Fr. Robert Arida Raises His Head Again

robert-aridaAfter a hiatus of at least a year, Fr. Robert Arida reappears advocating for — you guessed it — homosexualism. You may recall his earlier essay Never Changing Gospel; Ever Changing Culture, a turgid, poorly reasoned effort calculated to silence his critics who oppose sanctioning homosexualism in the Orthodox Church.

The essay was roundly (and appropriately) criticized and the OCA was forced to remove it from its youth blog while never explaining how the propaganda got posted there in the first place. Any fair critic recognized that publishing it was a first order breakdown of leadership.

This time Arida is joined by other homosexualist activists and while the writing is less labored, the thinking remains just as flaccid. Instead of attacking the critics (Arida’s stock in trade), the authors resort to grandiose moral appeals. There is no engagement with the tradition, only a flight into concepts boldly asserted but poorly defined that leave deposits of indistinct, flat, and malodorous impressions accompanied by a few grunts of self-approval. Step into it and the residue sticks to your shoe like chewing gum on hot pavement.

Somebody said recently that the Progressives are the Puritans of our age. They invert morality (what was wrong is right; what was right is wrong) but still enforce it through public shaming (political correctness) and the coercive power of the State (Obama’s bathroom edict for example). The probity of their moral assertions appears to be self-evident, at least to them.

Closer to home one critic asked Arida after he published his first bloated piece: Fr. Robert Arida: Why Don’t You Become Episcopalian? Arida didn’t take the advice but it appears that another contributor did. Maria McDowell, a loquacious apologist for homosexualism, now communes in the Episcopal Church. At least she acts in concert with her convictions. Too bad the others don’t.

Let’s ask the Progressives — these neo-Puritans of the True Faith — one more time: Why are you dragging the culture war into the Orthodox Church? Why Episcopalianize Orthodoxy? Why not become Episcopalian instead?

Source: Public Orthodoxy

Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document on Marriage and Its Impediments

by Fr. Robert M. Arida, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, David Dunn, Maria McDowell, Teva Regule, and Bryce E. Rich

The document on marriage does not refer to its long and complex history and accompanying theology. What is offered to the faithful and to the world is a statement that bases marriage on a particular understanding of natural and divine law (sec.I, par.2 and 6). Resting upon this foundation the authors attempt to protect marriage and its inextricable bond to the family from the encroachments of secularism and moral relativism (sec.I, par.1). However, in doing so, the authors appear to have constructed a paradigm of marriage based more on a particular ideology than its theological underpinnings.  They present an image of the Church that can only speak of marriage as it is related to the law and not as a bond forged and nurtured by love and divine grace. By virtually ignoring the Church’s emphasis on grace the authors have restricted the Church’s dexterity in responding to the myriad of pastoral issues related to globalization, not the least being inter-religious marriage. In addition to minimizing the place of love and grace, the authors have also presented marriage as a bourgeois institution without taking into account the safeguarding of children or women in cases of domestic violence, and the possible need for dissolving the marriage bond.

Natural and Divine Law, Grace and Marriage

Although Trinitarian life is stable, the possibility of our participation in this life is endless. While the laws of nature point to and lead one to God, it can then be stressed that these laws, infinitely multifaceted as they are, cannot exhaust systematically, scientifically and logically the very being of God who is “ineffable and incomprehensible.”

The inexhaustible mystery of God extends to the inexhaustible mystery of the human person which allows the mystery of human love, including marriage, to once again stand on a Christological, eschatological and soteriological foundation. Upon this foundation divine grace recovers its place within marriage as well as in the bonds of all human relationships rooted in authentic love for the other which becomes an expression of love for God.

Unlike a static understanding of natural law, the bond of grace removes marriage from being solely bound to biological pro-creation (sec. I, par.5). Consequently, the bond of grace can lead marital love to extend beyond its own physical intimacy and embrace a child or children in the act of adoption. Within the dynamic of marital love adoption offers salvation to children who might otherwise be deprived of love and who might find themselves bound to conditions such as abject poverty, war, disease, and human trafficking.

Furthermore, in linking marriage so strongly to procreation, the authors give no thought to those couples who may be infertile or to those couples who marry beyond childbearing age. The authors also remain silent about the proper use of birth control especially with regards to preventing the spread of genetic diseases (sec.I, par.7).

Divine grace is eternally bound to the New Torah.  Therefore, it renders marriage as a sacrament of love within Trinitarian life. The liturgical and biblical sources of the Church stress that it is grace and not the law which allows for new life in Christ—“the shadow of the law passed when grace came…” (Vesperal Dogmaticon, Tone 2).

 Globalization, Marriage and Divorce

The authors of the document ignore the pastoral challenges the Orthodox Church faces relative to the reality of globalization and the religious and cultural pluralism that attend it. There is no acknowledgement of how globalization, especially in the West, greatly increases the possibility of mixed marriages including marriage to a non-Christian (sec. I, par. 9). The authors would show the Church to be more involved in and for the life of the faithful if they courageously acknowledged the pastoral challenges that come with religious pluralism. Facing this reality and expressing a desire to investigate the acceptance of civil marriages contracted between an Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian or non-Christian would indicate that the Church of the 21st century like the Church of the 1st century is unwilling to cut itself off from the wider society.  Willingness to investigate this particular issue based in part on the Church’s acceptance of civil marriages during the first 1000 years of the Christian empire (see for example Justinian’s Institutes 1.10) would also attest to the Church’s care and love for these couples and their children. This gesture of pastoral care might also witness to the Church’s desire to draw into its transfiguring life the Orthodox believer and his/her non-Orthodox or non-Christian spouse who, because of canonical restrictions, find themselves cut off from the body of Christ (sec. II, par. 5).

While supporting the sacredness of the family (sec I, par.9) the authors do not address the issue of domestic violence. They are silent about the Church’s concern and care for those most often targeted in a violent context—women and children. Tragically, divorce and even the separation of children from one or both parents may be the only solution to protecting the lives of the victims.

Conclusion

A stronger emphasis on divine grace and interpersonal love, a greater awareness of globalization and its challenges to marriage and the translation of living theology into pastoral care would bolster the integrity of the document.

This essay was sponsored by the Orthodox Theological Society in America’s Special Project on the Great and Holy Council and published by the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University.

Fr. Robert M. Arida is rector and dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston.

Susan Ashbrook Harvey is Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University.

David Dunn is an independent scholar who writes on Orthodoxy and religion and politics.

Teva Regule is a doctoral candidate in the theology department at Boston College.

Maria McDowell, an independent scholar of Christian ethics and Orthodox theology, belonged for many years to the Orthodox Church and is now a communicant in the Episcopal Church U.S.A.

Bryce E. Rich is a doctoral candidate in theology at the University of Chicago.

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Comments

  1. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    I could pick this article apart with ease. If Orthodox cannot see the glaring heresy riddled in this document I would be greatly surprised. This is a document that will definitely smoke out the heretics from the Orthodox. Let’s see how many hierarchs denounce this heretical piece of theological tripe.

    Peter

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Peter–You are so right! The Preconciliar document and the essay by Fr. Arrida, et al, left me wondering if they were talking about another document all together. Here is my take on the essay’s conclusion:

      “A stronger emphasis on divine grace and interpersonal love”
      I don’t know how you can put more emphasis on divine grace and interpersonal love than what the document already has. For example, these following statements:
      “The mystery of the indissoluble union of man and woman is the image of the unity of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32)…Through God’s blessing, the union of man and woman is elevated, for communion is above individual existence as it introduces the spouses to a life in the image of the Kingdom of the Holy Trinity.” Now, granted that the document does not use the specific word “love,” it certainly implies it. How can any love be greater than the love of Christ for us and our love for Him? If, however, “love” is restricted to the carnal emotions and actions, then we are not talking about Christian love.

      “a greater awareness of globalization and its challenges to marriage” The document starts with a flat statement that shows that the drafters were quite aware of what is happening globally: “The institute of family is threatened today by such phenomena as secularization and moral relativism.” It goes on to say “In today’s world, a real threat to Orthodox Christians is constituted by the pressure to recognize new forms of cohabitation. The deepening crisis of marriage is a matter of profound concern for the Orthodox Church not only because of negative consequences for the whole society and a threat to internal family relationships, the principal victims of which are married couples and, in the first place, children because regrettably they usually begin to martyr innocently from their early childhood…The Church does not deem it possible for her members to contract same-sex unions or enter into any other form of cohabitation except marriage. The Church exerts all possible pastoral efforts so that those of her members who enter into such unions may come to true repentance and love blessed by the Church.” I cannot think of any other way of stating Orthodox awareness of the global developments; perhaps, the authors of the essay would have preferred citation after citation of supposedly Christian countries legalizing same-sex marriages, but I doubt that the immensity of this problem would have made (nor should it ever make) a difference in how the Church approaches these matters.

      ” and the translation of living theology into pastoral care would bolster the integrity of the document.” There are plenty of passages that talk about pastoral care. Frankly, I have no idea wht this means. What is “living theology” anyway? For the life of me, I cannot remember any Orthodox writer say anything about this “living theology.” Is this similar to the judicial concept of a living Constitution–a contradiction in terms? I thought the document was to the point and did not weigh itself down with the kind of vague platitudes that abounds in the essay. Thus, unlike the essay, the document has plenty of integrity.

      • Michael Bauman says

        “Living theology” like the “living Constitution” means there are NO fixed standards and everything is up for reinterpretation to fit the desires of the interpreter that tailoring to desires is what is called “love” by such folks.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        I wholeheartedly agree with you, but they do not. This why George rightly pointed out the hidden agenda of the writers of this article.

        Peter

      • Michael Warren says

        A Crowned Wrestler – Archbishop Theophan of Poltava

        …Archbishop Theophan was uncompromising with regard to the teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church. He was deeply pained by the movements of the “renovationists” and “living church” adherents, which disrupted the Church in Russia in the years after the Revolution. Equally strong was his opposition to the teachings of liberal Church thinkers such as Soloviev and Bulgakov, popular among the Russian émigré intelligentsia. He saw that any attempt to modernize or to make concessions to the spirit of the times could only result in undermining the faith, in robbing the “salt” of its savor. Even the modernists, however, could not but respect such a spiritual giant of Orthodoxy. During the Russian Councilor 1917-1918, some of them approached him respectfully: “…The waves of the times flow swiftly, changing everything, changing us; one must give in to them. You, too, must give in, Vladika, to the raging waves,… Otherwise with whom will you be left? You will be left alone.” “With whom will I be left?” Vladika meekly answered them. “I will be with St. Vladimir the enlightener of Russia. With Sts. Anthony and Theodosius the Wonderworkers of Kiev Cave s Monastery, with the holy Hierarchs and Wonderworkers of Moscow. With Sts. Sergius and Seraphim and with all the holy martyrs, God-pleasing monks and wonderworkers who have gloriously shone forth on Russian soil. But you, dear brothers, with whom will you be left if even with your great numbers you give over to the will of the waves of the times?” …

        http://www.roca.org/OA/37/37g.htm

        The Difference Between Orthodox Spirituality and Other Traditions

        by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos

        …When referring to Orthodox theology, we do not simply mean a history of theology. The latter is, of course, a part of this but not absolutely or exclusively. In Patristic tradition, theologians are the God-seers. Saint Gregory Palamas calls Barlaam [who attempted to bring Western scholastic theology into the Orthodox Church] a “theologian,” but he clearly emphasises that intellectual theology differs greatly from the experience of the vision of God. According to Saint Gregory Palamas theologians are the God-seers; those who have followed the “method” of the Church and have attained to perfect faith, to the illumination of the nous and to divinisation (theosis). Theology is the fruit of man’s cure and the path which leads to cure and the acquisition of the knowledge of God.

        Western theology, however, has differentiated itself from Eastern Orthodox theology. Instead of being therapeutic, it is more intellectual and emotional in character. In the West [after the Carolingian “Renaissance”], scholastic theology evolved, which is antithetical to the Orthodox Tradition. Western theology is based on rational thought whereas Orthodoxy is hesychastic. Scholastic theology tried to understand logically the Revelation of God and conform to philosophical methodology. Characteristic of such an approach is the saying of Anselm [Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093-1109, one of the first after the Norman Conquest and destruction of the Old English Orthodox Church]: “I believe so as to understand.” The Scholastics acknowledged God at the outset and then endeavoured to prove His existence by logical arguments and rational categories. In the Orthodox Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers, faith is God revealing Himself to man. We accept faith by hearing it not so that we can understand it rationally, but so that we can cleanse our hearts, attain to faith by theoria* and experience the Revelation of God. …

        • Sean Richardson says

          While I am not, in general, a supporter of the revisionists, I personally believe that there were several things the “living church” got right … like using a language in the services of the Church that people actually understand, like Russian rather than Slavonic; like using the Gregorian calendar rather than the less astronomically accurate Julian calendar. Just because there might be change, doesn’t automatically mean that what is proposed is evil. Every change must be weighed in the balance of what is most beneficial to Christians walking the path of enlightenment, walking the narrow path toward the Kingdom.

          • Michael Warren says

            The issue of liturgical language is not so easily settled and never should be used as a political prop. The Julian Calendar is the calendar of the Orthodox Church, and its supposed astronomical deficiencies are easily addressed by either adding or subtracting leap years. That simple, no need for schism. As far as innovations are concerned, they are canonically condemned. So Eastern Rite Protestantism has a tough road to hoe to counterfeit Orthodoxy especially when it tries to impose itself upon the Church and people who do not want it.

            The lesson here is that Renovationism had no good ideas and no good fruit. It had a Protestant political program acting to divide Orthodox Christians and take the Russian Orthodox Church into the Protestant Reformation. Calls for the vernacular should always be tempered with actual knowledge of what the liturgical was and how it developed and evolved over time. Inevitably, holding fast to Orthodoxy as received and growing in holiness in our time and language within its theandric boundaries is the living Faith, the living life of theology which saves.

          • Nope, they did not get anything “right,” not a single thing. Calendar debate we have been there and done that, only on some superficial level you can pretend ‘accuracy’ however the Gregorian is anything but accurate. Real scientists never use it. They use only the Julian. As far as “Russian” or “English” or “French” or any other language people use and communicate with today, these contemporary languages are all “polluted” with lots of foul terminology, ‘dirty words’ and ‘dirty expressions’ the languages themselves. Old Slavonic other hand does not have that. Church Slavonic, it will have language that condemns, of course, but no dirty foul language. Thus, as a language, it is the most suitable liturgically.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              I nominate this post as the Most Ignorant Post of the Year, unless Cy tells us it is satirical.

              • The debate on all the gimmickry of the invented gregorian calendar we have already done before. It is a fact that scientists cannot use the Gregorian calendrical system for long term calculations of astronomy. The artificiality of arbitrarily dropping a leap day every other century or whatever it is messes up calculations. We have had long debate on that already before.

                With regards to Church Slavonic as being the viable language for Liturgy ….
                as in the West was Latin …. there is reason for that …. maybe you haven’t given thought far enough about that ever ….

                • Michael Bauman says

                  It is a good thing that modernity and science rejects the old calendar that means we can use it more freely as part of redeeming time.

            • [citation needed]

              • SCOBlivion article 9.20.2015 is where we exhaustively debated “New Calendar / Old Calendar” if thats the citation your are inquiring.

        • Pat Reardon says

          We have just been told, once again, “In the West [after the Carolingian “Renaissance”], scholastic theology evolved, which is antithetical to the Orthodox Tradition. Western theology is based on rational thought whereas Orthodoxy is hesychastic.”

          I have never been impressed by oversimplifications like this. As far as I can see, most Orthodox objections against Anselm and Thomas Aquinas took root in the 20th century.

          Western theology is not based on rational thought any more than Orthodox theology can be reduced to hesychasm.

          Really now, except that one is Latin and the other is Greek, how does

          fides quaerens intellectum

          differ from πιστις ζηλων νουν ?

          • George Michalopulos says

            I agree.

            Our church recently had the pleasure of hosting Dr Ralph C Wood, of Baylor, who gave a presentation on C S Lewis, theosis, and atonement. (I hope to be able to download it.) The nub of that matter: in both St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the doctrine of theosis is present. The West tended to lose it over time (only to rediscover it after a while) whereas in the East it never really went away. This was particularly due to a juridical emphasis in the West.

            Anyway, I ask that all commentary be withheld from all quarters on this until I am able to present the audio of his lecture so you all can judge for yourselves.

            • Inviting a non-Orthodox academic to teach your parish about theosis is in fact a very scholastic thing to do.

            • George, your mention of Dr. Wood’s talk, as well as DBG’s reply if Dr Wood is truly not Orthodox or nonPatristically Orthodox (as all of us converts are not yet, I am told!), prompts me to write about two long-held and disquieting concerns stemming from your blogs, those about a person’s employer and a person’s theological base: Specifically here about an employer of a Bishop (such as a Catholic university) as well as an Orthodox inviting non-Orthodox or non-patristic Orthodox to speak.

