The Antietam of the Culture War

Source: Real Clear Politics | Patrick J. Buchanan

It took Joe Biden’s public embrace of same-sex marriage to smoke him out.

But after Joe told David Gregory of “Meet the Press” he was “absolutely comfortable” with homosexuals marrying, Barack Obama could not maintain his credibility with the cultural elite if he stuck with the biblical view that God ordained marriage as solely between a man and woman. The biblical view had to go.

Obama had to move, or look like a malingerer in secularism’s next great moral advance into post-Christian America.

Consider. Obama had an appearance coming up on “The View,” where Whoopi Goldberg would have demanded to know why he lacked the courage of Biden’s convictions. He has a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser at George Clooney’s, where the Hollywood crowd would want to know why he does not end discrimination against homosexuals.

He has appearances lined up before gay activists raising millions for his campaign. Monday, his press secretary was pilloried for his feeble defense of Obama’s now-abandoned position.

His hand was forced. Yet the stand Obama took could cost him his presidency. Same-sex marriage may yet be a bridge too far, even for a dying Christian America.

On the plus side for Obama, his decision is producing hosannas from the elites and an infusion of cash from those who see same-sex marriage as the great moral and civil rights issue of our time.

But Obama may also have just solved Mitt Romney’s big problem: How does Mitt get all those evangelical Christians and cultural conservatives not only to vote for him but to work for him?

Obama, by declaring that homosexual marriages should be on the same legal and moral plane as traditional marriage, just took command of the forces of anti-Christian secularism in America’s Kulturkampf. And Nov. 6, 2012, is shaping up as the Antietam of the culture war.

Obama’s second problem is that he may soon be seen as America’s champion of same-sex marriage, but an ineffectual advocate. For Obama can do nothing, as of now, to impose homosexual marriage on the American people.

Thirty-one states have voted to outlaw it. A constitutional amendment supporting same-sex marriage could not win a majority of either house of Congress, let alone the necessary two-thirds of both.

Hence, Obama is going to spend six months winning cheers by calling for same-sex marriage. But the price of those cheers will be the rallying of millions of opponents of homosexual marriage, who will fight this battle where they are winning it, at the state level.

Only six states have approved homosexual marriage, while 30 have imposed a constitutional ban. In North Carolina, a ban not only on same-sex marriage but also civil unions, though opposed by Obama and Bill Clinton, carried on Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote. Republican turnout in North Carolina’s primary was up half a million, the highest in history. And this is a state Obama carried in 2008, a state whose largest city, Charlotte, will host Obama’s convention.

Even in liberal California in 2008, while John McCain was getting a smaller share of the vote than Barry Goldwater in 1964, Proposition 8, restricting marriage to men and women, won.

How does Obama propose to win this battle?

He has one path to victory—the Supreme Court.

The New York Times, declaring that homosexuals’ right to marry is “too precious and too fragile to be left up to the whim of states and the tearing winds of modern partisan politics,” is looking to the court as the last, best hope to impose same-sex marriage on the nation.

Can’t trust voters, can’t trust elected legislators, can’t trust Congress. Homosexual marriage, says the Times, is too important to be left to democratic decision. The republic must be commanded to accept it by unelected judges who serve for life and against whom the people have no political recourse.

That process of judicial tyranny has begun. A California judge has overturned the decision of California’s voters to ban gay marriage, and his ruling is headed for the high court.

The Supreme Court thus will tell us whether this issue is to be decided democratically by voters and their elected state and federal legislators, or dictatorially by themselves.

Four liberal activists on the Supreme Court—Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor—are probably ready to declare that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right, as their predecessors declared abortion to be a constitutional right.

But Obama needs one more justice. If elected, he will get it, and same-sex marriage will be forced on all of America. If Romney wins, the Supreme Court will likely leave the issue of same-sex marriage to be decided by the people and their elected representatives.

Thus everything is up for grabs this November: the House, the Senate, the presidency, the Supreme Court and whether we still call the United States of America God’s country.

Game on!


  1. macedonianReader says

    I had no idea that this issue ran so deep. The way it is coming out in almost all circles it is almost as if it is being orchestrated. I also had no idea that it was so prevalent in the Orthodox Church.

    David Dunn. If you’re reading this. Do you even go to Church, man? Exactly what are you worshipping? You cannot even begin to serve the poor or others without taking up the cross. You’ve created a dangerous false, dichotomy.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      Same sex marriage does not lie within the purview of the state because the state did not establish heterosexual, monogamous marriage. It lies in nature, and to the Christian (clear headed ones anyway) in the design and decree of God (Jews and Muslims too). 5000 years of human history shows that even cultures with no real monotheistic tradition but still aware of the natural order of things see this.

      That Christians defend same-sex marriage under the argument that it lies within the purview of the state shows they don’t understand either their faith, or the natural limits of state sanctioned “rights.” Right’s are not inviolable because the state decrees they are. The inviolability comes first, the state recognition second. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

      Here’s the danger. If we really believe that the state is both the source and guarantor of human rights as well as the architect and moral mediator of human relationships, then the state arrogates a position above nature and, if our minds are especially clear, above God. Therein lies the foundation of tyranny.

      This arrogance rivals Babel and Dunn is an apologist for it.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        BTW, we have invited Dunn to ‘Ancient Faith Live’ (he accepted) to expand on his article. The second guest is Fr. John Whiteford.

      • “Right’s are not inviolable because the state decrees they are. The inviolability comes first, the state recognition second. ”

        And what are the rights given to man by God that the state must acknowledge? You seem to suggest there is some universal consensus amongst Christians about what they are. There isn’t. Do we have a right to autonomy and freedom of choice? If so, to what to degree? Christians endorsed the institution of human slavery for centuries (even if they rejected its abuses and excesses). Freedom of worship? Where is a respect for that freedom upheld in Scripture? Certainly not in the stories of the multitudes who fell by the sword for worshipping idols.

