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Was Christ a normal heterosexual being?


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#21 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 01:32 AM

Describing a person who voluntarily rejects marriage and sexual contact as a eunuch, seems to fall under the category of asexual.

 

It's a trap. Don't go there. If asexuality is the ideal, then there is nothing normative about sexuality, hetero or homo -- nothing even normative about the difference of male and female, since sexuality has been reduced to mere carnality. That's what feminists want. That's what queer theorists want, too. They want to destroy the distinction to relieve themselves of having to be either men or women, as God has made them.

 

Orthodoxy does not support this. In Orthodoxy, there is more to sexuality than carnality, more to sexual distinction than sexual intercourse, and more to heterosexuality than conjugal relations, as explained in the article linked to above. 



#22 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 10:18 PM

It's a trap. Don't go there. If asexuality is the ideal, then there is nothing normative about sexuality, hetero or homo -- nothing even normative about the difference of male and female, since sexuality has been reduced to mere carnality. That's what feminists want. That's what queer theorists want, too. They want to destroy the distinction to relieve themselves of having to be either men or women, as God has made them.

 

Orthodoxy does not support this. In Orthodoxy, there is more to sexuality than carnality, more to sexual distinction than sexual intercourse, and more to heterosexuality than conjugal relations, as explained in the article linked to above. 

 

 

There is a very strong undercurrent on this forum that holds that sexuality is inherently sinful.  Quotes from the Fathers or "tradition" is provided to justify the stand.  If the issue is pushed to discuss it, the conversation will be stifled.

 

Orthodox Christianity does not support the notion that sexuality is inherently sinful.  Christ experienced the temptations that are common to man.  He did not act on them.  

 

To suggest that Christ did not experience a normal, heterosexual drive (especially at puberty) is ludicrous.  

The assertion that God created male and female with reproductive organs and a sex drive but they were never intended to be used is ludicrous.



#23 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 02:23 AM

There is a very strong undercurrent on this forum that holds that sexuality is inherently sinful.  Quotes from the Fathers or "tradition" is provided to justify the stand.  If the issue is pushed to discuss it, the conversation will be stifled.

 

Orthodox Christianity does not support the notion that sexuality is inherently sinful.  Christ experienced the temptations that are common to man.  He did not act on them.  

 

To suggest that Christ did not experience a normal, heterosexual drive (especially at puberty) is ludicrous.  

The assertion that God created male and female with reproductive organs and a sex drive but they were never intended to be used is ludicrous.

 

I don't participate much in the Forum anymore. But this needs a response.

 

First of all the "strong undercurrents on this forum that sexulity is inherently sinful" is not a demonstration that the opposite is correct. It's just to state that there are different opinions on this issue. Something which in and of itself doesn't demonstrate what the truth is.

 

Anyway- if "Orthodox Christianity does not support the notion that sexuality is inherently sinful" does this mean that 'sexuality' is inherently virtuous? If it is not then what is it?

 

To get to the point then, sexual relations are what the Fathers would call 'neutral values'. They are neither good nor bad in and of themselves but rather can be used for good or bad. If they are used according to the parameters that the Church sets & blesses- then they are good. But if they are not then they are bad.

 

In other words the Church does not bless 'sexuality' in and of itself.

 

"Christ experienced the temptations that are common to man.  He did not act on them."

 

There is a very serious problem with such a view. Christ knows of our temptations, but He does not experience them, for this would be to say that He enters into communion in His mind with what is sinful, that He entertains the thought, but then as you have it He does not act on it. If such entertainments on our part are counted as sin that needs to be confessed what would we say about Christ?! (also to look at it another way- if Christ  "experienced the temptations that are common to man," but  "He did not act on them." how does this make the temptations acceptable for us to act on?)

 

So - it seems proper (not to say pious) to maintain exactly that Christ did not experience "heterosexual drive (especially at puberty)" precisely because they are not normal (at least when I was growing up such things were seen as shameful so obviously these 'drives' are not universal).

 

A last point that needs to be made so that some clarity can be achieved when addressing such issues. Many things happened after the Fall- man hungers now for food, he sleeps, gets afraid over what are threats to his life, etc. This happened to man after the fall. But it does not equate that these things are sinful in and of themselves. Rather as we mentioned above they are 'neutral' and can be used to good or evil.

 

If we kept this in mind we'd avoid a lot of anixiety and arguments.

 

In Christ's peace during this lenten season.



#24 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 03:29 AM

Dear Father Raphael,

The sort of thinking you are addressing is common these days, some consider it part of the Christ is a human being movement and other movements.
 

There are many things in the Church that speak against the sort of thinking that is often presented on Monachos, but we are often unable to do anything about it. It is a sign of the times.

