Facebook “Listening” Group Drags Culture Wars into the Orthodox Church

Hot off the press! Fr. Hans Jacobse just published this over at the AOI Observer and allowed me to publish it here. It’s good.

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From: AOI Observer | By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Progressive fads sweep through the culture like clockwork. Remember the impending global ice age in the 1970s that morphed into global warming today? How about the fight about abortion where anyone who dared criticize it was branded as a hater of women? Remember the Equal Rights Amendment and how convinced its supporters were that it was absolutely necessary for a just society?

None of these movements should be taken lightly of course but that doesn’t disqualify them as fads. There is always a strong strain of self-justification among Progressive Culture Warriors; a posturing that creates a facade of virtue and labels the critic as ignorant. Fellow travelers bask in that warm glow of imputed righteousness that they generously confer on each other. The rest of us can return to our caves.

That kind of arrogance informs the new Facebook group “Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality with the Orthodox Church.” The tendentious title is the first clue something is seriously skewed. What silence needs to be “broken”? Who are the people breaking it? Is the Orthodox Church really silent on sexuality?

As it turns out, the only sexuality that concerns the “Listening” group is homosexuality. They are preoccupied with it. They oppose the prohibitions against homosexual behavior in the Orthodox moral tradition. The prohibitions go back to Apostolic times, but their rejection of them is only whispered — a silence they still don’t want broken apparently.

The Invitation To ‘Dialogue’

We’ve seen these arguments before, particularly in the Episcopalian Church that has been largely decimated by homosexual activism in the last three decades. Liberal activists overtook that once noble communion and forced the traditionalists out the door. The prognosis is dire. (See: When the Lights Go Out: The Death of a Denomination, and What Does The Future Hold For The Church Of England?)

The decline started out innocently enough. Traditionalists were invited to “dialogue” (a favorite term) about lifting the moral prohibitions against homosexuality. Many of the arguments heard on the Listening group were ones first uttered by these Episcopalian activists. Some were even true especially the assertion that we need a better understanding of homosexual pathology, that some homosexuals have suffered, and that some young people don’t know how to deal with homosexual feelings, among others.

Nevertheless, accepting the invitation to dialogue undermined foundations. When the operating assumption is that the moral tradition is wrong in its prohibitions, then the only way dialogue can be meaningful is when the traditionalist detaches himself from the authority of his tradition.

We call this moral relativism where no abiding truth, no moral universals, are believed to exist. Truth becomes relative. The touchstone for truth is not God but man, and every man is free to decide for himself what is true and what is a lie. In the dominant culture moral relativism reigns supreme. In the Orthodox Church however, we guide our lives and decisions according to the tradition we have received.

The traditionalist entered the dialogue with the deck stacked against him. As it turned out, the invitation to dialogue was a ruse, a way to undermine the confidence the traditionalist had in his tradition and ultimately many were driven out. The activists ascended into positions of authority so that when the purge of traditionalists began, they were able to hang onto the buildings, endowments, and key ministries. Today, the traditionalists are exiled in the desert.

My ’Dialogue’ With A Moderator of the Listening Group

No one is arguing that the Facebook activists have motives this sinister, but their thinking is no different than their Episcopalian counterparts. Consider this “dialogue” I had recently with one of the group’s moderators:

The moderator (and founder) wrote:

“We” (Orthodox Christians supportive of and participating in the kinds of dialogue we have in the Listening group) and “you” (Orthodox Christians opposed to this dialogue), have, sadly, become enemies. It seems to me that dialogue between us is not possible right now. This should be a source of grief rather than anger. It is for me. In this situation I want to try to take very seriously our Lord’s admonition to pray for our enemies. That simple teaching contains one of the great, inescapable truths of the Gospels. I think it’s the best thing we can do, and it’s a very good thing. I very sincerely ask you—readers of this site—to pray for us. And I sincerely offer my prayers on your behalf as well. May God bless us all, grant us all a spirit of repentance, and lead us all to Truth.

My response:

Pardon my bluntness, but your argument has the odor of sanctimonious posturing. The language confirms it: “This should be a source of grief rather than anger,” or “In this situation I want to try to take very seriously our Lord’s admonition to pray for our enemies,” for example. You imply that we should join together in feigned concern over a division that you have created. No thanks.

In reality the divisions are clear: One group approaches the prohibitions against homosexual behavior as an open question and the other regards it as closed. And no, the traditionalists don’t see the liberals as “enemies” but as flat out wrong. There’s a world of difference between the two and any prattle about “loving your enemies” blurs this critical distinction. Frankly, using the injunction to “love your enemies” to justify your notion of dialogue abuses the moral vocabulary. Any Christian who has faced the task of forgiving a real enemy knows this.

My response was harsh but necessary. Obscuring real intentions with overwrought language (what I call “Ortho-speak”) is an occupational hazard with us Orthodox and it is fully evident here. If the language of the moral tradition is employed in ways that undermine it (whether or not the moderator is aware of it is irrelevant), then strong reproof is warranted. The moderator must understand that for the Orthodox the question about moral prohibitions is closed. No dialogue is needful or desired.

If we want to think clearly, then we have to deal with what words really mean, not what we want them to mean. And no amount of self-justifying rhetoric about this or that putative virtue lifts this requirement. There is no “grief” or “hatred of one’s enemies” evident here. We only see muddled thinking and the ignorance of the neophyte.

Guideposts Keep Us On The Path

The moral prohibitions serve as guideposts, as warnings or barriers to us. If we cross them, then we enter onto a path that leads to death instead of life. God is merciful and has provided us the way out of the death into which our sins have led us. But what happens when sin is not called sin anymore? What happens when the guidepost is removed or the warning muted and the barrier taken down? Then we walk in darkness. The way to salvation is harder to find.

That’s one of the gravest threats the Listening group presents. If they succeed in removing the guidepost that names homosexual behavior as sin, then they also remove the hope that the person struggling with same-sex desire has for healing from God. In theological terms, the group preaches an incipient antinomianism; they stand against the law of God even though they cover their rebellion with the language of benevolence and compassion. (See: The Challenge of Antinomianism: You Mean the Gospel Isn’t All About Mercy?)

The Listening group needs to unplug their ears and hear this: When the moral prohibitions are discarded, then the anthropology to which they point is jettisoned along with them. The prohibitions do not exist in a theological vacuum. They draw from deep insight and knowledge about the human being that in some cases took centuries to comprehend and develop and serves today as the foundation to better understand homosexual pathology and how to deal with it.

Moreover, when the anthropology is jettisoned, something else has to take its place. If one really believes that the moral tradition has nothing to say about sexuality (the Church is “silent,” remember?), then ideas from popular culture will be solicited to fill the vacuum. But many of these ideas are false.

