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What is the appropriate relationship to have with friends who are homosexual?


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 01:28 PM

What I hear reading the quotes Andreas has given is that we should not speak of the Way of justice and righteousness, the path to eternal life, ie the Gospel, to those who are hardened in sin and unable to hear. It is this message which is holy and which is the pearl of great price. Both the Mysteries and the words speaking about the Mystery are Holy.

And it's probably important to look at things in these terms. What point is there in rebuking a certain lifestyle as immoral, except in the context of presenting the Way to life? What context is there for speaking to "generous pagans" about their beliefs, apart from speaking about Christ and life in the Church? the Gospel starts with the message, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is near."

In other words the Gospel in its call to repent does not call us to repent of unhealthy behavior for the sake of removing the bad consequences from ourselves or our society, ie it does not simply tell us to be "morally good" people. but rather it first calls us to a recognition of how we have rejected God. The impetus to want to overcome sinful habits comes from this basic recognition of how we have offended a holy God. From this comes the desire to be holy.

But when someone might be able to hear can be a hard call, it's not always obvious. I think the original poster rightly recognized that there is no sense trying to tell this couple they are wrong purely on the basis of cultural morality or human opinion. Without some openness to hear the Gospel, what context or authority for saying anything about someone's beliefs or behavior is there?

But this leaves the question of how we as Christians interact with the sin in the culture around us. Do we mostly just trust our lives are a witness? Do we separate ourselves in order to live out more seriously the call of the Gospel to confront the evil at ever more subtle levels in our own life? Have we been called in our situation to a more open declaration as when Jesus sent out the apostles to preach the kingdom? But then in this situation there was a judgement on those who rejected the message and the apostles were told to shake even the dust from those towns off their feet if the town rejected the message. The reason not to give holy things to those not ready to hear is that this is a responsibility with consequences both to us and to our hearers. Probably the response varies depending on where we are in our walk with God and our own individual calling.

#42 Father David Moser

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 01:32 PM

I want to complete my previous post: in fact, the post title is ' how to be a Christian to my lesbian friends'. A Chiristian witness Christ and His teaching.


If you want to witness Christ and His teaching then start where He started with showing love and compassion to all men - even those who disagree with you and who insult you and who hate you and who do evil towards you. If you successfully do this, then you will have a beginning for you will have shown them something worth having that is better than that which they already have.

The first commandment is this: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is like unto it to love your neighbor as yourself. And who is your neighbor? - Go and read the parable of the good samaritan again for our Lord's answer. If you want to be a witness for Christ then start here.

Fr David

#43 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 01:40 PM

Anna wrote:

What I hear reading the quotes Andreas has given is that we should not speak of the Way of justice and righteousness, the path to eternal life, ie the Gospel, to those who are hardened in sin and unable to hear. It is this message which is holy and which is the pearl of great price.


Here is a good example of where the question gets so complex. We're not talking about gangs of robbers as in days of old that stood clearly outside the law & social values. Instead we're speaking of those who by Church standards engage in sinfully destructive behaviour; but who are acting consistently with socially & legally affirmed values.

In other words a closer analogy is how Christians in ancient Rome would have interacted with their non-Christian fellow citizens. Or how did Orthodox Christians in the Soviet Union interact with non believers?

#44 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 02:07 PM

Olga has put it better than I could. As has been suggested, discernment is needed about what to say to whom, but in a world where a leading campaigner for homosexual 'rights' says that the Bible is to gay people what Mein Kampf is to Jews, the chances of describing to a homosexual person his or her homosexual lifestyle as sinful which needs repentance, and not being punched in the face (or handbagged) might be slight. Google 'homosexuality and religion' for a few minutes and one will find people like us condemned as homophobic bigots. The couple described in the first post seem to be generous and loving people who would probably be as much hurt as angered by being told their lifestyle is sinful and they must repent to be saved.

#45 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 02:09 PM

Many of us live in countries where a social/legal alternative to 'gay rights' is no longer a realistic option. It can't even be raisied as a point of discussion on the social level.

This of course affects how we see the question at hand.

