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#21 Rahul-IN

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 11:21 PM

I realize that you weren't looking for a response on this (given your post immediately following), but since your comment was relevant to this thread, here's one anyway:  God is a spirit.  God also stepped into creation as a human being with a particular gender.  "[S]exual preference and activity" absolutely ARE applied objective morals, as evidenced by the Scriptures and the illumined God-bearing Fathers that both handed them down and taught us how to read them.

 

Establishing the dichotomy that "because God is spirit only, it makes no sense to talk about His teachings on sexual preference and activity" is to essentially deny the Incarnation and the creation that God gave us to work out our salvation in.

 

By the way, the Church has dealt with the subject of Eunuchs in the first canon of the first ecumenical council, among other places.

 

Rdr Thomas, I believe you are unintentionally misconstruing my post. "because God is spirit only, it makes no sense to talk about His teachings on sexual preference and activity" are not my words really.

 

I wrote - First, I think that God is a spirit, and as a spirit, there is no logic in his having a set of definitive preferences in regard to sexuality. I do not think it is a part of say eternal virtues like love. So rather than thinking of sexual preference and activity as being applied objective morals, which brings to mind things that God himself would subscribe to, I think of these things that these are not eternally fixed. In this life, we are something, in heaven we go on to lack sexual desires altogether. 

 

I meant for instance if you consider Christ's teaching on marital fidelity and adultery, while all of God's teaching can be said to be objective truths, that does not mean that all virtues are automatically forever immutable, fixed, and without exceptions. In that sense, I think orientation is a 'created virtue', so to speak. In the case of marriage, we see polygamy in the ancient days, now sacramental marriage, and in heaven, no marriage. And there can be exceptions - As you would probably say, the Ten Commandments are objective truths, but yet the Sabbath was made for man. I hope I'm kind of getting my point across. I do not understand your bringing up Jesus being born of a particular gender since you contradicted my statement and said sexual preference is objective moral truth but then went on to say you don't hold that Jesus had sexual preferences.



#22 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 10:18 AM

"[S]exual preference and activity" absolutely ARE applied objective morals - I'm afraid I cannot understand what this means. Could you please clarify?



#23 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 11:12 AM

I think we must be very careful when examining this issue. Homosexuality is not primary an issue of morals, indeed the concept morals is not explicitly a Christian one and has more to do with secular society. When we are discussing Homosexuality or indeed any other sin the matter at hand is firstly ontological: Man was created according to the image of God and to live to attain unity with God, to sin means, literately, missing the mark, it is like a man firing an arrow toward a target, in this case Theosis, but who keeps missing his target, or a man trying to travel a road to the city but who keeps walking down the wrong path and wondering into the desert or amongst robbers. In the case of Homosexuality, scripture tells us that God made man male and female, and that this is why a man should cleave to his wife and the two should become one flesh. Sexual activity is part of this mystery, the common unity of mankind in two sexes and the realisation of unity found through sexual activity by which they become one flesh that is through the producing of children, whereby also we participate in creation, by the creation of new life. Indeed this mystery is taken higher by being a type of Christ and the Church. Homosexuality, is then a disruption to man ontologically it deviates him from who he is, created as male and female, and denies the mystery of creation thereby leading him away from his purpose and his Creator, God. It further can also be seen as a type, for as the unity between husband and wife can be seen as a type of Christ and the Church so also does homosexuality show man trying to form another union not with God but with each other only, as at the tower of Babel. Rahul-IN, you make mention of polygamy but this was allowed at the time, until we should be brought into perfection by the coming the One, but this was not how it was in the beginning, as He taught us. But it must be remembered that this was a division of marriage numerically it undermined but it did not destroy the the mystery of marriage and of the sexes as does homosexuality.