For example, one dominant assumption of the group is that homosexual identity is fixed. The jury is still out on this. The Center for Disease Control just released a study (.pdf) that only 1.7% of the population is homosexual and 35% of this number is bisexual. The study cites that only approximately 420,000 people in all of the United States are actually committed homosexuals. Many men move into homosexuality for a season and then move out. Homosexual self-identity is not as fixed as the gay lobby or the Listening group would have us believe. (See: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Study Says Only 1.4% of Population Homosexual.)

Another assumption is that if one criticizes the dominant homosexual apologetic, then one lacks the compassion to effectively deal with the person struggling with same-sex desire. This is perhaps the most pernicious misconception of all because it disqualifies the traditionalist a priori and thus excludes the anthropology that needs to be brought forward.

So Who Really Is The ‘Listening’ Group?

The point that must be understood is this: If the Listening group believes that the Church is “silent” on sexuality and that they have been called to “break” that silence, then the source of their thinking has to draw from something other than the moral tradition. Their purpose then is not dialogue. It can’t be. Rather they want to be the gate-keepers, the commissars of acceptable ideas and speech. It simply cannot be anything else.

Unfortunately many in the group display an immaturity and ignorance about the ideas that they champion. They are probably not aware of it, but they function as the religious arm of Gay Inc. – a term familiar to more discerning observers of the culture. (See: The Bad Faith of Michele Bachmann’s Gay Rights Inquisitors.)

They also enjoy berating converts (“American Orthodoxy has a convert problem” is a favorite refrain applied to their critics) but who really are the neophytes here? They collect the ideas of the dominant culture, swash them with a religious patina and call the enterprise Orthodox. But we aren’t interested in repeating the Episcopalian project in our Orthodox Church, thank you. Maybe they would be more comfortable in the new and improved Episcopalian communion.

The Listening group has to stop dragging the culture wars into the Church. The prohibition against homosexual behavior is a closed question. The moral tradition does not need to be retooled and there is no need for “dialogue.”

True compassion sees the person struggling with same-sex desire as a person first and not as a “homosexual.” That’s what our tradition teaches. False compassion redefines the person in terms of his passion. That’s what the homosexual lobby teaches. Throw out the prohibitions however, and this distinction is lost. The knowledge that informs them will be lost with it.

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Comments

  1. I agree with a lot of things in this article, naturally, but I’m starting to have a problem with the constant refrain of the E-word. Both sides, it seems, get their kicks out of calling the other one “Episcopalian”.

    If you were not Orthodox right now, would you be interested in a religion that uses the name of your present religion as an insult?

    Furthermore, I don’t want to belittle the struggles people endured as Episcopalians trying to pull their church back from the brink, but it has to be acknowledged that there is a fundamental difference between Orthodoxy and Episcopalianism/Anglicanism. Namely, the Orthodox Church is and always has been the Church founded by Christ. TEC/AC, on the other hand, has always been a sect apart from the Church. There has always been something inadequate in Anglicanism qua Anglicanism. Our failure to acknowledge this fundamental difference weakens our argument substantially by making us look like a bunch of half-converts who looked for Orthodoxy in an effort to find the most “bigoted” church or whatever, not because we believed it to be the true faith. (I am not a convert from Episcopalianism, but I can sympathize with having one’s conversion questioned.)

    It is essential that we make it clear that we know that no matter how hard this group tries, they cannot take down the whole Orthodox Church. The best they can do is attack and undermine individual local churches, like the OCA. Orthodoxy itself will survive, as Christ promised, and it’s important to tone down the rhetoric to reflect that. Otherwise, we risk making it look like we believe the Orthodox Church is just any other church. And the Leonovites can use that impression to pervert the traditional Orthodox ecclesiology to make it appear that their damnable heresy can’t possibly harm the Church. We have to make it clear that they may not be able to take down the whole Church, but the damage they can do here is quite enough. Adding a single Latin word to the Creed was enough to tear half the Roman Empire from the true faith.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Helga, as usual, you hit the nail right on the head.

      Having just returned from England, I can say that as awe-struck as we were by the architecture of the churches and the beauty of its villages with their local parishes, something just didn’t feel “right” from an orthopractic perspective. It was more than seeing priestesses wearing cassocks (like I saw at Bath Abbey) but a rather perfunctory, going-thru-the-motions type of Christianity. I know this is unfair but the depredations of Henry VIII to my mind broke the back of Tradition for all time.

      • CodeNameYvette says

        I agree with Helga too. We should be unwilling to see a single jurisdiction go down, even if we know that the Orthodox Church Herself must stand until the Lord returns.

        About the Anglicans: if you mean, George, that the rot set in from the get-go when the Abbeys were despoiled, I’ll agree with you. For a couple of centuries Anglicanism persisted as a cultural frill. Serious people became dissenters or Methodists or Roman Catholics. You don’t find much religious fervor in the Barchester Towers books — it’s considered an error of taste.

        But as Helga says, we should stop comparing ourselves to the Episcopalians as if the preposterous Branch Theory were accurate. They are heretics and must fall for some cause or other, eventually. We have the True Faith and must guard it.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          I agree with you Yvette. It still pains me to see a Christian denomination, even a heterodox one, go the way of all flesh. There’s no need for it.

          I’m presently writing a travelogue with photos and maps about our recent trip to the UK and will provide ocmmentery in due time. One thing I can say for sure: the riots that took place last week were enabled by the cultural and moral rot that has infected that once-great land. The Church of England at one time provided moral authority but no longer. I hate to sound blase about salvation but I can’t help but feel that it would be next-to-impossible to be a committed orthopractice Christian in Britain (or Europe for that matter) today. I mean, it’s almost a “what’s the point?” attitude that pervades there.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        You hit it George. I mean the entire thing was set into motion with Henry VIII’s unchecked libido. What kind of psychological exercise did Anglican have to do to get over this glaring fact? I have always wanted to know.

        Peter

        • Peter; Yes, the Anglican Church is in trouble these days. But there have been prior eras, times when the Anglican Church was all that people had where there was no Orthodox Church. And there were many good things that have come out of it. And if you read English history, you will learn that there was a Church in England before the Romans arrived. You will discover that after Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome, Mary Tudor reestablished Roman Catholicism and then Elizabeth I again broke relations with the Pope. Many ‘good’ people on both sides lost their lives in the interchanges.

          We today from our cozy air conditioned/heated seats, have a tendency to view our predecessors actions through rose colored glasses and find them wanting. We have no idea what it was like to live through their heated glasses.

          Though I think a time is coming in the United States when we may find out. Christians are losing jobs for their stance on the SSM issues for instance and even evolution vs ID etc. How are we going to react under extreme pressure?

          God is everywhere working His purpose out, using all kinds of people.

