Why Do Eastern Orthodox Churches Continue Enabling Opposition to Orthodox Values on Abortion, Sexual Morality?

ird-institute-religion-democracyIt’s biting criticism folks — but all true. From the essay:

What I have observed rather consistently (and had this confirmed by other trustworthy observers) is that Eastern Orthodox leaders participating in NCC meetings have shown little to no interest in openly defending Christian values (particularly on life and sexuality) when confronted by the aggressively secular values of Liberalprotestantism, instead choosing to remain meekly passive. This includes what I have observed of those few Eastern Orthodox individuals who have obtained staff or leadership positions in the council.

My response to the full essay (published on Juicy Ecumenicism) blog is reprinted below. The essay is excerpted. Read the full essay on the Juicy Ecumencism blog.

Source: Juicy Ecumenicism | John Lomperis

Christian churches of any sort are right to be careful and thoughtful about the specific causes and organizations to which they do and do not give their public support, as such decisions are important part of what they tell a watching world about their faith and about the triune God. And if a church cannot or will not take the time to examine what a given organization actually does, it makes little sense to bestow a blank-check ecclesial endorsement on the organization’s activities.

So what exactly is accomplished by most of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States being affiliated with the National Council of Churches (NCC)?

First, we must ask what the effective purpose of the NCC is today.  Its member communions include neither the Roman Catholic Church nor more than an increasingly narrow fraction of American Protestants.  Given its growing narrowness, penchant for divisive rhetoric, and the rather unloving, disdainful ways in which NCC leaders take pains to distance themselves from other Christians, especially evangelicals, it is clear that the NCC’s noble founding goal of Christian unity is not much of a priority for current NCC leaders.

The NCC has served a purpose in the past with its New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible translation and its annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. But the former is a fait accompli while the latter represents only a tiny fraction of the NCC’s work. So neither of these is the council’s raison d’être.

No, the first and foremost effective purpose of the modern NCC is to promote the values of theologically liberal/heterodox Protestantism and to use the name and resources of churches as a politically convenient tool to promote partisan public-policy agendas, including ones that directly oppose clear Scriptural teachings.

Devout Eastern Orthodox prize their church’s identity as the bearer of what they see as unbroken Christian tradition. Of course, important parts of this tradition’s moral teachings are the basic Christian moral values of valuing the lives of unborn children and honoring the God-given boundaries of sex only within man-woman marriage.

Yet over the years, IRD has documented numerous instances of the NCC defending abortion and/or homosexual practice while demonizing those who stand up for Christian values (at least nominally shared by Eastern Orthodox leaders) on such issues. To say nothing of the over-the-top interpersonal rudeness that NCC staffers have been known to aim at Christians who do not share their liberal Protestant values.

[. . .]

Do Eastern Orthodox leaders really have no problem with the direction and values of a church council of which they are a part being shaped by the input of people who deny the divinity of Christ, while Protestants who actually believe in the Nicene Creed are often disproportionately excluded from such discussions in the NCC? Do Eastern Orthodox leaders really have no problem with their name, through the NCC, being associated with a radical group’s work to promote religious support for abortion and sexual immorality?

If Eastern Orthodox leaders choose to remain silent, this would tragically be consistent with their past behavior.

[. . .]

As any Greek readers may discern from my last name, Eastern Orthodoxy is part of my own family heritage. So I really do sympathize with how important it must have been decades ago for religious leaders of struggling new immigrant communities in an often very intolerant America to be invited to have a seat at the table with leaders of the cultural mainstream. But after a century of an established presence of Eastern Orthodoxy in America, shouldn’t such church leaders want more than merely being seen but not heard?

Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and other Eastern Orthodox members of the NCC could follow the example of their Antiochian Orthodox brethren by withdrawing their membership in the NCC and pursuing other areas of ecumenical engagement, a move that would be enthusiastically cheered by countless conservative Protestants within and beyond NCC member communions (including this United Methodist writer). Or they could try to use their seats at the table to seek genuinely meaningful dialogue by respectfully yet firmly challenging tablemates who have recently strayed from biblical moral values. At the very least, they could pro-actively make sure that as long as the council uses their names, the NCC will not say or do anything against Eastern Orthodox moral teaching.

[. . .]

