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Saints and Sex


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I was disturbed to read Kristina Kallas's story "Yiayia Sisterhood" (July 11, 2003). I find it unfortunate that she expresses such prejudices toward men and toward married women. I also find it unfortunate that she sees difficulty with bureaucratic processes as specific to her agenda. I would like her to know that I had just as much trouble licensing my car when I moved from Colorado to Illinois as she did changing her name. That's just the nature of bureaucracy. Most unfortunate, however, is the incorrect information she has perceived and written about the Orthodox Church. She is right that the church hasn't changed much since 400 AD. The Orthodox Christians I know, myself included, consider this a very good thing. Contrary to what Ms. Kallas says, in the Orthodox Church there are female and male celibate saints. As well, there are married (therefore not celibate) saints of both sexes. There is just as much significance (if not more) placed on male celibacy as on female celibacy, considering unmarried priests and all bishops must vow to be celibate. The Orthodox Church is indeed governed by men, but I know of nowhere on earth where women and their unique and special qualities are as highly valued as they are in Orthodoxy.

Mrs. James Kueck

Albany Park

Kristina Kallas replies:

There are, indeed, female and male celibate and noncelibate saints. Saint Helen was the mother of Saint Constantine, most of the apostles were married, and I've read that Saint Nicholas was celibate. Notwithstanding, I maintain that more emphasis is put on the sexual histories of female saints. An age-old and familiar double standard.

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