Here is some (changed) correspondence I have written privately and to another list. It touches on the church's teaching on homosexuality, and any other difficult to eradicate sin.
The clear teaching of the church is that any sexual impurity is a serious sin. This includes homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and other things even worse. When does this sin separate us from God, and cause our guardian angel to flee from us? The answer is equally clear: when the sin is not repented from. If one is living a continual, habitual lifestyle in which sexual impurity plays a major role, and this person is not struggling to correct himself, he is estranged from God. The temptation to be sexually impure is not a sin. None of our temptations ARE sins. Neither are our passions (but they are are probably the greatest source of our temptations). One man may be inclined to be covetous, another easily angered, another may be attracted sexually to other men, etc. Our crown is won by doing battle with these passions, and "winning the kingdom of heaven by violence". This scripture means that we must struggle, fast, pray, and do everything within our power (with the help of God), to humble ourselves, and to uproot our passions, with great labour and toil. If a man is not struggling to do these things, he is not gaining the kingdom of heaven.
The church does not believe that the act of committing a sin kills a man. The man's disposition before and after is what determines his fate. Does he say "Blessed art Thou O Lord, teach me Thy statutes"? If he does, he will lament any transgression from God's law, especially those that are very obvious and grevious. He will struggle against his passions, and will try to amend himself. When he falls, he will get back up. He will not wallow in his sins, and make excuses.
Someone once told me that "homosexuals are children of God, no more sinful than myself." This is an extremely misleading statement, although elements of it may be true. Whether anyone is more sinful than myself, a poor sinner, I cannot say, but I do know that a homosexual is an obedient child of God only if the above conditions are followed. A homosexual who makes excuses for this sin, and does not struggle against it (notice: I did not say that he must never fall) is estranged from God.
Some people object on a visceral level when they hear homosexuality referred to as an "abomination". This language is quite scriptural, but it often offends people who have bought in to the pluralism and relativism in our society. Many arguments can be made that prove that the practice of this sin is unnatural, and leads to spiritual, moral and physical ruin more quickly than many other sins. I don't want to even mention these things, but the informed christian knows what I am talking about, and can easily find the scriptures and canons to prove this. Homosexuality is a serious sin, the habitual practice of which will cause a man to be estranged from God, even more than some other sins, because of it's effect on the soul of the sinner. This sin, and any sin for which an excuse is made, and which is not repented from is in some sense an "abomination", because of it's effects on the soul. The temptation to be homosexual is not an abomination, but the habitual, unrepentant practice of this lifestyle is an abomination. In a like manner, fornication between members of the opposite sex is also an abomination.
There is a side effect to fornication between members of the same sex that is not present in the "natural" variety. Because it is so clearly proscribed in scripture and church tradition, and the physical acts in it are never blessed by God (unlike heterosexual relations), some have been forced to make up incredible stories to justify their activities. This has lead to heresy in other areas. One look at the suffering Episcopalians can show this. They are riddled with lesbian ministers, who are even preaching a kind of "Goddesss" worship. On the list, we have seen outright fabrications about a church service, which is either completely made up, as Nick has postulated, or has been twisted in a very evil, dishonest way.
Many homosexuals say things like "You don't realize how much emotional and spiritual suffering I have gone through, because, through no choice of my own, I have discovered in myself a homosexual orientation. I was born this way".
Christians understand about the emotional suffering. Sin causes suffering. This is no different than alcoholism, drug use, cleptomania, or any other _sinful_, _abnormal_ condition. We all suffer because of our sins. Homosexuals suffer more that most, since many cannot even comprehend that their sexual ACTIVITY (not ORIENTATION) is a sin.
As for "choice", the christian view is that a man may have a homosexual orientation (actually, this is a passion), and still be God pleasing. If he wars against this passion, as much as he would against blasphemy or anger, or any other inclination that, if acted upon, would be a sin, then he will be a great God pleaser. If he caters to this passion, and satisfies it in blasphemous carnal relations, then he is far from God.
A devoutly religious person who regularly engages in homosexual relations, with self justification, is an oxymoron. The terrible problem is that these people, in the spirit of this age, are being convinced that their actions are not really a sin, just as women are being told that an abortion is not murder. How can a man or woman repent, if it is not "politically correct" to do so, and if they are being barraged with information which is designed to keep them from recognizing their sin?
Any man can change - he can stop being a drunkard, or liar, or homosexual, or blasphemer, or pagan, or anything else, with God's help.
>Their only choice is to embrace themselves as they are or live a life of > misery and deceit ...
We should never condone MORE unchristian conduct for our poor brothers who are mired in this deadly sin. If a man is drowning, throw him a rope, don't push him farther in! A man can please God, even if he falls prey to his homosexual passion, if such an unfortunate one is honest with himself, and God (Who sees everything anyway), and repents bitterly of his misdeed, and attempts with all of his soul to never again repeat the episode. This cycle may occur again and again, and only God may know if the man truly recognizes his sin, and is sorry. Anyone can know is a man does not recognize his sin if he is puffed up with self-justification, and knows all the currently fashionable euphemisms to justify his conduct.
>If you had any idea how painful this experience is ...
Hell is more painful than anyone can imagine. All sin leads to it, whether or not it is called "sin", or "lifestyle", or "orientation".
Priest Seraphim Holland
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