of His Excellency
Bishop Gregory Godsey
CONCERNING SOME FALSE THEOLOGY
THREATENING TO UNDERMINE
THE FOUNDATIONS OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC
DOCTRINE ON INCLUSIVENESS
Friday, October 7, 2005
Revised and Updated April 2011
To Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Old Catholic Church International.
Venerable Brethren, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction,
We as a church have come to a theological crossroad that will certainly threaten to separate us from one or the other side of this issue. The issue before us is the level of inclusiveness of our church. We will first look at the Biblical and historical aspects of the issue of homosexuality and then we will look at our Church’s response to that information.
We must follow the wisdom in the following quote from Galileo:
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
While much has been written on the subject of homosexuality and the church, most of that data is biased toward one line of thinking or the other. We will work to distill fact from that biased data, leaving us with a finished product that will hopefully be as unbiased as possible.
While much has been written on the subject of homosexuality and the church, most of that data is biased toward one line of thinking or the other. We will work to distill fact from that biased data, leaving us with a finished product that will hopefully be as unbiased as possible.
There are six verses in the Bible that are used by most Christians to say that homosexuality is a sin and should be condemned. The first of these verses is located in Genesis:
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”
But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 
In this passage, people assume that “to know” means “to have sexual relations with” a person or in this case, to have homosexual relations with Lot’s visitors. The Hebrew word here is yada. This word is literally translated, to know, to have knowledge of, to understand, to be introduced to, etc. Only one out of twenty three definitions deals with a sexual relationship, the others have nothing to do with sex at all.
The Strong’s definition of the word yada is as follows:
1) to know
1) to know
a) to know, learn to know
b) to perceive
c) to perceive and see, find out and discern
d) to discriminate, distinguish
e) to know by experience
f) to recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess
g) to consider
2) to know, be acquainted with
3) to know (a person carnally)
4) to know how, be skilful in
5) to have knowledge, be wise
1) to be made known, be or become known, be revealed
2) to make oneself known
3) to be perceived
4) to be instructed
c) (Piel) to cause to know
d) (Poal) to cause to know
1) to be known
2) known, one known, acquaintance (participle)
f) (Hiphil) to make known, declare
g) (Hophal) to be made known
h) (Hithpael) to make oneself known, reveal oneself 
Only one of these definitions even remotely refers to anything that can be construed as sexual in nature. Yet many people have incorrectly inferred that a particular sexual practice was the basis for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This belief is so widespread that the city of Sodom has become synonymous with a sexual practice that has been reviled from the pulpit over the centuries, even though the usage is wrong both historically and Biblically.
In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet proclaiming a message from God to the people of Israel says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” Ezekiel, and God for that matter, mysteriously leaves out the part about Sodom being a town full of homosexuals looking for a good time. Some might say that this went without saying, that people knew that Sodom’s sin was homosexuality, but I don’t believe that. God gives such a detailed list of sins; I would think he would have included the “big” sin in the list as well. This leads me to believe that homosexuality had nothing to do with Sodom’s destruction.
The next verse that is used as a condemnation of homosexuality is located in the book of Leviticus, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” 
Leviticus is the book of the law that was to govern the people in their worship and to set boundaries that would prevent them from becoming ritually unclean. This is evident all through the book of Leviticus.
Leviticus 20:13 is giving the penalties for the Leviticus 18:22 “abomination” or in the Hebrew “toevah.” Unlike the contemporary English translation, toevah did not usually signify that something intrinsically evil, but something ritually unclean for Jews. Eating pork, shellfish, lobster, eating meat three days old, trimming beards, etc., is just as much an “abomination”. It is used throughout the OT to designate those Jewish sins which involve ethnic contamination or idolatry. In many other OT verses, it simply means idolatry. Lev 18 is specifically designed to distinguish the Jews from the pagans among whom they had been living. The prohibition of supposedly homosexual acts follows after the prohibition of idolatrous sexuality of worshipping Molech(sic), whose cult included male cult prostitutes and bestiality. 
If the desire of God and the writer of Leviticus was to forbid regular, consensual homosexual relationships, then it would have been put more clearly.
A further evidence of this is toevah(sic) is used throughout the OT to designate those Jewish sins which involve ethnic contamination or idolatry and very frequently occurs as part of the stock phrase “toevah ha-goyim” “the uncleanness of the Gentiles” (e.g., 2 Kings 16:3).
The significance of toevah become clear when your realize the other Hebrew word “zimah” could have been used – if that was what the authors intended. Zimah means, not what is objectionable for religious or cultural reasons, but what is wrong in itself. It means an injustice, a sin. For example, in condemnation of temple prostitutes involving idolatry, “toevah” is employed (e.g. 1 Kings 14:24), while in prohibitions of prostitution in general a different word “zimah,” appears (e.g. Lev. 19:29). Often but yes, not always, “toevah” specifically means “idol” (E.g., Isa. 44:19; Ezek 7:20, 16:36; Jer. 16:18; cf. Deut. 7:25-26).
Clearly, then, Leviticus does not say that a man to lie with man is wrong or a sin. Rather, it is a ritual violation, an “uncleanness”; it is something “dirty” ritualistically. Leviticus 18 is specifically designed to distinguish the Jews from the pagans among whom they had been living, or would live, as its opening remark make clear – “After the doings of the land of Egypt, …..etc., and the prohibition of supposedly homosexual acts follows immediately upon a prohibition of idolatrous sexuality (the female temple prostitutes worshipping the pagan fertility gods) (often mistranslated as fornication but a obvious mistranslation in the proper context).
