Statement on the discussion on homosexuality

 

After following up intensively the discussion on homosexuality in our Church, we also want to bring our own opinion to it.

 

It has come to our attention that a small group of people belonging to the conservative group known as the Brotherhood of St Kosmas Aitolian have sent a letter to Archbishop Leo of Carelia and all Finland, demanding removal of names of employees and members of the Orthodox church of Finland from the declaration of a Christian movement called Yhteys-liike (Community). This declaration promotes tolerance and equality towards homosexuals in the Church. In their letter to Archbishop, the Aitolians threaten the Orthodox church of Finland with an international scandal unless their demands are agreed to. These include the church holding on to a certan teaching on sexual ethics which Hannu Pöyhönen emphasizes in his statement published in Aamun Koitto magazine, issue 3/2007.

 

The Orthodox teaching on sexual ethics is not unambiguous, and in our opinion it is not up to date. Members of our Church live in common-law marriages and mixed marriages; divorcing and getting remarried happen among laity and even clergy. When all this occurs it is justified to ask, how many of the members of our Church really are living canonically a completely orthodox life. Why have homosexuality and same-sex partnership, based on respectful mutual love, become bigger problem than all these other phenomena? As Orthodox homosexuals we are, according to our best efforts, ready to follow the teaching of our Church on love, loyalty and care between spouses. However, in our lives perfection of that love can happen only in a same-sex partnership. Being homosexual is not a choice of our own. We were born as we are, and we only hope that we would be allowed to express and experience love in our own way even in the Church.

 

Homosexuality seems to have become the last question of orthodoxy, in which uncorrupted realisation of canonical teaching is required. But has this orthodoxy ever been realised? Isn’t the only difference between history and our present time the fact that society is openly accepting homosexuality and this has brought the issue up for the Church? Throughout the history of the Church, homosexuals have been there. Earlier this fact was silenced, and now as the discussion has finally started the real core of the problem seems to be the discussion, not the phenomenon itself. We hope that the discussion will continue despite of the opposition, for silence will not exterminate homosexuality.

 

 

As active members, theologians and employees of the Orthodox Church we understand that it can be very difficult from the political point of view for our Church to take a stand on homosexuality. Still we wish that our bishops would give instructions on this challenging pastoral issue. As the Church has no uniform stand on homosexuality, homosexual people are exposed completely to the variegated attitude of the clergy in pastoral care.

 

It feels unfair and unjust that the conservatives are allowed to say anything they wish about us, homosexuals, in public but the freedom of speech of our advocates would be restricted, as the statement sent to Archbishop indicates. The aims of Yhteys-liike are in correspondence with international declarations and legislations on Human Rights, as they strive for non-discrimination of employees of the Church on basis of sexual orientation. If the demands of the Aitolians are agreed to Human Rights are violated, namely the freedom of speech and peaceful association and the freedom of non-discrimination. It is also a right of a human being to live without being subjected to physical or psychological violence. We do feel ourselves subjected to violence, when anything can be said about us in public, ranging from tasteless jokes to condemnation to Hell.

 

According to the Bible, Jesus never said a word on homosexuality. But He did have mercy on the woman who had sinned, He took the Samaritan as a good example and He visited the house of Zacchaeus. He acted in a very unconventional way: inviting to Himself those who at that time were despised. At various times He also proved empty the legitimate faith of the Pharisees, requesting people to study their own deeds instead of judging others.

 

Throwing stones and public condemnation is easy if the target is a nameless, unknown phenomenon somewhere far off from us. By this statement we wish to bring out the fact that we homosexuals are acting in the Church as every-day members and even employees. Every stone that is thrown strikes and hurts us, who for the love towards our Church have wanted and still want to work in the Church for Her common well-being.

 

Ortodoksinen sateenkaariseura

Advertisements