Friday, October 6, 2023

Sexuality and the Orthodox Church

 By Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion and Chalkidona

There is a lot of talk about new forms of family and new definitions of human relationships, about people's sexual choices and directions. The prevailing reason is for the personal rights of all people, for the absolute freedom to choose partners, but there is also the shallow sexuality that leads to brief pleasures.

We easily place labels on everything that we find difficult for us, on everything that does not agree with us, such as e.g. "racist", "liberal", "immoral", "conservative", "homophobic", etc. Nowhere, however, is the label "human"!

In Orthodox theology, things are absolutely clear. "Male and female did God create them" (Gen. 1:27). In Cana of Galilee, Christ blessing the marriage (Jn. 2:1-11) we come across a family relationship between man and woman, with the aim of uniting the two in one body and their common path to heaven, without of course the condition of childbearing, as many mistakenly believe.

Children are a gift from God, the fruit of the couple's love, and they come if He wants it. Procreation is not an end in itself. Besides, sterile women have experienced enough stigma in the past from the lack of theological knowledge of the above. Love is the foundation of a couples life, but together with mutual respect, forgiveness, dialogue, understanding, honesty, humility. Love alone, therefore, is not enough!

In marriage, coexistence becomes a struggle. A continuous struggle, in which you develope and offer. Nobody is perfect. The above virtues are essential because marriage requires constant effort. An effort which frees you from any psychological burden and balances with the bad sides of yourself.

The issue of same-sex relationships and the right to self-determination of sexual identity are also hotly debated these days.

Many times it makes us wonder how, now that we have solved the problems in relationships between men and women, we will solve the rest as well... Here, however, we witness the inability of young people to know erotic love, to learn about their bodies, to bring out the virtues of their souls and to understand that, by itself, the act of erotic love, apart from the feeling, is not satisfying. It does not completely fulfill the person.

Let us first realize the need that we must, finally, start talking about all of the above. Only in this way will we understand the need of the other and we will reflect on the utterance of dogmatic speech, which contains exclusions and fanatical opinions from every side.

It is a fact that many accuse the Church of fanaticism, ignoring the often extreme attitude of those "outside the walls", who stubbornly deny dialogue, as well as the right to a different opinion. I am referring, of course, to the LGBTI community.

Therefore, when we talk about human relationships and human souls, great care is required. Nor can we simply cancel our centuries-old ecclesiastical tradition, nor can we cast diversity into Kaiadas.

But we can talk about what "sin" means and what "forgiveness" means. Let us state clearly that sin is not a stigma. The sinner does not wear a "star" on himself, nor does he stand out from his fellow man. After all, we are all sinners and struggle to defeat evil, our passions, the dark side of ourselves. That's why I propose starting a meaningful dialogue with society on this issue. To see all the implications, to understand every scientific and social point of view. Let's stop the aphorisms and understand the sensitivity of the whole issue.

The Church is not afraid to speak, it is not afraid to express its faith, it is not afraid to embrace, to offer its centuries-long experience, to prevent violence towards everything different, but also to project its own way. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees.

So let's start this dialogue, a dialogue of truth, to prevent worse mistakes that are not regulated by any human law.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.