              A study of my own profession some years ago seems pertinent. My general recollection (Perhaps Dr. MS will see this and have the study easily at hand?): physicians were evaluated to see if those receiving visits and gifts from pharmaceutical reps or paid to talk for pharm companies were affected in their prescribing practices. Many routinely said no, I am above that, I am not affected..and in my own local speciality society I often heard that from those being paid to speak and receiving free samples and lunches, etc . And yet, the study showed that prescribing practices were influenced.

              In my personal experience the Executive Council suggestions about topics and speakers and pharmaceutical company funding versus no funding for our programs fell precisely along the lines of those who believed we are affected (and therefore refused monies, visits, gifts, even interaction with the super-friendly reps) and those who claimed they were not affected by the visits or gifts and continued receiving monetary, meal, or social gifts (flattery, friendliness, a sympathetic ear, etc). In this small sample size, it also seemed that those who thought and worked analytically or psychodynamically in therapy and who had subjected themselves to that process personally were much more likely to distrust our unconscious mind. Interestingly, the “religious” versus “no religious” or secular affiliations were not predictive at all. (The Orthodox understanding of fallen man as diseased and in need of healing and a true hospital was thus very easy for me to value when I later encountered it and converted.)

              I love Orthodoxy and psychoanalysis for the common understanding that we are not consciously aware of or in control of ourselves, our actions, our feelings, our own motivations as we pridefully think. Our wish to be liked by others is so strong as well that our minds and actions can easily be affected by authority issues (employer or simply a group in which we wish to participate or person we wish to impress). My profession has special boundaries in place for interaction and actions due to that understanding, so that we will not abuse our own authority with those vulnerable with us (patients) in many ways, including not letting ourselves be moved to do so by certain enticements or unconscious wishes to please authority figures.

              So an Orthodox working for a Catholic university, being paid by same, simply will likely be affected and influenced due to our human nature since the Fall, unless the person is aware and has a mighty spiritual fortress within. I have seen the finest priests, psychiatrists, persons be affected unconsciously, watched them behave atypically when stressed this way, so it is no personal insult to say this, just reality. And liking someone as a person of course is quite different from realizing that person has Orthodox or Heterodox views.

              With regard to inviting scholars to teach who are not patristically Orthodox, I wonder if we don’t suffer from the same unconscious pride that we can discern what is and isn’t. And yet those who have studied the Fathers for years are often the most careful about saying only what they know from the Fathers and being careful not to think or speak “off the cuff” or about their own opinions of what the Fathers say. Which seems a form of humility we who study the Fathers far less might be wise to adopt.

              In psych we say, what we don’t know (i.e. What is in our subconscious) is beyond our ability to control…and as long as we are “acting out”, we have no insight. Only when we look within and see the truth and stop acting out our unconscious wishes may we have insight and see how we truly are. Since culturally it seems especially difficult for us Americans not to be liked or to be “different”, we may have special challenges here…so I have to agree with DBG in reply to you as well if Dr. W is truly not Orthodox…and encourage all of us, myself most of all, to look within and wonder. Perhaps you can see why I value the Fathers as the first and best psychologists and psychiatrists as well. And in that light, if anyone knows about the health and well-being of Fr Alexis Trader of the Ancient Christian Wisdom blog, please share what he wishes known and please tell him how much his posts are valued and missed!

          • The Orthodox means of discernment is not really academic at all. It is a sort of prayerful rumination on a subject in light of the Tradition in search of God’s illumination of the soul or “spirit of man”. It is more a search for revelation than deduction. That is why we say a theologian is not an academic but one who prays.

            Academia tends to get in the way insofar as academia is perpetually concerned with what is new and shiny or the mechanisms of logic explicated by limited, fallible men. Learning of the apostolic word is useful. Learning of natural science and other knowledge can, of course, be useful as well but God is unfathomable and our most reliable knowledge of him comes not at all through logic or academic structures but through revelation.

            • Pat Reardon says

              I completely agree with Misha’s description of the theological enterprise. Indeed, it is substantially the same description I give in the first chapter of my new book on the Atonement.

              Let me suggest that Misha would find further support for his view in Bonaventure, the Victorines, et alii.

              • http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/66082.htm

                You might enjoy this if you haven’t seen it, Fr. Patrick.

              • But the theological enterprise also requires that we abandon our own discernment to the inexhaustible wealth of perfect discernment found in the Church and in our divinely inspired holy fathers in Christ. When we think that we know better than they, as in the case of calling the Latin Scholastic theologian Bonaventure, “Saint Bonaventure” (although here you go with just Bonaventure), then we show that we don’t really believe that theology is the product of revelation but rather we make our own reasoning the criterion of our theology.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Would you please do that (pick this article apart) for the sake of those of us (maybe only me) who don’t know what you’re referring to as “glaring heresy”, Peter?

    • Kentigern Pavlos says
      • M. Stankovich says

        Kentigern Pavlos,

        Christ is Risen! It is a joy to again see your name.

        • Kentigern Pavlos says

          Truly He is Risen! My joy. Thank you for your comments here in support of Orthodox marriage.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I hope your book will soon have a Kindle edition.

        • Kentigern Pavlos says

          Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Thaks. It should have, although it’s not listed there. The project is an ensemble effort: David and Mary Ford are editors too, with many contributors, from all the major jurisdictions in North America. Release date is supposed to be June 15, and there is a bit of a discount for ordering before from SVS Press.

          GLORY AND HONOR: ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN RESOURCES ON MARRIAGE

          EDITORS:

          Dr David C. Ford is Professor of Church History at St Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary, South Canaan, PA. and is the author of Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom.

          Dr Mary S. Ford is Associate Professor of New Testament at St Tikhon’s Seminary. Together the Fords wrote Marriage as a Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints.

          Dr Alfred K. Siewers is Warden of Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Mission Church and Associate Professor of English at Bucknell University.

          TABLE OF CONTENTS

          Introduction: “Crown Them With Glory and Honor”–Drs David C. Ford, Mary S. Ford, and Alfred Kentigern Siewers (co-editors)

          The Glory of Marriage–Dr David C. Ford, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Theophany, Liturgy, and the Appearance of Marriage at Three Fractal Levels–Dr Timothy Patitsas, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; with Melissa Likiardopoulos, Fordham University

          Sacred Image, Sacred Marriage–Presvytera Kerry Pappas, LMFT, Marriage and Family Ministry, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

          How to “Make” Love: Living a Scriptural Understanding of Love, Instead of Dying for Romantic Love–Fr Daniel Mackay, Serbian Orthodox Diocese of the West

          The Glory of Virginity before Marriage–Fr Dn Matthew Joyner, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Common Cup, Common Crucible: Preparing for the Salvation of Marriage–Fr John Oliver, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          The High and Holy Calling of Being a Wife–Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          The High and Holy Calling of Being a Husband–Dr Philip Mamalakis, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

          Sexual Intimacy in an Orthodox Marriage–Dr Albert S. Rossi, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Transfiguring “Voluptuous Choice”: Christian Marriage as a Spiritual Path–Fr Dn Stephen Muse, Ph.D., LFMT, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America

          Lessons from the River Oka: Toward an Icon of Marital Chastity–Dr Bruce V. Foltz, Eckerd College

          The Family Critically Reconsidered: Conflicting Accounts–Dr H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Rice University

          Icons of the ‘Nuclear’ Family–Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, Ph.D., Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

          St Gregory the Theologian, “the Stamp of God,” and Raising Christian Children Today–Dr Mark Tarpley, Orthodox Church in America

          Desires and Human Flourishing–Dr Mary S. Ford, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Managing Thoughts (Logismoi) for Flourishing Relationships–Fr Alexios (Trader), Karakallou Monastery, Mount Athos

          Internet Pornography as a Virus in Marriage–Dr Albert S. Rossi, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          The Importance of Spiritual Direction for Marriage–Fr Theodore Petrides, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          The Unique Challenges of Intermarried Couples–Fr Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LFMT, Nyack College

          Helping Married Couples When They Are Stuck–Dr Philip Mamalakis, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

          Learning to Love as God Loves: On Christian Marriage and Monasticism–Archpriest Thomas Hopko, late Dean Emeritus, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Marriage and Monasticism: A Brief Reflection–Fr Zacharias (Zachariou), St John the Baptist Monastery, Essex, UK

          What is Marriage? Addressing Contemporary Misunderstandings–Fr Sergei Sveshnikov, Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

          Some Brief Reflections on the Gay Lifestyle in the Church–Fr Edward Hillhouse, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          Speaking the Truth in Love: Conviction, Clarity, and Compassion regarding Marriage and Sexuality–Fr John Oliver, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          Some Common Sense about the Genders: A Talk to College Students–Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          Traditional Marriage and our Youth–Fr Gregory Horton, Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of the West

          From Genesis to Dormition–Fr Matthew Baker, Ph.D., formerly of Hellenic College

          Mystagogical, Cosmological, and Counter-Cultural: Contemporary Orthodox Apologetics for Marriage–Dr Alfred Kentigern Siewers, Bucknell University

          Inspiration for Today from the Married Saints–Dr David C. Ford, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

          Noteworthy Quotations relating to Marriage from within the Orthodox Tradition through the Centuries

          Appendix 1: Hierarchical Statements on Marriage

          Appendix 2: Suggested Resources

  2. Michael Warren says

    I am struck with the impression Syosset-Crestwood is going for broke because this is the last chance it will have to fly its liberal, Renovationist banners. That is the only way to explain their declaration of war in defense of:
    1). Ecumenism/Branch Theory
    2). Uniatism/Crypto-Papism
    3). Baptismal Ecclesiology and ecclesiological relativism
    4). Meta-patristics as liberal dillettante syncretism
    5). Moral Relativism and hierarchal/clerical scandals
    6). EP Renovationism and self-loathing Russophobia
    7). Authoritarian and abusive corruption and administration
    8). Crass, obnoxious, arrogant and inadequate spokespeople

    It wasn’t this bad in 1979 – 1985, the height of Renovationist idiocy of yore. They are going for broke, aloof, imposing their failed vision upon the OCA because they are at the end of their run. This is all they have, and if they lose today, they lose forever. It is time for the Orthodox grown ups in the OCA to resume control and end Syosset-Crestwood’s disgrace. We have arrived at a time for choosing: their 45+years of Eastern Rite Protestant failure or Orthodox fidelity, maturity and unity in a local church. The time has come to clean house and escort those who wish to be GOA or Uniate or Episcopalian off of our premises and to their promised lands. We will no longer buy their snakeoil. We insist on an Orthodox course, and they have nothing to offer us.

    • M. Stankovich says

      I believe that there are two important points to be made here: 1) These authors are correct that the document to which this essay responds does not address the issues which are raised by the authors, but the authors fail to acknowledge that the document speaks of “Sacramental Marriage,” which leads to the second point, 2) this is certainly not to say that the issues raised by these authors are not germane and significant to the discussion of “marriage” as – I am not exactly sure – issues of the “fallen human condition” in the 21st century, yet they do not rise to the level of the discussion of “Sacramental Marriage.”

      As a clinician, who I will contend has historically and continuously been confronted with domestic violence, mixed marriage, divorce, and many of the “ministerial” issues raised by these authors to a far greater degree than any of them “in the real world,” I fail to see a correlation between these issues and “the translation of living theology into pastoral care.” What, exactly, are we not doing now that we should be doing; or better, what is “stagnant” or “stale” to warrant this scolding?

      Further, We have only recently entered into the Church’s greatest celebration of Him who is the “fulfillment of the law,” and it is somehow ironic that we have been pursuing the writings of both Sts. Dionysius and Gregory Palamas, who both emphatically have told us that we “cannot exhaust systematically, scientifically and logically the very being of God who is “ineffable and incomprehensible.” No one may argue this point. Nevertheless, is this license to ignore the words of the Lord Himself, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,” (Jn. 10:7-9)? To say that “the shadow of the law passed when grace came…” is most certainly not to suggest we are a lawless people! What exactly was all that business we heard during the Matins of Holy Saturday – The Lamentations: “I will delight myself in your laws: I will not forget your word (Ps 118:16); “Your laws also are my delight and my counsellors.(v.24); “Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (v.34), and so it goes on for a total of 176 verses! In noting the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul tells us plainly of the “most excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31), “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) To suggest that the document regarding Sacramental Marriage to which these authors have responded “present[s] an image of the Church that can only speak of marriage as it is related to the law and not as a bond forged and nurtured by love and divine grace,” and “a stronger emphasis on divine grace and interpersonal love, a greater awareness of globalization and its challenges to marriage” is ridiculous. As St. Paul tells us, the mystery of Sacramental Marriage is the analogy of Christ and the Church, by one man who loves his wife as himself, and a wife who cherishes her husband, as is liturgically described as an “indissoluble bond of love.” We have always had domestic violence, divorce, and globalization, and to suggest it is more significant now than ever before is shortsighted, and I fear the steps leading down another path we must not follow.

    • Sami Sampson says

      Michael Warren: You are just nuts! Your consistent attacks on the OCA for “liberalism” is unfounded and ridiculous. I’m quite sure you must be a mouth-puppet for ROCOR. Baseless, biased right-wing approach to Orthodoxy and really, someone who has no understanding of the Church. Spouting, spouting and more spouting of craziness.

      • Pat Reardon says

        You know, Sami, if read in a certain way, these comments could be taken for a personal attack.

        • Gregory Manning says

          Oh, surely not.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          They could be if the Warren/Cahill creature is a real person.

          • Michael Warren says

            Excuse me,

            Is base slander all you have? If it is, please keep it to yourself. When you lose an argument, graciously concede and step aside. You have lost everytime.

            • Anonymous says

              The pot calls the kettle black on this one!

              Calling the OCA et al renovationist, generally a term describing issues in Russia a century ago, is also baseless slander and you do it in pretty much every post. Legally it is a simple play because they have no damages and would never sue, but the bishop could shut down the blog.

              So, follow your own advice and keep it to yourself.

              Or realize part of blogging is listening to others and not just a verbal beatdown. “You have lost everytime” pretty much sums up how you perceive dialogue. Your words, not mine.

              The overgeneralizing about the OCA is nauseating. You seem to be unable to apply any checks to your own scripts which renders your arguments impotent. Not sure or don’t agree? When you overgeneralize it weakens the argument. The whole world is against me, for example?

              The interesting thing is your posts bear a massive similarity to Drezhlo, but I digress.

      • Michael Warren says

        Just sounds to me like I have no appreciation for Eastern Rite Protestantism and a real understanding of the Orthodox Church which bugs you.

      • Michael Warren says

        Misha can tell you how much I love ROCOR. Any of the free marketeers here can tell you how right-wing my social democratic views are. And the quotes I have provided are my view of the Church; they happen to coincide with what the Church teaches.

      • Michael Warren says

        I am always amazed how some people confuse insults for dialogue and hate for argument.

        Misha can vouch for my “great love of ROCOR.” Any number of red baiters can speak to my “rightwing” tendencies as a leftist, social democrat. While my ecclesiological views coincide with the Holy Fathers and the Holy Canons expressing the Mind of CHRIST. Definitely wrong for the more ecumenically minded, yes – Orthodoxy and ecumenism are ecclesiologically mutually exclusive.

      • Michael Warren says

        Unfortunately, Syosset-Crestwood has set a precedent of ignorance where an insult is confused as dialogue, hate confused as argument and polarized rhetoric is confused as erudition. I pity the people who have fallen prey to the liberal, Renovationist agenda and have become the sad mouthpieces of its incoherent implosion. But this is all they have left.

        Misha can attest to “my love for ROCOR.” Any number of Red baiters can speak to my “right-wing credentials” being a leftist, social democrat. While the HOLY Fathers and the HOLY Canons expressing the Mind of CHRIST attest to my ecclesiology as Orthodox. Ecumenical it is not, but that’s the point – Orthodoxy and ecumenism are ecclesiologically mutually exclusive.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Fascinating. And how, exactly, do all your HOLIES comport with the Red Symphonia of psychopathic mass murderers and persecutors Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko you have so passionately endorsed? And why are you placing this egotistical filth – not simply once, but three times – in this thread to begin with? There is plenty of room in the other threads you have polluted with your need to be “acknowledged,” other than an intellectual discussion beyond your capacity to participate? Move along.

      • Sami,

        I’m fairly certain MW is not ROCOR. He makes many valid points, perhaps excessively abrasively, but he definitely does not have the White Russian descendant mindset, or the modern Russian conservative mindset.

        Once, I started to translate some of what a parishoner’s uncle was saying at his nephew’s baptism at coffee afterwards for the priest. The priest was Greek, the couple was Russian and the uncle had flown in from the RF. He painted contemporary communists, socialists, progressives and what in Europe would be called “liberals” (here, free marketers) with the same red brush of loathing. The Greek priest was quite entertained.