So in this matter we can bring to mind what we will hear in the gospels during this lenten season.

 

"Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."
 

Please refrain from deleting this post Father Moser, so that sad wrongs may be additionally and further addressed.

In Christ
 

Matthew Panchisin



#25 Kosta

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 07:12 AM

In post #2 I suggested perhaps this falls under that of gnomic willing, of which Christ was not afflicted with. His tropos of willing is different than ours, His desires were not inclined towards those of the flesh.

 

BrianPatrick said the division of sexes is more than  'mere carnality', which I agree with. Then what was the relations between Adam and Eve before the fall?  We have not answered the OP, that is what does it mean when we say Christ was a perfect male. Or what does it mean that he assumed human nature just like ours except sin  with the qualification he was a sinless male.  


Edited by Kosta, 24 March 2015 - 07:20 AM.


#26 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 02:01 PM

Thank you Fr Raphael for reminding me of the complex nature of temptation - it is easy to forget the writings of the fathers concerning the thoughts and how even at that level there is much that is sinful, whether or not it comes to action.  To assume that our thinking is somehow pure or at least neutral is to forget that the reason also suffered and was corrupted by the fall.  To make this assumption is to fall into the same error as the Roman Catholic theologians at the time of the Renaissance and the rise of humanity when man's reason became the equal of the revelation of God as a means of knowing or discerning the truth.

 

Also I want to reinforce Fr Raphael's comments about the fall and our various "natural" urges.  We were not, as Seraphim seems to assume, created with bodies such as we have today.  The physical bodies that we bear now are a direct result of the fall.  Originally man's body was much more like that of the angels, there is plenty of patristic evidence for this (a good "modern" description of man at creation can be found in St Seraphim of Sarov's conversation with N. Motovilov on  the acquisition of the Holy Spirit - frequently published in English under the title "A Wonderful Revelation to the World"), however, when he fell, the scripture remarks that God clothed our first parents with "garments of skin"  This does not mean that God went out and made leather loincloths - rather the father's assert that these "garments of skin" are the body that we now bear which is not like that of an angel but rather like the bodies of the animals.  Thus to base any line of reasoning on the idea that "it must be good since God created us this way" is inherently fallacious for it does not take into account the effects of the fall.

 

Fr David Moser



#27 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 05:32 PM

Anyway- if "Orthodox Christianity does not support the notion that sexuality is inherently sinful" does this mean that 'sexuality' is inherently virtuous? If it is not then what is it?

Sexuality is inherently virtuous in the same way that eating on feast days is virtuous and wine is to gladden man's heart. The opposition to sexuality is on par with temperance, which also came out of Anglo culture. Yet outside of fast days, nobody considers drinking of wine in moderation to be sinful; in fact, there are canons that state the priests must eat meat and drink wine. And speaking of such is certainly not grounds for punitive measures as have been so common on this forum.

 

"Christ experienced the temptations that are common to man.  He did not act on them."
 
There is a very serious problem with such a view. Christ knows of our temptations, but He does not experience them, for this would be to say that He enters into communion in His mind with what is sinful, that He entertains the thought, but then as you have it He does not act on it. If such entertainments on our part are counted as sin that needs to be confessed what would we say about Christ?! (also to look at it another way- if Christ  "experienced the temptations that are common to man," but  "He did not act on them." how does this make the temptations acceptable for us to act on?)

I point to Gethsemane. Christ pleaded for the Father to remove the cup if possible. All the sophistry in the world does not remove this very human experience. Did Christ entertain not going to the cross and not completing the plan?

 

People talk around Gethsemane and come up with obviously contrived ways to construe it.  I don't buy it.

 

Just like allegorizing the Song of Songs at the expense of it's obvious meaning... whatever. The Song of Songs has both an allegorical meaning and a literal meaning.  To accept just one without the other is obnoxious.  And that literal meaning teaches those who are married what the icon of marriage should actually look like.  It teaches a dimension of love between Christ and his Church in a very real and tangible way.  Christ's parables relating the love of God the Father to the love of human fathers takes on a very literal meaning to those of us who have children.  And those of us who are actual fathers know that it is our responsibility to demonstrate God's love to our wives and children because, especially for our daughters, they will love as we love them.  These things are very abstract to the monastic or the celibate.

 

So - it seems proper (not to say pious) to maintain exactly that Christ did not experience "heterosexual drive (especially at puberty)" precisely because they are not normal (at least when I was growing up such things were seen as shameful so obviously these 'drives' are not universal).

