Can gay people be cured?

The Orthodox Church does not support the so-called 'gay conversion therapy' carried out by various secular or religious groups. The methods that some of these groups use are not even vaguely Christian and harm people physically, psychologically and more importantly, spiritually.

The Orthodox Church, in contrast, is a spiritual hospital; the Mysteries of the Church can cure all kinds of spiritual sickness. First of all, we need to get rid of any notion that gay people are evil and that we are superior to them, even though we are ruled by our own passions. Judging people in this way is a sure way to fall into the same sins or worse.

On the other hand, Orthodox Christians should not refer to themselves as ‘gay Orthodox’ because being gay is not something we are proud of. Fr. Thomas Hopko sums this up brilliantly:

The tragic truth, however, is that countless people, especially in contemporary secularized societies, have become convinced that their sinful thoughts and feelings, including, and even especially, those having to do with sex, are perfectly normal and natural and, as such, define who they are in their essential being and life. They therefore see no purpose or need in resisting, disciplining, and ultimately destroying them. They are convinced, on the contrary, that to do so would be dishonest, would be to deny and destroy themselves as persons, and, as such, would result in their personal death, which according to Christian Orthodoxy is the exact opposite of the truth.

Being gay is a cross we have to carry as best as we can. In the same way those of us troubled with other passions don’t refer to ourselves as ‘drink too much Orthodox’ or ‘angry Orthodox.’ We should confess our sins in humility, but we shouldn’t be proud or boast of them.

So yes, gay people can fight against this passion, and they can overcome it as long as they are strengthened by their faith in Christ and the teachings of the Church. This is really hard work, but the grace of God helps and strengthens us, sometimes in a truly miraculous fashion. It might be that we still have feelings or thoughts that trouble us, but like all sinful thoughts we have to fight them with the weapons of prayer and fasting. We must all struggle against our own passions without imagining that God permits casual or unnatural heterosexual sex because it is ‘better’ than being gay.

Of course, having homosexual sex is a serious sin and St. Paul again speaks about it in his letter to the Romans:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Here St. Paul is warning the Christians in Rome not to engage in unnatural sexual acts. St. John Chrysostom  stresses how serious these kind of acts are, but he also makes it clear that there is a difference between those people who are actively seeking out homosexual relationships and people who get carried away due to ignorance or youth: 'This is why St. Paul did not say, being ‘swept along’ or being ‘overtaken', expressions that he uses elsewhere, but instead he uses the word ‘working.’ They made a business of the sin and not only a business, but one  eagerly entered into.'

This doesn’t mean that being young excuses us from responsibility for these kinds of sins, but we can see how the Church tries to call people to repentance before they become sunk in sins. The Church always leaves her doors open for sinners to come in and repent, but the longer we leave repentance and the longer we continue in sins, the less likely it is that we will come back to the Church and receive the healing we need for our souls.

Many young people go through a phase where they are confused about their own sexuality. This is a very troubling time of life, and although secular society now regards homosexuality as acceptable, these young people are often singled out for ridicule by their peers. There are even videos on the Internet showing ‘Orthodox Christians’ in Russia punching and kicking homosexuals in the street. Unfortunately, these people don’t realize that they are being tricked by the demons into hurting people in the name of Christ. No Orthodox Christian should take part in this kind of unprovoked, organized violence. Instead, we should set a good example of Christian love and compassion whilst not compromising our pure Orthodox Faith.


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