This conclusion finds further support in the Septuagint, where the toevah is translated as the Greek word “bdelygma”. Fully consistent with the Hebrew, the Greek bdelygma means a ritual impurity. Once again, other Greek words were available, like “anomia”, meaning a violation of law, a wrong or a sin. That word could have been used to translate toevah. In fact, in some cases anomia was used to translate toevah- when the offense in question was not just a ritual impurity but also a real wrong of an injustice, like offering child sacrifice or having sex with another man’s wife, in violation of his property rights. The Greek translators could have used anomia; they used bdelygma.
Evidently, the Jews of that pre-Christian era simply did not understand Leviticus to forbid male-male sex because it is wrong in and of itself. They understood Leviticus to forbid male-male sex because it offended ancient Jewish sensitivities: it was dirty and Canaanite-like, it was un-Jewish. And that is exactly how they translated the Hebrew text into Greek before Christ. It makes no statement about the morality of homosexual acts as such. 
The next scripture used to promote hate against homosexuals is Romans 1:26-27:
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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 themselves the due penalty for their error. 
An interesting thing about the letters of Saint Paul is that we only get to hear one side of the conversation. Many of his letters, if not all of them, were written in response to letters sent to him by the church to which he wrote. Therefore, when we read Saint Paul’s writings, it is like listening to one end of a telephone conversation. In Romans 1:25, Saint Paul says, “…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
If you put Saint Paul’s “condemnation” of homosexuals into context, you will find that he was not attacking loving, monogamous relationships, but rather was condemning the idol worship and idolatrous temple practices, which involved prostitution and fornication among many people of both sexes. He was not attacking homosexuals but the same sin that had been attacked in the Ten Commandments, that of adultery.
In the following verses from the New Testament we will see that sometimes the pen of the translator of a manuscript can indeed be wrong.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality… 
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine… 
In both passages the word homosexual is used. The word translated as “homosexual” or “sexual pervert” or some other similar term is Greek ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs). This word is not found anywhere else in the widely-held canon of the Bible. This word is found in the Sibylline Oracle and in the Acts of John, a long disputed book of Christian origin. In the Oracle it says:
(Never accept in your hand a gift which derives from unjust deeds.) Do not steal seeds. Whoever takes for himself is accursed (to generations of generations, to the scattering of life. Do not arsenokoitein, do not betray information, do not murder.) Give one who has labored his wage. Do not oppress a poor man. Take heed of your speech. Keep a secret matter in your heart. (Make provision for orphans and widows and those in need.) Do not be willing to act unjustly, and therefore do not give leave to one who is acting unjustly. 
Later in the Oracle a similar list of sexual sins is list but the word arsenokoitein is not listed in them. Rather it is listed here in a list of economic sins and practices. It is very likely that if this word has any connection to sexual sins at all it is most likely to a form of prostitution.
The Acts of Saint John says this:
Thou that rejoicest in gold and delightest thyself with ivory and jewels, when night falleth, canst thou behold what thou lovest thou that art vanquished by soft raiment, and then leavest life, will those things profit thee in the place whither thou goest And let the murderer know that the condign punishment is laid up for him twofold after his departure hence. Likewise also thou poisoner, sorcerer, robber, defrauder, sodomite, thief, and as many as are of that band, ye shall come at last, as your works do lead you, unto unquenchable fire, and utter darkness, and the pit of punishment, and eternal threatenings. Wherefore, ye men of Ephesus, turn yourselves, knowing this also, that kings, rulers, tyrants, boasters, and they that have conquered in wars, stripped of all things when they depart hence, do suffer pain, lodged in eternal misery. 
Here John is attacking the men of Ephesus for their greed when he uses this word arsenokoitēs. Like in the Oracle, the Acts of John has a list of sexual sins that he condemns but, like the Oracle, he does not mention the arsenokoitēs there. Instead he also places the word in a list of economic sins. This again gives great doubt to the use of the word to attack or condemn homosexuals. If we as Christians are going to condemn someone should we not first make sure that we know what we are condemning?
Another reference to the word arsenokoitēs is in the writings of Saint Hippolytus. He speaks of the god Naas (the serpent in the account of the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis) and Naas’ dealings with Adam and Eve:
Naas, however, has committed sin, for he went in unto Eve, deceiving her, and debauched her; and (such an act as) this is a violation of law. He, however, likewise went in unto Adam, and had unnatural intercourse with him; and this is itself also a piece of turpitude, whence have arisen adultery and sodomy.
Remember that in this quote, Hippolytus is referring to Naas, a snake. How a snake having sex with Adam is to be considered homosexual intercourse is beyond me. Nevertheless, many make this connection. In all the references to arsenokoitēs it is used to reference interspecies sex, rape, pederasty or prostitution. Since the fifty six mentions of arsenokoitēs fit into those definitions, I have a hard time believing that Saint Paul meant it to mean something different.
As to the word “effeminate” used in I Corinthians 6:9, it is also a mistranslation. The Greek word used here is “malakos” which means “soft”. When used as a term of moral condemnation, the word still refers to something perceived as “soft”: laziness, degeneracy, decadence, lack of courage, or, to sum up all these vices in one ancient category, the feminine.
