Priest vs. Priest on Homosexual Orientation

St George Slays Dragon by Editors –
In an online exchange on the popular Monomakhos Blog, the topic of discussion focused on the views on homosexuality expressed by Fr. Alexis Vinogradov a priest in the OCA, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY. Fr. Hans Jacobse, a priest in the AOCA, rector of St. Peter Orthodox Mission in Naples, FL, challenged the presumptive opinions of Fr. Alexis and presented the truth from a proper Orthodox Christian understanding.

Fr. Alexis Vinogradov’s views were originally published in 2011 in an article titled New beginnings in community Gender issues and the Church on ocanews.org. Here’s the relevant excerpt that Fr. Hans responded to in the comments section of Monomakhos Blog:

“Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us.” ~ Fr. Alexis Vinogradov


Fr. Hans addressed the presumptions and clarified each point.

The grave weakness in this presumptive call to moral rectitude is its flawed anthropology.

Presumptive: “Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual.”
Clarifying: It is true that people experiencing same-sex desire did not choose the passion. However, there is no such thing as a “homosexual person.” Defining personhood solely in terms of desires or sins is reductionist. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27) is the foundation of Orthodox anthropology. The scripture does not say that God created both man and woman either heterosexual or homosexual.

Presumptive: “It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin.”
Clarifying: Same-sex desire is not sin.

Presumptive: “That much we know today.”
Clarifying: Orthodoxy always knew this. See 1 Cor. 6:9-11:

Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Presumptive: “There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact.”
Clarifying: What fact? That Orthodox anthropology reduces the definition of what constitutes a human being to passions and sins?

Presumptive: “But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons.”
Clarifying: Man is created for communion with God and others and that communion occurs within the bond of love (love constitutes that bond). Indeed, one of the therapies for healing same-sex attraction is the restoration of the male to male (or female to female) bond within the proper moral boundaries (violation of those boundaries prevents the healing from occurring).

Presumptive: “God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us.”
Clarifying: Men need communion with men and women with women in order to grow into deeper self-knowledge. Fr. Vinogradov’s implicit conclusion that same-sex behavior fulfills this need violates the Orthodox moral tradition and reveals a flawed understanding of Orthodox anthropology. God did not create men to have sexual relationships with men (or women with women) as the means by which the need for brotherly love is met.

From the Comments section on Monomakhos.com

Line_Divider_02_270x20

– UPDATE — The discussion continued on this topic in the comments section. Fr. Hans responded to additional questions and further clarified and explained the Orthodox Christian teaching.

Question: “Is it also true that people experiencing anger did not choose the passion? Is there therefore nothing wrong with them? Aren’t they doing something wrong when they get angry?”

Fr. Hans Responds:
Feeling angry and doing something in anger are two different things. Feeling same-sex attraction and acting on it are two different things.

Sin enters when a temptation takes root — when the passion is engaged, first with the mind and then through action.

One does not choose his passions — the temptations they fight or the sins they struggle against. Most people struggle against one or two major ones.
_____

Question: “Doesn’t personhood involve not just nature but also behavior — logos and tropos, as St. Maximus says? So persons can be either heterosexual or homosexual, just as they can be either good or bad?”

Fr. Hans Responds:
If you are arguing that homosexual or heterosexual is a category of being, part of created human distinctiveness, then no, one cannot be homosexual. God does not create people homosexual.

If you are arguing that homosexual behavior reinforces homosexual orientation, then yes, one can self-identify as a homosexual. But this is true of all passions that are internalized, not just same-sex attraction. A person with a passion for stealing (greed?) is called a thief. He self-identifies as such and can be said to have a thief’s orientation (kleptomania). God does not create a person a thief however, thus the passion is inordinate.
_____

Question: “Isn’t heterosexuality all about the difference of male and female? Didn’t God intend all along for men and women to live heterosexually, as either a man or a woman? Isn’t it possible to live both heterosexually and celibately at the same time?”

