This past week, the ostensibly Orthodox journal, The Wheel (whose pages and staff include defrocked priests and people who openly promote jettisoning the Tradition of the Church) ran an issue purportedly on what it means to be human, all the while bringing in as well all sorts authors to argue for (one essay) and against (multiple) Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage, chastity, and sexual mores. The Introductory essays were studied models in ambiguity and question begging offered by two well-known names, viz., Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) and Fr. Andrew Louth. While neither broke openly with the Tradition, both of them left me asking exactly how they were affirming it; more a muddying of waters than a pouring of oil them. Now, Met. Kallistos has always been a very gracious man, though I have only had a very few conversations with him. He hosted me at his digs in Oxford more than 20 years ago and patiently endured my questions. His book, The Orthodox Church, has been keenly influential in the conversion of thousands, including some of my own students, so I am not taking after him. Further, he needs our prayers, as age has caught up with him. The last few times I have been in Oxford he has always been a bit more frail, and he suffers from a number items attendant on age. All the same, this essay was not what one would hope from him.
You can read Met. Kallistos’s essay here; Fr. Louth’s here.
Rebuttals of various weight and insight have come from Pr. Edith Humphrey (here), Fr. John Cox (here), Fr. Lawrence Farley (here), and Hieromonk Herman (Majkrzak) which is here. The news of this came out via a rather distasteful essay on his Excellency’s piece, making rather imprecise, and I would say, inflammatory statements. I am not linking to it.
Now, there are other essays in The Wheel besides the two mentioned, but most of them are behind a paywall (I am not ponying up for these) but two others are not, both very good essays, the one by Fr. John Behr (here) and the other by Prof. Bradley Nassif (here). I commend both to you for your edification.
Currently, I am working on something that may take several posts on what exactly marriage is, looking at it from the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Epistles, the Early Church, and then from the perspective of marriage as a sacrament, that is, that it is an instrument of Grace, one of the means by which we are sanctified to God, along with our whole family.
One of the matters that bugs me about people who crow that homosexuals should be afforded the same outlets as heterosexuals (both labels I find problematic), that they should have the same rights to approach God in marriage to those they love, is the notion that someone, indeed anyone has a right to grace. I have no ‘right’ to marry if no woman will have me. Indeed I have no right to anything from God, it is all a gift, and were I not blessed with the gift of my wife, I cannot go out and demand someone marry me simply because I don’t like to be single. But more on that anon.