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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
by Srdja Trifkovic
Thursday, August 17, 2000


Webasters note: This article is very informative, but elements in it have a Protestant emphasis or expression of beliefs, which Orthodox Christian would not agree with.

On August 15 the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a strictly conservative social policy platform that contained harsh criticisms of homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion and artificial insemination. The social policy platform was adopted at jubilee-year meeting of the Council of Bishops, an assembly of top Orthodox clergy, held at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. A day earlier the council canonized more than 850 new saints, including Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II.

This is the first formal pronouncement by the Russian Orthodox Church on contemporary social issues, on which it was not allowed to comment in Soviet times. It also represents the first unequivocal reiteration of traditional Christian teachings by a major denomination in recent years. "The Holy Bible and the Church doctrine unequivocally condemn homosexual ties as a perverse distortion of the God-given nature of the human being," the document stated. The bishops called for homosexuals to be barred from working as teachers, or taking up senior positions in the army and prison management. They strongly condemned proposals for same-sex "marriages" and transsexual operations. Russian bishops also condemned euthanasia as a grave sin that is both murder and suicide, and euthanasia victims are to be denied Christian burial or memorial services. The bishops also condemned child bearing by surrogate mothers and artificial insemination. Finally, the document reaffirmed the Church's opposition to abortion, which is widely practiced in Russia as a form of birth control.

The statement by Russian bishops should be welcomed as a timely reminder to Christians everywhere that succumbing to the relentless pressure of modernity is not only undesirable, but also quite impossible; any "Church" that accepts or even condones sexual deviance, euthanasia, or abortion ceases to exist as such. It may go through the motions of sacraments, but it can offer neither comfort nor salvation.

Attempts by some Christian denominations to come up with similar statements have caused deep divisions, and even when the majority reaffirms traditional teachings the activist liberal minority refuses to be bound by that decision. In August 1998 Third World Anglican bishops outvoted their liberal Western colleagues at the ten-yearly Lambeth conference, and adopted a motion affirming that lifelong heterosexual marriage is the only place for sexual activity, that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture, and that same-sex unions should not be blessed. And yet the defeated minority of Western "reformists" has ensured that the ruling does not affect their dioceses.

Reaffirmation of authentic Christian teaching has nothing to do with "tolerance". Christians should be tolerant of homosexuals in that they ought to feel compassion for people struggling with an affliction not of their own choosing. Indeed, a homosexual who keeps his propensity in check, and who strives to find release from his inclination, can enjoy grace. But seeking empathy does not mean that we can rewrite scripture, or that we should accommodate a sin simply because it is supposedly inborn, unchangeable, or common. By cutting conscience to suit latest fashions, we'll soon run out of cloth.

Homosexual activists and their apologists claim that if Jesus Christ did not specifically forbid a behavior, then it could not have been important to Him. "Jesus was more interested in love," they say. But their argument is flawed. An unmarried couple "in love" is sinning if it has sex before marriage. Adulterers may well be "in love" with their extra-marital partners, but God imposes immutable limitations on human relationships, regardless of "love." In other words, "love" does not sanctify a relationship. Things done in its name can be impure and sinful.

A more general point is that the Gospels are not the sole - nor even the most authoritative -- source of biblical authority. They do not contain a comprehensive behavioral code. All scripture has come to us by the grace of God, and the Old Testament is unambiguous in its condemnation of sodomy. It also understood normal sexual intercourse as not only a way of expressing a loving relationship, but also as a divinely appointed way of procreating new life. This is reiterated by St. Paul time after time.

Jesus did not mention homosexuality, but He did not mention incest or wife beating by name either. His silence does not invalidate clear prohibitions of such behavior elsewhere, in both Old and New Testaments. God's created intent for human sexuality is clear to Jesus. When asked about divorce He reiterates that God made us male and female; the Creator's intent was that the two would become one flesh: "what God has joined together, let man not separate." God's standard is clear: male and female, man and wife. To claim that this is anything less than an explicit is disingenuous.

Those who deviate from the standard may be Christian, and loved by God, but their behavior is not pleasing to Him. We do not necessarily cease to be Christians because we are sinning, but our faith as such does not legitimize the sin. And yet, too many Western clerics are no longer capable of grasping that professing Christianity is merely the basis for a life pleasing to God, not the proof that it is so. Joe Dallas, author of A Strong Delusion: Confronting the "Gay Christian" Movement and a former homosexual activist, has summed the problem up:

We would rather be nice. That is a strange tendency creeping into the church: "niceness" is taking precedence over truth. Immorality -- even among Christian leaders -- is going unconfronted, and many churches seem more concerned with making people comfortable than arousing in them a sense of their need for God. In such an environment, it is no wonder erroneous teachings like the pro-gay theology are flourishing. Evangelist and Pastor Greg Laurie summed up the problem nicely: "What is being depicted to individuals is a 'user-friendly' God who will smile benignly down upon their lifestyles of choice, as they continue to live as they like." But, however the social justice arguments of the pro-gay theology compel us towards 'niceness,' the God we represent places a higher premium on truth than accommodation. May we, by His grace, never shun the two-fold mandate to speak the truth, in love.

Homosexual behavior is a distortion of God's purpose and a misuse of his gift. But anyone making a stand against the rising tide of homosexuality will be accused of homophobia, and ultimately "hate crimes." It is our responsibility to see that, while loving in our firm response, we do not succumb to the dictates of political correctitude. The statement by Russian bishops should be emulated by all other Christian congregations.

The Rockford Institute

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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland
Snail Mail: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA