Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church

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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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Thoughts on Love

This question of what is “natural” is at the heart of the dilemma, the theological way forward. I was careful not to use the word “natural” in my post (some posts down); we use natural every time there seems to be a logical consequence or the mirror is strong outside in nature, human or otherwise. What is natural is debated; what isn’t debated is that the inner sense of what is natural is important and bound up with human and metaphysical truth. So what is natural? This has been discussed here. To me the central part of our question abides in what man and woman are to each other, their creation, how that creation has changed since breaking with a higher order intended for them. Presently, de facto, they are not natural with each other. Natural, in its core, may have been as some have described male and female as separate but at the same time one whole, their spacial relationship different, their nakedness covered in divine light, their love complete without intercourse, their communion with God so intense that the sense of a “private couple” an oxymoron. I don’t know and it is hard to carry on the tradition of the midrash and haggadah of the Rabbis or the Church Fathers. But they tried and perhaps succeeded in many ways with their exegesis. Varying interpretations has always been Traditional.

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Open letter to OCA Holy Synod from college students and young adults

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    August 12, 2011 — Martyr Anicetus of Nicomedia

     

    To: Holy Synod of Bishops, Orthodox Church in America

    From: 15 Orthodox college students and young adults

     

    “Men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings.”

    — 1992 Synodal Affirmations On Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life, Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America

     

    Your Beatitude, Your Eminence, Your Graces,

     

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Sexual Ethics

Human beings are sexual; human bodies are places where love, affection and respect are often accompanied by physical desire; places, therefore, of both great joy and struggle. Orthodoxy recognizes the tension which often exists between love, desire and respect. Questions of sexual ethics are dependent on an understanding of the human person as participating in an ongoing transformation into the likeness of God, one that includes joy and blessing as well as sin and repentance (see: deification). As unique, irreducible and dynamic, personhood and relationship cannot be reduced to ‘natural’ or civil law. The pertinent questions for ethical decision-making are, who am I (or we) becoming, and how does a particular relationship, sexual behavior or action enable me (or us) to be more like God, that is, to better love God and my neighbor?

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