 

The commandment of God, against sin in the Law is a condemnation of sin and a warning as well as restraining man through commandment. The Law taught us, when we became ignorant of God and creation of what was sinful. We ought to obey God's commandments because the one who gave them is True and we are to be obedient unto the Lord even as servants are to there masters, but this should not be confused with the modern concept of morality, which can be helpful but is not equivalent to Christian love of God and neighbour. Further as the Apostle writes 'the law was given through Moses, the grace and the true came to be through Jesus Christ", so now Christ having come and poured out His grace upon us, in all ways fulfilling the law, leads us to perfection, Who poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Church whom, He promised, He would guide into all truth. The Church then serves as the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Through the Tradition of the Church found in the scriptures, the councils, the fathers, and the liturgical life of the Church is the will of God manifest to man. Thereby when we are taught by the Church, by these and by the cannons of the Church that homosexuality is wrong that it leads man to self-destruction, dirtying the image of God in him and separating him from God we can have confidence that this is indeed true, without appeal to morals whether temporal or eternal subjective or objective. 

 

In Christ.

Daniel,


Edited by Daniel R., 02 July 2015 - 11:16 AM.


#24 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 12:44 PM

"Homosexuality, is then a disruption to man ontologically it deviates him from who he is, created as male and female, and denies the mystery of creation thereby leading him away from his purpose and his Creator, God."

 

I see this as one of the main points. The understanding that we will be like the angels in heaven, does not mean that the distinction between male and female is lost, since this distinction is part of God's creation, not part of what came upon man at the Fall. This has been discussed on other threads.

 

The other aspect that I think is often missed in terms of marriage, is that prior to the middle ages marriage was understood in the context of what is good for the wider culture, not merely as a way to for two individuals to please each other.  Polygamy can be seen as such. The original command of God for marriage was to be fruitful and multiply. Marriage was also given to be the basic unit upon which the unity and stability of society is built. Polygamy was one way that this was done in ancient cultures to provide a better chance at survival.  Like anything else though it was subject to passion - jealousy between wives, the kings and leaders using it as a way to try to make themselves strong and their rule lasting, etc.

 

The new Testament did not forbid polygamy except to the clergy, but it put before the people a higher standard that more closely reflected the heavenly kingdom, and the Trinity - sacramental marriage is a "trinity" of Christ, one man, and one woman.  This eventually became the law of the land in many Christian nations.

 

But this too was subject to passion and distortion - marriage for material gain, nation building through alliances - which goes beyond the basic context of marriage for the purpose of bringing unity and stability to a people into prideful attempts at expansionism and power,  and also for selfish fulfillment. This last is now idolized as a virtue and called love.  Under this new idea of "love" the good of the community has been abandoned. It started with the idolization of star-crossed lovers rebelling against parents and society's norms and constrains, and has ended in homosexuals proclaiming after this supreme court decision that "love has won"

 

Here is an interesting article.

 

To sum up, In heaven the type of cultural unity, stability, and perpetuation that marriage brings won't be needed anymore, so in this sense, there is a cultural and temporal purpose and context to marriage which will be lost, but the distinction between the sexes will not be lost. The problem though with modern ideas of marriage is that they define this entirely in individualistic and narcissistic terms. What we are heading for in heaven is not exclusive and selfish intimacy with one person, but a more expansive and intimate communion, although this communion may vary in depth depending on how much work was put into a relationship in this life - just like how with the saints we may feel closer to some then others.   


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 July 2015 - 12:52 PM.


#25 Rahul-IN

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 02:14 PM

I take issue with the 'image of God' comment. Do the Fathers say anyone has a perfect 'nous' (I hope that's the correct word.) free of any distortion or blinding? We are all at some point in our spiritual journey, and such a proclamation seems to me to be unwarranted.

 

Some of the comments about rebellion also apply if it is true that homosexuality is a free choice. We don't know that. If the passions of heterosexual men are excusable, even if not perfect, then so should we accept the reality and weaknesses of our homosexual brothers. Being rejected by society does not turn anyone into holy Christians. I think the Orthodox church and it's members are really focussing on the wrong priorities if they seek to change Ceaser's laws, that would be missing the finer points of Christ's teaching, to lead by example and holiness. We can't just expect homosexuals to give up what may or may not be willful by outright condemnation. The Apostles did not go to the Greeks to condemn sinful pagan worship, but they took heed of the little good they did have in their conscience, and led them from the small shrine of the Unknown God in the midst of thousands of other gods and brought them to the true God. Likewise, we really are on the wrong priorities if we do not want to reach out to souls, bring out the some good they do have, of love and fidelity (shown in their desire to at least engage in monogamous unions and faithfulness) and turn that into something good for the sake of Jesus Christ. But no, we just want to slap a general condemnation, focus on changing secular laws, and accuse sinners, Christians or not, of dirtying the image of God.



