Saturday, January 30. 2010
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Well, where to begin on my two cents worth..
It is kind of nice to express a viewpoint on the Anglicans. My opinions haven't been meted out well, bear with me..
I have to say I take exception with the idea or notion that these issues are clearly liberal or conservative. I explained my position fully, then decided folks can think about that on their own, so I deleted that longwinded portion on edit.
Getting past the lib/con labels, there was one other thing that bothered me. If Metropolitan Jonah were truly a wise man, he would never want to invite unhappy Anglicans into a 'new communion' with the Orthodox church. Is this factual or hypothetical? The problems that befell Rowan Williams are very serious and he has worked a lot to keep his church from collapsing. While I personally do not agree that ordaining homosexuals is best; my reasons are not that I'm anti-gay. I just think priests ought to be married to understand what typical people's lives are like.
And as for Bishops, if Eugene Robinson wanted the best for his flock, he didn't deliver the day he was elevated. He might argue that his elevation will teach tolerance and he might almost win me over with that argument; but not quite.
I'd say Rowan Williams has had a tough gig and giving him an honorary degree ought to help him with solidarity, if nothing else.
I would only support +J inviting Anglicans if it were the will of Rowan Williams. I don't know that it is..
#1 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-01-30 16:14
Well, this is one disaffected Episcopalian who found refuge and the True Faith following the 2006 Convention of The Episcopal Church USA. It is not a stretch at all for those Anglicans who find an OCA church to join. The Liturgy has the language and flow of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. And that is not to mention the music which attracted me just as much. The theological differences are a much more reasonable version of the Roman Church dogmas which cradle Episcopalians were taught to shun. Once the theological positions were (and still are being) explained to me I became as comfortable as would be cradle member of the church.
#2 Brad Miter on 2010-01-30 17:57
No controversy except by "some" who are creating an issue where there is no issue. Again, Rowan is a personal friend of Dean, Fr. Behr. His visit was originally a personal visit. He was asked to speak at the Fr. Schmemann Memorial Lecture. The Board of Trustees felt it was appropriate to confer an honorary degree upon him for his work within Orthodox theology which is quite appropriate as the world leader of a Christian church. No mention was made of his views on the ordination of women; homosexuality, pro or con; liberal vs conservative theology; etc. Only his work within the context of Orthodox theology - period. AND, wouldn't it be something if his visit & talk at St. Vladimir's led to many more Anglicans to become Orthodox Christians. Maybe even himself and maybe all the Church of England. How remarkable would this be?
#3 Anonymous on 2010-01-30 18:05
I heard the talk today. Oh man, how wordy can a person be? I finally couldn't take it, thought the questions might be better. Behold, wordier than Rowan Williams.
I had one that of course I couldn't ask. On page 66 of Vladimir Lossky's "Mystical Theology" he has a great sentance: "Between the Trinity and hell there lies no other choice." Williams did his dissertation on Lossky, and I would have liked to ask the guest if he agreed with that statement by his thesis topic. After hearing the talk at SVS I think it's safe to say that if Williams had been asked, no one would have known what he thought by the time he was through answering.
I've met Fr. John Behr and found him very interesting and sincere. Aside from letting his old academic ties show I don't know what he had in mind. By the way, what exactly is Williams doing in the SVS photos wearing a Panaghia? A little overdressed? Can we get a speaker who isn't in communion with John Spong for next year? And not suck up to them sooooo much in the introduction and "Remarks" following?
#4 ba"ab on 2010-01-30 22:32
A question, gentle readers: what are the admission criteria to SVS? It is assumed, I assume, that you have to be an Orthodox Christian. It looks to me that one would only have to be a baptized Christian (see the admissions page at svots.org).
It appears that one could technically be an Anglican and attend, even graduate, from SVS, So, if the Archbishop of Canterbury could graduate from SVS, I think that, on the cusp of another Great Lent, that we should be worried more about "weightier matters".
#5 Michael Strelka on 2010-01-31 07:04
The thoughts on this issue expressed here and elsewhere are, to my understanding, odd. Some are reactive, in other words, fearful. Others, disjointed and non-cohesive, as if one must respond but doesn't know how or why. And yet, all seem irrelavant. Rowan Williams isn't being granted a churchly thing but an academic one. And NOone in these situations -- except for combative fearful types -- take it as a commendation on everything bout the honored person.
I'm with Mr. Strelka -- On to weightier matters.
#6 Rdr. John on 2010-01-31 15:45
You don't have to be anything to go to St Vlad's, other than a person qualified to study theology at the graduate level. It's actually not that difficult to get admitted to the school itself.