But America’s NCC-endorsing Eastern Orthodox leaders (with the notable exception of the Antiochian Orthodox) have, by and large , chosen none of these things. Instead, they choose to continue their path of having no discernible moderating influence on the council (and having little to no apparent interest in doing so) while offering a blank-check endorsement of the NCC’s work, which the NCC’s Liberalprotestant staffers are all too eager to tout as a tool to shield the council from being dismissed as the decaying, ideologically narrow, Liberalprotestant dinosaur that it is.

[. . .]

Of course, I understand that Eastern Orthodox polity is fundamentally different from any Protestant body, and that, to the disappointment of the NCC and its allies like the Unitarian-led Religious Institute, no official Eastern Orthodox body is going to formally vote to, say, endorse abortion. And for what it’s worth, it is now widely agreed that the United Methodist Church is unlikely to change our official, conservative position on homosexuality for at least the foreseeable future.

But in both cases, there is a huge crisis of integrity when the church leadership chooses to shrink back from defending the very church values their offices charge them with promoting, and even passively allow their church’s name to be used to promote agendas directly contrary to the church’s own teachings.

Among U.S. leaders of both the United Methodist Church and Eastern Orthodoxy, there appear to be a number of leaders who love the Lord and accept the authority of Scripture, to whom God has given great opportunities to be witnesses for Christ and Christian truths affirmed in the on-paper position statements of both churches, but who inexplicably choose to bury their talents in the ground.

Read the entire article on the Juicy Ecumenicism blog.

My response:

This is a very fair critique of Orthodox involvement in the NCC. I would only add this clarification: most lay Orthodox simply have no knowledge of the NCC. They wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you mentioned it to them.

Nevertheless, it is still irresponsible for Orthodox leaders to lend the imprimatur of legitimacy to an organization that aggressively champions policies that violate the Orthodox moral tradition. The NCC’s love affair with tyrants is well known to anyone who has followed them over the years. In fact, after Communism fell then NCC General Secretary Joan Campbell Brown issued a collective apology for not doing enough to help the persecuted under Communist oppression.

Lomperis is also correct in his claim that the Orthodox who remained on the NCC have no moderating influence on NCC leadership. There were historical reasons* for Orthodox involvement in the NCC but they have long faded from relevance. The only reasonable explanation for continued involvement is that the leaders don’t mind being used (they trade the Orthodox imprimatur for the false patina of constructive cultural engagement) or they are simply clueless about the contribution that the Orthodox Church could and should make to the renewal of Christendom’s cultural foundations especially in America.

*I wrote an essay for Touchstone Magazine a while back that explains some of the historical reasons for early NCC involement that fits well with Lomperis’ fair and informed critique:

NCC Exit Poll: Why One Orthodox Church Left the National Council of Churches


  1. Bill Congdon says

    Perhaps continuing participation by Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions could be justified if Orthodox representatives maintained a pointed witness against the immoralities the NCC supports. But this isn’t happening.

  2. Sir Ivan Kapusta says

    Sadly, the craven silence of not only the Orthodox Christian hierarchy but the Amercian Christian Church leadership overall is vociferously deafening and clearly enabling the opposition. Why I have to listen to Bill O’Reilly who has just recently called out the American Christian leaders on their silence over the recent gay marriage debate being waged within and without the Supreme Court’s walls, when such moral matters should be addressed from the pulpits on Sunday mornings, is frustrating. In addition, I look to the leadership for taking a stand, but all I get is photo-ops from the likes of His Eminence Demetrios with President Obama on the front page of the January 2013 issue of the Greek Orthodox Observer newspaper when it should be featuring the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the millions of dead Holy Innocents in its wake. Perhaps this complicit silence in aiding and abetting the opposition to Orthodox values is part of the deal in joining forces with NCC. I think Dr. Alexander Kalomiros in his 1963 book, “Against False Union,” had mentioned the danger of joining what was then known as the WCC.

  3. In light of this article, I’d like to hear what some Orthodox think of Rand Paul’s interview on CBN

    He essentially states that if we keep insisting the gay ‘marriage’ issue stay on the national level and attempt to keep a mandate against gay marriage on the federal level we lose the battle right now because the of the social movement of the nation. He believes that adjusting the tax code and moving the question to the States will buy us time (decades) in order to keep the debate alive, and attempt to sway the national thought back in the right direction.

