August 9, 2019

On the Controversial Statements of Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou

I learned lately about the issue created around the sacred personality of His Eminence the Holy Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou concerning one of his pastoral messages and the uproar of many regarding this issue.

Because the pastoral issues of Bishops have universal power, I as a humble Bishop would also like to submit some thoughts, which I think are useful for this entire issue. What I will write will be done with simplicity, as a catechism for the people, by whom it will be read.

1. It is true that sin in general and unnatural sin especially has increased in our days, so much so that it has become the law! But for us who study Holy Scripture, this does not surprise us, because it is written about in Holy Scripture. The last book, the Revelation, says that in the last days sin will become more filthy and ruthless, but virtue in turn will become greater and brighter: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still" (22:11). So it is not odd at all that sin has increased and boomed even more in our days, since the same things were taking place before the time of Christ with their horrific unnatural sins, as the Apostle Paul writes in his Epistle to the Romans (1:25-27).

But those days, which were so sinful and filthy, brought forth the PANAGIA - THE ALL-HOLY ONE! So also in our days, which are so hellish, there are paradisaical flowers. And we priests have a beautiful and great job to do with these fragrant flowers, with these aroma-filled souls, so that we become their fence, speaking to them of the sweet things of the love of Christ and of that which is tasteful in the theology of our Church.

Therefore, first of all, I think we should not occupy ourselves continuously with sin, always speaking about it and rebuking it, since we have a command from the Apostle Paul to not even mention by name the sins of the flesh: "But among you sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity or of greed must not be named, because these are improper for God's holy people" (Eph. 5:3). And speaking also to the Thessalonians regarding the sin of sexual immorality and wanting to speak more clearly about the subject, he avoids repeating the same expression (the word "sexual immorality") and instead says "that thing," as if he was saying, "regarding that thing, that subject I spoke to you about" (1 Thess. 4:3-6).

2. On the other hand, however, we must remember that the Church, which has a purpose to protect her children in her paradise, must speak to them clearly about sin, which separates them from God. And we must speak about the corrupting and damaging effects of sin. But be careful! God does not punish sinners, but it is their sin which punishes them. "Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you" (Jer. 2:19)!

This is what His Eminence the Holy Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou did. He was asked about the sin of homosexuality and the speaker on this subject said it was a great sin, very great, it is unnatural. And he called upon the words of a holy father, Father Porphyrios, who said that there are cases where parents are responsible for this sin in their children. And he explained how they are responsible, repeating exactly the words of Saint Porphyrios. And all of us priests, those among us who have a longing for the people of God to be kept clean of sin, each of us in our own way, we all say roughly the same things as that which was spoken by the holy one of Morphou. The holy one of Morphou of course spoke louder and clearer, as he always tends to speak, in accordance with the grace of God which dwells in him. We thank him for his words of salvation.

3. Because the subject must have its theological justification, I wish to turn to the Old Testament, to the first part of the divine revelation, to give, as much as I am able, its biblical basis.

Many Christians ask us, why does the Old Testament present to us such scandalous narratives, such as, for example, the nakedness of Noah, the sins of Sodom, or the sexual intercourse between the daughters of Lot with their father, etc. This accusation towards the Old Testament is roughly the same accusation in our days brought against the holy one of Morphou, because he spoke about homosexuality and the unnatural relations of couples with their unpleasant consequences even affecting their children.

Listen, therefore, my beloved readers. The Old Testament presents people in their fallen state, in their unnatural state, and it speaks in the language of fallen people. With its divine teachings, the Law of Moses and the preaching of the Prophets, it brings people from an unnatural state to a natural state, so that the New Testament can receive this natural state and bring people to a supernatural state, namely theosis. Since the Old Testament presents people in an unnatural state, it speaks of unnatural sins, and to turn people away from them, it speaks of the destructiveness of these sins. Here is an example:

The Old Testament speaks of the nakedness of Noah and how his son Ham saw his father naked and mocked him (Gen. 9:20). This is not about the nakedness of Noah. The phrase "saw his father naked" or "saw his bride naked", etc., is a veiled noble expression to express carnal relations with his father or with his bride or with someone else (cf. Lev. 18:6). That Ham saw the nakedness of his father Noah is a reference to the sin of homosexuality of the son with the father, which Noah is not at all responsible for, because he was in a state of drunkenness and did not at all participate in the sin.

Why does the Old Testament report this incident? In order to create from the beginning why the people of Israel turned away from the Canaanites, to not associate with them or take on their habits. For the same reason the Old Testament speaks of the daughters of Lot with their father having relations despite being of the same blood. This is referenced in order for the Israelites to turn away from the Moabites and the Ammonites. For one daughter had given birth to Moab, which means "born of the father," and from him came the Moabites, while the younger daughter gave birth to Ammon, which means "son of my people," who was the father of the Ammonites. The Old Testament therefore is trying to protect the people of Israel from the surrounding pagan peoples, saying: "Away from them, for they have filthy habits, and have disgusting origins, and a terrible catastrophe awaits them for their homosexuality, just as Sodom was destroyed."

The holy Bishop of Morphou, therefore, and all the preachers of the word of God, speak in the same manner in our sermons: We denounce the sins of the people, because we have a command from God to do so (cf. Is. 58:1), in order to turn the people of God away from sin, and lead them towards repentance, speaking of the tastelessness and destructiveness of sin and the catastrophe it leads to. This is our job, and woe to us if we don't do it. Woe to us by our Master Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment!

4. In a few words I also wanted to mention the words of the holy Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kyrenia, that "a cleric should not interfere in a couple's bedroom." This is true for spiritual fathers who act differently and examine with improper questions regarding the relations of couples, and a Bishop must deprive them of spiritual fatherhood. In other words, it is not permissible for a spiritual father to ask of his own accord regarding the marital relations of a married man or a married woman, or how they act, etc.

It is different however if the spouses raise the problem, or if a Bishop or Priest, in a public discourse among Christians, speaks about this matter, to discourage Christians away from obscenity and telling them how such obscenities banish the grace of God from their families. This is what we call the "wrath of God!" The issue of the holy one of Morphou falls precisely in this case and therefore the statement of the holy one of Kyrenia is irrelevant to this whole issue.

5. As I understand it, the words of the holy one of Morphou bothered many people, that unnatural spousal relations give birth to children with abnormal tendencies. But why do these words bother people, since they are the words of a holy father, Saint Porphyrios. We preachers of the word of God must be the megaphone of the words of our holy Fathers. And what is strange about these words? Does not Holy Scripture speak of the mixing of two generations, the good and the evil generations, and how by this mixing God removed His grace (His "Spirit"), because they had become "flesh" (Gen. 6:3)? Does not Holy Scripture say that monstrous people and "giants" were born from such relations (Gen. 6:5)? There is no more time and space to say more. The entire issue is serious and it raises a big issue regarding Christian marriage. We will speak of this another time, if given the opportunity.

† Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopoleos

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.