(When people have trouble, it mostly pertains to housing, moving, or bishop's whims. Also, they do a background check to make sure the applicant is not a psycho killer or child molester.... so, there's that!)
Among the non-Orthodox students, they will have the usual contingent of Indians and Armenians, as well as two or three of other faiths, at a given time. Rowan Williams would more than qualify for regular studies there.
#7 pobrecita on 2010-01-31 16:30
Many of the objections to Rowan Williams being honored by SVOTS can be found in Fr. Patrick Reardon's letter to Metr. Jonah on the subject, found here: http://bit.ly/8iNfH4
#8 Peter C on 2010-01-31 20:14
Thank God none of these decisions have anything to do with you. Apparently you have never heard an academic presentation. Your lack of understanding in this area doesn't really warrant comment.
#9 Anonymous on 2010-02-01 07:01
St. Vladimir's Seminary is an academic institution of higher learning offering advanced degrees in Orthodox theology. Many people of varying nationalities and faiths have studied and graduated from St. Vladimir's from around the world. Also, many women. It is primarily, an institution of higher learning open to all!
#10 Anonymous on 2010-02-01 07:07
I left the Episcopal Church in the United States ( part of the Anglican Communion worldwide) over twenty years ago when it became evident that it was well on the way to complete apostasy from any kind of traditional Christian witness. While I regretted leaving many friends behind, my long time interest in Orthodoxy made the transition easy, and I was lucky enough to find a forward looking parish that epitomized what modern Orthodox witness should be.
Rowan Williams is a pathetic figure to be pitied. Caught between the apostate wing of his Church (Great Britain, Canada, the U.S.) and more traditional and orthodox segments, especially in Africa. A weak and ineffectual leader, he blows in the wind like the dried husk his Communion has become.
I have no problem with him receiving the consolation of an academic reward (sort of like a Purple Heart), though I would have been hard pressed to sanction its issuance myself--but then I have no personal connection to the man. Fortunately, Metropolitan Jonah has appropriately focused his missionary efforts on those Anglicans with whom Orthodoxy has some, maybe even many, things in common.
This whole debate, and the previous one on the Manhattan Statement is, for me at least, a cautionary lesson in not straying to far into the political (secular or religious) realm without understanding that it will be inevitably divisive, and where Orthodox Christians may legitimately have very different opinions. We have quite enough to do, for several generations, getting our own house in order!
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-02-01 07:28
From some of the posts here, it seems that more than a few people seem to feel that "everyone that is Orthodox agrees that homosexuals have no place either in the priesthood or the seminary." The quotation marks are for the expression of the thought, not a literal quotation.
As hard as this might be to consider, not everyone that is a practicing Orthodox Christian holds these views. The OCA has touched on this very delicate subject over the past few years with the subject of various members of the clergy. Sadly enough, it has never been fully addressed.... The real truth is that the OCA does have some practicing homosexual clergy (and it is most likely that almost every other Orthodox jurisdiction has homosexual clergy as well) and many people are aware of it but choose to ignore it. This holier than thou stance may make some people feel good and secure about their Orthodox Faith, but the reality is that there are homosexuals here as there are in the Anglican communion.
It probably won't be in my lifetime, but someday the truth will be known. I can only hope and pray that those who are homophobic and Orthodox will one day see gays and lesbians as God's children as well.
#12 Anon. on 2010-02-01 17:19
Of course homosexuals are God's children as all sinners are. Of course there are homosexuals in the Orthodox Church, duh!
So what? Homosexual behavior is still sinful just as adultery and fornication are. Just because people sin, even when the sin is a deep one that we may well carry with us our entire life does not allow the Church to say, well, sin is righteousness.
Just because a sin is a besetting one, a common one, or one that is in harmony with the wayward mind of the world does not make it in harmony with the transformed and transfigured humanity we are called to be and enpowered to be by our Incarnate Lord.
I'd say the real problem here is that the majority of us, including me, are Christophobic. Self-will is rather more often our God than Christ Himself.
Certainly, that is the case for this lowly sinner.
Because I know how far from Christ I am I can say with forcefulness that it is not love to call sin righteousness, rather it is hatred.
#13 Michael Bauman on 2010-02-01 21:32
"will one day see gays and lesbians as God's children as well." - Are they not God's children???