    Is this policy something that Orthodox Christians can get behind?

  4. Tamara Northway says

    Are most of the Orthodox members of the NCC also professors at our seminaries? All of our seminaries are on the east coast and perhaps they have been infected by political correctness and intellectual elitism which is prized in that area of the country. Perhaps the Orthodox members look down on evangelicals as their intellectual inferiors and don’t want to be aligned with them. But even many of the faithful in the Greek archdiocese and OCA support homosexual marriage and abortion. No one in leadership positions wants to offend the laity for fear of losing the laity’s monetary support. I have joked with a Greek friend that it seems the Greeks want to be the Episcopalians of the Orthodox in America. But perhaps part of the OCA is vying for that title too. We have a lot of liberals in leadership positions in both jurisdictions.

  5. Tamara Northway says

    It makes perfect sense why it was so easy for the Antiochians to pull out of the NCC. 1) The Antiochians have no seminary and few influential left- leaning theologians to pull it in that direction. 2) Most Arab-Americans are culturally to the right on social issues. 3) The large influx of evangelicals have also had a significant influence on the direction of the archdiocese and pulled it further to the right. 3) The mainline Episcopalian converts such as, Fr. Patrick Reardon, are very scholarly, persuasive speakers who provide a voice to traditional Christian morality for the archdiocese.

    • Sir Ivan Kapusta says

      Very true, but how sadly true, especially on the laity supporting abortions and homosexuality. Thank you for making these points. Are you part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church? The one very nice thing about the Antiochians is their wide selection of great liturgical chants from the various ethnicities – very pan Orthodox. The musical selections are a rich corcnucopia of Serbian, Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, etc. music that allows one to appreciate the cultures of these countries as well as allow the ear to avoid ethnocentricity and musical myopia.

    • Tamara,

      While I agree with much of what you’ve written here, I must add that none of these factors would carry much weight in the archdiocese without the hearty endorsement and approval of +PHILIP who, in many other respects, can be said to be among the most ‘liberal’ and Americanized of primates. There is simply no way that the views of the Arabs and the conservative converts could be officially sustained without him.

      I’ve never been much of a fan of his sometimes heavy-handed ways, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He has always been staunchly pro-life, and when asked his opinion about whether the Church’s views on homosexual ‘marriage’ might evolve he replied, “We do not discuss abominations.”

      • Tamara Northway says

        Yes, but I fear the next generation of Antiochians will fall for the mindlessness of the political left. I see it on my Facebook page in regard to these issues. Heavy handiness does not win over the hearts and minds of the young. They will reject it just as the
        young evangelical generation is rejecting their elders’ view on the subjects. We need a new approach to proclaim the same message.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Tamara, it is “heavy handed” for a bishop to delcare the truth. It is being a bishop. To think it is heavy handed is to already be falling for the eqalitarian heresy the prevades our so-called thought these days. We don’t need to all set around a camp fire and get warm fuzzies for our bishops. They need to lead, we need to follow. Its called obedience.

          However, once the truth is declared, it needs to be complimented with the teaching of the anthropolgy of the Orthdox Church. I get that from my bishop, Bp. Basil and the clergy of my parish. It is a mistake to think that everyting rises or falls on Met. Philip. We have a fine collection of bishops now and they will be much better prepared to more fully take on their episcopates one Met. Philip does repose.

          Abortion, normalization of homosexuality, euthanasia, are evil things. We should not ‘discuss’ these things with any idea that there is intellectual or spiritual parity with the Holy Tradition.

          My priest has publically stated that anyone who even believes that a woman “has a right to choose” should not approach the cup.

          It needs to be reiterated without ceasing that the way of the world is not our way. If one wishes to go the way of the world, God bless you, but, withour repentance, you are no longer Orthodox. It really is that simple.

          Questions can be asked with the same words and mean two entirely different things: see the different repsones to the similar sounding questions of Zechariah and the Theotokos. Zechariah who asked his question in doubt and in challenge was silenced. Mary, who asked in wonder wishing to know the truth had the truth revealed.

