He is the most prominent spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a professor of Theology at Holy Cross Seminary in Boston, and so the semi-endorsement of a piece of pro-homosexual propaganda is profoundly disturbing. John Chryssavgis begins: "There are some topics that Orthodox Christians are singularly uncomfortable about broaching—even if it is simply to affirm their outright rejection and unqualified condemnation—and homosexuality is certainly among them. Indeed, any questions in general related to sexuality or gender—including the nature of homosexuality, or the divorce of clergy, or even the ordination of women—are subjects that arouse much passionate emotion but little rational exploration within theological and especially ecclesiastical circles. This has always astonished, if not perturbed me, because it is not as if these issues are either absent or even diminishing in our society and church.
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He is the most prominent spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a professor of Theology at Holy Cross Seminary in Boston, and so the semi-endorsement of a piece of pro-homosexual propaganda is profoundly disturbing. John Chryssavgis begins: "There are some topics that Orthodox Christians are singularly uncomfortable about broaching—even if it is simply to affirm their outright rejection and unqualified condemnation—and homosexuality is certainly among them.
Indeed, any questions in general related to sexuality or gender—including the nature of homosexuality, or the divorce of clergy, or even the ordination of women—are subjects that arouse much passionate emotion but little rational exploration within theological and especially ecclesiastical circles.
This has always astonished, if not perturbed me, because it is not as if these issues are either absent or even diminishing in our society and church. Indeed, one of my gravest concerns over the years is that the oppression of homosexuality and silence on sexual issues in a hierarchical institution, such as the Orthodox Church, not only results from unjustifiable and unacceptable ignorance and prejudice.
Saying we hate the sin but love the sinner can sometimes be rejection masquerading as acceptance. It is, after all, so much easier to label than to listen.
This is why I was pleased to see the publication of this edited collection of stories and reflections about homosexuality. The editor is proactive in encouraging dialogue and discussion about this complex, albeit controversial topic; he is also the author of a small study on biblical perspectives on the subject that appears in an edited version toward the end of this book and the manager of a website dedicated to "inclusive orthodoxy.
So I have to wonder what it is that he is really objecting to, and why, during the course of his review, he fails completely to recognize the propagandistic nature of the book he is supposedly reviewing, or to clearly state what the actual position of the Orthodox Church is on the question the book is all about. And when it comes to other sins, such as adultery -- should we not label that as a sin, as Christ does Himself?
Should we instead listen to the adulterers to try to understand their sin better first? You may have a very mean wife, and a very nice mistress, but whatever extenuating circumstances you may raise, it is still inherently sinful, and we know this without any doubt or ambiguity.
And that is true of any sin that is clearly condemned in Scripture and Tradition. And there are surely numerous others. We will doubtless be judged by God for failing to notice and to respond compassionately, instead opting to find security in easy scriptural texts and theological castigations. Both of these comprise a simplistic approach and perhaps provide a convenient way out. After all, who among us can cast the first rational comment? There is the question of what the Orthodox Church teaches about homosexuality, and then there is the pastoral question of how to deal with people who struggle with it.
On the first question, failing to be clear about it is not only unpastoral and unloving -- it is pastoral malpractice. Paul tells us clearly and unequivocally that practicing homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God 1 Corinthians If we take what he says seriously, soft-pedaling this truth is not defensible.
It is moral and spiritual cowardice. We can and should both unequivocally condemn the sin, and have love and compassion for the sinner. Of course we should deal with people who struggle with that sin pastorally, just like we do people who struggle with alcoholism, adultery, drug abuse, or any other passion that is especially difficult to overcome. But if we fail to communicate what sin is, it is impossible for those whom we have confused to overcome sins that they do not recognize to be such.
If Fr. John Chryssavgis was simply arguing that we should have a discussion about how best to deal with those who actually are struggling to overcome homosexual temptations, few would argue with him. But that is not what this book is about, nor is it what Fr. Part of the problem of ignoring homosexuality is that it will invariably be restricted to and debated in fringe groups, prompting spurn and dismissal of it and related issues by those in mainstream Orthodox churches and society.
