a priest's musings on the journey

Monday, June 18, 2007

Check out this Eastern Orthodox Gay Affirming Site

Some of you are familiar with my ongoing struggle to affirm may sexuality as a gay priest with my love for and desire to be rooted in the "orthodox tradition". I have recently discovered a source which has nurtured me and given me hope and even a sense of community with others who share a similar path. Syntheosis commented on a few of my posts a while back, and I have found their blog and website to be a valuable contribution to gay Christian spiritual development. They are rooted in the Eastern Christian Tradition, but are inclusive and compassionate. This is a quote from their blogger profile:

"Today the Creator renews the creature and creation. Today the unseen Godhead is manifest in the flesh of God's people. Today the assembly of God's gods regains syntheosis for all and in all." Gay Orthodox Christian communicants receive neither ecclesiastical resources nor hierarchic compassion. Many choose to leave the Orthodox fold but they will always bear the Seal of the Holy Spirit. For those remaining they search out private often insular hesychastic-like prayer and Sacramental lives disconnected from koinonia diakonia liturgia and martyria. Without empowering their interiority as lil'gods gay Orthdox communicants are denied the sacred panultimate human right: To-love-and-to-be-loved. We provide theological materials for private reflection and use for the millions of unseen martyred gay members of the Holy Orthodox Church despite cacodox ecclesiarchs. Economia overrides canon law; Christ conquers all anthropocentric standards. Not only is there hope for gay Orthodox Christians but also this hope is revealed by the Father in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. "YOU ARE GODS" - John 10:34.

Some of the language related to theosis and deification may be foriegn to Western Christians, outside of some Holiness and Methodist groups. However, it is worth a quick read about it here.

You can access the Syntheosis blog here.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:54 PM


Dear Padre Rob, priest to the glory of the One Triune:

First off, this is an excessively long response, yet we feel we owe you this since you’ve spoken so kindly about us. Please bear with us since we don’t have an email address directly to you. Post this if you want, but it's content is really for you.

Thank you for making a place on your blog to speak about us. Mostly, though we appreciate your positive words about our blog, what brought immediate tears to our eyes and hearts is that you gave us the most sacred of all compliments: That you found nurturance, hope, and community with us. If our works have touched but one or two lives, have reaffirmed self-dignity and encouraged sanctification, we are blessed. And if we’ve pissed off a few misanthropes and homophobes, well, then we must be on the path of righteousness.

It’s great that you forewarned your readers about our style and language. We’re caught in a whirlwind of Orthodox adversarial factors, from traditionalist clergy who’d anathematize us to communities who’d abandon us and leave us as road kill.

At JN1034 and at Syntheosis.org, we have to accommodate many readers, in particular the Orthodox, so we must include theological precision along with simple, proactive concepts and current news with a true Christian expression. We’re judged repeatedly by hierarchs and theologians, by cradle-Orthodox still emerging from layers of xenophobia and ethnic-cultural allegiances, by hypervigilant converts who see themselves as both sword and shield and modern defenders of the Faith. So JN1034 evangelizes internally as well as externally.

We know that our Orthodox leaders have their own versions of “fatwa,” so we stay below the radar. This is why we remain anonymous (for now). As revered Orthodox clergy and senior theologians taking on perilous, yet providential, tasks, we know the Holy Spirit guides us despite our own fears and anxieties. Trust us, we get very scared, very and daily.

Through our blog and website, not only are we speaking to the Orthodox family, but also to the world. Most have little knowledge about the Orthodox Church. They know, perhaps, that we’re filled with meticulous obsessive-compulsive ritual, that we’re pathologically fixated on history and pietistic customs, that we’re often considered exclusionary and arrogant, that we’ve internal divisions based on jurisdictional conceit, that we’ve not yet matured and developed a voice to steward our gay members. Regardless, we’re the uninterrupted continuum of Day One of creation when the Only-Begotten Son formed us from nothingness and set us on a journey to be God’s gods. It’s this remarkable journey that we must remind our siblings about, even when the path is laden with snares placed by our own church leaders.