And so it was that a man who allowed himself to be penetrated — by either a man or a woman — could be labeled a malakos. But to say that malakos meant a man who was penetrated is simply wrong. In fact, a perfectly good word existed that seems to have had that narrower meaning: kinaedos. malakos, rather, referred to this entire complex of femininity. This can be recognized by looking at the range of ways men condemned other men by calling them malakoi.
As I mentioned, a man could, by submitting to penetration, leave himself open to charges of malakia. But in those cases, the term refers to the effeminacy of which the penetration is only a sign or proof; it does not refer to the sexual act itself. The category of effeminate men was much broader than that. In philosophical texts, for example, malakoi are those people who cannot put up with hard work. Xenophon uses the term for lazy me. For Epictetus and the Cynic Epistles, the term refers to men who take life easy rather than enduring the hardships of philosophy. In Dio Cassius, Plutarch, and Josephus, cowards are maJakoi. Throughout ancient literature, malakoi are men who live lives of decadence and luxury. They drink too much wine, have too much sex, love gourmet food, and hire professional cooks. According to Josephus, a man may be accused of malakia if he is weak in battle, enjoys luxury, or is reluctant to commit suicide (War 7.338; Antiquities 5.246; 10.194). Dio Chrysostom says that the common crowd might stupidly call a manmalakos just because he studies a lot —that is, a bookworm might be called a sissy (66.25). 
This shows very clearly that to use the word effeminate is a bad translation of the word malakos. It also shows that there is very little evidence for the use of the word to portray those who are considered to be homosexual.
There has been some discussion about the relationship between Jesus and Saint John. In the Secret Gospel according to Saint Mark we find the following quote referring to the actions of Saint Lazarus after his resurrection from the grave:
“But the youth, looking upon him (Jesus), loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days, Jesus told him what to do and in the evening, the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God”.
Then there is the information about the disciple “lying close to the breast of Jesus” at the Last Supper (John 13:23,25, 21:20). This unnamed follower “whom Jesus loved” is often thought to be the writer of the Gospel of John or one of his sources.
While there is no concrete evidence that Jesus was homosexual, this would give us all the forms of the human family represented in the Gospels if he were.
The Church history on this issue of inclusiveness is almost as confounding to resolve as a Rubik’s Cube. There has been much talk within the Orthodox Church of the Adelphopoia rite, which seems to the casual reader to be nothing less than a “marriage” of sorts for those of the same sex. Author and scholar J. Goar has this to say about that rite:
This rite is called “spiritual” because the relationship between spiritual brothers is not one of blood-relation but of the Holy Spirit, and also to distinguish the rite from blood-brotherhood, which the Church opposed. In the service, the saint-martyrs Sergius and Bacchus are invoked, who were united in spiritual brotherhood “not bound by the law of nature but by the example of faith in the Holy Bacchus are invoked, who were united in spiritual brotherhood “not bound by the law of nature but by the example of faith in the Holy Spirit”. These saints were tortured and martyred late in the third century A.D. when they refused to worship the emperor’s idols. In their biography by Simeon Metaphrastes (available in J.P. Migne, _Patrologia Graeca_, vol. 115, pp. 1005-1032) they are described as sweet companions and lovers to each other.
This rite is incorporated into the Divine Liturgy. It begins with the usual blessing and prayers of a Liturgy. During the Great Synapte, petitions for the couple to be united in spiritual brotherhood are added to the usual petitions. After the First Antiphon, two special prayers are said for the couple, after which they kiss the Gospel Book and each other. After the priest sings a hymn, the Liturgy continues at “Have mercy on us, O God .. “. Accounts of the use of this rite (such as Naecke, _Jahrbuch fuer sexuelle Zwischenstufen_ 9 (1908),. 328) confirm that the spiritual brothers receive Holy Communion together, thereby forming the sacramental bond in this union. 
There are some distinctions between this rite and the typical marriage of the time. These differences may be attributed to the fact that heterosexual unions were expected to result in conception. In fact the church at this time had a third rite for more mature couples who were being wed.
There is further data that would suggest that homosexual marriage did occur in the church as late as the 16th century.
“On my return from Saint Peter’s I met a man who informed me …. that on this same day [March 18, 1581] the [Holy Week] station was at San Giovanni Porta Latina, in which church a few years before certain Portuguese had entered into a strange brotherhood. They married one another, male to male, at Mass, with the same ceremonies with which we perform our marriages, read the same marriage gospel service, and then went to bed and lived together. The Roman wits [“esperis” – the word might also mean “experts”] said that because in the other conjunction, of male and female, this circumstance of marriage alone makes it legitimate, it had seemed to these sharp folk that this other action would become equally legitimate if they authorized it with ceremonies and mysteries of the Church.” 
The Roman Catholic Church has used such passages as the following from the Didache to claim that the early church was against homosexuality:
“The second commandment of the doctrine: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not corrupt children. You shall not fornicate. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use the confections of a sorcerer.” 
Many people claim that the word pederasty means homosexuality or homosexual behavior. That is completely wrong. The word “pederasty,” which shares a common root with the more commonly used “pedophilia”, means a sexual relationship between a man and an adolescent boy. Thus, the Didache is identifying pedophilia as a sin, not homosexuality per se. Justin Martyr is also used to discount the homosexual behavior of some in this quote:
But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And as the ancients are said to have reared herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or grazing horses, so now we see you rear children only for this shameful use; and for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods, and along with each of those whom you esteem gods there is painted a serpent, a great symbol and mystery. Indeed, the things which you do openly and with applause, as if the divine light were overturned and extinguished, these you lay to our charge; which, in truth, does no harm to us who shrink from doing any such things, but only to those who do them and bear false witness against us. 
