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Was Christ a normal heterosexual being?


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#1 Rahul-IN

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 12:40 AM

I asked this question, whether Christ was heterosexual or asexual, elsewhere, and the opinion received was that Christ had sexual desires. Can anyone point me to patristics or writings of saints, ancient or modern, that talk about this issue? I also appreciate any input on the matter. Thank you.



#2 Kosta

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 03:43 AM

I think this can be a trick question. Christ was born a perfect male, assuming human nature except for sin. The internal evidence of the gospels may suggest that the Lord was asexual.

It maybe a question that better falls under the category of gnomic willing.

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 11:44 AM

Christ was and is not 'a human being' of any sort: He was and is Perfect God and Perfect Man in One Person. The question has no meaning.



#4 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 02:47 PM

Andreas, we've had this argument before about Christ being or not being "a human being," and if you will recall, Archimandrite Irinei himself eventually weighed in to say He was and is "a human being." He is not all of humanity, neither is He the platonic form of humanity. He is a particular hypostatic instance of the human nature, which is to say, a human being. More specifically, a male human being, a man.

 

Being a man, and being a man without sin, He had a healthy male regard for the opposite sex. He was heterosexual. For more on what that means, see this recent article in Touchstone magazine.


In Christ,

Pdn Patrick



#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 02:57 PM

Christ was and is not 'a human being' of any sort: He was and is Perfect God and Perfect Man in One Person. The question has no meaning.

Actually Christ is a human being - in fact a perfect human being - precisely because he was and is a perfect unity of God and man.  That is what we were created to be and the reason that this is not presently the case is due to the fall (thus we are, at best, imperfect human beings striving to be healed of our imperfection made perfect once again). To say that our Lord was "not a 'human being' of any sort" is to deny the incarnation and to deny even the possibility of our salvation (for how could we be like Christ if He is not at all like us). 

 

I just began reading Veniamin's The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation which makes this quite clear in the very first chapter.

 

 

Fr David



#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 04:59 PM

I thought that if I had learned anything from that 22-page thread, 'Was/is Christ a human being?' it was that because Christ is One Person and because 'a human being' is one who is a human person, Christ is not a human being but assumed human nature. I am keen not to deny the Incarnation!

 

"He had a healthy male regard for the opposite sex." I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.



#7 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 05:49 PM

1) Please remember that  (Matthew 22:30) "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."

 

The initial question regarding "normal heterosexual being" is biased, taking for graded that being heterosexual is "normal". Yes, being heterosexual is the norm, but it is not perfection. Saints who approached perfection acquired "apathy", that is they maintained their awareness for beauty of the opposite sex, but they felt no sexual attraction for it, as they were lovers of God. (apathy= greek word meaning literally "no passion"). The normal heterosexual erotic attraction will eventually cease after the resurrection as we approach perfection. 

 

If we want to understand things about Christ we should examine the life of Saints, as they are immitators of Christ's lifestyle. 

 

2)human perfection is about virginity, not from an ethical point of view, but from an ontological point of view. Our model for "being normal" is the ever virgin Mary Mother of God.

 

3) there is nothing wrong for being a "normal heterosexual being". But it is wrong to believe that this status is a mandatory condition for being human.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 March 2015 - 05:51 PM.


#8 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 05:52 PM

Christ was indeed "One Person," but what kind of person? A person with two natures, one divine and one human, making him both a divine being and a human being, and therefore a being that exists in two natures. There is therefore nothing wrong in saying "Christ is a human being," for there is nothing in that statement that denies that He is also God. 



#9 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 06:04 PM

1) Please remember that  (Matthew 22:30) "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."

 

The initial question regarding "normal heterosexual being" is biased, taking for graded that being heterosexual is "normal". Yes, being heterosexual is the norm, but it is not perfection. Saints who approached perfection acquired "apathy", that is they maintained their awareness for beauty of the opposite sex, but they felt no sexual attraction for it, as they were lovers of God. (apathy= greek word meaning literally "no passion"). The normal heterosexual erotic attraction will eventually cease after the resurrection as we approach perfection. 

 

If we want to understand things about Christ we should examine the life of Saints, as they are immitators of Christ's lifestyle. 

 

2)human perfection is about virginity, not from an ethical point of view, but from an ontological point of view. Our model for "being normal" is the ever virgin Mary Mother of God.

 

3) there is nothing wrong for being a "normal heterosexual being". But it is wrong to believe that this status is a mandatory condition for being human.

 

The article linked to above refutes this line of thinking completely. 

