June 26, 2009

Clarification for Last Post

Yes, we can....change, that is.
And by 'change', I mean μετάνοια (metanoia), Greek for 'repentance'. The real meaning of the word metanoia is to change one's mind (meta-change, -noia=from 'nous' or mind). Changing our mind doesn't only mean a theoretical transformation alone, but the practical execution of that inner change of mind into a new, changed behavior. More specifically, metanoia is a change in thinking and behaving that brings a person out of sin and closer to God.
Since the last post, I noticed many comments on this blog as well as on Facebook, most of them negative and reactionary. I'd like to first respectfully ask all to please re-read the post carefully. You will see no condemnation or casting out of any persons, whether they be of the "LGBT" community or not. In fact, and I will repeat, as Orthodox Christians, we are called to LOVE ALL PEOPLE, simply because we are all made in the image of God. And, as mentioned at the end of the last post, to love others means to tell them the truth about what is beneficial for their salvation. By not recognizing sin and covering it up by accusations of discrimination or by unproven scientific theories, we are being dishonest, hindering repentance, and therefore, preventing people from coming into communion with God.
The will of God for us is our salvation, or our communion with Him. The way in which the will of God is revealed to us is through His Church, which also provides the ways and means of achieving this ultimate re-union with God. No, I am not a theologian, however, I am an Orthodox Christian, and I am simply witnessing to the Truth. My authority is Christ, and so, if one disagrees with the content presented here, please contact Him directly.
Homosexuality is a sin like other sins that all people struggle with and fall to, it bears no more weight than other sins such as heterosexual fornication or adultury, or even murder, or theft, or lying. The main point here is that we must be able to identify sin, to directly see it as such in our own lives, and to begin a repentant process of moving back toward God, away from sin. If we neglect to identify sin in the first place because our modern society and leaders are telling us to, then we will remain in it, thinking we are 'a-ok'. But God has precisely told us (see Romans 1:26-32 and I Corinthians 6:9-11) and continues to tell us exactly what sin is, and He has provided for us the Church to help us fight it and be victorious over it. It is only up to us to choose.
I hope this clarified the earlier post. We must never judge or condemn or cast out any fellow human being regardless of their sins, whether they be homosexual sins or those of deplorable scientific reasoning, but it is vital that we be honest in our recognition of what sin is and to help others in their struggles with it. The icon above shows the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Please see this link to a much more in-depth and spiritually enlightening article on this subject.

June 6, 2009

Hate the Sinful Lifestyle, Not the Sinner

This week, I received an email from President Barack Obama.
Yes, it's true! But not because I am friends with him, but because I work full time for a government contractor for the National Institutes of Health, and thus, emails from the White House go to all government-related email addresses. The subject line-- "A Message from The President: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2009" My response was not a positive one. As a disclaimer up front, I do not hate people who are homosexual. I care very much about them and love them because they, like all people, are living images of God. I also have compassion for them because the type of lifestyle they live harms both their physical and spiritual health. And furthermore, the type of research I do involves looking for the cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This illness is highly prevalent among homosexual men (53% of all new cases). The President's message spoke about the historical roots of the "LGBT rights movement" and how he officially proclaimed June 2009 as the month where Americans are called to "turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists." Basically, he is telling us to accept sin, and to allow people to continue doing it toward their detriment, so as to not discriminate against them.... Biologically speaking, it has not been scientifically proven that people who live a homosexual lifestyle have a gene or any set of genes that make them 'born that way'. There is also the 'maternal immune hypothesis' which suggests that the mother makes antibodies against a portion of the Y chromosome and that those antibodies affect the areas of sexual preference in the developing child's brain, and that the more older brothers a boy has increases his chances of becoming a homosexual (Blanchard, R. Hormones and Behavior 40, 105–114; 2001). The study referenced above is one of the least scientific studies I've ever encountered. The immense lack of evidence is balanced by the over-abundance of 'hand-waving'. It is a good example of the introduction of bias to a discipline that by nature has been defined as 'objective' and based on the observation of data. I will not spend time here to enumerate examples from this paper about how it exemplifies bad science. Because we have no proof to tell us that homosexuality is genetically determined, as if it were a trait like the color of one's skin, we cannot assume that it is something a person is born with, but rather, it is a choice of lifestyle, and this choice is guided by human weakness succumbing to passion, or to take it further, possibly to the wiles of the evil one. Please note that, contrary to popular belief, as Orthodox Christians, we are not to condemn any PERSON. In fact, we are called to love everyone, because each person is made in the image of God. We are called to suffer with everyone and to have compassion on them, because we all are sinners. But what is sin? Sin (αμαρτία, Gr.) literally means to miss the mark, and the mark is simply doing the will of God, and so, we all sin because we fail to do what God wants us to do. We are called to recognize sin, and similarly, sinful ways of living, and to hate it, but not the people who execute it. And, after calling it out, we must stop it and change our way of thinking and doing (μετανοία, repentance). In order to destroy sin, it must be clearly defined as such. Otherwise, we will not know it is sin, and will remain in it. This is where it is harmful to the health of our souls, and many times, harmful the health of our bodies. It makes it even worse when our society and our leaders refuse to be truthful about sin, to cover it up by saying that it is an unchangeable trait that must be accepted, and to censor the reality of sin's consequences by exhortations to stop so-called discrimination against the people doing it. And so, upon seeing the email from the President, I asked, 'are you saying that we should stop discriminating against SIN?' I'm sorry, Sir, but I respectfully decline to adhere to your order. Hating sin is quite different from discriminating against people because they have inherited (and not chosen) traits that make them unique, such as their skin color, their ethnic origins, class status, intelligence, or gender. In the case of homosexuality, it is not an inherited trait (at least no scientist has proven such), but a lifestyle that is sinful. It is sinful because it is contrary to God's will. God's will for human sexuality is for a man and a woman to become united in one flesh, in a most loving and sacred way in the context of the mystery of marriage, with the openness to co-create sacred life with God. Taking human sexuality out of this context disfigures it and sullies the image of God in the persons who participate. As our President desires, let us not discriminate against people in the 'LGBT community', but rather, let us pray for them and offer them our unconditional love. Loving them, though, means to be truthful with them, not allowing them to make lifestyle choices which are detrimental to their spiritual and physical well-being, all under the guise of so-called tolerance and official declarations against prejudice.