          At the same time, Satan, is trying to destroy the Church. Please don’t think it can’t happen in Orthodoxy. Be alert.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Well said Jeff. Further, I meant no disrespect whatsoever to those Anglicans and Episcopalians that struggled and continue to struggle to keep historic christianity. I just wanted to know what the average English person do at this and other various times. I never thought the English people stupid or uninformed. I was just fascinated that so many stayed in a Church when its creation was so egegious to say the least.

            Your post has made me look at the issue id a different light, and is weel worth a historical investigation to learn more. Thank you again for your post.

            Peter

          • Prospective Nomad says

            The Church of England gave the world liturgical English, for which English-speaking Orthodox should be forever grateful. The lyrical beauty of our services in this tongue (a considerable aid to evangelism as well as piety) owes a great deal to the high literary standard that Thomas Cranmer set in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. Of course, much credit is also due to the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the good sense to bless translations by Isabel Hapgood and others who were well versed in the Anglican cadences of prayer. Although the English Reformation had its sordid aspects, surely it is also an example of Divine Providence: Given how prevalent English was to become, and given how many Orthodox people would, on account of immigration, become native English speakers, consider how great a doxological gift God bestowed on us by giving us, through the vessel of the Church of England, this exalted form of expression which, in the the fullness of time, the words of the True Faith could fulfill and perfect.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Nomad, these are all excellent points. That’s one reason I for one have never taken the “my way or the highway” approach to ecclesiology. Even though I find the Branch Theory problemmatic, I still can’t help but love my brothers in the other denominations. Even though the fullness of the Christian faith resides in Holy Orthodoxy, we cannot turn our backs on them. That is why I think we should have made a principled stand with the orthodox Anglicans (such as they are) when they were fighting the madness of priestesses and the damnable heresy of electing open sodomites to the episcopate. There is no way that these unfortunate heresies are not going to come back to bite us, even though we do not share the Chalice.

            • Monk James says

              I profoundly disagree with our anonymous correspondent.

              While the comments of ‘Prospective Nomad’ evince a great affection for the liturgical language of the CofE (at least in the 16th-17th centuries), that affection isn’t shared by many of us who have no experience of protestantism, even though our native language is american English.

              It’s especially disappointing to have Hapgood adduced here. Her translations are not only glaringly inaccurate on occasion, but her errors have afflicted us English-speaking orthodox Christians with — by now almost incorrectable — such mistakes as ‘ascribe’ and ‘vouchsafe’ (always wrong), ‘now and ever’ (usually wrong) and barbarisms such as ‘Master, bless’ and ‘Father, bless’. There are many other problems in her work and of Orloff before her.

              If ‘Prospective Nomad’ prefers pseudoelizabethan English, he’s free to do so, I suppose, but he may not and can not adduce this style as somehow being of divine inspiration for us NOW in our contemporary liturgical texts to the exclusion of the language we really speak and understand.

              Of course, even contemporary English must be represented in high style in order to be suitable for the Church’s public worship of the Lord our God.

              • Prospective Nomad says

                Monk James,

                I concede your point on Hapgood’s errors, but such flaws are not unusual in a first translation. As the Church was given more time (and, let’s be frank, more money) to minister to its American flock, the translations have gradually gotten better. That doesn’t mean the first ones should be disparaged. We should thank God that they ministered to English-speaking Orthodox when no other translation was available, and we should thank God that better translations are available now. Fr. Seraphim Nasser’s Divine Prayers and Services contains numerous examples of awkward English, but that volume was enormously edifying to generations of English-speaking descendants of Arabic immigrants. Basil Kazan’s English is better, but his work came decades later.

                Most of the Orthodox world uses a slightly antiquated but still comprehensible version of the native language in the services, so it’s unclear to me why English should be any different–especially considering that English has deteriorated structurally in the past few centuries. This deterioration is of no small theological consequence. Protestant heresies such as the doctrine of “eternal security” derive in part from the fact that one cannot tell the difference between the second-person singular and plural in a modern English translation of St. Paul’s Epistles.

                It’s hardly controversial to believe that the most beautiful, poetic English literature was written before the language took its current form. So even if one modernizes the verb conjugations and pronouns, whence does one derive a proper sense of English “high style” if not from those works, including the 1549 Book of Common Prayer? (By the way, I have been Orthodox since infancy, but I had some “continuing” Anglican friends in college.)

                Of course, it is occasionally necessary to adjust vocabulary to account for changes in meaning, but this imperative cuts both ways. On the one hand, strict adherence to older translations can obscure meaning or even convey false meaning. On the other hand, the fact that “pseudo-Elizabethan” English appears old makes it seem less appropriate to introduce faddish words into it. An example would be “terrible,” as in “Having partaken of the … terrible Mysteries of Christ….” I have heard priests substitute “awesome,” which invariably makes me wince, not because of the word’s older meaning, but because of its late modern corrupted meaning. The Greek word in question, frikton, would seem to translate into modern English as “terrifying” in this context–which is not the meaning of “awesome” that would be understood by parishioners raised on Valley Girl English.

                Members of this forum from the OCA Diocese of the South have mentioned that their parishes use Elizabethan English and they are grateful for it. My original purpose in writing was to remind everyone where that gift came from, inasumuch as some were insinuating that the Church of England deserved its current travails by virtue of the circumstances of its founding.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Buddy, you have no idea how much I have been racked over the coles for my Hybrid-English in my English translation of the LXX.

                  Peter

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Monk James, I must agree with Nomad here. When we study the institution of the Russian Orthodox Church, we see that there were several attempts to update the language of the texts to bring them into conformity with the Greek texts upon which they were based. These occurred centuries after the 988, well into the early modern era (ca. 1500).

                  • Monk James says

                    It’s entirely unclear just what GM is in agreement with here. Perhaps he’ll write more?

                    The russian church’s continuing revision of their slavonic texts, from the 17th century till now, has nothing to do with the subject under discussion, which is the style of English preferred for the liturgy.

                    ‘Prospective Nomad’ has clearly expressed his/her preferences, but those preferences are not as widely shared as he/she thinks, and they are certainly not a standard.

                    • Did the Apostles preach in “Elizabethan” Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic? Was the Gospel written in “Elizabethan” Greek?
                      I thought so….Not! 🙂

                • Monk James says

                  It’s a fond and vain thing to think that ‘English has deteriorated structurally in the past few centuries’. It has not. It has merely kept pace.

                  Generally speaking, languages change (evolve, if you will) from more complex to more simple forms. While I personally think that Modern Greek is a serious decessation from Ancient Greek or even Byzantine Greek, others disagree. But Greek is a special case, suffering as it is from many centuries of enforced ignorance on the part of the muslim Turks. Early 20th-century efforts at kathareuousa attest this well, and might yet be revived.

                  Hapgood was a poor arbiter of style, even though she apparently intended to express her (often inaccurate) renderings in pseudoelizabethan English. The problem with Hapgood (and Nassar, et al., is not so much that they got the translation wrong, but that people thought that — because they wrote in pseudoelizabethan style — that their liturgical renderings must be right. Largely, they are not.

