April 19, 2014

Orthodox Christians Respond to LGBT Protest With Joint Prayer of Clergy and Laity

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The Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and the Russian Church Abroad View pictures of the protest. Source: Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Clergymen and laity of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia responded to an LGBT protest with joint prayers. On Sunday, August 25, 2013, a protest was held before St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in San Francisco, CA, by local LGBT members against legislation passed in Russia last June banning the propagandizing of homosexuality to children. The day before, blogs on the internet called for supporters of the LGBT community to gather at San Francisco’s Patriarchal cathedral during Divine Liturgy with anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian placards. With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, clergymen Protopriest Georgy Roshchin, Representative of the International Russian People’s Council to the United … [Read more...]

After the Desert: A Faithful Catholic’s Reflection on Same-Sex Attraction

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Steve Gershom (a pseudonym), the author of the following essay, is a faithful Catholic who has abandoned the homosexual life-style. Gershom affirms many points made earlier on the AOI Observer: the term gay, or even homosexual describes behavior and should never be construed ontologically, as a constituent of self-identity; homosexual actions are always sinful; the life of celibacy is not to be understood as a life of sexual self-denial, but at as a vocation (just as marriage is a vocation); that chastity is a means of self-integration and even joy; and more. Where Gersham succeeds very well is putting a human face on the struggle with same-sex attraction. All passions effect some kind of orientation. When the struggle against passion is begun in earnest however, the false self constructed within the orientation loses its grip as the real self starts to emerge. The author has, and is, experiencing the liberation in ways that anyone, even those who do not struggle with same-sex … [Read more...]

Frederica Mathewes-Green: Gay Rights [AUDIO]

Frederica - Here and Now

Frederica's podcast does not offer the definitive answer on homosexuality, but it is laced with the graciousness, compassion, and fidelity to Orthodox teaching that has become her hallmark over the years. It's worth a listen, even if only as a reminder that good people struggle with same-sex attraction who don't adopt the ideological rigidity of the activist and others who insist on a moral parity between opposite-sex and same-sex behaviors. Listen here: … [Read more...]

Fr. Gregory Jenson: Conscience and the Christian Life of Virtue

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If you are not a regular reader of Fr. Gregory Jensen's blog Koinonia, bookmark, subscribe, or run down to your nearest internet cafe now! Seriously, Fr. Jensen offers some of the most cogent reflections on the Christian life (drawing deep from the Orthodox moral tradition) of any internet commentator that I know. "As iron sharpens iron, so sharpens a man the countenance of his friend" the scriptures tell us and one of the great benefits of internet dialogue (in spite of its raucous and sometimes irresponsible character) is that good people teach us good things that we need to know. Below Fr. Gregory writes about the necessity of maintaining the distinction between person and sin, person and passion, person and ideology (however a given circumstance might require the distinction to be framed) in order to both protect the integrity of the conscience and ensure its proper formation. It's the same distinction that I argue is collapsed in my recent article critiquing the Listening group … [Read more...]

Did Presbyterian Church USA Decline Start With “Dialogue”?

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Does this sound familiar? Quoting Alan F.H. Wisdom, Adjunct Fellow of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD): “Progressive leaders have expressed their hope that the church could remain united, that people would not leave. They say that they want to have the contributions and involvement of more conservative Presbyterians in the denomination,” he explained. “However, the problem that many of us see is that [progressive Presbyterians’] rationale for deleting fidelity and chastity was justice. They regard it as discrimination that people would affirm marriage, but that they (at the same time) would not affirm people in same-sex relationships.” "Justice" is also a subtext of the Facebook group "Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church," the Orthodox wing of homosexual activism that seeks to abolish the prohibition against homosexual behavior in the moral tradition. (If the abolition of the prohibition is not … [Read more...]

