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Homosexuality

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Social and Pastoral Action
===Social and Pastoral Action===
The Church extends an open invitation to those who suffer from the passion of homosexuality. Admittedly, the Church could certainly do a better job with this group that exists within her flock, as well as reach out and embrace them as persons, with as much compassion as when dealing with other people who suffer from other sexual passions. The Church still considers these sexual behaviors as passions even in the light of recent scientific research that points to homosexuality in particular having a genetic origin as well. A study by "Camperio-Ciani estimates at this time 20% of the variance in sexual orientation can be attributed to genetic factors, while the other 80% await further specification and probably include other biological factors as well as social and emotional elements."{{ref|5}} Although this scientific research points to a genetic origin or biological disposition to homosexuality the same argument can be made for heterosexual passions as well—adultery, for example—where studies show that males are more pre-disposed to having multiple partners versus women. What can be said in both instances is that environment, upbringing, and other social factors come into play (the other 80%). Hence there is a definite biological element as well as one of choice. There is definitely a biological and physical urge (bodily passion) that has an influence on the choice (our mind/spirit) one makes to engage in a certain activity. The point being made here is, which is also expressed by the Church's teaching, is that there is a cognitive decision (of [[free will]]) made by us to proceed to act out this bodily passion. This can be said for all the passions that are sexual in nature. To use Jane Jacobs' terminology{{ref|6}}, the "guardians" of our society are charged with enforcing the laws of our country, thereby protecting all of its citizens including homosexuals that have been discriminated against. But at the same time, they also charged with (in the Byzantine tradition of ''symphonia''), "to oversee public morals and to encourage the ethical, moral and spiritual development of its citizens."{{ref|7}} This is a signal to all concerned that although the "guardians" of our society are protecting all its citizens (regardless of their sexual orientation) they have an equal call to be faithful to the ethics and morality upon which our nation was founded. == Headline text =='''Battle with the Passions'''
To conclude on a compassionate and pastoral note. All of us can arm ourselves with spiritual weapons to combat the passions that present themselves to us, and at times overtake us and still at other times totally consume us. That is why the struggle against them is a life long journey and we are called to always be on guard and vigilant in this "battle." The Church offers to us the "weapons" to aid all sinners to overcome their passions and temptations. "These spiritual weapons include prayer, worship, reading of Scripture and patristic writings, [[fast]]ing, [[Confession|Holy Confession]], Christian fellowship, as well as [[spiritual father|pastoral]] and psychiatric counseling which should be used by all including those who suffer from homosexual tendencies. ... The Church should do this with the same compassion, love and sensitivity as it does with all others who struggle to overcome their passions and grow in Christ."{{ref|3}} I think the spirit of the Church's outreach (the pastor and the membership at large) and embrace should be as Fr. Harakas stated in the last part of that statement—with the same compassion and love, etc. It takes ''courage'' to do so since at times many "social stigmas" may have to be overcome. One such stigma may even be the use of the term homosexual versus "same-sex attraction" that Fr. Hopko uses in his book of reflections on that subject as well as the Courage movement in the [[Roman Catholic Church]]. "God does not make human beings homosexual ... to live human lives of love through their complementary communion with each other on a physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual level ... because of the fallen state of humanity some are subject to same-sex desires."{{ref|8}} In this way one can understand that we are not born homosexual as we are of a particular skin color or gender. The key for us as Orthodox Christians is to embrace and respect one another and as being mutually created in his love. Then we can join together in our mutual struggle against the passions that beset our fallen world.

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