        I understand the fear of the potential totalitarianism at the hands of the State, but I don’t see how religious ideology alleviates that. The potential for abuse is the same, just for different reasons.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

          Marriage is not a “right”, if by the term you mean something dreamed up by governments and decreed into existence by fiat. Heterosexual marriage is the means by which the human race perpetuates itself, and the family (born of one man and one woman — that’s the way the biology works) is the best context for the raising of children. This is built into nature.

          Homosexual relationships are biologically precluded from this responsibility. The relationships are naturally sterile.

          If you argue that homosexual marriage is a human right, you will end up undermining the foundation or human rights to do so. It’s inevitable once we define something not in accord with nature as in accord with it.

          The eradication of slavery was an exclusively Christian enterprise, BTW. Secularists came to the game late.

          • Metoikos says

            Here is a nice nugget from Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum:

            “No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: ‘Increase and multiply.’ Hence we have the family, the ‘society’ of a man’s house – a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any State. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.”

            “The naturalists, as well as all who profess that they worship above all things the divinity of the State… cannot escape the charge of delusion. Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature.”

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Very well put. IMHO, Rerum Novarum was probably one of the most significant encyclicals ever published by a pope. It was also one of the ones that was actively fought against by the state-worshippers.

      • Father Bless!
        And other readers, Greetings in Christ!

        Experience has taught me not to engage in tit-for-tats online (and by “experience,” I mean many, many mistakes). Given the nature of some of this rhetoric, I think it would be especially unwise for me to make an exception for this forum. I have thought about it, and I think the best way for me to respond will be a bit more autobiographically on my own site or perhaps the Huffington Post. I have not decided.

        I want to write a response as a courtesy, even though I really do not have time for it right now. Which is to say, I do not know how long it will take me to write something, or if what I write will really be worth reading, but I hope, God willing!, to have something up within the next few days. I will try to remember to let you know when I am finished.



    • I find it dichotomous that you seem to be so quick to judge another person’s character. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” God is the judge. If you read the entire post/article, you know that David is not advocating gay marriage as a sacrament in the church. He is advocating for gay marriage as a civil right. I am truly thankful that David’s children do not have to see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ treating him in this manner. If David had the opportunity to attend Forgiveness Vespers with you, I know he would say to you…..”I forgive as God forgives.” Hopefully, you would do the same.

      I would like to share a comment from a priest very close to my heart in response to David’s thoughts on gay marriage. Father said, “I have to say that I agree with much of what David said, but I also disagree with him on some points. I do NOT, however, take it to be at all blasphemous; I do find it to be a reasoned contribution to the discussion.”

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        If you read the entire post/article, you know that David is not advocating gay marriage as a sacrament in the church. He is advocating for gay marriage as a civil right.

        That’s the flaw Unknown. It’s a false distinction. Marriage is grounded in nature, and for the Christian it comes from God. The State and Church merely affirm what already exists, although each in its own way.

      • M. Stankovich says


        To compare a person’s “opinion” to the criteria set forth in the Scripture, Partristical Teachings, Canons, and most importantly, the Traditions of the Church to “judge[ing] another person’s character” is silly. I would be quite interested in knowing the response of the priest so close to your heart as to what he would consider the “technical” term for opinion(s) termed in contradiction to the moral and theological teachings of the Church, as well as that which violates the Holy Tradition and lowers the threshold for Truth. My thought: “blasphemy.”

        While your entire apology is très intéressant, I am as restless as a child gone to bed on Christmas Eve, awaiting Dr. Dunn’s reply – Alright, that was a lie! A cheap convention unworthy of this hallowed discussion… I am 100% ambivalent, unknown. For heaven’s sake, unknown, Dr. Dunn has the opportunity to come to Forgiveness Vespers with us. But apparently we are not as big enough or as influential enough as Huffington Post for him to forgive us!

        I have to run, but for your reactive hot-hotheadedness, I recommend that for two weeks you kneel at the church door, requesting the prayers of everyone who enters that the “spirit of the need to chastize strangers” leave you. Trust I will kneel with you.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        To expand the point a bit: heterosexual marriage does not originate by a decree of the state. It is written in nature. For that reason the State has no authority to grant homosexual couplings the imprimatur of marriage. If it arrogates the right unto itself, then the state has decreed itself as the source and arbiter of all human relationships in the end and only two options remain: tyranny and/or the collapse of culture.

        The Church – State distinction David employs is drawn from culture wars polemics. It’s sloppy reasoning.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    The good doctor Dunn is also in favor of the female priesthood. Given both positions it is evident that he is no theologian. He took his doctorate from Vanderbuilt, hardly a bastion of Orthodox fidelity. His positions reject the fundamental reality of the Church that Jesus Christ is Incarnate God and man. Nor does he understand the reality of the mysteries he dares to partake in.

    He is so caught up in the complicated that he cannot see the simple truth.

    My priest gave a direct, simple and easily understood sermon on the anthropological reality of man being created male and female. The Scriptures are so plain and simple on this matter, but some how we now know better.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Michael, can you summarize your priest’s sermon on male and female? The tradition of course is plain, but all too often well-meaning people give very insufficient explanations of it, never really answering the fundamental objections of feminists.

      • Michael Bauman says

        He was taking about marriage. He began with Jesus statement that “…for this cause a man shall leave his family and cleve to his wife and the two shall become one flesh…” The then pointed out the statement in Genesis that God created them male and female first as a unity and then He separated them.

        He went over the statement that what God has joined no man should sunder. Marriage not just the act of two people, male and female, but an act of God. He gave the clear impression, without actually saying it that without the blessing of God, there is no marriage. Clearly only a man and a woman could be joined in marriage.

        My priest was not trying to answer feminists, he was merely explicating the clear statements of the Bible and the understanding of it within the Church.

        He was not attempting to develop or explicate an anthropological statement about men and women, male and female. He was taking it as a given and handing on that truth to us. As he should.

