When Orthodox Bishops Spoke Boldly: Clear Teaching on Marriage and Family

marriage-ceremonySource: The Voice Blog | Chris Banescu

The current societal moral collapse and the intensifying attacks on traditional marriage and the family were foreseen by previous generations of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Approximately 40 years ago, the Holy Synod of the OCA issued an Encyclical Letter on Marriage warning their flocks of the dangers posed by an increasingly secularized world and re-affirming the traditional, biblical, and orthodox teaching on marriage. The clarity of their teaching, boldness of their condemnation, and prophetic dimensions of their preaching are undeniable.

These shepherds saw the “signs of the times.” They discerned the growing darkness and corruption all around them and the seriousness of the cultural battles to come. They forewarned the faithful that the “moral foundations of society are collapsing.” They understood the ultimate consequences of a society that abandons its moral principles, abuses its freedoms, embraces the evil of abortion, is indifferent to the murder of millions of unborn children, and glorifies corrupt sexual behaviors.

We find it imperative to address you on an issue of crucial importance for the Christian life. An increasingly secularized world tends more and more to neglect the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and family. Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.

These bishops showed no apathy, timidity, or confusion in speaking publicly on key moral issues. They were not silent or complacent in the face of danger. They denounced evil and challenged the growing corruption in the culture. They genuinely loved and cared not only for the welfare and salvation of their flocks, but of all men. They taught and preached about the importance of the family and the full meaning of marriage from an Orthodox Christian understanding. They bore witness to these timeless truths before the entire Church and the whole world.

We, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, therefore proclaim anew to you, the flock entrusted to our care, the great and holy vision of marriage that is gloriously preserved and manifested in the doctrine, liturgy and canonical tradition of the Church. We do not make this proclamation in the name of an outdated conservatism or because we consider our present society intrinsically more corrupt than the past generations.

We speak because we are concerned for the welfare and salvation both of you, the members of our flock, and of all men. We speak of “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes … concerning the word of life” (John 1:1). We speak because we know the Truth of the Gospel of Christ to be the eternal Truth, the one needful thing, the good portion (Luke 10:42) for all men, in all times and places.

These Christian leaders encouraged others to also speak out, offer guidance, and help Orthodox Christians in “all matrimonial matters.”

[ . . .]

Read the rest of this essay on The Voice blog.


  1. Rostislav says

    Yet someone will say that the Metropolia/OCA of yore “stayed out of politics and the culture wars” because “it isn’t the business of the Church to take political postures” and “split its witness”, that it should “remain apart and silent”. …

    Most of the time the people who say such things are either Leftists or don’t have a problem with them or don’t seem to care about the impact of Orthodox witness and life on North American culture.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    Yup, Rostislav, that pretty much covers it: apathy, quietism, or fellow traveling.
    We are set apart precisely so we can witness to the world.

  3. Rostislav says

    But the upshot of the demographic catastrophe is that their numbers are becoming fewer and ours are increasing. One day, the East Coast crowd is going to wake up and find out that what is said in Dallas has the most impact. Seems like only a matter of time.

    After thirty years and all the scandals, they still are keeping on keeping on… but at least the pretense has all but faded. You can’t survive too long when your ranks are comprised by AARP liberals who preach the virtues of collectivization and the Soviet system, shouting demented platitudes about the virtues of Obamunism (or table thumping its moral equivalence) and blaming people like us (in typical racist paternalist fashion) for its failures. I just don’t know what to say about that type of throwback, marginal mindset.

    Perhaps, we could try “Ich bin ein Berliner” on an individual basis?! Might cause some grey cells to stir.

  4. I see no biblical evidence of the early Christians attempting to use political power to force the surrounding pagan culture to behave as Christians and live by Christian commandments when they utterly reject Christ. Why should it be different today? And the problem is that Orthodox (and other Christians) generally aren’t set apart in practice when it comes to divorce rates and abortion rates and pornography use etc. etc. What if Christians had a divorce rate that made them stand out? What if it was simply a given that Christians don’t have abortions? Instead, they do as the culture does and then try to make the culture live by rules they can’t even live by. This is why Christianity is reviled by many people. Being persecuted because you are different and you make the culture look bad by shining a light on their own sins is one thing. Being persecuted because you are obnoxious and want to use the force of law (which is the force of violence) to make non-Christians live according to Christian norms is something very different. Why not “let them go their own way” as God does? Why do we try to force non-Christians to be Christians by force of law when God won’t? The entire Roman empire was conquered not by any law or political maneuvering. It was conquered by Christians living fully in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    As to the Orthodox that think it is more important for Bishops to be Republican hacks why not stop being Orthodox and become neo-cons full time? It is, after all, your real religion just as neo-liberalism is the real religion of a whole slew of American Christians as well. I find both world views to be woefully inadequate and poor substitutes of the Kingdom of Heaven which is “not of the this world.” If America crumbles into oblivion that Kingdom will yet stand.

    • Rostislav says

      Perhaps you missed the very PUBLIC role of persecution and the PUBLIC martyrdoms and WITNESSING of the GOSPEL of the EARLY CHRISTIANS to the culture prior to the Edict of Milan?! So I definitely see NO evidence for your far Left contention.

      (There was no “biblical evidence” prior to the Biblical Canon being established by the Church at the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, but the “scriptural evidence” of the living gospels of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Martyrs more than testifies of the public PREACHING of the GOSPEL and the role of Christianity in changing the law, policies and culture of the pagan Roman state.)

      I see no evidence that the Roman persecutions didn’t end and that Christianity, the Church, transformed the West and enabled all of its progress for the last 16 centuries.

      Perhaps, you missed the fact that the Church did transform the morality of the state and its culture with its very public message and pronouncements during the post Constantinian era. Our civilization went from pagan bloodletting and sacrifices to ordered and humane justice, justice empowered by Christian mercy, due to the public influence and PRESENCE of the Church. Now, you would have us return to an iteration of the earlier bacchanal in neo paganism?! Now you would subject the Church to a gag order and a nominal, “private” function?

      Lemme see: “The right of the citizenry to believe or not to believe is guaranteed; the right of the state to engage in anti-religious propaganda unhindered”?!

      The Berlin Wall fell. Enough.

      Perhaps, it is the penchant of the immoral Left to promote the silencing of the Church, its retreat into the Catacombs to once again empower persecution and pagan depravity, cruelty, repression, persecution, degradation, brutality, but that is not the role of the Church. The role of the Church is to embrace all of mankind in CHRIST JESUS and in this Love transfigure all peoples, cultures, states in a theanthropic transformation. But that surely is not going to happen by “tuning out”, “shutting up” and allowing Obamunism and FAR LEFT militant secular atheism a free hand. Such esteem for religious freedom! Such a call to piety! Such an observant and active faith!

      Did you just read this off the MSNBC site? In one of Christopher Hitchens journals?

      Most people who use the word “neo con” don’t know what it means or who it applies to. It principally applies to former Democrats who moved rightward in espousing projecting US military power abroad and constructing a state around that axis. Nothing “neo con” here.

      As far as the “Republican hacks”, they are on your side at this point and “going with the flow”. Not a peep from Romney (who is a champion of the gay agenda and the father of gay marriage, a Mormon “bishop” who marches lockstep with you), not a word from the Bushies (who stacked the courts to make this day happen), nothing from Boehner, Gingrich, McConnell, Ryan, Cantor, Priebus… No, the Republican hacks seem to be in line with your point of view, don’t they?

      But if you removed them from this discussion, you would be forced to face its merits and the original political postures forming against the godless and amoral and hateful Left. The fact you insist on an amoral polity and a silenced Christianity chased from the public square truly betrays your insincerity and disingenuousness in addressing this topic. Hate is not an answer. It is an evil. A silenced and nominalized church is a closed church, isn’t it?

      You betray your agenda all too well…

      • macedoniandeacon says

        Most people who use the word “neo con” don’t know what it means or who it applies to. It principally applies to former Democrats who moved rightward in espousing projecting US military power abroad and constructing a state around that axis. Nothing “neo con” here.

        I have to agree here. The neo-con-talk has gotten a bit out of hand. These issues aren’t about neo-conservatism vs classical liberalism.

        F.A. Hayek, a pillar in free market thinking and classical liberalism spoke out against the State and even began the conversation on conservatives succumbing to progressive ‘theology.’ But, he also understood that rule of law is backed by certain moral values – family and life. And that it is not beyond the state’s realm to protect these. He knew that without family and life all talk about rule of law, free markets, constitutions were mute and useless. And this has nothing to do with the “state’s interference in what goes on in the bedroom” as much as progressive pundits like to use this talking point. This is about identifying what is sacred and holy and leaving them held up and sanctified. For if there is nothing in this world left that is holy, sacred, sanctified then the constitution doesn’t matter and politics do not matter. Man cannot attempt to separate creation from sacrament and say, “this is ours, and this is theirs.” Utter – liberal – nonsense! It is all Gods! And, it is our responsibility to proclaim this!