                  That business about ‘eternal security’ is utter nonsense. It’s entirely possible to express any and every scriptural and theological concept in contemporary English without confusion of number and person; it all depends on the skill of the translator.

                  It’s excessive to suggest that — for being older — older forms of literature are more beautiful. Perhaps our anonymous correspondent hasn’t read literature newer than the AV or the BCP, high-style authors such as Thackeray or Tennyson, the Brontes or the Brownings, Chesterton, Tolkien, Joyce, Twain, Mailer, Frost, etc., etc.

                  I have no way of explaining why (if it’s true) that the orthodox in the american south prefer pseudoelizabethan style. I wonder, though, if that phenomenon (if it’s true) might be attributed to the fact that many american southerners come from protestant backgrounds heavily influenced by a background which regards the AV (King James version) of the Bible as a standard not to be displace.

                  And more’s the pity, if that’s the case, replete as the AV is in errors.

                  Please, let’s just acknowledge that some people prefer an archaic form of the english language for the liturgy, and that the rest of us do not.

        • The Anglican church wasn’t the result of Henry VIII’s unchecked libido–he had many mistresses for that. His concern was for a male heir to avoid the dynastic civil wars of the past. In his heart, he probably remained Roman Catholic with the exception of his conceit that as the anointed of God there was no higher authority on earth.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            Keep in mind that the Tudor dynasty rested on the fact that the previous dynasty was deposed by Henry Tudor, his father, and succession was always uneasy. Back then, people had a predisposition to having male rulers. So, Henry 8th was very preoccupied by the fact that he needed a male heir to keep the populace at rest. It is very likely that the Pope would have granted his petition, but at the time, he was being held prisoner by Charles V, who was Catherine of Aragon’s nephew. So, of course, the Pope would not have been able to do so even if he’d concluded that Henry 8th had good reasons.

            That aspect should be seen in light of he did. The chance to tinker around with religion, and be able to confiscate the great wealth of monasteries and high clergy who wouldn’t submit was just icing on the cake. And of course, he didn’t consider the psychological turmoil of the population who had already gone through the York-Lancaster conflict only years before, and then having to deal with the “Reformation”. He really messed everything up.

            • and also think about all the money saved by not having to support the papacy in Rome. Let’s have our own church and keep it all in England.

  2. M. Stankovich says

    I am thoroughly amazed at the sheer number of blogs, comments, posts, re-post, trackbacks, emotions, challenges, throwings-of the proverbial gauntlet, and what-you-will, that have propagated in regard to the “Listening” group and the issue of homosexuality. In any other “domain,” I would congratulate them on marketing “genius”: several hundred obscure people, with nothing more than several hundred obscure posts have led otherwise reasonable people to believe the Church is actually under “siege.” It is they who have no need to engage us in “dialog,” for if their entire purpose was to disseminate their “agenda,” they have acquired more “couriers” than they could have ever hoped! A Facebook group dragged culture war into the “Church?” The Orthodox Church in America might be “taken down?” An Orthodox Bishop asks that a website be closed because it causes division in the “Church?” Seriously?

    This is the internet! A terribly skewed, contrived gathering of the “usual suspects,” convinced of self-authority and importance, but generally afraid of revealing anything as simple as a real name! You can be anyone, or say anything your heart desires without consequence: trash-talk, revile, judge, scrutinize every detail, interrogate every passer-by, pounce on every article of speech for what it “reveals,” assume and ascribe motive or “agenda,” and for real ad infinitum because every word you ever commit to (even in complete disregard of the context in which it was said) can and will come back to haunt you. Not even death prevents your “of blessed memory” from being sullied and soiled by rumor and innuendo; somehow suggesting that, like the parable of Lazarus & the Rich Man, even if a prophet were sent to “rehabilitate” your reputation, nobody would believe him. Unless, of course, you are of the exempt class, “Cowardly Anonymous” of this OZ. While St. John Climacus urgently warns us of “those who would praise us,” pandering forum “support” becomes a salacious self-obsession; the louder the winner. Never in my life have I seen or heard such bold words and opinions, nor such rude confrontation justified as “necessary medicine” – words that would otherwise require actual personal ownership and responsibility – in the “real world.” One particularly excoriating webmaster boldly brags of “more than 20,000 hits per month.” Wow. As Louis Black once said about bottled water, “What would people think if they found out it all came from a guy in Pittsburgh, sitting in a bathtub, filling bottles from the tap?”

    I recall Fr. John Meyendorff discussing the Iconoclastic Controversy of the 8th Century, noting that it was impossible to travel about Constantinople without hearing the constant discussion among common people regarding the theology of the Holy Images. This was raging heresy, and this was the Church under siege! And the defense of eternal Truth was accomplished face-to-face, with a fearlessness born of faith and trust. Nowhere do I read in the account of the Ecumenical Counsel that contrary opinion was forbidden or prevented, but only that Truth prevailed, eternally. Those who were wrong repented or went their erroneous way. Is it even possible to compare in the same breath the God-given resolution of this heresy with a “culture war” regarding homosexuality?

    I have absolutely no fear that the issue of homosexuality as “cultural war” will ever undermine the Church. It is preposterous. I recall sitting in a lecture by Fr. Alexander Schmemann when a woman challenged him in a very eloquent and authoritative manner about the ordination of women. He paused for a moment and politely responded, “Never in this Church.” End of story.

    Equally preposterous is the insistence that the Anglican Church was “taken down” by the issue of homosexuality, fueled by the catalytic “yeast” of open discussion and “dialog.” It was in grave heretical error from its inception, and what is the natural course of heresy but destruction?

    Homosexuality is a significant issue and a pastoral concern in that it is the source of profound conflict, struggle, suffering, and a “podvig” for some Orthodox Christians. They deserve more than cursory lip service in the form of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” At least on the internet, its ring is deafeningly hollow.

    • We could afford to ignore this group if it did not give voice to a group in the OCA and beyond that are pushing the gay agenda, which has been voiced by several OCA clergy and by Mark Stokoe who is no small player in OCA politics, and until very recently was a member of the OCA metropolitan Council. The reason the Episcopalians and other such denominations keep being brought up is that we have seen this sort of thing before, and if we are not careful, we will see the same thing unfold in the OCA. It would be foolish to kid ourselves and say it can’t happen here.

      • Not to mention, they seem to have more than one friend on the OCA’s Holy Synod. Look what happened to Metropolitan Jonah a few months ago.

        • Christopher says

          Helga,

          So I assume you then do agree that the Episcopalian church (however heretical and lacking you find it’s past or present) is a marker, and example of what can (and frankly is) happening in the OCA? From you first post it would seem you wanted to drop the reference all together.