          If our “young” can’t handle the truth, shame on us. My son is 26, I reckon that qualifies as one of our “young”. His attitude is remarkably similar to Met. Philip. He also knows why and is quite capable of articulating the reasons and can even argue the opposite side better, more rationally and logically that his opponents. I have seen writing by other Orthodox “young” which are equally strong and forthright. My son believes to the depth of his soul in the reality expressed in the Creed and in the life revealed and experienced in the Divine Liturgy. He tried to leave ffor awhile after his mother died, but was led back. I expect a similar dynamic will happen with others. We need not curry the favor of the “young” we need to holdfast to the truth and trust Him.

          Young peope leave because we give them no living alternative to the world. If the world is the way of things, we don’t do it very well. Why should they stay? I wonder, is it the “young” who have doubts or you?

          Are not our ‘young’ human beings like everyone else? They have the same capacity for receiving the Holy Spirit and remaining firm in the truth as any other Orthodox in history. The same capacity to become saints through His grace. That we expect so little of them is a problem in its own right. We have trained them, largely, for the world and abandoned them there rather than raised them for the truth. If they so easily reject what is poured out on them evey time they participate in the Divine Liturgy, we did not do our part as parents to prepare them, to make them good soil.

          To those who support abortion: anathema.

          To those who support normalization of sexual deviance of any form: anathema

          To those who wish to re-imagine marriage: anathema

          To those who wish women in the priesthood: anathema

          To those who support euthanasia: anathema

          To those who support the psychological/spiritual neutering of males and females: anathema

          That is the standard, it is the only platform from which a seeking for a deeper understanding of the truth can begin. The Church does not need to rationalize our belief and practice for those who do not believe. Those wish change do and it needs to go far beyond the typical arguments of “its not fair” or “because science says so” that I usually see. These are simply sophistry from the darkened mind of the hedonistic and nihilisitc world.

          The Orthodox Church is not about morality, but about the transformation of the human soul and communion with the living God. Surely the souls of our “young” hunger for that union as much as anyone else. The sinful and heretical ideas above prevent people from entering into the depths of ontological union with God as we are called to do. It is not really difficult to understand that.

          Sin and heresy are promoted for one reason only: to attack the Church and her people. Jesus did not ‘dialog’ with the devil in the desert. Jesus did not rely even on his own beliefs and knowledge (as he surely could have). Jesus’ replies were always: “it is written…”

          Repentance, prayer (including prayerful reading of the Holy Scripture), fasting, almsgiving (including giving mercy and kindness), Liturgical worship within the community. These are the endeavors our ‘young’ people should devote themselves to if they are enchanted with the world and its false promises. In fact, we should all be doing those things, especially now.

          The sacramental life of the Orthodox Church contains the antidote for evey false, perverse and poisonous allure the world offers. There can be no dialog with abominations. Only by recognizing that truth and “going boldly before the throne of grace” can we resist and free ourselves from those snares. That goes for all of us, young and old.

          Those who wish only to satisfy the mind or who want only a quick and convenient morality that is easily ignored will really be in the Church.

          We will get much smaller in the days to come. Through the prayers of the the Theotokos and all the saints throughout the ages, may we be preserved in the truth. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Come Lord Jesus!

          • Tamara Northway says

            I wonder how St. John Maximovitch counseled a young Fr. Seraphim Rose when he first came to the church looking for God? Do you think the bishop told him, in a harsh judgmental tone, homosexuality was an abomination that he refused to talk about? Somehow I doubt it. The saint probably worked with him so that over time he could leave his old life behind. Eastern Orthodoxy is a church of healing. And so when we have young people who are new to the church, who have grown up in a culture that has all but worshipped homosexuality and abortion, do you think the best route to explain the church’s teaching on these subjects is to pronounce them abominations that we don’t talk about? Especially when we have self-proclaimed “Orthodox” theologians like David Dunn writing on huffington post that he is just fine with gay marriage.The man is sowing seeds of confusion with the young orthodox Christians I know. We need to be clear but we need to explain why they are abominations because this generation is getting bombarded by messages from society that these things are good, even from so- called Orthodox Christians.

            • When those outside the Church ask honest questions, we answer gently and patiently with love. When those inside the Church ask such questions, the tenor of the answer must be direct, firm, and unequivocal while also answering the “why.”

