Eastern Orthodox/A few questions

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Question
Hi. I was raised in the Episcopalian Church, but I'm now considering converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, but I have a few questions.
1. I understand that Orthodoxy is pro-life (I am too). However does this apply in cases of rape or if the mother's life is in danger?
2. Through personal research I've come to believe that homosexuality is a result of sexual abuse. How do we treat homosexuals, who are probably victims, with the compassion they deserve while still acknowledging the sinfulness of homosexuality?
3. Does Orthodoxy believe in the classical/ransom view of the atonement? I've heard of it and think it makes a lot more sense than what I was raised with.
4. I'm sixteen. Do I need my mother's permission to convert? Do I need to be baptized again?
5. Why do Orthodox priests wear beards? I know this has nothing to do with my other questions, but I'm curious. I'm sorry if this is a lot of questions.

Answer
Rose,

First, thanks for the questions!  Second, rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to refer you to other resources when the answer already exists.  Let's begin.

1. I understand that Orthodoxy is pro-life (I am too#. However does this apply in cases of rape or if the mother's life is in danger?

Orthodoxy is very pro-life.  We believe that a human person is formed at conception.  We also believe that the willful destruction of an unborn person for no other reason than to prevent birth is murder.  In cases of rape and incest which result in conception, the unborn person is as much an innocent victim as the mother.  When has killing an innocent victim ever been the solution to a crime?

If the mother's life is truly in danger, then the mother and her physician and her Priest and her family must make a decision.  There are many questions that need to be asked.  How great is the danger?  Can the unborn child survive at all?  #In an ectopic pregnancy, the child cannot survive, and neither can the mother unless the pregnancy is terminated.)  What affect would a choice have on the rest of the family?  These are not easy questions, and no two cases are exactly alike.  But this is not an abortion for convenience.

2. Through personal research I've come to believe that homosexuality is a result of sexual abuse. How do we treat homosexuals, who are probably victims, with the compassion they deserve while still acknowledging the sinfulness of homosexuality?

It sounds trite, but we love the sinner, but without excusing the sin.  Sex is a delightful sacrament intended to be shared by a man and a woman within the context of marriage.  Those who are not married are expected to live a celibate life until such time they are married.  The Orthodox Church has never practiced homosexual marriage.  Nor do we intend to in the future.

3. Does Orthodoxy believe in the classical/ransom view of the atonement? I've heard of it and think it makes a lot more sense than what I was raised with.

Whose "classical/ransom view of the atonement" do you mean?  This is where I will refer you to an excellent article.  http://www.frederica.com/writings/christs-death-a-rescue-mission-not-a-payment-f

I think she says it very well.

4. I'm sixteen. Do I need my mother's permission to convert? Do I need to be baptized again?

Yes, you do need your parents' permission to convert.  However, since it will take you a good two years to explore Orthodoxy before making a well informed decision, I doubt that being 16 now will be a problem.  Whether or not you will be received by Baptism or by Chrismation depends on how you were baptized previously.  That is a question for your Priest to investigate, and for his Bishop to decide.  It's a bit early for you to worry about it.

5. Why do Orthodox priests wear beards? I know this has nothing to do with my other questions, but I'm curious. I'm sorry if this is a lot of questions.

All Priests have beards.  The question you should ask is why some choose to shave them off.

In my signature, there is a link to my forum.  Please ask follow up questions there.  Basic membership is free, but you do need to register.  

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