LifeSite News: The Orthodox Church Strongly Endorses the March for Marriage, Encourages All Faithful to Participate

Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

Source: LifeSite News

By Fr. Mark Hodges

ENGLEWOOD, NJ, April 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A national leader in the Orthodox Christian Church has encouraged all Orthodox Christians in the United States to attend the March for Marriage on April 25 in Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese has issued an encyclical to approximately 268 churches in North America, asking all the faithful to join the demonstration in the nation’s capital supporting traditional marriage. 

Metropolitan Joseph says that Orthodox participation in the march is needed “in order to dispel confusion which has been stirred up by our secular culture.” The Orthodox Church has always defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and said that homosexual activity is a grave sin.

Starting at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the March for Marriage is expected to gather tens of thousands of participants. The demonstration is timed to coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court hearing four new cases on same-sex “marriage.”

The Metropolitan’s encyclical conveyed a strong sense of urgency. “We are clearly on the cusp of a historic Supreme Court decision that could mark a powerful affirmation of marriage between one man and one woman – upon which all major civilizations have flourished – or, it can initiate a direction which the holy Orthodox Church can never embrace.”

The bishop made a direct connection between participating in this year’s March for Marriage and times in history when Christians have corrected society or changed culture for the better.  “Throughout the history of our faith, our holy Fathers have led the Orthodox laity to gather in unison to preserve the faith against heresy from within, and against major threats upon societies from without.”

American Christians, he said, “are in a unique position” of living “in a nation governed as a democratic republic. We still benefit from religious freedoms that would allow us to voice with clarity the Gospel message of Christ’s love and the path to salvation.”

Legal observers agree that a ruling to redefine marriage would seriously impact religious freedom in the United States. 

Metropolitan Joseph hoped that American Christians will make a strong showing at the annual event. “If we have several thousand attendees from the ranks of clergy, monastics, and laity at this peaceful rally, it would immediately be clear that the Orthodox Church is a leading voice for marriage in this nation,” the bishop wrote.

“We ask that you would make every effort to attend the rally, and encourage others to do likewise,” Metropolitan Joseph wrote in a special hierarchical letter addressed to Orthodox Christian faithful throughout the country. “A strong, vibrant, and clear message is needed from our Church…[for] the strengthening of family life. This is what our nation’s people need to see.”

Reaction to the Metropolitan’s strong stance has been positive. “Metropolitan Joseph is clearly emerging as the moral leader of Orthodox Christianity in America,” Fr. Johannes Jacobse, a priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Church and founder of the American Orthodoxy Institute, told LifeSiteNews. “This call to participate in the March for Marriage affirms that the Orthodox have a place in the public square.”

Fr Jacobse went on to explain the importance of defending marriage in our society. “The affirmation of traditional marriage is also the affirmation of the foundational building block of Western civilization,” he said. “If the family dies, Western culture dies.”

Metropolitan Joseph also praised the work of a group of priests and laity spearheading the Orthodox Christian role in the effort. The group, known as Crown Them With Glory, takes its name from a phrase in the Orthodox Church wedding ceremony.

It has set up a website with details on the march and explanatory articles on marriage and homosexuality.  The group is also sponsoring a gathering at the end of the march, where hundreds of Orthodox Christians are expected to pray for the nation to reject gay “marriage.” 

The March for Marriage is organized by the National Organization for Marriage, which seeks to communicate the necessity of defending marriage as an exclusive union between one man and one woman. April 25 will be the third annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., and is set to take place within days of when the Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments to decide the national legal status of homosexual “marriages.”  

Fr. John Whiteford, a Russian Orthodox priest and member of the group Crown Them With Glory, urged, “Come out in support of marriage between one man and one woman, modeled from our Lord’s love for His Bride: the Church… Many priests believe it is time we had a national pan-Orthodox Christian movement… The Orthodox Church has preserved its timeless teachings on the sacrament of marriage, and, as a place of refuge, the Church offers healing through Christ for us all, boldly proclaiming a blessed path toward salvation.”

