I had the unfortunate (for lack of a better word) luck of having an exchange with a Fr. John W. Morris, Ph.D.
Father Morris: How is it that such commentators as St. John Chrysostom who died in 407 saw a condemnation of homosexuality in the Holy Scriptures. How is it that St. Basil the Great who died in 379 saw the same thing and advocated that a person who committed an homosexual act should be excommunicated for 30 years.
Me: Funny that you bring up John Chrysostom when it was he who stated 1 Corinthians had nothing to do with homosexuals. All Saint Basil did was put male homosexuals in the same category as adulterers, he didn't seem too worried about either.
Father Morris: You are quite mistaken St. John Chrysostom actually taught that homosexual acts are sinful. Unfortunately the pro gay movement resorts to all sorts of deception such as misquoting the Fathers or rewriting the Bible to support their cause. St. Basil taught that a person committing a homosexual sin should be excommunicated for 30 years, a decision that was ratified at the Council in Trullo in 695 and the 7th Ecumenical Council, the 2nd Council of Nicea in 787.
Me: I'm not saying Chrysostom wasn't against homosexual acts in no uncertain terms, it's just he saw no homosexuals in any part of Romans 1. He saw heterosexuals who made a conscious decision to turn from their desired want of a woman to men.
As for Basil, it's a far cry from his excommunication for 30 years to being cast into a forever damning in Hell because you're a practicing homosexual. He's one of the least damning of the Church fathers on homosexuality.
Father Morris: You have been misinformed. I just looked at St. John Chrysostom's homilies on Romans. Read his 4th homily. The golden mouthed saint very clearly states that Romans 1:27 refers to homosexual and lesbian acts.
No one teaches that homosexual sins cannot be forgiven. The 30 years penance is applied after the person repents of the sin of homosexual acts. If they do not repent, they are excommunicated and not restored to the Sacramental Life of the Church until they repent. No one today would impose such a severe penance. In fact, I probably would not impose a penance for one act of homosexual sin if the person were truly repentant, but would have to increase the severity of the penance if the person repeated this sin, making the penance more severe with each offense.
Me: Ummm, do you even know what the 4th homily is saying? He's talking about heterosexual men who leave the use of a woman for another man in that it's against their nature. Since I was never heterosexual, how do you think that applies to us who have a homosexual nature?
"No one today would impose such a severe penance. In fact, I probably would not impose a penance for one act of homosexual sin if the person were truly repentant, but would have to increase the severity of the penance if the person repeated this sin, making the penance more severe with each offense."
*sarcasm* I thank you for that kind mercy you've extended to me.
Father Morris: (now he starts getting angry) All of the ancient commentators agree that the Bible condemns homosexual acts as sinful. If I want to know the meaning of a Greek word, I will ask a Greek. I studied ethics and the Bible at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. I believe that since my professors were Greeks, that they had a much better understanding of the original Greek text than any modern American pseudo-scholar . The word "arsenokoitai" literally means men beders or men who have sex with men. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant of New Testament Greek or is lying.
Me: You went to a lousy school if you believe the Bible has been condemning homosexuality for 2.000 years, who told you that? Homosexuality wasn't even thought to be the reason God destroyed Sodom until the 11th Century. Your 'great' school "Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology" (in Massachusetts no less) is run by the Greek Orthodox Church of America with American teachers. You make it sound you came from a school of wise old sages in Greece. Of course they are going to tow the line of these crappy interpretations, the Greek Orthodox Church is especially virulent on the subject of homosexuality because it's so steeped in their dead traditions, screw tradition! It's the Word of God we need to dive into like it was a swimming pool, and if it goes against long-held tradition, so be it.
I'll turn it around and say this. Anyone who claims 'arsenokoitai' means homosexuality outside the context of exploitation is either ignorant of New Testament Greek or is lying.
Father Morris: I suppose that if a person cannot answer an argument, they resort to personal attacks.
Me: Can you show me the personal attack here?
Father Morris: Just what qualifies you to pontificate on the meaning of any word in the Greek New Testament or the historic teaching of Christianity on any subject? You are simply wrong, the word "arsenokoitai" refers to homosexuality. I will trust the Holy Fathers and my seminary professors who were all of Greek heritage to tell me the meaning of the Greek text of the New Testament before I will trust any modern pseudo-scholar with a politically correct pro-gay agenda. If you want to reject the Bible, that is your right, but when you insist on misrepresenting the teaching of the Bible, as a Bible believing Christian, I certainly have a right to correct the false information that you are spreading.It is historical fact that all Christians agreed on this issue until a few dying mainline Protestant sects surrendered to the pressure from the pro-gay movement. If your movement has to resort to fraud to prove its point, it obviously must be rejected by any intelligent person. I also trust what I have learned through a study of church history, since I have a PhD in history, which I earned before I even converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and went to seminary, and have taught church history on the college level above your ranting and raving on a subject about which you absolutely know nothing.
Me: "...before I will trust any modern pseudo-scholar with a politically correct pro-gay agenda."
Not only did you make a baseless claim of me making a personal attack (that you never showed), but you turned around and did that very thing. The rest of what you say are insults and boasting of how smart you are. You noticed how in all of this you still haven't given me a point by point argument of how I'm wrong? All you've done is brag about your schooling (is it too late to ask for your tuition fee back?) and attack me for having the nerve to open a Bible to see for myself. The Koine Greek and Masoretic Hebrew translations of the Bible are not hidden in a deep vault somewhere, it is available for all to access, including the translations in other languages that preceded our own, I also studied ancient Near-Eastern languages to flush out the more accurate rendering of words and phrases the Bible uses without being taught biases from church tradition, that unlike the Bible, are influenced by cultural, social and political prejudices of the time. What ever happened to the great sin of usary for instance?
At this point I think the kind Father Morris went to get another cruller with milk and forgot to come back. To bad, I would like to know what he thinks of Saint Basil (who he just quoted to me) saying; "For, just as water that irrigates many furrows makes those furrows fertile, so also the vice of gluttony, proceeding from your heart, irrigates all of your senses, raising a whole jungle of evils within you, making your soul a lair of wild beasts" (St. Basil the Great, On Renunciation of the World). I don't think he realizes what an arrogant and pompous ass he's coming off as with attempting to belittle me.