#26 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 02:50 PM

There is a difference between sin, which is rebellion against God, and passion which has to do with the weakness of nature.  This weakness is given us in order to restrain sin, and which approached rightly heals our will which needs to be re-oriented toward God and submission and obedience to Him. 

 

All men need healed of sexual passions.  But God puts each one in different situations according to what He Himself knows and has appointed for that person.

 

One person may heal these passions by struggling to live a chaste life, another through marriage. The homosexual by default is given a situation where he/she is appointed to live a chaste life. Other people are called to find this healing in marriage, which will at some point became chaste as people age -either voluntarily or involuntarily. 

 

The goal of those struggling is not to be able to say, "I overcame my body" or "I got rid of my sexuality"  rather the true goal is love from an obedient and selfless heart.  This is why in Orthodoxy marriage partners are called to abstinence from time to time - it provides a forum for practicing obedience to God so that the relationship does not become so mutually self-focused. Likewise marriage is a sacrament because it is a forum for struggle to learn selflessness, how to forgive, how to submit to one another in love. People who live a chaste life in the world, without going into monasteries learn this same kind of selflessness through participation in the parish and community, or through whatever particular relationships and struggles God happens to give them.

 

It is the tendency of our nature to go wrong that actually opens up the doorway to practice this. It is under stress that obedience and love become an exercise (ie ascetic) It is only in weakness that the basic fallen orientation of man to be self-sufficient and prideful is healed.

 

But this path can not even be started upon if we set ourselves to protest against the real circumstances that God has given us that define our struggle.  Gays, like the rest of us are called to be struggling with their passions in the situation they are given with  faith and hope in God's good providence.

 

Gays who are trying to legitimize their lifestyle through demanding the right to be married are not even on step one, but rather are still in rebellion against God's providence for their life. If you read what the bishops are putting out, you can see this balance between loving the sinner, and resisting the legitimization of sin. 

 

Orthodoxy recognizes the place each person's struggle against sin has in the life of the Church - whether it is homosexuality or greed or anger, or self-love. But it condemns the attempt to call good what God has called wrong.  The Church would be just as quick to condemn it if all the greedy businessmen started to petition and say, "greed is genetic, we should stop being condemned, we should be free to live without prejudice or judgment.  We should be free of all laws restricting our activity. We want our activity to be recognized as a legitimately good part of society..." 


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 July 2015 - 03:04 PM.


#27 Rahul-IN

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 07:12 PM

Gays who are trying to legitimize their lifestyle through demanding the right to be married are not even on step one, but rather are still in rebellion against God's providence for their life. If you read what the bishops are putting out, you can see this balance between loving the sinner, and resisting the legitimization of sin. 

 

Orthodoxy recognizes the place each person's struggle against sin has in the life of the Church - whether it is homosexuality or greed or anger, or self-love. But it condemns the attempt to call good what God has called wrong.  The Church would be just as quick to condemn it if all the greedy businessmen started to petition and say, "greed is genetic, we should stop being condemned, we should be free to live without prejudice or judgment.  We should be free of all laws restricting our activity. We want our activity to be recognized as a legitimately good part of society..." 

 

As to legitimization through secular laws-

 

Even if your elaboratization on sin may be agreed with, Ms Stickles, I think it is a severe misapplication of priorities for the members of the Church to concern themselves with secular laws. Christianity will always be a society within a society, and that will never change, I feel. I have never fished in my life but I think I do have a vague idea. No one who fishes can change the rules of the water or change it's currents, where the fish go and do not go or bring fish that chooses not to come. For the fish that do accept our bait, we roll them in. That correct? There is no scriptural notion of Apostles or christians seeking to change monarchail or governmental laws. They went and preached the faith, (not out of general condemnation, note) and those who believed were baptized, those who did not believe were brought in by the holiness, chastity, compassion, of the Christian people. "Render unto Ceasar" is a relevant verse here, since you brought up 'greed'.

