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A Voice of Dissent in the Orthodox Church

Discussion in 'St. Justin Martyr's Corner: Debate an Orthodox Chr' started by AureateDawn, Dec 15, 2008.

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  1. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    What do you all think about this article?



    A Voice of Dissent in the OrthodoxChurch
    by
    Peter J. SanFilippo
    In the midst of the current maelstrom over same-sex marriage raging at every level of American political and religious life, the Orthodox Church has hunkered down with an improbable cast of bedfellows, including the Vatican, James Dobson and his Focus on the Family, and Bible Belt fundamentalists. A growing catalogue of naysaying articles at www.orthodoxytoday.org lists contributions from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, Fathers Thomas Hopko and John Breck, former professors at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary outside New York City, and a number of other familiar and less familiar names. The informal coalition of most Orthodox bishops in the U.S. and Canada known as SCOBA (Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas) issued a joint denunciation of same-sex unions in their August 27 “Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation,” also available at Orthodoxy Today’s website. The award for insensitivity, however, must surely go to Father Ted Stylianopoulos, who expects that his gay communicants remain not only perpetually abstinent but alsocloseted in lifelong shame.

    What is most remarkable about the combined testimony of these and other Orthodox spokesmen is its failure to add a single new or creative thought concerning the problem of diversity in human sexuality to what has already been parroted ad nauseum by their Western cousins in the faith.

    This is a shame. Although numerically small in the U.S. and elsewhere outside the borders of traditionally Orthodox countries (e.g., Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, et al.), the Orthodox Church has come to exercise over the past several decades a disproportionately influential role in the theological deliberations of ecumenical initiatives at the local, national, and global levels. Addressing its Western cousins in a voice that rings mysteriously ancient and new, familiar and strange, timeless and relevant at one and the same time, Eastern Orthodoxy attracts the attention and interest of its partners in interfaith dialogue precisely because it has something different to say.

    The Orthodox Church is especially well positioned to tackle the challenge of homosexuality creatively and honorably while not violating its essential fidelity to the continuity of holy tradition. For one thing, the Orthodox East as a whole has never countenanced the extreme aversion to human sexuality that has plagued the Roman Church at least from the time of Augustine of Hippo. Married men have been ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in the Orthodox Church since the apostolic era. Canonical legislation dating as far back as the fourth century censures anyone refusing to take communion from the hands of a married cleric, or becoming a monk because he abhors the conjugal state, or leaving his wife “under pretext of piety.” Finally, the early fifth-century archbishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, insisted in his preaching on the innate holiness of the conjugal act, in and of itself, whether or not conception resulted or was even possible. Also noteworthy is the fact that, unlike the Roman Church, the contemporary Orthodox Church does not deny the use of artificial contraceptives to its faithful.

    And herein lies the key to unlocking the mystery of same-sex marriage, affirming its inherent goodness, and securing for it a rightful place in Orthodox ecclesial life: for Chrysostom as well as for Orthodoxy as a whole, the conjugal act possesses a primarily unitive function, its procreative aspect being only secondary.

    Chrysostom also enlarged on the scriptural metaphor of the spousal relationship uniting Christ to the Church and to the individual believer, going as far as asserting that what transpires between spouses in the marriage bed resembles the act of eucharistic communion, and vice versa. This is pretty heady stuff, coming from a late fourth- and early fifth-century celibate churchman.

    In words that ring a little odd in modern ears, Chrysostom characterized marriage as “an antidote to fornication.” Not unlike the Apostle Paul’s statement that “it is better to marry than to burn,” this is properly understood only within the wider context of Chrysostom’s take on “the passions”: these he viewed as inherently good, God-given, but errant impulses needing redirection towards their proper outlets. Marriage serves to prevent the misuse of the essentially good erotic dimension of the human person precisely by constituting its proper locus—namely, fidelity, monogamy, and, in principle if not always in practice, lifelong durability. Finally, marriage creates a “little church” for the couple, that gathering of two or three where prayer and the day-to-day ascesis of salvation become a collaborative, reciprocally supportive effort.

    The traditional Orthodox conception of the inner content of conjugal life and love—including its erotic expression—differs in no respect whatever from what the Church’s gay sons and daughters have come to know experientially in their own committed, monogamous, durable unions. The hierarchy’s intransigent, doctrinaire insistence on the indispensable requisite of “gender complementarity” for conjugal love to be genuine is nothing short of arrogant, and an insult to the integrity of those of us who know otherwise, and who have endured together through trials that would have rent most couples apart.

    Metropolitan Maximos is widely reputed for his holiness; Fathers Hopko and Breck are good men. No one expects the Orthodox Church to start blessing same-sex unions overnight. However, is open dialogue too much to ask? Likewise, is the long overdue admission that the attempted gang rape in Sodom, the Levitical prescriptions for ritual purity and the death penalty for non-compliance, the Jewish focus on procreation as a supreme end, the Pauline censure of ritualized promiscuity in the pagan world, and finally the irrational sputterings of certain church fathers—identical in tone to their anti-Semitic rants, incidentally—have no relevance for a loving couple wishing to establish a life and a home together, too much to ask?

    So long as these kinds of things continue to be sidelined in the mainstream Orthodox Church, its gay sons and daughters will remain vulnerable to the allure of such uncanonical entities as the “Rainbow Orthodox Church” … or even worse, to the oblivion of suicide. If the hierarchy thinks this is an exaggeration for dramatic effect, they have homework to do.

    Peter J. SanFilippo is a former priest and current communicant of the Orthodox Church, an alumnus cum laude of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and the divorced father of five children. He attends school in San Diego, where he resides with his partner of one and a half years.


    Thoughts?