This is disagree with fervently. Just because such things were shameful to speak about in your culture does not mean they are tainted in reality.  Anglo culture is very sick and does not handle reality very well when it comes to issues relating to the sexes. Anglo culture is very repressive and from it we receive a lot of backlash and uncleanness in the area of sexuality: women's lib, continuing rise of divorce, and the rise of homosexuality.  Anglo culture has screwed them all up.

The inability to address these topics only makes matters worse.  Avoidance and repression will not prevent such topics from discussion.  It will only create a situation where the Church removes herself from the discussion.  Such is what has largely happened over the past 150 years or so.

 

A last point that needs to be made so that some clarity can be achieved when addressing such issues. Many things happened after the Fall- man hungers now for food, he sleeps, gets afraid over what are threats to his life, etc. This happened to man after the fall. But it does not equate that these things are sinful in and of themselves. Rather as we mentioned above they are 'neutral' and can be used to good or evil.

The idea that God made a garden and created man within that garden, but the garden wasn't actually producing food that was eaten is not consistent with the scriptures nor the tradition of the Church and flies contrary to reason. If everything is an allegory, then ultimately everything is up for grabs and Orthodox Christianity then becomes the noble lie. This is just as ridiculous as fundamental, literal interpretation of the scriptures.  I don't believe that Orthodox Christianity is the noble lie... although there are some who use it as such.

 

Both Father Raphael and Father David assert a notion (that is found in multiple Fathers) that our clothing of skin (i.e. meat, carne) was a result of the fall.  I don't buy it.  The word contrived comes to mind.  Does this make me anti-patristic?  From one point of view, perhaps.  Not because I am actually anti-patristic, because I accept the fathers when they have agreement when taken as a whole.  Simply stated, the Fathers do not have absolute agreement on all topics.  To pretend that they do is not honest.

 

The Fathers were often influenced by pagan philosophy.  Ancient Greek philosophy introduced the idea that sexuality was tainted because it inherently introduced the control of one by another (in the sense that when one has sexual desire, he does not have complete autonomy but rather is dependent on someone or something else for his satisfaction).  These ideas carried over into the writings and worldview of several Fathers.

 

The acts of fornication and excess in Rome were largely due to the use of female slaves for gratification, which was done by both married men as well as "celibate" clergy.  The issues relating to slavery should be addressed as such... issues of slavery.  In modern Anglo culture, males are largely slaves to females.  That apparently is just fine and goes unchecked.

 

The double standard is unacceptable.  If those in the Church continue to stifle discussion on such topics in an adult fashion, then the Church will continue to become increasingly irrelevant to the discussion that has already been going on for over a century.


Edited by Seraphim of the Midwest, 24 March 2015 - 05:33 PM.


#28 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 08:48 PM

I don't have much time for this now, but I will say that I don't believe the consensus claimed above is as sound as some believe. The argument we're having now is a continuation of the age-old contention between those who take the pro-body Jewish view of humanity and those who take the anti-body pagan view of humanity. The former has always held more appeal to married people, while the latter has always held more appeal to monks. But the sudden revival of interest in the latter view in the recent years owes a lot to the desire of non-monks to minimize, relativize, and ultimately deny the difference of male and female for the sake of gender equality and sexual freedom.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 24 March 2015 - 08:50 PM.


#29 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 11:18 PM

I don't have much time for this now, but I will say that I don't believe the consensus claimed above is as sound as some believe. The argument we're having now is a continuation of the age-old contention between those who take the pro-body Jewish view of humanity and those who take the anti-body pagan view of humanity. The former has always held more appeal to married people, while the latter has always held more appeal to monks. But the sudden revival of interest in the latter view in the recent years owes a lot to the desire of non-monks to minimize, relativize, and ultimately deny the difference of male and female for the sake of gender equality and sexual freedom.

Perhaps the plan was to expound on the comment later on, so I don't wish to ask prematurely... it is not clear what was meant by "anti-pagan."  Indeed, it would be good to distinguish what was pagan (as in the Greek philosophers? Canaanite? Cult of Baal? Celts?) vs. what might be considered heretical but not precisely pagan (Manachean, Gnostic, Montanist, Samaritan, Muslim, etc.).



#30 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 02:20 AM

Dear Seraphim of the Midwest,

Having read your posts surely we can see that these issues are a matter of what is juvenile and what is more mature or for the sake of mercy (if you will) maturing. You have children so you should have more understanding than even the monks on Athos or the married Saints of the Orthodox Church. So when you mention: "I point to Gethsemane. Christ pleaded for the Father to remove the cup if possible. All the sophistry in the world does not remove this very human experience. Did Christ entertain not going to the cross and not completing the plan? People talk around Gethsemane and come up with obviously contrived ways to construe it. I don't buy it."