        This is whether or not we look at the world and society through the Cross as opposed to the world. Secular thought has crept into the Church – we are not called to be ambivalent or indifferent to what goes on in the world. We are not called to support ‘diversity in the Church’ – at least not how the world views diversity. We are called to be a light to be the Salt of the World, an example, and an option so that others can ‘drop their nets’ and follow Christ – immediately.

        It’s time we all grew up and found our stones …. men.

        • Beautifully, truthfully, and eloquently proclaimed macedoniandeacon!

          Man cannot attempt to separate creation from sacrament and say, “this is ours, and this is theirs.” Utter – liberal – nonsense! It is all Gods! And, it is our responsibility to proclaim this!

          This is whether or not we look at the world and society through the Cross as opposed to the world. Secular thought has crept into the Church – we are not called to be ambivalent or indifferent to what goes on in the world. We are not called to support ‘diversity in the Church’ – at least not how the world views diversity. We are called to be a light to be the Salt of the World, an example, and an option so that others can ‘drop their nets’ and follow Christ – immediately.

          It’s time we all grew up and found our stones …. men.

          Absolutely right! AMEN!

          “Not only for every idle word must man give an account, but for every idle silence.” ~ St. Ambrose

    • Rostislav says

      From today’s Homily from the Prologue of St. Nikolai of Zhicha:


      About the trial of our faith

      “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

      Brethren, our faith is tried more often than is the reed rocked by the winds. Trials are like the winds: a weak faith they will uproot and a strong faith will be strengthened even more. Trials are also like the flame in which straw is burned and gold is purified.

      Man’s intellectual pursuits and suppositions also try our faith. These are very strong and bitter winds. But we can overcome them if we are willing to adhere to the words of God and if, in opposition to those intellectual pursuits, we are able to emphasize the teachings of the Faith of Christ.

      Our faith is further tried by fear and shame: fear of men who persecute the Faith and shame of men who arrogantly despise the Faith. These also are strong winds which we must resist if we wish to remain alive. How will we resist them? By the fear of God which should always be greater in our soul than the fear of men and of shame before the apostles, saints and martyrs who were not ashamed of their faith before emperors, princes and sages of this world.

      Our faith is further tried by suffering and misery. This is the fire in which our faith either has to be burned like straw or to be tempered as pure gold. We will resist these trials if we would but remember Christ crucified on the Cross for us and so many thousands of martyrs for the Faith who, in their patience, conquered all and emerged from the flames as gold and who for centuries glow among the angels and among men.

      Our faith is also tried by death, the death of our relatives and friends and the death of mankind in general. This is the bitter fire in which the faith of many have been burned. Is death the end of everything? It is not, but rather believe that it is the beginning of everything; it is the beginning of a new and just life. Believe in the Resurrection of Christ, believe in life beyond the grave and believe in the general resurrection and the Dreadful Judgment.

      O Good Lord, strengthen the faith in us and have mercy on us.


    • Rostislav says

      Why conservative americans admire Putin

      America’s president has torn his land into a thousand pieces but the US news media will never show that on TV. The propaganda machine covers Obama’s trail of blood and shows the president in a good way without a word of dissent. During his time in office there has been a boiling pot in America that began with the Tea Party in 2010 that took back the House of Representatives (lower Duma). The original Tea Party of 1773 protested the British government’s high taxes on the American colonies by throwing the taxed tea into the sea. The modern Tea Party’s success was short lived by Obama’s illegal interference. In addition, these American Christian conservatives feel their voice ignored by the 2 major political powers in America: the Democrats and the Republicans. They cannot start a powerful 3rd party so they began to look elsewhere for support. President Vladimir Putin’s actions have proven him a man worthy of admiration and respect by the conservatives in America.

      When Obama won again in 2012 there were claims of fraud and stolen elections. All was done electronically at the voting booth. For the first time paper ballots were not used ensuring Obama’s victory. People claimed they clicked one name but Obama’s name would only show. Where was the Tea Party? It had so much power in 2010. Even other conservative groups were nowhere to be found. Only some radio and internet outlets spoke of the fraud and stolen elections. This year it was proven that Obama’s regime openly went after Tea Party leaders and other members with the IRS whose power it is to impose higher taxes and force audits upon them. Now things began to be clear as to why the conservative movement seemed powerless. An American housewife wrote me, “In the land of the “free” and the “brave,” we are not permitted to voice our opinion publicly (we are simply the invisible, pathetic tax-payers or tributaries of the present regime).”

      After the Great Patriotic War, Americans looked at Russians as atheists and communists. Russians were viewed as intelligent but liars and devils not to be trusted. When Solzhenitsyn came to America he was looked upon as a hero from the Soviet Union by the American press. The US media later portrayed him in a negative way calling him naïve and ignorant of American society even though Solzhenitsyn was only pointing out the truth known by many conservative Americans. His 1978 speech in this video in America at the Harvard University is not only true about America but prophetic as well. Solzhenitsyn knew communism was infecting society and saw its effect. He also saw “Destructive and irresponsible freedom” in America. Solzhenitsyn says in the USA, “Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.” The US media made sure his words were ignored by many and society has become much worse in the last twenty years in America.

      At another time he warns not only Americans but Russians as well, “We should teach future generations so they can avoid the mistakes of those who turn away from God. Otherwise, they will suffer the same fate as those who were murdered.” Many conservative Americans understood Solzhenitsyn as they knew America was changing for the worse at that time. Yet, these American minds were always persuaded to see Russians as their enemy. During the 70’s for example, on TV they showed the Victory Day parade from Moscow as the “May Day” parade as described by ABC, CBC and NBC news. They would stand in front of St Basil’s cathedral and firmly state, “Here we are in front of the Kremlin… in this parade the Soviet Union is proud to show the world their military power”. They never knew that St Basil was not the Kremlin but they managed to make Americans think that Russians were arrogantly threatening them with world domination. Christian leaders would thus see Russians as barbaric people needing conversion. They would encourage people to pray for them as well as trying to stop the evil in their own country.

      Conservatives elected their own champion in 1980. President Ronald Reagan also admired Solzhenitsyn. Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire but many forget he also called communism in America evil as well. He warned his fellow Americans, “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” In 1983 President Ronald Reagan declared that year as the national Year of the Bible. He said, “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” Also saying, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.”. Reagan was trying to bring God back into the public. Already laws were established to keep prayer out of schools and nativity scenes banned. Even the 10 commandments were forbidden in many public places. He knew that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, “separation of church and state”, meant that the Church must be protected from the state not as the American communists defined it as religion prohibited in public places.

      Reagan turned America’s eyes to the good that Russia has when he said on May 30, 1988 in Moscow, at the Danilov Monastery: “There is a beautiful passage that I’d just like to read, if I may. It’s from one of this country’s great writers and believers, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, about the faith that is as elemental to this land as the dark and fertile soil. He wrote: “When you travel the byroads of central Russia, you begin to understand the secret of the pacifying Russian countryside. It is in the churches. They lift their bell-towers-graceful, shapely, all different-high over mundane timber and thatch. From villages that are cut off and invisible to each other, they soar to the same heaven…. The evening chimes used to ring out, floating over the villages, fields, and woods, reminding men that they must abandon trivial concerns of this world and give time and thought to eternity.”

      Reagan admired Solzhenitsyn but this only made conservatives want to help those Russian atheists even more. They were not aware there were many Christians in Russia. After all, the TV never told them that. Television was becoming their god but they could not see it. Most Americans are Protestant and do not see the Orthodox faith as valid. Many think little of Catholics and see the Orthodox faith as being worse. The Protestants believe in miracles and even angels but not in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, Holy Water or even Holy Communion where Christ clearly mentions it in the Holy Gospel of the Apostle St. John in chapter 6 verses 51-69. Protestantism comes from the word “protest” meaning disapproving openly. Many feel they can interpret the Bible any way they want.

      They are different sects of Protestantism but all read their incomplete Bible in their churches and tell others what they think it means or what they have been taught. Some go to universities to become pastors of a church but it is easy in America to start a church. Loud music and holding hands during prayer is of primary importance. Sometimes they seem like country clubs just trying to help each other. Many church buildings inside look like theaters. They are very good people and I am not criticizing them I am just explaining them. Many of my American friends are Protestants. Billy Graham was an important Christian leader who was a very good man who helped and converted many. Once at a stadium full of people he spoke of what Christ said regarding John Chapter 6. He placed a cup in the middle of a table and invited all to drink from it. He was close to the real truth of Holy Communion and eternal life.

      American Christians do not respect Christianity in Russia. Most do not know the churches are open and are very beautiful. There are Russian Orthodox churches in America but they are few in attendance compared to Protestant Churches. Protestants see no reason to stand. They prefer to sit. They want the music at their church to make them feel good inside just like a rock and roll concert. They do not like icons. They do not love the Blessed Virgin Mary. They do not understand praying to saints and candles are foreign to them. Witches use candles they say. So, even if they visit a Russian Orthodox Church and become inspired they are immediately turned away at the sight of people kissing the priests hands. They do not understand so they criticize.