Fr. Stephen Freeman, a priest in the Orthodox Church in America, added, “This is the time for us to rise to the occasion. Amid such confusion over love, sexuality, gender roles, family life, we must make a reply for the sake of our children and our neighbor.”

“This is an emergency: a crisis,” he continued. “A response on our part is necessary and would be historic.”

He called a strong Orthodox Christian presence at the March “an opportunity to stand together in unity of voice as the Church: that is the stuff we were made for.”

Comments

  1. I just read on another web blog that no NA Orthodox bishop was in attendance. This is disheartening. My own bishop spends about 1/2 the year in the Ukraine, mostly in an inter-church diplomatic effort of the EP to “fix” the schism there. Now, I don’t want to minimize the importance of that work (though one wonders about the efficacy of such efforts, particularly by the EP whose past attempts to “fix” it have in fact been more a part of the problem than any solution). That said, I wonder if it would not have been more important to his actual flock here in NA to be part of what is happening here in NA…

    I am going to say something that I believe to be true, but will never the less be misinterpreted as “racist” by modernists. This is to be expected however. This march was in reality more important from a societal perspective than the march from Selma all those years ago. Marriage is in fact much more influential and central to society than the (however wrong) discrimination of one class of people over another. Somehow, we managed to have an Orthodox presence at the first (less important) march and none at the second…

  2. Fr. Hans Jacobse :

    Christopher,

    One of the reasons no bishop was there was because the march was moved up at the last minute. Bishop’s schedules are often set a year in advance. Nevertheless, the march was supported by most leaders — Met. Joseph, Met. Hilarion, Met. Tikhon that I know of.

    I agree with your Selma comparison. The reason for laws against interracial marriage arose to protect slavery because marriage between races would make slavery much harder to enforce. The rescission of those law affirmed natural marriage and can no way be construed as an argument for gay (non-natural) marriage.

    The push back is only beginning. BTW, did you notice the Oregon baker was fine $137,000 for the “crime” of refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding ($137.000!)? Clearly the goal is to bankrupt her. This is not tolerance. This is about shutting down anyone who dares disagree with Gay INC.

    I spoke at the march. Below is an excerpt. When the entire speech is released I will post it with reflections on the march, probably at the end of the week.

    • Thanks for the link, and a sincere thank you for speaking the Truth to Power clearly and forcefully.

      The Oregon case (along with the photographer in my state, and a handful of others) is at the tip of the iceberg as of the coming “hard” persecution. As Rod Dreher reports, the staff of the New Intolerance in congress is already working on criminal penalties for us in the future. It is becoming harder and harder for Classical Christians to keep their heads in the sand. I don’t know how long it will be (could be next year, could be in twenty – though I don’t think it will take that long) before they come into our churches and try to force their unholy unions to be blessed by our clergy/Church, but the day will come. They will of course fail, but we will be punished.

      I am glad for the explicit support of those bishops, though they could have changed their schedules if need be (mine does all the time). Thank God for Met. Joseph and the fact that he is leading from the front on this!

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        If natural marriage is culturally destroyed, the Rainbow Jihad will feel vindicated and the day after the ruling the soft persecution will begin. What the baker in Oregon suffered will become commonplace. Christianity will find itself in the cross-hairs much more often since it is the only cultural institution which will not grant its blessing to the reworking of the cultural structures.

        The hatred and intolerance will now become manifest since it no longer needs to be hid.

        • Unfortunately Fr. Hans, you’re spot on.

          Solicitor General Verrilli basically confirmed that chilling reality in his response to Justice Alito’s question on the tax exempt status of those institutions that oppose same sex marriage. . .

          I never thought I would see this. Government institutions on the brink of turning society upside down to placate a micro minority. It’s been noted how small that minority is in this blog. What’s even more ridiculous is that fewer than 10% of that minority is going to exercise this right if given to them. Big Gay has done an amazing job in putting down any opposition to their agenda.

  3. James Bradshaw :

    So preventing 3 -4% of the population from obtaining a civil license is more critical than ensuring that a much larger segment of society wasn’t treated like chattel (or worse) because of the color of their skin?