If you don't buy the writings or the Saints and the Orthodox Church we are compelled to ask, who are you and what are you doing seemingly herein? You are not alone though, so find some peace therein, I have asked myself that question about Father ProtoDeacon Patrick as well having read what he writes in this strange place. Do consider this text? That is the norm for Orthodox Christians which is much different than what you and others present for our consideration.
 
Christ’s Prayer in the Garden

By Saint John (Maximovitch)


Having celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and given them His precepts, the Lord walked with them to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39). On the way He continued with His final instructions. Then He turned to the Heavenly Father with a prayer for His disciples and for those who would come to believe in Him through their word (John 17).


Crossing the brook Cedron, the Lord and His disciples entered the garden of Gethsemane where they frequently used to gather (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:32; John 18:1-2). Then He left His disciples, asking them to sit there while He went off to pray. Accompanied only by' Peter John and James, He went a little further. He needed to be alone, but knowing all that should come to pass, He began feeling sorrowful, sad and heavy, and He said to those with Him, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with Me (Matt. 26:38). And, having gone a little further, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed.

    

Twice the Lord interrupted His prayer and walked up to Peter and the sons of Zebedee. Alas! They were still there, but they were overcome by sleep. In vain did their divine Teacher persuade them to watch and pray, so as not to enter into temptation: The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38). The disciples fell asleep again as ,soon as the Saviour left them to continue His prayer, which ended only when the hour drew near that the Son of Man was to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. The agony of Jesus' prayer reached its climax, and His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44).

     

What was Jesus praying about so fervently? What was He entreating the Heavenly Father, thrice falling with His face to the ground? "Abba, my Father, all things are possible to Thee. Oh, if Thou wouldst deign to take this cup away from Me! If possible let this cup pass by Me;  nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt, not My will but Thine be done. My Father, if this cup cannot bypass me, so that I will not have to drink of it, Thy will be done."

 

The Lord Jesus Christ was the God-Man. Both the Divine and the human nature, undergoing neither change nor fusion, "without confusion, without division" (dogma of the Council of Chalcedon) united in Him in one Person. In conformity to the two natures, the Lord also had two wills. As God, Jesus Christ was of one essence with God the Father and cf one will with Him and the Holy Spirit. But being perfect man, with a body and soul the Lord also had human feelings and will His human will was totally submitted to the Divine will.

    

The Lord submitted His human will to that of God and sought only to do the will of His Heavenly Father (John 5:30); His spiritual food was to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work (John 4:34). And He had to accomplish a task equal to none, a task which was to astonish even insensible, inanimate nature. He was to redeem mankind from sin and death, and to reestablish man's union with God. The sinless  Saviour was to lift upon Himself all of mankind's sin, so that He, Who had no sins of His own, would feel the burden off the sins of all mankind and would experience such sorrow over it, as can only perfect sanctity, which clearly senses even the slightest deviation from the  commandments and will of God. In His holy and sinless humanity, He in Whom Divinity and humanity were hypostatically united was to  experience all the horror of man's separation from his Creator, of sinful humanity's alienation from God, the source of sanctity and light.

 

At this moment the depth of mankind's fall was to become exposed. The man who refused to obey God in Paradise but heeded the devil who defamed Him, was now about to rise against his Divine Saviour, to slander Him, and, having declared Him unworthy of life on earth, to hang Him on a tree between the earth and the sky, thus bringing Him under the curse of the God given law (Deut. 21:22-23). The sinless Holy One, rejected by the sinful world for which and from which He suffered, was to forgive mankind this evil deed and to raise His prayer to the Heavenly Father, imploring the Divine Truth to likewise forgive mankind, which had been blinded by the devil, for this rejection of their Creator and Saviour. Such a holy prayer could not remain unheard, such power of love could not but unite the source of love, God, with those who, at least now, would become aware of this love and. having understood how far their ways were from the ways of God, would now resolve to return to God the Father through the incarnate Creator.


Now came the hour when all this was to come to pass. In a few hours the Son of Man, lifted up on the Cross, would draw everyone to Himself through His self-sacrifice. Compelled by His love sinful human hearts would not be able to resist Him. The love of the God-Man would break the stone el men's hearts. They would become aware of their impurity and darkness, of their insignificance. Only stubborn God-haters would not wish to be illumined by the light of Divine greatness and mercy'. But all those who did not turn away from the Divine call, illumined by the light of the God-Man's love, would become aware of their separation from the loving; Creator and would crave to be united with Him. The greatest mystery would take place: mankind would return to their Creator, and the merciful Lord would joyfully receive those who leave the slandering devil and hasten to the One in Whose image they were created. The wall of enmity has been destroyed. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace, have kissed each other - righteousness looks down from Heaven, for Truth incarnate shines forth from the Cross on earth. The hour had come when all this was to happen.