We see again a complete misuse of the quote. Justin is speaking of people who are bought and sold into sodomy, not those who are in loving committed relationships.
We see that, in the documents of the Council at Elvira in 309 AD, the earliest Church council after the Council of Jerusalem for which records exist, this council proposed irrevocable exclusion for those who sexually abuse boys. (Canon 71) That is, they were not to receive the Sacrament of Communion even at the point of death. We must note that this canon again refers to the sexual relationship between adults and children. This was not, nor was it meant to be a condemnation against loving adult relationships.
There is still other evidence that the church held a very different view in the early days of its existence.
In a letter to Rufinus the monk, Saint Jerome is quoted as saying:
For I who fancied it too bold a wish to be allowed by an exchange of letters to counterfeit to myself your presence in the flesh, hear that you are penetrating the remotest parts of Egypt, visiting the monks and going round God’s family upon earth. Oh, if only the Lord Jesus Christ would suddenly transport me to you as Philip was transported to the eunuch, Acts 8:26-30 and Habakkuk to Daniel, with what a close embrace would I clasp your neck, how fondly would I press kisses upon that mouth which has so often joined with me of old in error or in wisdom. But as I am unworthy (not that you should so come to me but) that I should so come to you, and because my poor body, weak even when well, has been shattered by frequent illnesses; I send this letter to meet you instead of coming myself, in the hope that it may bring you hither to me caught in the meshes of love’s net. 
This would seem to us to mean that Saint Jerome had a sexual attraction and maybe even at some point a sexual relationship with Rufinus. Nevertheless, this fact is quickly ignored by many of the mainstream churches, as it does not fit their narrow view of what we should believe.
Then there is the case of Saints Polyeuctus and Nearchus. These two early martyrs, who were paired together by early Christians as a same-sex couple, are invoked as such in the “adelphopoiia” ceremonies, recently discussed by historian John Boswell as indicating a Christian tradition of exclusive and publicly recognized same-sex unions. St. Polyeuctus had a huge church, modeled after the Temple of Solomon, built in his name in 6th century Constantinople.
Moreover, there are also Saints Sergius and Bacchus, mentioned earlier, who were soldiers in the Roman army, attached to the household of the Emperor Maximilian. They were Christians and they were lovers.
However, it was not for their sexuality these young men were canonized. It was for their faith for when they were ordered to enter the Temple of Jupiter to participate in a sacrificial ceremony to the god, they refused. For this act of defiance, the lovers were stripped of their arms and badges of rank, dressed in women’s clothing and led through the streets of Arabissus (near Comana in Cappadocia) — for a Roman soldier, an abject humiliation. Then they were sent to Resapha in Syria (Augusta Euphratesiae in Mesopotamia), where they were tortured. Bacchus was whipped until his flesh was raw; he died October 1st AD 290, confessing his faith in Christ.
Sergius’ faith faltered with the death of his lover, but was reinforced when Bacchus appeared to him in a vision saying, “I am still with you in the bond of our union.” Sergius kept the faith; after torture, he was beheaded on October 7th AD 290. Like his lover, he died a martyr to the new religion.
In AD 431, Bishop Alexander of Hierapolis built a magnificent church in Sergius’ honor. In 434, the town of Resapha was raised to the rank of an Episcopal See and was named Sergiopolis and soon became one of the greatest pilgrimage centers of the East. During the Middle Ages, the relationship of Sergius and Bacchus was considered an exemplar of compassionate union, and possibly even marriage, based on agape (brotherly love) and mutual respect.
In fact, according to Chauncey et al (1989), the result “offered a revolutionary interpretation of the Western tradition, arguing that the Roman Catholic Church had not condemned gay people throughout its history, but rather, at least until the twelfth century, had alternately evinced no special concern about homosexuality or actually celebrated love between men.” 
Again, we find the church promoting as a saint one they would today call Objective Disordered.
The teaching of St Aelred, the twelfth century English Abbot of Rievaulx (feast day in the Traditional Roman Calendar, March 3rd) is very pertinent. In his Rule of Life for a Recluse, written for an unnamed hermitess, he warns in strident tones about safeguarding her virginity from defilement either with men or with women. He never felt his own sexuality was entirely in his control, either [integrity website]. As novice master, responsible for the training of impressionable young men, he found it necessary to build a concealed tank in which he could immerse himself in icy waters to bridle his physical passions. Even in his final days, sick and aged, he felt his celibacy was in need of vigilant protection.