#14 Arius on 2010-02-01 21:50
It is this weird hypocritical attitude towards homosexuality and sex in general in the church that actually often attracts strange often self hating homosexuals and other men aka, heterosexuals with unhealthy attitudes towards sex and women; lets make that clear and call it what it is. Focusing the attention on men with same sex attractions is a cop out and not Christian giving many people an easy pass on some of their own personal problems. The whole issue of "practicing" as pertains to clergy is another matter. Finally all these issues are the sign of a spiritually bankrupt OCA who has lost it's spiritual focus. With all the problems in the world in general and OCA specifically; with people culpable in the institution as pertains to all kinds of allegations who are still in positions of authority and whose culpability is known the general issue of homosexuality in the church is a red herring.
#15 Anon on 2010-02-02 07:25
Thank you for your thoughtful and accurate comments. I only wish you had used your name.
Sexual orientation should not be, and is not, the key issue. It is certainly possible to be celibate and homosexual, which is not any different than the standard for unmarried heterosexual clergy (and, by the way, specific vows of celibacy place a far higher obligation to practice sexual abstinence on those in monastic and clerical positions).
Therefore, the real question and issue is sexual activity.
I personally believe that the whole area of sexual morality needs reexamination, and a far more intelligent approach adopted than the mindless reiteration of cultural and societal norms that have long since changed. No doubt I am in the minority on this, but our Lord's approach to the Pharisees of his day does give me some solace and hope that a less "rule driven" approach will some day be considered. After all, we have changed the role women can now play in Church life from what is was in the not too distant past.
#16 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-02-02 07:38
Having heard academic presentations, I also know there is usually some kind of a response given by at least one other person, or a time to ask questions that aren't screened because the Dean might not like them if they put the speaker on the spot.
As for trying to make this only and merely another "academic" presentation, this is a seminary of the Orthodox Church. It was not just a conference there for academics. And if there are real theological issues with Rowan Williams and his positions, it's disingenuous to pretend they don't exist. Then again, this was a personal thing for Fr Behr and his old mentor. Take a lesson anyone???
#17 Another anon on 2010-02-02 07:42
# 10 Read Romans 1-2. Also cf. the Didache, and numerous other Patristic writings about this unnatural attraction.
As we approach Great Lent, we should be about repenting of our sins- not seeking to validate them. All of us have sins that "so easily beset us"; let us drown them in tears of repentance. Not in conferring Honorary Doctorates!
As for the SVS situation, this illustrates why the Orthodox Church must not be overly shaped by academics and dare I say western styled seminaries. They have their place, but we also need holy monks, bishops, and dare I say fools to keep us in the narrow path that leads to eternal life.
#18 Concerned on 2010-02-02 09:27
1 Corinthians 5:7-13 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Not every one who says to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but they who do the will of My Father which is in heaven.
We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, may He have mercy on us, and may we do our best to glorify Him and surrender ourselves and our passions and lusts and be conformed to His image and likeness.
He is in our our midst.
#19 lexcaritas on 2010-02-02 12:00
Do you think those who engage in incest should also be allowed to serve as clergymen? What about those who engage in beastiality? Or heterosexual fornication?
If not, do you not see these human beings who engage in these sinful acts as God's children?
BTW, I wonder why those who oppose incest aren't referred to as "incestaphobic", or why those who oppose fornication as "fornicaphobic"? The only difference, it seems to me, is that homosexuality, unlike incest, happens to be fashoinable right now. That may persuade some people that the Church should reverse its stance, but the fact is that fashion doesn't make an unhealthy lifestyle healthy.... To recognize this obvious fact doesn't have anything to do with any phobia, nor does it indicate a "holier than thou" attitude. It's just a fact.
#20 Jordan Henderson on 2010-02-02 12:55
To me, an honorary degree is tantamount to unrestricted endorsement of what a person stands for all together.
But as for matters of homosexual clergy, perhaps Fr. John Behr is betraying a secret sympathy for ordination of openly homosexual clergy. I think one need only read his essay "The Body's Grace" (google it) and then one can discern.
From that essay:
"...if we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm, however important and theologically significant it may be. When looking for a language that will be resourceful enough to speak of the complex and costly faithfulness between God and God's people, what several of the biblical writers turn to is sexuality understood very much in terms of the process of "entering the body's grace". If we are afraid of facing the reality of same-sex love because it compels us to think through the processes of bodily desire and delight in their own right, perhaps we ought to be more cautious about appealing to Scripture as legitimating only procreative heterosexuality.
"In fact, of course, in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures. I suspect that a fuller exploration of the sexual metaphors of the Bible will have more to teach us about a theology and ethics of sexual desire than will the flat citation of isolated texts; and I hope other theologians will find this worth following up more fully than I can do here."
