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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers fresh perspectives on this sensitive issue
Below is a review of Fr. Hopko's book that was unfortunately received by the publisher after the book had already gone to press, and was therefore not included with the final publication. Dr. Elizabeth Stuart is a Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Winchester. She is also a lesbian and a leading UK theologian specializing in Queer Theology. I believe...
Published on May 31, 2007 by Theodora

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14 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Tells People What They Want to Hear
Jesus challenged us to leave comfort zones. In his day he was radical, anti-establishment, and prodded people to think in ways that enabled them to see a higher truth.

Fr. Hopko's reasoning is circular and offers information that is inaccurate in several areas. He uses some puffy, lofty phrases that are theoretical and sometimes theological, but hardly go...
Published on March 27, 2011 by Alex


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers fresh perspectives on this sensitive issue, May 31, 2007
This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Below is a review of Fr. Hopko's book that was unfortunately received by the publisher after the book had already gone to press, and was therefore not included with the final publication. Dr. Elizabeth Stuart is a Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Winchester. She is also a lesbian and a leading UK theologian specializing in Queer Theology. I believe the review speaks eloquently to the value of this book for those on both sides of this emotionally-charged issue. Her review is as follows:

"Although I profoundly disagree with the stance taken towards homosexuality in this book I found it a delight to read. It is a careful, compassionate and comprehensive discussion of contemporary same-sex attraction from the perspective of the Orthodox tradition. It is informed by gay and lesbian theology and other alternative perspectives. I would recommend it to all who study or who are personally involved in the issues around same-sex relationships in the Christian tradition, perhaps particularly to those not part of the Orthodox tradition, for the rich theology of that tradition frames the debate in very different terms to those of other denominations. This book holds out the possibility of a debate which need not fracture the Church nor create alarming levels of animosity between Christians. For this reason alone, it is worth reading and engaging with."
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful but don't expect the un expected, April 28, 2006
This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
The Author: Father Tom Hopko, one of America's leading Orthodox theologians, author of many books, professor emeritus at St. Vladimir's Seminary.

Writing style: Succinct, clear, to the point. The whole book is just 126 pages, about half of those being notes.

Topic: The relationship between Orthodox Christianity, love, and same-sex attraction.

You will expect the author to scripturally and traditionally explain why same-sex genital relations are incompatible with Christianity. He does a good job of this, citing not only the Bible and Patristics but many current authors who disagree.

Father Tom also does a superb job of differentiating for Enlish-only readers, that Love has four components, Agape (charity), Storge (affection), Philia (fraternal love), and Eros (sex). He points out that in our fallen world, that it will be inevitable that many of us will have sinful passions of every sort, including an interest in same-sex pornia. He clearly separates this manifestation of God's providential permission from God's Essential Love.

In so doing, he shows that platonic same-sex love- in the form of agape, philia, and storge, is quite normal but argues convincingly that same-sex genital attraction joins a pantheon of other sinful desires, from gluttony to theft, as something we may have urges towards and even natures towards, but that we must deal with, not succumb to.

He then spends that last third of his monograph suggesting ways to live a Christian life and be welcome in the church and to deal with not only same-sex eros but a host of serious vices.

Perhaps his two most telling quotes are relegated to the footnotes. He quotes Saint Anthony to point out that all asceticism and mortification is not good, and that it can be pointless at times. He also has a wonderful quote about Christian living from the late Father Alex Schmemann; "It's how you deal with what you've been dealt."

Many readers who are same-sex practitioners won't want to read that their eros is a cross to bear, not a divine love. On the more fundamentalist end of the spectrum, some might have expected more condemnation from Father Tom (because they don't understand the Orthodoxy hermenuetic of Love, perhaps?).

Yet, Father Tom does a passionate defense of civil law, the civil rights of those in same-sex unions, and passionate chastisement of those who are too judgemental.

All readers will have to admit that this work is logical, compassionate, well-organized and researched, and in synchrony with mainstream Orthodox theology.

This is not a ponderous tome; it is a fresh and modest monograph. Those interested in the topic should take time to read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful and informative explaination of human sexuality, November 20, 2012
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Many reviewers have stated that this book is a great book for anyone to read, but they didn't always point out why. Certainly if you have friends or family who are LGBT, this book is important to read. However this is a book on "human" sexuality. It will help you understand your own sexuality, no matter if you are married, single, celibate, non-celibate, etc. It is difficult to find such a well thought out, compassion and helpful (let alone short) book by such an experienced and authoritative source (such as Father Hopko) on human sexuality. Please take advantage of this book; it will help you in understanding yourself. Knowledge of self is a great place to start your path forward towards God.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light and Encouragement for the Struggle in the Journey, August 8, 2013
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
This was a delightful read and gave a solid Biblical understanding of why Same-sex marriage is wrong. And it did not condemn same-sex attraction. Many people struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction or even unwanted opposite-sex attraction, and the book provides helpful tools in the struggle to do, not just what we want, but what we want to want. The struggle is too hard alone and there are those who can walk along side in the struggle, the journey, many who have even struggled with the same issues.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for anyone!, July 29, 2010
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
This book on patristic care for those who may be dealing with any sexual problems, it approaches not only homosexual attraction but general sexual deviance as defined by Christian teachings. The author Fr. Hopko approaches the topic with care, respect, and love for those who may fall into sexual problems. It is a must read for any pastor or church leader of any denomination!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant work, short but full of depth, December 27, 2013
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Volkert Volkersz (Snohomish County, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
I thought I had finished this short volume a few years ago, but just picked it up and found my bookmark halfway through.

