Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cross-Dressing Saints


A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this. - Deuteronomy 22:5

This has come up in the coptic church albeit very rarely.   Like homosexuality, the church does not really address the issue of cross-dressing, because it is not a "coptic problem", along with such things as abortion, domestic abuse, and AIDS.    So what is the church's view of cross-dressing?   In bible studies and youth groups, I've heard coptic clergy say that trying to imitate the gender opposite of what you are is sinful because it is not how God made you.  Let's take the clergy's opinion out of the equation, the bible makes it pretty clear, as stated in the quote from Deuteronomy, above.

So how does the church seem to reconcile this with all the crossdressing saints that the church has canonized and recognized over the years?   Wait, what?  Cross-dressing saints?

Actually, yes, the Coptic Church has in its Cloud of Witnesses, a bunch of saints who have lived their lives as a gender different than what they were, biologically.    There are even Coptic Churches named after these saints.  Most of them are women, who lived lives as men, for survival, or for the mere fact they wanted to be monks themselves.   Some of them have amazing stories of courage as they attempted such a lifestyle in order to serve God in the best way they saw fit, and moreover, many of their genders were not discovered until after their death.

An example of such a saint is St. Marina:

On the fifteenth day of the blessed month of Mesra, the church celebrates the commemoration of the departure of the nun St. Marina, who was the daughter of a very rich Christian man. Her name was Mariam, and her mother died when she was little girl. Her father raised her, and brought her up well. When he wanted to give her in marriage, and to go himself and become a monk in one of the monasteries, she told him, “O my father, why would you save your own soul, and destroy mine?” He answered saying,” what shall I do with you? You are a woman.” She told him, “ I will take off my woman’s dress and will put on the garb of a man.”

She rose up straightway, shaved off the hair on her head and put on the garb of a man. When her father saw her strong determination and persistent desire, he gave all his possessions to the poor, keeping only a very littler for himself, and he called her Marina instead of Mariam (Mary).

From the Coptic Synaxarion, 15 Mesra. Read more: http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/marina.html

I don't think anyone could argue the direct conflict we have with the words of the Bible, however, could this be an example, where context and spirit was more important than the letter of the law?    These women were courageous, and faced severe punishment for their choices of living life as a man, yet they persevered and were greatly rewarded by God, to the point that the Church herself has recognized them as canonized saints.    Makes ya think....  

Some others of these saints include:

  • St. Anna/Euphemianos of Constantinople
  • St. Eugenia/Eugenios of Alexandria
  • St. Theodora/Theodorus of Alexandria
  • St. Thekla of Iconium

37 comments:

  1. This is fascinating! Isn't it strange how we legitimize and sanitize sacred history, staring unblinkingly at the adultery, slavery, genocide, or alternative modes of sexuality found in scripture, all the while shrieking about how the presence of them in modern life is a sign of the depraved end times?

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  2. What does it say about the end times? That the love of the many shall grow cold? As we see hatred directed towards the gay community.

    Oh and what about those cross dressing female saints who became priest monks? Oh, problematic that is, no?

    Excellent post.

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  3. PS

    Have you seen my latest posts?

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  4. This most certainly is an example where context and spirit are more important than the law. However, it wasn't until after the church changed the law and allowed women to become "monks" (aka nuns, sisters, mothers) that it cannonized these women as saints. The revolutionary movement of creating such change came first. That is to say, they were not saints until the law changed. And once it changed, their cross-dressing may be viewed as a saintly attempt.

    Thus, it will take the church today some time to come to the conclusion that even gay people may bear the fruits of the spririt, so whats the sin in that? Is it possible for any inidividual to bear the fruits and remain unholy? I think not.

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  5. Very interesting point, Anonymous. You say it will take the church "some time", but tell me, do you think the church will ever even reach that point in regards to LGBs? We've seen the example of the T's though :)

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    1. Are u Crazy Just A Dude,,,???? Do u not know u God??? Do u not know ur bible?? i don't think so, how can u call urself orthodox?? Saints cross dressed to be holy and to worship God not to kiss and have sexual intercourse with other humans because of pure lust.... Open ur eyes and don't let the Evil deceive you. May Our Lord Jesus guide u and find ur way.

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  6. It is important to note that: "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). The Spirit is the reason behind the law and the letter is the literal law. The law was that non priests shouldn't eat from the shewbread, but David did it and wasn't wrong because he didn't do it out of disobediance, but rather maintained the spirit of the law.

    Now when looking at any commandment we must see why God would want us to refrain from cross-dressing. It is because cross-dressing shows a sort of contempt for being the gender God made you, and a desire to be the other gender and/or a rebellious nature, all of which are not Christian.

    However what these Saints did was very different. They didn't do it rebelliously or out of contempt for their gender or a desire to be the other gender. Rather they did it so that they'd live closer to God. Surely this wasn't the Spirit of the law that God gave. What these Saints did was in line with the spirit of the law.

