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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
Confronting Homosexuality Within the Family: A Personal Testimony
An Anonymous contribution to "Orthodox Heritage."
I am the father of a large family. I converted to Orthodoxy in college. I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic family and I was the youngest of six children.
When my oldest brother attended the eighth grade in a Roman Catholic private school, he was sexually abused by one of his teachers, who was a Roman Catholic priest. My parents did not know about the abuse at the time and the school was eventually closed due to other cases of sexual abuse. As result of this experience, my brother identified himself as a homosexual. In another situation (now so common, it’s a cliché), when my sister was in high school, her female PE instructor introduced her to homosexuality. As a result, my sister began identifying herself as a homosexual.
Even though, as minors, they both suffered inappropriate behavior from adults to whom they had been entrusted, they deny that these experiences were causative regarding their homosexuality. My siblings reject any suggestion that outside influences led them to homosexuality. Having been brought up in the same household, however, I can attest that these incidences were THE formative experiences that lead them to embrace homosexual identities.
My siblings are in their 50s now and homosexuality remains part of their identity. These incidents, occurring in their youth—perpetrated and betrayed by people under whom they had been entrusted—affected the course of their entire lives. I can’t maintain the conceit that my children would be somehow immune to such a tragedy simply because they are baptized Orthodox. On the contrary, I am convinced that, while my children are under our care, my wife and I have the responsibility to actively and vigilantly ensure that such incidences don’t influence our children.
Increasingly overt homosexuality in our society directly challenges our Orthodox life. That challenge is direct and unavoidable when a family member is openly homosexual. My siblings bring their partners to all family events. The homosexual siblings and their partners are treated like married couples by my family. The rest of my family declare homosexual unions acceptable, normal, and held up as morally equal to heterosexual marriage. They believe that a person can be a "Christian homosexual." And tragically, children easily get caught up in the error.
Before my wife and I had children, I witnessed my sister explaining to one of our nieces—who was six years old at the time—that my sister’s relationship with her female "partner" was like a husband and wife. That incident precipitated our decision to permanently remove our children from that environment. In the end, because the rest of my immediate family so completely embraced homosexuality as normal and acceptable, I was forced by the circumstances to end all participation in family gatherings on my side of the family and refused to allow my homosexual siblings to visit our home. To date, I am committed to that policy and will remain so until they come to true repentance, acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, and reject that lifestyle.
I love my brother and sister and their absence from my life pains me. But my primary responsibility as an Orthodox Christian parent is to protect my children from anything and anyone who would lead them away from Christ, even if that person is a member of my earthly family. I believe this is what Christ meant when he said Anyone who loves mother or father, sister or brother more than Me is not worthy of Me.
I reject the common accusation that this fails to demonstrate Christian love. The culture at large currently reflects the view that homosexuality is normative. Since my side of the family completely embraces and reflects this view, my absence from my siblings’ lives is the ONLY way I can witness to them that homosexuality is wrong. Participating in their delusion in any way would convey tacit acceptance and assist the enemy in the destruction of their souls as well as risk the salvation of my children.
In spite of my family background, it has been possible, by a great gift of God’s mercy, to raise my own children away from many of the overt and increasingly prevalent perversities of the contemporary culture. They have been afforded a relatively innocent and happy childhood. We give glory to God for the life He has given us.
An excellent resource for understanding the truth about homosexuality is a DVD video documentary produced by the American Family Association entitled "It’s Not Gay." It can be purchased online from the American Family Association website. This video interviews many people who have lived the homosexual lifestyle and then later rejected it and abandoned their homosexual identity. These people give testimonies regarding what influenced them to begin practicing homosexuality and how it affected their lives and the lives of their families. It is an excellent film. I would strongly recommend it for anyone directly exposed to homosexuality and for all parents who are putting their children on school campuses, whether that be the junior high, high school, or college campus. This film would also be beneficial for church youth group leaders. There is some explicit content that is not appropriate for younger children, so parents should preview the film in order to determine if it is appropriate for their teens to view.
Another good resource for teens (and adults) on the subject of homosexuality and all sexual sins is the collection of audio recordings produced by St. Nicodemos Publications Society. The three series that deal with sexuality and sexual sins are titled: "The Ten Commandments," "Tobit," and "Questions and Answers."