    I’d say you were all insane, but that would be kind as it would indicate a lack of intent.

    Yes, the fines leveled against the Kleins were outrageous. That’s our legal system though. Was a woman entitled to millions because she spilled coffee on herself? Should we criminalize coffee because of this verdict?

    Ugh. I’m tired of extremists on both sides of this issue, so I can only say a pox on both houses.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      James, you miss the point. You are making the same mistake the questioner makes in the video below:

      One other point. The comparison with the McDonald’s award makes sense only if they were fined over $24 billion for the spilled cup of coffee, their net income for 2014. That would drive them out of business too.

      • James Bradshaw :

        The question was poorly phrased. He wanted to know why he wasn’t entitled to the legal construct of marriage. Well, he is. He can marry someone of the opposite sex who is unrelated. His question should have been: on what grounds should the benefits and obligations of civil marriage be denied to same-sex partners? The answer to that would have been more difficult to provide. I don’t think the supporters of gay marriage have always provided a non-emotive and coherent reason, either, though. (Personally, I think the State has an interest in encouraging stable partnerships regardless of whether children are present. These partnerships – often entailing a romantic aspect, at least in their onset – help provide a financial and psychological defense against the various setbacks in life that cause some to resort to the use of government assistance. There is at least a pragmatic consideration here.)

        All this being said, I would still like to see some way for the law to protect the religious liberties of those who differ with me on this without creating a form of anarchy. Justice Scalia also had his concerns about this when he wrote in Employment Division v Smith: “To permit this [the use of peyote] would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”

        It is reasonable to me to say that if you provide product “x”, then that product should be available to everyone. It is likewise reasonable to say that under no circumstance should you be forced to provide a product that you have not already marketed to the general public. IOW: if you make cakes, you have to sell them to everyone. If someone wants little statues of two grooms on it, they have to buy them elsewhere and put them on themselves. I see no infringement of religious liberties using this approach.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          On what grounds then should benefits be denied to a threesome of homosexual men or a quartet of one men and three women?

          • James Bradshaw :

            A reasonable question. I would say that polygamy favors affluent men over those who are not. Given that the genders are split about evenly, having more than one spouse takes away a prospective partner from someone else. Further, marriage law as it exists can’t accommodate multiple partners because it can’t account for how to address competing claims for property and other assets. Some other construct would have to be devised.

            Personally, I’m not hung up on the word marriage. If the state needs to craft a civil partnership for gay couples that has the same benefits but called something else to differentiate the two, only an ideologue would care. And I’ve been scolded by these activists myself, so I’m aware these fanatics exist on both sides.

            • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

              You are not arguing for marriage then. You are arguing for the destruction of marriage. Your argument is really that any kind of coupling, even couplings with multiple partners, ought to be called a marriage.

              • James Bradshaw :

                If civil marriage ended, why do you think people would cease looking for relationships of permanenc? Even tribal Africa has a concept of marriage despite having no civil clerks. I have no interest in changing that fact. Why would I?

            • Michael Bauman :

              Mr. Bradshaw,
              You are construing marriage as simply a property and rights contract. While that is all that our legal system can address, it is by no means the reason, foundation or primary benefit of natural marriage. Once again you are approaching marriage from what amounts to materialist, egalitarian and nihilist assumptions. Degradation and destruction is the result. That is also why you cannot see the reasons for not baking a cake for a travesty of real marriage. Baking the cake is simply a utilitarian act for economic gain. That is not the case either.

              It deeply saddens me that people like you prefer that darkness.

              The Church on the other hand approaches marriage from an ontological, incarnational, sacramental and eschatological understanding. It is from our understanding that we can and do proclaim the unique fruitfulness of natural marriage for all of humanity–personally and corporately. Natural marriage is an integral expression of our interrelationship with our Creator and of what it means to be fully human. We do not stubbornly hold to an ideology and attempt to force others to adopt that ideology. We are simply fulfilling our charge to proclaim the truth in thought word and deed.