#46 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 02:43 PM

The Apostles and Fathers warn us repeatedly not to be unequally yoked, not to socialize with the grossly immoral, not to associate too closely with unbelievers, not to participate in their feasts, lest they get the wrong idea about us and we be drawn into becoming more like them, seeing the world the way they do.

Yet here, the recommendation that someone take this counsel and "rethink" a friendship with a mind toward drawing back a bit has been met with outraged exaggeration disparaging any drawing back in the most extreme terms, as "shunning" or "rebuking," as if our only choices are accommodation or cruelty. That's just what that world wants us to believe. Stockhom syndrome indeed.

#47 Olga

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 03:05 PM

not to associate too closely with unbelievers


Then you would not regard the conversion to Orthodoxy of one spouse in a non-Orthodox couple as a good thing? This flies in the face of not only longstanding Orthodox practice, but of Apostle Paul's own words:

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. (1 Cor. 7:14)

#48 Anna Stickles

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 03:33 PM

I don't think that the only choices are accommodation or cruelty. There is allowance for loving Christian confrontation, but I would contend this is mostly to strengthen some recognition a person already has of being in sin, not in a situation where the person's conscience has not been awakened at all. IN this latter state, as noted above, it is trying to get the blind man to see or the deaf to hear. But there is also allowance for non-confrontational or non-verbal living out of our faith.

It is true that we should not be living in fear of being hated, despised or punched in the face, but there is also allowance for a virtuous silence, a non-confrontational approach that is engaged in out of discernment, rather then fear. There are cases where our faith over time can engender in another person an awakening to faith - which also then awakens the conscience and opens the door to a type of witness that wasn't open before.

On the level of interacting with our society, I don't know what hope the Church has of changing it for the better. In the early centuries, the Church could effect things on a society wide level because both church and state had some authority over people's beliefs and lifestyles. But with the enlightenment now putting us in a situation where the individual is the final authority over their own life, and the only authority that govt realistically is allowed is whatever is necessary to keep the peace between individuals, and the church only has the authority that individuals allow it, but no say at all in the general culture as an intrinsic part of that culture ... it just doesn't leave much leeway for the Church to effect society as a whole.

But while the church as a body has no place to speak to society, there is room for individual Christians to make their opinion known on issues that will effect the general health of our society. But this type of political confrontation, at least in my opinion is not how we should approach individuals. The two approaches are not the same.

#49 Ilaria

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 07:54 AM

In other words a closer analogy is how Christians in ancient Rome would have interacted with their non-Christian fellow citizens. Or how did Orthodox Christians in the Soviet Union interact with non believers?


Exactly! How did they? Further, how did Lot interact with his neigbhours, the people of Sodoma? Were they good friends?

#50 Eric Peterson

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:44 PM

Well, Lot left Sodom. Lot's wife appeared, for whatever reason, to miss the place or the people and didn't fare too well for it.

Sodom and Gomorrah aside, a friend who has studied ancient history and culture more than I said that ancient pagans would be shocked by today's homosexuals parading in the streets and flaunting. That that behavior is defended and that same-sex marriage and adoption is foisted on society as "something completely normal" and that the model of the traditional family, which has existed since mankind began is now taught as not normal, is a serious and distressing problem. Orthodox Christians cannot defend these things and hope to defend their faith since this anti-Christian philosophy goes completely against the truth. We preach Christ crucified. Well, why was He crucified? To take away the sin of the world. These people would deny the very existence of sin, something which even ancient pagans acknowledged.

#51 Dan L.

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:50 PM

From my understanding (which is very limited), the issue of whether someone identifies themself as gay, straight, transgendered or something else, is moot. We all our sinners. Everyone's "lifestyle" choices are sinful. It is only by partaking in the Divine Mysteries and Theosis can we develop the mind of Christ. Christ can be considered a singularity, as we move towards Him, our "lifestyle" choices should fade away and we more closely reflect Christ. We don't all find our own Christ to identify with, there is one Christ and we must move to be like Him. As a heterosexual, my "lifestyle" must change from one of lust and personal gratification to sacrificial submission to my spouse as an icon of our relationship with Christ. As an "alternate lifestyle", it must change from a distorted view of our relationship with God to a more perfect icon, whether that be through celibacy or through the icon that God has given in the form of true marriage.