        The audio of the May 13th sermon will be posted in a couple of weeks on our web site:

        • Michael writes: “He gave the clear impression, without actually saying it that without the blessing of God, there is no marriage. ”

          According to one Orthodox site:

          For a Greek Orthodox priest to be allowed to celebrate a marriage, at least one of the two spouses must be of the Eastern Orthodox faith. The non-Orthodox spouse must have been baptized in a Christian Church that baptizes in the Name of the Holy trinity. A marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Christian or an individual not baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity can not be celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

          Also: “No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third mar­riage granted only with extreme oikonomia (dispensation). ”

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the Orthodox Church refuses to bless a male-female union, it must be because there is some degree of sinfulness involved in the relationship itself to a sufficient degree that they cannot invoke God’s blessing upon it: these are not just mere formalities or procedural rules.

          If that is the case, is the state not morally obliged to deny civil marriage licenses in all these circumstances where the Orthodox church has deemed the relationship unworthy of a sacramental blessing?

          I certainly support the ability of any church to determine who can partake of its own rituals and rites (as well as who can utilize their own property and for what purposes). Frankly, if a Baptist church in Kentucky wants to only perform marriages for whites only, they should have the freedom to make that determination for themselves.

          However, I have a problem with insisting that these criteria be extended out into non-sacramental agreements/contracts adjudicated by the state where it involves American citizens who are not even members of the church in question.

          Do you not see the difference?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Rob, if those who are pushing the delusion of homosexual marriage would extend the same kindness and tolerance to us, you might have a point . However, that is clearly not what they want or what they are doing. They want us to bow our knee to their blasphemy and worship another God.

            The rather typical paring of homosexual normalization/marriage and the ‘right’ to females in the priesthood is indicative of the destruction they wish to deploy.

            They will not suceed, but the chaos they bring in their wake will not be fun.

            Personally, I don’t believe that any union outside the Church is marriage in the fullness of that term. It may have incidence of marriage and, if the man and women are devoted sufficiently, it may grow into a real marriage. Certainly no civil union is a marriage.

            The state will do what it will do. The more we are divorced from God, the less what the state does will be marriage.

            30 states have agreed that marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman.

            The deluded ones, want to overturn all of that simply to gratify their own will. Sounds an awful lot like Lucifer to me.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

            Homosexual marriage is against nature Rob. The relationship is naturally sterile (not the same thing as infertile). That the Church expands on this natural relationship in its own sacramental understanding does not negate the natural dimension — a point you seem to be making.

            Same-sex marriage advocates deny this natural dimension. Thus, homosexual ‘marriage’ is not a marriage at all. It is instead the obliteration of marriage.

            • Metoikos says

              “I don’t believe that any union outside the Church is marriage in the fullness of that term.”

              But the key thing here though is your last phrase: “in the fullness of that term.” Some of our politically liberal brethren (including at least one bishop, in a public comment which he now seems to have retracted) have argued recently that legal civil “marriages” between persons of the same sex shouldn’t matter to us since the Church only recognizes Orthodox sacramental marriages, and anyway the state is secular. This is simply not true; these people have a defective understanding of Church theology. On the contrary: the Church has never in her history held that only marriages sacramentalized in the Church are marriages. We don’t hold that the marriages of Jews or pagans are simply adulterous relations. They are marriages for real.

              The historic Christian understanding is that marriage is grounded in the order of Creation, in the order of nature. This is the teaching of Jesus himself: “In the beginning . . . “. Christ raised marriage to a new level in the order of redemption; within that order of redemption, the Church sacramentalizes natural marriage, and with it, the natural institution of the family, and takes it up into the eucharistic synaxis. But as Fr Johannes said, “That the Church expands on this natural relationship in its own sacramental understanding does not negate the natural dimension.” The Church does not “create” marriages. Rather, grace builds upon the natural order, corrects the damage to it caused by sin, and brings it to the purpose and fulfillment for which it was created.

              This is the case also with the sacraments of the Eucharist and the priest. Not just any foods, but bread and wine are required for the Eucharist; rice-cakes and tea won’t do. But there must be the natural bread and wine to begin with. And the all-male priesthood is required not only because Christ was a male and chose only male apostles; it is also rooted in the natural headship of the husband. As the 1988 Inter-Orthodox Rhodes Consultation put it, the reservation of the priesthood to men is grounded in the order of creation. It is precisely this natural order of creation and Christ’s own entry into it that allows the sacrament of the priesthood to function as an image of Christ the head of the Church within the graced order of signs.

              The authority of the State too is grounded in the same order of creation, which is prior to it. The state does not create marriage, no more than the Church does. Rather, the state recognizes natural marriage and legitimizes it as a civil institution. The Church does not insist the state “enforce” the living of the beatitudes (as if this were possible!), or the fasting rules, or compel worship, etc; it does, however, expect that the State uphold the basics of the natural moral law.

              Some Orthodox (those of libertarian mindset) have also suggested, alternatively, that the state should get out of the marriage business altogether. Besides the complete impracticality of this suggestion, the fact is that the Church has NEVER in her history contested the right of the state or its courts to recognize and regulate marriages before the civil law, even when that state was pagan Rome — again, providing the state does so in keeping with the natural moral law. So, for instance, the state cannot forbid marriage to able-bodied mentally retarded persons, or between a man and a woman of two different racial backgrounds, etc — here we can speak of a real natural “right” of marriage, as did Pope Leo XIII and St Paul himself (1 Cor. 9:5)– just as we can speak of natural right to private property (“the last metaphysical right,” in the words of Richard Weaver).

              There is a necessary distinction of natural, civil and sacramental marriage; but also an inherent unity — particularly of the sacramental and civil respectively with the natural institution. The foundation of both lies in the order of Creation, the order of nature. For the whole Tradition of the Fathers, homosexual unions are “against nature” [para physin]; thus, they cannot be legitimized by a state whose actions are answerable to, and authority grounded in, the law of nature [nomos physeos] or the reason inherent in nature [logos physeos]. And — as one learns from St Maximus the Confessor, St Gregory Palamas and others — only that which is “in accordance with nature” [kata physin] is capable of being raised “above nature” [hyper physin] through the life of grace.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Rob Z, there is a legal maxim: “Hard cases make bad law.”

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          [H]e then pointed out the statement in Genesis that God created them male and female first as a unity and then He separated them.