        There seems to be an independent Orthodox Eurasian politico-economic theory emerging in both the RF and ROCOR based on symphonia and the teaching of the Fathers. It’s neither socialist nor capitalist since it does not arise from the assumptions of the Enlightenment but instead views society as a unified body rather than a collection of atomized individuals. For us, man is no longer the measure of all things. Though I am currently stuck in my native city where there is no ROCOR parish, nonetheless I keep up with these things.

        As to OCA’s liberalism, surely you jest!

    • Michael Warren says

      Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

      Metropolitan Leonty

      Born in 1876 in Kremenetz, Volhynia (Western Russia) in the family of a priest, Leonid Turkevich, the future Metropolitan, followed the classic way of Russian “clerics.” After seminary studies in Volhynia, he enrolled at the Kiev Theological Academy and upon graduation in 1900 began a teaching career in ecclesiastical schools. He occupied teaching positions as a layman at the seminaries of Kursk, in central Russia, and Ekaterinoslav, in the Ukraine. In 1905, after his marriage with Anna Chervinsky, he was ordained to the holy priesthood at the monastery of Pochaev and chose to succeed his father in the humble position of parish priest in Kremenetz. He thought of becoming a missionary in Persia, in the newly established Mission of Urmia, among the remains of the ancient Nestorian Church, part of which had joined Orthodoxy, but his missionary zeal was to be channeled into another direction.
      In 1906, the young and dynamic Bishop of the American Diocese, Tikhon, found in him a suitable candidate for the responsible and pioneering post of Rector of the newly established Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He arrived in the United States in October 1906, and after that, his life was totally identified with the life and growth of the American Church. As Rector of the Seminary in Minneapolis and, after 1912, in Tenafly, New Jersey, he was the father of Orthodox pastoral education in America. As editor, from 1914 until 1930, of the Russian-American Orthodox Messenger, he was the Church¼s main spokesman and “ideologue.” As dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral and member of the Consistory, he was the main advisor of the ruling bishops. Together with Father Alexander Kukulevsky, he represented the American Church at the Great Sobor in Moscow in 1917ã1918. He always enjoyed telling the story of how he thus received an opportunity to introduce at the Sobor a motion which led to the election of Tikhon ã his former diocesan bishop and close friend ã as Patriarch of Moscow. Upon his return to America ã through Siberia and Japan ã Father Turkevich went through the trying experience of church dissensions which he was to combat for the next several decades. As one of the main leaders of the Detroit Sobor in 1924, he became the chief architect of the Church¼s autonomy, based on the decisions of the Moscow Sobor. Widower since 1925, he was consecrated Bishop of Chicago in 1933. Thus, from the time of Archbishop Tikhon and for nearly half a century, he was at the center of the Church¼s life, and his election as Metropolitan in 1950 was a natural crowning of that total commitment. The formula of St. Cyprian of Carthage, “the Church is in the Bishop and the Bishop is in the Church,” has seldom had a more adequate proof of its veracity.
      What, however, distinguished Metropolitan Leonty from many of his “immigrant” contemporaries and colleagues, was his vision of American Orthodoxy, of the particular destiny and vocation of the Orthodox Church in the New World. He developed that vision long before the tragic events of 1917-1918 “forced” it, so to speak, on the Church, at a time when the very idea of the universal, transnational nature of Orthodoxy was virtually absent from Orthodox consciousness not only here but everywhere. Already in 1916, in his article on “The Tasks of Orthodoxy in North America,” he affirmed his conviction that it is in America “that the Orthodox Church will manifest its universality in all its strength, reveal her creative ability organically to integrate all elements composing her. . .” and spoke of the future autocephaly. At the same time, having witnessed the revolutionary chaos in Russia and also the creative response to it of the Russian Church at her historic Moscow Sobor, he returned to America a convinced partisan of the sobornost, the active participation in, and responsibility for, the life of the Church of all her members, laity as well as clergy. He saw no contradiction between his unfaltering loyalty to his Russian roots, to the ideals and inspiration of Russian Orthodoxy and his commitment to a great and permanent and truly “universal” Orthodox Church in America. The latter was for him the true goal and the self-evident fulfillment of the Russian mission. If this vision made him eminently qualified to lead the Church through a difficult time of transition, it is his truly unique charisma of pastoral patience and generosity that assured the ultimate success of this transition, made it into an organic rather than critical process. His mere presence, quite often silent and apparently “non-committal,” had a deeply pacifying effect on the passions and controversies which were raging around him. It is as if understanding all points of view, seeing the partial truth of each of them, he transcended all of them, preserving within himself the unity and the “wholeness” of the Church which so often were endangered by human passions. No one who attended it will ever forget his funeral in May 1965, at the New York Cathedral and then St. Tikhon¼s Monastery. On that day one almost physically felt a renewed gift of unity, a new and wonderful reality of the Church, which our old Father in Christ left with us as he was called to God.

      Alexander Schmemann
      “Orthodox America: 1794-1976”

    • Michael Warren says

      Honestly, in thinking about this and NCC speeches, coupled with articles focusing “on the youth,” I think this is a distraction to act as cover for the appointment of Uniate +Alexander. They are trying to change the subject because their real agenda is most in jeopardy. +Tikhon at this point has shown himself to be a Renovationist, ecumenist yes man who wastes OCA money we don’t have on photo ops which have done nothing to help the OCA. 1976 – 1996 was all “about the children” supposedly, children who were lost with over 75% attrition due to the policies and abuses supposedly “done for the next generation” – Renovationist heritage loathing and gay maffia embezzlement.

      In other words, this is all a smokescreen to shift critical analysis and scrutiny from Syosset-Crestwood. Our parishes don’t have gay dilemmas for the most part. The 1% choosing this lifestyle doesn’t tend to sincerely come to the Orthodox Church for healing: it comes in handfuls to promote division, revision, the gay agenda. Not so closeted gay clerics, of course, want to make this into an issue of acceptance or a platform for gay agenda, liberal political realignment. But if our parishes treated this more appropriately, say like alcoholism, which is far more pervasive and a problem amongst rank and file, not as a sensational call to moral relativism, this would be a non story and SSA afflicted would be better pastored. The thieves and Eastern Rite Mainline Protestants are playing slight of hand here to distract people from the real harm they are causing, trying to camouflage their real betrayals and their true agenda. Syosset-Crestwood with Uniate +Alexanders is betraying Orthodoxy and money is probably changing hands to make it happen.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Don’t feed the troll.

        • I don’t think that any reasonable person, looking without any bias in an objective manner can conclude that more than 1% of the contributors on The Wheel are either gay or gay proponents, i.e. those who desire the Orthodox Church to change it’s teachings on homosexuality. Some of those contributors have left the Orthodox Church and it isn’t unreasonable to conclude they did so over the issue of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I also don’t believe it is unreasonable to conclude that The Wheel does have an agenda, to at least keep this a topic on the front burner in their and advocacy for the Church to change its historic position. I applaud those who have asked Fr. Arida to step aside from the altar while he advocates his point of view. In the end, as I have said before, it is up to his Bishop and jurisdiction to confront his point of view.

      • Michael Warren says

        Syosset-Crestwood is starving for attention. Their trolls have definitely discredited themselves. A new day is dawning.

  3. If it breaks, it will probably be the Phanar, some part of the GOA, and this contingent in OCA which forms their own thing to join Rome. I’m not sure what Antioch will do. I will be surprised if the center holds any longer than this year we live in now. In June, the Orthodox episcopacy is going to come face to face with reality as embodied in their fellow bishops. This is going to be ugly and a shock of seismic proportions for some who did not want to believe that “the sky is falling”.

    So be it. Lord, have mercy. And Lord, come quickly.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You are absolutely right, Misha. I wish you weren’t, but there are too many signs to ignore.

  4. I believe the unknown person in the photo above is Christopher Sprecher’s husband, a former classmate of his at SVS.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Sorry; what photo???

      • Yes, what photo? There is no photo at the link to the original article.

        • Facts Schmacts says

          “What photo?”

          There was a photo originally enclosed with this post that showed four people, and I saw it here before it was removed. One person in the picture is a laywoman who attends Holy Trinity Cathedral and is an activist for blasphemies like gay ‘marriage’. Two of the others in the picture are homosexual males who identify themselves as Orthodox, and live in sin together in New York City. The fourth person was not named and his status is not known. All were celebrating Pascha this year at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Boston, Fr. Robert Arida’s parish.

          The photo did not show anyone communing. It was a posed picture after the service. However, Holy Trinity Cathedral is notorious for the Facebook commentary in which it was identified as a “gay-friendly” parish. Also, an unrepentant homosexual parishioner recommends Holy Trinity Cathedral as a welcoming environment to other unrepentant homosexuals. No surprise that the NYC couple would have gone there for Pascha.

  5. I’m not sure why a connection is made in the introduction to Fr. Arida and other’s support for gay rights in the Orthodox church when “Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document on Marriage and Its Impediments” does not mention gay marriage even obliquely. Anything that could be ‘used’ as support for gay marriage are as readily found in just about any discussion of marriage in any denomination, conservative or liberal in theological orientation.

    While elaboration would have been welcome, the purpose of such a small piece was obviously meant to be less a comprehensive substitute for the Pre-Conciliar Document on Marriage and Its Impediments than it was meant to be a quick critique of some general weaknesses in first principles in that document.

    While the author of this post and the participants on this site might have ample reason to assume there is a pro-gay marriage agenda at work in these authors’ lives, this particular “Response” would seem to be a poor vehicle from which to prove that agenda.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      123, Fr. Arida made his agenda quite clear in his first essay, in this paragraph:

      “If the never changing Gospel who is Jesus Christ is to have a credible presence and role in our culture then the Church can no longer ignore or condemn questions and issues that are presumed to contradict or challenge its living Tradition. Among the most controversial of these issues are those related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, the economy and the care and utilization of the environment including the care, dignity and quality of all human life. If the unchanging Gospel is to be offered to the culture then the Church, in and through the Holy Spirit will have to expand the understanding of itself and the world it is called to save. That there are Orthodox Christians who misuse the never changing Christ to promote a particular political agenda and ideology or as license to verbally and physically assault those they perceive as immoral along with those who would question the status quo of the Church impose on the Church a ‘new and alien spirit.'”

      • As you implicitly acknowledge, the piece published above does not actually discuss anything about sexuality. As I said, “While the author of this post and the participants on this site might have ample reason to assume there is a pro-gay marriage agenda at work in these authors’ lives, this particular “Response” would seem to be a poor vehicle from which to prove that agenda.”

        • 1-2-3,

          As noted above, at least one co-author (Maria Gwyn McDowell) is not only NOT an Orthodox Christian; she is an openly practicing lesbian who is ‘married’ to another woman. This fact is neither calumny nor hearsay. So one must ask:

          Why would an Orthodox priest share her opinions on issues surrounding marriage in the Orthodox Church or even presume to consider sharing authorship with such a person on a matter of significance to the INTERNAL life of the Church (i.e., that which can only be known, understood, and experienced from within)? Is this not in and of itself scandalous? Is a tree not known by its fruit?

          Why, when the Document on marriage was quite clear on its insistence that marriage is between a man and a woman, was the following written without a single reference to the union of a male and a female?

          “The inexhaustible mystery of God extends to the inexhaustible mystery of the human person which allows the mystery of human love, including marriage, to once again stand on a Christological, eschatological and soteriological foundation. Upon this foundation divine grace recovers its place within marriage as well as in the bonds of ALL HUMAN REALTIONSHIPS ROOTED IN AUTHENTIC LOVE FOR THE OTHER which becomes an expression of love for God.”

          And while a lie is only effective in its deception if it contains a degree of truth, what – precisely – is the following statement intended to communicate in terms of this essay’s purported goal of offering practical, pastoral guidance in answer to the Document on Marriage’s supposed limitations on “the Church’s dexterity in responding to the myriad of pastoral issues related to globalization, not the least being inter-religious marriage”?

          “Although Trinitarian life is stable, the possibility of our participation in this life is endless. While the laws of nature point to and lead one to God, it can then be stressed that these laws, infinitely multifaceted as they are, cannot exhaust systematically, scientifically and logically the very being of God who is “ineffable and incomprehensible.”

          You are correct. The subject of homosexuality is never directly addressed. He still lacks the courage to do so and has instead taken the path of sowing confusion. No. “Our minds and our hearts must be “opened to the multifaceted possibilities of human love.” “This is the path of the Fathers that leads us to into the mystery of divine love.” It all sounds so reasonable and lovely to the modern ear. But it is delusion and deception at its very core… with the full intention of sowing confusion.

        • 1-2-3,

          A bit of information about the other authors of this essay…

          Susan Ashbrook Harvey: Quotation from an interview with the St. Nina Quarterly…

          “I’m puzzled that the ordination of women to the diaconate is even a question. The [female] diaconate is in our history. It is canonically part of our history. The Coptic Church right now is showing how lively and vital that ministry can be. I think the question of the ordination to the priesthood is where I would put my sights. It is, of course, my conviction that there will be no ordination of women to the Orthodox priesthood for the next few hundred years. But it is also my conviction that there someday will be. The reason is not because of women and their place in society but because the priesthood is something to which the Holy Spirit calls the individual, and the Holy Spirit calls whom the Holy Spirit will. We cannot tell the Holy Spirit whom to call. Women are called to the priesthood – we know this, we see this. Women leave churches that don’t ordain women if they must have that call fulfilled. Women have always had to respond to the call of the Spirit in ways that can be disturbing to society. The stories of women saints are full of such actions.”

          Bryce E. Rich: A Little About My Own Quest for Truth

          “Growing up in a conservative, Southern Baptist home, the local church was an integral part of my life: Sunday school, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening Bible study, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night prayer meeting, choir, Royal Ambassadors (the Southern Baptist equivalent of the Boy Scouts) and Vacation Bible School every summer. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior at the age of seven and was allowed to join the church after being thoroughly quizzed to make sure that I knew what I wanted. On Youth Sundays I taught Sunday school, played the piano and organ, and even preached once. My days were passed in a prayerful attitude and God was with me.
          When I was 14 I had a single dream that should have told me I was somehow different. But based on the advice in the latest teen psychology books, I assured myself that any feelings that I was beginning to experience were a normal phase of male adolescence. That worked until I was 16 and came face to face with a real, live homosexual. My world turned upside down.

          I had read The Gay Blade, a Chick Publications tract that was available in vestibule of the church where I grew up. I retained some awful images from that pamphlet about what it meant to be a homosexual. Homosexuals were effeminate and comical. they wore women’s clothing and carried purses. They were a secret underground society with a conspiracy to take over business, education and the government. But more important than any of these things, they were doomed and going straight to hell. As I began to understand that I, too, was a homosexual, I prayed fervently, asking God to remove this horrible condition from me. I pled with God for weeks, praying silently in my pew during each service. But if God spoke to me during that time, I didn’t hear. I grew frustrated and discouraged.

          I knew that God and I were family, and I knew that family members could sometimes be angry with each other. Like a family disagreement, I knew that in the end we still loved each other, but it might take some time to work through the problem. When I left home for college, I left the local church as well. Though still a member of the Bride of Christ, I was lost to fellowship. Through everything that followed, the Lord continued to walk with me and gradually urged me to take action. I was 30 before I found the courage to return.
          The Baptists had instructed me in Bible study. They had also equipped me with a priceless insight: the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. (Entire books have been written on the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. You may start your research at 1 Peter 2:9.) I was taught that it is my right to read and interpret scripture for myself. It is not the prerogative of priests or pastors to tell me what is right and what is wrong. As I matured in my spiritual walk, the lesson was taken a step further: as a member of the royal priesthood that right is also an obligation (2 Timothy 2:15). This is not a choice of believing what you want and throwing the rest away. As a Christian, I am solely responsible for reading God’s word and seeking God’s guidance in interpretation for myself. What an awesome responsibility!

          So I present to you a summation of my studies. As my brother or sister in Christ, I expect you to seek the Lord’s guidance as you proceed. Don’t take my word for anything written here. Look at the source materials and ask God to lead you to the right interpretations. Seek and you will find and the truth will set you free! (Matthew 7:7; John 8:32)

          If you are not a Christian, you may be viewing this as an academic work. That’s a start. But the Lord I serve wants to have a personal relationship with you, too. Such communion is open to you through a step of faith. Maybe you feel unworthy. I have assembled this information in an attempt to set the captive free! Maybe you don’t know how to claim your inheritance. At the end, we’ll lay out everything you need to know to take your place in the Kingdom. Maybe somewhere in your past a church member hurt you. While I can’t make any excuses, I can tell you that people make mistakes and God is in the business of forgiving them. If you can find it in yourself to let go of your pain for just a while, you may find something here that will bring you joy forever.
          There are skeptics among you as well. You may feel that I am biased because I am gay. I prefer to think of myself as motivated. While much of the mainline church is content to sit by and condemn my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I am not satisfied that we be counted among the tares (Matthew 13:30). God is moving in a mighty way in these days. As God’s restoration continues in the Church, it is my sincere hope to see the full restoration of my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters into the Kingdom as well.

