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Position Report

"ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND WOMEN CLERGY"

As the American Orthodox Patriarchate we state the following as the True Orthodox Church in North America based on Holy Scripture and Orthodox canons and traditions. This must be the position of all canonical orthodox since the following is based on facts that cannot vary.

We, the clergy of The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, make the following statement of our position regarding homosexuality and the ordination of women.

NOTE: We do not attack or gay bash with this statement. We herein state Traditonal Orthodox belief, tradition and Holy Scripture.

It must first be understood that Orthodox Canons, Teachings and Traditions do not allow for the ordinaton of women and any openly gay male would not be ordained or would be removed from his ministry (historically) as was done in the past.

"The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex."

Orthodoxy teaches that, while homosexual orientation is not a sin, like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are. In Romans 1:24-27 St. Paul talks about men committing "indecent acts with other men" and receiving the "due penalty for their perversion." In his first letter to the people of Corinth Paul includes "homosexual offenders" in the list of those who will not "inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10). In Genesis we read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah whose sin of homosexual activity is "exceedingly grave" (Gen. 18:20; 19:4-5). And in Leviticus God tells Moses to instruct the Israelites: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination" (18:22).

Some modern apologists for homosexuality say that those prohibitions have no validity since some recent studies contend that people are born with a homosexual orientation, rather than choosing it, a theory not espoused in earlier times. Although there is presently no conclusive evidence to support this contention, even if the theory of genetically determined sexual orientation were ultimately proven true, the position of Orthodoxy would not change. Human beings, although created in God's image, have, since the fall, been predisposed to sin. A person might be predisposed towards violence, anger, pedophilia, lying, adultery, or countless other sinful urges, and yet still chooses whether or not to act on them. Saying sin is "natural" is no argument before God. He desires that we repent of whatever evil tendency might grip us, in our fallen state, and be saved. But Orthodoxy, especially, remembers that we have a loving and merciful God to help us on our road to recovery and union (theosis) with Him.

In the first book of the Bible we learn that God created man and woman to help and complement each other. Created in God's image, male and female, Adam and Eve were entrusted with caring for the rest of God's creation (Gen. 1:27-29). The unique relationship of man and woman is more clearly delineated by the second creation narrative in chapter two of Genesis. In this version God created the animals to be a "suitable helper" for Adam, but none among the animals was found suitable for this unique role. It was only when God created Eve that Adam felt completed and compatible with her. The proclamation at the end of this section has become the theological underpinning of Holy Matrimony: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).

The Mystery of Holy Matrimony reflects this sacred union effected by God Himself. Every aspect of the Orthodox theology of marriage involves this action by God to unite the man and woman. That is why the Orthodox understanding of marriage espouses three purposes for marriage described theologically by the Greek words: synousia, paidhopoiea, and syzygia.

Syzygia denotes the male and female being "yoked together." In Christian marriage the man and woman are intimately joined on a common journey leading to salvation. They are headed the same direction, side by side, in a complementary fashion. God has brought them together and bound them to each other in a mystical communion ordained by God Himself.

Paidhopoiea literally means to "create a child" and denotes the procreative aspect of marriage. In a wider sense it can also mean to rear a child. Even though every marriage does not entail having or rearing children, ideally marriage allows a man and woman to have a conjugal union that leads to procreation; that mystical act where God allows us to participate in creation with Him.

Synousia is a compound word which means the "coming together of two natures." Interestingly it is the proper Greek word for sexual intercourse within marriage. Within the union of Holy Matrimony sexual relationships between husband and wife are more than just procreative, they also are the mystical expression of the two natures "becoming one" in the context of marital love.

Homosexual relationships, by their nature, lack God's mystical efficacy and can never produce the oneness that God desires for Christian marriage. In the Orthodox understanding "Gay marriage" misses the mark of synousia, syzygia, and paidhopoiea, and is therefore an inauthentic expression of God's unifying love.

There are some who have influenced religious jurisdictions to act against the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. These acts - namely, the blessing of same sex unions, the ordination of active homosexuals to the priesthood and the consecration of an openly, active homosexual to the Holy Episcopacy - as well as those who support them violate Holy Scripture, the canons and traditions of Orthodoxy.

By this statement we are endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace yet herein deem it necessary to firmly state the position of our Church.

Our position in all moral and ethical matters is based upon the teachings of Christ, the Holy Scriptures, the writings of the Church Fathers, the sacred canons and the unchanging and unfaltering traditions of the Orthodox Church and faith since 33 A.D. This Orthodox Church considers the active homosexual lifestyle incompatible with the teaching of Holy Scripture and unacceptable for all the faithful. In direct reference to the ordained ministry of the Church, those who are actively engaged in the homosexual lifestyle exclude themselves from candidacy and/or ordination to all sacred orders, monastic life and the Episcopacy as well as excluding themself from the body of Christ. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Sex outside marriage is forbidden and clergy who have such relations are to be removed from their ministry according to the canons of the Orthodox Church. Priests may be married but no where does it state that single hetrosexual clergy must be celibate but homosexual clergy are free to do as they please.

We believe what the Bible says is more important than any human opinion. It has been reported that many who feel that no stigma should be attached to a homosexual life-style do not believe the Bible to be God's Word. This is not a new issue. The Bible sets out God's unchanging viewpoint in very clear language.

All the faithful, but especially those in holy orders, are called to live, maintain and exemplify morally upright and ethically sound lives. Those called to leadership in the Church, particularly in the holy Episcopacy, cannot contradict in their own lives, or by their own words and actions anything that violates the Holy Scriptures and the traditional teachings of the Church.

We pray for our brethren who have, in the recent past, decided by their words and actions to distance themselves from that one and holy faith founded by our fathers through time. We remain steadfast in our faith, even in spite of human sin and ambition, such that we can continue to join with those who are true to Christ and the teachings of the Gospel, proclaiming, "one God and Father of all.

The concept of "Women priests" is foreign to us and contrary to the canons. The canons are clear on this matter and the move by the so called "independent churches" to ordain women violates the canons and traditions of Orthodoxy. The canons state a woman may not approach the altar [c. XLIV of the synod of Laodicea and other canons] and women may not speak (teach) in Church [c. XI of Laodicea]. Since it clearly states in Orthodox Canons that a woman may not approach the altar no female altar servers are allowed in canonical orthodox churches.

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It should be noted that there is no tradition or history in Orthodoxy where women are elevated to such a position or have hands laid on them to allow them to receive the Mystery or Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Bible statement's include women will submit to their husbands and in Gen. 2 God said to Adam that he would make a "helper" for him.

As for women in the priesthood the Bible shows that the Apotles were males and that those later appointed to be overseers and ministers, or priests, were also males. Women make valuable contributions to the congregations there is no provision for women to preside, or take the lead of instructing the congregation in Holy Scripture or church tradition. As a Traditional and Canonically Established Orthodox Church we follow the Scriptures, Canons and Traditions of Orthodoxy.

No woman can receive valid Holy Orders. Anyone who lays hands on a woman in an attempt to "ordain" a woman into a canonical Orthodox Church only condemns his soul and removes himself from any valid ministry.

COPYRIGHT 2006 - Most Rev. Victor Prentice
All Rights Reserved