This brief response to Metropolitan Antonios (El Souri), Patriarchal Vicar to the Antiochian Archdiocese, was submitted to Orthodoxy in Dialogue as a letter to the editors. The author accepted our proposal to publish it as an article instead.

Gender and Sexuality Development

I just read the harsh judgements regarding “human rights,” etc., bestowed upon Antiochian Orthodox Christians by Metropolitan Antonios.

The leaders of the Antiochian Orthodox Church sit on high and make their pronouncements on the children of God who are living under God’s Grace and Love. To talk about pornography along with sexual orientation and gender dysphoria, also throwing in abortion—lumping them all together—is not a very wise approach. They are separate issues. Watching porn and having an abortion are both choices, the latter being a far more difficult choice for most women. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not a choice. Let’s not mix apples and oranges.

Also, most religious scholars of the Bible do not agree that Sodom was destroyed by God because of homosexuality. Sexual rape of the angels and inhospitable behavior are the more probable reasons.

I definitely believe, as a Christian, that human rights are what all people in this world are entitled to. I hope, in that spirit, that Metropolitan Antonios will speak out against war, gun violence, oppression of all kinds, and especially the Zionist Occupation of the Palestinian People.

As for human sexuality, we need to look at science as well and realize why homosexuality is not considered a mental illness anymore. We need to look at the good that can come from loving relationships for the persons, for the community, and yes, for the Church. God’s creation is diverse, and we are gratefully loved by our Creator. We will be judged by God according to His commandments, the highest being to love others and to love God. As the human family, we need to work together for peace and justice, and to save our planet from destruction.

It is my prayer that the Bishops, Metropolitan Antonios, and Patriarch John will lead us in these efforts and embrace all of God’s children with love.

See also the extensive Sexuality and Gender section in both Archives linked at the top of this page.

Edward Stepanian holds an MEd from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix AZ and a BA in Elementary Education, with a minor in Socialization and Development, from San Diego State University. He serves as an ordained lay minister in the Episcopal Church and works as a community organizer for peace and justice with a focus on the Middle East. He and his male partner reside in Signal Hill CA and practice their Christian faith at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, All Saints Episcopal Church, and St. Luke’s Orthodox Church.

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