      However, when they watch Obama destroying their own country with no hero to save them they become frustrated and look to Putin. Although they hear the same mantra from their TV that Putin is a dictator, Putin is evil, Putin is a murderer; from the internet they see him kneeling at Christ’s Holy Sepulcher which Obama never does when visiting Jerusalem. They see him going to church when they know Obama favors Muslims. They see Putin establishing laws to protect the church and laws against homosexuality. This they admire and this brings them hope. Hope in their crazy world where there is a leader willing to follow Christ. They have no Reagan but they see Putin whom they wish was their president. They write me,

      “One of my fantasies is to kidnap Vladimir Putin and make him the leader of the US.” – Jim

      “The fact that Putin allows Christianity is an AMAZING thing, while Christians, true ones, are persecuted in anti christ America.” – Robert

      “Putin has encouraged the nation of Russia to return to spiritual values, whereas the US. is going in the opposite direction. ” – Glen

      “It is a shame that it takes someone from Russia to speak the truth that our media refuses to do. The reason they don’t is because they are communists themselves. ” – Steve

      “Obama is definitely a communist, I have believed this all along. Ronald Reagan is turning over in his grave.” – John

      “I used to live in a country where strong conservative morale character meant something. No longer and the days of darkness here in the USA have begun. ” – Loy

      “… it makes me want to help Russia and Putin in some way even though I have a US passport, I don’t consider myself an American. I refuse to live there, and speak out against it s policies and life styles for decades.” – Robert

      “Putin seems like he is really trying to lead and do the right thing for his country. You are lucky. Obama is not done destroying my country.” – Loy

      If you still do not understand why American Christians admire Putin then see the video below that my US Marine friend made with my help. All agree with what Putin said and did in the video and prefer him or someone like him as their president. American conservatives hear only lies from their TV but what they see on the internet from Russia regarding Putin is true because Christ guides them to see the Truth.The Holy Spirit does not fail them and inspires them to see Russia. They know a tree by its fruit. Putin respects the Christian Church but Obama and their American government does not.


  5. Rotislav,

    The witness of martyrdom is completely different from the witness of the voting booth, lobbying, and political rallies. Comparing the two represents a false view of history. The former represents a peaceful non-participation in the larger culture when it forces something that contradicts loyalties to the Kingdom of Heaven (such as being forced to light a candle for a false god or, in our day, being forced to marry a gay couple). The latter represents the use of power against non-Christians to force laws on them that try to make them act like Christians when they are not. The appeal of early Christianity to the pagans was their charity towards all and their refusal to exercise violence and political power over the pagans. The resentment against a lot of Christianity in our own time is due to its primary loyalty to the political platforms of the two major parties. The reason that Joe Biden supports abortion is because he is a Democrat first and a Catholic second.

    Sorry, but nothing in my post represented anything “far left” unless the early Christians were somehow far left. You seem to be reacting to a fear of liberal bogey men. Neither of the two parties in the USA represent the ethic of the Kingdom of Heaven and I have zero loyalty to either since that would contradict being a Christian. The problem is a lot of people who call themselves Christian are actually more loyal to a political party than they are to the Kingdom.

  6. M. Stankovich says

    What Fr. Alexander Schmemann actually taught was not that we are called to witness, but that the Church was called to witness, and that the Church could only witness to the world when it lived and was “actualized fully and freely as itself.” The audience for this letter was specifically “the faithful,” not the society, nor in the interest of the society, but in the interest of the Church, that it might be moving “freely to be itself.” And looking at the members of the Holy Synod at the time of this extraordinary proclamation (circa 1974-1977), I believe that it is fair to speculate that Fr. Schmemann might well have been the author!

    Secondly, this is a document contemporaneous to the Rowe v Wade decision of 1974, which begs the question: if “this topic is precisely about a time when Metropolia/OCA Bishops forthrightly denounced the moral degradation of the culture and society and fulfilled their Christian roles as pastors. Since they are considered “successors to the Apostles”, that establishes the fact that the Church’s role is to address the culture in love and provide guidance and example to uplift it from the mire of sin, and, thus, part of the Church’s witness necessarily involves the political process when that process promotes such heinous sin,” where is ONE written article or statement by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann promoting the overturning of Rowe v Wade? ONE. It was the landmark court decision regarding public morality of the century and Fr. Schmemann… forgot? I find nothing. He never preached a word about it. Perhaps he spoke about it individually, but he made no public statement as Dean of SVS at SVS. By your reasoning, I can only conclude that “his nominalism is not fidelity to CHRIST, but betrayal of HIM.” You labeled him.

    • Rostislav says

      To say that the Left’s agenda is obsessive compulsive in its disinformation would be to grant the obvious a prominence it neither has earned nor deserves.

      It has been addressed and shown that the assertion that Fr. Schmemann advocated locking Orthodoxy in the church on Sunday to be not only wrong but the exact opposite of his position and a total misunderstanding of his life’s work. Persistence in such an erroneous contention to the point of disrupting all topics with it is simply unhinged, pathological, in need of professional help.


      The Hartford Appeal.

      Not to mention that this topic is dedicated to presenting earlier Metropolia/OCA pronouncements on social issues.

      Some are committed to the Left’s immoral social agenda. Some go so far as to tell the world that Fr. Schmemann endorsed abortion, the murder of infants, on demand?! Yet it is clear that even thirty years ago, Metropolitans, Bishops of the OCA participated in the March for Life every January?!

      As I have written before, Fr. Schmemann CONDEMNED the views of these Leftist “masked nominalists/secularists” as “schizophrenia”, as “nominalism” as the “ghettoization” of Orthodoxy going so far as to call it symptomatic of the “heresy of secularism.” Yes, these people are advocating secularism. The Church’s retreat from the public and political sphere so that the state and its agenda be unencumbered. Thus, they act as agents of the very secularism Fr. Alexander condemned.

      On another topic my position has been substantiated and theirs has been shown to be erroneous and false. It is simply pathological for some to continue to insert a disproven contention which is clearly neither Orthodox nor true.

      Their concern, it seems, is not Orthodoxy. Their intent is running cover for their political agenda. This intrusion of their FAR LEFT nominalism is offensive to Orthodox Christians. Their intent here is to disrespect other voices in dialogue to the point of disrupting that dialogue, insulting the people involved, catcalling views they disagree with and trying to intimidate and silence people who will not think like them. Make no mistake: they have no intention of dialogue. They want to silence the Church and keep it out of politics so that politics can continue its immoral descent ever further and the church can be ever more confronted with nominalism, to be ever more the victim of the heresy of secularism.

      The fact Fr. Schmemann is the recurring topic here is precisely because he diagnosed the inherent evil of their position nearly half a century ago and condemned it as one of the heresies of our time. They want to shout discussion of that down and prevent Orthodox Christians from uniting and overcoming the assault of their agenda, an agenda Fr. Alexander denounced as heretical.

      They neither wish to read Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s comments nor that of his colleagues nor that of his Bishops.They wish to attempt to wear down and shout down the truth to promote Leftist politics. They are trying to disrupt, to cast aspersions to try and prevent the Truth from outing to advance their true cause: the silence of Orthodoxy in the political process so that the Left can avoid its moral witness. That is villainy. They are in their own Leftist bubbles screaming Fr. Schmemann endorsed the moral depravity of the Left and Obamunism. But that is solely their voice, their agenda.

      I have been plain in my exchanges. After noticing clear and obsessive irrationality and intense anger, emotional issues, an animus on the verge of hate, I have made it clear to one that he not address me nor cyber-stalk me. Such behavior indicates to me that nothing Orthodox nor Christian nor good is animating his contribution here, but something much more disturbing. It certainly isn’t anything Fr. Alexander Schmemann ever endorsed. It seems it is becoming endemic of Leftist points of view in their expression. I am not responsible for the ideological crisis and the defeat of the Left in its depravity. It is. A certain fellow is patently wrong. Yet the fact that he continues in this with whatever means necessary no matter the method nor the factual error nor the necessity for tact and civility shows he is in definite need of professional help.

      Moreover, the fact the Left reinserts itself again and again with the same disproven contentions shows that it has nothing else to offer and it fears being unmasked. It fears the truth being outed and discrediting its presence and ill effect on the Orthodox mission in North America. As all can witness here, it is prepared to do whatever it takes to advance its agenda. The end justifies the means.

      • There are a few “just shut up and move along” pseudo-teachers and pseudo-theologians in the Orthodox Church nowadays. Fr. Alexander Schmemann warned us about them years ago (paragraph breaks and emphasis mine):

        But then, what about the “majority”? What about the Orthodox “establishment” – hierarchial, ecclesiastical, theological? Here, precisely because we deal not with some sectarian deviation from but with the Church herself, the situation seems to me to be even more serious. The attitude of this “establishment” is that of a simple denial, conscious or unconscious, of any significant crisis.