It is a significant work, not just because it addresses the issue of same-sex attraction from the perspective of the Orthodox Christian faith, but because one could also infer the traditional Christian view of various other sexual sins (fornication, adultery, masturbation, pornography, etc.). What is refreshing is that Fr. Thomas Hopko clearly articulates the Orthodox view that sin is a disease, one that requires a cure, and that can be cured, within the context of the sacred hospital, the Church, and the medicine, the Holy Mysteries, that the Church prescribes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sensitive and yet theologically sound, June 15, 2013
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Absolutely loved this book, and it was truly helpful in understanding this topic from an orthodox viewpoint. In this very readable, short volume, Fr. Tom listens closely to our church fathers and brings their voices in to the framework of this discussion. I appreciate the framework he lays out from the beginning of the book, which makes it impossible, from a truly Christian point of view, to advocate or espouse the notion that same-sex attraction is the highest calling and destiny of human persons in light God's grace in Jesus.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good news for relatonships of all types, September 15, 2007
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Thomas Hopko's sensitive and inclusive look at relationships is an excellent opportunity for anyone to fine tune and explore the meaning of relationship in their lives. Highly recommended reading for anyone.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informed study presenting the visionary perspective of the church and the religious ideals towards same-sex attraction, June 7, 2006
This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Christian Faith And Same-Sex Attraction by Thomas Hopko (Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Seminar) is an informed study presenting the visionary perspective of the church and the religious ideals towards same-sex attraction. Clearly defining theological and pastoral insights concerning the experience of same-sex-desires and acknowledgements, Christian Faith And Same-Sex Attraction analyses the nature of gender identity and sexuality through the perspective of Christian Orthodox theology and is very strongly recommended reading for members of the Orthodox Christian church seeking to understand the theological doctrines relative to the issues of same-sex attractions experienced by themselves and/or their friends.
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14 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Tells People What They Want to Hear, March 27, 2011
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Alex (Cincinnati, OH) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Paperback)
Jesus challenged us to leave comfort zones. In his day he was radical, anti-establishment, and prodded people to think in ways that enabled them to see a higher truth.

Fr. Hopko's reasoning is circular and offers information that is inaccurate in several areas. He uses some puffy, lofty phrases that are theoretical and sometimes theological, but hardly go beyond an intellectual exercise with the trappings of religion. It's also odd that he spends an inordinate amount of time discussing "genital sexual activity" and "homoerotic sexual acts." This seems to be the focus while the love and emotional commitment of two people who happen to be of the same sex is secondary at best. In general, I find it perculiar that those most opposed to same sex marriage or homosexuality in general spend a great deal of time thinking about the sex act ... it's weird.

He breath-takingly writes that "same-sex sexual intercourse is not capable of establishing and edifying the physical, emotional, and spiritual lives of the persons involved." Based on what? How many same-sex couples has he actually spent time with? How many same-sex couples who have adopted children has he spent time with? In addition, science would beg to differ as would many Christian denominations.

Fr. Hopko also relies on "church tradition" to make his case. This argument falls flat. Church tradition in the Orthodox World has included supporting incompetent tsars, anti-semitism, and serfdom. Church tradition changes. One of Orthodoxy's great modern theologies, Fr. Alexander Men, has written about the changes in Orthodox canons and traditions. Even the Divine Liturgy has changed in many Orthodox Churches. At one time anti-Semitic passages peppered the Liturgy. In most places it has been removed. Church tradition that the Jews killed Christ has been tossed and left in the 14th century where it belongs.

Absent from Fr. Hopko's book is an effort to reconcile science with faith. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have all found that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. It is a natural part of the human experience. They've concluded that it unethical to try to "correct" those who are gay and lesbian because there is nothing wrong with it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even concluded that same sex parents make good parents. Similar medical associations in Canada and Britain, among others, have documented similar findings.

I urge reading "Homosexuality in the Orthodox Church" edited by Justin Cannon and compare it to Fr. Hopko's book. Mr. Cannon's book is superior by comparison and a solid work on the subject in its own right. Although Mr. Cannon is not Eastern Orthodox, he did gather respectable Orthodox voices and in some cases theologically trained to address the topic.
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