I have met H.G. Bishop Suriel once. He's the kind of man that at first sight, would frighten you if you did not know him or his position. He towers over a congregation with a height not typical for an Egyptian. The man stands at least a foot and a half above my slightly below-average stature. With broad shoulders and a stern look which melts quickly when you can get a smile out of him. He is a very kind man, and very well educated.I recently heard an mp3 of a lecture he gave to a congregation in 2009, and while unlike many of the less than learned discussions initiated by clergy and sunday school teachers on the subject, it is researched and well thought out; however, it contains not only the undertones and speech that foster the further shaming and degradation of LGBT people in our community, it also contains false information, in order to prove a point, which I am not so sure is solid to begin with. While this is all in efforts to obey Jesus, how can one find God when the truth is hidden? How can the people be edified when they're being, maybe unintentionally, manipulated?
To listen to the entire lecture, you can find it here:
I just wanted to talk about a few points and talk about some of the problems of these kinds of teachings in regards to its purpose as well as the effects it has on the church.
First of all, what is the purpose of this lecture? If I could summarize it: it is a warning to the community, to beware of both gay people and their agenda. He paints a picture that gays are actually indoctrinated and brought into what is a very organized cult, a cult called "The Gay Agenda", one that targets not only every man and woman in the world, but also every little boy and girl, to join their ranks early. He paints a picture that not only are gays and lesbians enemies of heterosexuals, they cease to destroy the human family and all that is decent in the world.
The Big Bad Gay Agenda Monster
A lecture like this presumes something very interesting. It assumes that the "gay problem" being discussed is something not found within the walls of the church. So subtle, but speaks volumes, His Grace begins the lecture as follows:
That last sentence, shows his desire that nothing so bad and vile, would ever befall the lives of the people sitting in that congregation, however, statistically speaking, quite a few gay people were probably in attendance, some very self-aware, and probably a few others in denial. I wonder what it must have felt like to hear those words, which seem rather innocent in passing, but already set the tone of where a gay person belongs, if they belong at all, within the walls of the Coptic Orthodox Church."Some of you may think: 'Why are you speaking to us about this subject [homosexuality], this probably doesn't relate to us.' I hope it doesn't relate to you."
However, His Grace mostly talks about the homosexual agenda, and not the homosexual person, removing the person from the picture, as if the issue has taken a life of its own, a large, manipulative, force, with a pink boa, consuming all in its way. When you remove people from the issue, we all find ourselves on very dangerous ground, because the issue of homosexuality is as human as it gets. It is an issue that deals with peoples livelihoods. It is an issue that deals with ones choices in regards to love, partnership, and sex, and all these things that are so fundamentally human. I don't believe one can or even should approach this topic if they intend to remove the person from the equation, however this is a tactic that makes it much safer. We can empathize with people, but we don't need to empathize with a topic. De-personification is safe and effective, when shaping the minds of masses. And when it comes to creating an enemy, there is no room for empathy.
He goes on to talk about what human rights are, where he draws inspiration from the American Declaration of Independence.
"If you want to know what rights you have, you ask God. If God is not hte originator of our rights, and if we can make them up as we go along, maybe one day someone will argue that they have the right to murder people just because they feel like it."I cannot even comment on this, because to compare murder with homosexuality is like comparing a great tragedy with, oh, I dunno, gummy bears?
There was also a brief and humorous mention of how Spongebob Squarepants is a tool of manipulation by gays, in order to lure children, and as proof, His Grace gave couple of pieces of evidence. One form of evidence is that Spongebob toys are found in gay shops. Um, ever heard of Kitsch? (or would it be Camp, in this case?) Either way, we love the stuff. The other piece of evidence is that Spongebob is known to hold hands with his starfish friend.
|Men Holding Hands: an effective tool in|
brainwashing your children to become homosexual
His Grace talks about Sara Michelle Geller's girl-on-girl make-out scene in Cruel Intentions, as if it was part of Hollywood's attempt to homosexualize America. Now, let's get real here. Girl-on-girl make outs on screen, especially in a film like Cruel Intentions are generally born in the fantasies of and entertainment for heterosexual men.
He also speaks about a questionnaire given to students in Framingham, MA. His Grace claims this questionnaire was given to students to undermine their heterosexuality, and an attempt to make heterosexuality seem abnormal, while homosexuality is the norm. The questions were as follows:
1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2. When did you first decide you were heterosexual?
3. Is it possible heterosexuality is a phase you will grow out of?
4. Is it possible you are heterosexual because you fear the same sex?
5. If you have never slept with anyone of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn't prefer it? Is it possible you merely need a good gay experience?
6. To whom have you disclosed your heterosexuality? How did they react?
7. Why are heterosexuals so blatant, always making a spectacle of their heterosexuality? Why can't they just be who they are and not flaunt their sexuality by kissing in public, wearing wedding rings, etc.?I think the questionnaire is brilliant. It is not an attempt at ostracizing or even debasing heterosexuality, but it's an interesting point to make regarding how the world sees, and questions homosexuals. In an attempt to understand what it is like to be gay, asking heterosexuals these questions, I feel can show the truth about sexual orientation of those who are not in the majority. Why do we not have the capacity or right to be understood?