          As a refugee that came to Orthodoxy years ago from Episcopalianism, I find your concerns overwrought. I have never thought of myself, or been accused, or known any other former Episcopalian who thought of themselves as simply to have found the most “bigoted” church and stuck with it…

    • Michael Bauman says

      M. Stankovich,

      Those who have invested themselves in overturning the Church’s moral and spiritual teaching on homosexuality are iconoclasts. They are worse actually, because they are attempting to rid the Church of the image and likeness of God in humanity and replace it with the nothingness of carnal desire. The other idea with which the homosexual iconcoclasm is often paired is the female priesthood–an effort to destroy the sacramental presence of the Incarnate Lord.

      The iconoclastic controversy lasted within the Church for roughly a hundred years. Iconoclasm, however did not die outside the Church and has become the prevaling heresy of our times. That is what secularism is after all–iconoclasm.

      The fundamental error of iconoclasm lies in its denial of the Incarnation. When the Incarnation is denied, the Church has no reason to exist; there is no salvation; only the essentially unfettered will of man.

      The enemy is the iconoclastic hatred that lies in our own hearts that wishes to destroy what God has made and allows us to make an idol of our own feelings, passions and desires including our own self-righteousness and the temptation to hate the ‘other’. Homosexuality is iconoclasm of the worst kind, not against external images, but against one’s own God-created identity–a living suicide that as the quote for St. John Chrysostom points out not only destroys the body, but the soul. The incredible pain of such a life is really beyond my comprehension, but I do realize the effort, the struggle which it must take to not sucumb to the seductive suggestions even in an environment that recognizes the seriousness of the stuggle. How much more difficult when there are voices in authority saying, “Hey, you don’t really have to struggle, you’re fine”.

      Do not mistake the seriousness of the battle. This is not some little skirmish. My intent is to 1. Stand for what I know to be true; 2. Fight for the salvation of those who deny the truth or are tempted by that denial. (Even my arrogance does not go so far as to think I am defending the Church. She needs no defense, but people within Her do)

      BTW the internet is just a modern version of talking over the back fence or in the market. It may spread more quickly, but that is the only difference.

      In case anyone doubts, Michael Bauman is my real name, I take full responsibility for what I write. In reality that is the case for those who write under pseudonymns as well. We are judged on every word we utter, not just for their truth but for the effect they have on others. Nothing is hidden from God.

      As I have referenced before, my bishop is His Grace Bishop Basil of the Antiochian diocese (?) of Wichita and Mid-America. I worship at the Cathedral of the diocese in Wichita, KS. Anyone in good standing in the Church is always welcome to worship with us and I’d be glad to greet and talk with you at coffee hour.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Mr Stankovich, there is much truth in what you say but if I may interject, yes, we know how this is going to play out eventually. The Lord conquered death at His Resurrection. That does not mean that we should be complacent about our upcoming persecution. We are still called to fight.

      P.S. I would have given much to have been present when Fr Schmemann smacked down that impertinent hag. Enough dialogue and kumbaya.

  3. M. Stankovich says

    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.

    I am not exactly sure what about my writing – and I can’t say about me because this is the internet and you don’t know the first thing about me – that seems to suggest to you mine is a particularly potent naïveté. Factually, I have come to expect this assumption – I am naive, I don’t “get it,” I am deluded, I am an outright fool – as a matter of course, an endemic characteristic of internet “argument” which I rarely, if ever, experience in the “real world.” I have concluded that my only recourse to this outright form of dialog-stifling “tagging” is not to futilely argue through the point, but to encourage correction: if I have made a factual error, I invite you to correct me.

    I did not casually use the word “skewed” in describing the “internet world.” “Talking over the back fence or in the market” – while noting the obvious difference should the fence/market be in Beverly Hills as opposed to 125th & Amsterdam, NYC – was, nevertheless, “face-to-face” interaction with all the inherent operative social restraints and responsibilities that bear. The internet has no parallel. Where in history do you see instantaneous communication, conducted in complete anonymity, where the guidance of normative social behavior is on an “if you wish” basis? As I noted above, there is an urgency and boldness to internet “communication” that is without precedent: face-to-face, an individual may think many things, but in most cases this impulse does not translate into action. I fully believe that each sinner needs, and perhaps deserves, a Nathan; someone to boldly stand before the king, fully conscious of the potential consequences, and to assume the responsibility of unequivocally stating, “This man is you.” But I cannot help but presume that Nathan’s action was not borne of urgency and passion, but a deliberate calculation of wisdom far beyond my understanding. There is a reason that a most-frequently searched phrase on Google is “how do I recall an email/blog post.”

    I appreciate your kind offer of coffee and face-to-face discussion. I must be honest in saying that the closest I have come to Wichita, KS is an approximate 35,000 vertical feet, but you never know…

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Dear M. Stankovich as an attorney I deal with experts almost every day of my practice and in discovery depositions. I ask them a question such as, “do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty if ABC was caused by XYZ?” Usually what I get is a very long winded academic answer that does not answer my question. So I ask it again, and again until they finally say yes or no or some other response that is either affirmative or negative.

      So being that my humble and unlearned mind does not see an explicit answer from you as to whether you believe if Genetics causes an immutable (i.e. unchanging) behavior called Homosexuality I will ask you directly: “Do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of certainty if genetics cause an Homosexuality?”

      Further: “Do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of certainty that if Genetics does cause Homosexuality is a persons Homosexuality immutable, and if so why?”

      PS The internet is a great vehicle to get and find medical and other scientific opinions needed in a lawsuit, and to have discussions with various experts across the academic and scientific spectrum. Its is also a great vehicle that expands upon and enhances the “Public Forum” concept that our Founding Fathers believed in and protected. Democracy is a messy thing, but in the end its forth it even on the internet.

      Peter

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Papoutsis,

        I apologize for my lack of clarity – verbosity is not a “gift,” I think. Obviously, it is presumptuous for me to imagine that what to me is “crystal” (an admittedly lame reference to “attorney” Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men), may not be to others. Sorry.

        If you were to “put me on the stand” and pose both of your questions exactly as you did above, my response, in both cases, would be “No.” But I recall the days in NYC when a parking ticket allowed one to plead, “Guilty With an Excuse,” and so I will attempt to explain my answer to your questions as posed, as a semantical problem.

        First, I believe that terms and phrases such as “cause,” “make,” “destined,” “immutable” – and such contrivances as I saw printed on a man’s t-shirt, “Your God made me this way,” a lamentable riff off “God made me this way” – as foreign to the discussion of human genetics. Second, I believe that medicine of the “whole person” necessarily is “symphonic” – biological (including genetics), psychological, social (including environmental events), and spiritual – and that attempting to “disassemble” this symphony, or isolate its individual components, is grave error. And for these reasons, I would have to answer you, “no.”