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  7. In response to another post, these were saints before the law was changed. How do we know? In the story of St. Elaria (Hilaria in English), we know that a Priest (Her Father of Confession) knew about what she did, and didn't do anything, but rather at her death commended her and all spoke of her as a Saint. (Anba Karas is one along with St. Paphnutius who knew that she was a Saint)

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  8. Hello anonymous, we assume that we know the intentions of canonized saints who have lived over 1,000 years ago. We also assume that if a person is not a canonized saint, their intentions are always questionable. We super-humanize the past, and condemn the present generation. We cannot know the intentions of people who are cross-dressing / transgendered, although I am not sure it is only out of rebellion. Unless we better understand the psychology of such folks, how can we make blanket statements against them?

    But it does seem as though you are saying the Coptic Church approves of cross-dressing under certain contexts? Convents have existed since the time of St. Pachomious, why didn't these women just join one of those?

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  9. It is not a matter of them approving of cross-dressing under certain circumstances. Women now have the ability to become nuns in nun convents, but back in that time this was impossible.

    There are 2 problems with the theory about the convents of St. Pachomius. First of all St. Elaria became a "Monk" before St. Pachomius came around. I think this would be the case for many of them. That they came before their were nun convents.

    There are however others that may not have heard of these convents or lived too far away to go to one. Remember back in those days there was no internet so the only way to hear about a convent would be if someone had visited or heard about it, and talked directly to you. With further distances this became less and less likely. For example someone living in Constantinople probably wouldn't hear about a convent in Alexandria, and if they did it would take much money and time to get there.

    I do disagree with you, about not knowing the psychology of those saints. All of them did it for monastacism as they longed to live only with Christ. There are no stories of a so-called cross dressing saint, outside of one wanting to be a monk. Now anyone willing to do this for monastacism surely isn't doing it as sin.

    I'd like to ask you though, the reason why current cross dressers do this. Is it so they can get closer to God. Other than that I wouldn't find it OK. Even for a petty reason such as rasing awareness. I'd also like to ask whether this would be approved by a spiritual father as the actions of those saints was.

    I hope I don't offend you in any way, and do agree that we shouldn't hate homosexuals, but rather the sin itself. I'd also like to ask if you would like me to email you, as a simple chat about the subject. I hope it won't be preaching but rather from one Christian to another. If you say no, I won't email you, and abide by your wishes.

    Please pray for me the sinner.

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  10. Anonymous,

    I will be the first to admit, I do not understand cross-dressing and transsexualism, that really is not the point of the post. Gender identity is very different than sexual orientation, by the way. They are lumped together when talking about the subject. As a gay man, I've never had the desire to dress up as a woman. However, I've seen coptic men dress up as women during retreats in the presence of bishops for the sake of comedy, and as long as it was in good taste, it was enjoyed by all. What would be the motivation there?

    However I've done some reading around gender identity. I know 1 or 2 people who on occasion will cross-dress. I don't think people do it to be rebellious, in the same way people aren't gay to be rebellious. It's so much deeper than that.

    The reason I posted about this, was not to talk about cross-dressing, but rather, it is an example where the church had the wisdom to look past the letter of the law and understand the spirit within a person. The bible is very clear in what it says about cross-dressing. However we have canonized saints who are rewarded for their courage, and in an act of courage they did what was against the law. Because we know Christ came to fulfill the scriptures, and has redeemed mankind into new relationship to God. I think we can both agree that intimacy with God is a good litmus test, as the church has seemed to use the same in dealing with certain grey issues (not always, but its been done).

    When it comes to the issue of sexual orientation, you have to admit, homosexuality is viewed as very one sided, by the church. If you're homosexual, then it must mean: x,y,z. And that couldn't be further from the truth.

    If I told you that accepting my sexuality as a gay man has made me infinitely closer to God, would you believe me? most people wouldn't. but that is OK, because I'm for once experiencing the peace that goes beyond all understanding.

    I would love to chat over email. I also don't mind chatting here, maybe many can benefit from the conversation. I will leave it up to you. I'm not easily offended when it comes to rational and respectful discussion.

    Prayers are requested as well :)

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  11. I would like to point out, that though I'm not into cross dressing myself, I have learned that, almost universally, many transgendered people say they feel like a, man trapped in a woman's body, or vice 'a verse.

    Now the science can back them up. Turns out in many such instances, they are not lying at all but being genuine about how they feel. As they are usually born physically as one sex, but contain the chromosomes for the other.

    Imagine a man born with an XX instead of an XY chromosome, of course he's going to feel like a woman, in a way, he is.
    To say that his feminine nature is just being selfish and ungrateful for the sex that God gave him is just showing ignorance to the Nth degree.

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  12. This saint did was unjustly accused of fathering a child with a woman and kept her silence till her death, even accepting to live at the door of the monastery because they kicked her out. This is a well known story in our church and many Coptic girls have been named "Marina" after her example.