I smell and agenda, and it's foul.
Dean Fr. John Behr is surely not ignorant of his friend's views, and to me that really then begs the question: "why the honorary degree"? Stamp of approval perhaps? Seems that way to me.
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#21 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2010-02-03 10:34
Homosexuals ARE God's children, but as all of His children do (including me) they sin. We all sin. But that does not mean we, as Christians, are to support any sin as being good. That means ANY sin - murder, thievery, blasphemy, hatred, adultery, fornication, you name it. If by your last paragraph you are saying we Orthodox are to accept the practice of homosexuality as good and proper in God's eyes, then you are wrong.
#22 Michele on 2010-02-03 16:44
#10 In reponse.
Just because there may be (active gay clergy in whatever jurisdiction or denomination--RC, Baptist, Anglican etc.--does not make it appropriate/right by scripture, tradition and dogma. SVS is an academic institution of higher learning but its primary goal is to train priests, deacons, readers, church school teachers and choir directors and theologians. When accepting federal funds (student loans), there are certain guidelines that colleges and universities and schools of theology must abide by. Was it correct for the Dean of SVS to invite Rown Williams to speak and award him an honoray doctorate, I don't know. Was it in good taste to do this? No I don't think so. We as Orthodox would want everyone to accept Orthodoxy as their home. Most aren't interested in this. They want their church back from the liberals.
#23 anonymous on 2010-02-04 12:34
First off, nobody has ever accused St Vlad's of being a conservative place. So, it should shock no one that they give a degree to the archbishop of Canterbury.
Next, my friend Annon, nobody has ever said that gay people are not God's children. But, what has been said many times is this: If you wish to be a Christian, there is only one form of sexual relations that the Lord allows and that is between a man and woman who are married to each other.
Is it right for someone to have sex with his friend's wife? No.
Is it right for someone who is single to have sex? No.
Therefore, is it right for someone to have same sex sex? No.
All are illicit sexual desires and all must be fought against. Somehow, it seems like gay folks think that they should get a free pass to do whatever they wish and straight people alone need to fight against sexual sin. No, we all must strive towards God.
To my mind, if someone thinks they are gay well that is a hard cross to bear. Maybe you are attracted to same sex. We are all attracted to different sins, this is called temptation and we all have to deal with it as best we can.
So, the question is not 'Are you gay?' the question is 'are you following Jesus and avoiding sin?'
May we all be able to give a good answer to that question.
#24 Jack on 2010-02-05 08:34
Wow! There's nothing I like more than a person who just jumps right in and manages to differentiate ideals from reality, and question teh divide that exists.
I too have known for decades that there are homosexual clergy (my personal knowledge on this is clergy in the OCA, Antiochians and the old Synod), and clergy who are supposed to be celebate, who are not. I've known clergy who refused to give communion to homosexuals and I've known clergy who never made an issue of it, at all. What I love about this website is that it gives Orthodox Christians the opportunity to share, debate and to express their feelings and experiences.
For me, personally, the only thing I am concerned with is wether the person can do the job or not. I don't care if they are celebate, bi-sexual or homosexual. Love God, preach the Word, maintain the faith, and care for the flock. Those are all keys. I do not see homosexuality as an asset (as was perhaps the case in the election of Bishop Robinson, where he might very well have been elected only because he was a homosexual), but neither do I see it as an automatic disqualiifier.
People in American are different and don't all fit into one mold. We need to approach each with love and compassion, accepting what they can do and appreciating their talents and skills.
#25 Sean O'Clare on 2010-02-05 10:58
I just wanted to mention that not all Anglicans came to Orthodoxy because of difficulties with church policies on women priests and homosexuals. I came to the Orthodox church because of what Orthodoxy is and has, not because of what Anglicanism isn't and hasn't.
#26 Morton on 2010-02-08 12:51
You people have blown this WAY out of proportion! Rowan's talk nor award had NOTHING to do with what is mentioned here. Rowan is happily married with children as is Fr. John Behr. The award was for Rowan's work within the context of Orthodox theology - period. THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY! It seems that the "Ultra-Orthodox" among us wish to create an issue where non exists!
#27 Anonymous on 2010-02-09 07:24
This whole discussion of homosexuality, from St. Paul down to the posts on this blog, always seems to assume that homosexuality is a choice. It is like, say, stealing or lying. None of the gays I have known would agree with that. To them, the only choice has been whether or not to accept who they seem to be naturally.