        I believe that the language of human genetics, at least until such a time as viable courses of treatment are derived from the identification of specific genetic mutation, speaks only of “vulnerability,” “risk,” and “preponderance.” As I commented in the previous thread, the genetic mutation that results in Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) carries with it an astonishing absolute risk (a statistical calculation) of proceeding to colon cancer in 90% of individuals who carry the mutation. And yet, 10% remain cancer free. Why? We obviously must conclude that other factors are involved. In other words, are able to specifically locate the gene mutation, calculate a specific risk estimate over a protracted period of time, but can we say that this mutation of the APC gene, in and of itself, caused colon cancer? No.

        As a complex “heritable” trait – complex in that no single gene is thought to be responsible – homosexuality is considerably more difficult to describe. Like so many “quantitative,” polygenic traits, we may never be able to identify the specific genes that contribute to this trait, but relying on the hallmarks of genetic research – family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies – we can confidently say that a vulnerability is heritable. This, then, would lead us to conclude that some genetically vulnerable individuals, in a complex interaction of biology-psychology-social/environmental-spiritual factors will acquire same sex attraction. I want to be especially clear that nothing I have proposed here has any bearing in regard to sexual activity; it is neither “apology,” “justification,” nor “defense.”

        Finally, in regard to your question of “immutability,” I am assuming that you are asking me if homosexuality can be reversed, healed, or “cured.” I am also assuming that we can agree that, in this world, what is immutable is that “God is our Father, and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes.” Two things come to mind: there is a body of data, in my mind largely anecdotal, that through Grace, some individuals are healed from same-sex attraction. In these cases, the only appropriate response, in my mind, is to thank God for such mercy. But as a purely practical man, it seems unwise and unfair to generalize this fact. The second thing that comes to mind, which I have written about elsewhere, is my discussion with the late Prof. of Dogmatic Theology, S.S. Verhovskoy, who said to me that some things are so unlikely that we can, in fact, say they will not happen. Reflecting on Matt. 17:20, I realize that, if relying on my own lack of faith, the precipitation of the healing others mocks me. I believe that is precisely why I cannot scorn those who, without having chosen this mutation, struggle in a manner that humbles me.

        I hope this clarifies my original statements.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          I thank you for your Clarification, and agree with your first paragraph as to vulnerability, which is the same as my use of the term predisposition. However, your terminology is better and much clearer on this point. I believe we may still have a disagreement as to immutability, but let me attempt to clarify. Being that your first paragraph deals with vulnerability it would be safe to assume that on a purely genetic level there can never be “unchangeable” behavior.

          However, add to the genetic component various forms of socialization and experimentation then the concept of immutability or “unchanging behavior” and then there is a basis for it. However, as I stated previously people with certain genetic markers, myself included, are usually believed to be predisposed to violent criminal behavior, but I was never raised that way and neither were others.

          Now, if certain people are raised wrong and they have this vulnerability they may turn into violent criminals. Do we then abandon hope as to their rehabilitation or do we say that somethings or some people are so unlikely to change that we abandon them to their destructive behavior? Does this not negate the whole basis and purpose of the Gospel and Christ’s sacrifice?

          Sometimes we get caught up in the argument or just out of basic convenience and we forget to ask ” just what then did Christ die for?”

          Peter

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Papoutsis,

            I am not sure how you have come to conclude my opinion as to “mutability” – a term I clearly indicated I find “foreign” to the discussion of human genetics – to suggest “abandonment.” In fact, I meant exactly the opposite. I say again, “God is our Father and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes”; some, by Divine Grace & Mercy are healed from homosexuality. But practicality and inevitability suggests that most are not. It seems incumbent upon us in the Church, then, to support and assist in their spiritual warfare, certainly hoping for healing, but, “faithful to the little things,” (Lk. 16:10), encouraging the path of holiness. Mine was not a resignation to “immutable” conditions, but rather an encouragement:

            “Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Is. 41:10).

            I work in the mental health delivery system of CA state prisons, and I have heard histories of child abuse and neglect that, literally, “cry out to heaven.” I have heard human beings describe passions and behaviors so base and depraved as to, literally, shock and frighten me. But I have also been around long enough to know that 70-80% who are released or paroled will re-offend and return. Do I despair of the possibility of their rehabilitation? Absolutely not; “God is our Father and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes.” Pure statistics, however, speak to a reality I cannot ignore. Nevertheless, I conclude each and every pre-release session – be it the first or the eighth – with the words, “I never want to see you again!”

            • Thanks for your reply above, there was no reply button . . . You answered what I wanted to hear.

              State Prisons eh? I volunteered to minister to women only for a weekend once in a state prison. Scary place and yet I saw amazingly hopeful people who had found God while there. I wondered how they would sustain that faith on the outside . . .

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              So then do you support rehabilitative services for Homsexuals just as there are rehabilitative services for drug addicts and alcoholics?

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Papoutsis,

                Again you pose a question that I cannot answer simply “yes” or “no.” I say for the third time, some individuals who employed, as you say, “rehabilitative services” within the context of a Christian community report healing from same-sex attraction. I do not question the authenticity of these reports, I thank God for the mercy extended, but to my knowledge these reports are largely anecdotal. Therefore, in my mind, as a statistical reality, I am unwilling to generalize anecdotal experience in any case.

                Likewise, given that so little information exists as to the supposed benefits of “restorative/rehabilitative services” in relation to homosexuality – meaning a “single,” unified approach to all homosexuals – I could never say, “Try “rehabilitation” because it can’t hurt,” when there is more anecdotal reports that people felt shamed and harmed when they were not “successful.” My fear would be that even well-meaning “clinicians” might conclude “failure” the consequence of the patient’s lack of faith. I must contrast this with what we read in Matt. 17:14ff regarding the Apostles’ inability to cast out a demon; the Lord ascribed no responsibility or “wrongdoing” to the boy possessed in that the Apostles were unable to heal him, but rather to the “healers” themselves: “Because of your lack of faith.” Therefore, I am unwilling to generalize anecdotal experience in any case.

                How should we determine that the better course is to love and support someone with same-sex attraction within a life of holiness acceptable to God, or when supporting “rehabilitative” is more appropriate? “We” don’t. This is a pastoral concern, in the realm of the transcendent relationship between someone who confesses same-sex attraction and his or her confessor. And thanks to God I am not charged with the pastoral responsibility of human lives!

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  “Anecdotal”?

                  Check out the Spitzer study, documenting scores of successful cases. Here’s a summary.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  With all due respect your entire answer is a cop-out. Because you never say a word about the extensive rehabilitative services our society and many others give to drug-addics, alcoholics, etc. Its good enough for them, but not the homosexual? I find that to be a dubble standard and a complete negations of the Gospel as well as a complete negation of the scores of people who have recovered from SSA either back to a heterosexual lifestyle or a celibate lifestyle.

                  It also negates the sucess of the thousands upon thousands of sucess stories of drug-addicts and alcoholics and others in other addictive lifestyles. This is NOT anecdotal. At this point I must humbly disagree with you.