St Aelred had a deep appreciation for friendship, and by that is meant the particular love between two individuals. Traditionally, we hear much about universal charity, the disinterested love every Catholic should have for all humankind. We hear little about the worthy love between two people, except in the context of marriage. Of all the gifts St Aelred has given the Church, the best is his joyous affirmation that we move toward God in and through our relationships with other people, not apart from or in spite of them. It is important to remember who those particular individuals were, whose love taught Aelred of the love of God. Aelred writes of his school days as a time when he thought of nothing but loving and being loved by men, and oflosing his heart to one boy and then another. He was a man of strong passions, who spoke openly of the men for whom he had deeply romantic attachments. After the death of one monk whom he clearly loved, he wrote:
“The only one who would not be astonished to see Aelred living without Simon would be someone who did not know how pleasant it was for us to spend our life on earth together; how great a joy it would have been for us to journey to heaven in each other’s company ….Weep, then, not because Simon has been taken up to heaven, but because Aelred has been left on earth, alone.“
In his famous book on Christian friendship, he extols same gender bonding. He drew upon his personal positive experience of love for other men in his ministry as a Cistercian Abbot, encouraging his monks to love each other, not just generally and in the abstract, but individually and passionately. He cited the example of Jesus and St. John as a basis for this comparing their relationship to a marriage:
“Jesus himself, is in everything like us. Patient and compassionate with others in every matter. He transfigured this sort of love through the expression of his own love; for he allowed only one – not all – to recline on his breast as a sign of his special love; and the closer they were, the more copiously did the secrets of their heavenly marriage impart the sweet smell of their spiritual chrism to their love.”
St Aelred describes the friendship that he so valued in the following passage:
“It is no small consolation in this life to have someone to whom you can be united in the intimate embrace of the most sacred love; in whom your spirit can rest; to whom you can pour out your soul; in whose delightful company, as in a sweet consoling song, you can take comfort in the midst of sadness; in whose most welcome, friendly bosom you can find peace in so many worldly setbacks; to whose loving heart you can open, as freely as you would to yourself, your innermost thoughts; through whose spiritual kisses – as by some medicine – you are cured of the sickness of care and worry; who weeps with you in sorrow, rejoices with you in joy, and wonders with you in doubt; whom you draw by the fetters of love into that inner room of your soul, so that though the body is absent, the spirit is there, and you can confer all alone, the two of you, in the sleep of peace away from the noise of the world, in the embrace of love, in the kiss of unity, with the Holy Spirit flowing over you; to whom you so join and unite yourself that you mix soul with soul, and two become one.” 
Again, concerning Bishop Paulinus and Ausonius:
According to Paul Halsall, Bishop Paulinus lived from 353 to 431 AD. Although married, he was passionately in love with his teacher and fellow Christian, the writer Ausonius. Later in life he distanced himself from Ausonius. Perhaps their love was a victim of a narrowing view of sexual ethics. The following is one of the most beautiful love poems ever written: “To Ausonius”
I, through all chances that are given to mortals,
And through all fates that be,
So long as this close prison shall contain me,
Yea, though a world shall sunder me and thee,
Thee shall I hold, in every fibre woven,
Not with dumb lips, nor with averted face
Shall I behold thee, in my mind embrace thee,
Instant and present, thou, in every place.
Yea, when the prison of this flesh is broken,
And from the earth I shall have gone my way,
Wheresoe’er in the wide universe I stay me,
There shall I bear thee, as I do today.
Think not the end, that from my body frees me,
Breaks and unshackles from my love to thee;
Triumphs the soul above its house in ruin,
Deathless, begot of immortality.
Still must she keep her senses and affections,
Hold them as dear as life itself to be,
Could she choose death, then might she choose forgetting:
Living, remembering, to eternity.
An Epigram by Ausonius [c. 310-390]:
Glad youth had come they sixteenth year to crown,
To soft encircle they dear cheeks with down
And part the mingled beauties of thy face,
When death too quickly comes to snatch your grace.
But thou’ll not herd with ghostly common fools,
Nor piteous, waft the Stygian pools;
Rather with blithe Adonis shalt thou rove
And play Ganymede to highest Jove. 
Saint Symeon, with his mother, and Saint John, with his new wife, meet on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They become friends and “would no longer part from each other“. In fact they abandon their families and go together to dedicate their lives to God. In the first monastery they join, they are tonsured by the abbot who blesses them together. This may refer to an early monastic version of the adelphopoiia ceremony. As with St. George, both Symeon and John are referred to as the “pure bridegrooms (nymphoi) of Christ”.
The two men then leave the monastery and live together as hermits for twenty-nine years. The depth and tenderness of their relationship is revealed at this point. Saint John is distraught at the prospect of Saint Symeon leaving. He says to Saint Symeon,
“…. Please, for the Lord’s sake, do not leave wretched me …. Rather for the sake of Him who joined us, do not wish to be parted from your brother. You know that, after God, I have no one except you, my brother, but I renounced all and was bound to you, and now you wish to leave me in the desert, as in an open sea. Remember that day when we drew lots and went down to the Lord Nikon, that we agreed not to be separated from one another. Remember that fearful day when we were clothed in the holy habit, and we two were as one soul, so that all were astonished at our love. Don’t forget the words of the great monk .… Please don’t lest I die and God demands an account of my soul from You.” 
These words fail to have any effect Saint Symeon, who insists on going. He urges Saint John to pray with him.
“After they had prayed for many hours and had kissed each other on the breast and drenched them with their tears, John let go of Symeon and traveled together with him a long distance, for his soul would not let him be separated from him. But whenever Symeon said to him ‘Turn Back, Brother’, he heard the word as if a knife separated him from his body, and again he asked if he could accompany him a little further. Therefore, when Symeon forced him, he turned back to his cell drenching the earth with tears.” 
Or what about Saint Anselm. His sexual orientation has long been debated by scholars who tend to be split in two over his possible “homosexual tendencies”.