          Thanks, Michael. Maybe your priest expressed things differently, but God certainly did not “separate” the man and the woman in any way threatening their unity. What God did was distinguish them by creating the man from the earth and then creating the woman from the man, and only after the creation of both was mankind complete and the work of creation finished. The sundering of man and woman occurred in the Fall as a result of the free-willing choices of the man and the woman. Marriage is one step toward healing the wounds of the Fall by reuniting the man and the woman, as God willed from the beginning.

          This explanation, plain in Scripture, is not quite the explanation one finds elsewhere, where the distinction of male and female itself is seen as a result of the sundering or division of a primeval neuter, which feminist Christians believe is restored in Christ per Gal. 3:28.

          • Michael Bauman says

            The main point of Fr. Paul’s sermon was similar to what Metoikos states above. Fortunately, and intentionally, Fr. Paul was less theological and more pastoral in his statements.

    • Michael,

      I am curious as to how you became a theologian since you seem to be able to determine who is and isn’t one. Also, I find it a quick judgment to determine someone’s theology based on the school he or she attended. If David had been blasphemous in any way, shape, or form, I assure you that he would have been excommunicated from his parish. Saying that, he is a regular parish attender of his church.

      I find it interesting that you judge David so quickly as a person and fellow brother in Christ when you do not know him. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” God is the judge. If you are well-versed on the articles David has published, you know that David is not advocating gay marriage as a sacrament in the church. He is advocating for gay marriage as a civil right. As to your comment about advocating for women in the priesthood, St. Sophia held a conference/seminar that was devoted to this topic entirely. So, simply to place the thought out there to discuss, is NOT un-Orthodox. I am truly thankful that David’s children do not have to see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ treating him in this manner. If David had the opportunity to attend Forgiveness Vespers with you, I know he would say to you…..”I forgive as God forgives.” Hopefully, you would do the same.

      I would like to share a comment from a priest very close to my heart in response to David’s thoughts on gay marriage. Father said, “I have to say that I agree with much of what David said, but I also disagree with him on some points. I do NOT, however, take it to be at all blasphemous; I do find it to be a reasoned contribution to the discussion.”

  3. cynthia curran says

    Obama never held the bibilical view he is a liberal protestant and not just in politics but also in theology. He play it safe for years since the black community which has a worst record on marrying actually opposes gay marriage, a lot of blacks in swing states like NC,Fl or Oh will not vote this time since they can’t stand the Republican candidate and are disppointed in Obama making it difficult to win swing states where blacks are between 10 to 19 percent of the population actaully blacks are more helpful than getting the hispanic vote since a lot more of them are citizens.

  4. Metoikos says

    “The good doctor Dunn is also in favor of the female priesthood. Given both positions it is evident that he is no theologian. He took his doctorate from Vanderbuilt, hardly a bastion of Orthodox fidelity.”

    It’s true. But I wonder how many have considered the weight of the fact that we simply have no academic “bastions of Orthodox fidelity” in this country — or, at the very least, not one that awards PhDs?

    Surely, that cannot be because we have no need of theologians trained in academic scholarship, or that there is something intrinsically unfaithful about rigorous inquiry, research, writing, debate, etc.

    We Orthodox have been very lazy in this department. We require (perhaps unwisely) PhDs to teach in our seminaries; yet we have established no PhD-awarding institutions of our own. In contrast, as Jaroslav Pelikan noted shortly before his death: even the Southern Baptists — not especially known for their robust intellectual culture! — have built up institutions of higher learning, both undergraduate and graduate.

    Instead, we outsource to Protestant and Roman Catholic universities, most of which are so secularized that they have largely lost any sense of distinct Christian identity, vision or mission — even (and sometimes especially) in their theology departments. And then we complain about the product we get back!

    It’s no excuse, but should we be surprised that Orthodox Christians who go into graduate programs in theology, with little prior intellectual formation in the faith, come out confused, on a mission to spread the enlightened confusion of the gnostic cultural elite now in our own Church? Particularly when their success in these programs sometimes depends upon a willingness at least to play along with the academic trend du jour?

    If Orthodox are serious about resisting the aggressions of the secularist Left, pop catechesis and politics will not be sufficient. We need to build up a strong churchly intellectual culture here in the US. That would have to be an intellectual discourse both deeply informed by the sources of Church tradition and knowledgeable about the deep-seated philosophical roots of our current cultural predicament. The long-standing patterns of parochialism and anti-intellectualism — as well as ignorant prejudice against, or indifference to, the best work already done by like-minded Christians in the West (say, in bioethics, or political philosophy, or on the anthropological and ecclesial significance of sex difference) — all of which many of our conservative churchmen continue to promote, will no longer cut it.

    We need to start making better intellectual friendships. And probably we need to think more about building up our own institutions — schools that promote a strongly ecclesial and intellectually rigorous voice, and do not pander to the secular Zeitgeist.

    Again, I want to ask: why are we so surprised, particularly when we have left such a vacuum on our own side?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Of course you are correct Metoikos, but in the meantime we must do what we can to prevent the poison from spreading don’t you think?

      • Metoikos says

        Of course, absolutely. And this website is a great outlet for it. We need to do everything to encourage our priests to address these matters boldly in their parishes, and for our bishops to speak up publicly. But priests need to continue to their own educations towards that end, too. Quoting the Bible and the Fathers is necessary, but it will not be enough. One needs to become a diagnostician and an intellectual exorcist, and to do that one needs to know the historical and philosophical roots of the disease, which lie deep. Rather like St Irenaeus with the Gnostics. But the gnostics of our day have another set of (largely hidden) “fathers” — Hegel, Marx, Nietzche, Simone de Beauvoir, Foucault, Judith Butler . . . and so on. We need to know them and diagnose them just as Irenaeus did Valentinian, Marcion and so on. Our people need to know the “fathers” that are being tacitly imposed on them by the culture, under the illusion of freedom, and to contrast their teachings with our own genuine Fathers, so that they can claim the authentic sonship in their thinking and lives. One needs to present the two accounts of life and freedom side by side, in historical and philosophical perspective, and unmask the principalities — turning their own Nietzchean method of “genealogy” against them . . . It is a pity our seminaries do not teach a /critical/ course on the roots of modern anthropological and moral heresy . . . a critique of the critique . . . Clergy and people in our Church have every reason to distrust our academics these days. But the proper response is to build up a strong intellectual life that is faithful, and to make the parishes centers of learning.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

          I told a few of my professors at SVS years back that we needed some course in humanities at the seminary by which I meant the history of ideas through art, architecture, and so forth. We’d start with Roger Shattuck “The Banquet Years” and work backward to Nietzsche and the Reformation and Enlightenment (reading Peter Gay’s “The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism”), Carl Becker’s “The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers“, and so forth). Then we would work forward to the present.

