July 5th, 2012



Homosexuality [1]

by Archpriest Joseph F Purpura

Taken from his book: Moral and Ethical Issues: Confronting Orthodox Youth Across North America

Another issue upon which teens exhibited a degree of confusion was that of homosexuality. Nearly one out of four teens were unsure whether homosexuality was right or wrong. When it came to equating homosexuality with the act of sex between people of the same sex the percentage of teens who saw homosexuality as right behavior dropped significantly. While 185 were not sure whether homosexuality was right or wrong, when they were asked if it was right or wrong for two people of the same sex to have a sexual relation only four of them said it was right and ninety-seven were unsure, while eighty-four stated it was wrong. A similar response was found from those who stated that homosexuality was right in question eighty-four of the survey. While fifty-one teens in question eighty-four said homosexual relations were right, only twenty-one of them said it was right for two people of the same sex to have a sexual relationship with one another (question 91). Further, of the fifty-one whom though homosexual relationships were right, only three of them have had a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Only three of the twenty-six teens that had sex with someone of the same sex as they thought homosexual relationships were right.

One might want to ask here how much of an influence has the current teachings on “tolerance and acceptance” of other lifestyles led to one out of every four teens being unsure whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Interestingly in this survey when teens were asked, “Is it right or wrong for someone else to have sex with a person of the same sex as them” the “not sure” dropped to 17 percent and when asked if it was right for them to do so, it dropped even further to 11 percent. In each case more teens respectively said it was wrong behavior. Young people in their everyday life are being confronted with the homosexual life style as normal and good, whether it is on television, the movies, at school, and in society in general. What just a decade ago was a hidden lifestyle, today is much in the open and promoted as acceptable and even protected by law in many states. College students, particularly females, state that on many college campuses it has become the fad to experiment with this lifestyle and this behavior is seen even in high school and middle school.

It is significant that just over one quarter of the teens in the survey had neither a parent or clergyman speak to them concerning homosexuality and that over one half had only one of these two people speak to them on this issue. This is significant when one looks at the data in the survey and realizes that a number of teens are not equating homosexuality with what the term means in terms of behavior. It evident from the survey, that honest and frank discussion on homosexuality needs to take place with teens. As a Church, we want our teens to be able to discern what is right and wrong for them and even for others, so that they can help their peers and eventually children make good decisions regarding their lifestyle. An important part of the discussion on homosexuality ought to be on what homosexuality is and what it means in terms of our relationships with one another and with God. The following overview on homosexuality might be utilized in discussion with teens. This material may be used in preparation for a discussion or as a hand out to teens to discuss.

The Church’s view on Homosexuality

Homosexuality is not new; writings as far back as the Old Testament deal with this issue. What is new in American Society is the public display and promotion of this lifestyle and its protection by laws. Much of what was earlier said before about sexual relations outside of marriage applies to homosexual relationships. The Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church speak out on this issue and classify this behavior as unnatural and immoral.[2] Adding to the complexity of this issue is the current claim that homosexuals may be genetically[3]UVpredisposed to such behavior and therefore cannot help themselves but behave this way. Whether one accepts this argument or the argument that children become homosexual in reaction to unhealthy adult relationships, is to demean such individuals by saying that they have no control over their passions or own personal direction in life. Whether heterosexual or homosexual we are all called to control our passions. Sex outside of marriage for a homosexual person is as wrong as it is for a heterosexual person. To claim one has more control over not sinning than the other is to deny personal freedom and the ability to fully choose one’s actions. It is to say that the homosexual has less control over their urges than the heterosexual does and that one is freer than the other. The claim that they are naturally attracted to people of the same sex, so it is acceptable, is no more appropriate than the claim that a heterosexual person is attracted to people of the opposite sex and therefore should be free to express their sexual urges at anytime and with anyone they desire of the opposite sex. Likewise, the argument of genetic predisposition again demeans the person as saying they are incapable of choosing to do right. It is much like the argument of conducting genetic tests to see if someone is predisposed to be a thief or murder and therefore categorizing them and even limiting their activities just because they may posses such a gene, with no consideration for their own struggle to do right and refrain from acting on such predispositions. The Church calls us to be caring and loving to all people, but this does not mean that in loving all people we must accept all behavior as good. The Church has long taught that we are called to love all people but not all behaviors. When one condemns homosexual conduct, he or she condemns the conduct not the person. Despite the homosexual persons failings, we are still called to love them as a person, to treat them with respect, as we would expect to be treated in our own personal failing.

Harakas in his book Contemporary Moral Issues, clearly outlines the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts:

Regarding homosexual acts, the traditional and exclu­sive teaching of the Church is condemnatory, seeing such acts as morally wrong. In the face of homosexual acts as well as all other expressions of wrongful sexual expression (fornication, adultery, prostitution, incest, bestiality, mas­turbation) the Church teaches that the only proper place for the exercise of the sexual function is in marriage. The evidence from the sources of the faith, without exception, considers homosexual acts as morally wrong. In the Old Testament, we read “If there is a man who lies with a male as those be with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. (Leviticus 20:13. Also, 18:22). Grave pun­ishment was visited on the city of Sodom by God for this sin (Genesis 19:1-29) and as a result Sodomy is another name by which homosexual behavior is described. In speaking of this sinful act, the New Testament uses it to il­lustrate the “depraved passions” of fallen humanity: “their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way the men abandoned the natural function of women and burned in their desire to­wards one another, men with men, committing indecent acts . . . “ (Romans 1:24-28). Elsewhere, this evil is related with several others and severe punishment is promised:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (arsenokoi‑tai — literally, “men go to bed with men for sexual acts”), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Also, 1 Timothy 1:8-10).