According to Paul Halsall, Anselm had emotional relationships with Lanfranc and then a succession of his own pupils. He would address his letters to his “beloved lover” [dilecto dilitori]. Here are samples:
“Wherever you go my love follows you, and wherever I remain my desire embraces you…How then could I forget you? He who is imprisoned on my heart like a seal on wax– how could he be removed from my memory? Without saying a word I know that you love [amor] me, and without my saying a word, you know that I love you.” [Epistle 1.4; PL 158:1068-69]
“Brother Anselm to Dom Gilbert, brother, friend, beloved lover… Sweet to me, sweetest friend, are the gifts of your sweetness, but they cannot begin to console my desolate heart for its want of your Love.” [Ep. 1.75, PL 158:1144-45].
St. Anselm was one of the first saints to address Jesus as mother, a practice and spirituality later taken up by Julian of Norwich. 
In more modern times, one cannot address this issue without looking at Blessed John Cardinal Newman.
For more than three decades, the two men were inseparable – living almost as a married couple – in what many now believe to have been a homosexual relationship.
Just how close the two men were can be judged from Newman’s statement shortly after Father St John’s death in 1875.
He declared: ‘I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine.’
Subsequently, the Cardinal repeated on no fewer than three occasions his firm desire to be buried with his friend.
He wrote the following just weeks before his death in the summer of 1890. ‘I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Father Ambrose St John’s grave… I give this as my last, my imperative will.’ 
It is interesting that Blessed Newman’s sexuality was rather well known to the Roman Church before they beatified him, but they decided to beatify him despite their beliefs about and treatment of homosexuals.
“It’s not unreasonable to think he might have been homosexual,” says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints. “His letters and his comments on the death of one of his close friends are quite provocative.”
That friend was Ambrose St. John, a fellow convert and Catholic priest. Newman described St. John as “my earthly light.” The two men were inseparable; they lived together for 32 years. According to John Cornwell, author of a forthcoming biography called Newman’s Unquiet Grave, St. John helped Newman with his scholarship, translations and more.
“Even doing things like packing his bags before he went away, making sure he was taking his medicine, making sure he kept dental appointments, that sort of thing,” Cornwell says. “So it was almost like a wife, but without the marital bed.” 
Moreover, these are only a few examples of the long litany of saints of who either supported or lived as homosexuals within the church. Why, then, is there such a prohibition against this type of love between consenting adults today? We as a church can find no viable, Biblical or historical reason why.
Science and Religion
Many studies, over the past few decades, that have been geared toward understanding what causes homosexuality. These studies have been complicated by anecdotal evidence, such as the case of Anne Heche, in which practicing homosexuals successfully choose to reverse their sexual identity. It is instances such as these, which doubtless account for the success some faith-based groups report in “curing” homosexuals. So far there is no concrete evidence that it is a genetic predisposition or defect. However, there is evidence that leads us to believe that there is a certain amount of “hard-wired” response that makes one homosexual. For example:
“It’s clear that same-sex sexual behavior extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature: for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies,” said Nathan Bailey, the first author of the review paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology at UC Riverside. 
Research in the last decade has shown that the number of species that exhibit homosexual behavior is quite large.
Homosexuality has been observed in most vertebrate groups, and also among insects, spiders, crustaceans, octopi and parasitic worms. The phenomenon has been reported in more than 1500 animal species, and is well documented for 500 of them, but the real extent is probably much higher. 
Throughout the centuries homosexuality has been viewed as something that is against nature. If there are actually 1500 species that exhibit homosexual behavior from time to time, why has this information just come to light recently?
Homosexuality in animals has been known since Antiquity, but has only recently made it into mainstream science. The cause may be a lack of interest, distaste, fear of ridicule, or scientists fearing to lose their grants. The few scientists publishing papers on the topic, often made sure their own sexual preferences were known, directly or indirectly.
Some scientists have interpreted same-sex pairing as anything but sex. In a study of giraffes in Africa a researcher registered all cases where a male sniffed a female as “sexual interest” – while anal intercourse with ejaculation between males was registered as a form of ritualised fighting (“sparring”), despite the fact that 94% of all registered sexual activity in one area took place between males. Only recently has scientists started investigating homosexuality in animals in earnest. 
If it is true that homosexual behavior exists in the animal kingdom, then that would certainly go a long way toward establishing that such behavior is built-in, rather than a conscious choice. If animals possess enough self-awareness to choose a sexual preference, then they must possess a level of consciousness equivalent to that of humans. If this is true, then the hamburgers we eat on a regular basis are made from sentient beings rather than the cattle that only respond to their environment.
This also raises some very interesting religious questions as well. If the animals are only doing what they were “programmed” to do, then one of two things has occurred. Either a perfect and infallible God made them that way on purpose, or He created them with a flaw, thus meaning that He made a mistake. On the one hand, if he created them that way on purpose, then He cannot condemn them for acting upon their “programming”. However, if He made a mistake, then He could not be the omniscient and omnipotent God that He says He is.
This would, in turn, call into question the inspired and inerrant nature of the Scripture upon which Judaism and Christianity are based. As you can see, this creates a very sticky situation.
In 1935, Sigmund Freud addressed the issue of homosexuality in a quote from a letter he authored: “Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness.”