I know several very nice and well meaning people who live an "alternate lifestyle", but as Orthodox, our faith does not allow us to remain contented in an imperfect state, we must always be striving to remove that which is not holy and fill ourselves with the mind of Christ. Orthodox do not emphasize an "anti-LGTB" agenda, but because our modern culture is so focused on it, it becomes the topic of conversation frequently. The Orthodox Church is concerned with the expulsion of all sin and lifestyles outside of that which was ordained by God. Homosexuality is one of them, but by no means the focus. In regards to the transgendered, the primary issue is a failure to be satisfied with the gifts and body that God has provided for you. We are to be content regardless of the situation we are in regardless if that means exterior or interior desires and situation. As we put on the mind of Christ, those desires will fade away as we are united with Him.

Edited by Olga, 18 October 2012 - 12:57 PM.
added paragraph space for ease of reading


#52 Zakharia

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 01:51 AM

Unfortunately this thread was diverted from its original intention several times. If anyone wants to pretend that Christianity and homosexuality are compatible they can go sit with the Episcopalians. This post was intended to bring about some intelligent and practical, I stress that one especially, solutions to relationships that us Christians must hold with people that are homosexual.


I do not know the ages of people posting here, but I am 26. That means I graduated high school after the Y2K fiasco and have been living in a popular culture that promotes homosexuality as normal and healthy, and that all opposition to it is hatred. Any criticism of the philosophical basis, the logical conclusions or how biased this conversation can be is re-branded as intolerant, bigoted hatred. That is where we live now, the popular culture has shifted around us Christians and shoved us out the door. So, no, I can not grab my bible and go open-air preaching in front of my lesbian friends' home, telling them to "get-ah right-ah with the lord-ah!" Not only is that rude, but most homosexuals have been inoculated to Christian thought by the retconning of our Sexual Ethics as homophobia. So making some effort to de-lesbianize them is not only going to make me look bad, but it will also fulfill the confirmation bias they already have of Christians. We Christians can't go shooting ourselves in the foot every-time this subject comes up. If you ever read any of the Feminist or Gay culture magazines, you would know how we badly are painted and how consistently we either fulfill the stereotypes set for us, or we are so unclear in our practical advice to homosexuals that shoehorning us as bigots is easier than a cakewalk.


We Christians have a much harder task ahead. So far we have been talking about homosexuality as if it is just a feeling or a behavior, it has moved far beyond that. Homosexuals are enlisting help from third-parties in order to have children and raise families. This is basically a bullet-proof vest to criticism, we can object to behavior, but objecting to someone's family always puts us on the losing side of a debate. Most homosexuals are not political extremists trying to destroy our faith, they are average people trying to be happy in our screwed up world. And they think that they found happiness, and wonder why we can't just be happy for them for finding it. What do we say to his new, mature permutation of homosexuality? It is easy to explain why a club-hopping, lust-filled, promiscuous version of homosexuality is bad for someone, but try explaining why someone's family is bad for them.

I know many of us want to proclaim the truth, to scream out that the emperor has no clothes, but right now nobody is listening. Gays and Lesbians are starting families, most often with the help of the State. Christian charities and businesses are being shutdown and litigated against, and if you think we can still turn our society around by doing what we have been, then you're fooling yourself. The best thing we can do is be the Christians we were meant to be, really become an example of Christ-like love, suffering and humility. We have tried being the Christ that throws out the money changers and that strategy got us here. It's time for new tactics. Being Christian must now be more an attitude than an identification.


But, how? I keep coming back to this question. How do we walk this fine-line? Loving while disapproving and making sure it is not misinterpreted as hate. Does anyone know how?

#53 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 01:16 PM

Zakharia wrote:

But, how? I keep coming back to this question. How do we walk this fine-line? Loving while disapproving and making sure it is not misinterpreted as hate. Does anyone know how?


