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Was Christ a normal heterosexual being?


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#41 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 04:14 PM

John Martin's post is an excellent summary of the patristic writings about the human nature of Christ, that is very clear and leaves no room for doubt.

 

Also St John Damascus in his book "On the Two Wills in Christ" writes: "ουδέ το σπερματικόν και γεννετικόν είχεν ο Κύριος" which in translation is: "the Lord had not anything from the spermatic nor the genetic". Commenting on this phrase, St Nicodemus writes in his book "Ιnterpretation of the hymns of Despotic and Theomitoric celebrations":  "the similarity of the body of Christ with our body is understood in the meaning that he took only those natural/blameless passions of the components of the human body that were necessary, that is: hunger, thirst, cold, warmth, sleep, pain, fatigue, having a body vulnerable, able to be crucified, able to die.". By St Nicodemus comments becomes clear that Christ did not took unnecessary natural passions of the components of the human body.

 

Seems that there are some followers of novelist N. Kazantzakis who wrote the book "The Last Temptation of Christ", who presented in his book that Christ "while free from sin, was still subject to fear, doubt, depression, reluctance, and lust" (to be psychologically and sexually stressed is not a sin after all !).  

 

There others that insist that Christ married and had human children - why not, they say, this is no sin. There is no biblical denial!

 

Human mind is productive, that is for sure. Acceptance of patristic writings is difficult because the productive mind has to accept the Wisdom of God, that is not compatible with the neophyte context of thinking. Οur minds must be humbled.



#42 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 04:49 PM

John Martin's post is an excellent summary of the patristic writings about the human nature of Christ, that is very clear and leaves no room for doubt.
 
Also St John Damascus in his book "On the Two Wills in Christ" writes: "ουδέ το σπερματικόν και γεννετικόν είχεν ο Κύριος" which in translation is: "the Lord had not anything from the spermatic nor the genetic". Commenting on this phrase, St Nicodemus writes in his book "Ιnterpretation of the hymns of Despotic and Theomitoric celebrations":  "the similarity of the body of Christ with our body is understood in the meaning that he took only those natural/blameless passions of the components of the human body that were necessary, that is: hunger, thirst, cold, warmth, sleep, pain, fatigue, having a body vulnerable, able to be crucified, able to die.". By St Nicodemus comments becomes clear that Christ did not took unnecessary natural passions of the components of the human body.
 
Seems that there are some followers of novelist N. Kazantzakis who wrote the book "The Last Temptation of Christ", who presented in his book that Christ "while free from sin, was still subject to fear, doubt, depression, reluctance, and lust" (to be psychologically and sexually stressed is not a sin after all !).  
 
There others that insist that Christ married and had human children - why not, they say, this is no sin. There is no biblical denial!
 
Human mind is productive, that is for sure. Acceptance of patristic writings is difficult because the productive mind has to accept the Wisdom of God, that is not compatible with the neophyte context of thinking. Οur minds must be humbled.

 
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco says Christ took on human nature "with all of its weaknesses, except sin." So was St. John wrong, or is sex sinful? According to you, Lakis, it must be one or the other.
 
That's the problem with the antisexual argument: No matter who makes it, it moves inexorably toward either a condemnation of all sexuality as unnatural and sinful (whether it's hetero or homo) or a denial that Christ was fully human.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 25 March 2015 - 04:57 PM.


#43 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 05:18 PM

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

 

Are you calling St. John of Damascus a Gnostic?



#44 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 05:25 PM

Are you calling St. John of Damascus a Gnostic?

If I were calling anybody Gnostic, it would be you.  I am doing neither.  It would be very helpful to focus on the matter at hand than to revert to ad hominem attacks.

 

Perhaps you can clarify the entire discussion by just answering the question: is sex/sexual desire sinful?



#45 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 05:29 PM

If I were calling anybody Gnostic, it would be you.  I am doing neither.  It would be very helpful to focus on the matter at hand than to revert to ad hominem attacks.

 

Perhaps you can clarify the entire discussion by just answering the question: is sex/sexual desire sinful?

 

My post was a direct quote from St. John of Damascus, whose teachings you say “reek of Gnosticism.”