          I think historical ignorance creates a cultural blindness in Orthodox leadership that we see manifested as an embrace of Progressive ideology that, to the unsuspecting, poorly informed, and sometimes ideologically bound clergyman seems indistinguishable from the moral imperatives of the Gospel. They don’t see (some refuse to see) that Progressive cant borrows from the vocabulary of the moral tradition to justify ideas inimical to it.

          • Metoikos says

            I agree. And judging from the course offerings, it looks like there is a bit more of this kind of thing going on there now than in the past.

            Unfortunately though, the currents we’ve mentioned are unlikely to gain a really robust faithful response from the faculty at SVS any time in the near future. The 2 or 3 professors there with an interest in these things seem to have swallowed the bitter pill and painted themselves into a postmodern corner.

            I could be wrong though; I certainly hope so. Our seminaries need prayers.

            • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

              I think that SVS is moving toward incorporating art and theology, and hopefully culture and theology in ways no English speaking Orthodox seminary has yet done. I wish them well and I hope they succeed. Holy Cross unfortunately is too bound to the ethnic apologetic that will keep any kind of cultural engagement mediocre.

        • Michael Bauman says

          The situtation you describe is partially the result of a bondage to the ethnic (Russian, Greek, Syrian, American, Romanian, etc.) and the dhimmi nature of too many of us. At least that seems so to me.

          I mention American in my ethnic list because all too often the American psyche is brought into the Church rather than allowing it to be healed by the Church. Our psyche is anti-traditional, individualistic and linear formed as it has been by Protestants, “free-thinkers”, the myth of progress and the nihilist denial of both God and man. Americans are dhimmi too when we give up our freedoms and responsibilities to a massive state.

          • Metoikos says

            Philosophical dhimmitude. There’s a title for a book.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

            Michael, I would argue the relinquishing liberty to the state us decisively un-American. I’m not so sure either if we should see that American spirit of independence and self-reliance in exclusively the negative terms you outline. Seem to me a lot of good has come from it.

            • Michael Bauman says

              As much good as there is expressed in the Constitution, it was the single greatest peaceful centralization of power in human history. The principals of freedom and self-reliance were beginning to be chipped at from the very beginning. While the movement to centralization has been relatively slow, it has been inexorable.

              It worked OK (as long as you don’t ask the blacks and the native americans) as long as we were a relatively homogenous conuntry who had a agreement in principal as to what constituted civic virture, but that has largely disolved since the 60’s.

              Certainly economic prosperity has grown significantly at least by the numbers, but the cost of that propertiy has been steep.

              Consumerism is not Christian. Inherent in the freedom and self-reliance you tout is the spirit of rebellion against tradition, a spirit that places at odds with one another without necessity. A popular conservative commentator touts it as indvidual sovereignty. The errosion to the sense of community and its importance has led to a atomizing tendency that breaks down rule by law and somewhat paradoxically leads to tryannical rule.

              We can live neither as atomized individuals nor as depersonalized servants of the state. Both are of the same nilhistic spirit that seeks to destory humanity.

        • M. Stankovich says

          I am reading this and could not stop laughing at the absurdist sincerity! Hegel, Marx, Nietzche, Simone de Beauvoir, Foucault, and Judith Butler… PLEASE, where is your parish that these “articulations” occur? I must find the parish that is home to individuals who have even heard of these authors, let alone are somehow led astray by their philosophical “craftiness.” And I refer to being in proximity here to parishes surrounding the fifth most funded research university and medical school in the United States, and a renowned Catholic university that houses the Joan B. Kroc Institute and School for Peace & Justice, as well as a nationally recognized second-tier law school. This is hardly the “back woods.” I do not in the least believe it is cynical nor unrealistic to declare the enemy to be indifference. You might well feel it necessary to theorize in post after post as to the infinite and intimate connection between culture, liberal thought, and the “American civil religion” that Fr. Hopko has posited for years, and I would sum it up by suggesting that people are not having the intellectual discussions you insist they are having, but rather “walk past the ruins without any curiosity as to what was there” (Allan Bloom).

          Finally, I make no argument that the study of art, philosophy, humanities, science, and medicine is undesired or unworthy. It does not, however, make better priests, parishioners, or parishes. And when I read such things as “quoting the Bible and the Fathers is necessary, but it will not be enough,” I immediately think of Tolstoy’s story of the Three Hermits. “‘Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.”

          “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:31-33)

          [Mr. Bauman: Is someone paying you to propagate the word “dhimmi?” (It’s a JOKE!)]

          • Metoikos says

            The point is that these currents do, in fact, have an impact on our people whether they know it or not. The names are mostly just representative. I am not saying they are having these conversations; I am saying they are not. That is the point. And we for the most part lack a faithful Orthodox intellectual vanguard here in the US. As can be seen from Dr Dunn’s example, a great many of our academics, especially in theology, reflect the secular leftism of the PhD programs which trained them. They are incapable of being counter-cultural, for fear of offending elite liberal sensitivities.

            I am not so foolish as to say the average person in the parish should ever concern themselves with such names or details. I’m saying future priests should have a critical course in these masters of suspicion: they should know what got us to where we are as a culture, so as to inform their teaching. I never said cultural formation or knowledge makes saints; rather, it can make for better critics and better teachers. A teacher of the faith needs also to be an amateur heresiologist of sorts. And it is mere rationalism and moralism to think that cultural formation (not just intellectual, but political and aesthetic) does not form a huge factor in the moral life. Tolstoy is an ironically bad name to cite in this context, seeing as he was not only a heretic but that he hated culture. And as Nikolai Berdyaev said, one Tolstoyan in Orthodox clerical garb is more dangerous than an army of Tolstoyans. Lack of critical grasp of the intellectual roots of contemporary secularism, and lack of a strong intellectual and aesthetic culture of our own, makes us more vulnerable.

