessions.

    • To give cart blanch authority to the local priest to do as he pleases irrespective of direction from the bishop is absurd. To deal with the ubiquitous lavender heresy at St Nicholas Cathedral and some other parishes in the Diocese of Washington, then +Metropolitan Jonah issued a policy within the diocese to set a uniform policy for withholding the chalice from those unrepentantly practicing homosexuality. Of course, within a couple months, the priests at St Nicholas were back to their old ways and communing open homosexuals and those within same-sex “marriages.” To let someone believe that they are in the Kingdom of God in contradiction to the Apostle who said of such it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God, is heresy. No parish priest has the final authority to decide they will practice heresy.

  18. cynthia curran says

    The word itself “ἀδελφοποίησις” or “brother-making” is better translated, given its monastic and religious context, “to make one my spritual brother,” in the sense of what nature could not do the grace of God can. I know the late John Boswell attempted to craft an argument that this was “Covert” Gay Marriage in the Orthodox Church, but this completely ignores 1.) the precise nature of Greek, and 2.) it ignores the monastic and liturgic seting that this service sprang from and the history of martyrdom that it connected itself. This makes sense Boswell who I believe was gay himself would changed history around in the anicent and medieval world.

  19. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    I asked this before and did not get an answer, but perhaps if I give a few details, someone will remember something. Has anyone heard of a Metropolitan K.K. Kyrillos? He claims to be the Orthodox Metropolitan of America. He gave a retreat for group of Episcopalians sponsored by the Diocese of Qunicy, one of the dioceses that have left the Episcopal Church in protest of the decision to bless same sex marriages. At the end of the retreat he gave consecrated antimisia to the Episcopal priests each with a relic. Can this be a canonical Orthodox Bishop? How can an Orthodox Bishop give consecrated antimisia to those outside of the Church? That would be a major sacrilege. Can anyone tell me who this person K.K. Kyrillos is?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Fr. John, don’t know for sure, but it appears this man is associated with the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I found out who K.K. Kyrillos is. He claims to have been a Greek Old Calendarist Bishop who has joined the Episcopal Church and is a monk at a monastery under the Episcopal Bishop of Quincy. Some Episcopalians love Orthodox paraphernalia so that they can look Orthodox as long as they do not have to submit to an Orthodox Bishop so that they can do their own thing and believe whatever they want. I remember in London going into an Anglican Church and seeing on the side a full Orthodox iconostasis.

        • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

          Dear Archpriest John,

          You probably saw this:

          The Iconostas and the altar behind it are under a canonical bishop. The most excellent Antiochian English language parish in London also uses a C of E church, and have to set up and take down an iconostas. The Antiochian cathedral was a C of E church. Naturally, none of these bear any resemblance to the bizarre situation you referenced.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            In the United States, the Episcopalians which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion have become downright hostile in several places because so many Episcopalians have converted to Orthodoxy. In the 1920s they had an official committee called the Committee for the Americanization of the Foreign Born which existed to convince Orthodox to join the local Episcopal Church instead of founding an Orthodox mission. They spread the misconception that Orthodoxy recognized Anglican orders and sacraments. and that a person could be both Orthodox and Episcopalian. All over the U.S. there are places where we should have Orthodox Churches, but do not because the local Orthodox were persuaded to join the Episcopal Church. Read St. Raphael’s letter

            American Anglicans have tried very hard to perpetuate the image that Orthodoxy is too foreign and ethnic for real Americans.
            I have heard from good authority that the Church of England pressured the Orthodox authorities in England not to receive groups of Anglicans who want to convert to Orthodoxy. Since the Orthodox in England would not receive groups of Anglicans into Orthodoxy, individuals yes, but not whole groups as the Patriarchate of Antioch has. The Anglicans in England who wanted to covert to Orthodoxy contacted the American Antiochian Archdiocese, which sent a team over to help them, and then helped them contact our Antiochian Patriarchate which refused to yield to pressure from the Church of England and agreed to receive them and placed them under the Antiochian Bishop in Paris. As a result there are now about 18 Antiochian Orthodox missions and parishes in Great Britain.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Very sad, isn’t it Fr? It has happened in North America as well, only in our country, revered Orthodox clergymen have purposely dissuaded disaffected Anglicans and even whole congregations from joining the Orthodox Church. I won’t say which jurisdiction it was but it wasn’t yours.

              Axios to Metropolitan Philip!

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                Unfortunately some Orthodox Bishops are more concerned with maintaining the ethnicism of their jurisdiction instead of fulling Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. The Church must serve the the legitimate needs of recent immigrants. However the Church must also serve the needs of their children and grand children, not to mention converts by worshiping in a language that they can understand. It is the heresy of philitism to turn Orthodoxy into an effort to try to artificially preserve a foreign ethnic culture generations after the original immigrants arrived in America.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  You know Fr, we’ve beaten that horse to death so many times it ain’t funny. It’s such an easy thing to do but because our bishops are men of no vision, they can’t think creatively. In the various Catholic dioceses it’s a no-brainer: when there’s a significant ethnic group in town (such as Vietnamese, Hispanics), the diocese sets up an apostolate for them. It hires a cleric or two who are fluent in that language, chooses a parish proximate to that area, mandates that one of the masses be in that language, etc.

                  I’ve long argued that in most major metro areas (where the immigrant population/culture is still a concern), that most Orthodox parishes there could celebrate two liturgies in the same parish. If the jurisdiction sees the need for it, it can provide a stipend to help the parish subsidize the cost of the extra priest.

            • Gregg Gerasimon says

              In order to grow and to successfully missionize and evangelize, you have to be willing to take risks. The Antiochian Archdiocese seems to be aware of this fact and is, indeed, good at it.

              Father John, you cite the example of the Orthodox missions/parishes in Britain and Ireland that were received from the Church of England into the Patriarchate of Antioch — this was indeed a risk — not a stupid risk — but a risk nevertheless. This risk was well worth it, and more British and Irish people are now able to be Orthodox and to worship in their language in an Orthodox parish because of it.

              Metropolitan Philip here in the U.S. is also a risk-taker, and it pays off. When others said no to the Evangelical Orthodox Church years ago, Metropolitan Philip said yes and received them into the Antiochian Archdiocese. I don’t know of any single more important event in the last 50 years that has helped the spread of Orthodoxy more to the American people than this event.

              The Antiochian Archdiocese and ROCOR have also taken risks in establishing Western Rite vicariates — something somewhat controversial in Orthodoxy and very small, but these risks help evangelize to western Christians who wish to be Orthodox and worship in a traditional western style. As St John of San Francisco said, “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.”

              By contrast, other Orthodox jurisdictions which do not take well thought out risks, or worse yet, make bad decisions altogether, see their growth stagnate or simply stop.