 

How do you define “sinful”? Since I’m planning to get married, no, I do not think it is a sin to have sexual relations with one’s spouse. But at the same time I acknowledge that sex is part of the fallen order of creation and that there will be no marriage or being given in marriage in Heaven.


Edited by John Martin, 25 March 2015 - 05:30 PM.


#46 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 05:40 PM

This thread is like a group of people who are crippled from birth speculating about what it’s like to run a marathon.



#47 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 05:56 PM

Let me remind that this forum is about Patristic, Monastic & Liturgical Study. 



#48 Phoebe K.

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 06:13 PM

We need to remember that Christ become fully Man, as we calibrate today the incarnation in the feast of the Anounceation.

 

one of the hymns clarly stated that Christ borrowed our human nature form the undifiled body of the Theotokos.  If we spent less time talking and more on the liturgies of this feast along with the other ones which fall in the 5th week of lent we will find far more than we can trying to use our human reason.



#49 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 06:32 PM

 
 
That's the problem with the antisexual argument: No matter who makes it, it moves inexorably toward either a condemnation of all sexuality as unnatural and sinful (whether it's hetero or homo) or a denial that Christ was fully human.

 

This argument has been answered in previous posts.

 

Let me answer again:

 

1. It is wrong to believe that the sexual desire is a mandatory condition for being human. Actually all humans are born and live as children for several years with complete absence of sexual desire - yet they are human beings from their birth.

 

2. It is crucial error to considered one of the potentials of nature as a mandatory obligation. And this error is even more severe when it is connected to Christ. 

 

3. Sexuality is not an identity. Sex is an identity. Being a man, or being a woman is not connected to sexuality. Αs there are many kinds of angels, seraphim, cherubim, etc., which while being all angels differ depending on the their operating position before God, in analogy sexes in humans are determined by their functional position before God. And the sex of a person is identified by birth from the nature that has. It is not the sexuality, or the lack of it that defines the nature, rather it is the other way around: the nature has the potential to manifest sexuality and sexual desires. But if the a person never activates this potential (remain for all duration of life like a child - regarding to sexuality) this does not make this person less human than any other human being that has this potential activated.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 25 March 2015 - 06:36 PM.


#50 Father David Moser

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 06:39 PM

There have been a few posts in the past couple of days that have flirted with the border of personal comments, rather than focusing on the issue at hand.  I understand that this is a bit of a "hot topic" however I ask all involved to please be attentive to this issue.  There is nothing wrong with a spirited discussion (such as we have here) as long as it doesn't devolve into name calling and personal criticism. Thank you all for an entertaining and educational discussion so far!

 

Fr David



#51 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 07:57 PM

This argument has been answered in previous posts.

Sorry, no. Previous posts have only proven my argument by explicitly excluding sexual attraction from the category of "natural/blameless" desires.
 

1. It is wrong to believe that the sexual desire is a mandatory condition for being human. Actually all humans are born and live as children for several years with complete absence of sexual desire - yet they are human beings from their birth.
 
2. It is crucial error to considered one of the potentials of nature as a mandatory obligation. And this error is even more severe when it is connected to Christ.

There's only one point made here: 2 merely continues 1. The problem with 1 is that Christ didn't remain a child; He grew up and went through puberty, experiencing the effects of testosterone upon the male body, one of which is heighten sensitivity to sexually distinct pheromones that trigger involuntary reactions in the brain to persons of the same or opposite sex. He could have, as God, suppressed this natural, inevitable, and therefore obligatory experience, but since He became incarnate to bridge the divide between God and man by becoming what we are, why would He have suppressed it? It's simply not necessary for Christ never to have known what it means to feel sexual desire and be sexually tempted.
 

3. Sexuality is not an identity. Sex is an identity. Being a man, or being a woman is not connected to sexuality. Αs there are many kinds of angels, seraphim, cherubim, etc., which while being all angels differ depending on the their operating position before God, in analogy sexes in humans are determined by their functional position before God. And the sex of a person is identified by birth from the nature that has. It is not the sexuality, or the lack of it that defines the nature, rather it is the other way around: the nature has the potential to manifest sexuality and sexual desires. But if the a person never activates this potential (remain for all duration of life like a child - regarding to sexuality) this does not make this person less human than any other human being that has this potential activated.