          My goal is not to endlessly debate with those whose minds are already made up, but to provide a new understanding to those who have felt that they are already damned and eternally separated from God’s perfect plan because of their innermost desires. For many, what follows is a new addition to your present truth (2 Peter 1:12). May God grant wisdom as we proceed to all those who ask.”

          David Dunn: WHY DO I WRITE ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE?

          “No really! Why? I want to know!

          The Huffington Post e-mailed me yesterday to let me know my article on gay marriage had been published, and I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. (It was the same feeling I got less than a year ago.) I hate writing about this subject. Really, I do. I get attacked from both sides. New atheists (who apparently have too much time on their hands) attack my beliefs, and my sisters and brothers in Christ attack the sincerity of my faith. Just this morning, someone called me stupid (atheist) and a liar (Christian).
          Sigh!

          The thing is, I don’t really think any article I have written about gay marriage has really been about gay marriage. For me, the culture wars is killing us. It is killing us! I truly believe the way we have approached our mission is completely sinful. Our opposition to gay marriage (basically a civil contract) does not make fewer people gay, nor does it protect “traditional marriage.” But it is very, very distracting. There are so many more important – more effective – things we could be doing.

          I bring this upon myself, I know! I would probably take less heat from my fellow Christians if I were just a little more condemning in my tone, if I wagged a Pharisaical finger at gay folks. But I won’t do that. For now, I am going to let the ambiguity about my position on “homosexuality” as a purely spiritual issue stay ambiguous. I know some people will take this to mean that I am “pro-gay.” I guess in a way they would be right. I have gay friends, and I am pro-them.
          On Sunday mornings, before I take communion, I pray that God would have compassion on me, a sinner, “of whom I am chief.” I am in no position to pick up stones (John 8:1-10). Or, to switch biblical metaphors, I think that when Jesus told us to pay attention to our own planks, he meant it (Matt. 7:4).”

          It should be noted in fairness that David Dunn is FAR more circumspect than the others. If one reads all his blog posts, one will find that his concern is with the treatment of homosexuals as persons and far less (or so it would appear) with changing the Church’s moral tradition. But Dr. Dunn notwithstanding, one would be hard-pressed to find a more agenda-driven list of co-authors with whom Fr. Arida clearly finds himself in comfortable agreement.

          You wrote, “…this particular ‘Response’ would seem to be a poor vehicle from which to prove that agenda,” and you would be correct. But the purpose of this ‘Response’ is not to prove their agenda; it is to preclude the Church from reinforcing clear boundaries to which those who claim to be Orthodox would then be bound without the excuse of the ambiguity they seek to maintain via their sowing of confusion.

          • These people are loons. For one thing, the female diaconate was never considered to confer holy orders. The Vatican has studied the history of it extensively in an effort to revive it, but has found no historical grounds to do so.

          • Michael Kinsey says

            Well, Brian, you had your say. St John Chrysostom had his. Freindship with the world is emenity towards God. Homosexuality is a plague sent to those who have entered into the great whore. They do not beleive Holy Scripture. male and female, is all the Holy God created. You cannot claim to love God and serve Him aloine, nor can you claim to live by the Word of God, and not bread alone. These are the 2 great commandment, the fulfillment of the Royal Law and the Prophets. Those who do know thier God, know the Victorious Lord Jesus Christ knows them, We have the expeirence of having real Faith. Many people needed healing when the Christ walked among the children of men. Not all were healed, not because the Christ was not willing to heal them, but because they did not have the real Faith to receive the healing. Faith is increased is by doing the Word of God , living the beatitudes, as a life style.
            It is utterly certain these freinds of your do not do the Christian lifestyle.
            It is not meet to give the childrens bread to the dogs, Holy things are for the Holy. These friends of yours will also have freinds who are not chummy with Christians and their life style. Rather, they are viciously hostile, and condemning of authentic Christianity. They march down the street calling every straight man a b–ch, that they see. I speak from persoanal experience. Your friends claim God made them Bit-h and bitc–s.
            You can claim to be as Christian as the Saints, But the reality is the Saint have genuine Faith, and were not being punished with a plague of the great whore. It is disingenuinious. Come out of the great whore and live and do the Vision, so you do not perish. Repent of self service,
            You just discovered, one day, you were gay. Why did you beleive and love a lie. God created you natural male, or is the Holy Scripture a lie? You put your faith in a lie. Your faith in a lie, will not lead you to eternal salvation
            P.S Boy, does that sound lame, I just discovered I was gay!!

    • M. Stankovich says

      123,

      I have known Priest Robert Arida for more than forty years. He was one of my first roommates at SVS, and he was truly a wise guide and inspiration, and I have loved him as a brother. He truly is a brilliant man, warm, kind, and always supportive. He was always a shy man, avoiding attention, and certainly not the malignant “heretic” he is made out to be. It is very telling that in one year at SVS there was a “crisis” of sorts that concluded with a general meeting of students and Fr. Schmemann’s never-forgotten admonition, “I will not be the Dean of a pot smoking, homosexual joint!” followed the next morning by the dismissal of 5-6 students. The most troubled, scandalized, and organizer of students to take action against homosexual activity in the dorm was Robert Arida. No, this response never mentions the word “homosexuality” nor “same-sex marriage,” but by saying the goal is to “once again stand on a Christological, eschatological and soteriological foundation,” is to push the envelope.

      How he came to the position in which he finds himself in a struggle beyond either your or my scrutiny – or exploitation. That he has come to this position is necessarily open to our scrutiny. I, for one, have asked him to leave the altar until he has fully clarified his position on Christian Marriage, pursuant to the Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers, and our Holy Tradition as between one man and one woman, something that is impossible in same-sex relationships. I would add here that Archpriest Alexander Webster has my respect as the only priest I know who actually attempted to follow the tradition of the Fathers and contact Priest Robert Arida directly. Fr. Arida did not respond. No one has the right to inject “vagueness” into the “public square” and refuse to dialog, particularly when a chief accusation is that the Tradition of the Church is a “living” Tradition. It seems to me that Fr. Georges Florovsky carried the concept of “Living Traditon” much further than Priest Robert Arida, yet no one referred to him as a “heretic.” Nevertheless, Fr. Georges openly defended his positions to anyone who charged him. I hope this discussion stays on an elevated, thoughtful level, revealing it for what it is.

      • Anonymous says

        The essay is, how can this be said politely, a sucker play.

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        It is very telling that in one year at SVS there was a “crisis” of sorts that concluded with a general meeting of students and Fr. Schmemann’s never-forgotten admonition, “I will not be the Dean of a pot smoking, homosexual joint!” followed the next morning by the dismissal of 5-6 students. The most troubled, scandalized, and organizer of students to take action against homosexual activity in the dorm was Robert Arida.

        Juicy! Got a source on that? What year was this?

  6. Teena H. Blackburn says

    The young man on the right, if I’m not mistaken, is Christopher Sprecher’s “husband”, Gregory Tucker. I guess what I wonder is why apostates, like Maria McDowell, and people who have excommunicated themselves, like Sprecher and Tucker, are given space in any Orthodox theological journal or discussion group.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      I can’t find the photo you all are referring to!!! What photo, where?

  7. George,

    I haven’t had time to read the article yet, so I won’t weigh in on that. But since concerns about libel and slander have run rampant over this website for the past couple weeks, I’d encourage you to at the very least change the caption for the picture you have chosen. Whoever these people are, one thing is definite: not a single one of them is communing.

    If your objection is to homosexuals simply being present in an Orthodox Church, then we’ve got a problem, unless you think all sinners should stay out. And if you think that, then we’ve got an ever bigger problem.

    George, you frequently have quite good things to say, but please be more careful about ‘how’ you say them.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Kurt, I have no “objection” to any sinner darkening the doors of an Orthodox church. Nor do I place myself above the angels “who leap for joy” when a single sinner repents.

    • Michael Warren says

      It is not homosexuals. It is the homosexual agenda. It will have no place in the Orthodox Church.

    • Is not Fr Arida communing?

  8. lexcaritas says

    Here’s a prescient take on what is really at stake.

    The government of the United States has now officially declared war on sexuality itself and, in doing so, attacked the very idea of man made in the image of God. On Monday, May 9, the U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, and the Justice Department sued the State of North Carolina for legislating that men’s rooms were for men and women’s rooms were for women. Four days later the Obama administration issued a joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education declaring that transgendered people are the sex they say they are and are to be treated as such in all institutions affected under the jurisdiction of Title IX. This would be the entire public school system. School districts that resist may lose their federal funding.

    In her statement suing North Carolina, Ms. Lynch accused the state of “legislating identity and [insisting] that a person pretend to be something they are not.” If George Orwell were alive he would feel himself eclipsed by the double-speak genius of Ms. Lynch. 1984 has nothing on the U.S. Department of Justice. The power of the federal government now stands behind the concept that a man who considers himself a woman contains no pretense while a state that considers a man, as well, a man, is engaged in the act of pretending by asserting that what one sees is what one sees. According to Ms. Lynch it is not the eye of the viewer that determines the object seen but the object dictating how it must be seen. In other words, there is no objective reality to our identification as male or female.

    The federal government has officially declared our material bodies immaterial. Read more, if interested:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2016/new-government-edict-escalates-bathroom-war

  9. Chris Banescu says

    The age of Human Iconoclasm is upon us. This heresy is much worse than Arianism! “For the rejection of God’s order of male and female is a strike at the heart of creation itself, Satan’s endgame evisceration of the imageness of God.” ~ Andrée Seu Peterson

  10. max percy says

    That looks like a beautiful iconostasis in the photo.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      George, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I see a photo? 🙁

      • I can’t see one, either. Is it perhaps attached to one of the links in a previous comment?

  11. There are many, even in the church, who think marriage to be about some sort of personal fulfillment rather than the creation and raising of children(which it clearly is, hence all the prayers to that end in the marriage service!) It’s the disassociation of man from the his created state through technology. If birth control limits the number of children, disassociating sex and procreation, can a couple just have none? If so, why can’t two men marry? How many “straight” people reject Gods gift of children, and are effectively in gay relationships without knowing it? If you can divorce and remarry at will, at what point is it just wife swapping? The Hierarchs were right to write it as they did. There will always be people like Araida, and they will always be wrong.

    • Well said!

      One only needs to read the text of the Crowning service to know what marriage is for. There are many references to children, and I don’t think any about sentimental feelings of happiness.

    • Michael Bauman says

      I would respectfully disagree that the Orthodox marriage service is “all about children”, it is rather out the union of a man and a woman in Christ with the blessing of the Church which leads to children AND a great deal of additional fecundity. No less a Father than Gregory of Nyssa realized this, although I cannot lay my hands on his actual writing.

      As one who re-married after the death of my first wife when I was 60 and the woman I married had a hysterectomy some 20 years prior, I can speak to the fecundity beyond natural children that a sanctified marriage creates. It is the sacramental union of God, man and woman in marriage that creates this fecundity, whether there are natural children or not. I have more children now then I ever thought I would have.

      I have a dear friend who is 30 years old and was recently married. She is unable to have natural children due to a heart condition. Nevertheless, her husband became Orthodox and they adopted a child and our bishop preformed the rite of adoption one Sunday prior to Liturgy. Great fecundity.

      My wife had three children who lived during her first marriage. I have become, in a way, their father as well. Not at all like a natural father to be sure, but their father nonetheless. I love them, I pray for them and I care for them as I am able and as is appropriate. By God’s grace, it may bring them closer to our Lord.

      Certainly, natural children are a central part of any Orthodox marriage but not the only focus. No same sex arrangement can ever approach the incredible grace and mercy that pours through an Orthodox marriage if we will take advantage of it; if we do not allow the world to overcome us.

      Those who would twist the nature of marriage have a knowledge of the grace in a real marriage and want it for themselves without any of the humility and sacrifice it takes to receive that grace. In doing so they are effectively saying that they deserve grace without repentance and that Jesus has better well give it to them. They mistake the nature of grace, of God and of our interrelationship with Him.

      • Fair enough. But my point is that if children are downplayed in the equation, the arguments against same-sex marriage become closer to special pleading than is necessary.

  12. Peter Millman says

    More mush from a cowardly mush mouth. Who gave Arida the right to speak for us Orthodox Christians? He should be defrocked forthwith for preaching public heresy. How can he be a spiritual father, and how can his parishioners have any respect for him? He needs to leave the Orthodox Church, and go the way of most Orthodox heretics- to the Episcopal Church, of course. He seeks the esteem of men instead of teaching the truths of the Holy Orthodox Church. He is disgraceful. As the Lord Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”

  13. This sort of confusion, sadly, comes of confused and unenlightened (in the spiritual sense of the word) minds. Such minds cannot countenance the loving clarity expressed in the document on marriage.

    That any Orthodox priest would find himself willing to share openly in the marriage opinions of the likes of Maria Gwyn McDowell, who first attempted to drag the Orthodox into her web of deceit before finally revealing and embracing her true self in a lesbian ‘marriage,’ is simply outrageous and reveals beyond any doubt the utter duplicity behind this talk of ‘love,’ empathy with the culture, and the supposed openness to change required to ‘evangelize’ the modern world. That he would expect anyone with a half a brain in the Orthodox world to view this with any seriousness is more than adequate demonstration of delusion

    I truly hope he repents. But short of a complete repentance, I will be very surprised if within ten years this deluded priest is not completely and totally revealed for the fraud he is in a manner similar to his co-author.

    “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.”

  14. Michael Kinsey says

    The Vision given to all humanity by the Christ, so the people do not perish: is the responses of the Christ to temptations of the devil. Each temptation attacks the spiritual life containd in the relationships of man to man, man’s physical being to his spiritual being, and God to man.
    To love God and serve Him ALONE, maninatains the relationship of man to his fellow man in Christian brotherhood in Peace and friendship. Living by the Word of God, and not bread alone, maintains spiritual and physical health. Not tenmpting God, keep the obediant soul in spiritual relationship with the Only Holy One, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, plus the added prayers of the Church Triumphant. This is why we kiss the Holy Icons, The Saints love to help us.
    If you live for bread alone, ignoring God and man, you build the beast and desolate your spiritual life in that relationship. If you serve yourself or mammon along with God, you practice an impossibility. You cannot serve God and mammon. If , you don’t have the love of Obedience to God’s Will, which would does guide us not to recieve the mark of the beast, both worship and internet banking enterface, you will temp God. This desolates all spioritual life in all 3 spiritual relationships. Rather than bring forth fruit, some 30 fold, some 60 fold, and some 100 fold from each relationship, we desolate all our spiritual life we have been gifted with. The purpose of life ,is for life to give life to life, unto Eternal Life, with the Gift and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ignoring the purpose of Life in all 3 relationships is ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. There is no life left to kill, and you cannot kill a dead horse, says my commonsense.
    St John Chrysostom says gays are worse than murders. This True Holy Father says they are beinbg punished by the Holy God. I say, they are being punished for not loving and serving God alone, and living for bread alone disreguarding God and man. St John says thier punishment is , is that they like it. Natural men dispise homosexuality.
    You cannot become gay if you live the Vision, which teaches, God made them male and female. As a man thinkth , so is he. Believing the Holy Scripture as absolute Truth, utterly confirims in the human mind our sexual orientantion. Latent homosexuality is simpl;y not ever even considered, as it would render the Truth a lie. God made them male and female totally. I have always reguarded the latent homosexual claim as false. It does not exist in Truth. Belive this, and all doubt, in your mind will cease. You all accept the fact that you have 2 hands with out questioning it, you sexual orientation is just as unquestionly obvious. Men have hair on thier chest, women don’t.
    My point here is that you cannot become gay if you live the Vision, because being created male and female in the image and likeness of God has great spiritual reality and spiriual power. We are also not lead into temptation , but delivered from it’s evil.
    If people claim that are gay, they ignore the Word of God. They like thier punishment rather than the Grace of God. Such people are utterly unfit and unworthy of clerical rank. Teach and Do. They don’t do the Will of God, but claim it is right that they teach those that do the Will of God, while they ignore it. They employ secular-humanism, not the Judeo/Christian valuse system to arrive at Justice. Humanism is used to justify thier claimed right to lord it over Christ’s littles as priesst, monks, and God forbid, bishops. They have no Christian value system right to rule in authentic Christian churches.
    Hopefully, the authentic church will teach the Vision, which provides a powerful rebulk to homosexual encroachment into authentic Christian worship.
    The fact that they claim to be gay is absolute PROOF, they do not love God or thier fellow man, and that they live for bread alone. St John Chrysostom be Blessed for his pure teaching.

  15. Vasian Galmukovich says

    Why do these sorts are not pushed out as heretics?
    Why do these church leaders sit on their hands and not do anything?
    We are in moral war and Satan is winning.
    I think now maybe only it is short time before OCA is homosexual happyness

  16. George,

    Thanks again for posting the Arida etal. commentary. Why people like Arida have to write in such a vague and amorphous manner really puzzles me. If they have something to say it, just say it. He and his cohorts clearly feel that the Orthodox Church is off-base relative to homosexuality. I just wish they had the courage and intellectual honesty to say so instead of constantly playing wordsmith games. And as you said, if he has such a problem with the Orthodox Church, there are plenty of other church denominations that he could go to and espouse his views.