    I fail to see any relation to homosexuality in this pure saint's story. First off, just know that this is my first time posting here, so I am not the same as the anonymous above. Second, the Bible is clear on homosexuality and the purpose of human's creation and God's plan for marriage. I cannot apologize or change this because it is not my word or any person's word, but the word of God. From the book of Genesis to Revelation, it is written that God said "For this reason a MAN shall leave his father and mother and cling to his WIFE, and the two shall become one flesh." If God gave an option, wouldn't 2 men or 2 women be able to become one flesh? The fact that it is physically impossible also points to the fact that it is unnatural and an abuse of the holy sacrament ordained by GOD Himself. Again, I am not attacking or condemning any person, I am just a messenger stating God's word from the Bible. We as Coptic Orthodox Christians do not hate homosexuals by any means. In fact, we do not hate anyone or any group. We love everyone, including homosexuals. We do, however, hate the sin itself, just as we would hate murder, adultery, fornication, idolatry, etc. I admire those of you who love the Orthodox church, particularly the Coptic Orthodox Church, and want to cling to her motherly embrace and apostolic traditions. However, it is an oxymoron to be a Coptic Orthodox homosexual. You cannot be both-- because if you say you're Coptic, you say that you agree with the Church doctrines and will strive to follow them. But if you engage in homosexual practices, you are blatantly engaging in what the Lord said is an abomination to Him. In this way, you cut yourself off from the communion of the Church. If you are sincere in your love for the Coptic Orthodox Church and serious about your salvation, I suggest you see a local Coptic priest and discuss with him your concerns and such.

    I apologize if I offended any, it was never my intention. I love all of you, and as does our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was crucified for my sins and yours as well. Have a blessed fast and keep me in your prayers.

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  13. Leftmost, there are all sorts of biological and psychological anomalies to what is considered "normal" and i'm pretty sure God doesn't make mistakes.

    Anonymous #2 - (really guys, make up a fake name at least, so I know who I'm talking to: thanks) :)

    I gather from your post that you do not know too much about homosexuality, or gay people in general. but maybe i'm wrong. For those in your position, I honestly would expect you guys to ask more questions, no? That's how we learn about new things. It also sounds like you really haven't read what's in this blog, and I challenge you to do so. I'm not really interested in changing your mind about your stance on homosexuality, but I am interested in folks within the church to understand more WHY people end up choosing to embrace their sexual orientation, and understand that it all doesn't look like what the church says. If you read my blog you'd know that your advice about me finding a local Coptic priest isn't really going to do much.

    I understand and I appreciate you taking the time to write all this out. I'm sure it wasn't easy to step up and approach someone whom you don't know on a very sensitive subject.

    Can you answer me two questions: 1) Experientially, what is being a Christian all about for you, and how has the redemptive work of the Lord through the sacraments affected your life? and 2) How have you (collective) loved "homosexuals" as you say? What does loving gay people look like to you?

    - M

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  14. I don't know why people today cross dress or change the gender, however I'm assuming that they're not doing it to get closer to God.

    In response to your questions:
    being a Christian to me means to follow God no matter what. It means to love him above all. It means humility and love. It means He must increase, I must decrease. It means I am the clay and He is the potter. To me it means to partake of the Divine sacraments in order to have a communion with God.

    It means the love and peace of Christ filling me. I'll tell you that just a little while back, I found that I had a calmness and love that looking back on brings me to the verge of tears. God willing not another day will pass before I return to this unity I had with God.

    To Answer your second question I know very few homosexuals. However the way that I should and hopefully would show this love to them is to show them the error in this path. I hope that last statement doesn't anger you in any way nor upset you. This was very hard to type out knowing that it may make you think ("Oh, he's one of those people"). Please don't misunderstand me. I'm in no place to judge, seeing as I'm far worse than you. It is the sin that I judge. God forbid I judge any homosexual.

    However I judge this sin (You don't know how much it pains me to write this, knowing your standpoint and not wanting to upset you.), knowing its consequences. However, I who judge this sin, better condemn premarital heteresexual sex in the same way. I better also try to show someone partaking in it the error of their way. This is true love. Knowing that I may upset this person, but out of my love for them I try to show them.

    Please remember that I'm also a sinner and keep me in your prayers.

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  15. Hey M,

    I happen to be online as you post this. More later as it's almost dinner time. But for now, I'm definitely not upset at what you're writing. But with all due respect, you are judging me. You say you judge the sin, and while sin is an action, it requires some doing, but you really don't know what I have or haven't done. Just because someone is gay, it doesn't mean you know how they behave, think or feel, any more than the fact that you're straight doesn't mean you're hitting the clubs banging chicks like the stereotypical young american male as seen on TV.

    I posted earlier today, it's dedicated to (not just) you.

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  16. Hi M, I'm back.

    I do believe that you have a desire to love all people. I think that's a desire someone would feel if they have a spiritual connection with God.
    However, I do have an issue with something you said.

    Believe me, I am well aware that many people out there (growing fewer and fewer daily, thankfully) do have a big issue with homosexuality, so it doesn't surprise me that you would think that I am flawed in some way. However it saddens me that the only way you could show love to a gay person is to tell them they're wrong.

    While I don't believe being gay is a sin, I know that many christians do, and according to the faith, sin is what makes all people equal. But I'm sure you show love to your friends who are equally sinners, in other ways besides showing them how mistaken they are.

    Don't you think there is a better, greater love, that can be given to people with whom you may disagree with?

    Why not: invite someone out for coffee? Engage in a conversation? Why not be in a position to listen rather than to tell? I'm talking about mutual respect. Maybe there's something to be learned, even from a gay person.

