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The Gay Lifestyle and Orthodox Christianity
By Father Andrew Harrison

With all the pressure to be politically correct, it is certainly not surprising to read about the activities of the Gay/Lesbian community within the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC). Recently I read an article about a local Chicago pastor who was openly performing same sex marriages. His church has censored him, but he has continued his activities under protest. His church, The United Methodist Church, is reviewing his activities. It has been predicted that the Episcopal Church will allow same sex marriage after their next convention in three years. The Orthodox Church strongly opposes homosexuality and rejects any possibility of same sex marriage.

The Orthodox Church has been very vocal in barring the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC - “The Gay Church”) from membership in the NCCC. At the general assembly meeting this past November, the Bishop of the Coptic Church questioned why an invitation to a Gay Lesbian luncheon meeting had been included in his registration packet. From the floor he reiterated his opposition and expressed his surprise that the issue of membership had resurfaced. (UFMCC membership in the NCCC has previously been denied.)

The position of the Orthodox Church is clear and has been stated in a new book by John Breck entitled The Sacred Gift of Life. In his book John Breckreports on a position taken by liberal theologians that homosexual acts can be considered permissible or, at any rate, free of moral evil when and if the persons who engage in them are irreversible homosexual and not called to celibacy. The Orthodox Church’s response would insist that all acts have intrinsic moral value irrespective of the circumstances. (For example: Killing in war is still considered breaking a commandment.) The very unpopular approach taken by Orthodox Christians says that the purpose of human life including bodily existence is to glorify God. This principle underlies Jesus’ command to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5: 48) and St. Paul’s position to glorify God in your body. (I Cor. 6: 20) By their very nature homosexual acts violate that principle because they misuse sexual organs in an attempt to satisfy self-centered lust. They are devoid of procreative capacity and they make a mockery of the covenant bond of one flesh between a husband and wife (Mark 10: 6-9). In addition they are inherently promiscuous because they are, according to some psychologists, a pathological attempt to compensate for a lack of childhood identity. From a pastoral prospective according to John Breck, homosexual acts are intrinsically harmful to those who engage in them. Instead of repairing or healing the brokenness in personal relationships, they perpetuate them. This includes the genetic component. (See my article in the spring 2000 edition of the Evangelist). Although there may be exceptions to the rule, homosexual behavior is highly promiscuous and has been tragically instrumental in the spread of HIV infection.

At this point it must be made clear that there is a difference between the act and orientation. Whether the cause is genetic, environmental, or most likely a combination, homosexual orientation is neither sinful nor evil.

Persons with the orientation can grow toward divine likeness as any person who bares the image of God. This is especially true of those trying to change their orientation or just struggling to live a life of celibacy. They need the support, encouragement and love of the Church. There are self-help groups like SA, Exodus International and Courage. Fr. John Harvey, who founded Courage, is convinced that many persons of homosexual orientation can become heterosexual even though homoerotic feelings and fantasies persist.

Even though the homosexual condition is often irreversible, the Orthodox Church can not condone homosexual acting out even in a stable exclusive relationship. To quote John Breck, “ to glorify God in the body means that genital sexual activity must be restricted to the blessed heterosexual conjugal union. The Church can no more bless homosexuals who want to live and express their sexuality 'together than it can bless adulterers or fornicators. Even where promiscuity is not a problem and the relationship seems to be based on genuine care and love, the homosexual lifestyle is opposed to what the Gospel calls people to become. The homosexual must make a choice to either abstain altogether from genital sexual activity or be denied communion with the body of Christ. This means that if a homosexual person accepts a life of celibacy, he/she is no different from a heterosexual who is celibate or who confines his or her sexual activity to marriage.

With this in mind you can see why the Orthodox Church is adamant in rejecting the membership of the UMFCC from membership in the NCCC.

If you are interested in more information on this subject, please read John Breck’s book. Also I have available, for loan a video produced by the American Family Association entitled It’s Not Gay. Both teenagers and adults who have questions about homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle should see it.

For View "Homosexuality and the Church" By His Holiness Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church please click here

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