    He and his colleagues’ views on homosexuality are akin to the arguments for bathrooms based one’s self-identification of gender, regardless of the obvious reality. Self-identification is the same as thinking that the moon is the source of light when in fact it is the sun. Truth is basically what you want it to be. Homosexuality is an aberration. Identifying with a gender which is different than reality is also an aberration. What Arida and others are trying to espouse is that the Orthodox Church needs to accept these aberrations as the new normal. This is simply heresy. Arida and any another Orthodox priest who espouses such heresy should be deposed. Are you listening Archbishop Nikon?

    • “If they have something to say it, just say it.”

      Perhaps they honestly think that any who disagree with them are by definition dim-witted knuckle-draggers who aren’t bright enough to read between the lines to figure out where they are going with all of this.

  17. The flaccid OCA Holy Synod which dithers on matters of inconsequence to the faithful in the pews, while they continue to lose membership at an alarming rate, will once again not touch this heresy being proffered by Arida. Why this man continues to try align and resolve his personal family dynamics with the Teachings and Faith of the Church again exposes the irrelevance of his jurisdiction. It is time that Arida is brought to a Spiritual Court to answer for his beliefs. I applaud Ms McDowell and many others who have the courage of their convictions to no longer pretend to be Orthodox. Alas, for Arida and others in the OCA who use it for their own agendas, they know that this Synod won’t touch them, which, can lead one to conclude that they agree with him.

  18. Looks like he could do a good ad for an Indian Casino. Is he a shaman? Does he ever reference
    any of the Orthodox Church Fathers? No, he is his own “grace” expert or “disgrace”
    one ..

  19. Fr. Hans Jacobse says

    The authors, in their typical Orwellian manner, are trying to remove the limits nature places on marriage in order to redefine marriage into something other than the union of male and female.

    The essay is a conceptual mess that begins in the first paragraph. Natural law (it takes one male and one female to create a child) is dismissed as “ideology” (their term) while that which replaces it (once natural law is overthrown) is termed “theology.”

    From there the authors argue that,

    Unlike a static understanding of natural law, the bond of grace removes marriage from being solely bound to biological pro-creation (sec. I, par.5). Consequently, the bond of grace can lead marital love to extend beyond its own physical intimacy and embrace a child or children in the act of adoption

    .

    The authors are rebelling against nature’s limitation. A male-male or female-female coupling is naturally sterile. Two lesbians or two gays cannot produce offspring. Even if they contrive to create children through surrogates, the child these couplings produce can never possess the genetic code of both parents. Nature prohibits it.

    This is the crux of the essay. Everything else is just language manipulation; an attempt to rework the language of the tradition to make it appear that the tradition says things it does not say.

    Don’t be flummoxed by the language. At best it functions as window dressing, as an attempt to confer an authority where none really exists, and at worst it is meant to deceive. Anyone who works with the language of the moral tradition — who understands that words really mean things, who sees that language is a means through which God communicates with man, who rejects the iconoclastic rejection of this potential for divine meaning as these authors do — will see through it.

    What needs to be remembered is this: entering into same-sex relationships of the kind the authors champion brings great confusion to the soul. It can even destroy the soul. That confusion is evident in the essay.

    • M. Stankovich says

      The point you raise here is typical of your “reading between the lines” rush to judgment, nevertheless it is entirely and completely justified. And this infuriates me. If it were anyone else raising the issues of an “over-dependence” on procreation as the primary purpose of marriage (which speaks to the issue of marriage post-menses), birth control to prevent the dissemination of genetic disorders, “elective” sterilization once a family goal has been achieved, and so on, the word “flummox” would not be part of the conversation. But in this case, it is justified. I sent you communication, though you ignored me, regarding the last issue of The Wheel, whose editor is Priest Robert Arida, where a number of the articles were written by individuals who are openly apologist for homosexuality – including on man who was an instructor of Old Testament & Biblical Languages at SVS for a number of years. Unfortunately, until his bishop intervenes or he retires, Priest Priest Arida can be accused of nothing more than carefully calculated “innuendo.” This response never mentions “same-sex marriage,” or homosexuality, and you could be rightfully accused of projecting your agenda unto a general response. But, unfortunately, you are correct.

    • Wrong Wrong Wrong! It is a mistake to believe they do not know what they are doing. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. The “Confusion” evident in the essay is not confusion at all, but calculated doublespeak that appeals to their target audience. Remember the parable of the wheat and the Tares. The opposition walks among us, dressed in our clothes. There were Priests that were really communist-atheists. Remember Stalin studied at a seminary. Why did he do that? To learn the language. WE ARE FOOLS! The wolves walk among us and instead of understanding how powerful they are we focus on showing how they are wrong, and we fall into their trap and render ourselves POWERLESS!

  20. “”””””””””””pastoral challenges”””””””””””””

    Dear God, preserve us from this tripe. This rag of a document could have been written by the heretic Latin bishops in Germany.

  21. Furthermore, in linking marriage so strongly to procreation, the authors give no thought to those couples who may be infertile or to those couples who marry beyond childbearing age.

    Tell that to Abraham and Sarah, and to Zacharias and Elizabeth!

    God have mercy on those who ordained this man.

    • This is what homosexual activists always do with their “pastoral concerns.” They take the exceptions and make them the rule. They take the church’s economy given for specific situations and apply it broadly to every manner of situation and excuse manifest sin with it.

      They deny the power of God to change people, or at least to strengthen them. They deny His ability to overcome nature wherever He wills. They are practical atheists, in a way.

    • M. Stankovich says

      But in effect, you are doing exactly the same thing you accuse, taking the exception – the aged Abraham and Sarah and Zacharias and Elizabeth – and making them the rule? Certainly God is capable of overruling nature as He wills, but you certainly would be foolish to make practical decisions, such as considering the transmission of life-threatening genetic defects, based on the statistical chance that God will intervene. Likewise, for example, Thalidimide was marketed around the world as helpful for “morning sickness,” yet caused horrendous birth defects like never seen before. But now, Thalidimide (and a similar medication, Lenalidomide) have shown great success as an immunomodulating agent for the treatment of multiple myleoma, which is a malignancy of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow, which is essential to the immune system. If I am not mistaken, these are issues of bioethics – contraception, birth, adoption, the end of life – of which we are not addressing, which were raised by Priest Robert Arida in his first essay, and summarily ignored because of the issue of homosexuality. I blame him, quite obviously, but we are not blameless. Are we so certain that we able to prioritize the issues of homosexuality, medical abortion, the procurement and sale of human cells and body parts, and the abominations of human medicine that allow the transplantation of aborted fetal organs into rats for later experimentation? And whether you are aware or not, we are on the threshold of the use of existing technology – CRISPR-associated protein-9 nuclease genome editing – whereby the very germ cell lines of our humanity may be “edited” rapidly & easily, with only an “agreement” of the scientific community not to venture there! Everyone loves a horror story, and I am not convinced that Priest Robert Arida and his friends have the ability to “narcotize” the entire church, whatever he believes, and greater issues should trouble us, yet are outright ignored.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        You are touching upon a common phenomenon; most people are myopic, either because of their passions or ignorance, and do not see the big picture. The battles on abortion, acceptance of homosexuality, and bioethics are part of the war between ethnocentricism or secularism and the age-old human acceptance of, and reliance on, God. I am afraid that we are “evolving” into something monstrous; Screwtape is about to lose his job and and Satan rejoices. We need more prophets like you.

        • Anonymous says

          Can’t there be a middle ground?

          • Michael Bauman says

            No, anonymous, there can be no middle ground. The attack on humanity which has been going on for at least my life time and in which we all participate allows for no middle ground.

            The rule if modernity is “if we can, we must” for that is progress.

            Every aspect of our society is endued with madness and evil. It does not take a prophet to see it. We have created a mess that we cannot undo especially if we rely on politics to undo it.

            Only great aceticism empowered by God can stand against such madness. God forgive my weakness and complicity.

            • Anonymous says

              Was the cure for polio a bad thing? Prayer alone did not discover it. There is a middle ground. Christians ought to be willing to enjoin opinion into science. Gene editing, for example…ostrich method or setting an acceptable standard for applications. A mutation is acceptable, but editing is not? This is a strange idea.

              A simple prayer does not do enough. There is a middle ground and it must be something Christians care about versus reject outright.

              But to reject it all is a failure.

      • I completely agree. I read an article recently about how scientists are creating chimeras, pigs with human organs and even brains. It is madness.

        If people like Fr. Arida would stop stirring the pot about things like homosexuality, which the Church is NOT going to change its teachings about, we could address some of these truly scary things that are happening.

        But as it is, he and others are creating a diversion while the devil is gunning to get his hands on some truly horrifying possibilities.

        How they can be so blind, I don’t know. But in the same manner we can’t simply cede the battlefield to the homosexual agenda either. We have a war on many fronts, and every turncoat in our ranks makes it more difficult to fight, for everyone.

  22. I am confused about the Center which purports to publish “scholars of Orthodox Christianity”…How can one who has fallen away or never been part of the Tradition based on the three pillars be considered a true scholar of it? Who can “know” Orthodoxy without being marinated in it? Does anyone know how many of the “contributors” to the publications of the Center (see their website for list) are practicing Orthodox Christians? Thank you in Christ for any information. Very concerned and distressed yet again as an Orthodox Christian convert sadly acquainted with all forms of liberal Protestant (particularly Episcopalian) and liberal Roman Catholic thought, vocabulary, agendas.

    • Worry not. Those who preach this false gospel are not Orthodox, regardless of the airs they put on.

    • Nicole,
      In case you missed it in the comments above…

      As noted above, at least one co-author (Maria Gwyn McDowell) is not only NOT an Orthodox Christian; she is an openly practicing lesbian who is ‘married’ to another woman. This fact is neither calumny nor hearsay. (She identifies as Episcopalian)

      Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Orthodox?): Quotation from an interview with the St. Nina Quarterly…

      “I’m puzzled that the ordination of women to the diaconate is even a question. The [female] diaconate is in our history. It is canonically part of our history. The Coptic Church right now is showing how lively and vital that ministry can be. I think the question of the ordination to the priesthood is where I would put my sights. It is, of course, my conviction that there will be no ordination of women to the Orthodox priesthood for the next few hundred years. But it is also my conviction that there someday will be. The reason is not because of women and their place in society but because the priesthood is something to which the Holy Spirit calls the individual, and the Holy Spirit calls whom the Holy Spirit will. We cannot tell the Holy Spirit whom to call. Women are called to the priesthood – we know this, we see this. Women leave churches that don’t ordain women if they must have that call fulfilled. Women have always had to respond to the call of the Spirit in ways that can be disturbing to society. The stories of women saints are full of such actions.”

      Bryce E. Rich (apparently not Orthodox): A Little About My Own Quest for Truth

      “Growing up in a conservative, Southern Baptist home, the local church was an integral part of my life: Sunday school, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening Bible study, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night prayer meeting, choir, Royal Ambassadors (the Southern Baptist equivalent of the Boy Scouts) and Vacation Bible School every summer. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior at the age of seven and was allowed to join the church after being thoroughly quizzed to make sure that I knew what I wanted. On Youth Sundays I taught Sunday school, played the piano and organ, and even preached once. My days were passed in a prayerful attitude and God was with me.
      When I was 14 I had a single dream that should have told me I was somehow different. But based on the advice in the latest teen psychology books, I assured myself that any feelings that I was beginning to experience were a normal phase of male adolescence. That worked until I was 16 and came face to face with a real, live homosexual. My world turned upside down.

      I had read The Gay Blade, a Chick Publications tract that was available in vestibule of the church where I grew up. I retained some awful images from that pamphlet about what it meant to be a homosexual. Homosexuals were effeminate and comical. they wore women’s clothing and carried purses. They were a secret underground society with a conspiracy to take over business, education and the government. But more important than any of these things, they were doomed and going straight to hell. As I began to understand that I, too, was a homosexual, I prayed fervently, asking God to remove this horrible condition from me. I pled with God for weeks, praying silently in my pew during each service. But if God spoke to me during that time, I didn’t hear. I grew frustrated and discouraged.

      I knew that God and I were family, and I knew that family members could sometimes be angry with each other. Like a family disagreement, I knew that in the end we still loved each other, but it might take some time to work through the problem. When I left home for college, I left the local church as well. Though still a member of the Bride of Christ, I was lost to fellowship. Through everything that followed, the Lord continued to walk with me and gradually urged me to take action. I was 30 before I found the courage to return.
      The Baptists had instructed me in Bible study. They had also equipped me with a priceless insight: the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. (Entire books have been written on the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. You may start your research at 1 Peter 2:9.) I was taught that it is my right to read and interpret scripture for myself. It is not the prerogative of priests or pastors to tell me what is right and what is wrong. As I matured in my spiritual walk, the lesson was taken a step further: as a member of the royal priesthood that right is also an obligation (2 Timothy 2:15). This is not a choice of believing what you want and throwing the rest away. As a Christian, I am solely responsible for reading God’s word and seeking God’s guidance in interpretation for myself. What an awesome responsibility!

      So I present to you a summation of my studies. As my brother or sister in Christ, I expect you to seek the Lord’s guidance as you proceed. Don’t take my word for anything written here. Look at the source materials and ask God to lead you to the right interpretations. Seek and you will find and the truth will set you free! (Matthew 7:7; John 8:32)

      If you are not a Christian, you may be viewing this as an academic work. That’s a start. But the Lord I serve wants to have a personal relationship with you, too. Such communion is open to you through a step of faith. Maybe you feel unworthy. I have assembled this information in an attempt to set the captive free! Maybe you don’t know how to claim your inheritance. At the end, we’ll lay out everything you need to know to take your place in the Kingdom. Maybe somewhere in your past a church member hurt you. While I can’t make any excuses, I can tell you that people make mistakes and God is in the business of forgiving them. If you can find it in yourself to let go of your pain for just a while, you may find something here that will bring you joy forever.
      There are skeptics among you as well. You may feel that I am biased because I am gay. I prefer to think of myself as motivated. While much of the mainline church is content to sit by and condemn my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I am not satisfied that we be counted among the tares (Matthew 13:30). God is moving in a mighty way in these days. As God’s restoration continues in the Church, it is my sincere hope to see the full restoration of my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters into the Kingdom as well.

      My goal is not to endlessly debate with those whose minds are already made up, but to provide a new understanding to those who have felt that they are already damned and eternally separated from God’s perfect plan because of their innermost desires. For many, what follows is a new addition to your present truth (2 Peter 1:12). May God grant wisdom as we proceed to all those who ask.”

      David Dunn (appears to identify himself as Orthodox): WHY DO I WRITE ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE?

      “No really! Why? I want to know!

      The Huffington Post e-mailed me yesterday to let me know my article on gay marriage had been published, and I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. (It was the same feeling I got less than a year ago.) I hate writing about this subject. Really, I do. I get attacked from both sides. New atheists (who apparently have too much time on their hands) attack my beliefs, and my sisters and brothers in Christ attack the sincerity of my faith. Just this morning, someone called me stupid (atheist) and a liar (Christian).
      Sigh!

      The thing is, I don’t really think any article I have written about gay marriage has really been about gay marriage. For me, the culture wars is killing us. It is killing us! I truly believe the way we have approached our mission is completely sinful. Our opposition to gay marriage (basically a civil contract) does not make fewer people gay, nor does it protect “traditional marriage.” But it is very, very distracting. There are so many more important – more effective – things we could be doing.

      I bring this upon myself, I know! I would probably take less heat from my fellow Christians if I were just a little more condemning in my tone, if I wagged a Pharisaical finger at gay folks. But I won’t do that. For now, I am going to let the ambiguity about my position on “homosexuality” as a purely spiritual issue stay ambiguous. I know some people will take this to mean that I am “pro-gay.” I guess in a way they would be right. I have gay friends, and I am pro-them.
      On Sunday mornings, before I take communion, I pray that God would have compassion on me, a sinner, “of whom I am chief.” I am in no position to pick up stones (John 8:1-10). Or, to switch biblical metaphors, I think that when Jesus told us to pay attention to our own planks, he meant it (Matt. 7:4).”

      Hope this helps, Nicole.

      • Pdn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Thanks, Brian. This line from Harvey is quite telling:

        “Women leave churches that don’t ordain women if they must have that call fulfilled.”

        What about men who leave churches just because nobody will ordain them? What does that say about their level of piety?

        One recommendation: When quoting several paragraphs, the convention is to begin each paragraph with a quotation mark, with a closing quotation mark only at the every end. That way, readers will know you’re still quoting and won’t mistake someone else’s words for yours.