By disconnecting sex and sexuality, you are playing right into the hands of queer theorists, who also believe that sex does not determine sexuality and therefore a man may "identify" as a woman and vice versa. The truth is, healthy sexuality is based on a healthy awareness of one's sex and what that means. The psychologically healthy male accepts his maleness and therefore consciously assumes the behavior of a man and not of a woman, imitating other men in the way he walks, talks, stands, sits, etc. We can only believe Christ did the same as He was growing up. In that sense, He was a healthy heterosexual male regardless of whether He ever felt sexual attraction.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 25 March 2015 - 08:05 PM.


#52 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 08:50 PM

Doesn't the Orthodox Church teach that Christ is the New Adam not the old Adam.

 

Father ProtoDeacon Patrick,

 

Christ sanctifies.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 25 March 2015 - 09:03 PM.


#53 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 09:13 PM

Forgive me, brothers, but I can not continue to participate in a discussion where questions that are answered clearly and with solid patristic references keep coming back in exactly identical form with the initial questions.

 

I think there are two points that need to be clarified again for one last time:

 

1. "Christ became man in nature and in truth and assumed human nature with all of its properties. Not another kind of flesh, but the same with which we are all afflicted. We must state here in very simple terms that although the Son and Word of God became Perfect Man, He became truly perfect, which means He became man without sin, just as Adam and Eve were originally created as sinless beings."

 

2. Christ said : (Matthew 5:28)  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.



#54 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 10:33 PM

Forgive me, brothers, but I can not continue to participate in a discussion where questions that are answered clearly and with solid patristic references keep coming back in exactly identical form with the initial questions.

 

I think there are two points that need to be clarified again for one last time:

 

1. "Christ became man in nature and in truth and assumed human nature with all of its properties. Not another kind of flesh, but the same with which we are all afflicted. We must state here in very simple terms that although the Son and Word of God became Perfect Man, He became truly perfect, which means He became man without sin, just as Adam and Eve were originally created as sinless beings."

 

2. Christ said : (Matthew 5:28)  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

 

You can't just quote two or three fathers and expect everybody to take your side. The Fathers are not that kind of authority. They were fallible men with a limited knowledge of things human and divine. Many of them wisely avoided probing into great mysteries unnecessarily, and we are not obliged, by actual Church authorities, to believe everything written by those who speculated freely but briefly about dubious issues. 

 

If we were obliged to regard the few saints quoted on this thread as infallible and dispositive (settling the issue), we would have to conclude that sex is unnatural and inherently sinful, and that the moment a boy looks on a girl with awe and longing, he has committed adultery in his heart. Yet without such awe and longing there would be no marriage, and marriage is a sacrament of the Church. 



#55 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 02:51 AM

You can't just quote two or three fathers and expect everybody to take your side. The Fathers are not that kind of authority. They were fallible men with a limited knowledge of things human and divine. Many of them wisely avoided probing into great mysteries unnecessarily, and we are not obliged, by actual Church authorities, to believe everything written by those who speculated freely but briefly about dubious issues. 

 

If we were obliged to regard the few saints quoted on this thread as infallible and dispositive (settling the issue), we would have to conclude that sex is unnatural and inherently sinful, and that the moment a boy looks on a girl with awe and longing, he has committed adultery in his heart. Yet without such awe and longing there would be no marriage, and marriage is a sacrament of the Church. 

 

I think this is getting out of hand. Nobody in this thread is saying that sex is sinful or unnatural. Certain Fathers may say that human sexuality in its current form is a postlapsarian condition, but that is different from saying that it is sinful. None of the Church Fathers oppose marriage; that’s Gnostic. And as for “awe and longing” I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. Surely “awe and longing” are different from lust.

 

As for this thread in general, I find that both sides put out valid points. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem right to call Christ “asexual” because asexuality implies some kind of deficiency in one’s natural desires. On the other hand, calling Christ a “normal heterosexual” is a bit of a loaded statement because frankly abnormality is the new norm nowadays and it’s hard to find even a truly “normal” heterosexual.

