Fr. John Guy Winfrey
The hierarchs, clergy, and vast majority of Orthodox Christians are quite clear on the issue of marriage as a sacred institution, consisting of one man and one woman. But because of the opportunity for anyone to post an opinion on the internet without going into detail about their own standing in the Church, other articles also occasionally need to be posted to explain what is really going on. Here is one blog post by Fr. John Guy Winfrey of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America, with some original thoughts on the nature of things.
This season, tempus cottonwood, is one of the allergy seasons I suffer. It is particularly intense as many sidewalks look like we have had an early fluffy snow. The itchy eyes, the congestion and headache… part of the spéciale du jour I am privileged to enjoy. But I am such a greedy person I don’t wish anyone else to partake of this unique experience. No doubt you will forgive me my stinginess. But as I woke this morning I was minded of a simple thing, the binary code and what a marvelous thing it is, something greatly desired. Earnestly yearning to breathe, I ached for that binary joy of having at least one nostril open so I could draw that first morning lungful without an open mouth. Such simple desires.
Binary code is, of course, the alphabet of computer programmers though they may write that language in various languages like C++ or other. At the very core of every computer language resides that marvelously simple alphabet of “1” and “0”. Just two digits stand behind an enormous variety. I marvel at the fact that just two digits are able to record photographs, write the software I use, post anything that I might scrawl, create safety protocols so advanced that governments spend billions of dollars trying to crack just two digits. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo doesn’t like binary systems. He sits in his retirement in front of a computer screen typing out his dislike of the binary while his computer dutifully transposes his fantasy into ones and zeros so the world can see it. What is the binary code he so dislikes? The very first one we are told of in the Scriptures: male and female. I would in no way suggest which among these is the one and which is the zero. Should I hazard such a thought, I’m sure my beloved wife would remind me that she and her kind are in fact the one and I and mine, having expressed a guess, are indeed the zero. After all, a group which cannot remember to let down the toilet seat or put one’s dirty socks in the hamper can’t possible rise to the dignity of a one. Who is to argue?
But the eminently consecrated Puhalo has imbibed deeply from the pool of the academic whose mind has not been content to look at reality, but would prefer to create new systems of order and structure detached from the simple desire to breathe through one’s allergies. The modern is a corruption of the medieval mind really. The glory of the medieval mind was that it loved order and structure. Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Some details were not processed correctly but by in large the medieval man was spot on because he dealt with reality as we experienced before his very eyes. This, as many of you will know, is the master theme of C. S. Lewis in his last book, The Discarded Image, which was not one of his popular Christian apologetics but rather a publication of the lectures he gave as a Don at Oxford and Cambridge in Medieval English Literature. It is brilliant.
The modern mind is striving to create a new sense of order in a world as he imagines it to be. His fantasy is filter he uses to process all he sees and the particular filter used in this case is the sexual revolution. Few things have been so destructive as that little notion that sex is purely about enjoyment, like an amusement ride made of flesh—one may debate which lasts longer, a roller coaster ride or intercourse. I would never suggest a solution to that age old riddle. Nevertheless the moderner’s mind began categorizing things based upon the different ways we can experience ecstasy rather than what was classically called the metaphysical [which is concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it]. Metaphysics are out, phenomena [the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view] are in. The moderner tries to order the world not from objective reality, but from subjective experience and here we find the profound error and departure from their medieval forebears.
That an Orthodox Archbishop would fall for this folly is somewhat surprising, but not entirely in his particular case. He has had a long career of dissension and combativeness, long enough that when he left the various vagante groups of which he was a part seeking entrance in the Orthodox Church in America, he was only received as a retired bishop with the title Archbishop of Ottawa. He was given his gold watch. The Synod of Bishops told him that he was a zero in their midst. But like other zeros, myself included, he would not sit down and has now entered the digital age on FaceBook and other binary outlets to throw his lot in with the moderner and promote the notion that there are multiple genders, and this we must accept from a sociological viewpoint as being scientific. This can only be scientifically so, categorically true, if we elevate subjective feelings and experience over constitutional reality. In other words, to embrace this we must life in the same fantasy. Those who live in a fantasy should reside in a mental ward.
Underneath the marvelous truth of our biological reality, is a simple binary code. It is not a one or zero, instead it is either an “xx” or “xy”, the first is female, the second is male. There is of course the anomaly of the “xyy” syndrome in which a male has an extra y chromosome, but everyone recognizes this as an anomaly and at the end of the day, this person is simply a male. What a marvel that God is so brilliant that he himself uses a binary code. It baffles the imagination. Such variety from the binary. But the “xyy” syndrome illustrates that in a fundamentally binary system the inclusion of more “variety” is not wanted and is in fact problematic. I cannot imagine what havoc introducing a “2” to the computer programmer’s language would be. It is easy to speculate it would be dreadful because it has never been wanted.
Humanity is, fundamentally, genetically, organically, only male or female. The Bible is right. But man’s passions are indeed multiple and pervasive. When we define man on his feelings and appetites there can be no limit to the number of “genders” one can devise. But sin is ultimately so boring. My brother and I worked at Six Flags over Texas years ago and he took it as a challenge to ride the roller coaster Shock Wave as many times in a row as he could. I believe he rode it about 63 times without getting off the metal highway of twists, loops and turns. It got rather boring. There was no anticipation, no real thrill. He knew every twist and turn. Any reality based purely on our own subjective experience will in the long run be boring, though it will begin with incredible excitement. The only alternative to such an approach is the constantly seek new experiences or thrills.
What road Puhalo and his is band of impassioned fools will take next who knows. But I am sure that he will run wild with them. He is in search of a new ride, a new thrill. How foolish. How boring. But they will never find reality at the end of their road. They will never be able to sit still and say that the world is now ordered because their reality is constantly shifting and morphing due to their passions.
Those who are truly concerned with gender dysphoria should encourage therapy rather than surgery. It is a psychological and spiritual problem, not one of reality. It is a pathology, not an orientation.
But I am simply a troglodyte who embraces the incredibly rich beauty and variety of this objective world in which we live. That ought to be no surprise really, for I also rejoice in the simply relief of an open nostril in the midst of my allergies. O the magnificence of the binary.