Hence, instead of including stories from clergy in recognized Orthodox churches, the editor resorts to leaders within communities unrecognized by most Orthodox churches who, as a result, may further ignore the issue. The problem in the Orthodox Church in the United States today is not that we are ignoring homosexuality. It is that so many in our Church are failing to take a clear stand on what we actually teach on the subject, and instead, like Fr. The foundation and history of the support group for gays and lesbians, known as "Axios: Eastern and Orthodox Gay and Lesbian Christians"—originally in Los Angeles , but then in other cities of the United States, as well as in Canada and Australia— is a sign of the "work, even suffering, [that must occur] through an honest orthopraxy on the issue.
And if so, is he speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Axios notoriously does not believe that it is inherently sinful for a man to have sex with another man, or for a woman to have sex with another woman Finally, towards the end of his review, we have a few tepidly stated reservations expressed about the actual content of the book: "Frankly, I remain unconvinced by the scriptural and terminological analysis provided in this book that lends support to homosexuality, just as I am cynical of the simplistic parallels drawn between prejudice against homosexuals and the problems of anti-Semitism or slavery Indeed, despite the truly fascinating and stimulating scholarship of John Boswell, whose work focused on religious understanding and social tolerance of homosexuality, I feel that it is a forced endeavor to re-imagine—if not re-invent—history for purposes of identifying the medieval rite of adelphopoiesis or "brotherhood ritual" sometimes referred to as "adoption" with same sex marriage or union.
Anyone familiar with Fr. If someone suggests that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is something less than the eastern equivalent of the Pope, or that the recent council in Crete was not exactly pan-Orthodox, he is quite capable of expressing his opposing view with great strength, enthusiasm, and eloquence.
But let someone write a book that presents a fraudulent case against the moral Tradition of the Church, and the best he can say in response is that he "remain[s] unconvinced"? Our people, who are bombarded with pro-homosexual propaganda every day need something a bit more clear and direct than that from their clergy. After all, why would we be afraid of such an interchange?
Or what would we be afraid of in such an exchange? Seeking the way of God is not resorting to fear, but searching for compassion and honesty, especially among all the other dishonest places that we walk. We are called to strive for simple human decency—indeed, Christ-like decency—in a subject that is so often complicated by selfishness and pride, contempt and rejection, natural desire and degrading lust.
In that respect, I welcome the book as a first—and important, sometimes the most difficult—step in a long process of honest dialogue. There is certainly no evidence of that in Scripture, and every reason to believe just the opposite.
Does he think Christ or St. Does he think St. Paul was unpastoral when he directed the Church in Corinth to excommunicate a man who was in an immoral relationship with his step-mother? Would St. Paul have welcomed a book defending that kind of relationship? Why should we ever welcome a book that endorses sin, and especially one that does so with disingenuous argumentation? It is disappointing that St. We live in a time when the culture in general, and a very large number of our own flock in particular are confused about whether or not homosexual sex is compatible with the Christian life.
True shepherds of that flock should speak clearly on the matter. Those who not only fail to speak clearly, but who actually add to that confusion ought not go unanswered. For More Information:.
She has served as president, secretary and a board member of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and received its highest honor for personal achievement in She has also served as a board member for several nonprofits, ranging from local community service centers to international entities that support faith-based communication scholarships. Today she provides communications support for international, national and local entities, including the Orthodox Churches gathering for their historic Holy and Great Council. He was born in Thessaloniki, Greece He has completed post-doctoral studies in public health and human rights at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
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John Chryssavgis was born in Australia on April 1 , He received a diploma in Byzantine Music from the Greek Conservatory of Music in and was awarded a research scholarship to St. He completed his doctoral studies in Patristics at the University of Oxford in Chryssavgis read patristic theology at Oxford.
Biography[ edit ] John Chryssavgis was born in Australia in He matriculated from the Scots College in Sydney in and received his degree in Theology from the University of Athens in He received a diploma in Byzantine Music from the Greek Conservatory of Music in and was awarded a research scholarship to St. He completed his doctoral studies in Patristics at the University of Oxford in Chryssavgis read patristic theology at Oxford. His work and writing have focused on medieval theology, as well as on the history of the Eastern Church. He holds degrees in theology and sacred music.