Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church

Bryce E. Rich

Discourse on Sexuality & Reframing the Discussion

In a recent thread in our Listening group, we have had some discussion about whether it is worth bringing up disagreeing views presented by those who are not sympathetic to the idea of full inclusion of homosexuals in the life of the Church, whether this be about same-sex marriage, allowing LGBTQ people participation in communion, or what to do with gay couples who seek baptism for their children. In the same thread, Vladyka Lazar posted some reflections based on his observations of Gay Pride parades. My own reading lately has taken me into the works of a few queer theorists and I’d like to lay out a couple of initial observations from those readings that feel relevant to this conversation.

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Of Olive Trees and Unnatural Acts

I originally wrote this paper for a New Testament course while in seminary. The text reflects a couple of changes from the original, including substitutions for the word queer which can be a stumbling block in conversations where people are not familiar with its use in academic discourse. The original, complete with instructor’s comments can be found here:

As I revisit this essay, I feel that perhaps the metaphor of the olive tree might have a new iterative resonance in our present context. While Paul’s cultivated olive tree was Judaism, I wonder if Orthodox readers might now hear the cultivated olive tree as the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Great. This then opens to the question: is the work of the Great Horticulturalist continuing as other wild branches continue to be engrafted into the cultivated tree?

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