 
There is in fact example of contrary verses in scripture where an evil was legitimized and permitted by God and subsequently an enormous good was brought out of. Though the Israelite people were commanded to worship the Lord thy God alone, they chose to rebel and sought out a monarch to rule over them. How offensive their mistrust and lack of faith in God. But God blessed one of the monarch's seed and out of that seed became the lineage through which the Messiah was born, calling himself the son of David, accepting of the laws of the Father and that of the land. Render unto Ceaser. How could the Theotokos or the Messiah have been born if this had not happened? God can make good out of bad, not through condemnation, that is what we do. His ways are not our ways. I may be wrong on some points, but I believe the essence of what I wrote is correct.
 
Having said that, I feel it is not really a Christian's place to concern themselves with secular laws or seek to change them. I find no scripturual notion for this. Yet, I'm not familiar with many writings of the Fathers, and if patristic sources are quoted where it is said that a Christian must concern themself and seek to overturn govermental laws, I'd be happy to read, for my spiritual benefit and understanding.
 
My own opinion is for Christians to be exemplary and holy people, shine their light to the world, and for the fish that are attracted to our bait, wait patiently, keep our nets ready, and bring them  in.


#28 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 07:50 PM

There is no scriptural notion of Apostles or Christians seeking to change monarchail or governmental laws. They went and preached the faith,

 

I can agree with this, but the relationship of Christians with culture is another topic.  Suffice it to say that Christians have been in the business of speaking up about what is sinful, calling sin, sin,  in the surrounding pagan, or Jewish culture, from the time since Jesus was denouncing the sinfulness that had crept into the traditions of the Jewish leaders, but I agree that this is different then trying to change laws, or change the govt. through political action etc.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 July 2015 - 08:04 PM.


#29 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 08:19 PM

PS just to be clear, what I am saying is that a person who has sinful attractions or desires - of whatever kind - cannot be simultaneously seeking to legitimize them and get others to accept them as natural, and at the same time also be seeking to repent of them. I think this brings us back around to Dn Patrick's original article "He therefore resigns himself to living with his homosexuality, inviting others to accept it as his personal norm."  this does not at all describe the repenting person.

 

The message of the church is clear - "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.", that ultimately is the focus of this thread, not so much our relationship with the law (this was dealt with in another thread on the Orthodox Church and Gay Marriage)


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 July 2015 - 08:21 PM.


#30 Anna Stickles

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 04:24 AM

Andreas, Daniel et al. just to go back to Dn Patrick's original topic.

 

I came across another article today.  It said something important, I think about why we need to discuss the issue and have an answer at hand.

 

"The problem is that while the decisions of the Supreme Court and social ideologies do not affect the teaching of the Church, they do affect the
minds of our young people. In the absence of a meaningful discourse on love and sex in the Church, the young people learn about love and sex
from their peers and Supreme Court decisions. The world has already convinced them that marriage is about “being in love” and that
homosexual people can “be in love” as much as anyone else. These are the young people who in twenty-five years will be setting the course of the
Church based on the very ideas and definitions of love, marriage and sexuality which they are learning from the Supreme Court and the society today."

 

 

He lays out some of his own ideas, what do you all think?


Edited by Anna Stickles, 05 July 2015 - 04:38 AM.


#31 Rahul-IN

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 07:38 AM

On the subject of "being in love" and gays, I have some thoughts.
 
I feel that the very thing - being in love - is tied to beauty. Eve for one found the apple desirable and beautiful, and having tasted it, fell into corruption. We see a similar thing with Israel, by fate he was given Leah who had tender eyes (I draw the analogue that Leah's tender eyes symbolize innocence. In effect, to me Leah is the archetype for Innocence and Rachel the archetype for Our Desire/Beauty. We see eyes symbolizing innocence in other verses also - Job made a covenant with his 'eyes'; we must take the specks and logs out of our 'eyes'.). So having been given Innocence, Israel yet chose to work ceaselessly for his Own Desire/Beauty and favoured that instead. And Israel as a nation later on, was declared corrupt and like as a whore. For Christians, I feel the whole concept is reversed by Christ's sacrifice. Christ being the complete antithesis of corruption chose to love that which was undesirable, he loved that which could not be loved, and we see his pleads and callings in various paradoxes throughout the n.t.  What fruits do you have if you love only that which is deemed good, but love thy enemy, etc. etc. It is this aspect, that Christ loves that which cannot be loved, to me is the selling point of Christianity.
 