        Someone has once half-jokingly remarked that our Greek brothers still do not know that in 1453 Constantinople was taken by the Turks and since then has been called Istanbul. Mutatis mutandis this remark can be extended today to an overwhelming majority of Orthodox people everywhere. It is as if the radical changes mentioned above were but passing “accidents” with no specific significance for, or impact upon, the Church’s “business as usual.”

        This attitude is best expressed and illustrated by the rhetoric which has become virtually the only “official” language of the Orthodox establishment, rhetoric made up of a mixture of unshakeable optimism, obligatory triumphalism and amazing self-righteousness.

        Those who do not use that language, who dare raise questions and to express doubts about the state of the Church in a rapidly changing world, are accused of disturbing the peace of the Church, or provoking troubles and, in a word, of undermining Orthodoxy. The very function of that rhetoric lies in its remarkable power to conceal reality by replacing it with a wishful “pseudo-reality,” and therefore simply to wipe away the questions which the “real” reality would unavoidably have raised.

        ~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Church, World, Mission, p. 11-12

        Fr. Alexander On the Progressive Surrender to Secularism Inside and Outside the Church:

        The Orthodox “establishment” and the vast majority of the Orthodox living in the West do not realize that the “heritage” which they claim to preserve is not that only heritage which is worth being preserved and lived by: the vision of God, man and life revealed in the Orthodox faith.

        It is not even the rich and many ways deeply Christian culture which grew up from that vision and which would force us to discern and to face the challenge of the West, but a miserable reduction of the heritage to a few superficial “symbols” which, by creating the illusion of faithfulness to the “faith of our fathers,” masks the progressive surrender of “real life” to the great, and indeed “Western” heresy of our age: secularism; the surrender not only of “secular” life, but of the Church’s life as well, of her approach be it to faith and liturgy, to parish administration and pastoral ministry, or to education and mission. …

        Hence the tragic nominalism which permeates the entire life of the Church and prevents her from fulfilling her essential mission, her task of judging, evaluating, inspiring, changing, transforming the whole life of man, of generating that creative tension between herself and the world which makes her into “the salt of the earth.”

        ~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Church, World, Mission, p. 13-14

        • Rostislav says

          Travesties like this are the end result of the Left’s insistence on the Orthodox Church “shutting up and keeping out of politics”…

          … in the spring of 1929. The religious work of the Church was hindered by laws and government decrees. The educational function of the Church was completely abolished. The clergy and lay workers were persecuted by the police, and they had to pay high taxes. A decree issued on April 8, 1929 forbade all forms of religious propaganda and made even the most minimal and restrained charitable work of the Church impossible. This meant that all religious activity was repressed. The decree was followed by further seizures of churches, the imprisonment, and in many cases the exile or the martyrdom of the pastors. …


          This is the quiet violence they are waging against the Orthodox Church in our time. They are paving the road to disenfranchisement with Orwellian “self criticism and repression”, to the Catacombs, to Neo Pagan persecutions. In a way, their views today constitute a new Sergianism, “quieting the Church for the immoral, anti religious state to nominalize, ghettoize, secularize it away”. Any of these Leftists here could easily be understood as saying “The joys and sorrows of Obama are our joys and struggles”.

          Their intent is assault upon Orthodoxy and its total marginalization. It transcends secularism.

          They hallow in their Far Left narcotized minds a day when some future Obama will close down the last church and commit the last Orthodox Priest to an insane asylum for “reeducation”.

          Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina told us decades ago, “Yesterday in Russia, tomorrow in America. It is later than you think”. The hour he prophesied is now upon us.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Right. And perhaps, Mr. Banescu, you need to appreciate the need for a systematic theological education to address these issues – competent, measured, tested – and as Fr. Alexander always emphasized, the education was every bit accomplished in the chapel, with ones brothers & teachers, something one cannot duplicate by reading a book. Otherwise, we would be consulting & ordaining simply by distributing a reading list and – I don’t know what – offering a “standardized competency examination?” Spare me the theatrics.

          So, having again stumbled across two sweet quotes that seem to fit the bill, Mr. Banescu, what, then, is the solution, speaking of pseudo-teachers and pseudo-theologians? I’ve twice posted the same sweet answer you-know-where:

          The spiritual restoration consists therefore in an absolute and total priority of religion in the parish. Its secularistic reduction must be counteracted by a real religious reduction and it is here that the priest must recover his unique place and function. He must literally stop playing the game of the parish, he must cease to be the “servant” and the “organization man” of secular interests and become again what he was when people considered it bad luck to meet him, what he eternally is: the man of faith, the witness of the Absolute, the representative of the Living God. “It is his (the priest’s) faith that the world needs”—wrote Francois Mauriac—”a faith which does not wink at the idols. From all other men we expect charity, from the priest alone we require faith and not faith horn out of a reasoning, but a faith born from the daily contact and a kind of familiarity with God. Charity, love we can receive from all beings; that kind of faith only from the priest.

          As I have noted you-know-where, also addresses your cagey comment below because, as we are saved as the Church, so it is that the Church (Oh, I love the expression!) is the very “locus & expression to the world”:

          The tragedy is not, as some people affirm, that Churches and parishes were too religious, too detached and thus “lost” the world. The tragedy is that they let the world in, became worldly and set the “world” and not God as their basic “term of reference.” And thus they lost both God and the world and became a vague and indeed “irrelevant” religious projection of secularism and an equally irrelevant secularistic projection of religion.

          Emphasis mine. Now, you could refer to this as “ghettoization” or “Leftist bubbles” and other jingoisms to your hearts content, but that would be dumb, mistaking whack for the “pearl of great price.” (Matt. 13:46)

          So, Mr. Banescu, your criticism of my comment below is so concrete, so literal, that if I were in physical proximity, I’d show you the little trick my mother taught me as a child in interlocking fingers, “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open it up to see all the people” – to demonstrate that I do actually grasp that the Church is made up of “people. But better, I will make the analogy of telling our Father Seraphim of Sarov that by telling Motovilov, “Save yourself and you save hundreds around you,”are [facilitating a] miserable reduction of the heritage to a few superficial “symbols,” and would do better to go to the Pathmark Grocery Plaza to garner signatures against those screaming Fr. Schmemann endorsed the moral depravity of the Left and Obamunism. And, of course, be home by 4:30 pm for wine and cheese.

          Mr. Banescu, “We are saved as the Church, ‘We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true Faith…’ And if only we could understand this and take it to our hearts and our will, day after day, there would be no problem of Orthodoxy, but only a mission of Orthodoxy in America.”

          Quotations from: Schmemann, A. “Problems of orthodoxy in america: iii the spiritual problem.” St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, 1965, Vol. 9 , #4, pp. 171-193.

          • Rostislav says

            Metropolitan Sergius maintained he “was saving the Church”. The Church HAS NO NEED OF SAVING! It saves us. So much for a “systematic theological education” which doesn’t even provide one with a fundamental understanding of Orthodox dogmatic theology!

            Neo – sergianism laced with a pathologically wrong and crudely framed elitism.

            An irrational ESCAPIST (according to Fr. Alexander Schmemann) argument for “preserving the spiritual purity of the Church” from politicization while advocating its submission to cultural disenfranchisement, hallowing the prerogatives of Far Left statism!

            How is that for double talk and sophistry?!

            All with a silent “Don’t dare be American if you are Orthodox!” The state and Obamunism for our Leftist utopian struggle against the homophobic, reactionary bigotry of Christianity!

            Seems instead of channeling Fr. Alexander Schmemann, someone now is speaking for Yaroslavsky (in the name of Fr. Alexander, no doubt). After all, the end justifies the means!

    • And “the Church” is made up of what and whom exactly?

      Last time I checked the only members of the Church who can talk and bear witness to the world via actions and words were PEOPLE. Yes, buildings, icons, crosses, writings, etc. also bear witness, but not by themselves. It takes human beings to spread the Good News and preach, teach, and defend timeless truths.

      So the supposed criticism by Stankovich that “What Fr. Alexander Schmemann actually taught was not that we are called to witness, but that the Church was called to witness, and that the Church could only witness to the world” is sheer nonsense. Never mind the clear and direct teaching of Scriptures that contradict such confused comments.

      Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
      ~ Matthew 28:19–20

      And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
      ~ Acts 10:42

      Let YOUR light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
      ~ Matthew 5:16

      For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
      ~ Luke 9:26

      By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
      ~ John 15:8

      • Rostislav says

        Yes, the Far Left “Orthodox” secularists can be taken as saying that being Orthodox In America means you can’t be fully American, and if you are Orthodox you have to “keep it to yourself”: you can’t be an “Orthodox North American”.

        That is how affronting their political repression is.

  7. Rastislov,

    No matter how you approach it there is simply no early Christian precedent for trying to get the larger culture to behave as Christians without first becoming Christians themselves. The USA is going to go in the direction of liberal progressivism (or nihilism to be more precise) and Christians can either start living like Christians to stand out or they can try to use some diminishing political power to try to make the rest of the culture Christian by force of law until they soon lose and engender a great deal of animosity in their political opponents.

