Friday, December 11, 2015

How Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos Dealt with Two Cases of Homosexuality

The following is an account regarding how the blessed Elder Paisios (now a canonized saint) handled the issue of homosexuality at one point in his life. This story was told by his spiritual child, Metropolitan Athanasios Lemesol, who witnessed this first-hand.

There was once a young man who struggled greatly with the passion of homosexuality. He tried everything he could to stop doing this sin, but he was unable. In many attempts to help the man, his father took him to many priests, therapists in order to find some advice that would help him.  Nothing was able however to change the man. One day, he and his father decided to visit the Holy Mountain to see if they could receive some helpful advice from one of the elders there.

During his visit, the man went to a large monastery and got some advice from the elder there, but he was not satisfied with the advice. As he and his father were waiting for the boat to arrive to leave the Holy Mountain, the young man began to cry a great deal leaving the monastery feeling like the visit was a failure and he would never be saved. A monk who was around the dock at the same time noticed the young man and his father in distress and approached them:

"My friend, what's wrong? Why are you so upset?"

The man explained his problem to Father Athanasios, and Father Athanasios told him:

"Come with me. Let's go see my Elder. Maybe he'll be able to help you."

So they both went up to see the Elder Paisios, and the man explained the problem to the Elder. This is how the young man explained the problem:

"Elder, I've tried everything! I cannot stop this sin! There's no way. It's just a fact of life for me. It's genetic. I was born like this. I've tried everything, and I've seen absolutely no progress."

Taking a moment to ponder this, the elder responded to him:

"Okay. Let us just take it as a given that you are not able to stop this sin. Alright? Let us just take that as a fact. That's out of the question now. But let's not concentrate on the things you cannot do, and instead let's concentrate on the things you can do. Can you go to church every Sunday?"

And the man replied: "Yes, Elder."

"Can you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays?"

"Yes, Elder."

"Can you give alms to the poor?"

"Yes, Elder."

"Can you try to say the Jesus Prayer during the day?"

"Yes, Elder."

The elder then replied: "If you do all of these things, God will save you regardless of your problem."*

Many others struggling with homosexual tendencies found their salvation and the consolation of their souls near the Elder. Another one of these persons once felt ashamed for his passion and was at an impasse in his inability to overcome it, and by divine providence went as a last resort to see "a certain Paisios" of whom he had heard about.

Upon arriving, and before even having an opportunity to speak, the saint slapped him hard. The man fell on his knees baffled and lost in tears of despair. After a while, the Elder crouched, hugged him, and embracing him he raised him up saying:

"I didn't hit you for what you are doing, but for what you are thinking of doing."

This is because he was seriously thinking of committing suicide. He explained that with this tragic outcome he would lose his soul, while grief for his passion would give him a crown and a key to enter eternity.

"By the intercessions of your saints, O Christ our God, have mercy upon us and save us."

*It should be noted that while the Elder told the young man that God would save him regardless of his passion if he applied the teachings of the Orthodox Church in his daily life, he in no way suggests that actively living the lifestyle is acceptable so as long as he obeys these teachings. These teachings should always be accompanied with the struggles an individual is able to offer to the best of his or her human abilities to overcome any passion.