The following information originally appeared in The Word, January 1984, pp. 6-11. The Word is the official news magazine of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Published monthly (with the exception of July and August) the magazine circulates to the households of all members of the Antiochian Archdiocese and other subscribers including libraries and seminaries.
The position of the Orthodox Church toward homosexuality has been expressed by synodical canons and Patristic pronouncements beginning with the very first centuries of Orthodox ecclesiastical life.
Thus, the Orthodox Church condemns unreservedly all expressions of personal sexual experience which prove contrary to the definite and unalterable function ascribed to sex by God’s ordinance and expressed in man’s experience as a law of nature.
Thus the function of the sexual organs of a man and a woman and their bio-chemical generating forces in glands and glandular secretions are ordained by nature to serve one particular purpose, the procreation of the human kind.
However, the human sexual apparatus appears to have been designed not only as the medium by which the necessary physical contact for the purpose of sex is affected, but as the generator as well and the center of a highly complex system of feelings which all together are known by the name eros, love between husband and wife.
Therefore, any and all uses of the human sex organs for purposes other than those ordained by creation, runs contrary to the nature of things as decreed by God and produces the following wrongs:
a. They violate God’s ordinance regarding both the procreation of man and his emotional life generated by his instinctive attraction to the opposite sex not only for procreating but for advancing the personalities of a man and a woman to a state of completion within the association of the Sacrament of Marriage. For all this, homosexuality is an insult to God, and since it attempts to alter the laws regulating creation it is a blasphemy.
b. Homosexuality interferes with the normal development of societal patterns and as such it proves detrimental to all. These endangered patterns include personal values regarding sex which people normally take to be a vital part of their existence and a valuable asset to their living a normal life, esteemed by others.
c. The homosexual degrades his own sex and thus denies to himself the self-respect that is generated from the feeling that one is in line with God’s creation.
Homosexuality appears to be of two kinds: physico-genetic and habitual. Physico-genetic homosexuality is of physical origin due to secretory abnormalities that may produce organic changes. This type of homosexuality is rather rare and is treated as any other medical disorder.
Habitual homosexuality may have more than one cause. All, however, point out to a moral failure at some stage of the individual’s development, or to the animate environment from which the homosexual originated.
Thus, although homosexuality followed as a way of life by the sufferer, may be subject to psychopathological investigation and treatment, the origin of it, in all but the few physico-genetic cases mentioned above, brings with it a moral failure. It is because of the realization of this that homosexuality has been described from ancient times as a moral stigma.
Thus, the Orthodox Church cannot subscribe to the demand that homosexuals be recognized by society and its agencies as legal spouses and as deserving the same respect as men and women enjoy in the state of wedlock.
Society and its values, religious and societal, have legitimate claims over the behavior of its members, especially in so vital a function as the sexual one on which not only the survival but its quality as well depend. No one has the right to do whatever he wishes with his body and still claim recognition and respect on the part of society.
The Orthodox Church believes that homosexuality should be treated by society as an immoral and dangerous perversion and by religion as a sinful failure. In both cases, correction is called for. Homosexuals should be accorded the confidential medical and psychiatric facilities by which they can be helped to restore themselves to a self-respecting sexual identity that belongs to them by God’s ordinance.
In full confidentiality, the Orthodox Church cares and provides pastorally for homosexuals in the belief that no sinner who has failed himself and God should be allowed to deteriorate morally and spiritually.
Psychiatric restoration, without religious direction and reconciliation with God, is bound to prove short lived.
A healthy society and various religions do not recognize perversions. Rather, they work to restore the homosexual to the status of a self-esteemed individual and thus to a valued instrument of their own survival and well-being under God.