    

The world was as yet unaware of the greatness of the coming day. But before the eyes of the God Man all that should come to pass was revealed. He was sacrificing Himself voluntarily for the salvation of the human race. And now He has come for the last time to pray alone to His Heavenly Father. He will offer here the sacrifice that will save mankind -He will voluntarily give Himself to suffering and commit Himself to the power of darkness.


However, this sacrifice will bring no salvation if He is to experience only His personal suffering. He has to be tormented by the painful wounds of sin which afflict mankind The heart of the God-Man fills with inexpressible grief. All human sins. beginning with Adam's transgression and finishing with those to be committed at the sound of the last trumpet, all the great and small sins of all people appear before His mental eyes. As God, He always had them before Him, "all things are manifest before Him," but now His human nature, too, experiences all their burden and abomination. The holy, sinless soul fills with horror. His suffering surpasses that of the sinners themselves, whose hardened hearts are not aware to what extent sin defiles a man and alienates him from the Creator. His sufferings are more acute because He sees this hardening of hearts. He sees that people have blinded their eyes so as not to see, and that they do not want to hear with their ears and to turn to Him to be healed (Is. 6:9). He sees that even now the whole world is turning away from God, Who has come to it in the form of a man. The hour is approaching and has already come (John 16:32) when even those would disperse who only recently assured Him of their readiness to die for Him. The God-Man will hang on the Cross, alone, ridiculed by the people who come to see this spectacle. Only a few souls would remain faithful to Him, but even they, with their silent grief and helplessness, will only increase the suffering of the loving heart of the Virgin's Son. No help from anywhere...


True, even in these moments He is not alone because His Father is always with Him (John 8:29; 10:30). But in order to feel the full weight of the consequences of sin, the Son of God voluntarily allows His human nature to feel the horror of estrangement from God as well. This awful moment will be unbearable for the holy and sinless One. A loud cry will escape Him: My God my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Matt. 27:46). Foreseeing this hour, the holy soul is filled with horror and indignation.

    

Earlier, when certain Greeks came to see Jesus, He allowed His human nature to experience the approach of this dreadful hour. When these "sheep from another fold" arrived, the God Man knew that the hour was near when people would come to see Him raised up on the Cross. His human nature shuddered, His soul was filled with indignation. But Jesus knew that without His sufferings the salvation of men was impossible, without them His life's work on earth would be as fruitless as a grain of wheat that had been lying on the earth until dried out by the sun.  Therefore, He entreated the Father not to allow human weakness to take hold of the thoughts and desires of His human nature: Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour. As if heartened by the  remembrance of the purpose of His sojourn on earth, Christ prayed for God's will to be done -- for the salvation of mankind: Father, glorify Thy name -- glorify it on the earth, among men. Show Thyself not only as the Creator, but also as the Saviour (St Basil, "Against Eunomius," Book 4). And the voice from heaven said, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again (John 11:27-28), thus announcing that the time had come for the fulfillment of God's mystery which hath been hid from the ages (I Col 1:26; Eph. 1:9, 3:9).


And now this time has come. If even earlier Christ's human nature had shuddered and felt indignation at the thought of what was to come, what was He feeling now, when, waiting for the arrival of His enemies and His betrayer, He prayed privately to God for the last time? The Lord knew that any prayer of His would be heard (John 11:42). He knew that if He were to entreat His Father to deliver Him from torments and death, more than twelve legions of angels (Matt. 26:53) would appear to defend Him. But is this why He came? To refuse, in the last moment, to fulfill that which was foretold by the Scriptures?


The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Even now Jesus' spirit was aflame, desiring only one thing: To accomplish God's will. But as a man, in His human nature, He would have turned away from suffering and death. ( An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 3:18, 20, 23, 24; Blessed Theophylact; St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, ch. 6, "On remembrance of death"). The Son of God had voluntarily adopted this weak human nature. So He now offers Himself to death for the salvation of the world. And He is victorious, although overcome by the feeling of an approaching fear of death and loathing of sufferings (Climacus, Ibid.; Blessed Augustine; Exact Exposition, 3:24). Now these sufferings will be particularly terrible, terrible not as such, but because the soul of the God-Man is shaken to its very depths.  Man's sins, which Jesus has taken upon Himself, are inexpressibly burdensome. They press heavily upon Him, making the imminent sufferings unbearable.