 

Human perfection is about the right relation of a divinely designated (ordained) ontology to all other beings. Human beings are meant to relate to God in a certain way. Men and women are meant to relate to each other in a certain way. That way is heterosexually, which is not all about the body. The body gives evidence of which role God has ordained each person to take, but that role is not limited to marriage or sexual intercourse. If it were so limited, then we should have female priests.

 

We have two models of human perfection, one male and one female. Funny how people forget about the male one.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 17 March 2015 - 06:06 PM.


#10 Rahul-IN

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 07:06 PM

Saints who approached perfection acquired "apathy", that is they maintained their awareness for beauty of the opposite sex, but they felt no sexual attraction for it, as they were lovers of God. (apathy= greek word meaning literally "no passion"). 

 

Your post mostly agrees with my worldview, but I want to ask: may I know where in patristic texts to read about above-quoted statement, and also what is the difference between having an 'awareness for beauty of the opposite sex' and 'sexual attraction'?



#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 07:23 PM

Christ was indeed "One Person," but what kind of person? A person with two natures, one divine and one human, making him both a divine being and a human being, and therefore a being that exists in two natures. There is therefore nothing wrong in saying "Christ is a human being," for there is nothing in that statement that denies that He is also God. 

 

We don't want to re-visit the 22-page thread but this statement appears to me to confuse two things, namely, human nature and human being. Human nature is what is common to all mankind, male and female. A human being - and we know this is a vague, non-patristic term best avoided in the context of theology - supposes a human person which Christ is most certainly not. It is not enough not to deny Christ is God: we need to be clear that He is not a human person.



#12 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:05 PM

We don't want to re-visit the 22-page thread but this statement appears to me to confuse two things, namely, human nature and human being. Human nature is what is common to all mankind, male and female. A human being - and we know this is a vague, non-patristic term best avoided in the context of theology - supposes a human person which Christ is most certainly not. It is not enough not to deny Christ is God: we need to be clear that He is not a human person.

 

Nothing in the terms "human being" and "human person" excludes the possibility of the person in question also being divine. In both cases, the adjective "human" merely describes without restriction the being and person in question. Insisting that these adjectives restrict the being and person to merely "human" presumes a requirement that does not exist in the English language.

 

So saying that Christ is "not a human being" and "not a human person" is both theologically wrong and linguistically wrong.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 17 March 2015 - 08:11 PM.


#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:11 PM

Your post mostly agrees with my worldview, but I want to ask: may I know where in patristic texts to read about above-quoted statement, and also what is the difference between having an 'awareness for beauty of the opposite sex' and 'sexual attraction'?

 

I think one of the most vivid examples is described in the book: THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT St. John Climacus

 

Step 15 - paragraph 60:

 

Someone told me of an extraordinarily high degree of purity. He said: ‘A certain man, on seeing a beautiful body, thereupon glorified the Creator, and from that one look he was moved to the love of God and to a fountain of tears. And it was wonderful to see how what would have been a cause of destruction for one was for another the supernatural cause of a crown.’ If such a person always feels and behaves in the same way on similar occasions, then he has risen immortal before the general resurrection.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 March 2015 - 08:11 PM.


#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:16 PM

Nothing in the terms "human being" and "human person" excludes the possibility of the person in question also being divine. In both cases, the adjective "human" merely describes without restriction the being and person in question. Insisting that these adjectives restrict the being and person to merely "human" presumes a requirement that does not exist in the English language.

 

So saying that Christ is "not a human being" and "not a human person" is both theologically wrong and linguistically wrong.

 

I think the problem is that the terms 'human being' and 'human person' take in a human hypostasis which is clearly not possible. In the 22-page thread, Archimandrite Irenee was clear that Christ cannot be called a 'human person'.



#15 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:21 PM

I think one of the most vivid examples is described in the book: THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT St. John Climacus

 

Step 15 - paragraph 60:

 

Someone told me of an extraordinarily high degree of purity. He said: ‘A certain man, on seeing a beautiful body, thereupon glorified the Creator, and from that one look he was moved to the love of God and to a fountain of tears. And it was wonderful to see how what would have been a cause of destruction for one was for another the supernatural cause of a crown.’ If such a person always feels and behaves in the same way on similar occasions, then he has risen immortal before the general resurrection.

This quotation doesn't speak to the issue unless one presumes that the desire itself is sinful. Is it? No. No natural desire is sinful. One can be naturally drawn to something we are made to desire, like food, and yet withhold oneself from inappropriate contemplation or partaking of the thing. It is the inappropriate contemplation and partaking that causes destruction, through gluttony or fornication, not the felt desire.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 17 March 2015 - 08:22 PM.