 

Monks commit themselves to a life of chastity, following Christ. Are they considered asexual? I don’t think that’s the right term. Rather, I’d say that they sublimate their sexual energies towards a higher kind of love—divine eros. The “sexual life” of the monk is thus not something below nature (asexuality) or according to nature (physical eros) but above nature (divine eros). Whatever desires that Christ allowed Himself to feel He transformed and deified. The love that Christ has for His bride, the Church can be called a divine eros.


Edited by John Martin, 26 March 2015 - 02:56 AM.


#56 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:35 AM

On the other hand, calling Christ a “normal heterosexual” is a bit of a loaded statement because frankly abnormality is the new norm nowadays and it’s hard to find even a truly “normal” heterosexual.
 
Monks commit themselves to a life of chastity, following Christ. Are they considered asexual? I don’t think that’s the right term. Rather, I’d say that they sublimate their sexual energies towards a higher kind of love—divine eros. The “sexual life” of the monk is thus not something below nature (asexuality) or according to nature (physical eros) but above nature (divine eros). Whatever desires that Christ allowed Himself to feel He transformed and deified. The love that Christ has for His bride, the Church can be called a divine eros.

Wow.  Nobody is saying that sexuality is sinful?  It seems pretty clear from the previous posts that to look upon another with longing is apparently the definition of lust.  In fact, the impression I am getting is that having sexual desire in any form equates to lust.

 

It seems pretty clear that what is being communicated -- that sexuality is a "lower" function, one according to an animal nature, lower than angels, and according to the flesh.  We all know the scriptural implications of such a view... "they worshipped the creature rather than the creator" and "living according to the flesh."  While going the full nine yards and calling it sinful was not attempted, the ball is at inches and goal.

 

I find it really interesting that immediately a change of direction was taken to look at monks and "asexuality" when we all are more than very aware that monastics have rigorous discipline to overcome sexual temptation.  Why would it not have been more appropriate to instead transition over to the spinster who avoids marriage because of neurotic tendencies instilled through the shame poured out by a sick society regarding her own sexuality?  After all, that discussion was taken onto other public forums such as Facebook to claim that I was "basically attacking single mothers"?

 

The reality is according to the scriptures, the fathers as a whole, and the liturgical works, the marriage bed is undefiled.  And I mean the marriage bed here on Earth, not among the Angels.  And the marriage between one man and one woman is the icon of Christ and His Church.  One where at every liturgy, we physically receive Christ inside ourselves.  Neither is an animalistic act -- it is designed, implemented, and blessed by God for human beings.  The relation of husband and wife and that of mother and child are the most fundamental relationships we have.  Trampling on those is unacceptable.

 

Even if this were to be lain parallel with St. Paul's discussion regarding meat sacrificed to idols, it would follow that for those to whom sex is defiled, to them it is defiled.  To those of whom sex is not defiled, it is not defiled.  It is a sin to cause either to stumble for whom Christ died.  So, again, as Protodeacon Patrick stated: Don't go there!

 

As for those temptations/passions which Christ endured, there is no evidence that He did not experience sexual feelings or longings.  Just like his Anger and overturning the money changers was not sinful, nor his hunger and being tempted by Satan to turn stones to bread, these things weren't sinful because he controlled his thoughts and actions.  I just don't see what the problem is... still!



#57 Olga

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:57 AM

The reality is according to the scriptures, the fathers as a whole, and the liturgical works, the marriage bed is undefiled.

 

Indeed the marriage bed is undefiled. But Christ's bride is the Church, not a woman.



#58 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 05:05 AM

Indeed the marriage bed is undefiled. But Christ's bride is the Church, not a woman.

My wife is a woman.  And my marriage bed is undefiled and has the blessing of Christ and His Church.



#59 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 11:32 AM

I’m not sure how exactly we’re disagreeing at this point.



#60 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 11:50 AM

Being a seminarian, I am very interested in not being a heretic. I am not concerned with any opinions, but what is taught by the Fathers. I’m not here for the sake of contradiction. Show me how I am misinterpreting the Fathers, or show me some patristic authorities. However, let me get a few things straight:

  • I don’t think sexuality is unnatural or accidental to human nature
  • I don’t think that Christ was asexual
  • Sexual relations are not sinful in themselves, but only when they are misused (i.e. outside marriage)





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