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One of the most emotional, moral, and politically charged issues the United States (and the world at large) has dealt with over the last 35 years or so has been that of homosexuality and the rights of those citizens who have openly identified themselves as homosexual or gay. Regardless of whose statistics one believes there is no denying the fact that the gay and lesbian population is a significant group in the U.S. This article will acknowledge the Orthodox Church's teaching on this topic with a special view and emphasis on the writings of Frs. [[Stanley S. Harakas|Stanley Harakas]] and [[Thomas Hopko]]. It includes some views from a social [[ethics]] perspective as well as suggesting some pastoral actions to be taken by, say, a [[priest]] or by fellow Orthodox Christians. The basic premise for doing so is that although the Church's position on homosexuality has not changed and may be restated, the Church's ultimate concern has always been for the ''people'' who are engaged in this activity or have identified themselves as homosexuals. In short, the Church's concern is ''not'' the ''sin'' but the ''sinner''.
===The Church's View and Teachings===
The Church's teaching is very clear with respect to homosexuality. The Encarta dictionary defines homosexuality "as an attraction to the same sex; sexual attraction to and sexual relations with members of the same sex."1 There are numerous references in [[Holy Scripture |Scripture]] with regard to same sex relations and sexual activity. Starting with [[Genesis]] 19 where there is reference to homosexual activity among the men in Sodom (hence the term ''sodomy''), as well as in [[Leviticus]] (18:22, 20:13) which makes reference to the adopted "Holiness Code" and the penalty for such an action—"If there is a man who lies with a male as those be with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act"—was ''death''. The [[Old Testament]] viewed sexual relations to be "normal" as those between a man and woman (confined to intercourse facing one another) with the express purpose of procreation. This view, thinking, and teaching continued to the [[New Testament]] as well with St. [[Apostle Paul|Paul]] writing the most extensively on this subject. He condemns male prostitutes and homosexuals in [[I Corinthians|1 Cor.]] (6:9-10): "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral nor the idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (''arsenokoitai''), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers shall inherit the kingdom of God." These two examples do show the evolution of the Church's view on homosexuality. The Old Testament's view is consistent with its "judgment and retribution" (death penalty) ethos found in Jewish society in those times. The New Testament writing by St. Paul reflects Christ's teaching, where the "judgment" consisted of a stern yet "tough love" warning that these types of activities would prohibit you from 'inheriting' the kingdom of God. This evolution of thought and teaching is significant for it signals the importance of the [[eschatology|eschaton]] and a genuine concern for the individual in a loving, outreaching, yet solemn way. St. Paul's writing is also significant because the activity of homosexuality is mentioned in the ''same'' context as other sinful activities and passions. The "pastoral concern" for the individual will be addressed in the next section of this article. The [[Church Fathers|Fathers of the Church]] also wrote on this and expressed the same view and teaching that homosexual acts are immoral and wrong. The ''[[Didache]]'', as well as St. [[Basil the Great|Basil]] ([[Canon]]s 35, 77), Sts. [[John Chrysostom]], [[Augustine of Hippo|Augustine]], [[Gregory of Nyssa]], [[John the Faster]] (Canons 9, 18) contain some of these writings as well as the 6th century code of [[Justinian]] and the [[Quinisext Council|Quinisext Synod]] (Canon 87). In all the writings of the New Testament and of the Fathers, "there is no example ... of approval, acceptance, or even tolerance of homosexuality."{{ref|2}} In fact, this is one topic that ''all'' Orthodox [[jurisdiction]]s are in agreement on, as indicated in the 1978 [[SCOBA]] statement on homosexuality.
===The Actions versus the Condition of the Person===

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