We see some kind of fickle vanity in the art of some denominations and religions also (shhh...)... emphasis on beauty and vanity as opposed to spiritual 'mystery' found in the icons of Orthodoxy.
 
Sorry for the bogus exegesis, but as to gays, I feel that like Israel they will ceaselessly be hot with their desires, unless instead of judgment, Christians play an active role with a Christ-like sacrifice in actually loving them, and inviting them to the spiritual mystery of the Church. This can be done in many many ways, friendly debates, engaging with gays, sharing society with them and showing the world that we can be friends like as children created by the same God. Unfortunately, I see a attidude of what can amount to very unChristian speech. If I remember correctly (I read the news infrequently), I've heard of politicians/prominent people in Russia, for instance, calling groups, like gays or a nation like America, making them out to be sinful and drity. I believe that Russia is one place where Orthodoxy is like a state religion and supposedly, the Russian church is responsible for most conversions to the church. It would appease my heart if someone can point me to news where the bishops are condemning these people for harsh judgmental attidude instead.
 
P.S. - Am I the only one who feels sorrow when reading about biblical characters like Leah who seem to get the short end of the stick?
 
I for one wholeheartedly agree about the failings of the 'being in love' ideology.


#32 Lakis Papas

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 08:37 AM

Is there a unified definion for "gay" ? 

 

I failed to find any. 



#33 Anna Stickles

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 08:30 PM

I think there is a lot of variation depending on the context, but such is language. :)  Fr Sergei mentions, "Another point of departure could be a distinction between homosexuality as an orientation and homosexuality as a culture." I have heard others make a similar distinction.

 

If we talk about the word "adulterer" and ask what the definition is, it would be generally agreed this is a person who commits sex with someone else's wife.  However, Jesus defines this further indicating that an adulterer is anyone who looks at the woman and lusts after her in his heart.  (This is actually closer to the gay community's definition of gay - someone who feels desire for a person of the opposite sex, not just someone acting out on that desire.)  

 

However, the gay culture has created another level for defining gay, beyond act and passionate inclination. I think the path that the self-identified gay (ie those who make up the homosexual culture) has gone down is that they start take these desires as their own, accept it as part of their nature, part of who they are, this leads them to start self-identifying with this inclination completely allowing it to define them, and even beyond this starting to force on other an acceptance of this perspective.

 

Dostoeyevsky in his novels is a master at showing how our unnatural, fallen inclinations cause us internal suffering and turmoil. The ascetics also teach that sinful inclinations have in consequence a response that is against and restrains the inclination.  The tendency to pride is accompanied by fear, vanity by embarrassment,  indulgence by dissatisfaction, rebellion by guilt, etc.  As St Maximos says, each pleasure is accompanied by pain (at least in the person who has any conscience left. The completely insensitive person may not experience these)

 

The ascetic requirement of the Church when unnatural desires and thoughts arise is to distance oneself from them - to recognize them as unnatural,  and struggle not to act out, not to have extended converse with them - the idea is to turn the mind and heart away from such unnatural impulses and toward what we find in Christ the example of the perfect man. The feelings above naturally help this effort. For instance, the person inclined toward vanity will feel embarrassed by praise which puts a natural restraint on following that inclination.

 

I think that the self-identified gay is trying to get rid of the internal conflict not through seeking Christ, but rather through trying to become insensitive to their conscience, to the internal call to repentance that God is giving them. The Church teaches people to approach these internal crosses as something necessary and healing, like a bitter medicine, to be undergone with humility, faith and patience, but modern psychology sees them as something evil and to be gotten rid of completely.  To get rid of all these feelings completely the person with homosexual tendencies starts drinking deeply of "gay pride" and the push to be accepted, which has created the gay culture.  