    I would be happy to see bishops lead the Church and leave non-Christians to their own devices. Of course we should preach the gospel and live the gospel, but that is to make disciples, not to try to force non-disciples to live as Christians by force. The Church does not rise or fall on the laws of the land. The laws of the land are of this fallen world so we shouldn’t be surprised when they suit fallen people. If Christians stand out as different in the great decline that will be a strong witness. If they continue to live as hypocrites with the same rates of abortion, divorce, porn use, consumerism, etc. etc. they will only have a negative witness that will give people a strong aversion to the Church.

    • Rostislav says

      I think the fact that you insist on misspelling my name shows your true intent in this exchange: if you can’t respect someone enough to be polite, please don’t feel obliged to make it public that you don’t respect the forum or the message. In civil discourse, people don’t insult people in such a way and engage in such puerile antics. I find it ironic that you presume to lecture “Christians on fully becoming Christians”, when you yourself do not behave as a Christian and politically argue for Christian religious repression to the point you find it politically expedient to insult other people. Some would say that is irrational doubletalk, maybe sophistry (but that might be giving your presentation too much credit). This uncivil and rude behavior is quite common amongst the Far Left Daily Koz – MSNBC G-I-G-O crowd. This behavior is neither Orthodox nor polite nor even adult, but it is the best you have. If you refuse to even address people by their proper names, how in the world do you expect people to read or consider anything you have to write?

      But I suspect that disruption is your first concern, because you know no one who is Orthodox and serious is buying what you are selling.

      The US is not going the way of “liberal progressivism”, because this movement doesn’t have a “way” and a majority of the nation is still traditional. Believing in nothing but immorality, relativism, economic malaise, worthless currency, declining living standards, a police state assaulting liberty is not a lasting political proposition.

      As far as the Church not having a place in the public/political arena. It is clear that is your Far Left intent. But if the Church does not participate in the public/political arena, the Church within a generation won’t have even a private function that it won’t have to defend from the likes of the immoral, atheist secular progressive Left. By your comments there is nothing you would like more. You quietly admit it every time you write and insult someone here. Your goal is to “take the Church out of the cultural equation” so that your advocacy of Obamunism goes unchallenged, because that is where your true loyalties lie.

      A nominal Church without a public/political presence is a ghettoized Church, whose believers are formed with a “sunday only/Christmas and Easter consciousness” (“schizophrenia” in the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann), being assaulted by the heresy of secularism.

      Abortion, the gay agenda, infringement of religious and personal liberty, state sponsored immorality are all losers for the Left: if they weren’t you would be encouraging my presentation.

      As far as the Church forming believers in a Eucharist centered, active and personal unity and experience, that is part of my message. You can’t witness to the world what you haven’t witnessed yourself. Yes, let’s devote ourselves to making this happen. “Can’t” never got anything done! But I guess you have to wear a mask to keep this up, right?

      I find it all too telling that you have arrived here “contributing” your point of view while personally insulting people. It is all too clear that you wish to disrupt the message rather than discuss or offer anything. Are you really that concerned that your Far Left point of view is so weak and marginal that Orthodox Christians will mobilize, reject it and begin entering the national conversation to shut your deconstruction of America down?

      The Church will never become native and North American until it participates in all of North America’s concerns: forming the believer, unity in the Eucharist, the family, relatonships, the culture, relief, politics. Limiting the witness and participation of the Church in the life of this missionary territory is in effect repressing its witness. When such “politically correct” ideological REPRESSION is accompanied with the political insistence on “keeping quiet” (what certain Far Left voices contribute), that in effect is advocacy of secularism, quiet persecution.

      That is what these Leftist voices want and stand for. They aren’t satisfied with what their extremist, ideological fellow travelers did in persecuting religion in the Soviet Bloc. They intend to have their own style of religious persecution in America. Shut up, drink the koolaid, all hail Obama the Usurper! The end justifies the means.

  8. M. Stankovich says


    Fr. Hans has held this forum as at the forefront of the “public square” of discussion pertinent to issues bearing on the Orthodox Church. I see names in these threads, including my own, with years of participation, not weeks. While the discussions here have frequently been heated, even contentious, Fr. Hans has never let them rise to the level of offensiveness you have taken every thread. Threads here famously contain discussions with 50 or more posts, and you are stifling and inhibiting conversation, in some places limited to you and me because I will not be intimidated by your bluster and cheap theatrical outbursts, ascription of offensive “labels” and affiliation, and your demands that discussion cease. I would further suspect that others are equally tired of of your CAPS LOCK TIRADES AND INSULTS, particularly when you can not substantiate your position. You are increasingly paranoiac and aggressive. I am also asking Fr. Hans to contact you privately, as this truly is a detriment to the atmosphere of this forum.

    • Rostislav says

      It seems they now resort to transference in order to distract and disrupt. Their ideological positions have been categorically discredited and rejected while they have been shown to offer nothing but invective, unbalanced personal attacks and agendized catcalls.

      The paranoia and the pathological behavior and offensiveness have been all theirs, the typical Leftist crusade for their failed ideas and ideology AKA “Occupy Orthodox Net”. They aim to shout down or shut down thought they can’t control. Faithful, free Orthodox thought and expression is dangerous. Especially if it has the potential of political action.Therefore, they promote the ghettoization of the Church and the cowing of the faithful. Advance the cause of secularism and religious repression.


      In a word, anything for the cause of Obamunism.Tovarisch Lenin would be proud of these latter day komsomoltsy. The ends justify the means.

  9. Rostislav,

    The misspelling was merely accidental. Making something of it is childish.

    It is pretty clear that you hold being a neo-conservative American much higher in your estimation than being an Orthodox Christian. Good. Go worship in the temple of politics and quit dragging the Church into a local and temporary debate that will only enrage non-Christians. You can’t force people to be Christian at gunpoint and that is what the force of law essentially is. Far better for Christians to have the gun pointed at then so they can openly defy the law than to have non-Christians feeling like the Church is exercising worldly power over them. You can’t make a culture Christian by law. The world will not be saved at the voting booth. Most Americans don’t give a damn about God or religion and sure as hell don’t want people who do telling them what to do. So leave them to their own devices and quit trying to steer them from the cliff of their own destruction. The sooner the majority achieves its vision the sooner their failure will become apparent. Meanwhile, if Christians can stand out then people might have something truly different to look to.

    • Rostislav says

      Actually, you did “make a mistake conspicuously twice” so as to be noticeable. Especially since it had been brought up as an issue, an issue your alter ego found all too expedient to attempt to exploit. Seems it backfired. There is no excuse for being so petty you insult people by misspelling their names. That is simply offensive. But I believe that is your point.

      The fact you still presume to lecture people on an Orthodoxy you don’t evidence and a Christianity whose repression you advocate is just another moment in the ironic satire of Leftists masking their disdain for religion. Hypocrisy could be a word used if there were an eye to read it.

      I am not a Neo Conservative. Something you seem to still be clinging to from your Occupy Orthodox Net talking points. I am a Traditionalist Libertarian.

      As far as why the Right represents best the views of the Church is precisely because it preserves religious liberty and promotes traditional morality while the Left is actively persecuting it and seeking to supplant it. Your contribution here consistently affirms that.

      As a Libertarian, I do advance people and communities being free to choose their way, but with the understanding that all points of view are represented and that religious persecution is not a reason why they do not choose a certain path. In a community and nation in which I live I promote traditional American culture and values while as an Orthodox Christian I try to live up to the adventure in freedom Christian morality constitutes in reestablishing the personhood of believers in CHRIST JESUS, for true existence is in living a Christocentric and Christological life rejecting dehumanization and dissolution, life commited to sin and depersonalization, while affirming Orthodox life as reintegration and fulfillment in the Person of CHRIST in HIS BODY and BLOOD. Such a life of witness is precisely a moral and public Life in HIM.

      Orthodoxy simply is not witnessed unless people live it and in their lives witness it offering creation, which includes their families, their communities, their culture, their state, a synaxis – a theanthropic assembly: a Eucharistic assembly of praise and transfiguration in the Uncreated Energies of CHRIST JESUS, becoming the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST, trampling down death by death, partaking of the Divine Nature. Thereby hallowing the times and sanctifying creation, matter in the love of CHRIST the GOD man. That means the moral reintegration and witness of personhood to all, including a Far Left Neo Pagan usurper regime.

      As an Orthodox Christian, I don’t check peoples’ party passports at the door of the Church, but by the same token, I profess the need for the Church’s message to be free, unadulterated, active, witnessing the Truth of CHRIST to the world and to its political regimes. That is the Apostolic Commission to which the Church is called. When people contradict that Evangelical imperative and promote, as Fr. Schmemann denounced, a “schizophrenia”, a nominalism in their piety and observance, an ideologically motivated escapism constituting advocacy for the heresy of secularism with a clearly Far Left Neo Sergianist baggage, then that rises to assault upon the Holy Faith and is something I resist with every fiber of my being.