Albert Mohler: Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution

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In the essay below, Dr. Mohler is speaking to an Evangelical Christian readership but many of his observations apply to all Christians. The normalization of homosexual behavior is a moral revolution Mohler writes and not one that Christians can join and remain faithful to their Christian faith. He's right about that. There will be pressure to adopt to this new morality as well. We even see it on the edges of the Orthodox Church with the Facebook group Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church for example. Who ever thought that some Orthodox would drag this battle of the culture war into the Church? Mohler takes the Evangelicals to task for their sloppy handing of the homosexual question. I'm not sure we Orthodox have been sloppy, but we have been complacent. The homosexual moral revolution is at bottom a question of anthropology, what it means to be a man or woman and thus a human being. We Orthodox know some things about human anthropology but … [Read more...]

An Insider’s View of the Collapse of the PCUSA

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This quote reflects Calvinist theology, but the moral point the author makes is applicable to all Christian communions: "On the surface, it is not obvious how affirming and defending the imputation of Christ’s righteousness adds weight to ordaining only candidates who affirm and try to live by biblical standards of morality. But just as New York City experimented with the policy described as "broken windows" and discovered that cracking down on petty public nuisances could also reduce harder crimes, so the PCUSA may be discovering that once you lighten your grip on seemingly arcane doctrines you also lose the ability to enforce any sort of doctrinal or moral standard. [...] In fact, the reactions from proponents of gay ordination very much reflect that for them the question was not whether the church would adhere to God's word but whether the denomination would find a place for victims of discrimination." Source: First Things What Barth and Niebuhr Could Not … [Read more...]

Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’

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From the article: Confronted with such a dim future, many chaplains might retire early, resign their commissions in protest, or decline to serve in the first place. More drastically, the bishops, boards or other religious judicatories whose approval is indispensable for clergy to be commissioned as officers might withdraw their official endorsements and pull their chaplains from military service. In a recent letter to the Armed Forces Chaplains Board, my own bishop, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of the Orthodox Church in America, has promised to do precisely that, if any of the two dozen priests under his care “were in any way forced to minister the sacraments” to active, unrepentant homosexuals, or “forced to teach that such behavior is good or acceptable, or prohibited from denouncing such behavior as sinful and self-destructive,” or regarded as purveyors of “prejudice” or “hate language.” It’s at once inspiring and reassuring as a retired chaplain to know that Metropolitan … [Read more...]

MINNEAPOLIS: Presbyterian gay measures criticized by visiting (Orthodox) priest

HT: Virtue Online July 09, 2010 An Orthodox Church theologian who was invited to greet the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has criticized its approval of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy. The Reverend Siarhei Hardun of Belarus said that vote and efforts to approve gay marriage looked to him like an attempt to "invent a new religion -- a sort of modern paganism." Hardun added, "When people say that they are led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do it, I wonder if it is the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible." The Orthodox priest's remarks drew applause from conservative Presbyterians who made similar arguments at the gathering in Minneapolis. ASSOCIATED PRESS … [Read more...]

Freedom of religion devolves to an “anorexic freedom of worship”

Chuck Colson sounds the alarm about a shift in US policy first noticed by The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2010 annual report. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton replaced the term "freedom of religion" with "freedom of worship" in a December, 2009 speech at Georgetown University. President Obama first used "freedom of worship" while remarking on the Ft. Hood shooting in November, 2009 and repeated it on trips to China and Japan (source: Christianity Today). Is it deliberate? Of course it is. Public language by diplomats, particularly when repeated, signals a shift in policy; either that or incompetence in the White House (also a possibility but never with religion or homosexuality which the administration approaches with unmatched earnestness). Colson's warning is sound and bears consideration. The George Weigel article Colson references in his talk is reproduced below the video. Ethics and Public Policy Center The Erosion of Religious … [Read more...]

Church has right to bring Gospel values to public debate, pope says

Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales. However, the church must recognize dissent within its own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb. 1 in an address to bishops who were making their "ad limina" visits. The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September. Referring to the Equality Bill under debate in Britain's Parliament, the pope said some legislation designed to guarantee equal opportunity for all people actually would impose "unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs." Catholic bishops have said the bill means churches could be sued by … [Read more...]