I know what you mean. But maybe it's even more subtle than that- loving someone while knowing that what they are doing is wrong. Here I agree that getting in people's face isn't right. Likely beside a basic equitable kindness towards all there is little to be said unless the person themselves senses that something has gone off the rails. Here I tend to think somewhat differently from the family image presented to us- that much of this as with much in our society that tries to justify self referential behaviour of all sorts- is a false picture, like a photo in a current life styles magazine. Behind the scenes is often something more troubled than that. Which just shows why everyone needs our prayers & sympathy.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#54 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 01:34 PM

Christ loves us whilst knowing that we are doing wrong. Do we see Him showing disapproval and hostility? Not if we know we are doing wrong. He shamed those who would have stoned the woman taken in adultery (I have often wondered why there was no censure of the man - it takes two) and then 'Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.' Did she sin no more? No one knows. Christ came to save not to judge. But He cannot save those who are unwilling or disinclined. In today's Gospel (NS), the Gadarenes did not rejoice that the man possessed by demons was freed but they were afraid and asked Jesus to depart; it is as though they did not want their life to be disturbed by something which would have challenged it.

#55 Ilaria

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 04:56 PM

In today's Gospel (NS), the Gadarenes did not rejoice that the man possessed by demons was freed but they were afraid and asked Jesus to depart; it is as though they did not want their life to be disturbed by something which would have challenged it.


I think this is the core issue of the whole problem. It is not a question of showing love and compassion - this is quite simple, because the girls are Zakharia's friends. It is easy to love those that please you and they please you as well. But it is a matter of relationship.
Let us take this parable - the people of Gadara rejected Jesus - according to the Fathers, mainly because they were not willing to change anything in their life. They wanted to remain in their sins (they were also sad because they lost the pigs, which they were not allowed to have, according to the Law).
So - how do we relate with those who want to remain in their sins? Father David, I am not referring to those struggleing with their temptations, but to those who do not care.
Let us go further. Let us assume that we will cover - we do not see, we do not want to see - 'this is part of their private life'. But the phenomenon will increase; and we, the silent witnesses, will have our part of guilty.

We have tried being the Christ that throws out the money changers and that strategy got us here.


Where, dear Zakharia?
What Christ did, any of His doings, were meant to be an example for us. He knew that they will not listen. But He did this because He have to.
I do not want to say that we have to turn the world upside down. However, we can simply avoid close relations. Otherwise, a close friendship is a mutual agreement.

#56 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:26 AM

I do not want to say that we have to turn the world upside down. However, we can simply avoid close relations. Otherwise, a close friendship is a mutual agreement.


This is the bottom line. Strange that it causes so much scandal here among us.

#57 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:06 PM

Dear all;

As part of our current work to curb a number of threads that have gone wildly off-topic into tangents, or otherwise outside the scope of the forum, I have gone through this thread today and removed all posts that are not direct discussions of the topic of the thread, or which do not address it within the scope of the Discussion Community's Terms of Use. To be clear, the central question of this thread is the right type of relationship for an Orthodox Christian to maintain with those known/close to him, who identify themselves as homosexual. This thread is not a general free-for-all about Christian views on homosexuality, nor other issues of sex, gender, identity, social questions, etc.

As always happens when a thread is culled of tangental discussions, I've had to remove several posts where the content was, in its own right, quite good and proper; however, being points made as integral parts of tangental discussions, leaving them in place would only encourage a return to off-topic conversation. My apologies to any whose good and valid points have had to be removed as part of this process.

Please help us avoid the need for this in future by keeping the discussion here (and in other threads) tightly focused on the actual topics being addressed, and making all posts within the scope and tone appropriate to this forum.

INXC, Fr Irenei

#58 Jason Rossiter

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:16 PM

Returning to the original subject of this post, please forgive me, but my relationship with someone who suffers from same sex attractions should be no different than my relationship with any other person who is in desperate need of Christ and who is tormented by sin. Share the gospel. Tell them about the Church, about Christ's victory over death, about the Holy Mysteries. Show them kindness. Encourage them to read the Scriptures and the fathers. Pray for their salvation and illumination. That is what worked for me.

#59 Jose K.

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

What communion can have Light with darkness?

#60 Lakis Papas

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:32 AM

Mr Rossiter, do you think that a person that is tormented by sin needs "special" treatment from someone who is Christian ?

Please also explain what do you mean by "need" when you refer to "a person who is in desperate need of Christ" ?




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