                  Peter

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Having read the entire Spitzer study, I must ask you what Spitzer concluded that I did not? He never varies from his conclusion that “sometimes” and in “some patients,” reparative therapy is effective. And like me, mourns the paucity of available data:

                    What is needed is a prospective outcome study of reparative therapy in which a consecutive series of volunteer individuals are evaluated before starting therapy and after several years. Such a study could provide data as to how often significant change in sexual orientation is reported. It could also examine how often individuals who are unsuccessful in the therapy are harmed in some way and the magnitude of the harm.

                    He twice chastizes the APA’s Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (2000) for assuming Gay Affirmative Therapy, for which there “is also no rigorous scientific evidence of effectiveness” is ethical, yet implies it “unethical” to practice reparative therapy:

                    Clearly, it is only this kind of research that can provide the information that both clinicians and potential patients need to have to make informed decisions about reparative therapy.

                    Despite the opinion of others that some of his methods are problematic (e.g. reliance on self-report alone – i.e. without independent corroboration – after 5 years; conclusions that “the participants’ self-reports were, “by-and-large, credible and that few elaborated self-deceptive narratives or lied” relied on a trained evaluators to ascertain from a “structured” telephone interview), I find no reason to dispute his findings. And I must say I empathize, from a scientific perspective, with his conclusion that:

                    Unfortunately, given the cost of conducting such a complex study, its necessarily long duration, and the current consensus of the mental health professions that reparative therapy is both ineffective and harmful, it is extremely unlikely that such a useful study will be conducted in the near future.

                    His words are seemingly prophetic – I cannot find another study that is similar, conducted after his – and so his findings remain anecdotal.

                    Mr. Papoutsis, I get the sense that your questions have not been posed so you might better understand my position – I recall the old adage that “a lawyer never asks a question he does not believe he can already answer.” This is a form of logic to which I do not subscribe, if only because of the inherent danger I see expressed in Ps. 7:15. I did not address your analogy in regard to chemical dependency to “negate the Gospel” or disparage addicts in recovery, but because I do not believe it is an inappropriate or helpful tangent to chase. Having said that, I believe that this thread is exhausted.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Yes, exhausted is the right word.

                    • Monk James says

                      Personally, I thought that the most significant factor in the Spitzer study’s statistics was the fact the great majority of people who experienced remediation of same-sex attraction described themselves as deeply ‘religious’.

                      This seems to indicate that whatever therapy was employed, the religious/moral concerns of the subjects made the most difference in the treatment’s outcome. As a result, we might well wonder if well directed religious motivation might work just as well as any sort of clinical psychotherapy.

                      While the etiology of homosexuality remains a greatly vexed and contentious issue — and not without political implications these days — the bottom line for us as Christians is that we are ‘working out our salvation in fear and trembling’ and it frankly doesn’t matter how or why we fell into our sins, at least internally. It matters only that we repent them and return God’s love for us and accept the salvation He offers us in His Christ.

                      So, if we repent our sins (homosexual activity among them, but not necessarily chief among them), we’ve made a good beginning. Positive spiritual direction rather than godless psychoanalysis will allow us to grow healthy in mind, body, and soul.

                      Or to paraphrase the saintly Met. Anthony Bloom: A great deal of mental illness can be prevented by a sincere confession early on.

                • Wow! That’s a really neat anwesr!

            • I’m raelly into it, thanks for this great stuff!

    • Michael Bauman says

      M. Stankovich,

      There is a vast difference between the tempations involved in same sex attraction and the homoerotic acts to which they can lead. I understand that difference and support the relatively private (since nothing is really private) pastoral approach to dealing with those temptations

      However when those temptations are acted upon and further become the a priori foundation of a person’s identity as the homosexual normalization crowd would have us believe, that is indeed a form of iconoclasm and needs to be treated as such; both becaue of the theological significance and, more importantly because of the shattered lives such iconoclasm creates and sustains.

      I don’t find you naive, I just have quite a bit different perspective. I trust little in what is considered empirical evidence as it is so easily manipulated by subtle and not so subtle changes in context and redefintion of words. All empirical facts require interpretation. Interpretation is a function of selection, belief and bias. So as fascinating as the genetic process is, IMO, it has little relevance. The complexity of it alone leaves sufficient ambiguity to allow for all sorts of interpretation unless it is firmly within a patristic matrix (approaching the mysteries of the human being as the fathers approached them, not copying the exact words and formulas necessarily but realizing the source and ground of reality so as to avoid delusion).

      Wichita, ah yes, flyover country, but our community is pretty amazing. I am humbled to just be a part of it. It is the work of many hearts, hands and minds under the blessing of the Holy Spirit that was officially begun in 1918 . It would be worth your while to parachute down and come see. Of course you can access our web site at http://www.stgeorgecathedral.net. but that is a digital ghost of the reality.

      I know Wichita is not on the way to anywhere. Even back in territorial times, the railhead was north of us, the river not navigatable, only the Chisholm Trail came through here. In modern times, air service is terrible except to Las Vegas, the main east-west highway is 90 miles to the north. But we are here nonetheless and under the guidance of Bp Basil something pretty special seems to be going on. We’ve got rich and poor; young and old; an incredible diversity of ethnic and racial backgrounds and talents; stylistas and sandled, floral shirt wearing folks who love shooting guns, rockets and fireworks; professional educators and home-schoolers; those who can trace Christianity in their family back to Apostolic times and heathen converts like me; not to mention pretty much the full range of human weakness and sin. Although still obvioiusly and proudly grounded in Arab Orthodoxy, homogeneous is not at all an acurate description of our community.

  4. Matt Gates says

    Jacobse both misrepresents and misunderstands the purpose of the group, of which I am a member. The purpose of the group is not moral polemics at all. The “underlying assumption” is simply that gay Orthodox people exist and have spiritual needs that neither begin nor end with a demand that they renounce romantic love. Simply butting into a conversation about individual human beings that one loves as brothers and sisters in Christ and denouncing them is Phariseeism pure and simple.
    As M. Stankovich insightfully points out, the internet and narratives it generates are quite skewed. It’s interesting that “culture wars” are matters which both right and left accuse one another of engaging in, but in which no one admits being personally engaged. We’re Jacobse to actually read some of the comment threads in the group, he would find that many of its members have extremely nuanced views that don’t fit neatly into to the stereotypic narrative of the left.
    In regard to the alleged “anti-convert” bias of the group, if I may generalize broadly, it is simply a distortion the idea the Church and Her parishes are a the living Body of Christ, intended to embrace all humanity in contrast to the vision of it as a proverbial “city on a hill” standing in judgement of a godless outer world.