    

Christ knows that when these sufferings reach their utmost intensity, He will be all alone. Not only will there be no human being capable of alleviating them -- I waited for one to grieve with Me, but there was none; and for one to comfort Me, but I found none (Ps. 68:21; Is. 63:5) -- but in order to feel the full burden of sins, He would be made to experience the torment of separation from the Heavenly Father. At this  moment His human will might wish to avoid the sufferings. But let it not be! May His human will not depart from God's will even for a moment. This is what the God-Man prays for to His Father. If it is possible for mankind to reestablish its union with God without this dreadful new crime against the Son of God (St. Basil the Great, Ibid.), may this hour be averted. However, if this is the only way for mankind to be brought to its Creator, let God's will be fulfilled. Let His will be done and may Jesus' human nature in these terrible moments desire nothing but the fulfillment of God's will, the accomplishment of the Divine economy. This, then, is what Christ prayed for in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the days of HIS flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death  (Heb. 6:7).


Indeed, He offered up prayers and supplications to the One capable of saving Him from death, but He did not pray to be delivered from death. The Lord Jesus Christ was saying, as it were, to His Divine Father, "Abba, My Father, the Father of the One whom Thou sent to unite the people of Israel and the scattered children of God, the heathens, in order to create out of two peoples a new people, and to reconcile them both with Thyself through the Cross. Everything is possible for Thee, everything that corresponds to Thy boundless perfection. Thou knowest that it is characteristic of human nature to turn away from sufferings, that man always wants to see good days (I Peter 3:10). But whoever loves Thee with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his mind, desires only that which is pleasing to Thy good and perfect will. I, Who came down to earth for the fulfillment of Thy wise will and for this purpose became clothed in flesh and blood and took upon Myself human nature with all its weaknesses, except sin, I, too, would wish to escape sufferings, but only under one condition -- that this be in accordance with Thy holy will. If it is possible for Thine economy to be accomplished without this horrendous crime of men; if it is possible for Me not to experience these sufferings of the soul, to which in a few hours will be added the terrible agony of the body; if this is possible, then deliver Me from these present sufferings and the impending trials and temptations. Spare Me the necessity of suffering the consequences of Adam's transgression.

 

However, this entreaty is being suggested to Me by the weakness of My human nature. But let it be as it is pleasing to Thee. Let not the will of weak human nature prevail, but rather Our common pre-eternal counsel. My Father! If according to Thy wise economy it is necessary that I offer this sacrifice, I do not refuse to do so. I pray for one thing only: May Thy will be fulfilled. May Thy will be done always and in everything. Just as in Heaven, both Thou and I, Thine Only-begotten Son, have one will, so let also My human will here on earth not for one moment desire anything contrary to Our common will. May that be fulfilled which We decided upon before the creation of the world, may the salvation of mankind be accomplished. May the sons of men be delivered from their enslavement to the devil, redeemed at a high price -- by the sufferings and selflessness of the God-Man. And let not the burden of men's sins, which I am taking upon Myself, as well as the added torments of soul and body, make my human will waver in its desire to fulfill Thy holy will. May I comply joyfully with Thy will Thy will be done."

          
"Thou hast prayed that the voluntary cup of the redeeming Passion be removed as if it were not voluntary" (Sunday Matins, Tone 5, Canticle 8 of the canon), thus demonstrating two desires of two natures and asking God the Father to render His human will unwavering in its submission to God's will (Exact Exposition, 3:24). And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him [His human nature] (Luke 22:43). Nevertheless, while offering His self sacrifice, Jesus prayed with increased fervor, until He became bathed in a bloody sweat. And for His reverence and His constant submission to His Father's will, the Son of Man was heard.


Thus strengthened and encouraged, Jesus rose from His prayer (Exact Exposition, lbid.). Now He was sure that His human nature would not waver any more, that soon the burden of human sins would be lifted from Him, and that, through His obedience to God the Father, He would bring to Him errant human nature. He walked up to His disciples and said, Sleep on now, and lake your rest Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me (Matt. 26:4546), rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation (Luke 22:46).


Going forth to meet those who came after Him, the Lord voluntarily gave Himself into their hands. When Peter, anxious to defend his Teacher, struck the chief priest's servant with a sword and cut off his ear, the Lord healed the latter and reminded Peter that He is giving Himself into their bands voluntarily: Sheathe your sword, He said Am I not to drink of the cup which My Father gave Me? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be? (Matt. 26:53). And, having voluntarily emptied the cup of sufferings of body and soul, Christ glorified God on the earth; He  accomplished the task no lesser than the creation of the world itself. He restored fallen human nature, reconciled God and mankind, and made men partakers of the Divine nature (1 Peter 1:4).


Having accomplished the work which His Father had given Him to do, Christ was glorified also in His human nature with that glory which, as God, He had before the world was (John 17:5), and with His human nature He sat down at the right hand of God the Father from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool (Heb. 10:13).