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  17. Hey Just A Dude,

    That wasn't the only way that I could show love to them. Thats just all I wrote (sorry I was kind of in a rush, and ended up writing alot anyway.)

    Most definitely correcting them on the matter of this sin wouldn't be the only thing I'd do and this weekend I just realized that, it was all I wrote, but I didn't have computer access.

    I'd try to show them that they are loved, I'd try to eat dinner with them etc. I don't think anything someone does should cause us not to love them.

    I know that homosexuality is wrong (though I may not know how a homosexual behaves, thinks or feels), but I do not judge the person doing it. It is like judging doing drugs. It is seperate from judging the person doing the drugs. I condemn doing drugs, but I don't condemn the person that does drugs. If it was my Dad doing drugs, I'd condemn what he is doing, but I wouldn't judge him.

    This is the stance of the coptic church. We don't judge the homosexual, but rather homosexuality.

    Please forgive any arrogance I have showed, and pray that God grant me his love.

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  18. Hey M,

    Thanks for getting back to me, and completing the statement about love. I think it's important that we think about these things.

    I have a question: you often separate homosexuality from a homosexual. What specifically about homosexuality do you believe is sinful? Is it a certain act? A certain feeling?

    I'm curious what you think of This post

    I don't think you're arrogant. I think you believe something very strongly, and yes, this is an issue that is taken very seriously in the Coptic Church (but i still believe it isn't quite understood), and the fact that you're spending time engaging in this conversation says a lot about you. I appreciate the respectful manner in which you write.

    I guess I believe in the fact that sexuality is a gift from God. It can either be used properly or irresponsibly. And I also think homosexuality is a misnomer, because for many of us, we're not having sex. We just know that when it comes to partnerships in life, our missing rib can be found in another man, rather than a woman. Our psychology makes it so. And science and psychology has shown that to have a homosexual / homo-emotional orientation is not in and of itself any more or less harmful than being heterosexually oriented.

    The problem is, no one is really acknowledging how complex an issue this is. The bible is clear but only to a point. Things are lost in translation, and words are made up to explain concepts that don't exist any more, but when I was a little boy, I knew I was born differently than most guys. Maybe it's a natural anomaly, but I don't believe it's a mistake.

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  19. One of the fathers once said, you can't stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from resting on it.

    This is how I view homosexuality. You may not be able to stop homosexual thoughts from popping up, but you can stop yourself from dwelling on them, looking lustfully at a man, or having sex with a man.

    It is the same view of heterosexual lust. I can't stop a thought about a girl from popping into my head, but I can push it away as soon as it does, turn my head from a girl walking by etc. Now everyone agrees that heterosexuality is natural. However it isn't right to indulge in these lusts. Why? Because God said so.

    Because He said it, I don't care that lust isn't harming anyone else, nor that it doesn't seem wrong to follow my natural attraction. God said so, and I will obey. I often fail, but I try to do my hardest not to. I don't care that many others watch pornography and engage in these acts. I refuse them. This is the same view I have of homosexuality.

    I'd also like to add that if there is no lust or attraction between gays then it wouldn't be a homosexual relationship. The couple you described in your post, why did they get in this relationship. Is there no attraction between them? If not these are brothers living together in purity. If there is, isn't there a chance of a sexual act between them. That is sin, correct?

    This is also why the church speaks against dating before being ready for marriage, because it almost always leads to sexual acts (not necessarily sex itself).

    I'd also like to point out that genes and psychology don't determine our orientation, but make it more likely to have these thoughts. Just as my genes could make it easier for me to get angry. This doesn't mean that I can justify being angry all the time, but that I carry it as my cross and still try to refrain from anger. I wouldn't give myself excuses, saying that the Bible says that God himself got angry (side note:God's anger isn't like ours, it is a righteous anger).

    Once again forgive me, and I truly say this, from any arrogance or any hate or anything that I may show in this post. I know that this is beginning to sound just like empty words, but God only knows how big of a sinner I am.

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  20. M,

    I've been reading along, and I'm a little confused by your last post.

    Could you clarify some things for me, please?

    Do you believe that attraction is necessarily lust? In other words, is all attraction sin?

    If yes, please justify this in Scripture. If no, then I don't think you answered Just A Dude's question regarding WHAT exactly is the "sin" of homosexuality. If I (a man) long to cuddle with another man, is that sinful? What if I desire to spend my life with him, to live with, eat with, shop with, vacation with him? Is that a sin?

    Let's face it, the desire to commit your life to someone (i.e.,, "marriage") is mostly practical living from day to day. The sex - while important - is hardly where most of the time and energy in the relationship is spent. So then, would you theoretically be OK with 2 gay men who did not have sex with each other, but lived in covenant friendship with each other, and devoted their lives to eachother's care?

    As for lust - I would argue that it actually does harm us. It harms our souls. If we allow our sexual drives, for example, to run wildly, we prevent ourselves from having healthy, committed relationships with the ones we love. I think that any sin you see listed in the Bible, you will also find that it causes harm in our lives. What exactly would you say is the harm of homosexuality?