            And when our really educated clergy are those such as your friends (ie “We are Their Legacy”!!!!!!!), who write and publish articles defending gay marriage — without any evident discipline from their bishops or challenge from our leading seminary faculty — then it is evident we have a big problem.

            • macedonianReader says

              Why aren’t candidates-clergy critical of, or question things being taught in their PhD programs or seminaries? The clergy/laity entering these programs aren’t going in as blank slates. Anyone in their right mind, who understands the theology knows that same-sex marriage, abortion, etc cut through the theology and therefore cannot accept any sort of compromise, politically speaking. In their right mind that is. And I have to admit, there are a lot of folks that are not in their right mind.

              My bigger worry is that somewhere along the line these folks (with all due respect) when they entered Orthodoxy where told it was ok to keep lugging the baggage they brought in. Either that it was ok, or perhaps the clery did not have the “heart,” support, or know-how to overcome these folks.

              Personally I find that the bigger problem is in the ‘power of the pews’ – it’s one thing to be given the freedom to have a personal relationship with Christ and to take up the Cross as an indivual, it’s quite another to still live like a Baptist or to not acquiesce our worldy beliefs which are not acceptable to our theology.

              Quite frankly, sometimes folks with these viewpoints “give a lot” and can hold a parish hostage since one is unable, willing, or up to upsetting them.

              • Metoikos says

                Yes, but it is not simply a problem of converts. For every convert academic or clergyman I know who favors gay marriage, women’s ordination, liberal views on abortion, etc., I can name an equivalent (or greater) number of cradle Orthodox academics or clergymen who favor the same. Everyone has “baggage.” And views like these are only a tiny part of it; much bigger is the spiritual baggage which all of us must struggle to drop.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Metoikos, thank you for pointing out something. I’ve decided to follow a new rule invented by John Derbyshire (an atheist btw). Whenever somebody writes “studies show…” or “as has been proven…”, I will immediately slam my fist onto the nearest table and say “WHICH studies show?” or “WHERE is it proven?,” etc.

                  I’m tired of this tedious meme put out by the likes of certain Orthodox (who are invariably politically liberal themselves) who say that it is only “converts” who are pushing the gay/secular/progressive/etc. agenda on the Church. While it is true that there are people out there who fit this description (Franky, Stokoe, etc.), the fact remains that it is invariably cradle Orthodox bishops and priests (e.g. Savvas, Arida) who are quietly and patiently pushing the gay/secularist/liberal/progressive agenda. Even when they are not assisting it, they are doing the next best thing, that is being passive. Or they are providing theological cover to unChristian groups as has Kishkovsky to the NCC for several years.

                  If anything, the converts who are rushing headlong into the Orthodox faith are doing so because they have been spiritually brutalized in the mainstream Protestant denominations. Of this there can be no doubt.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Um, Abouna Ionannes, “Cry, ‘Polemic!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Wait! Pardon me, that should read havoc: “Cry, ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III, I, 268). What was I thinking?

              While I had imagined The Three Hermits would be fairly transparent to even the most learned, should you need reassurance that my reference to Tolstoy was not born of inadvertence, naivete, or ignorance, I would note that it is not uncommon for even the worst of heretics to spontaneously burst forth with insight. In this case, it seems the message is “we don’t need more ’empty suits (cassocks),’ but men capable of humility and acknowledgement, on their knees, of true holiness when they see it.” Nevertheless, thank you for the caution as to my lack of critical grasp. I was a friend of Tolstoy’s grandson, a NY architect who was not a “churchly” man until late in his life upon completing a “research” visitation to Mt. Athos. He defied ROCOR’s directive that you must not pray for the soul of Leo Tolstoy until the end of his life. I much admired this.

              Your comments in regard to my friends, Metoikos, are as childish as they are telling. If you have an issue with me, bring it directly, otherwise, I suggest you not attempt to play me with long-winded intellectual hoohah.

              • Metoikos says

                Childish? Telling? How? No issue with you; only a ready-to-hand example — although a man says something about his commitments by the friends with whom he chooses publicly to associate himself. No, the “havoc” is created by priests like your friend. who in addition to his wretched article (which could have been written by Screwtape), has driven away families from his parish with his coded pro-gay sermons and his receiving and communing homosexual couples legally “married” in the state of X. You missed my point. When some of our most educated clergy set an example like that — and he is certainly highly intelligent and capable –it is a scandal, and certainly, it says something about the state of learning in our Church. “We are their legacy”? Please.

                • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                  A priest who deliberately undermines the moral teachings about homosexuality is far removed from Christ. No justification or rationalization diminishes this fact.

                  That’s a harsh judgment, but it would be better for him to say nothing at all then to trade the truth for a lie. The end result will be deep confusion which undoubtedly has already begun.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  On the one hand, my personal views on the matter are well documented and are well known, here and elsewhere, and I stand by my integrity. Further, I have openly and transparently invited correction, criticism, and critique of my scholarship, both theological and scientific, conducting myself according to a professional standard and ethic by which I was trained and ultimately subscribe. As importantly, I have never defended anyone, friend or otherwise, who would undermine the moral teachings or Traditions of the Church, and I personally have no evidence – apart from your anonymous gossip-mongering insinuation of “coded” sermons and “wretched” articles – that such is, in fact, the case. With such evidence, however, I would feel equally compelled, as Fr. Ioannes, to draw a similar conclusion as he has drawn.

                  In the course of frank debate and rhetorical exchange on a site such as this, you found it necessary to lower the threshold of discussion by deviating from merit to me personally – my friends, a website (“We are Their Legacy”!!!!!!!). Childish? Yes. Telling? Yes. You would question my commitments? For myself, I would scrutinize the traditional icon of St. John the Evangelist, Beloved of the Lord: his “ready-to-hand” covers his mouth.

              • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                Um, Abouna Ionannes, “Cry, ‘Polemic!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Wait! Pardon me, that should read havoc: “Cry, ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III, I, 268). What was I thinking?

                I don’t know what you were thinking because I can’t understand why you are trying to say. Can you give it to me in plain English?

                • Metoikos says

                  “Crier havoc” — it is an Anglo-Norman phrase, a war cry to release one’s troops on an enemy town for plundering.

                  I ask: Who’s doing the plundering here? And why should we not “plunder” in return? (As in the “spoils of Egypt,” of which I was speaking?)

                  If I understand, I’ve essentially been accused of being polemical. I can accept that, and don’t see it as a particularly bad thing in this case, particularly in comments beneath an article on “culture war.” Those who deny that such a war is on are kidding themselves, or perhaps they are all too happy to be conquered. Dhimmitude indeed.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Thank you Mr. Stankovich for pointing out my over use of the word. I will in the future do a better job of describing what I see as the more or less volunatary submission of the Church to ideas that are not of the Church at all (any …ism you can name for instance) which to my mind includes scientism. All such isms eventually drain the holy out of creation in the minds and hearts of those who ascribe to them. The words about holiness may still be there, but the reality is far away. Seems to me that our Lord warned us of such an occurance.

            Would you argue that the Patriarchs of Constantiople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria do not still suffer from the imposition of actual dhimminutde under Islamic law? It seems to me that the process worked so well that The Church and her people tend to abide by the fences even when they are not really there any more. The dhimmitude has become so encultrated that it is passed on almost in mother’s milk. Do you not think that Met. Demetrios’ shameful and humiliating grovelling before Obama a few years ago is not an instance of such? Would you not agree that Met. Philip’s effusive praise of the Asssad’s in floral Byzantine metaphors is not an instance of the same?

            They seem so to me.

            Is not Sergianism another form of dhimmitude that the Slavic Churches are still struggling to overcome and heal? Does not that attitude still find voices and adherents even here in America? From what I read, it seems so to me.

            Of course, you are free to disagree, but an ad hominum attack against my choice of words doesn’t really mean much.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Bauman,

              Did you miss that my comment was intended as playful chiding? Before you, I had never heard the word. I had no intention to offend you. None.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mr. Stankovich it flabbergasts me that you had never heard of the word before my use of it. I find that a bit implausible, but then I study the history of the Church, at least in a general way so that I can know what I am a part of. All of the things the Church and her people suffer and rejoice in (past, present and future) are part of us all.

                That includes the suffering under the Turkish Yoke and the Communist oppression. The Islamic persecution of our brothers and sisters Orthodox/Coptic/heterodox is still quite present. Christians under Islamic law are called dhimmi, the state of the Christian millet is one of dhimmiutude. An expessive word since it involves the forced dimminishing of the Church in a manner similar to the secularism we face in the west.

                Perhaps instead of ingaging in what you call “playful chiding” you would do better to learn something. Just for the record, I find your words neither playful nor chiding but rather childish sarcasm. Sarcasm is both cruel and destructive, it can easily give offense where none is intended. I’ll take you at your word that none was meant in this case.

          • Also see, “The Trouble with Tolstoy” on

            This choice – between a dead teacher and a living Savior – faces us as well, when we choose between the teaching of Tolstoy and the faith of the Church.

            But it is important to make note of one more sad fact: people who accuse the Church of having departed from the Gospel, while maintaining that Tolstoy himself understood it directly and literally, have obviously read neither the Gospel nor Tolstoy. The moment we open Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief and compare it with the plain Gospel, we discover that Tolstoy has crudely shredded the text of the Gospel, discarding whatever of Christ’s words do not correspond with his own views, and sometimes even simply attributing his own words to Christ – often in direct contradiction to what the Christ of the Gospel says.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

            M. Stankovich, I’m not so sure your disdain is warranted. There is no doubt that the general passivity towards the first things in the larger culture affects the Church. OTOH, my experience is that once you begin teaching history, humanities, and so forth, you posit a way of thinking about our faith that breaks the shackles of a subjective pietism that has been assimilated from the larger culture, and reveals the inherent power of the Gospel in ways previously not conceivable.

            I’ve seen this again and again. The barrier I always ran into was that most of our hierarchs simply don’t see it and consequently the small projects that could have blossomed into something transformative for the participant and larger culture were stillborn. The Gospel can transform, but if we won’t allow it within the institution, how do we reach the larger culture?

            • Metoikos says

              Thank you, Fr. Johannes. With your pastoral experience, you’ve stated my point more simply than I was able to myself.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

            One more thing:

            Finally, I make no argument that the study of art, philosophy, humanities, science, and medicine is undesired or unworthy. It does not, however, make better priests, parishioners, or parishes.

            I argue it does. Even if you believe it doesn’t, I can guarantee that ignorance of history, art, and so forth will produce a soul-stultifying pietism that will be unable to withstand the vicissitudes of the secular juggernaut on the one hand, or directs authentic spiritual searching into a sentimentalized ethnic nationalism that is ultimately self-serving on the other.

            I believe that, say, the architectural grandeur of this Church will lift the soul of the Russian brutalized by an atheist regime that sought to destroy his culture toward the heavens. I believe Dostoevsky when he said that beauty will save the world. I believe Solzhenitsyn when he said that the greatest spiritual affliction affecting modern man is the lack of courage, a point he proved through literature. I believe him too when he said that an ignorance of history covers the head of us moderns like an impenetrable iron casket, and only when history is learned all over again will the Christian foundations of culture be understood. I believe Yannaras when he said that freedom is grounded in morality, and that the Existentialists were right in trying to reposit man as a moral being after the carnage of WWI — a point that would have no meaning if we did not know who the Existentialists were. I believe Bach who discerned the complex harmony of the created order and saw that is was beautiful.