IF homosexuality is an issue of nature, and not nurture (I said IF), then the whole notion of loving the sinner but not the "sin" takes on a different color. It means it's OK to be who you are, so long as you don't actually express that in any way. Simply because of a sexual orientation you did not choose and over which you had no control, you are relegated to a life of enforced celibacy. Unlike your heterosexual brothers and sisters, you are not allowed to enter into a life-long monogamous relationship or to enjoy the fruits of family life. All around you, you see heterosexuals behaving badly, yet it is your sexuality that is stigmatized. A priest or bishop has an extra-marital affair, and the matter is hardly a footnote. One of our Orthodox jurisdictions has a working bishop who is a convicted (heterosexual) sex offender. Yet you, as a homosexual, are expected to refrain from all sex (real and imagined), even if you are not a priest.
I want to make clear I hold no brief for a so-called homosexual lifestyle. I believe our society as a whole is egregiously, monumentally over-sexed. I simply want to note that homosexuality is a much more complicated issue than even St. Paul understood (remembering that this great saint was not always particularly tolerant or temperate), and that real people suffer deeply when we impose our own intolerant views.
Finally, two points, if I may: First, of COURSE we have gay clergy. For as long as there have been monks, nuns, priests, and bishops there have been gay monks, nuns, priests, and bishops. Second, Our Lord spent His ministry among the rejected of society: hookers, collaborators, lepers, thieves--outcasts. I am convinced He would do the same today (IS doing the same today). And who are those outcast in our society? AIDS sufferers; gays, lesbians, and transgenedered; drug addicts; illegal immigrants; the homeless--among others. Sin is sin, wherever we find it. But our Orthodox faith also teaches us to regard ourselves as the worst sinners of all. If we believe this, perhaps it's time to "see our own transgressions, and not to judge our brothers and sisters."
#28 Morton on 2010-02-09 07:36
"To me, an honorary degree is tantamount to unrestricted endorsement of what a person stands for all together."
This definition has no basis in reality. An honorary degree is, like an earned degree, conferred for a specific set of academic achievements. Rowan Williams' academic achievements were enumerated carefully and precisely in the citation read aloud by the dean. (I was there.)
#29 Peter on 2010-02-09 08:58
Furthermore, your post misleadingly suggests that the essay "The Body's Grace" is by Fr John Behr. It is not -- it is by Rowan Williams.
#30 Peter on 2010-02-09 09:01
Foul smell? Gay Rights Agenda? Please, give it a rest.
I'm glad you posted the excerpt, however. It made perfect sense to me and I would like to read the entire article.
#31 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-02-09 10:40
I appreciate Rdr. Alexander’s sharing this excerpt from Dr. Williams’ essay (and relived to know that it is not the word of Fr. John). But, look, Dr. Williams is afflicted with fuzzy thinking of his own making and we should not be wowed and misled by it. He asserts: "...if we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm,. . .” This is simply untrue and to think in this way is self-deceitful. The correct wording would be to say that there is, in fact, in the Bible (and the rest of the Tradition), “little (not ‘a good deal’) to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is the norm.” In fact, the Bible is utterly clear on this point—as is the rest of Holy Tradition. He made them male and female and blessed them “Be fruitful and multiply and fill up the earth.” And for this reason a man shall cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.
In his search for “language that will be “resourceful enough to speak of the complex and costly faithfulness between God and God's people,” Dr. Williams delivers the assertion that “we are afraid of facing the reality of same-sex love because it compels us to think through the processes of bodily desire and delight in their own right.” But he affords no basis for his assertion that this is the basis of our alleged “fear” of facing the reality of same-sex love. Who said we’re afraid to face it? We have nothing against love between persons of the same sex; what we uphold, however, is the sacramental mystery of nuptial love between a husband and wife reflecting the fruitful union between the Church and Christ Who is the firstborn of many brethren and the reality that God has willed that procreation take place in the re-union of the sexes in the mystery of marriage and the ecclesiola of the family comprised of a couple and their children of whom there should be many more lest we face the coming demographic winter that we are brining on ourselves.
It is Williams blurred vision and fuzzy thinking that has condemned him to utterly ineffective leadership. He is a trumpet giving and uncertain sound, and for want of vision, the people perish. This does not prevent him from uttering prophetic words: ". . . in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity . . .” It does prevent him, however, and those enamoured of his perspective from grasping the fact that it is his “church’s” legitimization of contraception that is at the root of the problem that the Anglican Communion finds itself in today. Furthermore, he deceives himself and slanders us who oppose him by the false ad hominem that we guilty of “abstract fundamentalist deployment of ambiguous texts.” The text are, in fact, numerous and quite clear, nor is the “theory” of natural complementarity unscriptural. It is not theory, but a fact of nature, which is affirmed by Scripture and Tradition; it is utterly discernible from our physiological structures and from the structure of every human society from creation to the present day.