              In a culture whose social religion was Deist-Protestant and is now secular, the Church’s understanding is difficult to communicate and maintain without a lot of work. We have not done the work for at least a couple of generations so now we have to.

              I hope, pray and assume that the Church and her people will rise to the challenge by the grace of God. Our response will most definitely not be perfect and will unquestionably be infected with sin, just as we are but that only means we must rely more humbly on God’s grace. You can always be a part of that just as the rest of us by repenting for the Kingdom of God is at hand. I pray for that too.

              • James Bradshaw :

                The state has no business adminstering sacraments, Michael.

                Mormons assert that marriages continue after death. Should the law demand that folks remain married and legally bound to their deceased spouses?

                • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

                  Marriage is found in nature. It takes one man and one woman to create a child. Marriage as sacrament is properly the domain of the Church, but a sacrament is always the elevation and thus affirmation of the natural, and not a negation of it.

                  The state affirms that which is already found in nature. There is no natural analogue for homosexual couplings since they are naturally sterile. Homosexual marriage then is merely a creation of the state, and one that runs contrary to nature.

                  Again, you are not arguing for marriage. You are arguing for the abolition of marriage. Remember, you have the right to get married, just not to a same-sex partner just as you don’t have the right to marry your sister, parent, multiple partners, and so forth. Calling those unions a marriage does not a marriage make.

                  Nature is very clear.

                • Michael Bauman :

                  Not the point Mr. Bradshaw. The state can do what it wants with contract law (within certain parameters) but that is not what they are doing in this case. They are not merely saying the legally recognized contract includes people of the same sex. Which though it violates thousands of years of common law and practice is theoretically a legitimate action. Instead, they are saying the sacramental understanding and our witness to it and our actions in accord with that understanding are not only strange but effectively illegal. The state can certainly do that too. The consequences of those actions by the state will not be salutary for we Christians or the state in the long run.

                  The state is defacto getting in the business of dispensing sacraments by telling us we are wrong. Not the point of my post either.

                  What I was addressing was the difference between the state’s (and apparently your) understanding of marriage and the Church’s. They are incompatible and cannot exist long in parallel because of the vast difference in the fundamental understanding of what it means to be human that the two positions reveal. Both cannot rationally be called marriage.

                  • James Bradshaw :

                    Michael writes: “[T]hey are saying the sacramental understanding and our witness to it and our actions in accord with that understanding are not only strange but effectively illegal.”

                    I share your concern over the way religious freedom and freedom of conscience is portrayed right now. It’s generally only seen as an expression of contempt and therefore unworthy of consideration.

                    These are difficult issues to legislate because they involve competing claims to legal rights on the part of employees, business owners, customers and everyone in between. A society that isn’t one based entirely on “might (or money) makes right” must consider the claims of all parties.

                    Unfortunately, because everything is so ideological-driven, compromise seems near impossible. Why compromise if you see those who disagree as not just wrong, but evil (and I’m talking about this tendency on both sides)?

                    • Unfortunately, because everything is so ideological-driven, compromise seems near impossible. Why compromise if you see those who disagree as not just wrong, but evil (and I’m talking about this tendency on both sides)?

                      Well, this is exactly what religious liberty is for. Religious liberty as has been practiced in the American experiment up until the day before yesterday, recognized that not everything is subject to the democratic process (what you are calling “comprise”). In fact, the really important things can not be subject to the democratic process, which is to say democracy does not “work” for the really important things. This was recognized in several ways in our system of government: government was to be limited, certain aspects of life were “rights” and were not subject to “compromise”, etc.

                      This American experiment began breaking down quite early however – certainly with the civil war, accelerating in the 1930’s. Now that the Constitution is “living”, it is meaningless, thus we get the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities that we have today…

  4. M. Stankovich :

    The absurdity of this entire situation is that this last-minute march was a concerted effort to influence with theology & philosophy the highest legal authority in this country, sworn to determine this issue as a singular matter of law. And I must say, over the past week, I have read legal essays from one source or another in support of same sex marriage as a civil right that are absolutely brilliant. As I noted in the previous thread, readers view our theological arguments spoken or submitted as amicus briefs as “fanatical” in the context of a court of law. And I can only think to myself, why shouldn’t they?