    Finally, I would strongly encourage you to not make emphatic statements about that which you are not familiar with. When you speak of genes and psychology, do you speak of these subjects with a mastery of knowledge about them? If not, then how do you go about making a statement that genes/psychology don't determine our orientation (because the growing body of biological, psychological, anthropological, and medical studies about this would counter your argument)? What are you basing your opinion on? If not biochemically mediated, then what DOES determine our orientation? Are you insinuating that gay people choose to be gay?

    Please don't hear me saying that you shouldn't be making statements are asking questions about genetic and psychological information. Nor am I saying that because I am familiar with a lot of this data that I'm therefore able to talk about it and you're not. It's just that you made a very matter-of-fact statement without a hint of doubt or irony about a subject you clearly aren't familiar with (because if you were, you wouldn't have said that!) So perhaps modifying your statement would be beneficial. Something along the lines of "I'm not familiar with all of the genetic and psychological data out there, but I don't think that those things determine our orientation." That sounds a lot more humble, and it leaves you in a position to converse with others about the merits of your opinions regarding the data.

    Anonymous D

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  21. Great post, Anonymous D!

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  22. Ok, Anonymous people - let's use some clever web handles here. It's getting confusing as to who's who :) Love the discussion, and glad to hear from you all!

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  23. Sorry my previous post was pretty bad, I wrote it very fast and pretty late at night, at least for me.

    Hopefully I can iron it out a little.

    I don't believe that all atraction is lust, however I do believe that homosexual atraction is. The non lustful attraction goes through God.

    Now how would God provide attraction to someone of the same sex, when he was the one that said: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." or through St. Paul:

    Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them"

    Its also important to note that he who looks lustfully at a woman (or man) has already commited adultary in his heart.

    I do agree with you that lust harms the soul, but many aren't concerned with that and look only to the body. Now sin doesn't necessarily have to be harmful or someone else (eminently that is). For example not loving our neighbor won't harm him, nor us except in that we disobey God's commandment. But then why do we have to love our neighbor? Because God is love, and we should try to act in a manner like Him, that we may be Holy as He is Holy. Now homosexuality isn't natural and God didn't create us that way, and we know that real love goes through God. If he willed relationships such as these, why wouldn't he allow 2 men to reproduce. Simply put, an attraction towards the same sex is different than acting upon it.

    I'm attracted to girls but as I'm unmarried I don't act upon nor would I want to live with one knowing that there is a chance temptation to crawl in.

    Finally, I'd like to say that two homosexual men living together without sexual acts are letting temptation crawl in. However if there is no lust between them, they are spiritual brothers living together (nothing wrong w/ that)

    I hope we can have a loving discussion without any tempers flaring,
    M

    PS. (Sorry I seemed so definitive when talking about genes making it more likely to be homosexual, I was kind of in a rush and this was much faster to write please forgive me and forgive any errors in this one too, as I didn't have a chance to review it)

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  24. M, Hey dude. I think we can definitely have a loving conversation here, I'm pretty much over having a temper about this stuff, it's just not worth it. And I do look forward to your posts, too. Glad to have you around.

    The thing is M, we are all coming from certain belief systems. And we forget, you and I actually share a lot in common in regards to faith. In fact you might disagree with me, but I'd say when it comes to the important things, we probably don't differ too much. But it's easy to forget that when talking about such a polarizing topic.

    I have a difficult time getting into conversations that deal with using verses to prove or disprove the morality of homosexuality. One of the main reasons is, I've studied these verses since I was around 10 years old. I needed some explanation for what was happening to me. I know every verse on the subject, and I know all the arguments on both sides. At the end of the day, I think folks go around in circles when this conversation comes up, so I usually do not get into it. Because people approach the conversation with one thing in mind, to prove the other wrong.

    But there was something interesting you said: not all attraction is lust, but homosexual attraction is. Why is that so? Not all attraction is sexual in nature. I'm sure you think Brad Pitt is attractive, and I'm sure that's more out of admiration than in any way wanting to be with him. Most men find other man attractive. Some attraction has nothing to do with the physical, but more to do with emotions.

    But I think you really hit the nail on the head with this one:



    Now how would God provide attraction to someone of the same sex, when he was the one that said: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."



    M, this is the very question that all of us have asked ourselves. For years! Why would God do this to us?

    At the end of the day people who are healthy have a natural inclination to want a partner. The bible does say it is not good for man to be alone. For many people, that partner doesn't make sense to be that of the opposite gender. It's as if you were married to a man (assuming you're a man), it probably wouldn't make a lot of sense to you, psychologically, emotionally, etc. Then again, I know a lot of guys who would love to be living with their best friends for the rest of their lives.

    All I can say, is that it has taken me years of careful study, and wrestling, and asking tough questions, and actually having to challenge certain beliefs that just did not work, and in fact harmed me in the long run.

    In your opinion, why are some people gay and others aren't?

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  25. Just A Dude,

    There are two options here: That God caused this or that the devil caused it.

    The thing is saying the devil brings about these thoughts makes more sense than to say the Bible doesn't mean what it actually says. It also goes against Holy Tradition (didache, apostolic constitutions, many Church Fathers speak against it: see http://www.coptic.net/articles/OnHomosexuality.txt and http://www.catholic.com/library/Early_Teachings_on_Homosexuality.asp)

    Also when we interpret the Bible in a dogmatic or Theological fashion we should have guidance of the Church Fathers. Why? Because they are like explorers who have already mapped the area. Not doing it would be the equivalent of deciding to go from LA to Lousiana without taking a map or GPS. It is safe to say that it is easy to get lost. However if we take several maps with us, even if one is wrong it is likely that the rest are right.

