Orthodoxy and Homosexuality

Book cover for "The Orthodox Church" by John Anthony McGuckin

The Orthodox Church

There are also some Christians whose mature sexuality does not demonstrate any heterosexual drive towards marriage. When the Orthodox Church affirms its ancient and unbroken teaching that all God-blessed sexual relationships should take place within heterosexual marriage, considering all other forms of sexual liaison as canonically irregular, and as lapses from the standard of God-blessed creative communion, such men and women feel bereft by this teaching, and are often dismayed that their deepest sexual affinities find no resonance within it. In ancient times almost all the ethical reflection that the church conducted on the subject of homosexuality was based on the premise that such men and women freely elected their sexual preference, and grounded, or established, themselves within it as life developed, by force of habituation. That view no longer commands the universal agreement of scholars as it once did when the church drew up its canonical discipline and advice on the subject. Scientific studies now suggest that as many as one in ten human beings may find themselves in this life condition. Christians among them have often grown up from early school years ridiculed, isolated, persecuted for their difference, because of deep-seated instincts they have not chosen and are often unable to comprehend. The Orthodox Church is drawn, in the imitation of the Christ, to offer consolation and grace to all the children of God on their pilgrimage to the Kingdom, and finds homophobia and all forms of prejudice, verbal and otherwise, to run counter to the charity and purposes of the Lord.

Such Christians may not feel called to monasticism or to marriage, and yet do not wish to face the world alone. Although they can often be tempted to desolation, and feelings of hopelessness, they are the children of a merciful God who will not abandon them. Their affective development and their path towards security of affection within the world and to stable relationships with supportive friends is a matter of great care and concern to the Lord, and ought to be also to the wider church community. The Orthodox Church believes that it is especially appropriate for them to have the regular help and advice, the consolation and encouragement, of a spiritual father or mother, to who they can open their heart, and here in return words of grace. The deepening of friendship, affection, and love between Christ’s saints, and its transcendent unfolding into bonds of a depth that surpass what the world can imagine, is a gift to all believers. Such a mystery of love is not a prerogative of the married only, for: ‘When Christ dwells in our hearts we are rooted and grounded in love.’ [Eph 3:17]

The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture by John Anthony McGuckin

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