      In other words, the reason why the RIGHT is the de facto choice for Orthodox Christians is because it preserves their religious liberty while defending and promoting traditional values in the face of committed atheist/secularist MSNBC G-I-G-O – Obamunist assault. The Church is being repressed in its witness of Christian morality by people like yourself. That constitutes persecution. The political motive behind it is state sponsorship of homosexuality, abortion, promiscuity, every manner of immorality thrust on the scene with a very real atheist secularist programme. That is the Left YOU represent in your proposed repression of religious liberty. It is irreconcileable with Orthodox Christianity.

      Your ideological position advances the murder of infants, state sponsorship of sodomy, gay marriage, assault on religion, promiscuity and a culture of thoughtless fornication, drug use, atheism, warring against Christmas, etc. It is not rocket science for a serious Orthodox Christian to be able to say that your Far Left position stands against everything Orthodoxy stands for, constituting persecution of Christianity, religion in general. While “Centrists” seem to think that there should be some middle ground for views like this and that there is something positive to be achieved in allowing some of the cultural poison you advocate to be shot into the veins of society. Thus, the Right alone offers the only appropriate political posture for Orthodox Christians, for programmes of the Right solely allow one to live ones Faith in integrity, without compromise, in full fidelity and liberty.

      YES, Orthodox Christians can be good Orthodox Christians and good Americans. They don’t have to shut up and lock their Faith and morals in their churches on sundays and Christmas and Easter! We are on a missionary territory and our Holy Faith is part of this culture. We are called to share it. No, we are not called to silence and inaction in the face of the moral decline of our nation and looming anti Christian persecution on the part of your Far Left ideological fellow travelers. We will not drink the koolaid. We will not support Obamunism as faith communities in new iterations of sergianist cowardice. We will speak up and we will witness Orthodoxy to the culture with its moral, transformative message. With unadulterated fidelity to its teachings.

      Since the entire swath of issues you bring up has been answered and shown to be both disingenuous and inaccurate and your presentation offensive and disruptive, there is no further point in continuing this. You aren’t reading the answers given to you and you are entrenched in your Far Left views and advocacy for secularism and repression of religious liberty in America. That is a position serious Orthodox Christians reject. You aren’t offering dialogue and you certainly have no interest in Orthodox points of view. Thus, furthering this exchange is both pointless and futile. Be well. Our conversation is over.

  10. macedoniandeacon says


  11. cynthia curran says

    . Those who, with the reason of piety persuading them (pietatis
    ratione suadente), picked [exposed infants] up, will not be suffered
    to change their own opinion and retain them in servitude, even if
    they started out in the beginning having a thought of this kind, lest
    their doing such a pious act might seem akin to a contract of
    buying and selling (ne videantur quasi mercimonio contracto ita
    pietatis officium gerere).81
    The pious deed of the collector is also referred to in the second reform
    Like the surviving fifth-century laws, Justinian’s reform focuses on
    the compassion of the collector that led him or her to save the life of the
    child. Unlike preceding legislation, however, Justinian’s constitutions
    take this mental construction to its apparent logical conclusion: if the
    collection of an exposed infant is an act of piety, then it cannot lead to
    the enslavement of the child. Whether Justinian or his secretary had
    Romans 8:12-17 in mind when they drafted their law is a matter for
    conjecture, but the parallel is indeed suggestive. Just as the spirit of
    adoption rescued the Christian faithful through God’s grace, so did the
    collector’s act of compassion save the life of the exposed. In both cases,
    the beneficiary “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
    but . . . the spirit of sonship.”83 Adoption into slavery was no adoption
    at all.
    Justinian’s legislation, despite its good intentions, is likely to have
    had little practical effect. Only the privileged few would have been able
    to plead their case at law, and it must have been difficult for a servant to
    80. Justinian’s reform actually had two provisions: the first affirming the established rule that
    former masters and patrons could not reclaim those exposed with their knowledge or consent, and
    the second breaking precedent by preventing the collector from retaining the child in a position of
    servitude. The first aspect of the reform is indeed harmonious with classical ideas (Suetonius,
    Claudius 25; cf. CJ 8.51(52).1), and this connection is drawn in Nov. Just. 153. The provisions
    relating to the collector, however, are completely novel.
    81. CJ 8.51(52).3.
    82. Nov. Just. 153.
    83. Rom 8:12-17.
    This is proof that christian ideas were applied to law at least in the 6th century and most likely later European codes were influence as well not on marriage but on child abandonment.

  12. cynthia curran says

    I agree that Christians should support traditional marriage because of Christian belief not because they are warring against the secular left same goes for abortion.

    • Rostislav says

      The secular Left is using abortion and the gay agenda to war against the Church and any people of faith. You can’t avoid a war they have declared on you and what you believe. It is upon you. Either you witness your Faith or you will witness its demise at their hands.

  13. cynthia curran says

    Dear Ed,
    If I recall, the ancient Rome of Augustus was also not a model of a modern democratic state. I guess that suggests Roman culture and the later code of eastern Justinian, the basis for many modern European law codes, is to be despised. Also, the jurisprudence of Blackstone, the father of British common law-and American jurisprudence- being influenced by the Bible – must be despised in kind too. Thanks for your even handed “enlightenment” on the subject. Take a historiography course.

    This is how the other side thinks on the issue form this letter I found.

    • Rostislav says

      Why is a “modern democratic state” necessarily the ideal? According to Plato, rule by the Philosopher King was the ideal and when that could not arise, rule by a Republic of the virtuous and wise and well read. That is what ancient Rome and Byzantium attempted to accomplish.

      When confronted with insistence on “liberal democracy”, I always take pause to reflect on the line from the Shakespherean play Cariolinus, where the general says something to the effect, “I will not surrender Rome to hungry rabble, to dark ignorance, and a mob of thieves”. “Democracy” can be an ugly standard indeed if it is not upheld to the glory of GOD.

      When we look at our nation today, it seems that it has been surrendered to a usurper government and an unscrupulous people, an oligarchy of secular cultural decomposition, who seek to degenerate and divide the people and force a crude neo-pagan, depraved, semiliterate, statist Far Left agenda not only on us but on the entire world. Rather than uplift the people in faith, in virtue, in letters, in wisdom, in patriotism, this Far Left usurper cabal has plunged the nation into social decay, base ignorance, moral indifference and godlessness, libertine depravity and national apathy. Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Adams would denounce this travesty that has been made of our government and march on it.

      So our government is far from perfect, but it is ours, and it is our responsibility as a people to wisely use this government we possess to the greater glory of GOD. (Thus, it is our Orthodox Christian obligation to work as wise stewards and to change it.) Likewise, any government of any given people if it meets that muster, it has achieved its purpose and should be respected.

      The Pax Romana of Augustus was a period of approximately 200 years of cultural achievements, peace and progress and was the seedbed for the rise of Christianity.

      • James Bradshaw says

        “Rule by the Philosopher King was the ideal”…

        Who did you have in mind?

        Under Nicholas II, Jews in Russia were met with some degree of persecution, including during the Kishinev pogrom which left dozens killed, thousands wounded and a multitude homeless and destitute. The personal wealth he amassed was astronomical. There are other accounts of him (as well as those of his predecessor, Nicholas I) but I’ll leave you to dig them up if you aren’t aware of them already.

        As they say, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

        Yes, I’d agree our current system isn’t perfect, but its system of checks and balances seem to help at least avoid the sort of violent persecution that go hand in hand with this type of political regime.

        • Rostislav says

          By comparative standards, the rule of Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II was no different than in any other part of Europe in terms of wealth disparity, except for the fact that during his reign, numerous initiatives were undertaken to better the lot of the common people. St. Nicholas II was a good man, but a weak ruler. However, had the February Revolution not have occurred, by June of 1917, WWI would have been over and history would have remembered him as one of the greatest Tsars in Russian history.

          It is not without reason that in 1900, the economic policy of Tsarist Russia saw it becoming the world’s first economic and military superpower by the year 1960.

          As far as the history of the pogroms, they were a sorry chapter in the history of old Russia. That being said, they were usually autonomous phenomena and didn’t have any sort of coordination from the Imperial government. But, yes, the government should have done more to prevent their occurrence and punished the bureacrats and rogue police and military officers who inspired them. This is a sin of all of Russia, and one I am heartfully sorry for.

          BTW, many of these rogue leaders later joined the ranks of the Democrats, the Socialists, the Nationalists and all other manner of secular Revolutionaries and “LEFTIST workers of the peoples will”. You fail to mention that the worst pogroms actually occurred AFTER the fall of the monarchy, during the civil war, by people usually espousing some notion of “secular liberal democracy”.

          I find it almost distasteful that one would bate tsarism while failing to see that the system one is espousing places the blood of the millions murdered by Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot on ones hands.