    But we purchased this toothless, clawless Ezekiel, stripped of his hair shirt and the bone in his hand as far back as the 1960’s when Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote The Problem of Orthodoxy in America: secularism and indifference. And could anyone imagine he would be surprised at the collapse of the voice of moral authority and leadership? I pretty much choose to turn my head and be faithful over the little things in my own back yard; go to a big ethnic parish where no one asks who I am; and try to be a good person to those less fortunate.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      As I noted in the previous thread, readers view our theological arguments spoken or submitted as amicus briefs as “fanatical” in the context of a court of law.

      You are asserting caricature as fact and obviously have not read the briefs. Nor do you seem aware of the questions the Justices are asking in oral arguments.

      • James Bradshaw :

        I listened to the arguments. Twice. I felt that both sides failed to address the concerns of the Court sufficiently. They were both asked pointed and direct questions, and both resorted to vague and/or emotive appeals (although I thought John Bursch seemed the most well-prepared).

        I’m expecting a “slice the baby in two” sort of judgment that will please no one, but this is how I would rule (based on the arguments presented): the Court sees no Constitutional mandate requiring states to construct a new definition of marriage that includes gay couples, but it also sees no rational justification presented that would permit states to invalidate the legal marriages of couples from states where gay marriage is legal. I’m not saying this is without its own issues, but I’m going by the testimony presented.

    • I pretty much choose to turn my head…

      Mr Stankovich,

      I have been wondering at your “niggling disdain” (as I think it can be rightly described) for your fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters who, following the simple command of Christ and His Gospel, attempt (however imperfectly) to speak to the wider, secular culture – as well as to those Orthodox within our Churches who are otherwise seduced by the spirit of the age.

      Recently, I have had reason to read a few essays by Fr. Schmemann, and I don’t think you can find support in him (or any genuine Orthodox writer/theologian) for the disdain you show to those who make (granted, imperfect – but then that is our existential situation as Orthodoxy teaches us is it not) efforts to witness to the culture. Indeed, he explicitly rejects the (frankly Protestant) opposition/dichotomy you are making between “theology” and any other aspect of the universe/humanity (in this case, the false dichotomy you are setting up between “theology” and “law”). I could quote him but you seem sufficiently familiar with his writings.

      Now, I agree with you, there are an almost infinite number of ways we as Orthodox fall short, but this is all quite beside the point, because the Holy Apostle themselves fell short and yet our Lord commanded them to go and preach His Gospel. IF you are going to draw some sort of line, a defined level of piety, purity, and morality that Orthodox must attain to before we can speak to the culture then you should explicitly state what that is. You will of course then have to demonstrate why Holy Tradition has been wrong not to draw this line yet, and indeed why it has been wrong to explicitly deny this line should exist at all.

      Also, you really should go and read what Justice Kennedy said in oral arguments – even he seems reluctant to redefine marriage in the radically utilitarian and narcissistic way that the New Anthropology wants him to…though I think he will in the end.

      • Whether we care to admit it or not, Michael S. is correct about this: The battle for the culture and marriage’s place within it in matters of law was lost long ago, regardless of how the courts rules, because we were largely asleep, secure in the notion that such things could never happen. Rather than cherish the gift we’ve been given, most have been busily pursuing other agendas, both economic and ‘theological.’ The moment we conceded that marriage could be separated from childbearing, the legal rationale that heretofore existed for marriage as we know it ceased to exist, and this was the inevitable result.

        While it can certainly be said that the Roman Catholics (as a nominal group, not as the truly faithful) have been equally as negligent in their surrender to secularism, the Protestants, Evangelicals, and yes even we Orthodox have largely participated in conceding the disconnect between marriage and childbearing out of an almost irrational disdain for all things that seem to smack of Rome. True, the Orthodox rightly do not view marriage in quite the same terms as the ‘official’ teaching of Rome. But in our misguided zeal to affirm that the purpose of marriage and the sexual union of husband and wife consists of more than procreation, we essentially wound up falsely asserting (against our own received Tradition) that marriage consisted of less, that marriage and procreation could be separated altogether.