    EDIT: Not only thoughts, but are his facts correct, even?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
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  2. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    Justin, you will have to make the choice every day - to be Orthodox or not. All of this grasping at straws by people who are breaking with the Church and attempting, via sophistry, to introduce heresy while claiming to be a part of the Church does no good. It is beating your head against a wall in an impossible attempt to reconcile homosexual (sodomic) relations and the Orthodox Church. You can choose to try to find a small group of "Orthodox homosexuals" who support same-sex relations - only they won't be part of the Orthodox Church. The question comes back to accepting the difficult path of Orthodoxy, and admitting that our passions are wrong - whether it be in regard to food, drink or sex (gluttony, drunkenness and sodomy), or rejecting it in favor of justifying what you want.

    "Former priest" is already a warning bell.

    And we've been over the facts often enough, I think. I'm not going to go down the list again saying why they are wrong. We've been there before. (Others can feel free. But I think you already know the answers.)
     
  3. 127.0.0.1

    127.0.0.1 They rally 'round the family

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    Where did you get that?

    PS
    lol! My SF does! If you do use 'em...no Communion (er so I'm told). You can imagine how that makes a Child Free like me feel since I'm planning on getting sterilized! NO SOUP FOR YOU! ;) He also doesn't let women commune on their periods. So you can imagine how surprised I was to heard that the Antiochian Orthodox Church had said those practices were not to be done anymore! Yet my SF still does them!
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  4. tekiahteruah

    tekiahteruah Regular Member

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    Justin, what did you expect the response to be, posting that here? It is hard not to interpret your action of posting articles like this on TAW as masochistic. You already know that, as with the writer of the above article, there are gay people in relationships who are communed by Orthodox priests; you also already know that the opinion on TAW is overwhelmingly against this being permitted. So why post that here?
     
  5. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    I always find it amusing when people deride Western sexuality and its alleged Augustinian roots, especially when touting the Eastern side as somehow more amenable to their more liberal views, as the East in the time of St Augustine believed that sex was a consequence of the fall and that - okay, this one was St Jerome but he took it from the East - while the married life is okay, it's really only because it has the potential for producing more virgins to take up the monastic life. St Augustine, however, repudiates the idea. I really have no idea where people get the idea that St Augustine is somehow anti-sex, except perhaps that he once lived in fornication, believed that was wrong when he converted, then lived in celibacy, and finally became the most popular and influential Western Christian author and therefore the most susceptible to attacks fro libertines who believe in fornication and don't believe in celibacy. Those who then have other "beefs" with traditional Western sexuality latch onto him as iconic of it and do their own thing.

    The point is, if you ditch St Augustine on sex, you had better have already ditched the East.
     
  6. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    Right. Because love is wrong, and love is a passion, right?
     
  7. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    JH....I thought the "baiting" threads were a thing of the past?

    Your brother,
    Clem
     
  8. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    Stop assuming. Please.

    I asked for thoughts on the article. You could post your thoughts.

    If you don't want to, I also asked for a verification of the information given in the article. You could help me with that, too.
     
  9. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    The following said much...

    Peter J. SanFilippo is a former priest and current communicant of the Orthodox Church, an alumnus cum laude of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and the divorced father of five children. He attends school in San Diego, where he resides with his partner of one and a half years.
     
  10. Breaking Babylon

    Breaking Babylon Who is this King of glory? Supporter

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    I do think Rus summed it up pretty well.

    The fact that the article was written by a former priest who left holy orders, his marriage, and five children behind to be with his new partner speaks volumes, too -- rhetoric doesn't make anything more, or less, true. Sodomy is still sodomy.
     
  11. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    He was defrocked. He didn't leave. His wife left HIM, not the other way around. Only many years after all of this did he find a new partner.
     
  12. Michael G

    Michael G Abe Frohmann

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    That is what I thought. That quote you posted about the author of the article tells me everything I need to know about the author and his intent.

    Justin, this article is poison. Consume it only if you do not care about the moral health of your soul.
     
  13. Breaking Babylon

    Breaking Babylon Who is this King of glory? Supporter

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    Him being defrocked makes it sound worse, not better. The fact that his wife left him doesn't mean anything either... when you consider the outcome, and then consider what happened at first, it seems to come together. Defrocked, divorced, ended up living homosexually. I'm sure there were warning signs to all of this, visible to his Bishop and his wife.

    And even if that isn't the case, so what, what did or what didn't happen with the author doesn't make his piece of writing any more convincing or true.
     
  14. Sphinx777

    Sphinx777 Well-Known Member

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    The author of the article no longer considers himself to be Christian...

    Link


    :angel:
     
  15. Protoevangel

    Protoevangel Smash the Patriarchy!

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    That's not surprising...


    Is this the kind of person you want to "learn" from Justin?


    Reject those demons you willfully invited into your heart.
     
  16. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    Love isn't a demon, Proto.

    We are straying from my OP, I think. =/
     
  17. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    Well, if you've already made up your mind, there's no point in bringing it up to us.
     
  18. Greg the byzantine

    Greg the byzantine have mercy on me Supporter

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    "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Mark 10:15
    Sometimes I look at people and think, look how fixed their minds have become on Sex. Let's try to remember the words of our Lord, and instead bring our minds to heaven by expressing the purity of children.
     
  19. Michael G

    Michael G Abe Frohmann

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    Justin, the defintion of heterodoxy is picking and choosing what one believes. Either you can believe what the Orthodox Church teaches and lives, or you can choose to believe what you want. If you believe what you want you are not Orthodox but instead are heterodox. Each of us has our short comings and struggles in life, but as I see it you are the only one attempting to justify your choices. I pray for you that you will end up submitting your will to that of the Church and join us in communion with Holy Orthodoxy.
     
  20. Michael G

    Michael G Abe Frohmann

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    Disordered love is a demon.
     
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