Christ is in our midst. Glorify Him.
#32 lexcaritas on 2010-02-09 13:09
I don't know about you, but I don't follow all the dictates of Mosaic Law, from which, after all, we have all been freed by our Lord Himself. Just as its dietary rules, purity rituals, etc. are now passe (i.e. cultural artifacts, except for Orthodox Jews), so too the prescribed sexual mores of Leviticus need no longer apply in all situations. To mindlessly prescribe Old Testament norms for modern living is to engage in irrelevancy, at best, that may well cross the line into idolatry at worst. Nor do I think this issue is a matter of Tradition, as much as it is a matter of the those little traditions so cherished by the ultra (Fundamentalist) Orthodox.
I welcome Archbishop Williams thoughts on a properly understood sexual morality, and only wish (or hope) they reflect the views of the Dean of St. Vladamir's as well. But I do give you credit for at least identifying the key issue on which all this discussion hangs, i.e. contraception. As Rome also understands, once you allow the morality of contraception ( and I most emphatically do) then sexuality becomes more than an animalistic act of reproduction.
The moral theology of Orthodoxy on contraception is not clear cut, at least at the theoretical level. What is clear however, is that all sexual relations must take place in the context of love and non-exploitation. No doubt, most of us still fall short of even that standard.
Finally, let me remind everyone that if you subscribe to the fundamentalist view of sexual morality, any sexual act that does not allow or promote reproduction is sinful. That is a standard, I would guess, not many of us are willing to follow.
#33 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-02-10 08:37
You make some insightful observations, especially regarding us having compassion for others, no matter what sin they happen to struggle with. However, there's a basic problem with your comparison between homosexuality and choosing to steal or to lie.
A better comparison would be between choosing to engage in a homosexual relationship and choosing to steal or lie. No one can deny that engaging in a homosexual relationship or having gay sex is a choice.
When talking about one's sexual inclination towards people of the same sex, a better comparison (along the lines you mention) would be between homosexuality and cleptomania or pathological lying. In this regard, probably no one chooses to have inclinations of homosexuality, cleptomania, or pathological lying. For those of us who don't struggle with these tendencies, we have to be careful not to judge those who do.
However, it would be irresponsible to tell a pathological lier that lying is an integral part of who they are as a human being, and that lying therefore should be accepted and practiced as intrinsic parts of their personality as God created them. Rather, we would say that dishonesty distorts our true personality, no matter how natural it may feel. The same goes for homosexuality.
Your remarks about Christ's interaction with outcasts is especially insightful. I don't think Christ would hesitate to reach out to homosexuals as He reached out to protistutes, tax collectors, etc. But He never said to protistutes, "This is who I created you to be." Instead He called them to repentence.
Likewise, there is no indication that the early Church appointed practicing prostitutes to positions of leadership. Passages such as Titus 1 indicate the opposite.
As far as clergy having extramarital affairs, I get your point, but it's a gross exageration to say it is "merely a footnote." Just perusing this website will show you how disgusted many clergy and laypeople have been when this was overlooked. But regardless, when things like this get overlooked, the answer is to call the Church back to that which She was created to be, NOT to become more lax on other sins like homosexuality.
#34 Jordan Henderson on 2010-02-10 08:43
Honorary degrees are given for many reasons. Endorsement of or support for the honoree's views may be one. So, too, may be the desire to jump-start a debate on a topic the institution's leaders feel needs examining. In a case like that, degrees are often granted to controversial people. Anti-war figures or leaders of the civil rights movements might be invited to encourage debate on the topics of war (just war?) or race, for example. Sr. Helen Préjean could be invited to precipitate a debate on the death penalty. The head of Planned Parenthood could be invited to initiate discussion about how to support unplanned pregnancies, particularly amongst young, unwed women, in a society without universal health care or an adequate social safety net. The institution and its leaders may not agree with the position taken by the honoree, but they do want the debate, and this seems like a legitimate tactic in the context of academe.
Degrees may also be given simply to recognize real contributions to scholarship. Fr. Behr does, indeed, have a long friendship with the Archbishop, but that doesn't minimize the fact that Archbishop Rowan has assembled a substantial body of scholarship on Orthodox themes over the years.