    Now not one verse nor one Church Father advocates homosexuality. For example the verse saying it is not good for a man to be alone does not mean to be single, but rather isolated, because the same Bible also says: But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am (celibate); but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    As for thinking someone is attractive, that is different from lust towards them. Also I can hardly imagine the great Saint Pope Kyrillos thinking for example that Brad Pitt is attractive or any other Saint at that matter. These saints wouldn't even dwell on a non-sinful thought that is outside of God for a second.


    Anyway, To answer your question the same answer could be used for those who watch sinful (I think everyone knows what I mean) things on the internet. Why do they do it? Trust me I know that Christians in the Church think that there is nothing wrong with it and that the hormones make them do this, and they're just fulfilling they're natural bodily need.

    This brings us to another question, why does God let hormones surge in teens so much so that it becomes very hard to resist sexual sin? Doesn't this mean that God is fine with these sins. Or does it mean that God wants us to carry our cross and follow him. That he wants to see in the face of temptation who will stick to him.

    Even if these thoughts were allowed by God (I'm not saying they are, this hypothetical), wouldn't that mean that he wants to see in the face of temptation what you will do, that you may be stregnthened?

    Look, my brethern this sin isn't right. I'm sorry for the harsh tone, but this is done out of love. In Egypt you'd be hard pressed to find a single case of a poorer person with homosexual thoughts. Indeed, because they do not face what we face in America, and know the Bible's teachings these thoughts are pushed away instantly.

    I have a question for everyone here. If you could get rid of these Homosexual desires and you know that God is against it, would you? Would you be like Abraham offering his son Isaac, even if you didn't understand it. Well I'll tell you one thing. If you want to get rid of it you don't need to go to Ex-Gay conferences, nor talk with Ex-Gays. You need to do two things. Pray and do what you can to avoid it. The same can be said for any sin.

    The Peace and love of Jesus Christ be with you all.

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  26. M,

    That's an interesting collection of sayings

    One thing that a lot of these teachings ignore is the fact that no one is addressing the cultural context in which these writings took place. I mean, hermaphrodites being condemned as wicked? These men are writing based on their views and their understanding of the world around them.

    Our understanding of the world around us, is changing over time, the more we exist as a species, the more we can understand the complexities around us. It was widely understood that the universe was geocentric. I'm sure saints believed this as well. I think we can safely say that these people were wrong. They weren't bad or ignorant. They knew as much as they possibly could have understood, but at the end of the day they were wrong. The evolution of what we understand of science and nature is no different from sexuality. How the world viewed sexuality back then very much affected the way early writers dealt with certain issues.

    In the ancient world, sexuality was behavior. Sexual preference was not a notion that was understood. Genital contact was something that people did. Greeks practiced pederasty, and it was a common practice for men to use young boys for sexual pleasure. These greek men weren't "gay" as we would understand that notion today. It was common practice. Men married women, and took boys as lovers. The bible is speaking of sexual behavior within a certain context, because that is all that was known back then. It wasn't until the 19th century that it became understood that people actually have a sexual preference. That some people were more naturally drawn to the same sex, while the majority were naturally drawn more to the opposite. But back then, those who were drawn primarily to the same sex, were considered pathological. The more people studied sexuality, the more people understood how complex the whole idea was.
    Homosexuality during the times of the Bible was seen as an act, an act that was committed in a certain context. There was no social structure or way that two members of the same gender could have a relationship, because such a relationship was not even understood. At the same time, it was also rare that people would marry for love. Another concept that is a few centuries old.
    When a person practiced same sex activity back then, it was for one of a few reasons: 1) they were partaking in a pagan ritual. worshipping other gods is an obvious no-no 2) they were in a society which approved of pederasty, and i'm sure similar criticism can be made against cultures who allowed for the same usage of young girls for the whims of an older man. or 3) it was an expression of abuse. We do not know the sexual orientations of the men who practiced this stuff, but I can venture to guess, the majority were heterosexually oriented.
    In fact, all the examples of homosexuality in the bible and in the writings of the early fathers are really an issue of one thing: Lust. The bible does not speak of same-sex unions born out of love, because there was no social construct under which something like this would have been known or understood. There are a dozen out of a million verses that deal with an issue that wasn't very popular at all.

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  27. And at the end of the day, a clear, well educated, and prayerful understanding of the subject IS important to me. Why? Because my natural inclinations aren't primarily for sex with another man, but because my natural inclinations are primarily for love and intimacy with another man. The kind of love and intimacy that can only be reciprocated by another gay man. And because I have these inclinations, I need to understand how to best deal with them.

