Morphou Bishop Neophytos has taken heat after making controversial comments about gay sex, with the internet flooding with funny memes but also criticism against the church.
Neophytos was asked recently during a congregation meeting in rural Nicosia to respond to a comment about homosexuality, with the bishop telling his audience that homosexuality is caused when a pregnant woman enjoys anal sex. He also warned couples in the audience to be careful not to engage in the "unnatural act" in order to eliminate the risk of having “spiritual bacteria.”
The comments were later shared in a video online posted by Accept, an LGBTI group in Cyprus, condemning the comments and asking back “how are lesbians created” then?
In the video, which was originally posted on the Morphou Diocese’s website, the bishop had responded to a question about homosexuality in front of an audience including children and adults.
Bishop's "problem with homosexuals"
“They started to promote homosexuality as a natural thing, apparently, so how can we protect our children from this unnatural phenomenon?” the question asked.
Neophytos started by pointing fingers at pride parades, saying “the problem with homosexuals is that now this feeling is being cultivated where we are supposed to be proud, hence the parades, because by the way the word choice was not accidental,” the bishop said.
“Behind these pride parades lies a demonic procession,” he said, adding that “good Christians could also be homosexuals” but do not act on their urges if they seek holy guidance.
'When the woman enjoys it, there is a craving for it, and this desire is passed on to the fetus'
He then went on to argue that homosexuality is a trait transmitted during anal sex, citing Saint Porfyrios who spoke similarly on the issue.
“He [the saint] said this happens during sexual intercourse or during a woman’s pregnancy when parents have unnatural sex, anal sex to be plainly clear,” the bishop said.
“When the woman enjoys it, there is a craving for it, and this desire is passed on to the fetus, just like in the case of musician parents who pass on the trait to the children,” he explained.
The video snippet was quickly shared, with many social media users jumping in and creating funny memes, poking fun at the bishop’s comments.
Popular memes poking fun
In one instance, one asked “if a cucumber is used during the act, will the child be vegetarian?”
Another person wrote that if the parents engaged in sex using the 69 position, this would mean their child would become a mathematician.
Neophytos said that this trait transmission was based on biology, by which every human being is made of matter, energy, as well as information, he said, referring to DNA. But he distanced himself from the nature-nurture debate, only to say that this was done during the sexual act.
“So, as you can see, the moment of conception is a big deal, because information is being transmitted from the parents to the fetus, which will be manifested during puberty and then on to adolescence,” he said.
“And that’s when parents start to pray because words are of no help,” he added.
Critics up in arms over message
The bishop has been criticized for his comments, described by groups and media outlets as hateful and homophobic.
Foreign media also got wind of the story, citing cases of homophobia and racism in Cyprus. Local groups and critics also pointed fingers at the church, for spreading a hateful and negative message while singling out a group of people.
“I expressed the view of the Church and our Saints,” the bishop later responded according to reports, inviting critics to visit his website to read his entire speech.
There is still an ongoing debate on whether sexual orientation is hereditary, with recent discussions on a “gay gene” being part of a broader nature-versus-nurture debate across the globe.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in the Republic of Cyprus in 1998. While same-sex civil unions were legalized in 2015, gay couples are still not allowed to adopt children together.
People who are gay or lesbian are banned from military service on both sides of the divided island, while pride parades have recently started to receive wider public support both north and south under the banner of free love and human rights.