          Whatever the failings of the Tsarist bureaucracy and its corruption, and many could be named, the Far Left atheist Bolshevik gangster regime took that corruption and the violence of the pogroms to a new diabolical level -into an atheist infrastructure of dungeons, prisons, inquistions and mass graves: it made nations into cemeteries- from orphanages which euthanized children to revolutionary “chrezvychajky” kangaroo courts which engaged in grizzly and ritual political murders of political opponents to carnage of villages and monasteries, millions murdered in purges, in artificial famines, worked to death as slave labor in gulags… Indeed, the Bolshevik pogrom was the greatest pogrom perpetrated upon Russia …


          The Far Left with its “enlightened atheism” murdered more people in the name of “progress, modernity, enlightenment, political correctness, social justice, fairness and wealth redistribution, democracy and the revolution” in the twentieth century than any Tsar, any war, any Hitler ever did. So let’s keep context.

          This pogrom the Far Left with its atheism and catcalls for “wealth distribution” bears on its shoulders.

          Let’s be forthright in speaking of bloody rulers. The Tsar’ Martyr’s reign and its mistakes were sorry circumstances, but the rivers of blood and mass graves of the Left which followed his martyrdom were horrors and crimes against humanity never known in the history of mankind. It is in consideration of this carnage and barbarism of immoral atheism and its “modernity” and “enlightenment” where the Left is indicted and the tsarist system is redeemed.

          One of the sorry things few people don’t mention is that Hitler used the atrocities in Russia perpetrated by the Bolsheviks to implement his own crazed genocidal policies, murdering so many innocents, over 6 million Jews. One of his primary points of propaganda was chronicling the atrocities in post Tsarist Russia and slandering the Jews with the acts of the atheist Leftist “democratic” Bolsheviks. When he invaded Russia, he styled it as “humanitarian intervention, to liberate the oppressed masses of the East”. Yes, the atheist “liberal democrat” Left stoked the fire of evil and genocide both within Russia and outside of it and murdered over a hundred million (over 6 million Jews) by the end of the twentieth century, filling mass graves all over the earth.

          For all its inequities, even sorry injustices, the Christian Tsarist state, was shown to be far superior to the modern secular Leftist atheist “workers’ paradise” and not even fractionally as bloody or inequitable in its lack of wealth restribution: the atheist Left enslaved great peoples and murdered them on a whim.

          So, no, there is no perfect system or state, but in the consideration of these things, the Leftist secular atheist liberal democratic state is not at all a paragon to emulate or even speak of in any sentence which includes the word “superior”.

  14. cynthia curran says

    I was saying this is how the secular left thinks on the Justinian Code doesn’t like it because of Roman and Christian influence. Doesn’t like the common law either since its has christian roots. Its true that the Augustus era until 150 is high in achievement , there is a lead level in the ice caps not reach until the 1600’s. However, read Tacitus and Suetonius on the age and the scandal.

  15. cynthia curran says

    When confronted with insistence on “liberal democracy”, I always take pause to reflect on the line from the Shakespherean play Cariolinus, where the general says something to the effect, “I will not surrender Rome to hungry rabble, to dark ignorance, and a mob of thieves”. “Democracy” can be an ugly standard indeed if it is not upheld to the glory of GOD.
    I remember he was a figure from the early Republic and Shakespeare got all his knowledge of Roman historical figures form Plutarch’s lives whose morality was close to Christianity.

  16. cynthia curran says

    Well, it seems that early Christians whether clergy or the state dealt homosexuality harshly which is surprising that some Orthodox who follow tradition have a very modern approach to it. Much harsher than what Chris writing about.

    The prohibition of all extramarital sexual relations—including homosexuality—
    is found in the earliest non-canonical Christian writings. Both the Didache and the
    Epistle of Barnabas, dating from the second century, include homosexuality among a list
    of sexual sins.15 One of the first Christian theologians, Clement of Alexandria (died
    220), wrote that the Sodomites had “through much luxury fallen into uncleanness,
    practicing adultery shamelessly, and burning with insane love for boys.”16 St. John
    Chrysostum (died 407) strongly opposed the practice of homosexuality in his day,
    which he viewed as contrary to nature:
    Blurring the natural order, men play the part of women, and women
    play the part of men, contrary to nature. . . . No passage is closed against
    evil lusts; and their sexuality is a public institution—they are roommates
    with indulgence.
    As a result of their sin, writes Clement, “so did God did [sic] bring upon them
    such a punishment as made the womb of the land forever barren and destitute of
    all fruits.”17
    St. Basil, a contemporary of Chrysostum, counseled young men to flee “intimate
    association,” reminding such that “the enemy has indeed set many aflame through
    such means.”18 Basil recommended the same punishment for homosexual offenses as
    for adultery, which was exclusion from the sacraments for fifteen years. St. Gregory
    of Nyssa (died 398) also recommended this punishment and viewed homosexuality
    as unlawful pleasure.19 The conviction that homosexual acts are objectively wrong is
    continued by St. Augustine (died 430), who wrote that “those crimes which are against
    nature must everywhere and always be detested and punished. The crimes of the men
    of Sodom are of this kind.”
    By formulating laws prohibiting homosexuality, the early Western law codes
    unequivocally affirmed that such behavior was contrary to nature. In the fourth
    century, the Theodosian Code mandated “exquisite punishment” for those who would
    enter into homosexual marriages, and by 390 the Code states that those who practice
    the “shameful custom of condemning a man’s body, acting the part of a woman’s” are to be burned at the stake.21 The Emperor Justinian strengthened this legal
    tradition in the sixth century in the Corpus Juris Civilis, which became the foundation
    for Byzantine and later Western law regulating sexual behavior. In the Institutes of
    the Corpus, homosexuality is classed with adultery as punishable by death.22 Justinian
    also issued two edicts that condemn such practices as “diabolical” and “the most
    disgraceful lusts.”23 From this time on the prohibition of homosexual behavior became fixed in the Western legal tradition.

  17. Why Orthodox Men Love Church

    Many men may not love church, but Orthodox men do.

    by Frederica Matthewes-Green

    In a time when churches of every description are faced with Vanishing Male Syndrome, men are showing up at Eastern Orthodox churches in numbers that, if not numerically impressive, are proportionately intriguing. This may be the only church which attracts and holds men in numbers equal to women. As Leon Podles wrote in his 1999 book, “The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity,”

    “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”

    Rather than guess why this is, I emailed a hundred Orthodox men, most of whom joined the Church as adults. What do they think makes this church particularly attractive to men? Their responses, below, may spark some ideas for leaders in other churches, who are looking for ways to keep guys in the church.

    Challenges. The term most commonly cited by these men was


    Orthodoxy is

    “active and not passive.”

    “It’s the only church where you are required to adapt to it, rather than it adapting to you.”

    “The longer you are in it, the more you realize it demands of you.”

    The “sheer physicality of Orthodox worship” is part of the appeal. Regular days of fasting from meat and dairy, “standing for hours on end, performing prostrations, going without food and water [before communion]…When you get to the end you feel that you’ve faced down a challenge.”

    “Orthodoxy appeals to a man’s desire for self-mastery through discipline.”

    “In Orthodoxy, the theme of spiritual warfare is ubiquitous; saints, including female saints, are warriors. Warfare requires courage, fortitude, and heroism. We are called to be ‘strugglers’ against sin, to be ‘athletes’ as St. Paul says. And the prize is given to the victor. The fact that you must ‘struggle’ during worship by standing up throughout long services is itself a challenge men are willing to take up.”

    A recent convert summed up,

    “Orthodoxy is serious. It is difficult. It is demanding. It is about mercy, but it’s also about overcoming oneself. I am challenged in a deep way, not to ‘feel good about myself’ but to become holy. It is rigorous, and in that rigor I find liberation. And you know, so does my wife.”

    Clear Disciplines. Several mentioned that they really appreciated having clarity about the content of these challenges and what they were supposed to do.

    “Most guys feel a lot more comfortable when they know what’s expected of them.”

    “Orthodoxy presents a reasonable set of boundaries.”

    “It’s easier for guys to express themselves in worship if there are guidelines about how it’s supposed to work—especially when those guidelines are so simple and down-to-earth that you can just set out and start doing something.”

    “The prayers the Church provides for us — morning prayers, evening prayers, prayers before and after meals, and so on — give men a way to engage in spirituality without feeling put on the spot, or worrying about looking stupid because they don’t know what to say.”

    They appreciate learning clear-cut physical actions that are expected to form character and understanding.

    “People begin learning immediately through ritual and symbolism, for example, by making the sign of the cross. This regimen of discipline makes one mindful of one’s relation to the Trinity, to the Church, and to everyone he meets.”

    A Goal. Men also appreciate that this challenge has a goal: union with God. One said that in a previous church

    “I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere in my spiritual life (or that there was anywhere to get to — I was already there, right?) But something, who knew what, was missing. Isn’t there SOMETHING I should be doing, Lord?”

    Orthodoxy preserves and transmits ancient Christian wisdom about how to progress toward this union, which is called “theosis.” Every sacrament or spiritual exercise is designed to bring the person, body and soul, further into continual awareness of the presence of Christ within, and also within every other human being. As a cloth becomes saturated with dye by osmosis, we are saturated with God by theosis.

