by Fr. Ioannes Apiarius –
Open Letter to all men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction.
Christ is Risen! May Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, be with you always. Walk in the Lord and seek the illumination of the Holy Spirit on your journey to find salvation and acquire the joy and peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding.
Do not believe the lies of Satan. Do not accept the delusions and distortions of those who have forsaken the true God and abandoned the wisdom of Christ and the Scriptures. You are not “gay” or “homosexual.” You were not “born this way.” You are men and women created in the image and likeness of GOD! You were all designed by Him for everlasting life in His Kingdom. You struggle with carnal temptations and spiritual passions, like every single man and woman since the fall of Adam and Eve. In other words you are human.
Sin does not characterize you. Passions do not define you. Do not self-identify with any sin or any passion. You are not your sin. If you are a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son and Word of the living God, True God of True God, the Redeemer and Saviour of all mankind, then you must reject and abandon the “gay” or “homosexual” identity or label. “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
You are a man or a woman made in the image and likeness of GOD. A creature that must continually cling to Christ and walk the narrow road that leads to salvation. A human being that can become divine and holy through God’s grace, Christ’s love, and the power of the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Saints, and help from prayers and the holy sacraments, worship, and practices of the Holy Orthodox Church.
We are all imperfect. We are all sinners before the face of God. But despite our imperfection and weaknesses, the love and grace of Christ and the uncreated Light of God are here to redeem us to transform us, to restore us, to bring us back to the Father’s house. We are never alone in this journey. God is with us. Christ is next to us. The Holy Spirit is within us. “God works together with each one of us so that, by suffering what we must on this earth, we may attain to life everlasting in the age to come,” wrote Fr. Thomas Hopko.
Fr. Philip LeMasters reminds us that “we all encounter Christ as people with a history of personal brokenness in thought, word, and deed. We may doubt, however, whether the Savior’s victory over death, the wages of sin, may truly become active in us. The Church highlights the example of so many notorious sinners who have become great saints by receiving the Lord’s mercy through repentance. Perhaps we have heard their stories so many times that we take them for granted and assume that, after their conversion, they were no longer troubled by temptations, doubts, and sorrow for their failings. That would be an unrealistic assumption, of course.
Remember that St. Mary of Egypt spent her first seventeen years in the desert in fierce struggle with passions for all that she had left behind. She said of this period, “Darkness after darkness, misery after misery stood about me, a sinner.” If we are genuinely embracing the new life our Risen Lord, we will face battles in our own souls as we turn away from the darkness of the tomb and toward the brilliant light of His kingdom.”
Fighting the passions and repenting of sin are lifelong requirements for all Christians, for all men. This is the cross all men carry in this fallen world. We must all continue this battle to our very last breath. Christ and all the Apostles, Fathers, Theologians, and Saints of the Church bear witness to this universal struggle.
Christ commands us to seek perfection. “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48). The Scriptures encourage us to be holy. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16). None of us can achieve this fully, but it is our duty as Christians to make this our goal. We are all called to fight the good fight. We cannot give up. We must pick our cross and follow Christ. Our salvation and true humanity are at stake.
Do not despair. Do not surrender. Do not give up. If you fall, repent and stand up. Never lose hope. Stay on the road to salvation. Don’t look back. Abandon the old man. Trust Christ. Read the Scriptures. Pray. Seek salvation in the Church. Reject the lies. Forsake sin. Repent. Fight the passions. Strive for holiness. Live in Truth. Victory comes to those who endure and persevere, until the end.
Never forget that true happiness comes from our struggle and any victory over sin. “It is only by struggling with false, “plastic” happiness that you find true happiness. Indeed, what can make you happier than an earnest, though difficult, struggle with your sins? After all, you feel the help of Christ in this warfare, which means you are not alone, you are with God … we begin to have a foretaste [of] the good eternity when we begin to struggle with our passions and reorder our priorities in spiritual and material life,” reminds us Orthodox Christian professor Hannu Pöyhönen.
“All those who struggle with their passions, no matter how difficult it is for them, are truly happy,” proclaimed Abbot Aimilianos (Vafeidis), from Simonopetra Monastery on Mt. Athos, to Dr. Pöyhönen.
If you love Christ and believe in Him, then trust Him. The Lord will not abandon or forsake you. Have faith in Him. Follow Him. Do the work He commanded to be healed and saved, to have eternal life. Be renewed by the Holy Spirit and walk into the uncreated light that brings wisdom, joy, peace, and illumination to our hearts, minds and souls.
May God’s grace, Christ’s love, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit continue to guide and help you towards healing and freedom from sin. There is great joy in Heaven over every sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), picks up the cross, and joins the ranks of those who follow Christ in the journey back to the Father’s house.
– Fr. Ioannes Apiarius