  23. Michael Kinsey says

    If, you serve yourself, rather than God alone, you enter into the great whore. You, then are subject to partake of her plagues. One of which is homosexuality. You become devoid of natutal affection and cleave to a reprobate mind in a rush headlong into sado-masacistic perverse sexual expression. These take pleasure in iniqiety, an act which the Holy scripture warn has very dire eternal consequences.
    Repentance of homosexuality requires the heartfelt agreement that the Word of God is Absolute Truth, Jesus Christ is Lord, and being gay is a reject of both the Christ and His Truth. Fr.Adria helps condemn those gays he moddycoddles, he does not offer them the Christ ‘s eternal salvation. In this he is God’s enemy. The Christ came that they may have life, and more abundantly.
    I fight for my fellow man, who is caught in satan’s snare. Saying I am OK as a straight man, and I am OK as a gay is soul destroying, as is the document produced by this GOA priest of darkened understanding. Reading it was like reading, Peirre de Charlatan, (er don). His writing cannot be understood, because they make no sense. But he claimed he was just too spiritually superior for anyone else to understand his writing. Adriea attemps the same sorry ploy.
    If gays don’t beleive God created them male and female, they don’t beleive the Word of God. Why pretend non belivers are Christ’s servants? That make no sense to me. It’s stupid!!

    • Fr. David says

      I just saw a photo of Chuck Norris pointing a finger and saying: I too was once a male trapped in a female’s body……..but then I was born!

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Michael,

      Fr. Arida is an OCA priest not a GOAA priest. Just thought you should know.

      Peter

      • Michael Kinsey says

        Thank you for accurate information. I read that OCA priest Fr. Matthew Tate was devorced and he got $20,000 present while he was head of the OCA finiance commitee on this web site. I know he is not devorced, as I see him and his wife, at least every Sunday. I doubt the money claim also, but do not feel I need to ask him. I have heard what he teaches, and can feel the Spirit moving when he does. He is not perfect, but who is?
        Adria is OCA, now I will speack to him, pronto. He said all Christianity is part of a Royal priesthood., as I am Christian, I will speak from this spiritual reality. Feeling perfectly free in Christ to do so, as are we all. Glory be to God. I am not afraid to assert myself with zeal for authentic Christianity, because nothing else works.

        • Fr Matthew Tate was divorced before he became Orthodox, or at least part of the canonical Orthodox Church. The Synod decided that since his first marriage happened before he was “Orthodox”, that it didn’t “count!” Whether this is a correct interpretation or not of canon law or economia is debatable.

  24. I had come across a citation before which I think applies:

    “It is also contrary to our Tradition to write about matters of Faith or piety in ways that are intentionally ambiguous – this is rather the approach of liberal protestantism. Replete with studied ambiguity liberal protestants have a particularity which entails a tendency to explain themselves with rhetorical questions, vague allusions and highly mysterious phrases from which you can with more or less justification guess at their positions, but are unable to explain clearly.”

    Intentional ambiguity, vague allusions, highly mysterious phrases and all the such is what you have with the renovationists when they are trying to sell you something but don’t really want to tell you what it is outright.

  25. Anonymous says

    The essay is the classic-two mommas adopting a lonely child is better than an abusive father with six kids.

    The answer is yes; but not preferred to a non-abusive father with five kids.

    It is a wonderful argument to show the world gays in a positive light and say-see they are great. The logic is something MW might enjoy. Gays did good, ergo gay is or must be good. Alexander wrote about Union with Rome, Union with Rome is bad, Alexander is bad.

    One must show sympathy towards Fr Arida. His logic is as flawed as the opposite. Gays like odd sex-odd sex is bad, all gays are bad.

    We affirm massive failures in logic.

    Can anyone identify the form of logic or fallacy Fr Arida is using, whether by accident(likely) or intentionally?

    It is quite sad to see and rather than anger; mercy is needed.

  26. Rymlianin says

    It is all quite predictable. Basing a model on the year of the granting of autocephaly, the OCA will cease to exist in about another twenty years. The fruits of renovationism.

  27. Alan Hampton says

    Well, since we are going to conduct this “witch hunt” for homosexual bishops and clergy, we should begin where most are clearly present; the GOA. At least half of these bishops qualify and probably 60% of all their clergy. Next, ROCOR (SURPRISE), those qualifying try to hide their propensity very well, but fail. Then all the converts who are attracted to Orthodoxy. Many are “swishers” from long ago.

    • This isn’t a witch hunt, this is calling material heresy when it is plainly evident.

    • Anonymous says

      Oh good heavens-they got into Rocor already? I thought it would take another century.

  28. M. Stankovich says

    Well, amidst all of this, there is some good news. In the Centers for Disease Control’s Provisional cases of selected infrequently reported notifiable diseases (<1,000 cases reported during the preceding year) — United States, week ending May 14, 2016 (available here, you will be happy to know that to date, there have been no reported cases of any Anthrax, Cholera, Diphtheria, Hemorrhagic Fevers, Plague, Polio, Rabies, EARS, Smallpox, Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or Yellow Fever anywhere within the boundaries of the US.

    Most interesting, at least to me, is the fact that there were only four reported cases of Trichinellosis (or Trichinosis) which is a parasitic disease generally contracted from the consumption of “the other white meat,” pork, which is undercooked, and I note there were no reported cases in 2015. Hmm. I distinctly recall myself and Robert Arida faithfully listening to the Sunday midnight broadcast of Black Muslim leader Elijah Mohammad direct from Harlem as we studied, who admonished his congregation, “Don’t eat pork as the white man directs you, for you will turn into the pig you eat.” Sage, this wisdom. But probably wore significant is the research published this past February in the journal, Nature Communications

    Using thousands of shared single-copy orthologous gene sequences, we fully reconstruct, for the first time, a phylogeny and biogeography for the Trichinella complex, and show that encapsulated and non-encapsulated Trichinella taxa diverged from their most recent common ancestor ∼21 million years ago

    Madonna Mia, imagine! Now try to explain to those that cannot accept such a dating of the earth, that the forbidding of the consumption of animals – pigs, lambs, quells que difference? – that was not consumed immediately was founded in the science of the Trichinella complex that has plagued us exactly four times to date in 2016. Incredible. The full-text is available from the National Library of Medicine here. Lest it all seem resolved, I must report 492 non-congenital cases of Zika virus infection to date, proving some you win, some you wait for a vaccine, but it’s all good. If only the same could be said of the Uniates…

  29. Teena Blackburn says

    From Maria McDowell’s FB page (the post was public): Maria McDowell: ” Brandon, my ecclesiology has not changed significantly since I really thought about what it was. I have never agreed with the idea that Orthodoxy alone bears the fulness of grace. I was Orthodox b/c I grew up Orthodox, and b/c I loved it. Deeply, passionately. But I never thought it bore the fulness of grace in large part b/c:

    1. I have seen the grace of God vibrantly active outside Orthodoxy.
    2. I have seen the failure to receive God’s grace within Orthodoxy, a failure that is not simply about individuals who sin, but consistent practices which deny, prevent, or ignore the grace of God in places outside our particular canons or habits. Here, the wildly inconsistent view of women which underlies their continued exclusion has been a large factor for me.

    If I were to use Robert’s words, which I like very much, then I simply experience the Orthodox church as failing to fully participate in the eschatological reality towards which we are all called.

    I do not believe any church has this fulness, the making present of the eschaton. I think to believe such is a failure of self-assessment, and likely a form of ecclesiolatry, prioritizing the church as we define it before the God whose work in the world blows where it will. Almost all contemporary Orthodox arguments about its fulness serve the church, elevate the church. This has the twofold effect of both making us far too satisfied with ourselves, and unable to see the creativity of God in the world.

    My alternative dissertation topic was actually on how we as the church could understand change, at the heart of which is that change is a faithful response to God’s work as we recognize over time and tradition that our work with God in the world is incomplete, and that sometimes, we might have gotten it wrong.” The woman is a Protestant.

    • And Fr. Arida hangs around with such people.

      It seems as though he is easily influenced by those around him. Not a good quality to have in a spiritual leader.

    • Interesting how forcing a stark, binary, black or white choice in ecclesiology can drive one out of the church. For instance, Ms. McDowell doesn’t seem to acknowledge the possibility of a the gray via media of “pro-ecumenical” described by Paul Ladouceur:

      Orthodox ecumenists and anti-ecumenists both start from the same fundamental ecclesiological principle, succinctly expressed in an anti-ecumenical statement of the Sacred Community of Mount Athos in April 1980: “We believe that our holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, which possesses the fullness of grace and truth.” But pro-ecumenical and anti-ecumenical Orthodox draw radically different conclusions from this one principle. Ecumenists, focusing on the notion that the Orthodox Church possesses “the fullness of grace and truth,” conclude that other Christian churches also possess grace and truth, if not in their fullness.

      In fact, many Orthodox have (wrongly) internalized the interpretation and extension of the “anti-ecumenical” Orthodox. The Orthodox Church can be The Church, without needing to also admit that outside herself there is nothing but undifferentiated darkness. I think most converts to Orthodoxy know this to be true in the same way Orthodox have traditionally viewed the preparatory role played by Greek philosophy, for instance. Plato was always differentiated from the child-sacrificing priests of Moloch, though both were ‘pagans’. Traditional Russian (as opposed to Greek) practice also acknowledged gradations in errors among non-Orthodox Christians, between non-Orthodox Christian and non-Christians, and between different heretics and schismatics i.e., not all were baptized, not all were (re)chrismated, not all were received by confession of faith, not all clergy were received by vesting, not all were received by simply communing – but some/many were by any of the methods mentioned.

      Similarly, the refusal to acknowledge mistakes or the acceptability of some level of difference, in the early church, a trait found more often in the stubborn schismatics and heretics than in the Orthodox. A prime example is the flexibility shown in the first two Ecumencial Councils regarding language around the full divinity of the Holy Spirit (he is not described as being homoousios with the Father and Son) and the real physical death of Christ (we say simply that he suffered and was buried), which were issues for some schismatics at the time. Another example is the flexibility shown by St. Cyril of Alexandria in accepting the compromise language of Chalcedon, though he continued to believe his formulation the more fully accurate and Orthodox. In more modern times, the reacceptance of more frequent communion and of hesychasm by the Kollyvades is an example of correcting errors that had become ‘traditional’ in the Church. St. Nikodemos’ acceptance of good mixed with error can also be seen in his translation and adaptation of The Spiritual Combat of Lorenzo Scupoli, a Roman Catholic.

      We need to avoid the Scylla of a black and white dialectic and the Charybdis of pretending there is only gray. Both lead to shipwreck.

      • Teena H. Blackburn says

        Ms. McDowell is pretty clear, in public, why she left the church. Not only did she not believe its doctrine about itself, but she wants to be a priest, and she is a sexually active lesbian “married” to the ex-wife of a former GOA priest (all public as well). It’s one thing to admit the church is both divinely ordained and also tragically full of sinners. It’s quite something else to disbelieve its basic teachings about itself, and to reject its sexual morality. You can do that, of course, but then the honest thing is to leave.

    • Maria McDowell wrote another piece for Public Orthodoxy called “Life-Bearing Love: A Too Risky Vision”, which is much more explicit than her collaboration with Arida.

      • Anonymous says

        The article you link to has the classic references to domestic violence homosexuals love to reflect upon. You’d think she’d at least avoid that common leap.

        But she does deserve credit when she sees people threatened by homosexuals. Most all homosexuals and liberals find this to be a big joke, but it isn’t.

        No wonder people feel threatened when they get crafty and suggest their love is ‘life’ bearing.

        Ms. McDowell fails to see any harm in homosexuality in the critique of the churches vision. And homosexuality can produce harm. The harm is that children(and some adults) might believe they are homosexual when they are simply going through a stage of maturation.

        It is a serious and fair concern that can only be reconciled by the church promoting the traditional family and doing so unapologetically. But homosexuals desire the mainstream line so bad they are willing to sacrifice the churches family is best ideals, and that must be unacceptable to all, even them.

        The church must never, never, never consider marrying homosexuals or bearing witness to or promoting homosexual unions. It simply cannot be the preferred teaching for the sake of children.

        Ms. McDowell is right. It is too risky to tell the children, yes, marry your playmates if you wish.

        Of course, it is easy to discount and say why are you telling children who to marry or some other dribble, but when kids ask you if it is okay if they marry their friends, it is the parent’s job to tell them what is best.

        Sadly, it appears Arida has fallen into this abyss where he has become willing to sacrifice teaching what is best.

    • I’m not sure that that even rises to the level of Protestantism, just a spiritualized progressive liberalism, which is what mainline Protestantism has become.

    • “The Church, in its Christological aspect, appears as an organism having two natures, two operations and two wills. In the history of Christian dogma all the Christological heresies come to life anew and reappear with reference to the Church. thus, there arises a Nestorian ecclesiology, the error of those who would divide the church into distinct beings: on the one hand the heavenly and invisible church, alone true and absolute; on the other, the earthly church (or rather ‘the churches’) imperfect and relative, wandering in the shadows, human societies seeking to draw near, so far as it is possible for them, to that transcendent perfection . . .”

      ” . . . Monothelitism in ecclesiology is expressed above all in the negation of the economy of the Church in regard to the external world, for the salvation of which the church was founded. the contrary error (which could not have a precedent in the christological heresies, unless it be in a semi-Nestorianism) consists in an attitude of compromise which is ready to sacrifice the truth to the exigencies of ecclesiological relativism, a danger proper to the ‘oecumenical’ movement and other similar trends.” Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 186-186, Vladimir Lossky.

      It seems that this is what we are dealing with, a form of Nestorianism. I had previously thought that there was something strangely Arian about Roman Catholicism due to the filioque and papal infallability. The irony is that allegedly the filioque was introduced to combat Arianism (somehow). Yet a generation later, it led to a dimunition in the honor given to the Holy Spirit which then had to be corrected. Error upon error. With the RCC’s embrace of the Branch Theory and the Phanar’s attempt to lead us into the same temptation we indeed see the dawn of a new troubled age.

  30. Alan Hampton says

    Embodied Persons, Male and Female: Thoughts on the Body and Personal Identity

    MAY 23, 2016 BY FR. PHILIP LEMASTERS

    I find it hard to understand why some claim today that it is bigoted and mean-spirited to think that the biological complementarity of males and females provides an important clue to the personal identity of human beings. When someone speaks of men and women, it is certainly reasonable to assume that those terms reflect basic biological realities. It is hard to see how we may think of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc., without reference to the physical bodies of those who are male or female. If we try to do so, we will quickly find ourselves supporting a disembodied view of personhood that presents grave challenges for human dignity and is antithetical to the Christian faith.

    “The facts of life” are such that it takes the bodies of two persons of opposite sex to conceive children. As any physician or scientist will affirm, there are distinctive and biologically defined roles for men and women in this process. It is also the nature of human beings to inherit physical and other traits from their parents. In other words, the difference and complementarity of biological males and females stands at the heart of what it means to exist as a human being.

    No doubt, throughout human history there have been men and women who would have preferred to have been born as members of the opposite sex. It is one thing to acknowledge that, but quite another to conclude that their preference means that there is no abiding biological reality to the distinction between males and females. It is one thing to hope that people who struggle with these issues will find peace in accepting the implications of the physical reality of their bodies for their personal identity. It is one thing to reach out to them with compassion, as Christians should to all people with profound personal challenges. It is quite another, however, to say that only vicious, ignorant oppressors would dare to think that someone’s physical body manifests whether that person is a man or a woman.

    Granted, there are very rare cases of ambiguous genitalia or persons with a disparity between their chromosomes and the outward structure of their bodies. Barring those conditions, it is hard to see how someone could even come close to making a coherent claim that he or she is “really” a member of the opposite sex. Such an assertion would entail that the characteristics of one’s physical body are simply irrelevant to his or her personal identity. The details of gender roles have varied throughout human history and do vary today in different settings, but the physical distinctions between the anatomy of males and females have remained. Those who do not recognize that biological sexual identity is an abiding dimension of personal identity have taken a large step away from reality and the broad scope of human experience in the world as we know it.

    It is not yet clear how far the agenda of deconstructing maleness and femaleness will go, but to make gender identity simply a matter of subjective self-definition should deeply trouble us all, and especially advocates of the rights and equality of women. If our society comes to view physical bodies as irrelevant for the definition of who is a woman, then matters involving women’s bodies—such pregnancy, motherhood, or violence against women– will be taken even less seriously than they are today. If a simple declaration by a biological male makes him a woman, then the unique interests and cultural significance of those with female bodies must not matter that much. Indeed, any claim that male and female bodies are even truly distinctive would become incoherent. The definition of who is a woman would then have no connection with the physical characteristics of the human body; those characteristics would then have only trivial significance. The less standing the bodies of our neighbors have in our eyes, the less of an obligation we have to help them as embodied persons. No, this way of thinking is not good news for the orphan, the widow, the stranger, or the rest of us. The classic feminist phrase “our bodies, ourselves” would be replaced by a dangerously disembodied vision of personhood.