     
Having become the author of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9), even after His Ascension into Heaven He remains known "in two natures without confusion" (Sunday dogmatikon, Tone 6), "For Thou hast borne two wills according to each of Thy two natures, O Thou Who art Christ for ever" (Sunday canon, Tone 5, canticle 8). But His glorified body can no longer suffer and is in no need for anything, and likewise also His human will can in no wise depart from God's will. In this very, body Christ will come on the last day "to judge the living and the dead," after which, as King not only according to His divinity but also in His humanity, He will subject Himself with all His eternal kingdom to God the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). 
 


Translated by Olga Oleinikov from Slova (Sermons of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco), Russkiy Pastyr, San Franciso 1994.

 


Edited by Olga, 25 March 2015 - 07:51 AM.
corrected paragraph formatting for clarity


#31 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 02:57 AM

Correction, should have read : That is the norm for Orthodox Christians which is much different than what you and others are allowed to present for our consideration.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin



#32 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 12:26 PM

What I wrote reflects what Saint John wrote.  In short, it is reflected most in the statement "At this moment His human will might wish to avoid the sufferings."  Christ literally "sweats it" (he sweats blood).

 

It is insane to try and claim that He didn't feel the passion associated with puberty.  It is also without any evidence whatsoever.



#33 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 12:43 PM

Perhaps the plan was to expound on the comment later on, so I don't wish to ask prematurely... it is not clear what was meant by "anti-pagan."  Indeed, it would be good to distinguish what was pagan (as in the Greek philosophers? Canaanite? Cult of Baal? Celts?) vs. what might be considered heretical but not precisely pagan (Manachean, Gnostic, Montanist, Samaritan, Muslim, etc.).

Anti-body, not "anti-pagan." Pagan as in "Greek," which the Fathers used for both the philosophy and the religion of the pagan (non-Christian) "Greeks." 



#34 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 01:53 PM

In order to understand the Fathers one must accept their Spirit. The Spirit illuminates those who do not have personal standpoints.

Also it is false to think that the human body of Christ was governed by hormones. It is false to think that Christ died because his body suffered fatal injuries at the cross. All these have been explained by the Fathers.

It is not unusual to make personal religion, autonomous explanation on theological issues. What is the gain from this I do not know.

#35 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 01:55 PM

Anti-body, not "anti-pagan." Pagan as in "Greek," which the Fathers used for both the philosophy and the religion of the pagan (non-Christian) "Greeks."

Ah, my bad.  Thanks for clarifying.
 
When I hear "pagan," I hear "a follower of a pantheistic or nature-worshipping religion" as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary.  I don't wish to cause confusion due to word choice.
 
The way many treat this subject really smacks of Gnosticism as well as other condemned heresies like Montanism.  The only solution that seems to appease those who assert that sexuality is tainted is to pretend that asexuality is the norm and those who are too unenlightened or to "carnal" must be married to keep them from damnation.  And of course, Christ must have been asexual, since that is "normal" to them.  And of course, in such a view, being the perpetual single without the rigorous discipline of monasticism is still preferable to those filthy sexual folk.  I thought that this issue was settled over 1000 years ago.
 
To brush it under the rug or stick it in the closet (and follow up by punishing those who attempt to discuss it) is avoidance when it is so prevalent in the issues of the day.  However, I agree with your assertion: do not go there.



#36 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 02:01 PM

In order to understand the Fathers one must accept their Spirit. The Spirit illuminates those who do not have personal standpoints.

Also it is false to think that the human body of Christ was governed by hormones. It is false to think that Christ died because his body suffered fatal injuries at the cross. All these have been explained by the Fathers.

It is not unusual to make personal religion, autonomous explanation on theological issues. What is the gain from this I do not know.

Who claimed that the human body is governed by hormones?  

 

Christ was human.  Humans have testosterone, both male and female.  Christ obviously had testosterone.  

Christ was a male.  He had more testosterone than a female.   

God designed the human body, including testosterone, and it was good.  Testosterone has a strong impact on sexuality in both males and females.

 

Why this is a problem on any level?



#37 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 02:39 PM

Having now read the homily by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, I have to wonder why Matthew Panchisin posted it. It doesn't say anything that can fairly be used against Seraphim of the West or me. Instead, it provides considerable support to our objections. It says what Our Lord Himself has said: He had "human feelings" and suffered on account of natural human desires of both mind and body. He "took upon [Himself] human nature with all its weaknesses, except sin." So unless sexual desire is inherently sinful . . .


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 25 March 2015 - 02:39 PM.