#16 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:42 PM

I think the problem is that the terms 'human being' and 'human person' take in a human hypostasis which is clearly not possible. In the 22-page thread, Archimandrite Irenee was clear that Christ cannot be called a 'human person'.

 

One could presume that these terms refer only to a human hypostasis, but that presumption is not required by the rules of English.

 

As commonly understood, a "human being" is -- what else? -- a being that is human. Christ is a being, no? Christ is human, no? Christ is therefore a human being, but also a divine being, being one person with two natures.

 

The same could be said of "human person." The only problem with "human person" is that "person" in English is commonly understood as "a human being" (unlike hypostasis in Greek, which can refer to non-human and even non-personal beings). So saying a "human person" might seem redundant -- like saying a "human human being," which seems to stress the humanness of the person. Even that does not restrict the natures of the person, although one might want to avoid saying "human person" lest some people get the wrong idea, not quite seeing what is meant.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 17 March 2015 - 08:57 PM.


#17 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:56 PM

@Brian Patrick Mitchell

What St John says here is that for some person the view of a beautiful body did not produce a "desire" at all. It became the cause of the visit by the Holy Spirit ("fountain of tears" is the mark of this visit). 

 

The heterosexuality (in the normal sense of the word) was absent in the same way that is absent in the angels, that is marked by the phrase: "If such a person always feels and behaves in the same way on similar occasions, then he has risen immortal before the general resurrection."   

 

And this has nothing to do with "desire" or temptation. It has to do with the perfection and illumination of mind by the Spirit, whereat otherness and beauty is a path to God; where others are the mirror of God's presence and where beauty is stripped of seductive elements.

 

What is described here by St. John is different from the meaning of the phrase "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder". Here St John talks about the effects of the grace of the Holy Spirit to illuminate and transform the mind, so the vision of the world takes the dimensions of God's revelation.



#18 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:56 PM

Your post mostly agrees with my worldview, but I want to ask: may I know where in patristic texts to read about above-quoted statement, and also what is the difference between having an 'awareness for beauty of the opposite sex' and 'sexual attraction'?

 

You ask here about a great mystery: Why do men and women desire each other sexually? No one really knows, not even the Fathers. 

 

It is true that some Fathers tended to write of sexual attraction and sexual distinction itself as strictly a matter of the body (an idea inherited from pagan philosophy), but the broader Christian tradition does not support that very narrow view (which always tends toward Encratism). Christian tradition in fact makes quite a lot of sexual attraction and distinction that is not merely a matter of the body. The Christian view of marriage is not all about copulation (see Ephesians 5). Neither is the Christian view of sex roles (see 1 Cor. 11).

 

There's just a lot more to sex than sex, and we are only now taking up these issues in earnest to avoid the traps laid by the Enemy -- traps denying the Christian understanding of sexual distinction so as to advance feminism and homosexuality.



#19 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 09:08 PM

@Lakis Papas

What St John says here is that for some person the view of a beautiful body did not produce a "desire" at all.

No, Lakis, St. John does not say that here. That's just how you have interpreted him. He doesn't mention desire, neither the desire for copulation nor the desire to behold beautiful things. He speaks of beholding a woman, but he could easily have spoken of beholding a sumptuous feast, which would move some people to praise God for His bounty, still desiring to eat of it, but move other people to distracted, unrestrained eating.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 17 March 2015 - 09:09 PM.


#20 Kosta

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 12:53 AM

Your post mostly agrees with my worldview, but I want to ask: may I know where in patristic texts to read about above-quoted statement, and also what is the difference between having an 'awareness for beauty of the opposite sex' and 'sexual attraction'?


I have never really come across patristic texts that speak about this concerning Christ. Lakis has used the term apathy, which would require an explanation beween the difference of being asexual and not asexual but still devoid of the sexual passions.

This is why I do not reject out of hand that Christ may have been asexual. Orthodox anthropology can support this view. We speak of Christ as the New Adam. Before the fall the Fathers do not ascribe sexual urges to Adam and Eve.

In the gospel Christ teaches even looking upon a woman in a lustful manner is akin to adultery. We see a portrait emerge that Christ's passions do not conform to the typical heterosexual. When his disciples said it is better not to marry Christ made clear, that "eunuchs" for the kingdom of God is not for everyone. Christ would include himself in that rare category. Describing a person who voluntarily rejects marriage and sexual contact as a eunuch, seems to fall under the category of asexual.




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