        Arguments, indeed very good arguments, can nevertheless be made that the traditional definition of marriage should be protected in law, but they pertain mainly to what is good for society. Unfortunately, questions of law, concerned as they are ‘rights’ and ‘equal protection,’ are rarely adjudicated with this in mind.

        Certainly we should care (as I know Michael does), but we shouldn’t be surprised if we lose the battle when we have chosen to mobilize against the enemy only at this late date, the same ideological enemy that we have casually watched growing in strength for well over a century and to which we have thoughtlessly conceded ground at almost every turn. Even now, many Christians will concede many of the premises of the arguments made by militant progressives, if not the goals themselves. Should it shock us, then, when they gleefully storm the gates of our city?

        • Brian says:

          …The battle for the culture and marriage’s place…because we were largely asleep…Rather than cherish the gift we’ve been given, most have been busily pursuing other agendas… we shouldn’t be surprised if we lose the battle…the same ideological enemy that we have casually watched growing in strength for well over a century and to which we have thoughtlessly conceded ground at almost every turn…

          This is all absolutely correct. In fact, it is much worse than this:

          https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2014/07/15/tolkiens-long-defeat/

          This long defeat did not start just a 100 years ago, one has to look at least to the whole protestant revolution and its project of atomization and subsequent secularization of man. Even that’s not really the beginning, as we can go back at least to when “the west” lost the patristic consensus starting at least with “the Franks” in the 8th century, really going back to St. Augustine. When you think about it, you can really point to when they hung our Lord on the Cross. Let’s be honest, it all truly started when our first mother gave that serpent the time of day – I mean really, why did she do that?

          We all “suffer and die” as Fr. Alexander Atty of blessed memory used to remind us. This world has no where to go but down “… in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10). There really is no point in trying to “fix” anything in this world, as its future is known to us and it in the end, quite literally, is “burned up”. Even the modernists agree with us on this point, as in their mythical cosmology the “universe” (as they understand it) either contracts and explodes again or dissipates into absolute zero.

          And yet…

          Christ is risen, truly risen, from the grave. And we rise each morning to the futility of it all, and make the sign of the Cross, and say “This is a day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”. We go into this long defeat joyfully, JOYFULLY, shouting “Hoseanna in the Highest!”

          We can not cynically dwell on the sins and mistakes of the past, or of the present, or of the future, and say “what’s the point”? I could do the same to what Mr. Stankovich said originally:

          “I emphatically state that I will not be with you. I will be customarily delivering collected soda cans, recyclables, warm blankets, taking blood pressure, washing wounds, suturing wounds, applying bandages, calling ambulances when appropriate, and simply being human with the loathsome of the earth”

          To which I could say:

          “Really Mr. Stankovich, what’s the point. We have been “waging a war on poverty” in one form or another for 5000 years. Even our Lord admitted that the poor we will always have with us. Surely now is the time to admit we have lost this battle…etc. etc.”

          And Mr. Stankovich and everyone else would rightly point out the error in my cynical thinking.

          We don’t do this however, we see this long defeat for what it is and with the power of Pascha in our hearts we “march on”, knowing that death is truly defeated…

          • James Bradshaw :

            Christopher asks: “Let’s be honest, it all truly started when our first mother gave that serpent the time of day – I mean really, why did she do that?”

            Genesis is far more perplexing – and less straight-forward – than people acknowledge.

            Scripture says that man did not know good from evil. What does this mean? We did not have an experience of evil or that we didn’t know the difference? If the latter, the placement of the tree sounds like an elaborate trap to me. You can’t very well choose rightly if you don’t know what “right” means.

            Further, the first man and woman must have been created with the capacity for evil, no? If they had not, they wouldn’t have sinned in the first place. Yet, we are told that we will be eventually returned to this original “blameless” state. That’s no good, though, if that capacity will still exist. Someone will once again eat the apple and we’ll be back at square one only to start the whole miserable thing over again.