    For Christians, the deconstruction of biological sexual identity is yet another manifestation of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. We cannot tell the story of the good news of our salvation without referring to biological men and women, for our salvation is the fulfillment of our identity and vocation as those created male and female in God’s image and likeness. (Gen. 1:27) Just try to make sense of the story of the Hebrew people from generation to generation without such a perspective. Contrary to those who think that Jesus Christ was uninterested in these matters, He specifically cited our creation as male and female in speaking about marriage. (Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6) Against the libertines who thought that what they did with their flesh sexually had no spiritual significance, St. Paul stressed that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that will participate in eternal life. (1 Cor. 6:12ff.) Christ’s resurrection manifests God’s gracious intensions to sanctify every dimension of who we are: body, soul, and spirit. And since He is the Eternal Word Who spoke the universe into existence, breathed life into us from the dust of the earth, and told us to “be fruitful and multiply” as men and women (Gen. 1:28), it should not be surprising that His salvation is the fulfillment, not the repudiation, of our embodied personhood.

    In this light, Christians must show true compassion toward people who struggle with gender identity without encouraging them to adopt self-definitions that ignore the physical realities of human personhood. Christ invites us to the healing of every dimension of our humanity, which includes embracing the truth about who we are as embodied male or female persons. For all of us, that is a struggle in one way or another. Healing comes through the difficult task of offering every dimension of our lives to the Lord in humility. We become more truly the people He created us to be when we reorient ourselves to Him in body, soul, and spirit. Our faith calls us to give more—not less—attention to the role of our bodies in sharing in the eternal life of the Lord Who made us men and women in His image and likeness.

  31. Teena H. Blackburn says

    BTW, Bryce Rich IS Orthodox. My husband is a personal friend of his. The quote by him is from a work he wrote before he became Orthodox. Bryce is gay (public knowledge), and a lot of his work is on homosexuality and Orthodoxy. I disagree strongly with him theologically, but accuracy here is important. He is also friends with Maria McDowell.

  32. Michael Galmukoff says

    Though my family long ago (all long since passed on) were all Russian Orthodox both in the Old Country, and here in the USA, I was never a church goer until of late.
    I must ask, why does OCA or any portion thereof Orthodoxy even tolerate such writ from one of their own priests? Why is a person who pens such heresy, not put out?
    Is not such actions against such ones, at the very least Biblical?
    Should not the Bride Of Christ be kept pure?
    It’s this sort of inaction against such ones in the lead that makes me apprehensive to join in to what I thought was the true and original faith structure of the Apostles.
    Why is this even tolerated let alone what appears to be met with silence by those in the lead?
    Where am I wrong here?

    • Anonymous says

      You are wrong in more than one way.

      Your are wrong because the issues faced by Orthodox priests are real. And the days of sweepings under the rug has come to an end or near end. And the last letter is a trap, meant to create a legal standing, while at the same time critiquing an essay that was, well, a bit short. And Arida et al, made some valid points in the essay to be fair. I believe 123 did a fine job of pointing that out. You and others ought to note, the essay never utters the word gay in the letter. And, if that letter were ever brought in as a witness against him, well, let’s just all agree, it would get costly for the church.

      And, in fact, by even mentioning homosexual in the critique of Arida’s letter, it is a logical leap. And a logical one, not an illogical one, but a leap just the same! Why leap unless its hopscotch?

      And you are wrong in another way because the leaders cannot in good conscience condemn a man who is facing a difficult situation when they themselves have not dealt with their own difficult situations. And I am sugar coating it quite well saying it this way. But the leaders cannot discipline a priest for saying something more upstanding than what they themselves might actually DO!

      The man never suggested the church marry gays; that would be heresy.

      The troubling issue is some gays want homosexuality to not be considered a sin. And a priest cannot accept that. And the reasons are very simple. It is so children are not taught that it is okay for them to marry their playmates. But it is very difficult for homosexuals to accept this prudent standard; excuses abound. The church must stand by ideals and it must not apologize.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I believe the critique (alarm?) raised by Fr Robert’s essays and ministry is that while he never endorses homosexuality per se, it seems to be lurking in the fringes somewhere.

        This is not alarmism by the way. Those of us who have followed the sad decline of the mainline denominations well remember the pietistic God-talk of the 70s and 80s. Homosexuality was never mentioned there either —studiously never mentioned I might add. Now gays and gay sympathizers have the decided upper hand in every situation in these denominations.

        That’s the fear here. For what it’s worth, I’m sure Arida is a wonderful, loving pastor and theologian who has thought deeply about these things. I respect him as a pastor who lives in the world and not some academic ivory tower. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has seen deep hurt and done everything in his power to mitigate it. And I dare say because of this concern, he’ll be in good stead on Judgment Day. At the same that does not excuse the rest of us from seeing what’s at stake. It wouldn’t be prudent for us to not be aware of the wiles of the devil when it comes to using men’s weakness to achieve his aims.

        • Amen. The same is true for the American Psychiatric Association’s changing definitions of pathology and treatment. And for the concerned if misguided caring folk duped into agreement by radical secular very determined strategists.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Nicole,

            For as much as I have no use for the American Psychiatric Association, and cancelled my subscription to the green journal” in 2011, I have even less use for those who trash-talk the left with trash-talk from the right. The real story begins here. Lothar Gidro-Frank MD, past director of the Adolescent Division of the NYS Psychiatric Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, was my esteemed supervisor and mentor, and was a colleague to the chairman of the committee to set both the psychiatric conditions and diagnostic criteria for the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, III, (DSM-III), 1973, Robert Spitzer, MD. It was Dr. Guidro-Frank who vouched for the veracity of the majority of the historical information; and email I sent to KJ Zucker, Ph.D. at the Addictions Research in Toronto was undeliverable; an email I sent to Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D at NARTH received no response; and an email I spent to Robert Spitzer, MD was unanswered. Hot tamales, and dey red hot…

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Et.al.,

              The starting point is wrong. It’s not a mental disorder that needs changing. It’s a sinful soul that need Jesus Christ to heal all wounds. Start with Jesus Christ not psychology. You will get better results.

              Peter

        • Anonymous says

          The essay is bait.

          Some of the content was already mentioned by others in public forums.

          Your tack misses the deeper problems. First, that Arida penned with McDowell. Not because she is gay, of course, but because lest I’m wrong, has her own version of Orthodoxy. Second, that phds like Dunn are becoming invalid spokespeople for the church. Third, everytime someone cries heresy when it isn’t is a freebie for those with incremental, sketchy intent.

          And instead of going down the road talking about homosexuality, the conversation ought to be about-nope, not bathroom sharing, but pen sharing. And who speaks for the church.

          Of course, this is dangerous ground for a blog editor whose commenters consistently attack and berate hierarchs and administrators.

      • Relevant says

        Homosexual acts, compulsive masturbation, pornography, etc. are all part of the sexual addictions and are rampant in modern western society. The fact that they are considered “normal” by many just proves how far our culture is from what used to be a Christian culture. And “Christians” who consider these forms of lust as “normal” are wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

        Persons struggling with these passions/addictions must first acknowledge that they are NOT what Our Lord intends for us and must avoid acting out, and yes, must even be thankful to God for the temptations. With spiritual and psychological counseling, this process leads to the crushing of these passions/addictions and to Life in Christ.

        Highly recommend Fr Christophe Lepoutre’s wonderful organization for those who struggle with the sexual addictions (i.e., lust), homosexuality, pornography, compulsive masturbation, etc.: the Fellowship of the Inexhaustible Cup, http://www.inexhaustiblecup.org

      • M. Stankovich says

        In prison, they refer to newcomers as “fish” (think “swimming among the sharks”), and as near as I can tell, son, you seem to be approximately forty-three years too late to be (if you will allow me to roll with the metaphor) “schoolin” me in regard to Priest Robert Arida. Unfortunately, the appeal to Santana… Oh my! What could I have been thinking! And with Eric Clapton & Chester Thompson (you must remember, from Tower of Power) on keyboards, no less. I obviously meant Jorge Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, and his often quoted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but silly you, you did not bother to investigate the history. Perhaps we should stop and reflect on of what your condemnation might consist? Nah, let’s roll with it… I am responsible for bringing Priest Robert Arida to this killing floor five long years ago, by inviting him to join a website I had created to honor our teachers, in the tradition of the Patristic Fathers. The irony of the whole ridiculous story – which is, in fact, for me a rich source of amusement to this day – is that neither Priest Robert Arida, nor Priest Alexis Vinogradov, nor then Protodeacon Eric Wheeler ever contributed a single word to the website. Yet we were all accused of untoward “treachery,” that I was a “Syosset shill,” (though I now prefer “failure of Crestwood-Syosset,” given the choice) to the basest level discussion of my and Fr. Robert’s hair and a Coptic icon of our Lord depicted as the Good Samaritan as a “gay icon.” It had to end. And secondly, as a genetics researcher, I wrote exactly six short “chapters” that I intended to be an ongoing “essay of emergent data,” but the data became so emergent as to be paradigm shifting in the understanding of human genetics, and weariness of arguing with those whose understanding of embryology consisted of selecting a dozen eggs ay Trader Joe’s. Thus, in the words of Mrs. Hapgood (Google it if you are unfamiliar), I said Depart hence to thine own Tartarus.”

        Like all good things, this must conclude somewhere, so let me say to you, pal, that I reasonably conclude that by your statement, “You and others ought to note, the essay never utters the word gay in the letter,” you have either concluded that you have stumbled into the ripe, convolutional memorial ἄνθρωπον τυφλὸν ἐκ γενετῆςwing wing of Monomakhos, or you are just plain disrespectful of the OG’s present, and violate the rules of evidence with this “asked & answered” tedium. Any chance you are checking IP addresses, Mr. Michalopulos? I get the sick feeling of the possibility that Athena has again burst forth from the forehead of Warren Zeus. “Why leap unless its hopscotch?” Because “leaping” is frequently associated with “faith.”

        • Anonymous says

          You seem confused Michael, or is it me? The response I made was to Galmukoff wanting Fr Arida removed for heresy. I said he was wrong, not you.

          Do you think Arida should be ‘put out’ as Galmukoff suggests?

          While we are speaking, how do you feel about Fr Arida co-authoring with Ms McDowell? It seems a bit wrong, no?

          As for hopskotch and leaps; let’s be fair. We can’t tie two essays together; rearrange the words, and say there is the proof. He said marry gays! He did not. And that is what I meant. Did he say marry gays? I may seem rhetorical, but for fun-answer.

          • M. Stankovich says

            It’s you. I have said I believe he should leave the altar until he is willing to courageously clarify, one way or another, his position. As I have also said, no one has the right to introduce vagueness into the absolute clarity of the brightness of Him Who is the “light of men, ” and the “light [Who] shines in darkness,” (Jn. 1:4-5), What has happened here again is that speculation has resulted in scandal, and he is to blame. This, in my estimation, can be worse than heresy in many ways; Arius, though he dared to deny the divinity of the Son of God and was ultimately anathematized, at least was courageous enough to to present himself – blasphemy and all – directly before the Holy Fathers to accept the consequence for his beliefs. Cowardice, on the other hand, is always transparent, always cynical and empty, and at least for me, provokes a feeling, not of empathy, but of pity. And the defense of cowardice is nearly universally to project its own frailty and insecurity – consciously or unconsciously – onto others as “oppressors,” as “ignorant,” or as “below my necessity to even concern myself.”

            I believe I have made this point the crux of my concern from the beginning, but I will also continue to insist that Priest Robert Arida is neither a malignant nor a malevolent individual. You, and anyone here, for that matter, are free to draw any conclusion you will in “speculation” by “reading between the lines,” but also accept that I personally have enough integrity not to share on the world wide web the content of every personal conversation I might have with or about people who are dear to me. You may choose to reject my words as to the eventual point and purpose of these “issuances,” and that is your prerogative. It certainly would not be the first time in my life such a thing has occurred. But if you imagine my response to you was simply a matter of killing time, or entertaining myself with an exercise of the “enigma machine,” you would be wrong. I most certainly do not find any of this amusing. It breaks my heart. Trust me, most of your speculation is about as accurate as guessing ages (not Ages) at the county fair. I think the point has been made. Do you honestly imagine that, as we continue to sing the Pascha Canon, continue to celebrate this “chosen and most Holy Day of Holy Days,” the Lord will now abandon us? He will literally allow a handful of “scholars” to overrun his Spotless Bride? If you would admit the possibility, then we truly are οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα, “as others which have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13), I am confident that the “foolishness of God is wiser than men,” (1 Cor. 1:25) and that our God is both faithful and jealous for His people.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Amen, and Amen.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              One of the most eloquent and heartfelt posts I have read anywhere. Glory be to God!

              • Anonymous Esther Lederer says

                It is all relative.

                You can’t really respect the prior post much if you are the least bit critical. But the last one has some good points and some I disagree with, but let’s start with the prior post.

                First of all, Stankovich responded as if I personally attacked him, when I was merely pointing out the problems with calling Arida a heretic to a third person. I wasn’t even talking to Stankovich and then he had a major chip on his shoulder as if I had offended him directly somehow by pointing out the problems with removing Arida (again to someone else).

                Secondly, I asked a serious and fair question about people like Ms. McDowell writing a blog on Orthodoxy when she isn’t even really Orthodox. It was discounted by Michael as if it didn’t matter. Well, if it doesn’t matter and God will sort it out, then why comment to the Arida essay at all? The next person would suggest McDowell is the devil himself (tee hee). But at least a few people ought to be concerned about who represents the faith. Is it David Dunn? Or shall we discount them as fools who get only a few million readers?

                Thirdly, he suggested Arida was a coward for not challenging the church directly. I don’t see things that way at all. I think Arida thinks he is a brave keeper of a refuge who has chosen his battles wisely. Although, I concede Michael’s opinion is solid. I just doubt Arida sees things that way.

                But to end on a high note, I very much appreciated the tone of the second comment and especially Michael’s comments about Arida’s vaguity. I was not going to respond critically to Michael, but when you suggested the post was eloquent, it seemed relevant to point out the irony of that.

                As for it being heartfelt, I would concur.

                Most likely Michael will be upset by my post and that is okay. He really ought to have taken a different tone when he wanted to interject himself into the comments I made to a third person.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  What peculiar logic!

                  • Anonymous Esther Lederer says

                    Peculiar?

                    If the case against Arida is so powerful, want to make a prediction as to when he will be defrocked?

                    All I did was give reasons it would be unlikely.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Agreed!

            • Monk James says

              Okay, but does Michael Stankovich either claim no relationship with ‘We Are Their Legacy’ or at least disavow their acceptance of homosexuality as a christian option, or state that he has broken company with them? Or say that he remains with them and their theory?

              This is important. I’d be grateful for his clarifications.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Back in the day, I posed a purely anecdotal research hypothesis that, at least in prison, more freaky-deaky things occur on Friday, than on the other days combined. And then, Atul Gawande published a truly remarkable book, Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science – which remains as one of my favorite reads of the decade, made the identical observation! Mind you, that’s not why I recommend the book. Anyway, Gawande discovered, with great dismay, that he was faced with the double-whammy of being scheduled as the trauma resident on call on Friday the 13th! Off he rushed to the computers in the hospital’s medical library, to find exactly one published study on the effect of Friday the 13th on ER & trauma activity. Medical personnel only “recall” it’s worse. Hmm…

                But, I come to the laptop at 5:00 am, having put two customary shots of the real-deal Mexican Agave tequila in my coffee, and applied two customary Fentanyl Transdermal Patches (RIP Prince), only to find Mr. Michalopulos has the red ass over my comment to Misha; someone anonymous fashions him/herself the “literary critic” of USA Today; and Tartuffe has again fallen into the sewer. And the irony (and I almost feel badly about utilizing the question mark)? All written on Friday. In order of importance: 1) Mr. Michaopulos, I was “sparring” with Misha; chiding, talking smack, s**t, whatever you wish to call it. Why? Sadly, in tribute I will say, “Because I’m as pretty as young woman, and I ain’t afraid of nobody! I’m so bad I made the medicine sick. I’m so fast that when I turned off the light, I was in bed before the room got dark!” RIP; 2) anonymous, you believe I will be upset? You flatter yourself. I don’t know who you are, but let me sum this up for you in five memorable words from Priest Alexander Schmemann: “Pardon me, but who cares.” Rinse and repeat.

                Finally, Tartuffe, I would be happy to answer your question – for what, the fifth time – as I have here and on the Orthodox Forum. with diligence & detail – when you answer me a few questions: what is your sexual orientation as evidenced by the content of your fantasies and your dreams, with diligence and detail.. You are obviously obsessive in regard to homosexuality, and are quick to accuse others. So if you still wish to pursue this “clarification,” then by all means, let us pursue it. But if you are being driven by unconscious motivations, another round of my explanations would be both redundant and pointless. I suggest that anyone actually interested yet again, simply avail themselves of the Google search function Mr. Michalopulos provides on this site.