Sadly, it would take nearly 40 years for Freud’s enlightened viewpoint to be adopted by the psychiatric community. In a 1973 vote decided by a plurality of the membership, the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, thus no longer listing homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Nevertheless, before we go too far, let’s look at some recent research into homosexuality. Here is a study that was done recently on homosexuals and heterosexuals:
In contrast to heterosexual men, and in congruence with heterosexual women, homosexual men displayed hypothalamic activation in response to AND. Maximal activation was observed in the medial preoptic area/anterior hypothalamus, which, according to animal studies, is highly involved in sexual behavior. As opposed to putative pheromones, common odors were processed similarly in all three groups of subjects and engaged only the olfactory brain (amygdala, piriform, orbitofrontal, and insular cortex). These findings show that our brain reacts differently to the two putative pheromones compared with common odors, and suggest a link between sexual orientation and hypothalamic neuronal processes. 
This tends to show that sexual attraction occurs on a very primitive level — too primitive, in fact, for an individual to be able to change at will. If sexual attraction is indeed “hard-wired” into the brain itself, then trying to compel an individual to ignore the brain’s responses to sexual stimuli would indeed constitute “exchanging what is natural for what is unnatural” – Romans 1:26. Perhaps that is Saint Paul really meant by what he said to the Roman Church. Maybe he realized that there may be more at work in people than just what we can see.
But many people persist in promoting the idea that homosexuality is anathema to God, and that the rise of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is nothing less than divine retribution for this sexual identity. One such vocal proponent of this idea is the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who has offered up the following quote, “AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers.” In addition, another of his famous quotes, “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”
However, according to the medical community, AIDS is, in fact, not a respecter of persons. Rather, AIDS can be passed by something as benign as a blood transfusion. In fact, the statistical data has this to say about the AIDS epidemic, “Worldwide, it’s estimated that sex between men accounts for between 5 and 10% of HIV infections.” 
Rather than attach oneself to a belief based not in fact but in superstition, we would rather base our beliefs on that which is fact.
Sin is often pointed to as a reason that homosexuality is wrong. It is declared as sinful and is to be avoided at all cost. But what is the reason for this assumption? What is sin and is homosexuality a sin?
The following explains quite well what the definition of sin is to the Orthodox believer:
In the Western churches, both Catholic and Protestant, sin, grace, and salvation are seen primarily in legal terms. God gave humans freedom, they misused it and broke God’s commandments, and now deserve punishment. God’s grace results in forgiveness of the transgression and freedom from bondage and punishment.
The Eastern churches see the matter in a different way. For Orthodox theologians, humans were created in the image of God and made to participate fully in the divine life. The full communion with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed meant complete freedom and true humanity, for humans are most human when they are completely united with God.
The result of sin, then, was a blurring of the image of God and a barrier between God and man. The situation in which mankind has been ever since is an unnatural, less human state, which ends in the most unnatural aspect: death. Salvation, then, is a process not of justification or legal pardon, but of reestablishing man’s communion with God. This process of repairing the unity of human and divine is sometimes called “deification.” This term does not mean that humans become gods but that humans join fully with God’s divine life. 
In order to determine whether or not homosexuality is a sin, we must first look at the criteria that must be met in order for a sin to have been committed. Does the sin of homosexuality move a person further from God? If what we have discovered in our research and presented in this paper is accurate, then no, homosexuality does not move one further from God. Does homosexuality rise to the level of sin at all?
Father David Jennings recently wrote the following concerning that question:
Let’s think about sinful behavior. Much of what we consider sinful is based on the act. We say, “Thou shalt not kill.” When we find someone standing over a body with the proverbial smoking gun, when we learn that said gun was maliciously discharged in the direction of the aforesaid dead body, it’s pretty clear that the sin lies in the commission of murder.
But suppose there was another category of sin, one where the initial act itself was not sinful, but the collateral damage caused by the initial act was where the sin was. Sex is part of God’s creation, and thus should be considered good:
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 
Sex and religion share one attribute: They are about relationships. So in the case of premarital sex, the sin is not in the act, but rather in how that initial act subsequently affects our relationships with others and with God. Thus, what happens between consenting adults might not rise to the level of sin if:
a.) the relationship did not exploit or injure both partner, and
b.) the relationship does not exploit or injure a third party, and
c.) the relationship does not represent a willful and persistent effort to separate oneself from the manifold graces that God intended such an intimate relationship to have.
Let’s look at the practical application of this philosophy. If the sin is in the act, any expression of homosexual sex becomes automatically spiritually deviant because those relations occur outside matrimony. But matrimony cannot occur because both partners are the same gender — it is a vicious cycle. If my theory is correct, there is no sin because there has been no willful attempt to separate oneself from God’s graces, the opportunity to enjoy those graces has never presented itself.
This is not to say that every homosexual relationship will be without sin. If, for example, an individual entered a homosexual relationship not out of love, but out of a misguided sense of rebellion or retribution against a third party, it would be sinful because it aimed to hurt the third party while either consciously or unconsciously exploiting the prospective partner.
In the case of a couple living together, there might not be any sin if the couple was ignorant of God and the graces He can bring to a relationship.
On the other hand, take the example of a Christian couple who have been engaged for three years who succumb to their hormones before the wedding date. As a one-time occurrence, it would not rise to the level of sin.
So what remains sinful in the sexual arena?
Prostitution, on the grounds that it debases the prostitute and it frequently injures a third-party.
Pornography, on the grounds that it is exploitative.
Abuse of children, on the grounds that it is exploiting and injuring them, stealing their innocence.
Serial one-night stands, because of the exploitation aspect. 
Another issue we find to be prevalent in both homosexual and heterosexual marriages is the willingness to be unfaithful to one’s spouse. This infidelity is a grave offense and should be condemned by all religious people wherever it is found.