    We understand now the importance of gender and sexual identity in the formation of good self esteem, proper maturity, and these are things that most straight people take for granted. It's hard growing up gay. We have the same pressures everyone else does, except we have to hide it, because we're taught it is shameful.
    It is clear we come to understand things and believe things based on a variety of things, one of which is experience. I think it would be fair to say that all the people we read and listen to, have a real experience with a subject that impassions them to write and teach on it. My question for you is, what was that experience or experiences for you? Why have you come to understand that these views of homosexuality that you are sharing, are actually correct. And if the answer is, because it says so in the bible , then my next question would be: what was your experience that lead you to a place where you allow the Bible and scriptures to guide your path as such.

    God bless you.

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  28. "Pray and do what you can to avoid it . . . "

    No offense here, but that's a slap in the face of any gay Christian on the planet. I don't want this to come off too harshly, but I have to say it, because I know there are a lot of young/teen Coptic guys out there reading along, and I would hate for your statement to go unchallenged as it really amounts to this:

    "The fact that you struggle so much with your lustful, sinful, homosexual feelings is because it's YOUR FAULT! You haven't prayed hard enough, and you haven't avoided the sins enough . . . "

    And that is a VERY psychologically damaging thing to say to someone who has no control whatsoever over who they are attracted to. That is the sort of thing that makes gay teens kill themselves.

    If you think it's as easy as pray and avoid, you clearly haven't much experience with same-sex attracted people. Trust me, you won't FIND A SINGLE CHRISTIAN WHO STRUGGLES WITH SAME SEX ATTRACTIONS WHO HASN'T TRIED (FUTILELY) TO PRAY AND AVOID FOR YEARS AND YEARS! Through blood, sweat, and tears - begging God, pleading with Him, who would do anything not to be this (gay). Again, don't say things you don't have much experience with. You have no idea how much you damage other people with that kind of triteness and ignorance.

    Anonymous D

    (P.S. More later. There is plenty of naivete in your comments that needs to be and will be addressed by yours truly :), but I haven't the time . . . I had to address the most psychologically dangerous one though.)

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  29. Anonymous D and Just A Dude,

    Forgive me if I made any naive statements. The fact of the matter is God is unchanging, and so are his laws. None of the old testament passed away but rather these laws were fulfilled (ex. circumcision fulfilled by Baptism.)

    I just wanted to ask, How many people if they knew it was wrong (you can pretend this is hypothetical if you want :-) ), and they knew that God could give the strength to overcome it (not necessarily end the temptations ie, not killing the birds, but giving you the ability to shoo them away), would try to turn from homosexuality. Would you?

    I'd also like to point out that maybe the problem is you wanted these thoughts to never come again. That you tried to conceal that there was an attraction to your own sex (I think you guys know what type of attraction I mean), rather than speak with your Father of Confession about it.

    Who do you know as a child would tell their Father of Confession about these attractions. Maybe God wants you to have this cross, that these thoughts war against you, but that you don't act upon them. We all have crosses, maybe yours is to live a celibate life.

    I think this idea of sexual preference has come about recently, and as you said Just A Dude, the Greeks didn't understand the concept of sexual preference. This whole concept didn't exist until recently.

    Look I don't mean to be harsh, and neither do I advocate for any harmful treating of homosexuals as that is against the words of the Bible. Homosexuals deserve love, but their sin doesn't. This sin shouldn't be accepted in society, just as pornography shouldn't. This is not to say that all Homosexuals should be shunned upon, but rather that all should know that this sin isn't right.

    I know this last part may be confusing, and I know I'll get a response misinterpreting it, but hopefully it'll be understood. Now I do hope we continue discussion, and I'm sorry if I upset anyone or if I have sinned.

    Now as to answer your question, I don't think there was one specific moment that makes me follow the Bible (and Tradition, they're like two sides of one coin) as my path. I think I'd have to say it's my journey with God. The love, joy, and happiness I feel with Him, so much so that at times I'd through His grace stay up praying till the morning. With him I feel something truly indescribable. I feel a taste of Heaven. Naturally in this love I'd want to hear his voice, I'd want to hear His words and follow his commandments.

    I'd say that's what happened. I'd have to admit that I fell from this love, but I pray that I may partake of it this very day again. I can tell you with honesty, that I can say from experience, that His words are sweeter than honey. There was a point where the Bible became my food, and prayer became my water. I admit I was still sinful in that time, but looking back I see the sin I'm in now, and say that if I were to trade all what I have for living with him again, I would, and by the Grace of God this will start right now.

    Anyway sorry for my stories which may honestly seem a bit cheesy, but please pray for me and forgive for my very long posts.

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  30. Mike,

    I'm sorry if I stated anything wrong. You are right. I think your understanding is much better than mine.

    I think you're definitely right, about the devil not necessarily causing it (Though I'm not ruling out that in some if not most cases he is the root).

    I don't think having a Christian Love (that goes through God) towards a man is wrong. There are many cases where men live together as spiritual brothers in purity and chastity without lust. I may have been unclear. I was speaking about lust between two men where there is a desire for intimate contact at all (if there is it's best not to put your hand on the fire).

    Once again please forgive me for any mistakes I made, or if I sinned against anyone.

    May the Lord be with you all.

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  31. Lot of stuff here. I don't know if I can get to all of it, but I'll try.

    Let me start with some of the questions I was asked:

    1) Maybe I thought it would go away instead of nipping it in the bud by talking to a father of confession about it?