            Ponder this too long and you will have to resign yourself to Calvin’s (and I think Luther’s) assertions that we have no free will and that God will ensure that His “chosen” won’t stray.

            Fun stuff, theology is. I think this is why the seminaries have a reputation for putting out agnostics.

            • James,

              I have to be honest, I found this post of yours to bring a smile to my face. This is a bit at your expense I am afraid, as it reveals just how ignorant (I am using this term in it’s dictionary sense – not as a pejorative) you are of Classical Christian theology (i.e. Patristic theology), though you claim otherwise.

              You do know a bit of several Protestant dichotomies, but that does not get one very far – particularly when they are processed through an “agnostic” and purely logical point of view – it does lead to exactly the “perplexing” Genesis that you know. When Good and Evil are logical assertions, then they lead to their own absurdity (and thus, you rightly reject them). The thing is, they are not what you think they are, thus you are rejecting an idealism/fantasy. I would not discourage you from this however, it is a good place to start to reject the “God’s Providence/Will/Goodness” vs. “Mans freedom to choose” dichotomy that is so at the heart of that shallow protestant understanding that is the inheritance of so many people in our culture.

              You might like:

              http://preachersinstitute.com/2012/09/19/a-christian-understanding-of-freedom/

              As Archbishop Dimitri is talking to our culture yet coming from a completely different place than the Protestant rabbit hole of “free will vs predestination”…

              If you are seriously interested in a Patristic understanding of Man, freedom, Good and Evil, etc. there are some seriously good Orthodox scholars out there that have written some very readable books that can be recommended…

            • Mr. Bradshaw,

              I, too, smiled inwardly as I read your post above. I find your cynicism, if not your knowledge of Orthodoxy, to be worthy of the utmost respect. Bad theology so-called (for which I do not fault you) is far less about faulty reasoning that it is about the idea that one can come to knowledge of the Truth (Who is a Person) through reason alone. One does not come to know a person – any person – through reasoning about them or even by reading what they may have written. My younger brother who was born with Downs Syndrome has more knowledge of the sort of which I am speaking than anyone I know, including me.

              In the story referenced by Christopher we are told of the entrance of the Accuser, the Slanderer who attempts to bring man into darkness and death by calling into question the goodness of God in giving the commandment. In his malice and envy he seeks to destroy man’s unhindered communion in the eternal life of God by proposing the lie that God is not love, that His motives are selfish, that He wants to prevent us from being like Him. Many mistakenly believe that only we who have sinned must have faith in God in order to be ‘saved,’ but it must be understood that our first-formed ancestors also lived by grace through faith, which is to say that sharing in the eternal life of God (which primarily understood as a quality, not a duration) is grounded in a communion of personal trust. They, too, were faced with questions of belief and trust when they were tempted. Is God good? Can He be trusted? Is it true that His commandments are given from selfish motives? Is He trying to prevent us from having all that life has to offer? Here for the first time humanity is faced with these questions of personal faith in God. Satan begins by approaching the woman, questioning the very words of God. “Hath God said…?” At first, she replies with the truth over which the darkness of lies has no power. He then proceeds to deceive her with the impossible notion that creatures can have life in themselves, by themselves, saying, “ye shall be as gods…” – not as a gift of grace, not through union with the only truly Existing One, but by severing themselves from the only Life that is, or ever will be.

              And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat…”

              “…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust (saw that the tree was good for food), and enticed (and that it was pleasant to the eyes… to be desired to make one wise) . Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin (she took of the fruit and did eat): and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (Trust God alone, for) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Seek good in God alone, and accept only His gifts, for His motives can always be trusted).

              The mystery of freedom itself and what you describe as a supposed ‘free will’ of man that can only repeat itself and bring about an endless cycle of disaster is not something about which I will not comment directly for fear of misleading you with poorly chosen words. Suggested reading would include St. Maximos the Confessor. Maximos is dense reading, but you are obviously an intelligent man. What we generally call “free will” is not quite what it is commonly supposed it to be, nor are we doomed to the endless scenario you describe even though our freedom in the truest sense of the word is fully affirmed by our Creator.