The patristic tradition is no less unanimous and clear-cut in its judgment. From the 2nd century Didache of the Twelve Apostles, through the writings of the Fathers of the Golden Age of the Church such as St. Basil, St. John Chry­sostom, St. Augustine, St. Gregory of Nyssa (4th and 5th centuries), through the sixth century Code of Justinian, the Canons of St. John the Faster (early 7th century) to the decisions of the 21st (1972), and 23rd (1976) Clergy-Laity statement on Homosexuality by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, released in March of 1978, the teaching is consistent and unvarying: homosexual acts are immoral and wrong.[4] W x

Paul D. O’Callaghan writes in the Journal of Christian Bioethics,

Consideration of the divine design and purpose of sex immediately reveals why homosex, adultery, fornication, prostitution, masturbation, and all other forms of sex outside of marriage are morally deviant. In none of these acts can the true realization of oneness in communion occur, because they are outside the God-established marital union, violations of it, or fundamentally disordered. All of these are true of homosexuality. Since the unitive drive for the experience of union is realized in the conjuntio oppositorum, the desire of man and woman to recreate their original oneness in Adam, it is clear that the desire for union with the same sex is a disordered passion. Something is very wrong when a male seeks to complete himself by union with another male. This is why the Apostle Paul argues that homosexuality is “against nature” (see Rom. 1:26-27). It is not just that the particular genital acts are ill fitted, unusual, and abhorrent. It is the fact that the very nature of the homosexual drive is at odds with how God created us as human beings, in His image, as male and female.[5]

[1] What can be said of homosexuality also applies to Lesbian relationships

[2] Romans 1:26

[3] There is current evidence that there is no “homosexual gene”, according to a study published in the, Science, during the week of April 25, 1999. George Rice and colleagues at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada did the study. See “Gay Gene” in the Appendix.

[4] Harakas, Contemporary Moral Issues, 93-94

[5] Paul D. O’Callaghan, “Pseudosex in Pseudotheology”, Christian Bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality. April 1998, 93


Ministry to Those with Alternative Lifestyles by Fr. George Morelli

Lack of love of neighbor (others)

Some of the alternative lifestyles fit into this category. These include gay and sexual fetishism, polyamory, polygamy, polygyny and swinging. In order to understand how these lifestyles fall far short of love of neighbor, true love of neighbor must be understood. St. Isaac the Syrian tells us that by "the superabundant outpouring of [our] love and compassion upon all men [we] resemble God." (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2011)

St. James tells us: "God is love." (1Ja 4: 6,16). On this Evdokimov (1979) comments:

[The Father is the] absolute beginning. . .of that 'eternal movement of love,' the circular movement of the Divine Life that comes out from the Father, manifests itself and speaks in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to be plunged anew into the Father: the eternal generation and spiration going out from the source and returning to it.

We are made in God's image. (cf. Gn 1: 26-27). We know that this image is Trinitarian, One God in substance composed of three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Bobrinskoy (1999) tells us: "It is the entire Trinity that "dwells in an inaccessible Light, and the economy of salvation falls within the mystery of love hidden since the foundation of the world" (as St. Paul says)."

The act of God in creating the cosmos, and mankind in particular, is also an act of love.

Thus, we have to start with the love God has and how our love has to resemble His love. Without such love the world and our lives have no meaning. Consider Staniloae's (1994) comment on this: "Apart from the existence of a perfect eternal love there can be no explanation for love in the world, nor is the purpose of the world at all evident."

It becomes immediately apparent that any sexual action outside of a blessed marriage is a lack of true love of neighbor. As Morelli (2008a) explains:

In the marital relationship two individuals become "one flesh;" a term that means that two individuals work in concert to become one in mind and heart. They are joined together in love in a way that replicates the Three Persons of the Trinity’s relation of love to each other. Becoming "one flesh" in a blessed marriage is an act of agape, a selfless giving of one to the other; a self-emptying (Greek: kenosis) in a manner like Christ when He took on human flesh and assumed human nature.

We can also reflect on St. Paul's understanding of marriage as the bond a husband and wife have to one another. In this regard, the writings of the Church Fathers on this topic can be the subject of a Scriptural-Patristic study on the true meaning of a Godly marriage.viii

In ministering to individuals with alternate lifestyles, the Socratic Method, discussed above, would be useful. Such questions would have to do with the compatibility of their lifestyle with living a Trinitarian-Christ-like kenotic life. Morelli (2010a) gives an example of the use of the Socratic Method in Holy Confession.ix However, most probably someone who has been committed to an alternative sexual lifestyle like the ones mentioned above would first seek some counseling before going to confession. If they made such an inquiry, they would certainly be at the very beginning of the first stage of the spiritual life, of which St. Nikitas states, "the purgative stage pertains to those newly engaged in spiritual warfare."

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