OCCM Webinar: Sexuality and Society – Defining Love in Modern Times by Fr. Samuel Varghese

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Joly Fahim | 14 February 2021

Joly is a graduate student studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Houston. In this post, she summarizes the OCCM webinar led by Fr. Samuel Varghese, which discussed love in modern times.

OCCM Webinar: Sexuality and Society – Defining Love in Modern Times by Fr. Samuel Varghese 

  1. God’s Design 
    1. God is the determiner of reality. Therefore, what God says is reality is what we must accept. Deviations from this reality is corrected through repentance to bring it back into accordance with God
      1. In Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:23-24, God begins to describe the reality of the nature of male and female relationships. When Eve was created, it is evident through these verses that there something salvific about marriage 
      2. God reiterates this complementariness message in the old testament in Mark 10:6-9 
  2. Our Identity 
    1. We are made in the image of God 
      1. All humans are endowed with the capacity for love and good 
      2. All humans possess freedom to choose how these capacities are utilized 
      3. These two elements allow us to be like God 
    2. Christian Identity 
      1. In Galatians 3:26-28, St. Paul highlights that there are no limitations on becoming like God. This is highlighted in our baptismal liturgy in the it is the same regardless of gender 
      2. The above, however, is not a denial of gender, yet it points that we all share the same access to salvation 
  3. Effects of the Fall 
    1. Disorder 
      1. There is distinction from God and creation and between man and woman 
      2. Our resemblance to God has also been obscured due to sin 
      3. Sin is a perversion of the things God gave us to use (ex. Love) 
    2. Issues Related to the Fall 
      1. Sexual addiction, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexuality, pornography, abuse, identity and gender
  4. Realities of Christian Struggle after the Fall 
    1. Deny yourselves 
      1. This is mentioned in Matthew 16:24-26 where denying ourselves is the path towards Christ-likeness 
    2. Joy in Trials 
      1. In James 1:3-4, our struggles and temptations are chances to follow Christ 
      2. Abba Anthony also mentions that “without temptations, no one can be saved” 
      3. Satan tries all of us and nourishes the sins which the soul goes towards. We must then ask God not “why me?” but “How must I react?” 
    3. Lacking One Thing 
      1. In Mark 10:17-22, like Christ tells the man what to do so he can gain salvation, we must correct those we love to help them gain salvation 
    4. Judgement within the Church 
      1. In 1 Corinthians 5, St. Paul says it is not a kindness to individuals to say that this is the way they are. It is a kindness to them to allow them to gain God’s mercy 
  5. Language of Love: The Greek 
    1. Eros 
      1. The romantic love which, when perverted, leads to sin 
    2. Phileo 
      1. Brotherly love 
      2. This type of love was used in John 21 when Christ asked “Do you love me?” 
    3. Agape 
      1. The love we must achieve to even those who hate us
      2. Christ used this in Matthew 5: 43-48 when He said “Love your enemies” and additionally in John 15:13 and John 13:34-35 
    4. Homosexuality 
      1. When it comes to homosexuality, St Paul highlights in 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 that although “all things are lawful”, “not all things are helpful” and this verse is yet another reiteration of the nature of relationships which God intended 
      2. In Romans 1:22-27, it says the “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” where God will not take away your free will, yet being in a spiritual environment is what allows us to repent 
  6. Gender 
    1. World Health Organization Definition 
      1. The WHO defines gender as a social construct. However, as a Christian, this is not truly what gender is as evident from our reproductive organs and capabilities 
    2. Why is Transgender Equality Important?/ How to Respect Non-Binary people  
      1. Because unrighteous treatment of individuals living in sin does not conform to our ideals as Christians since we all live in sin (ex. Being denied critical care, being fired from a job, etc.)