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Born in sin? Fallen Nature vs. Personal Sin

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#21 Reader Luke

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 12:20 AM

It looks like you describing homosexuality as a birth generated mental condition/disorder. Do you?  


It is, many, if not most homosexuals today are born homosexual. It's a condition they are born with, it's a broken condition, same as being born addicted to crack, born blind, born autistic, born schitzophrenic etc...


This is first of all, supported by research today, second of all, nothing is wrong with it as far as Orthodoxy is concerned. The problem is that you could call it a "mis-wiring" of the brain. Same with people who may be born as a man, but identify strongly as a woman. Or an outward physical condition being born as "intersex". It's an inherent brokenness in the person, whether its physical or psychological. It cannot be reversed, a homosexual cannot change and become a heterosexual, a man who identifies as a woman cannot become a man who identifies as a man (but he also cannot become a woman, despite any physical changes he makes), someone who is born intersex cannot magically become "normal".


What these people can do, is seek salvation despite their conditions. They can find unholy temptations, and they can seek repentance. But they cannot change their conditions they were born with.



Being attracted sexually to the same sex is different than being attracted sexually to the opposite sex.  One may assert that there is no difference, based on the current social environment, but that doesn't mean it's what the Church teaches.  It's a condition in opposition to the purpose for which we were created.  Actually, the ideal is to be celibate and chaste and dedicate ourselves to God, body and mind.  But as St. Paul says, if you cannot avoid fornication, it is better to marry.  The problem for homosexuals is not that they are barred from being married by the Orthodox Church.  The problem is their same sex orientation.  That's not going to be mended by the Church being willing to marry them. 


By describing a certain state of mind, inner disposition, attraction, etc. as sinful does not, by the way, equate with condemnation.   Could it be that you are looking for a way not to condemn your friends by coming up with a rationale for homosexuality, rather coming to a proper understanding of what the Church teaches on the nature of sin.  Sin is a diagnostic tool that the Church uses, not a condemnation. 


In a sense, yes the problem is their sexual orientation. But that is something that is impossible to reverse. Homosexuals can't become heterosexuals and vice versa. It is a broken condition, but it is not a sin. Homosexual actions and activity is a sin, but having homosexual orientation is not a sin. Like I said, if it is, then Fr. Seraphim Rose was sinning even unto his last day, because he was a homosexual, and that didn't change even up to his death. Did he fight his temptations? Did he live a chaste, repentant life? Yes... But he didn't "reverse" his homosexuality and become heterosexual.

#22 Owen Jones

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 01:48 AM

Perhaps you are overthinking the issue, Devin.  What is the problem that you are trying to solve?  Are you concerned that if you took the position that if your friends had any choice in the matter of their sexual orientation, then you would be compelled to judge or codemn them?  I am confused about where you are coming from, as they say these days. 


I realize that the pervading view these days is that if a person is a homosexual it means that they were born that way, they have no choice in the matter, and therefore they cannot change that nor should they be encouraged or forced to change their orientation, and certainly it's not a moral fault if you are born a certain way.  I get it.  I don't necessarily buy the argument, certainly not in its entirety, but it's still an argument and what's more, it's an argument that insists on it being a fact, which it isn't.  It's an argument, based on a theory, that is designed primarily for the purpose of getting society to approve of homosexuality. 


I think the Church approaches it from a different angle, that's all.  The Church pretty much insists that we do have the freedom to change our inner disposition, with God's help.  And I do recall one of the Church Fathers, St. John Chrysostom perhaps, saying in a sermon that God can take even the most effeminate of men and make them more manly.   The power of the Gospel to change people's lives really knows no bounds. 


And just from a personal dynamic, I think if more Christian with, say, homosexual tendencies, or even extreme compulsions that are out of control, were to take personal moral responsibility for this and seek spiritual help, they would find freedom.


But if you don't like the Christian position on the subject, if you think it is either ignorant, or too harsh, you might want to look at how Plato treats the subject in The Symposium.  But the Church's approach is just like Plato's in the sense that it is dispassionate. 

#23 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 12:50 PM

It is a fact that man, as a psychosomatic composition, finds physical characteristics for all sins. Almost all sins are connected to physical characteristics.
The glutton has genes that drive at excessive eating. 
The lazy, the arrogant, the envious and the wrathful have biochemical brain problems.
The lustful, the fornicator and adulterer have elevated hormones.
The addict is physically dependent on addictive substances.
Also, almost every sin has similar ground to mental disorders. Anxiety, depression, frustration, indignity, chronic psychological stress, exclusion, depreciation, insults, sexual devaluation, sexual exploitation, oppression, are potentially leading to situations of sinfulness.
Patristic anthropology understands the two natures (soul - body) of man. For this, patristic asceticism is double, treats both body and soul. A key feature of Christian methodology of healing: the assumption that both physical and mental dimensions of human existence are subject to alteration in a substantial way. 
The main thesis is that human nature is by definition good and perfect (this is what God created). So, any imperfections and deviations from ideal physical characteristics created by God are acquired and added afterwards. Therefore these deteriorating elements that infiltrate human nature can be removed and replaced with the original and genuine elements of virtues that are the authentic features of human nature. This is a methodology of reversal. It is a journey of returning to authentic self.
The term used by Fathers is: the Spirit of God produces on the repentant "the good alteration". 
This alteration is not a psychological transition. It is an ontological alteration; actually it is a restoration to the original beautifulness of human nature. This is the work of God's Grace on the cooperating human being. It requires love for God, acceptance of the Grace, participation in the sacraments of the Church, ascetic life as directed by a spiritual father, spiritual courage and bravery, love for your fellow man. This last is important and often overlooked. The struggle for the restoration of our nature, through treatment offered by the Church, is for the sake of God and our fellow man. Because we love God and our fellow man, we want to be authentic to them. For this, we seek the virtues by doing the commandments willingly, despite the effort and possible failures.
St Paul writes at Ephesians 4:17-24

I tell you this in the name of the Lord: You must not live any longer like the people of the world who do not know God. Their thoughts are foolish. Their minds are in darkness. They are strangers to the life of God. This is because they have closed their minds to Him and have turned their hearts away from Him. They do not care anymore about what is right or wrong. They have turned themselves over to the sinful ways of the world and are always wanting to do every kind of sinful act they can think of.
But you did not learn anything like this from Christ. If you have heard of Him and have learned from Him, put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires. Let your minds and hearts be made new. You must become a new person and be God-like. Then you will be made right with God and have a true holy life.


We are called to become new! New minds, new hearts, new persons!

Edited by Lakis Papas, 01 August 2013 - 12:53 PM.

#24 Owen Jones

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 01:11 PM

Well said, Lakis.  I wish we heard more of this from the pulpit. 

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