    Well, for adolescence, yes. In fact I told my parents first when I was very young and they thought I was just in a phase. By the time I got to college I knew it wouldn't go away, so the first person I told was a coptic priest (not my father of confession initially, but eventually did.) This priest and told me to find ex-gay help. So yes, I actually did have the balls to tell the clergy in my life.

    2) What I think about incest vs. homosexual relationships. Really? I'm not even sure how to answer that question. I don't know how you can compare two consenting non-related peers to a relationship that can actually destroy a family dynamic. I mean, Mike, do you really think your attraction to men, is in any way similar to a man who is in a relationship with his daughter? If this is one of those slippery slope things, I'm not sure I can go down that road. Every issue has to be looked at separately, it's the only way to get objectivity.

    3) About pornography and masturbation. I think porn is often a substitute for intimacy that people crave. In a way it's false intimacy, with a screen or a picture. With a person that we can project all our desires onto. It doesn't teach us how to connect with others, rather it teaches us how to withdraw. Masturbation, again, an issue that can be healthy in some contexts and unhealthy in others. I think one of the worst things in the world are young men and women who are obsessively guilty about the fact that they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. Getting to know their bodies and how they work. The problem is, youth are told "just don't do it." "it's self abuse." "it's evil." and of course compulsive behavior sets in and an unnecessary cycle of guilt and shame. I'm sure there will be some replies to this but let me state now, I'm not interested in discussing the morality of masturbation. :)

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  32. I'm back. I appreciate your respectful tone a lot. These were your questions to me:
    "Can you answer me two questions: 1) Experientially, what is being a Christian all about for you, and how has the redemptive work of the Lord through the sacraments affected your life? and 2) How have you (collective) loved "homosexuals" as you say? What does loving gay people look like to you?"

    To me, being a Christian is living the liturgical life of the Church and striving to live according to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible. It means partaking of the sacraments regularly, particularly repentance and confession, and the Holy Communion. It means doing good as much as one can and being honest and faithful in small and big things. That's my brief idea of Christian life.

    For me personally, I haven't had much contact with homosexuals, but I try my honest best not to treat them any different from any other person. I compare it similar to meeting a Muslim, someone with different beliefs than me. I don't agree with them, or some things they do, but I don't agree in treating them as any less of a human being and I honestly try my hardest to treat all people, Christians, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, atheists on an equal level, in that I don't treat one group as less for any reason. That said, I have a great reverence and awe for Christians who are just exemplary people and true models of Christian life.

    I hope you understand my point of view a little better, and I'm sorry it appears we don't have much common ground to speak on. I'm just so perplexed on how you still want to be Coptic Christian and a practicing homosexual? With all due respect, how does that work or even make sense? How can you rationalize it to yourself?

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  33. Hey there, Anon.

    You asked how I would still want to be a Coptic Christian and a "practicing homosexual" ( a term which I'm not quite clear on)

    Well, I think the only way to answer the question is to use your own words:

    To me, being a Christian is living the liturgical life of the Church and striving to live according to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible. It means partaking of the sacraments regularly, particularly repentance and confession, and the Holy Communion. It means doing good as much as one can and being honest and faithful in small and big things. That's my brief idea of Christian life.

    Some evangelical protestants will tell you you're a pagan, that you worship idols, they'll tell you that your beliefs are false and unnecessary. All you need to do is look to your real and living experience with Christ within the church, to know that none of this true. We have consciences, we know the difference between right and wrong. We know what brings us closer to God and what tears us from Him. I took a risk many years ago that I may be wrong in this, and in the process I learned what is wrong and what is right about being a gay man and a Christian. I do not have all the answers, but I'm living fully what I know to be true, and because I'm keeping Christ close to me in every step, I know I will not be lead astray. To say that a gay man has to throw away Christ, couldn't be further from what any person should do, ever. In fact, I need Christ more than ever in my life and He has become my peace, my strength and my song, as well as my salvation.

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  34. Hi All

    This is M S

    I am a coptic Christian. I am gay. I had MANY one night stands, I was promiscuous (may be 500 guys ages 18 - 65). Foremost, I think that being gay is not a choice (unless gay for pay, or bisexual). My father of confession who is a very blessed person, agrees and says that it is something that you are BORN (not necessarily created with). Let me ask this, is God's creation perfect? is alcoholism good? Some people are alcoholics and NOT by choice. Is addictability to drugs good? All human being have the genes that control that brain chemicals that would make the human being an addict to crack cocaine after the first use? Did the saints (including the theotoks) have those genes? Absolutely so. Being an addict that enjoys and does not want to stop drugs use, IS a sin. In short, having still the spark of the Holy Spirit in me despite the filth that I committed I repented. I had a downfall after which I got excommunicated by the church. I deserved it, I never left the church to another denomination. Until the days of my chastisement were over I remained remorseful. I abided by the rules of God. "NOT all that call Me God ... but those that follow the will of My Father."

    Any one care to comment

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  35. Hi M.S.,

    Thanks for writing. Thanks for sharing your story and for being honest. I am not sure the point you are trying to make. Above all, I'm glad you're close to Jesus again, at the end of the day that's all that matters. May God heal the wounds of your past.

    Blessings

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