    • It’s NOT “Jacobse” but Father Jacobse or Father Hans. It’s insulting and impertinent to refer to an Orthodox Christian priest in that manner. But, typical of those on the left, you launch into personal and unjustified attacks of the messenger, while saying nothing or very little substantively to address the message. Interesting to see it displayed once again. More emoting and nothing more!

      Fr. Hans is right, it is your group, and a few others, who are bringing the Culture Wars inside the Orthodox Church and going against the Scriptures and expecting the entire Church to adopt corrupt ideas and positions that go against the Orthodox Christian faith itself – the faith embodied in the Scriptures, preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers, and taught by the Orthodox Christian Church since the first century.

    • Heracleides says

      The “true purpose” of the ‘Listening’ coven of which you, Matt, are a participant is that of the subversion and perversion of the faith as summed up quite plainly by one of your fellow members:

      “Altho it at times seems like a battle, the truth is that what we are doing here is sowing seeds, tilling soil for something that may not be achieved for many years. Although we are moving forward in some ways, I personally think as far as the Orthodox Church goes, we are traveling at jet speed compared to how long other issues take to be resolved. In the old school of business these encyclicals are a ‘swan song. ‘ It’s a final effort to hold the fort against the ‘infidels.’ Prayer is the most essential effort needed so that we all may be guided to keep intact the Holy Orthodox church in truth but not frozen in issues from centuries past.”

      Stephen Iannaccone 08/03/2011

      • Things looked a lot bleaker for the faithful, and far more promising for paganism during the expansion of Hellenism in the wake of Alexander the Great’s conquests. However, one faithful family started the Maccabean revolt, and within a few centuries, it was Greek paganism that disappeared. But this is indeed what these folks are trying to do.

    • Mark from the DOS says

      Moreover, the group members appear to actively attempt to hide their agendas. I posted several comments from that group here, and when I returned the next day to try to see if more had been added, the ones I posted had all been deleted. These posts made clear the agenda is not dialogue (however that is defined) but complete alteration of the Church’s teachings:

      From the “Listening” group:

      “I think it is maybe about time for serious theologians and other informed and concerned Christians, to indicate that any Church that excludes gay people from its normativity, operates with a false and thus unsustainable (in view of modern knowledge) anthropology, period.”

      “What if we concede that homosexuality is “less than the ideal”? Will most Orthodox Christians really conclude that it’s better to launch gay Christians into a never-ending cycle of “falls” and repentance — effectively to encourage promiscuity and self-loathing at the same time — than to accept the formation of stable, committed, loving relationships? I’m sure many do hold this view today, but eventually it is going to change.”

      “I am afraid that any concession to the effect that homosexuality is “less than the ideal,” although wisely modest, will not have an impact, end of the day, because it doesn’t compel conservatives to reconsider in terms of, say, demonstrated prior error. “

      • Maybe you should keep the names attached. They’re supposed to be proud of what they write, right?

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Nah, that tired line only applies to those who were questioning the infallibility of OCANews.

  5. Ivan Vasiliev says

    George,

    1.4-1.7% of the population is from 4,200,000 to 5,100,000 (based on a population of 300,000,000). It doesn’t change our theology, but it does tell us that there are more homosexuals out there than there are Orthodox (unless we believe our own inflated figures). If there are that many suffering people (aware of it or not) we, who hold to the traditional teachings of our Church, have a very large scale pastoral ministry issue.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Absolutely. That’s why I commend HB for the pastoral stance he takes towards those suffering from this affliction. “For the Lord desireth not the death of a sinner..”

  6. SHIFTS IN PARADIGMS. AN ORTHODOX PSYCHIATRIST ON HOMOSEXUALITY:

    http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2011/08/shifts-in-paradigms-an-orthodox-psychiatrist-on-homosexuality/

    • M. Stankovich says

      Pascal,

      I would invite you read my comments on Fr. Johannes’ site regarding this interview with Dr. Pappas for perspective. I would note that like here, I invited correction to any factual error contained in any comment I made. While there is a briefcase full of suspicion as to my motives, “agenda,” integrity, education, “politics,” and Orthodoxy, to date, no one has pointed out a single factual error.

      • Michael Bauman says

        M. Stankovich,

        As most empiricists you put far more weight onto facts than they can bear. It is the interpretative matrix that surrounds the facts which is far more important and consequential. Although rare, someone could get all the facts wrong and still arrive at a truthful conclusion. At the other end of the bell-curve, one could get all the facts correct and still come to an incorrect conculsion. While factual rigor is important, it is not anywhere near prime importance.

        1. What is believed?
        2. Is that belief in concert with the witness of the Church?
        3. What are the anthropological assumptions being made in order to select the facts, prioritized the facts and interrpret the facts? That is the critical discernment.
        4. Is one’s use of facts (selection, prioritization, etc) in line with one’s professed belief or is it designed to attack the Holy Tradition?
        5. What is one’s chosen narrative?

        All of those have to be considered and answered before the ‘facts’ can even be recognized as ‘facts’.

        Because of the Incarnation, any anthropological statements that are made are also Christological statements. Therefore, our anthropological beliefs must conform to the revealed tradition of the Church or they are wrong. That is THE fact.

        Perhaps the questions to which you object are artless, emotionally charged and insufficient, but it seems to me they are attempting to get to the foundation of your belief and an unstated objection to your method which, frankly, reminds me of a sort of neo-Scholasticism in which our mind and our abilities are much more important than obedience to God in the Church.

        BTW my definition of ‘fact’ is a discreet datum that can be identified and described with what appears to be a high degree of accuracy.

        But, again, facts, in and of themselves are relatively meaningless. No one but God is in possession of all the facts nor has any certainity that what we think are facts are really are facts. Just think of Heisenberg’s uncertainity principal which applies to matter for Pete’s sake. How much more uncertain are any ‘facts’ about the our own nature.

        We have two competing descriptions of reality by which to judge facts:
        1. The Holy Tradition of the Church ruled by the living God.
        2. The prevailing cultural beliefs (currently nihlistic secularism) ruled by the Father of Lies.

        “A man cannot serve two masters….”

        Make your choice clear, then we can discuss facts. Unfortunately, those who wish to force homosexual norms onto the Church are clearly living in reality #2 despite all objections to the contrary. Therefore it is quite difficult to trust anything they say.

      • Michael Bauman says

        … there’s no such thing as theory-free observations – all data comes from this experiment rather than that experiment, and even simply reporting a result is laden with theoretical assumptions, even when these aren’t explicitly identified.

        A comment from Andrew Wilson, a scientific psychologist commenting on current neruo-science experiments.

  7. cynthia curran says

    Think George, that the British developed a modern police force by the 19th century which made riots in modern Britian tame compared to old Byzantium of the 5th and 6th centuries. The Nika riot which sounds high since ancient historians tend to exaggerate around 30,000 dead and burn a lot of the city. Think of the development of a modern police stopped the extremes of rioting.