Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I am an Orthodox Christian

What if I said, being gay, masturbating, having sex, or drinking alcohol were an insignificant smidgen of our concerns.

We learn to know that sins are more complicated than just that. It is not black and white. Labeling one sin as being worst over the other is stupid.  Our sins are something of which only God knows the truth of their nature. But through meditation and mindfulness, we can learn the truth about ourselves too.
Your sins are not our problem (or at least they shouldn't be). Our problem and our focus is on ourselves. If you are conscious and clear, you know we can't really help anyone until you first help yourself. We can't help anyone until we learn first how to love ourselves or how to truly live a life in love out of love and with love.

All the great saints and people of the church have an inner clarity. A focus and a calm.
We have a mutual understanding that we are all sinners. Being a sinner is part of being human and the way you label a specific sin should always be of little consequence to another human. The only one who can truly know the state of your soul are God, and with prayer and meditation,  yourself. Even then, we may never see all our own sins, nor perhaps should we. We can not handle that burden. Only God has the power to know all evil and still forgive. But do not despair, God forgives all who come to him with a pure heart and good intention.
I believe that most people in the world have good intention. It does not matter who you are or where you come from. Good intention is built into our nature as humans.

But this evil and sin stuff is why we have confession in our church. A self-emptying ritual to God alone,  that we may always ask for his forgiveness and love in strength to do what is good for our soul. This is significant, not only in releasing your burdens and turmoils of your heart, but by being honest about your mistakes and feelings of guilt, and believing that someone will always love you anyway is an incredibly healing experience which the Orthodox Church gives.

Another note: It is of utmost importance to us that we pray (unceasingly) to God that he forgive our sins because without him, we can not learn to truly forgive ourselves or truly receive healing. We are only human and humans make mistakes. It's how we are; but it is a mystical, gentle kind of love to be able to see an imperfect being and to love them in every way for every thing that they are. I believe in a God who is like this; one who is constantly reaching out to each and every one of us in our own lives and own ways.

Perhaps, all we need to do is learn the humility to listen. As a christian, it is pride to think that we will ever be worthy or that we will ever be sinless. For in the moment which we confess our sins, a moment later, we will sin again. It is in our nature, but God knows this and he loves us anyway. This is why I believe in God. I believe in love; a love so powerful, no human could ever learn enough humility or gratitude to to fully comprehend it's wisdom, but Jesus was sent down to Earth to show and teach us that a love that gentle and powerful is possible for each and every one of us.
So, while we live with our religious tradition, you should never hear an Orthodox Christian condemn gays or sexuality. We have our tradition,  of which marriage is meant for a man and a women, but love is always of the utmost importance. People may not realize, but sexuality without unconditional love is the only sexual sin; a sin like any other sin of passion (exe gluttony).

I believe that sexuality was a gift given to us as a means to bond man and women (or two partners) for life and in unity, to unite and strengthen their bond of love and devotion and their journey to God together. There is no true love without God and there is no God without true love (agape).

With any true love, it important to remember that forgivness, flexibility and understanding are always present. I don't believe in a God that is going to punish someone for having more than one partner in life. I think that God will always know a person's heart and how it is fair to judge them. It is never something a human can say for anyone else or any group of people. This is only something that you and God can know together. This is why I dislike and find so much fault in mass christian ideas which are imposing on others. The bottom line is always love. The continuities are between an individual and God. Friends or family (in Christ) are there to be supportive, to listen, to grow and learn together, but not to impose or judge. This is not to say that the Christian church doesn't have guidelines. Of course we do. But one thing that I love so much about the Orthodox church is the fluidity and understanding that every individual thinks and feels this world differently and the only way to truly be one with God is also to be yourself. This is something I think that many protestant religions (Western Christianity) doesn't make room for. I see too many elements of group mentality and conformity which I believe to be unhealthy and dangerous in almost all forms.

Back to preaching :
Once you learn what true love is, (something I believe God has ingrained deep into each of our spirits and beings) and you find peace and forgiveness and humility, then you will find God. It is and always will be that simple. And yet, this is a journey which is always ongoing! Always a challenge and a battle for each and every one of us in our own ways. Being mindful will save your heart and soul and carry you back into the arms of your true self, who you were intended to be (and that is one with God).
Never curse yourself! You are and always will be God's beloved and it is never too late to find love, within yourself, for yourself and for others. This peace and happiness and everything on Earth was a gift from God,  your creator, to you. Treat it with a kindness and gentleness of heart. The way a loving mother treats a child and the way everyone and everything was meant to be treated.
For those of you who are spiritual,  but not religious, let me define "sin".  A sin is an action,  attitude,  feeling or desire which distances you from inner harmony, peace, balance. Anger (wrath) , jealousy, lust, envy, pride, greed, gluttony..  Are among the many,  complex ways in which we experience sin (or a lack of unity) with our true-selves or (Communion with God/peace)
But I want to be clear, feelings and desires are a part what make us who we are. They have a place. But that place is to not rule us. A "sin"  is a "sin",  but that doesn't make you inherently evil. When you self-reflect, you must always judge the spirit of things; the intent. Not the label.  Labels mean nothing.  Labels are something made by us (imperfect, sinful humans) which we use in order communicate with each other and nothing more.

If you genuinely go through and read the bible,  you will see this is what Jesus does. This is how he judges and this is how God judges in the old testament too. God judges the spirit of things and only God can truly know what's in your heart.
So if you find yourself living for passions and sins, doing harm to others and enjoying it, feel fear. Feel fear because God sees this in your heart. Pray that you never fall so far as this and that you can learn to be mindful so that you make good progress rather than negative; And this progress is a progress to happiness, to balance and to unity with your essence and your being.
May the force be with you and may God bless you and keep you from evil. Amen

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