But I would say the most troubling part of this whole lecture, is the association His Grace draws between homosexuality and pedophelia, by quoting passages from the North American Man / Boy Love Association, a pro-pedophelia organization, that His Grace presents to the congregation as a mainstream gay thought and ideas. NAMBLA is condemned by the gay community! Just have a conversation, I'm sure most do not know it exists, and if they did know the organization existed, they would be as opposed to it as you are.
Today, almost all gay rights groups disavow any ties to NAMBLA, voice disapproval of its objectives, and attempt to prevent NAMBLA from having a role in gay and lesbian rights events."
Gregory King of the Human Rights Campaign later said that "NAMBLA is not a gay organization ... They are not part of our community and we thoroughly reject their efforts to insinuate that pedophilia is an issue related to gay and lesbian civil rights." NAMBLA responded by claiming that "man/boy love is by definition homosexual," that "man/boy lovers are part of the gay movement and central to gay history and culture," and that "homosexuals denying that it is 'not gay' to be attracted to adolescent boys are just as ludicrous as heterosexuals saying it's 'not heterosexual' to be attracted to adolescent girls."
In 1994 the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) adopted a "Position Statement Regarding NAMBLA" saying GLAAD "deplores the North American Man Boy Love Association's (NAMBLA) goals, which include advocacy for sex between adult men and boys and the removal of legal protections for children. These goals constitute a form of child abuse and are repugnant to GLAAD." Also in 1994 the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) adopted a resolution on NAMBLA that said: "NGLTF condemns all abuse of minors, both sexual and any other kind, perpetrated by adults. Accordingly, NGLTF condemns the organizational goals of NAMBLA and any other such organization."
My response is as follows:
I am disappointed that a man of your stature and ability, one I respect greatly, has settled for fear-mongering and fact twisting in order to shape public opinion on a very human, sensitive, and controversial topic. I cannot say I blame you completely because maybe your sources lead you in the wrong direction.
As a gay man who has struggled his whole life to find answers to why he was so different, and has found a place of peace in regards to his faith and his relationship to God, I can honestly say that I am completely misrepresented in your lecture and I don't think I would be out of line if I said that I do not just speak for myself.
I am afraid for the people in your congregations who are gay, who will hear lectures like these and think "this is how the church sees me, this is how my family will see me." There are few options if they believe these things: 1) to hide and repress, only to express their God given desires in very unhealthy ways. 2) to cut off completely, becoming vulnerable to true evils, and to very unhealthy behavior.
How many people have left the church, not because their homosexuality has made them lose interest in faith and in God, on the contrary, it is their church who has lost hope in them. It is their church who has told them there is no place for them within her walls. The result of such disconnection is far worse than you can imagine. Some like me have been lucky to have maintained close ties, especially to faith, while others have felt they needed to walk away completely for safely. While for others there have been some great casualties, and preventable disease and anguish, if understanding was sought, and love and compassion were given.
To the average gay or lesbian, it is clear that sexual orientation is not a choice, nor is it something that can be changed, that it is as natural and as it can be. While it may not be the majority of what humans feel in regards to sexuality, as one myself, I can assure you that I did not choose this, nor has embracing it taken me further from God or from what is true, on the contrary, my life has improved for the better, and I only have God to thank, and I truly feel lucky that I was not one of the many causalities of being both Coptic and gay.
Your Grace, I urge you to reach out to gay people and ask them questions about their lives, build relationship and have dialogue, I assure you that what you will find in the process may surprise you. Gay people are not an agenda, in fact most of us just want one thing: to be safe to find love and companionship in this world, that is all. We don't want to brainwash people, we don't hate heterosexuals, we don't even want to rape children. Many of us feel afraid, and many of us suffer both emotional and physical harm, not just in the USA but throughout the world, and it is for this that people are fighting for equality, so that such atrocities cannot occur. Injustice is something that we are taught to fight against as Christians, so why is the church only adding to this injustice?
Yes, the gay community does have a lot of pain and and carries scars due to the decades of having to build a culture without role-models or approval, completely in the shadows, and we often have become reactionary to the world around us, but the time of reaction is over, and the time to build and self-accept is now. The imperfections of the gay community is also a result of being human, there are imperfections in the church, and it is also easy for the gay community to de-personalize Christians and talk about "the church" and withhold compassion because of fear. Do you not see the parallels? Instead of dealing with our shortcomings with more misunderstanding, why can't we start having compassion for each other?
Your Grace, I am just a gay man, son of heterosexual parents, friend to several, brother to many, and boyfriend to one, who is seeking truth for my life, and justice for those who are suffering at the hands of men; those who are suffering not for the sake of truth or justice, but who are needlessly suffering vain.
I also want to say:
Dear LGBT Coptic Brothers and Sisters,
One man's voice, and often many people's voices are not the truth of how God feels about you and where you belong in this world. Above all things you are loved and accepted. Do not allow the imperfect voices to tell you who you are. This verse is for you:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven" Matthew 5:11-12My hope is that truth can find you, and love can embrace you.