              It is one thing for a teenager raised in the Church to ask these questions from an honest heart. It is quite another for an adult who has known the teaching of the Church all his life to raise these questions in an attempt to bring the matter up for debate. It is clear that +PHILIP’s reply was directed to the latter sort of questioner, and in that context his answer was laudable.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Well said.

              • Tamara Northway says

                I am dealing with adults (30 year olds) who have been Orthodox for no more than a few years. They haven’t fully taken on the Orthodox way of life. From what I have seen, it takes most converts a while before they fully “get” what it means to be Orthodox. Some of these folks have come from harsh non-religious upbringings.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Yes, it takes time and the process is one of participation in the sacraments and obedience not one of rationalization. For me, it meant that I had to question everything I was taught and believed before I came to the Church. There is no point in speculating about others or being skeptical about the teaching of the Church.

                  When was the last time you read Romans 1?

                  • Tamara Northway says

                    Michael, these people aren’t gay and they have families. I don’t think their top questions when they became Orthodox had anything to do with gay marriage. It has come up recently. So now it is topic they are thinking about. Sorry we can’t all be as perfect as you seem to be as you covered everything before you became Orthodox. I was baptized as a baby but I am still learning what means to be an Orthodox Christian.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Another argument from “its not fair” or its logical equivalent. It is not about perfection it is about obedience. Learning it. I took and still take many rebellious steps but I was given clear and unambiguous direction. It is about allowing the Church to form your thought rather than the other way around. Yes it takes time, but more importantly it takes suspension of skepticism and as it says in Unseen Warfare: have a total distrust of yourself and a daring trust in God. The first step is trusting the Church and her wisdom.

                      The folks on Huffington Post are wrong is the first step in the needed clarity. They are wrong because….
                      Coupled with the understanding of confession and its practice, change occurs.

                      I have seen too many friends and acquaintances suffer under the perversity of homosexuality to have any illusions as to its destructiveness. I have seen the devastation in the soul of one I deeply cared for when she attempted an abortion. I have also experienced and seen the devastation of heretical belief. None of this is academic to me. Wrong belief, confused belief, unrepentance kills both body and soul. The is no room for being wishy-washy just as there is no room for defensiveness or embarrassment about the teaching of the Church or any call not to be compassionate. However compassion has nothing to do with tolerance. Just the opposite

                    • Tamara Northway says

                      Michael, I never said I wanted wishy- washy responses. But pastoral responses like the message from the ROCOR bishops are what the faithful need. The Roman Catholic Church is doing a much better job of telling the faithful than most of our Orthodox bishops. There is a vacuum of non- engagement coming from them that is being filled by the likes of David Dunn. The bishops need to step up to the plate like the ROCOR bishops and issue pastoral directives.

                    • Tamara, thanks for mentioning the ROCOR statement. I hadn’t seen it. http://www.synod.com/synod/eng2013/20130409_enchicagoresolution.html

                      And you’re right, it’s pitch-perfect.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              That’s a good point, Tamara. The problem however is in the premise: the young Eugene Rose came into an Orthodox church probably for the same reason that St Mary of Egypt went to the Holy Sepulchre, perhaps a whim, on a dare, idle curiosity, or an unrequited feeling. Perhaps a mixture of any and all of the above. Regardless, St John Maximovitch didn’t rejigger Christian tradition to make it more palatable to Rose. That he was loving to him I have no doubt. Indeed, I’d be scandalized to hear anything less. No doubt St John noticed something that was nascently holy about Rose. At any rate, Rose didn’t go to the Cathedral dressed in drag and disrupting Communion. By all accounts he was respectful.

              • Tamara Northway says

                I agree, I am sure St. John was honest with him in a compassionate way just like message issued by the ROCOR bishops.

          • Sir Ivan Kapusta says


            Beautifully written. Your introspective and meticulous comment should be read from every Christian pulpit on Sundays and included in the Greek Orthodox Observer newspaper. Kudos to you, sir!

      • Sir Ivan Kapusta says

        Yes, that’s what I like to see, Orthodox Hierarchy referring to homosexual marriage as an abomination.

      • macedoniandeacon says

        I don’t think Metropolitan Philip+ is the most liberal primate from North America.

        • I said “among the most…” But even that would depend on how one defines ‘liberal.’ Those who (perhaps rightly – I myself cannot say) place an emphasis on beards, cassocks and such certainly think he is; others not so much. There is a part of me that has come to see the wisdom of what many view as being merely ‘externals. Another part is keenly aware that such things ultimately matter little.

