Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church


An Imaginary Dialogue

Inspired in part by Walter Savage Landor’s Imaginary Conversations of the Greeks and Romans and in part by the cheesy old 1970s TV show Meeting of the Minds, I imagined this conversation with Protobresbyter Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory as a way of facilitating, even if only in my mind, a dialogue I’d like to have with a respected churchman. The first speech below, which appears in italic, is taken from The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983. All the rest I made up.


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Christos Yannaras: In Praise of Marriage

The monk will never taste the experience (the real event) of sharing his life, his existence. Of sharing with someone else his body, his desire and his instinctive urges, the food that he has won by his labour, whatever sorrows he experiences, whatever joys. The monk will never share his name with anyone, that which ensures participation in the communion of relations. He will never taste any kind of sharing of himself, any “loss” of the “soul” a sharing or “loss” which is, moreover, also self-evident, “natural”, without the slightest possibility of being experienced as a reward for virtue.

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The Challenges of Dialogue

Here is the question I have been pondering for a long time: how does one get people to dialogue? The urgency of certain issues is clearly not recognized in the same way across the spectrum of our fellow sojourners in the Church. Similarly, the need for discourse is perceived as a dangerous challenge in many circles, a risk most in vulnerable positions, primarily ordained clergy and academics, are unwilling to undertake.

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Evil Is Powerless

Friends may have seen me post this beloved quote elsewhere, but it seems to me to apply to our business here–and to so many other things currently going on. I think we could also say that truth is powerless against falsehood. I take great hope from this.

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The Danger of Anonymity

There’s been some discussion lately among the administrators here and other interested parties about whether this group should allow anonymous comments and participation like some other web discussion groups do. We’ve pretty much come down on the side of not allowing anonymity here. This will hopefully prevent the sort of inappropriate “flaming” that happens on some sites.

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Most of us have had the experience of being amazed at coming up against someone’s perception of us that’s at odds with our perception of ourselves. Such an experience can be an occasion of insight. It can sometimes be funny; it can also be painful.

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The Tipping Point

I sometimes get the feeling from people on the “love the sinner-hate the sin” side of the sexuality discussion in our church that they take us of the opposing view to be people who, when confronted with our own same-sex attraction, simply chucked all the church’s teaching in the interest of getting laid.

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The Paths of Discourse

Channeling my inner academic here, I’d like to offer an outline of what I think are very different paths that I see as being currently intertwined in our discussion. Perhaps it could be beneficial to separate them?  I am very interested in the input of the others in this group.

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This Group’s Original Statement of Purpose

This group was started to continue the conversation generated by several open letters to Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), in response to his public statements on sexuality, church teachings, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  It is intended to be a forum for broader discussion on sexuality within the Orthodox Church generally. Membership is to open to all who are interested in honest, respectful, non-polemical conversation.