Question: Why is the Orthodox Church so categorically against homosexuality? I am not talking about gay parades; I myself do not see any point in them, although I am a woman living with a woman. How are we different? Why are we any more sinful than everyone else? We are also human beings. Why the negative feelings? Thank you.
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Holy Scripture calls any violation of Divine law a sin (see. 1 Jn. 3:4). The Lord and Creator bestowed particular emotional and physical qualities upon man and woman so that they would complete each other and thus make a unity. The Holy Bible witnesses that marriage, as a constant, lifetime union between a man and a woman, was instituted by God at the very onset of human existence. According to the Creator’s plan, the meaning and goal of marriage is joint salvation, united labor, mutual assistance, and physical union for the purpose of having children and raising them. Of all earthly unions, marriage is the most intimate: They shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24). When people have a sexual life outside of marriage, they corrupt the Divine plan for a grace-filled, lifetime union, relegating everything to a sensual-physiological level, casting aside the spiritual and social goals. Therefore, the Holy Bible calls any cohabitation outside of the bonds of marriage a mortal sin, for it tramples upon the Divine institution of marriage.
An even more serious sin is the indulgence of sensual desires by unnatural means: And thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman, for it is an abomination (Lev. 18:22). This applies equally to women. The Apostle Paul calls this a vile affection, shameful, unseemly: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet (Rom. 1:26–27). People who live in sodomite sin are deprived of salvation: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10).
We can see throughout history a woeful repetition. Societies undergoing a period of decline were stricken as by a metastasis with certain dangerous sins. Most often, these sick societies were massively inflicted with a passion for self-gain and depravity. The evil offspring of the latter is the sin of sodomy. Mass depravity corroded ancient Roman society like acid, and broke the empire’s might.
Some try to justify the sin of sodomy with “scientific” arguments that this tendency is an inborn trait. But this is a typical myth, a pitiful attempt to justify evil. There is no evidence whatsoever to prove that homosexuals are genetically different from other people in any way. We are talking only about a spiritual and moral illness, and thus unavoidably about a deformation in the psychological realm. The cause could lie in sexual games played during childhood that have since been forgotten, but which have left their morbid traces in the subconscious. The poison of unnatural sin that has entered in can manifest itself much later if that person does not lead a correct spiritual life.
The Word of God, which is sensitive to all manifestations of human life, not only says nothing about this sin being inborn, but rather calls it an abomination. If it were all dependent upon certain neuro-endocrine particularities and sex hormones connected with physiological regulation of a person’s reproductive function, then the Holy Scriptures would not speak of this passion’s unnaturalness or called it a shame. Would it not be blasphemous to think that God could create some people with a physiological inclination toward mortal sin, and thus consign them to spiritual death?
Facts of widespread manifestation of this kind of depravity in certain periods of history contradict the attempt to use science to justify this sin. The Canaanites, who inhabited Sodom, Gomorrah, and other cities of the five Philistine city-states (Admah, Zeboim and Bela) were sunk to their necks in this defilement. Defenders of the sin of sodomy argue against the opinion that the inhabitants of these cities had this shameful passion. However, in the New Testament is it stated clearly: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities (Jude 1:7–8). It is obvious also from the text: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them (Gen. 19:5). The words, “know them”, have a very specific connotation in the Bible and indicate sexual relations. Because the angels who came to Lot had the appearance of men (see Gen. 19:10), it is clear from this just what vile depravity had infected all of the inhabitants of Sodom (both old and young, all the people from every quarter; Gen. 19:4). In fulfilling the ancient law of hospitality, Righteous Lot offers two of his daughters which have not known man (Gen. 19:8), but the perverted men were inflamed with a vile lust, and even tried to rape Lot himself: Now will we deal worse with thee, than with them (Gen. 19:9).
Modern Western society, which has lost its Christian roots, is trying to become “humane” with regard to homosexuals, calling them by the morally neutral term, a “sexual minority” (as analogous to an ethnic minority). In fact, this is very cruel. If a doctor wishing to be “kindly” should suggest to his patient that he is healthy and that he is just by nature different from the rest, then that doctor would differ little from a murderer. Holy Scripture shows that God, turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly (2 Pet. 2:6). It speaks not only of the danger of losing eternal life, but also of the possibility of being healed of any, even the most serious and deeply rooted spiritual illness. The Apostle Paul not only sternly rebukes the Corinthians for shameful sins, but also strengthens hope in them through examples from amongst their midst: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).
The holy fathers show that the center of gravity of all passions (included those of the flesh) is located in the realm of the human soul—in its defectiveness. The passions are a result of man’s separation from God and the sinful depravity that proceeds from this. Therefore, the source point of healing should be the resolve to forever abandon Sodom. When the angels took Lot’s family from that city of vile depravity, one of them said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee (Gen. 19:17). There was a moral test in these words. A farewell look at the depraved city that had already received God’s sentence would be proof of sympathy for it. Lot’s wife looked back because in her soul she had not departed from Sodom. We can see a confirmation of this thought in the book of the Wisdom of Solomon. The author writes: When the ungodly perished, she delivered the righteous man, who fled from the fire which fell down upon the five cities. Of whose wickedness even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness: and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul (Wis. 10:6–7). Lot’s wife is called an unbelieving soul. Our Lord Jesus Christ warns His disciples: But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Remember Lot's wife. (Lk. 17:29, 32). Not only those who have peered into the abyss through their experience, but also those who justify this vice, should always remember Lot’s wife. The path to an actual fall begins with the moral justification of sin. We must feel horror before the eternal fire, and then we will see the falsehood of all the liberal speeches about a “right” to what the Lord through the sacred writers calls unclean: For every transgressor is unclean before the Lord; neither does he sit among the righteous (Prov. 3:32).
We must enter into the experience of grace of the Church. First of all, we must without delay prepare ourselves for a general confession and then make it. From this day we must begin to fulfill what the Holy Church has prescribed for its members for centuries: to regularly partake of the sacraments of confession and Communion, attend the festal and Sunday services, read the morning and evening prayers, keep all the fasts, and be attentive to ourselves in order to avoid sin. Then God’s all-powerful help will come and heal us finally from serious illness. “He who knows his own weakness through many temptations, from physical and emotional passions, will also come to know the infinite might of God, Who delivers those who call out to Him with prayer from their whole hearts. Prayer to Him will then be sweet. Seeing that without God he can do nothing, and fearful of falling, he strives to be always with God. He is amazed when he thinks about how God delivered him from so many temptations and passions, and he gives thanks to the Redeemer, receiving humility and love with his thankfulness; and no one will ever again have contempt for him, for they know that as God helped him, so can He help every person who desires it” (St. Peter Damascene).