                My comment regarding tequila in my coffee & Fentanyl Transdermal Patches was a joke, by the way. You have to clarify every damn thing around here…

                • Monk James says

                  Deflection, diversion, obfuscation. narcissistic self-righteousness, moral obtuseness: all characteristics of this unhelpful non sequitur response to my very serious question.

                  In a note to this blog many months ago , I forgave Michael Stankovich all his offenses against me here and in other venues, and I forgive him this screed, too. My forbearance should not be interpreted as encouraging him to continue to abuse me or anyone else in his writing, as is his wont.

                  May God forgive us all.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Let’s account for a relative peace based of the absence of Tartuffe the Wreckless. I received a phone call from a member of the Synod of Bishops – someone you would never expect – who said to me, “He will never apologize to you, ever. He claims he “personally” has “evidence” against Bishops, and holds them hostage. He claims “spiritual courts” he demanded to present evidence, but were suddenly cancelled and are now denied. All sort of manner by which he may vindicate others, but the evidence never seems to materialize. On the other hand, accusations were brought that he was an active participant in these “courtesy suites” provided by the Chancery in the finer hotels of NYC to “entertain” – on the Chancery credit cards – visiting dignitaries, who happened to be all-male. If this was not so distinguishing, and so sad, it would be amusing. The rantings of a lunatic .” Several days later, on the Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos, the Protectress of the Holy Mountain of Athos & all monastics, I withdrew my demand that he simply admit he was wrong when he posited incorrect medical information to “refute” me. His resonse? He forgives me for anyway I might have harmed him. And now? Like I couldn’t have predicted it. It is neither non-sequitor nor obfuscation to ask your sexual orientation outright, and it is standard psycho-sexual practice to determinate it by an examination of the content of fantasies and dreams. How many examples of well know public figures – from United States Senators, Speakers of the US House, Protestant & Catholic officials – having been openly hostile and “disgusted” by the practice of homosexuality and individuals with same-sex-attraction – yet have been openly revealed in a “reaction formation” of their sexuality?” What is your sexual orientation as determined the content of your fantasies & dreams, and did you, in fact participate in the “courtesy suites” at the expense of the credit cards of the OCA Chancery, and thus the budget of the Orthodox Church in America?

                    • Monk james says

                      Whoever it was, that ‘member of the Synod of Bishops’ who phoned Michael Stankovich lied to him about me — assuming that MS is writing truthfully here, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

                      The truth of the matter is that I never received compensation of any kind from the OCA except for travel expenses and lodging at some of the All-American Councils and meetings of the Translations Committee. I never stayed in any hotels in NYC at the OCA’s expense, nor did I ever have the use of any chancery credit cards (or anyone else’s, for that matter). I never participated in any sort of males-only entertainments in any church-related context.

                      The charges I brought against a bishop were accepted by Met. Jonah, who assigned a priest to investigate the matter and work with me to assemble appropriate documentation. When that bishop deceitfully and immorally connived with others to unseat MetJ, the investigator was dismissed and the case was dropped.

                      To assert anything contrary to these statements of mine here is at least misinformed, but probably just maliciously mendacious.

                      No, I’m not the lunatic here, but it seems that the asylum’s not being run by sane men, or at least honest men, let alone good and holy men.

                  • Anonymous says

                    I could be wrong, but didn’t Michael already go over all this with the Fr Jacobse thing like ??? 4 years ago maybe?

                    I’d say the monk and misha are guilty of flaccid piling on and not anything more.

                    Ann Landers would not approve of me speaking on his behalf, but I think it is an asked and answered.

                    Personally, I’m like 99.9% certain he has been clear that homosexuality is what the church has always viewed.

                    He’s probably just tired of responding to fools, of which, I am not included this time at least.

                    • I simply assume that when someone avoids answering a direct question in a very simple transparent way that they intend to avoid answering it. Now, the reasons one might avoid answering a question can vary, of course. But most of the time it is because 1) the person does not want to give a false answer to the question, since that would alienate those with whom the person sympathizes, and 2) answering truthfully would blow some mystical “cover” that they think they have successfully projected.

                      Personally, I usually avoid asking such questions because the answers do not concern me as I have no interest in chairing the House Un-American Activities Committee and because I have a fairly good idea of what most people here believe deep down in their hearts based on the kinds of statements they post. I don’t need anyone to be candid. I’ve already decided what I think the various positions of posters here are – for most of them that assessment was made long ago and the soundness of these assessments are rarely called into question by their subsequent comments.

                      We’re people shooting the sh*t on a weblog, after all. Relax.

                    • Anonymous says

                      I always enjoy a poor response finished with a relax.

                      But let’s talk for a moment about facts. Monk James trolls for the chance to jab at Michael. Michael stabs back with questions about the Monks preferences. And not even God has given you Misha the right to bear false witness against your neighbor Michael, just because it suits your ‘assessment’.

                      Nothing less than flaccid piling on… Rhetorical questions designed to never be answered, but just asked for the purpose of framing weak lies.

                      Take it up a notch please. George’s blog is supposed to be Christians. Try to skip having me remind you one of the Ten Commandments toward you next time you get on my pile.

                    • Anonymous,

                      I’m sorry, did you say something? I wasn’t paying attention.

            • Monk James says

              Okay, but does Michael Stankovich disavow his relationship with ‘We Are Their Legacy’ and repudiate their assertion that a homosexual way of life is a christian option?

              This is an important question.

              • I think you have your answer, Monk James. You asked if he disavows them. He has not. Silence is an answer. And I think he’s upset that anyone would confront him and seems to be wanting to change the whole interaction to a different plane. This would indicate to me that the conversation on that subject is over. But, I’m not a monk so do whatever you please.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Let me ask, Misha: have you extended me the simple courtesy & respect to search this site to read the numerous occasions, where, out of diligence, courtesy, and a sense or necessity, I addressed this same question in detail to anyone and everyone who questioned me? No you didn’t. In fact, you do not even ask the correct question: “You asked if he disavows them. He has not. ” Exactly how many times do you believe, in the interest of fairness and simple “finality” of a totally contrived accusation I should “jump” in response? Once a year? Every two years? Merely point to the archived response (and that is the beauty and bête noir of the internet) And should I not resent, Misha, that had you looked to the archive, you would known that this rodent who cries for “clarifications” has already been answered repeatedly, to the point of being banned from the Orthodox Forum for his dishonesty? You are a “researcher,” Mischa? You are welcome to take anything you wish to “another plane” without disturbing me. But don’t claim integrity without evidence.

                  • Oh, MS, you certainly have the right to claim to be offended. You’re good at it, obviously. Carry on.

                  • Monk james says

                    I wonder if Michael Stankovich might be persuaded to retract his assertion that I was banned from the Orthodox Forum group for ‘(my) dishonesty’ and tell the truth instead, which is that he got his knickers in a twist because I would not engage him when he challenged the truth of my writing, and complained to the group’s moderator that I wrote in a ‘drive-by’ style without proper (by his standards) attestation. The moderator acceded to MS’s demands with no chance of appeal on my part, so I let the matter drop.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      I wonder if Michael Stankovich might be persuaded to retract his assertion that I was banned from the Orthodox Forum group for ‘(my) dishonesty’ and tell the truth instead…

                      Λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πιλάτος, Tί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια?

                      Dear Fr. James and Dr. Stankovich:

                      There is a long prehistory to Monk James’ banishing from, and then restoration to, life on the Orthodox Forum (recitation of which would bore us all to tears), but one consistent aspect of his posting is his use of the “drive-by-shooting” method. He will make some, often extreme, claim; then be asked for proof … but never give it, and then wander off on some other quest after things have cooled off.

                      His latest “drive-by” was an accusation that one bishop was homosexual, and had caused the coming consecration of another homosexual. When challenged about this and directed to apologize, no solid, concrete, verifiable proof was offered — just insinuation of a ‘where-there’s-smoke-…’ nature — and no apology.

                      We have all had enough of this. The monk James is banished from the Forum, and any redress must be sought privately.

                      Fr. Michael Regan
                      For the Orthodox Forum

                      From flint and steel comes fire; from chatter and joking comes lying. Lying is the destruction of charity, and perjury the very denial of God.

                      No sensible man imagines that lying is a minor failing. Indeed the All-Holy Spirit pronounced the most dreadful sentence on this sin above all others; and if, as David says to God, “You will destroy everyone speaking a lie” (Ps. 5:7), what will happen to those who swear to their lies on oath?

                      I have seen men, proud of their ability to lie, and exciting laughter by their clowning and joking, who have miserably destroyed in their hearers the habit of mourning. But when the demons observe that we stay clear of the sallies of some outstanding wit, as though we were avoiding the plague, they try to catch us with two seemingly plausible thoughts, namely that we should not be offensive to the person telling the witty story and we should not give the appearance of loving God more than he does. Be off! Do not dawdle! Otherwise the jokes will start coming back to you when you are at prayer. But do not simply run away. Break up the bad company in a devout way by setting before them the thought of death and judgment, and if a few drops of vainglory fall on you, what harm? Provided of course, that you become a source of profit to many.

                      Hypocrisy is the mother of lying and frequently its cause. Some would argue that hypocrisy is nothing other than a meditation on falsehood, that it is the inventor of falsehood laced with lies.

                      The man gifted with fear of the Lord has given up lying, for within him he has conscience, that incorruptible judge.

                      Various kinds of harm can be observed in the passions, and lying is no exception. So one judgment awaits the man who lies out of fear, another the liar who has nothing at all to worry about. One man lies for the sheer pleasure of it, another for amusement, another to raise a laugh among bystanders, another to trap his brother and do him harm.

                      Magistrates can root out lying with tortures, though it is an abundance of tears that truly destroys it. A man may lie on the grounds of prudence, and indeed regards as an act of righteousness the actual destruction of his own soul. The inventor of lies declares that he is following the example of Rahab and maintains that his own destruction is the cause of salvation for others.

                      Only when we are completely free of the urge to lie may we resort to it, and then only in fear and out of necessity. A baby does not know how to lie, and neither does a soul cleansed of evil.

                      A man drunk on wine unwittingly tells the truth about everything. And a man drunk with compunction cannot lie.

                      This is the twelfth step. The man who has taken it has obtained the root of all blessings.

                      St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

                      Wonder no more. I am not far enough away that you will mock me.

  33. M. Stankovich says

    I received several messages, both by phone and email, this afternoon, from individuals I both admire and whose opinions I respect. The question in every case became: “How is that you so easily engage in debate, but likewise get so easily hooked into streams of bait that are all seemingly pointless, if not always embarrassing? An excellent point, and well taken. I could turn this into a defensive posture of all the reasons, blah, blah, blah, but I will not. There have been a number of times in my participation here when I have felt the need to look at my behaviour and my attitude – as difficult as that is – and simply to apologize. This one of those time, and I accept full responsibility for offending anyone by my dimissiveness, and my coarse and offense talk. There simply is no excuse for such behaviour among Christians.

    As a corollary, I am at the same time passionate for integrity, voracity, and consistency. I do not purposefully lie or deceive, knowingly misrepresent, nor support others who do so. While I admit that I do not share every opinion of Fr. John Whiteford, I have the utmost respect for him, because in 2011 he asked me, on this site, specifically as to my beliefs of the nature of Christian Marriage and the “viability of a homosexual lifestyle as a way to salvation.” Let anyone demonstrate with my words where I have deviated from this position. Likewise, I have further said I support no one who believes heresy, no one. Let anyone demonstrate with my words where I have deviated from this position.

    I need to take a break from here. There was a time when this was a place for inspired & inspiring debate and discussion. It is no longer. All apologies.

    • Monk James says

      As we’ve observed, Michael Stankovich didn’t ‘actually take a break from here’ , which we might have welcomed, but that didn’t happen. He returned to spill some more of his ballast, thinking that he wouldn’t sink while the rest of us would be submerged by his crazy postulations.

      It should be noted that Fr Michael Regan’s comments about my ‘drive-by’ posts were rooted in his own frustration that I refused to expose sinners among our bishops by name. although I identified their poisonous influence. in general terms. No, that was not the reason.

      Rather, my being banished from the Orthodox Forum list is because Michael Stankovich couldn’t stand it that I refused — publicly — to ignore him and not respond to his demands at a particularly sensitive time, and I announced that I would continue to ignore him and his demands.

      Then he insisted that the moderators of the Orthodox Form list do something about me. But that says much more about him — and FrMR — than about me.

      The main thing (and that’s why I’m repeating it) is that MS can’t stand to be ignored. This is an ego thing, an indication of pathology, perhaps of narcissism. In any event, I pray for MS and I ask that everyone else do, too. His story is long and painful, and he needs God’s help as do we all.

      Anyway, FrMR’s response to MS was made in ignorance. I forgive them without reservation. May the Lord forgive them both, and all of us, and bless us all to live better, holier lives.

      Please remember me in your prayers, too, dear friends.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        There you see all the monastic virtues on display! How does it go again? Oh yeah, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!

      • Anonymous says

        Why worry about Fr. Reagan, who eagerly awaits the chance to shout polemikos from his high chair, just before taking a sip of ouzo from his vest pocket? If you have been banned, it merely means you have behaved with enough passion about something to take out your own flask. Sort of a bragging right if you ask me.

        • M. Stankovich says

          And here lies the similarity between fish and liars: they are always biting, when it is wiser to keep their mouths closed. And good lord, has no one actually read or seen a production of Moliere’s Tartuffe? “I pray for MS and I ask that everyone else do, too. His story is long and painful, and he needs God’s help as do we all.” Faggotry to be sure, but “Celui qui établit son argument par le bruit et la commande montre que sa raison est faible.” Indeed, take out your flask & brag a bit. I’ve settled with you & you may now return to whatever it is that you do. I’ll correct you when necessary.

          • Anonymous says

            ‘Faggotry’ and the Monk’s dreams and perhaps the French that I don’t give a care about are unneeded polemics Michael. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not or if he is a hypocrite, it is simply hostile.

            One of you fellows ought to step it up a notch. I doubt him. You, on the other hand, I believe can.

            Fr. Reagan can take a little light humor. He is a little quick to ban people over there for polemics, politics, or anything else starting with pol.

            Correct away.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Anonymous,

              You will pardon me; my comment inadvertently appears to be directed toward you, and that was not my intention. Nevertheless, in all seriousness, allow me the opportunity to address your comment.

              Your observation is absolutely correct: my responses have been childish and hostile. Weighing on me is having so recently spent nearly ten years working among criminals in prison settings, where there is absolutely no benefit to honesty & truth, where lying is the rule even when there is no “pragmatic” purpose to deception, and where deception is the
              ultimate weapon of manipulation, particularly in intimidating those perceived weaker and defenseless. In my estimation, it is the closest approximation to hell I can imagine, always divisive, self-serving, mean, hurtful, and ugly. My gut, emotional, even visceral reaction is to lash out against it which, in effect, is the point of the intended manipulation. I have insisted a man is as free as his own secrets, and I fear no one. I was caught off guard by these most recent events, but that is the nature of such matters, relentless. I live, I learn, again. I appreciate the feedback, and I will try, again.

              • Anonymous says

                Some frustration on your part is very warranted for the nastiness, but Christ would hope for something better I believe. We don’t always have time or the capacity to ask what would the best Christian reaction be, but it is important to try. Now I seem darn condescending, but not the intent at all, so I will share some shame of mine as an example.

                I once honked my horn at a guy I was waiting behind at an intersection when he had a bumper sticker of a stick guy peeing on a cross. He almost turned into 30 mph oncoming traffic which was my intent sadly. I allowed myself to be exorcised. I felt right about doing it for a sum total of 1 minute. We, as Christians, must not be exorcised. It is, for me, a horrible and shameful memory of absolute error. It has certainly kept that person hateful of Christians and me disappointed with self and stuck with that shit memory. If I see that hateful emblem again, I am going to smile and wave and if they think it is because I agree with them, I don’t care.

                I think prison social workers/therapists/psych, etc are supposed to be zipped up and thrown in a pink room after eight years automatically. Isn’t that in the big red book? Could you have been missed? (much respect, but maybe ten years is too long) And in all seriousness, I think the burnout rate is actually about 8 years if I recall some sociology professor back in. the 80’s who was infatuated with prisons. I could not have done a week, for the record. So, for that, I salute you-truly.

                • Estonian Slovak says

                  Now if that man had had a bumper sticker reading, “Deport the Muslims!” or “Save our land, join the Klan!” , I wonder how long he would have been left alone.

      • Monk James (hereinafter “MJ”),

        Thank you for your elaboration of the views of St. Gregory of Nyssa, 2.0. If you can exempt me from your fine toothed comb for the most part, we may be able to shed some light here. George is a most gracious host, wouldn’t you agree? I fear that poor MS has dissolved into multiple personalities before our eyes. Well, I can’t blame him for the affectation of introducing a “worthy” foil.

        Fun and games! That is what summer is for, no?