#38 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 02:53 PM

According to St. John of Damascus (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 3, Chapter 20), Christ assumed all of the blameless passions such as “hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, the tears, the destruction, the shrinking from death, the fear, the agony from which came the sweating and drops of blood, the aid brought by the angels in deference to the weakness of His nature, and any other such things as are naturally inherent in all men.”

 
However, the blameless passions were not present in Christ in the same way they are present in you and me: “Actually, our natural passions were in Christ according to nature and over and above nature. Thus, it was according to nature that they were aroused in Him, when He permitted the flesh to suffer what was proper to it; whereas it was over and above nature, because in the Lord the things of nature did not control the will. For with Him nothing is found to be done under compulsion; on the contrary, everything was done freely. Thus, it was by willing that He hungered and by willing that He thirsted, by willing that He was afraid and by willing that He died.

 

We feel hunger, thirst, etc. involuntarily, but Our Lord felt hungry and thirsty because He allowed Himself to feel that way. If sexual desires are part of the blameless passions, those who argue that Christ had these desires would have to speculate that He allowed Himself to feel these desires, something which is not recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Edited by John Martin, 25 March 2015 - 02:54 PM.


#39 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 03:24 PM

However, the blameless passions were not present in Christ in the same way they are present in you and me: “Actually, our natural passions were in Christ according to nature and over and above nature. Thus, it was according to nature that they were aroused in Him, when He permitted the flesh to suffer what was proper to it; whereas it was over and above nature, because in the Lord the things of nature did not control the will. For with Him nothing is found to be done under compulsion; on the contrary, everything was done freely. Thus, it was by willing that He hungered and by willing that He thirsted, by willing that He was afraid and by willing that He died.
 
We feel hunger, thirst, etc. involuntarily, but Our Lord felt hungry and thirsty because He allowed Himself to feel that way.

These assertions reek of Gnosticism.  It sounds very much like the Christ you describe is the ghost in the machine.

 

In a sense, everything about Christ was because the Father willed it and Christ willed it.  To use that to imply that He did or did not experience sexuality as manifest in the human (i.e., that experience which is common to man) in the form of stimuli and hormonal response is conjecture.  Sloppy conjecture at that.

 

To assert that Christ never dealt with sexuality is not scriptural.  The assertion flies contrary to the entire corpus of the scripture from Genesis through the prophets, since sexuality is a huge part of the scriptures, including the law, the prophets, and the wisdom literature.

 

Can anyone say denial?



#40 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 03:28 PM

According to St. John of Damascus (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 3, Chapter 20), Christ assumed all of the blameless passions such as “hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, the tears, the destruction, the shrinking from death, the fear, the agony from which came the sweating and drops of blood, the aid brought by the angels in deference to the weakness of His nature, and any other such things as are naturally inherent in all men.”

 
However, the blameless passions were not present in Christ in the same way they are present in you and me: “Actually, our natural passions were in Christ according to nature and over and above nature. Thus, it was according to nature that they were aroused in Him, when He permitted the flesh to suffer what was proper to it; whereas it was over and above nature, because in the Lord the things of nature did not control the will. For with Him nothing is found to be done under compulsion; on the contrary, everything was done freely. Thus, it was by willing that He hungered and by willing that He thirsted, by willing that He was afraid and by willing that He died.

 

We feel hunger, thirst, etc. involuntarily, but Our Lord felt hungry and thirsty because He allowed Himself to feel that way. If sexual desires are part of the blameless passions, those who argue that Christ had these desires would have to speculate that He allowed Himself to feel these desires, something which is not recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Lots of things are not recorded in Holy Scripture. What is recorded is that God became a man and that He allowed Himself to feel many things He need not have. Why would He not have allowed Himself to feel normal, heterosexual attraction? Such attraction is natural and not inherently blameworthy. At some point in our young lives, quite unexpectedly, we look upon someone of the opposite sex and feel a desire we never felt before. We don't have to dwell on it, much less act on it, but we can't help but feel it. Why would the young Christ not have felt it, if He allowed Himself all of our natural human weaknesses?

 

Why we feel the desire is a mystery. Some Fathers (typically the more ascetic and philosophical) did seem to assume (with most pagan philosophers) that sexual desire is entirely base and shameful, but that's not the picture one gets from all of Holy Scripture or the totality of Tradition. Holy Tradition isn't just what some saints wrote down; it's also how many more saints lived their lives. Most saints on the calendar were martyrs, and most martyrs were not monks. So when we look for a consensus among the saints, we need to consider that the consensus of saints who became monks and wrote books may not match the much larger consensus of saints who married and had children.  


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 25 March 2015 - 03:42 PM.





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