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:: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 ::

Debates on Homosexuality and Church Politics: Part I of an Email Discussion

The issue of homosexuality has become a very popular topic of discussion around the Christian blogosphere with the recent election of Episcopalian bishop Robinson.

The ramifications and broken relationships will be felt for years to come, and not just in the local vestry meetings of your local Anglican parish.

Just recently, at a large Protestant church in the Portland area, a sermon was preached on the sinfulness of the homosexual lifestyle. By the dozens, people got up and left the building as the preacher was talking. The church is now in turmoil, building toward what might be a total schism at worst or simply ruffled feathers and ill will at best.

A friend of mine who attends this church asked me how the Orthodox view the Episcopal church, homosexuality and other related issues. The following are snippets from our conversation:

[Begin quoted discussion in progress]

Me: "....In regards to your church's reaction....I hope it doesn't turn out to be a big deal either. But it is funny how these things can snowball...

Just to reiterate, the Orthodox Church is VERY firm in it's teaching that to live an unrepentant, active homosexual lifestyle is SINFUL. Period! I hope that much is clear! I'm on your side on this one!

However, to struggle with those temptation, to war against the passions, to purify our intentions and desires by the ascetic life: these things are in fact what make a Christian.

In modern culture we seem to have only two responses: either it is all ok, or you can't struggle at all and call yourself a Christian. I would dare to say that neither is acceptable.

So, when we say "that person is gay" from the Orthodox POV, it makes a big difference whether you mean

a) that person has homosexual desires/thoughts....and isn't trying to live according to the Church's teachings, isn't going to confession, isn't praying daily to have the strength to purify their thoughts and in fact is justifying their way of life, their passions and is defining who they are by their sexuality instead deriving it from Christ, as my friend Clif shows is the natural result of a flawed anthropology.


b) that person has homosexual desires/thoughts....and is living a chaste life, is following the ascetical life of the Church, is in constant prayer and confession over their sexual sins, etc.... like my friend Huw has written about so eloquently in the past.

"[It is] great that [your friend is] living a chaste life. And also that confession is going on, but is that a confession to turn away? Is it repentance? That's the point here. I would gladly think it is and that one day he will no longer struggle with even the temptation of homosexuality."

Well, as the saints say, "temptation lasts until our last breath." The struggle against sin does not stop this side of the eschaton.

For some people, the cross of disordered sexual passions will be something they struggle with for a lifetime. For others, God may grant a quicker victory....
Confession of sins *is* repentance. Or, better to say it is a major and inseparable component of the repentant lifestyle that we live in the Church.

[End quoted discussion]

The conversation continued and took a very familiar, but interesting turn at the end.....
Part II coming soon.

:: Karl :: 2:29:00 PM [Link] ::

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