  6. Tamara Northway says

    Yes, I am a part of the Antiochian Orthodox church. I agree that it is sad some of the laity support abortions and homosexual marriage. But what else can we expect if our leaders remain silent or passive on these issues? Many lay people will then use their own reason and decide what they believe to be fair without regard to what the Church might offer in the way of counsel on the subjects. And when we have a few self-proclaimed lay theologians encouraging these viewpoints on Huffington Post then it really causes confusion among the laity. Honestly, I think some of the former Protestants theologians have not left behind Protestantism because they appear to take pride in their own worldly knowledge and use their human reason rather consult the Divine to make public pronouncements on the issues. It is very disturbing to me.

    I also enjoy the various music options in our archdiocese. There is so much beautiful Orthodox music from around the globe.

    • Michael Bauman says

      “What can we expect if our leaders remain silent…?” That the very stones will cry out.

      Psalm 1: King James Version (KJV)

      1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

      2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

      3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

      4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

      5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

      6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

      Bishops die, the sittis live forever. Yes, they have authority and the sacramental charisma and we should value them and obey them, but not as the Pharisees.

      Or per Neal Young: “Teach your children well…” Parents have even greater authority and charisma when it comes to their children than do bishops or priests.

      • Sir Ivan Kapusta says


        Kudos to you as well. You and Brian are saying things which must be said from not only every Orthodox Christian pulpit on Sundays, but ALL Christian churches.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Tamara, more mush. It is not “harsh judgementalisn” to correctly identify the extent of the disease. Homosexual unions are an abomination. I know some Orthodox people both personally and by written word who have no disagreement with that who are also struggling with same sex attraction.

    You are also confusing the teaching of the Church with the pastoral application for healing. There is no place in the Church for those who do not wish a life of repentance.

    I have no idea what Saint John told Fr. Seraphim and neither do you.

    That is none of our business, because Fr. Seraphim did not follow the worldly path.

    Healing cannot begin without a proper diagnosis. Often that diagnosis is not welcome, but is a dereliction of duty to allow folks to think they aren’t sick.

    Being clear and forthright does not negate compassion it is simple emotionalism to believe that it does.

    • Tamara Northway says

      Michael, I am not arguing with the teachings of the church. But the tone one takes in delivering the message can turn people away or make them more receptive to listening to more. We reach out in love, deliver the message and answer questions. I was raised in the Orthodox Church and never have I had a priest deal with me in a harsh way when I didn’t understand or had made mistakes. Many of those priests gave me time to understand why the Church teaches what it does. We grow into our faith a little each day. Who are you judge another person who is slowly learning what it means to be an Orthodox Christian? You are ready to kick them out the door with your little remark that the church is going to get smaller. Wow!

      • Michael Bauman says

        The Church will get smaller as the price to be a member grows. When today those who simply say that homosexuality is wrong are kicked off college campuses, refused speaking engagements or denied opportunities to even enter certain professions, there will be those who choose not to affliate with Christianity.

        When Roman Catholicism and Protestant Evangelicals are branded as domestic terrorists simply because they won’t go along with the gay agenda, yes, some folks won’t want to be identified with that. It will get worse and, perhaps, a time will come again that those who kill us will think they do good.

        I refer to Brian’s statement above. The context and the tone of the question is all important.

        Here http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_130329_1.html is a clear statement of the belief and the the lack of authority that those on Huffington Post have to speak. Do they have the blessing of a bishop to teach what they are teaching? Are they teaching in opposition to the Tradition of the Church? You will also note that they also say that there is to be no consideration of homosexual unions in the Church and distinguish that clearly from the pastoral task of fostering a repentant sinner’s healing. Nothing I’ve said is in opposition to that.
        Of course, honest sincere questions should be answered directly and with love.

        There was a conversation I had with a young homosexual man on a local city bus years ago that he initiated when he saw me reading my Bible. He was in a homosexual friendly “Christian” Church. He asked what I thought. I told him directly that homosexuality was a sin and referred him to Romans 1. We had a polite and friendly discussion about it. He was not ‘sent away’ but introduced to the idea that his behavior was not in accord with Biblical teaching and a bit about why. Don’t know if that seed ever sprouted, but I doubt it. He did not appear offended in any way. I think we both rather enjoyed the conversation. I’d do the same today.