    A catechumen wrote that he was finding icons helpful in resisting unwanted thoughts.

    “If you just close your eyes to some visual temptation, there are plenty of stored images to cause problems. But if you surround yourself with icons, you have a choice of whether to look at something tempting or something holy.”

    A priest writes,

    “Men need a challenge, a goal, perhaps an adventure — in primitive terms, a hunt. Western Christianity has lost the ascetic, that is, the athletic aspect of Christian life. This was the purpose of monasticism, which arose in the East largely as a men’s movement. Women entered monastic life as well, and our ancient hymns still speak of women martyrs as showing ‘manly courage.’”

    “Orthodoxy emphasizes DOING. …. Guys are ACTIVITY oriented.”

    No Sentimentality. In “The Church Impotent,” cited above (and recommended by several of these men), Leon Podles offers a theory about how Western Christian piety became feminized. In the 12th-13th centuries a particularly tender, even erotic, strain of devotion arose, one which invited the individual believer to picture himself or herself (rather than the Church as a whole) as the Bride of Christ. “Bridal Mysticism” was enthusiastically adopted by devout women, and left an enduring stamp on Western Christianity. It understandably had less appeal for guys. For centuries in the West, men who chose the ministry have been stereotyped as effeminate. A life-long Orthodox layman says that, from the outside, Western Christianity strikes him as

    “a love story written for women by women.”

    The Eastern Church escaped Bridal Mysticism because the great split between East and West had already taken place. The men who wrote me expressed hearty dislike for what they perceive as a soft Western Jesus.

    “American Christianity in the last two hundred years has been feminized. It presents Jesus as a friend, a lover, someone who ‘walks with me and talks with me.’ This is fine rapturous imagery for women who need a social life. Or it depicts Jesus whipped, dead on the cross. Neither is the type of Christ the typical male wants much to do with.”

    During worship,

    “men don’t want to pray in the Western fashion with hands clasped, lips pressed together, and a facial expression of forced serenity.”

    “It’s guys holding hands with other guys and singing campfire songs.”

    “Lines about ‘reaching out for His embrace,’ ‘wanting to touch His face,’ while being ‘overwhelmed by the power of His love’—those are difficult songs for one man to sing to another Man.”

    “A friend of mine told me that the first thing he does when he walks into a church is to look at the curtains. That tells him who is making the decisions in that church, and the type of Christian they want to attract.”

    “Guys either want to be challenged to fight for a glorious and honorable cause, and get filthy dirty in the process, or to loaf in our recliners with plenty of beer, pizza, and football. But most churches want us to behave like orderly gentlemen, keeping our hands and mouths nice and clean.”

    One man said that worship at his Pentecostal church had been

    “largely an emotional experience. Feelings. Tears. Repeated rededication of one’s life to Christ, in large emotional group settings. Singing emotional songs, swaying hands aloft. Even Scripture reading was supposed to produce an emotional experience. I am basically a do-er, I want to do things, and not talk about or emote my way through them! As a business person I knew that nothing in business comes without effort, energy, and investment. Why would the spiritual life be any different?”

    Another, who visited Catholic churches, says,

    “They were conventional, easy, and modern, when my wife and I were looking for something traditional, hard, and counter-cultural, something ancient and martial.”

    A catechumen says that at his non-denominational church

    “worship was shallow, haphazard, cobbled together from whatever was most current; sometimes we’d stand, sometimes we’d sit, without much rhyme or reason to it. I got to thinking about how a stronger grounding in tradition would help. It infuriated me on my last Ash Wednesday that the priest delivered a homily about how the real meaning of Lent is to learn to love ourselves more. It forced me to realize how completely sick I was of bourgeois, feel-good American Christianity.”

    A convert priest says that men are drawn to the dangerous element of Orthodoxy, which involves “the self-denial of a warrior, the terrifying risk of loving one’s enemies, the unknown frontiers to which a commitment to humility might call us. Lose any of those dangerous qualities and we become the ‘JoAnn Fabric Store’ of churches: nice colors and a very subdued clientele.”

    “Men get pretty cynical when they sense someone’s attempting to manipulate their emotions, especially when it’s in the name of religion. They appreciate the objectivity of Orthodox worship. It’s not aimed at prompting religious feelings but at performing an objective duty.”

    Yet there is something in Orthodoxy that offers

    “a deep masculine romance. Do you understand what I mean by that? Most romance in our age is pink, but this is a romance of swords and gallantry.”

    From a deacon:

    “Evangelical churches call men to be passive and nice (think ‘Mr. Rogers’). Orthodox churches call men to be courageous and act (think ‘Braveheart’).

    Jesus Christ. What draws men to Orthodoxy is not simply that it’s challenging or mysterious. What draws them is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything the Church does or says.

    In contrast to some other churches, “Orthodoxy offers a robust Jesus” (and even a robust Virgin Mary, for that matter, hailed in one hymn as “our Captain, Queen of War”). Several used the term “martial” or referred to Orthodoxy as the “Marine Corps” of Christianity. (The warfare is against self-destructive sin and the unseen spiritual powers, not other people, of course.)

    One contrasted this “robust” quality with

    “the feminized pictures of Jesus I grew up with. I’ve never had a male friend who would not have expended serious effort to avoid meeting someone who looked like that.” Though drawn to Jesus Christ as a teen, “I felt ashamed of this attraction, as if it were something a red-blooded American boy shouldn’t take that seriously, almost akin to playing with dolls.”

    A priest writes:

    “Christ in Orthodoxy is a militant, Jesus takes Hell captive. Orthodox Jesus came to cast fire on the earth. (Males can relate to this.) In Holy Baptism we pray for the newly-enlisted warriors of Christ, male and female, that they may ‘be kept ever warriors invincible.’”

    After several years in Orthodoxy, one man found a service of Christmas carols in a Protestant church “shocking, even appalling.” Compared to the Orthodox hymns of Christ’s Nativity,

    “‘the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay’ has almost nothing to do with the Eternal Logos entering inexorably, silently yet heroically, into the fabric of created reality.”

    Continuity. Many intellectually-inclined Orthodox converts began by reading Church history and the early Christian writers, and found it increasingly compelling. Eventually they faced the question of which of the two most ancient churches, the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox, makes the most convincing claim of being the original Church of the Apostles.

    A lifelong Orthodox says that what men like is

    “stability: Men find they can trust the Orthodox Church because of the consistent and continuous tradition of faith it has maintained over the centuries.”

    A convert says,

    “The Orthodox Church offers what others do not: continuity with the first followers of Christ.”

    This is continuity, not archeology; the early church still exists, and you can join it.

    “What drew me was Christ’s promises to the Church about the gates of hell not prevailing, and the Holy Spirit leading into all truth—and then seeing in Orthodoxy a unity of faith, worship, and doctrine with continuity throughout history.”

    Another word for continuity is “tradition.” A catechumen writes that he had tried to learn everything necessary to interpret Scripture correctly, including ancient languages.

    “I expected to dig my way down to the foundation and confirm everything I’d been taught. Instead, the further down I went, the weaker everything seemed. I realized I had only acquired the ability to manipulate the Bible to say pretty much anything I wanted it to. The only alternative to cynicism was tradition. If the Bible was meant to say anything, it was meant to say it within a community, with a tradition to guide the reading. In Orthodoxy I found what I was looking for.”

    Men in Balance. A priest writes:

    “There are only two models for men: be ‘manly’ and strong, rude, crude, macho, and probably abusive; or be sensitive, kind, repressed and wimpy. But in Orthodoxy, masculine is held together with feminine; it’s real and down to earth, ‘neither male nor female,’ but Christ who ‘unites things in heaven and things on earth.’”

    Another priest comments that, if one spouse is originally more insistent about the family converting to Orthodoxy than the other,

    “when both spouses are making confessions, over time they both become deepened and neither one is as dominant in the spiritual relationship.”

    Men in Leadership. Like it or not, men simply prefer to be led by men. In Orthodoxy, lay women do everything lay men do, including preach, teach, and chair the parish council. But behind the iconostasis, around the altar, it’s all men. One respondent summarized what men like in Orthodoxy this way:


    “It’s the last place in the world men aren’t told they’re evil simply for being men.”

    Instead of negativity, they are constantly surrounded by positive role models in the saints, in icons and in the daily round of hymns and stories about saints’ lives. This is another concrete element that men appreciate — there are other real human beings to look to, rather than a blur of ethereal terms.

    “The glory of God is a man fully alive,”

    said St. Irenaeus.

    One writer adds that

    “The best way to attract a man to the Orthodox Church is to show him an Orthodox man.”

    But no secondary thing, no matter how good, can supplant first place.

    “A dangerous life is not the goal. Christ is the goal. A free spirit is not the goal. Christ is the goal. He is the towering figure of history around whom all men and women will eventually gather, to whom every knee will bow, and whom every tongue will confess.”

    HT: St. George Church of Prescott

    Source: December 2007 issue of The Word magazine


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