"The conversation concerning the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Orthodox Church has not started in the same way it has in the Roman, Anglican, and Protestant churches. While many localized Orthodox jurisdictions teach that practicing homosexuality is a sin, this teaching has not been ecumenically affirmed within the Orthodox Church. In some places, partnered homosexuals are excommunicated, in others the local Orthodox priests have maintained a pretty effective "don’t-ask-don’t-tell" policy with regard to such communicants– or sometimes are even affirming of faithful, monogamous, gay couples.
Just as people’s hearts and minds are often changed when a child or close friend comes out, so too the testimony and stories of faithful gay and lesbian Orthodox Christians could transform the atmosphere of the Church. Homosexuality in the Orthodox Church will be an anthology of witness by Eastern Orthodox Christians concerning the inclusion of faithful gay and lesbian believers."
The church has few resources dealing with the issue of homosexuality. Here is an excerpt from one of the more quoted and published works on the subject:
"Homosexuality is a sin condemned by God in the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament not only considered homosexuality a sin, but found it to be a capital offense that is punishable by death. "If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:13).
In the New Testament in Corinthians 6:9-10, it says: "No effeminate nor abusers of themselves with mankind shall inherit the kingdom of God."
A Christian person is one who basically seeks to obey the word of God. A homosexual is deceiving himself if he thinks he can practice the lifestyle and still go to heaven.
Homosexuality is a sin, and a homosexual who wants to recover should see it as such and repent."
- Rev. Mikhail Mikhail, The Coptic Orthodox Church's View of Homosexuality
I do not share in this view or understanding of homosexuality, but I think it is important to know the roots of why so many LGBT youth and adults in the church are living in the shadows and why there is little dialogue about this issue. It is this view that is keeping so many people imprisoned in the darkness of their own secrets, and a lack of understanding about who they are as both a human being and a child of God.
When did the gospel become an afterthought? At what point did the call to love, by Jesus Christ, take second seat to culture and politics? The gospel is clear, and Jesus was a living example on how to live, how to treat others, and on what was important (as well as what was not important). Matthew 5 - 8 was a passage in the gospel that most Christians had memorized in the early church. Why? Because it was a code to living, a guide for community life, and it was the fulfillment of the Levitical law. In light of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ's life and actions made absolute sense, because he gave us a new law: to love. To love your neighbor. To bless those who hate you. To eat with the poor instead of the rich. To make yourself last. These all take second seat to superficiality and politics, which is why it is easy for the church to ignore the well being of gay and lesbian members of their congregations. It is easy to say "change or leave."
It is a subtle but extreme version of idolatry that puts the issue of homosexuality over the gospel. It is idolatry that says: because you are gay, you cannot call yourself a Christian. It is fear and culture that demands such a statement, not the gospel, and definitely not our Father. In a world where illness, suffering, deceit, and chaos rule; in a world where financial status determines worth; in a world and in a church where the first shall be first and the last shall be last; in a system that is so antithetical to the way Jesus lived and taught, where the very core, and most important commandments given by Jesus are outrightly ignored and brushed aside because "we are not Jesus"; and in a religious community that spends most of its energy keeping cultural traditions alive rather than teaching its members how to be light and salt for the earth, given all these dysfunctions that are very much acceptable by the Coptic Church, to say that homosexuality is the non-negotiable issue of our time, is a joke, and a mockery of everything Jesus lived and died for, and everything our forefathers fought for.