        The same-sex temptation can be exceptionally powerful and addictive. All the more reason not to be wishy-washy about what it is.

        Met. Philip is gruff, sometimes capricious and really doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. I frankly don’t care anymore. He is the Metropolitan and I’m not. I don’t like him personally. That doesn’t matter. Believe me when I say that Bp Basil can be just as direct and frank and unbending.

        That is a good thing because the homosexual normalizers will use so-called dialog to attempt to overturn Church teaching. There can be no compromise. That means that sometimes the reply will, of necessity, be like Met. Philip’s: we don’t discuss such abominations. A bit like Gandalf in the mines of Moria, facing the Balrog. Gandalf plants his staff and declares: “You shall not pass!” then fights the Balrog to the death.

        • Tamara Northway says

          I love the statement written by the bishops of the ROCOR. This type of pastoral response is what is needed from our bishops. Lately, I have begun to believe the future of true Orthodoxy in America will come from them. They are firm but pastoral. A ROCOR priest gave me this type of advice when I was dealing with a distraught, angry 12 year old boy who had been adopted by two gay men. The priest guided me on what to say and how to approach him from a proper Orthodox viewpoint.

        • Sir Ivan Kapusta says

          Just saw Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this past weekend on cable for the umpteenth time and thought about the culture wars currently waging in this country and how much they resemble this movie and vice versa. The Balrog scene is probably my most favorite scene from all three movies. Great reference, Michael!

        • Tamara Northway says

          You could have saved yourself from writing all the sermons and exhortations to me in this thread if you had just given me that link in the very beginning. We are on the same side but you must enjoy writing. 🙂

          • Michael Bauman says


            I do enjoy writing, helps me claify my own thoughts, but I didn’t find the ROCOR statement until just before I posted the link.

  8. As an “elder curmudgeon,” I actually recall a time when membership in the WCC/NCC actually gave one pause at Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)’s “Sorrowful Epistles” of the 70’s, predicting a neo-Florentine garage sale of the “Parisian-compromised,” “Sergian-compromised” Faith to the heterodox. Now, I’ll bet real money a coffee-hour survey of the faithful here in “America’s Finest City” wouldn’t turn up a half-dozen who even known what the acronyms stand for. Likewise, I stand by my contemporaneous complaint that the pursuit of the American politico-social-conservative “Right” is nothing but a continuing alliance with the identical gaggle of the heterodox, but worse, because it is sold with the illusion of “moral action” when in fact, there is none: repeated “urgings” and “trumpetings” for “repentance” and the “return of traditional values” – including the “sanctity” of life, marriage, and firearms – accomplished by “Manhattan Declarations,” appeals to the “Founding Fathers,” grassroots politicking, a conservative judiciary, and, ultimately, a stacked-in-our-favor SCOTUS. And we Orthodox, the Ark of Truth, the harbingers of the “Last Things,” the haven in a tempest-tossed destruction of what was once our Paradise? As Fr. Schmemann used to mock, “Let’s go feed the the poor, but please, be back here by 4:00 pm for wine and cheese before Vigil,” as we are pick-pocketed of our voice of moral authority. Why Do Eastern Orthodox Churches Continue Enabling Opposition to Orthodox Values on Abortion, Sexual Morality? Because we have no voice of moral authority! Orthodox teachers and laity are on Huffington Post because the Bishops are not; and when they do, they have nothing of consequence to say. My thought: and probably for the better.

    And now, we reap what we sow, bitter herbs and… cabbage? Sir John Cabbage? I looked to see if you began posting on April 1st. Kapusta, you say? It’s a small world, after all, but kapusta

    • Michael Bauman says

      Mr. Stankovich, I actually agree with you. The political right is just as bankrupt as the political left.

      All is ideology and the Church should have no truck with any of it. We need to clearly and forcibly articulate the teaching of the Church and explicate how that is distinct from worldly ideologies

      If there are politicians who agree, that’s great. There should be discipline for those who publically disavow and misrepresent the teaching of the Church and do not repent.