To the quote from Fr. Behr, it might be worth pointing out the very different attitudes toward sexuality generally and homosexuality in particular in the ancient world--the world of St. Paul. Homosexuality was for a long time almost normative among men of the Greek upper classes, and far from a rarity amongst the Roman elite. Julius Caesar (who in addition to being Dictator was, as well, head of the Roman religion in his position as Pontifex Maximus) is alleged in some sources to have had gay lovers. Masters could use their slaves (including children) in any way they pleased, including sexually. Some religious rites were accompanied by sex acts. Some religions practiced sacred prostitution of both women and men. In other words, extreme sexual behavior all across the spectrum was much more common, or at least much more in the open, than it is now, and it may very well have seemed much more like a choice--similar to other forms of gluttony.
What we need, and what I believe Fr. Behr's remarks might point to, is a discussion of the fundamental purpose of sexuality and sexual love in our lives, given that they are gifts from God. How are we meant to use sex? How does it contribute to our connectedness with God, His Son, and Their love for mankind? Our society has essentially reduced sex to a bodily function, hardly different from eating or going to the bathroom. Surely this discussion is the more important one.
#35 Morton on 2010-02-10 09:05
Our brother Kenneth says: ". . . if you subscribe to the fundamentalist view of sexual morality, any sexual act that does not allow or promote reproduction is sinful."
LC: I do not believe that this is, technically, a true assertion. It would be more appropriate to say that the act of sexual intercourse must be between a husband and wife and either open to the procreation of children or in celebration of the sacramental union that would foster or affirm it as representative of the faithful, nuptial and fruitful love of Christ for His Church--and, hopefully, we for Him.
By the way, our Lord said: Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets (which He gave to Moses by the way) but to fulfill them. And St. Paul also said, we do not abolish the Law but put it on a firmer footer. Our righteous is to EXCEED that of scribes and Pharisees not fall short of it.
Christ is in our midst,
#36 lexcaritas on 2010-02-10 12:24
"The Body's Grace," from which that quotation was taken, is an essay written by Rowan Williams, and represents no one's views but those of Rowan Williams himself. That quotation was NOT written by Fr John Behr.
The posting as it stands is misleading because it uses "him" after saying Fr John Behr's name, when it should have named Williams as the author of the essay, and this shouldn't be allowed to stand. If Mr Stokoe would be willing, it would be nice of him to add something in editorial brackets to Rdr Alexander Langley's posting to make the quotation's authorship absolutely clear.
(Editor's note: I think you just did.)
#37 pobrecita on 2010-02-10 16:43
Especially to those who fervently shout THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY: I beg to differ.
What I see is an accomodation, however nuanced, of two vastly different anthroplogies. Perhaps it can be said the one prays to be changed in order to be unified with Christ while the other changes Christ to be unified with man–the root of all major heresies. One has, intuitively or explicitly, an incarnational, therefore traditional anthropology while the other has a modern, therefore humanistic and ultimately nihilistic anthropology. How can life honor death?
There is no compromise between the two. However, while it may appear otherwise, the inflexible legalism that many who call themselves traditionalists exhibit does not come from an incarnational approach, but neither does the idea that demands that we accomadate to the spirit of the world, neither does the spirit of fear and anger.
We cannot afford to be glib about the challenges we all face. The fact of the matter is that we are all trying to figure out what it means to be an authentic Orthodox Christian in the midest of wholesale hedonism, apostasy and nihilism; approaches that each in their own way denies the very existence of the reality of God with us.
Honoring Dr. Williams is not the end of the world. It was a mistake. It could be an honest mistake born our of a drastic misunderstanding of the role of SVS within the Orthodox community or it could signal, as many suspect, a desire on the part of the academics to be more accomodating with the spirit of the times than is proper.
Time will tell. However to insist that Dr. Williams theological scholarship somehow exists in a vacume and should be considered apart from the content of his pastoral leadership is a lie and a clear departure from the incarnational reality of God and man the Church has long modeled.
That is the controversy and it extends to every niche and cornice of our life in the Church: Conform to Christ or be conformed to the World.
#38 Michael Bauman on 2010-02-10 23:18
So far, the debate on-going here, esp. between lexcritas and kenneth Tobin -- but not excusuvely -- has been honest, to the point and without ad hominem attacks.
I appreciate the candor and erudition of both sides. I realize that some are scandalized that the issue is even discussed let alone debated. I'm sorry for that.
But I'm grateful for the discussion and that we are no longer skirting this important theme, but dealing with it head on.
And now, would lexcaritas please reveal his/her name so the discussion might be even more "in the light." Mr. Tobin has given his, and subjected himself to attack -- though I'm pleased to see no one has given in.