            When St. Paul exhorts us to think on the “higher things,” where do you think the expression of what is “higher” is realized? Are we to read the exhortation merely in pietistic terms; as a moralism? In that case why not put a Starbucks in the narthex? At least that fosters fellowship.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Let me add the qualifiers “necessary” and “necessarily”: it does not necessarily make better priests, parishioners, or parishes, nor is it incumbent upon or necessary to make better priests, parishioners, or parishes. And we can go back and forth with examples such as the personal cell of St. Tikon of Zadonsk, which consisted entirely of his casket (in which he slept), and what the members of his brotherhood referred as a “most hideous” (artistically speaking) icon of the Theotokos before which he prayed; or the story of Bp. Basil (Radzianko), of blessed memory, who celebrated the Vigil of the Epiphany and the Great Blessing of Water by blessing the falling snow, completely encircled by peasants to keep concentration camp guards from reaching him.

              You seem to ascribe to me a generalized “disdain” or intellectual “reduction” of the transcendence of beauty, art, philosophy, literature, science, and medicine, and this is absolutely untrue. But if we are arguing “where the expression ‘higher’ is realized,” I can only think of the perspective provided by St. Dionysius: the “higher” is only of the uncontainable Energy of the Father, and attempts to describe it fall so short of its fullness, better to say it is not. And so, I can only think we are left with the mysterious Ninth Ode of the Canon of both Holy Thursday and the Pre-Feast of the Nativity:

              Come, O faithful,
              Let us enjoy the Master’s hospitality,
              the Banquet of Immortality!
              In the upper-chamber with uplifted minds,
              let us receive the exalted the exalted words of the Word,
              Whom we magnify!

              We know from the Gospel, from the Fathers, and from the Liturgy that the Banquet, the “higher,” is always and only realized at the Master’s table, in the Master’s house, to which we approach “as children.” In my mind, Abouna, there is no threat of pietism or moralism in the presence of true innocence, as “ignorant” as it might present. Is more necessary?

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mr. Stankovich: over the course of the last several months reading your posts here and on other blogs it strikes me that you argue for the intellect when you think it serves you, or a least a narrow, highly proscribed system of intellect. When challenged to expand on the use of the intellect you argue for spiritual experience as superior to the intellect. You switch back and forth in what seems to be simply a contrarian game so that you never have to address the questions.

                I find that fundamentally dishonest.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Bauman,

                  It is neither my “charisma,” nor do I believe God has blessed me as an “original thinker.” It is the “fathers” of each generation that are called to “re-articulate” the dynamic and living Tradition of the Church, that reflects the inexhaustible and limitless Energy of our Father, and the “Fire from Fire” inspiration and invigoration of the Holy Spirit. I am not such a “father” of my generation. At best, I perhaps foolishly imagine that God has gifted me with a rich curiosity, and then happened to place me in the path of several “fathers” of my generation. And having listened, I have a certain recollection. Metoikos, among many others, scorn the use of the term “legacy,” while I will claim that it is simply an expression of gratitude for receiving my greatest gift to date.

                  Returning to your point, you suggest I employ a vacillating system of argument that is a “calculatedly” self-serving game, and ultimately, and fundamentally, dishonest. Well, let’s have at it! (That’s Monty Python, by the way). Mr. Bauman, I’m sure there are numerous ways of receiving and approaching your comment, but my response is very simple: I have no need to “win” and it isn’t about “me.” I present the Truth as best as I am able, and openly invite correction. I judge my ego-strength to be adequate, and I have yet to decompensate at being wrong or “disapproved of” in anything I have written. And so it goes…

        • Michael Bauman says

          Here is the ultimate problem with PhD programs, at least as they seem to be structured today: To get accepted and to actually attain a degree, the person must accept and parrot the prevailing anti-Chrisitan cultural norms. To get accredited to offer such degrees the institution must follow a similar path.

          We can not simply play the same game, slap Orthodox on the outside, and expect different results. Our education has to be rooted in really learning, going beyond the preceptions of the current intellectual fad or bound by the ethnic categories of the past.

    • macedonianReader says

      It is possible to obtain a PhD through the Orthodox, Antiochian House of Studies –

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says


        • macedonianReader says

          But it tis’ Father. Priests are doing it.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Perhaps you refer to the “Doctor of Ministry” (DMin) they offer through an affiliated school of theology in Pittsburgh? It is not an academic degree. Having passed though the Director of the HOS’ initial incarnation of this degree program at SVS, I can tell you that it prepares you for the rigorous practice of, and commensurate respect afforded to… well nothing actually.

            Nevertheless, there is real reason for encouragement, and I will personally vouch for the integrity of Frank Papatheofanis. MD, PhD, founder of St. Katherine College, Encinitas, CA. You will hear more of this rich endeavor.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Metoikos, you bring up an excellent point. One I haven’t considered.

    • Theophilos says

      I have always thought that “studying” theology in seminaries were not very fruitful. I got this from Saint Gregory Palamas. He said something of the like of that monks know God more than any seminarian would. Saint John Chysostom said that bishops should be taken from the monastics as well, he did not say those who studied God in a school should be chosen. Yet it seems today all bishops are taken from the schools, and almost none from the monastic community! Why is this? I do not understand this about the Orthodox Church!

      sorry for my terrible paraphrasing of the saints, I would quote them but someone is borrowing their writings from me at the moment

  5. Mark Chenoweth says

    Fr. Jacobse,

    I think it’s pretty clear where Church Tradition has to say about homosexual sex, but you act as if its also fimly established what the relationship between church and state is. If it’s so well-established, why is Meropolitan Jonah RADICALLY anti-capitalist, Thomas Hopko largely utilitaran when it comes to these questions, the Orthodox over at the Acton Institute radically capitalist, and some of the desert fathers close to anarchism? Why does it seem as if Augustine approved of legalized prostitution? Has the Church really made a definititve statement that St. Mary of Egypt should have been ideally locked up when she was a prostitute? Has the Church really thought deeply about the relationship between violence, force and the state? The Church doesn’t have a definititve position regarding war/pacifism, and given the strong link beween government and violene, wouldn’t this imply that there is still a lot to be worked out here?

    Your statements about rights and marriage sound more Thomisitc more than they sound Orthodox. You may be absolutely right, but isn’t it fair to say there may more ambiguity in this area than you’re letting on?

    I’m just trying to continue the conversation here.


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