Fr. Hans Responds:
Yes, yes, and yes.
_____

Question: “Is it really that simple? Can you say the same for other passions? What about anger? Is anger only wrong when acted upon? What about the difference between so-called blameless passions like hunger and the “shameful passions” [πάθη ἀτιμίας] St. Paul mentions in Rom. 1:26?”

Fr. Hans Responds:
Passions acted upon affect the inner structure of a person (orientation). Passions brought to Christ can be healed. Romans 1:26 deals with the former. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 deals with the latter.
___________________________________

Editor’s NOTE – Here are the relevant Scripture passages Fr. Hans was referring to.

Romans 1:26

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Comments

  1. I am not surprised this error comes from an OCA priest. There is an entrenched homosexual problem in their Holy Synod, and this alone is an excellent argument for multiple jurisdictions remaining in the Americas unchanged, among other arguments, most of which add up to the
    same thing, that if something goes wrong you have elsewhere to go.

    An orthodox blogger, varvara aka Barbara-Marie Drezhlo, is in fact a transsexual male gone female and apparently tried to persuade some that she was born sexually ambiguous, but since she admitted on a tranny message board that she had undergone 4 years of hormone therapy to be ready for the operation that is a lie. And on that same board, she counselled an 18 year old boy, to say anything it took to the psychiatrist to get approved for the operation.

    In other words, lie.

    Anyone reading her blog, would think she was with ROCOR, but in fact she is with OCA “an upstate New York” OCA church, and was at that point engaged to someone named Nicky, who may or may not know what is going on, and has the approval of “her” priest.

    The early canon denouncing self eunuchization applies also to transexualism, because though this may or may not be the purpose of all such operations in those days, it makes the person not a male while not making him in fact female and able to function as a female (get pregnant with his own organs not transplanted ones or grown ones using some hypothetical process that incl. some of the person’s own DNA as might be tried now). This is hardly an endorsement of any procedure that would change DNA and organs, but the point is, Drezhlo is operating in violation of a canon of the sort that is hardly time and place limited disciplinary best for that time and people, but an absolute one, which prohibited voluntary eunuchization absent a medical reason.

    • Justina,
      While not defending “varvara’s” actions as you have outlined them, I do not think posting this on a well-known Orthodox website is appropriate. It is even less appropriate during the Fast when we should be looking at “our own faults” and “not judging our brothers and sisters,” as we are enjoined in St. Ephraim’s prayer.
      On this Great and Holy Friday, I wish you a profitable end of the Fast, and that we all see the Bright and Joyful Pascha of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
      Love in Christ
      Elizabeth

  2. Thanks for posting Fr. Hans comments. There are too many so-called “priests” and religious leaders who promote and encourage our children and young people to pursue and practice sexual immorality. Vinogradov is pushing sodomy on other people’s sons and does not seem to care whether its right or wrong, nor who gets hurt.

  3. James Bradshaw says:

    “The scripture does not say that God created both man and woman either heterosexual or homosexual.”

    True, but the manner in which we relate to others comprises a large part of our personal identity, especially in regards to those we love and sacrifice ourselves for.

    You are asking gay men and women to essentially love less/i>, even if you claim they should simply love “differently”. Remove all passion and exclusivity from their relationships with their significant others so that they can be (at most) “friends”.

    Do you understand why this is a hard, almost impossible, pill to swallow? Give up love in this life to avoid the possibility of torture in the next … maybe. But who knows since God is apparently a theological taskmaster who will torture you if your theology is wrong anyhow.

    http://www.outsidethecamp.org/heterodoxy.htm

  4. Billy Bean says:

    I would be interested in hearing Father Thomas Hopko on this matter. He has written on the subject, and he was once of Wappingers Falls, from whence Father Vinogradov now hails. I respect Father Tom, and believe him to be a truly Orthodox priest. It is, of course, always possible to consult his book “Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction,” but both his and Father Hans’ position seem rather finely nuanced when it comes to what the average lay person is to make of all this. My own perception is that their views somewhat overlap in pastoral application, but that they somewhat differ in theory. Am I alone here, or would others benefit from a public dialogue between these two most reputable and esteemed Orthodox priests?