#39 Rdr. (John) Tracey on 2010-02-11 00:36
All excellent points, thank you.
And yet...IF homosexuality is a part of one person's make-up in exactly the same way that heterosexuality is part of another, then it seems to me we need to treat both expressions of sexuality in exactly the same way. This doesn't necessarily mean moderating one's stance on elective actions, such as engaging in gay sex. It does mean moderating one's stance regarding heterosexual activity. And I think we need some of this. I don't imagine any reasonably introspective person can assert that the way heterosexual sex is manifested in human society is anything like what God might have intended when he equipped us with our sexual awareness. The Fall pretty much put paid to that. Leaders of many churches (including Pope John Paul II and Pope benedict XVI) have been speaking about this for years, to mostly empty rooms, but I believe it is a critically important topic. Our sexual greed pervades society at every level and, I believe, is a huge factor in our brokenness. The separation of male and female--and the awareness of that separation--is, next to our separation from God, one of the most basic forms our alienation takes.
#40 Morton on 2010-02-11 07:49
Again, THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY! Many of you who seem to be either the "ultra-Orthodox" fringe or ex-Anglicans, need to get a grip. Rowan's award has NOTHING to do with what is mentioned here nor perceived notions. It is a theological academic degree for theological accomplishments - THAT'S IT! Nothing to do with the issues within the Anglican Church WHATEVER they may be. So, find some other issue to kvetch about; preferably something you really know something about!
#41 Anonymous on 2010-02-11 12:33
Mr. Anonymous, so nice to see that if someone disagrees with you it is simply because of a lack of knowledge and what you seem to think of as fanatacism.
Theology has always been a matter of faith and communion not intellect and scholarship alone. The best that Dr. Williams can do is to be a commentator. His acutal theological stances should prevent his being honored by any Orthodox theological degree.
Apparently you wish to engage in a severe compartmentalization of life. Such an attitude is problematic when considered in the light of Orthodox patristic literature, the lives of the saints and the Holy Scripture.
Just declaring THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY and banishing anyone who thinks otherwise to the outer reaches of what you consider the acceptable Church is unhelpful and dishonest both spiritually and intellectually.
If you would care to make an actual argument for why it is a good idea or even a neutral idea. I'd be glad to see it. Otherwise your attitude and anonymity just confirm my own belief that the action was divisive and a mistake.
#42 Michael Bauman on 2010-02-11 18:31
Hey why did AFR at the last minute pull out and not cover this event? OCN was asked 2 days before to cover this because AFR decided not to record the Audio?
#43 Mr Podcast on 2010-02-12 15:30
A week ago, for the Sunday of the Last Judgment, the Epistle reading was taken from 1 Cor 8:8-9:2. It reads, in part, "For, if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And, so, by your knowledge, this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience, when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall." (1 Cor 8:10-13) As people of knowledge, it may have been prudent for the faculty of the seminary to have pondered this reading before conferring the controversial honorary doctorate upon the Archbishop of Canterbury!
#44 David Barrett on 2010-02-13 06:02
You're wrong. There is no argument. It is what it is and nothing more!
#45 Anonymous on 2010-02-13 12:46
#23 Anonoymous: I'd at least be interested in what your criteria are for "ultra-Orthodox fringe". I know I am not an ex-Anglican, so I therefore must an ultra-Orthodox because I strongly disagree with SVS honoring Dr. Williams regardless of his scholarship because the theology he preaches continues to lead people more deeply into apostasy.
Do you label me ultra-Orthordox because:
a. I actually believe that there is such a thing as apostasy.
b. I have the termerity to identify it and oppose it;
c. I disagree with you, or
d. other -- plesase specify.
Since you label me, at least do me the courtesy to share with me why.
#46 Michael Bauman on 2010-02-14 21:30
OCA should employ the words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that ; 'by their fruits you will know them'
Behr is a disciple of Ware and both in collusion with Williams. The Anglican Church has been wrecked by the heresy they have propunded and they would like to do the same to the Orthodox Church in the USA.
Just say no.
#47 anthony dawe on 2010-02-23 07:49
Yes, I could have made the attribution more clear. The essay is Rowan Williams'. At least I provided the URL.
As for my saying that I find the honorary degree to be a tantamount endorsement, you're entitled to your opinion, but an honorary degree is flattery, not earned, and that is reality. You may not like to see it that way, but one can either apply, be accepted and earn the credits and the degree, and they can be "buddies" and like-minded with the powers that be, and accept flattery and endorsement.
There's not much salt left.
#48 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2010-02-28 20:58
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