The amount of infidelity found in most marriages and relationships today is staggering. This infidelity destroys not only the fabric of the family, but it also damages ones relationship this society as a whole. People who willingly cheat on their spouse prove that they cannot commit to a stable relationship or that they are unreliable or untrustworthy.
We recognize that there are times when a marriage or a relationship fails. However, that failure is not a license to be promiscuous.
We as clergy are called to a higher calling. We should strive to make our relationships a beacon of light for those that struggle. While we are only human and we are also susceptible to the lure of sin, it is our duty to be forthright and honest in our relationships. We should admit our sins and accept our penance with dignity and honor. It is through this acceptance and penance that we will show a true Christian walk to the world.
- There is no sound Biblical evidence that homosexuality is a sin.
- There is no Biblical evidence to exclude homosexuals from a full and uninhibited life within the church.
- There is no Biblical prohibition against homosexuals serving in positions of authority in the church as Bishops, Priest, or Deacons.
- There is no Biblical evidence that would suggest that same-sex marriage is a sin.
- There is no historical reason, prior to the Great Schism of 1054 AD, that would suggest that the church believed homosexuality was a sin.
- There is no historical reason, prior to the Great Schism of 1054 AD, that would suggest that the church believed that homosexuals should be barred from the church.
- There is no historical reason, prior to the Great Schism of 1054 AD, that would suggest that the church believed that homosexuals should be barred from active ministry in the church.
Furthermore, we condemn as heretical and sinful:
- The furtherance of any speech or action that would be considered to promote hatred and violence against homosexuals.
- The furtherance of any belief that God is in some way punishing American for any perceived sin of homosexuality.
- That homosexuality is the cause of AIDS or any other illness or diseases.
- That homosexuality is a sin or that those that are homosexuals are going to hell regardless of their spiritual status.
- That same-sex marriage in any way will degrade the moral fabric of America or any other sovereign nation.
Further we declare anathema.
Signed this day the 7th of October in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 2005 AD. Signed by my hand and sealed with my seal of my own free will.
- Genesis 19:1-17.↩
- Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for yada` (Strong’s 3045)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 21 Dec 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
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- Romans 1:26-27.↩
- I Corinthians 6:9.↩
- 1 Timothy 1:8-10.↩
- J. Kerby. Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), pg. #143-144.↩
- “Acts Of John,” in The Apocryphal New Testament, trans. M. R. James (1924), accessed April 18, 2011, http://wesley.nnu.edu/sermons-essays-books/noncanonical-literature/acts-of-john/.↩
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- Dale B. Martin, “Arsenokoités and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture, ed. Robert Lawson. Brawley (Louisville, KY: Westminster J. Knox Press, 1996), pg. #126.↩
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- Louis Crompton, “Italy in the Renaissance,” in Homosexuality & Civilization (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), pg. #287.↩
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- Alexander Roberts et al., “The First Apology of Justin,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers : Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325 /: Volume I : The Apostolic Fathers; Justin Martyr; Irenaeus, vol. 1 (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896), pg. #172.↩
- Jerome, Philip Schaff, and Henry Wace, “Letter III To Rufinus the Monk,” in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church., vol. 6, Second (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983), pg. #4.↩
- Martin B. Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian past (New York, NY: New American Library, 1989).↩
- Stephen Lovett, “Chapter 2: Homosexuality and Tradition,” Faithful to the Truth: The Testimony of Sacred Tradition, 2003, accessed April 18, 2011, http://webspace.webring.com/people/up/pharsea/tradition.html.↩
- Bishop Leontius, “The Life of Symeon the Fool,” in Symeon the Holy Fool: Leontius’s Life and the Late Antique City, by Derek Krueger (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996), pg. #148.↩
- Krueger. 149-50.↩
- Geoffrey Wansell, “The Buried Secrets of Cardinal Newman, the Man Set to Become Britain’s Newest Saint,” Daily Mail Online, August 29, 2008, accessed April 17, 2011, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1050418/Buried-secrets-Cardinal-Newman-set-Britains-newest-saint-First-exhumed-grave-shares-man–greatest-love-life.html.↩
- Barbara B. Hagerty, “Was Cardinal John Henry Newman Gay?,” NPR : National Public Radio, September 17, 2010, accessed April 18, 2011, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129930850.↩
- University of California – Riverside, “Same-sex Behavior Seen In Nearly All Animals, Review Finds,” Science Daily, June 17, 2009, accessed April 19, 2011, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090616122106.htm.↩
- “Against Nature?,” Forsiden – Naturhistorisk Museum, UiO, 2006, accessed April 17, 2011, http://www.nhm.uio.no/besokende/skiftende-utstillinger/againstnature/gayanimals.html.↩
- “Letter to an American Mother,” letter from Sigmund Freud, April 9, 1935, in American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 107 (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 1951), pg. #787.↩
- I. Savic, “Brain Response to Putative Pheromones in Homosexual Men,”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102, no. 20 (2005): pg. #7356-361, doi:10.1073/pnas.0407998102.↩
- “Men Who Have Sex with Men, HIV and AIDS,” AIDS & HIV Information from the AIDS Charity AVERT, 2009, accessed April 19, 2011, http://www.avert.org/men-sex-men.htm.↩
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- 1 Timothy 4:4-5.↩
- “A Look at Sin,” David S. Jennings to Archbishop Gregory Godsey, September 1, 2005, The Old Catholic Apostolic Church Archives, North Augusta, SC.↩