 

Homosexuals, and secular society in general is trying to get rid of the traditional way in which society used to cooperate with our conscience, reinforcing it. It is absolutely forbidden in modern secular ethics to say anything that makes another person uncomfortable with themselves or what they are doing.  Secular society by what it is teaching is cooperating with the Devil in making people either insensitive to their sin, or failing that, making them sensitive to the point of all kinds of mental and emotional problems, seeing themselves as victims and unable to bear any real pang to the conscience at all.  these are two sides of the same coin.

 

 

Just a few thoughts.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 05 July 2015 - 08:33 PM.


#34 Anna Stickles

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 08:40 PM

Rahul IN,
 
"It would appease my heart if someone can point me to news where the bishops are condemning these people for harsh judgmental attidude instead."
 
 
The bishops don't condemn these people any more than they condemn the homosexuals. Judgmental people should be no more condemned or treated harshly then any other sinner. What the bishops do do is to teach the proper Christian concept of how to combine firmness to the faith, with mercy to the sinner.
 
http://chicagodioces...s_150626_1.html
 
"In a free society all views can be shared in the public arena – both views we agree with as Orthodox Christians and those we disagree with. We call upon our flock to be guided first and foremost by the Holy Tradition of the Church in discerning whether any contemporary question is something that is compatible to the Orthodox faith. If an Orthodox Christian chooses to engage in public political discourse this should be done with moderation and with a firm intention and watchfulness not to fall into extremism. Extremism is not conducive to softening hearts or bringing others to the faith. ...
 
It should also be made clear that living a homosexual or any other sinful lifestyle is not compatible with Christianity and this has always been the teaching of the Church. That being stated, it is also crucial to state that the Church is a Spiritual Hospital and all those wishing to receive the healing freely offered by God through their repentance and God’s Grace are fully welcome. This includes those who have participated in immoral or unnatural acts of any kind as well as those who are tempted by such sins. The Church is empathetic to those who suffer in such a way and offers them support, healing, and Christian love. Those actively engaging in any immoral or unnatural pursuits cannot live a full sacramental life within the Church. However, this does not mean that we seek to drive away or ostracize those who have transgressed in such a way. Rather, we must make all efforts to draw those in such an unfortunate situation back to chastity and the opportunity to again partake in the Life-Giving Mysteries of the Church and to engage the struggle for their salvation within the parish community. "
 
See also
https://mospat.ru/en...ocial-concepts/


Edited by Olga, 05 July 2015 - 11:13 PM.
Corrected font formatting per member's request


#35 Anna Stickles

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 09:17 PM

I had a thought, I was wondering who says " I am  ----" in the same way those in the gay culture say, "I am gay"?   It struck me -- we do. We say "I am Christian" and what does this involve?  It involves Identification with our created inclination toward Christ, in the same way Gays identify with their inclination toward homosexuality. Both groups include commitment to a particular lifestyle and even evangelization and spreading of the lifestyle, teaching that it is "good news". Both include a high level of cooperation with and commitment to others that have the same identity, etc.  Basically gay pride is a type of idolatry.



#36 Anton S.

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 12:23 PM

I had a thought, I was wondering who says " I am  ----" in the same way those in the gay culture say, "I am gay"?   It struck me -- we do. We say "I am Christian" and what does this involve?  It involves Identification with our created inclination toward Christ, in the same way Gays identify with their inclination toward homosexuality. Both groups include commitment to a particular lifestyle and even evangelization and spreading of the lifestyle, teaching that it is "good news". Both include a high level of cooperation with and commitment to others that have the same identity, etc.  Basically gay pride is a type of idolatry.

 

That is a very important remark. The 'gay rights' movement really looks like a fanatical proselytising sect which ardently strives to impose its ideology on the world and has a visceral hatred of anyone who tries to oppose it. It keeps talking about 'tolerance' but is extremely intolerant of any dissenting opinion. And the doctrine it tries to promote is directly opposed to the basics of Christian spirituality, for it does idolise pride, while Christians strive to achieve humility, it celebrates pleasures of the body while Christianity seeks perfection of spirit through asceticism, it encourages promiscuity while Christianity values faithfulness... Thus, it is not difficult to infer what is the spirit which drives this movement.






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