              • James Bradshaw :

                Brian and Christopher, I really am aware of the narratives that seek to give meaning to the stories of Genesis. These narratives have been accepted for centuries (though they don’t all agree), so they carry a lot of weight.

                I get that.

                The problem comes when reading these stories afresh without the presuppositions and bias that inevitably exist from years of exposure. In a Christianized culture such as ours, this is difficult, but it seems an interesting and worthwhile endeavor nonetheless.

                • Christopher :

                  The problem comes when reading these stories afresh without the presuppositions and bias that inevitably exist from years of exposure. In a Christianized culture such as ours, this is difficult, but it seems an interesting and worthwhile endeavor nonetheless.

                  I absolutely agree with you here. In our culture, a “post-protestant modernist” culture, one is wise to ask “from where do the common ‘presuppositions’ and ‘bias’ come from, and what is their history and character?” Almost without exception, they come from a “sola scriptura” philosophy on how to approach Holy Scripture and understand its inner meaning and purpose. This philosophy has its start in the RC middle ages with scholasticism, so to a lessor extant our culture is also influenced by the counter-reformation philosophy (though RC themselves appear to be going through a process of leaving behind/reevaluating their own scholastic/counter reformation heritage).

                  Your original post is an excellent example of “sola scriptura” – you open your scripture, and assuming a good translation you can read and understand (you are after all a capable person of at least average intelligence) something about what you are reading and what it means. Sola scriptura rejects a key aspect of the scriptures themselves and the Patrisitic consensus – That Christ Himself has to “open the scriptures” (that is give them the meaning) for even His closest disciples. Sola scriptura (most famously perhaps) rejects the humility of the eunuch of Acts 8. Indeed, humility is a central weakness of the whole protestant project (and of course for modern man, who truly knows nothing of it as he has made a God of the SELF – its intellect, its desires, etc.).

                  One might say “But notice what Brian did, he used James 1 to “interpret” Genesis, so one need not look outside the SELF with his own bible in hand”. Except that is not really what Brian did, as this particular understanding or “interpetation” is informed and grounded in the Patristic consensus, which is grounded in Christs original “opening of the scriptures” (Luke, 24:45).

                  Certain protestant sects try to defend sola scriptura with a claim that Holy Scripture is absolutely “literal”, but this is not true. While it does have its literal and “historical” aspects, it is actually something all together different than this. I would not want to discourage the very worthwhile endeavor of understanding Holy Scripture, but to get past those very “presuppositions and bias” that you have, you will have to remember that Holy Scripture itself, by its very nature, does not allow for a “solo”, rational, self directed reading (it explicitly states this repeatedly). If you are not grounded in Tradition, then Scripture simply becomes a blank slate of sorts where one projects ones own bias into it. I am glad to see you reject the God of Genesis that results from such a reading…

              • Christopher :

                Brian,

                As your brother will be (and is, right now) first in the Kingdom, ask him to pray for the likes of you and I who, God willing, will be bringing up the rear…

  5. M. Stankovich :

    I will say again, Christopher, that I do not oppose Marches, demonstrations, glorious parades of Orthodox Christians down the avenues singing the triumphant Troparion to the Blessed Cross in every City city we happen to have a parish – and trust I would join – but CA Prop 8 that began this whole journey to the SCOTUS was in 2008 and the DOMA was signed by Pres. Clinton. Where have the Orthodox been in the ensuing years? The gay community transparently told the nation their plan – step by step – identified their “test couples” to serve as cases before the Court, carefully chose their amicus supporters, and so on. It was an unchallenged walk through the CA Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals to the SCOTUS last spring, when both were struck down without any opposition from the U.S. Dept. Of Justice. And the Orthodox? All in Rome celebrating the election of the new pope.

    If pointing out that we have no voice of moral authority to prevent being held captive by 1.8% of the population – according to the CDC – Christopher, don’t bitch to me. I heard it from Fr. Hans.

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