At JN1034 and Syntheosis.org, our common witness and shared missionary tasks must embrace all humanity, especially our Christian siblings regardless of historical trajectories and ecclesiologies. This doesn’t mean we acquiesce to heresy or heterodoxy. This means we stand firmly on the unbroken path of Orthodox Tradition while aware that the grace and mercy of God works in ways not always understood by humanity, not always to our liking, not always as we’d expect or plan, but always with one panultimate goal: The deification of the creature and creation, each and all, from a slice of DNA to the galaxies above, transforming dirt to divinity, transcending division and discrimination. That includes you, me, the billions of people who’ve lived on Earth for millennia, those alive today, and those yet to be born. Even my cat. All the world is called to be holy.

The pan-Christian liturgy-after-the-liturgy (what we do on the streets) is what unites Orthodox, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, et al. Though we’ve yet to share a common chalice (which would be the binding symbol and seal of inter-Church unity), today we must celebrate and reaffirm each other’s common Christian prerogatives on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. This is neither my Church nor yours. Neither my Tradition nor yours. This is Christ’s Church and our Tradition.

You and we are, in Orthodoxy terms, “unmercenaries,” as were Ss Cosmas and Damianos. Isn’t it ironic that our being gay sparked a dialogue towards articulating an inclusive, diverse, theocentric voice of the Gospel? So let’s keep moving forward, stripping away human-made barriers while being true to the God who fills us with mercy and grace to be as we are: lil’gods-in-process (albeit with bruises and trauma).

Continue with your blog since we check in almost daily so we can learn from you. Your service as a priest is remarkable, and your congregation is fortunate to have you. We pray that your son grows strong in the Faith and learns how blessed he is to have you as his father. What we admire most is both your strong faith in God and God’s ecumenical Church, and your genuine sense of humility before the divine order of the universe, especially of the sacred within people.

We hope this begins a friendship of fellowship and mutual benefits as we share our common-yet-unique traditions. We are grateful that you’ve empowered us, and acknowledged us (since we gather no accolades from our own). In fact, your selfless gift of acknowledgement has stirred the Spirit within us to do more, say more, be more.

We’re very glad to have met you via the blogosphere. Our mutual service (yours and ours) to humanity is double-edged: As we caress and care for others’ wounds, we heal our own. You and your friends are encouraged to write us directly at JN1034@syntheosis.org, please.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers and Mothers, our Lord Jesus Christ has shown mercy and grace upon us. Let’s share the goods with others. Ours is abundant so we should never worry about depletion.

With respect and admiration, yours in Christ at JN1034.
Blogger JN1034, at 10:11 PM  
Good morning.

In appreciation: http://jn1034.blogspot.com/2007/06/holy-sees-of-constantinople-and.html
Blogger JN1034, at 1:04 AM  
Wow, very cool :)

Thanks for the link to the encylopedia article as well - As an ex-Mormon, I was relieved to see an explanation of clear differences between the blatant heresy of Mormon "exaltation to Godhood" versus theosis. Phew! :P
Blogger ghostofeden, at 9:10 PM  
Greetings in Christ,

I thank you so much for this blog. I am a Russian Orthodox Christian and I am also Gay. I have been struggling with this for years. I have considered my gayness to be my podvig, and I also at times have thought of myself as something of a martyr. I have been celibate for over 2 years in accordance to the now famous chapter in Romans.

It was explained to me that being Gay wasn't a sin, but expressing it was. Thank God, because I can't help being Gay. I have also been told that being Gay is an extra Cross I have to bear and I should consider it a blessing. It gives me the chance to show my love and obedience to God by bearing it.

Lately though that cross has seemed very heavy. I really think God led me here, because I really needed to read this and to see that there really were others out there going through the same thing as me. I haven't visited the syntheosis site yet. I had to post this comment before I go. I surely intend to come back. Thank you again,

Your's in Christ,
Blogger HopeAbounds4Me, at 5:48 PM  
Dear Euphrosynos
Thank you for leaving a note and sharing a bit about your spiritual journey and struggle. I an glad God sent you hear so you can know you are not alone. You will be in my prayers, and I'd love to continue the conversation with you.

Fr Rob+
Blogger PadreRob+, at 6:55 PM  

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