by Fr Gabriel-Allan Boyd
“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’” ~ St. Anthony the Great
The Roman Catholic columnist, Matt Walsh, recently underscored some of the madness that Saint Anthony spoke of, when he keenly summed up our culture’s popular worldview: “Gender is a social construct…but I am woman hear me roar…but anyone can be a woman…but no uterus no opinion…but transwomen are women…but I demand women’s rights…but men are women…but men are scum…but drag queens are beautiful…but appropriation is evil.” We’ve entered an age that’s become quite difficult to navigate as Christians, because timeless truths have given way to people’s ever-transitory feelings about gender, sexuality, and often questionable perceptions of victimization.
So, what is the timeless truth regarding human sexuality? Humanity was fashioned to be a creatively childbearing relationship of male and female. “God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). We were created in the image of God, who is a communion of love. Thus, we were created for communion with God and with each other. God appropriated male and female as perfect companions for one another in marriage (Genesis 2:24). Not only that, but the whole story of our salvation is also the story of a male and a female. God’s Son, the Word who existed from before all time, takes on human flesh to be born from a female—Christ, the second Adam, is born forth from Mary, the second Eve. In fact, the whole Orthodox account of humanity being made whole is the story of a union between God and humanity. There’s a fullness of God’s union with humanity, first in the womb of Mary, then in His suffering and death on the Cross, then in His Resurrection, then in Christ’s Ascension into heaven and finally with Him marrying His bride, the Church. The entire Christian gospel is a creative, binary relationship of union between a male and a female. Is that because God is homophobic? It’s a silly question, but the reason I’m asking it here, is so that we put in context the hierarchy of God’s intentions for human relationships over our own intentions.
Within the last 20 years it’s become commonplace for people influenced by the LGBTQ movement to try to make Christians with traditional views on human-sexuality feel guilty about being “homophobic.” Yet, with only a cursory stroll through the bible, it’s fairly evident that those traditional views come to us from God. Going further in depth through the scripture and Church Tradition only strengthens that view. To argue otherwise, one has to put in a lot of dishonest effort into manipulating and misrepresenting God, the scriptures and 2000 years of Church Tradition. So, it leaves us pondering about God. Did God create Adam and Eve as a male and female prototype for marriage relationship because He was afraid of other expressions of marriage? Was God’s vehement Old Testament disapproval of same-sex sexual relationships merely a sign of His nervous need to dominate and subdue people? Is it even possible that the powerful Creator of the Universe is so fragile that He could be afraid of anything? Of course not! It’s a ridiculous presumption. From the very beginning, God was more concerned with loving humanity, and providing us with everything we need to have abundant life in Him. So, when we realize that our stance on human sexuality and relationships has been the result of God’s instruction for our good…then that should carry significant weight in this discussion and in our approach with the world.
Why is this important? For 2000 years the Orthodox Church has not condoned same-sex marriages...consistently asserting, instead, that same-sex sexual relationships are sin (ἁμαρτία - missing the mark). For the sake of clarity (especially in a western context, where sin is misunderstood merely as a legal problem with God), it begs the question, what is “the mark” that we’re missing when we sin? The mark is, first, what God has commanded of us for our own good—to guide us to grow into His likeness...and second, what He’s revealed of Himself to us (a selfless, self-sacrificial way of love) in the God/Man, Jesus Christ—to whom we are called to unify ourselves.
God instructs us, that setting our lives in this proper order (in this hierarchy), giving Him this worth-ship (worship), is the way to life. He further instructs that, setting our lives in any other order than this is the path of decay and dis-integration toward death. To reject God’s command and likeness in pursuit of our own distorted passions is missing the mark...indeed constituting a dangerous spiritual illness...a decay unto death. When someone says, “Love is love,” what they mean is that they and their sexual passions should define what love is for them. But authentic love, the Love in whose image we were created for communion, isn’t guided by the satisfying of such individual appetites. To try to be so self-defined, self-designed, and self-affirming is merely a return to Adam & Eve’s fall in the Garden, the self-absorbed way toward death.
So, when Orthodox Christians join with the world in normalizing distorted passions as simply “a healthy alternative-expression of one’s sexuality” it’s not only missing the mark...but it’s also a tragic participation (even if unwittingly) in pure wickedness, the consequences of which, both we and our children will experience. To stand silently by, in mute affirmation of the world’s unwary ingestion of this poison, is an act of callous apathy that will be the ruin of our souls as well. We need to be able to compassionately communicate the fact that setting our lives in a disfigured order—where our distorted passions of any kind become an idol taking the place of God—fills our lives with a type of spiritual illness, inviting a host of other illnesses in to drive us further toward our destruction.
Every once in a while, people will make the misguided argument that, “Since Jesus never specifically condemned homosexuality as a sin, then we shouldn’t either.” But they forget that Jesus was born as a Jew, growing up amidst a people who valued the covenant that God had set between Himself and His people. Since He, Himself (as God) was the author of that covenant, of course He valued it too. Within that Jewish covenant, He’d set guidelines for human sexuality and relationships and for what He named as destructive distortions. So, when Jesus (speaking to Jewish experts in the covenant) says in Mark 7:21-23, “Evil comes out from the inside of a person’s heart—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” The “sexual immorality” that Jesus speaks of there (illicit sex whether of either the heterosexual or the homosexual kind) comes from the Jews’ understanding of God’s covenantal law. Therefore, trying to justify same-sex sexual relationships as healthy, instead of counting them among the other “defiling” sins “because Jesus never mentioned it,” is a dishonest twisting of what Jesus taught.
None of this article was written to say that homosexuality (or any of the rest of the LGBTQ agenda) is a worse sin than any of the others. Nor was it written to attack people whose lives are filled with agony over the chasm between the distorted passions they struggle with and God’s instruction to us about what it means to be human. People experiencing same-sex desire didn’t choose that passion any more than people who struggle with anger, or heterosexual lust chose theirs. But when any of us define ourselves by our distorted passions it’s a gross dehumanization of ourselves. When we define others by their sins, we not only dehumanize them, but also ourselves. The Church teaches us to have compassion on anyone who struggles with any of these passions that causes them to miss the mark. And so, as Orthodox Christians, we don’t condone the bullying or abuse of people who struggle with these passions. To do so would be as great and as harmful a sin to your soul as any of the other sins. But as Orthodox Christians, we also maintain that part of “proving our love” means helping people understand that it’s a delusion to say that our illness is healthy.
Therefore, this was written merely to educate and to assert that any efforts to normalize the LGBTQ agenda as just another healthy expression of human sexuality is an invitation to spiritual illness, and thus, something that Orthodox Christians should, with conviction of heart, hold absolutely, no part in legitimizing.