    • Sir Ivan Kapusta says

      You picked up on it. Thank you, Mr. Stankovich. I use various aliases (Alyosha Apple, D.O.M. (Disappointed Orthodox Male), and D.O.M. Perignon) to lighten up the mood because the issues we discuss here can be very intense and depressing, and the dialogue incendiary. I am in no way mocking anything, just adding some levity with my nom de plums. I have a quirky sense of humor. Take care and keep on keeping on!

  9. cyntha curran says

    Just saw Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this past weekend on cable for the umpteenth time and thought about the culture wars currently waging in this country and how much they resemble this movie and vice versa. The Balrog scene is probably my most favorite scene from all three movies. Great reference, Michael There is a ring recently found from Roman times that actually has the cursed of the ring in Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was a medievalist so he probably was familar with anicent tales that now go back to Roman times.

  10. St. Chrysostom is quite emphatic that, while the shepherd of sheep has his staff to wield in order to move and control the flock, the bishop and priest have only their voice, directed by their wisdom and discernment. I take great exception to these comments of “heavy-handedness” and “emphatic statements” that would suggest that the the “Shepherd of Souls” intended defense of the Truth be accomplished in any fashion but by “economy,” meaning engaging the individual as they present themselves, and proceeding from there. It seems that as long as a man or woman can still push air, they are capable of repentance, and the Faith need not be “compromised” in dialog. Personally, I find nothing admirable or edifying in the statement, “We will not discuss abominations.” If the worst of sinners cannot discuss it with us – “Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Ps. 138:7) – then with whom? The Bishop is called to articulate and re-articulate, and re-articulate again, as has been done in every generation before us, until he can say, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” (Lk.15:6) And finally, Patriarch Alexey I of Moscow, ostensibly writing to pastors & choir directors in the 1970’s instructing against preaching against the government, noted that the faithful did not wish music and oratory analogous to the world – appealing to the mind and the senses – but rather they longed for appeals to the heart; transport & transcendence. I recommend searching for the sermons of Met. Anthony (Bloom) maintained on YouTube for two reasons: they are edifyingly brilliant, and he speaks in the voice of the archangel.

    I would note to Mr. Bauman, the “anathamas” I posted previously should be carefully kept in the liturgical context for which they were intended. They were not intended to be indictment, excoriation, or even a “vanquishing” of the Church’s enemies – and you would note there is no singing of the Troparion of the Cross. But rather, the liturgical instruction following the reading of the anathamas is “The Bishop cries out in a loud voice: “Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God that does wonders!” (Ps. 76:13-14) The service is referred to as the “Triumph” of Orthodoxy, and the anathamas occur in the context of a celebration of “joining with the Fathers before us.” I will never forget Fr. Schmemann describing how every Friday night, Coptic Pope/Patriarch Shenouda, of blessed memory, celebrated Vespers in his cathedral, surrounded by hundreds of young people. He then drew a chair to the center of the church, with an old microphone and speaker, a bowl was passed to collect questions, and he sat for hours – the for real desert monastic – answering handwritten questions. There is a lesson here, no?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Yes, Michael S. there is a lesson: of love, of patience and of long suffering and the anathemas should be used to guard one’s own heart, not to break the soul of another. There is indeed a great danger for we poor men in “defending” the truth. The Soviets used such misguided feelings of responsibility to break many faithful men. Your example also reveals the difference between asking in faith, even with doubts, and asking in arrogance and faithlessness.

      I hope you understand the distinction I am attempting to make (albeit poorly) between clearly, without apology or embarrasement, declaring the truth reveled in Holy Tradition and the economia of its application. There is a great gulf between declaring that (pick a sin) is destructive and repentance is needed for the sinner’s salvation and out of hate declaring “God hates fags” (for instance). The latter behavior is a greater sin, IMO, that the sin objected to.

      St. Paul often declared in unbending language what the standard of Christian belief and behavior should be and that there should be no expceptions. He also frequently declared that when someone failed, they should boldly go before the throne of grace in humility and repentance.

      St. Paul also warned us against squables and debates (“doubtful disputations”) whose intent was to foster division in the community. Those who adamently refused to repent or arrogantly sought to overturn the revealed truth were not welcome in the community.

      I take Met. Philip’s words as a warning that those who wish to overturn the clear teaching of the Church on homosexuality were not welcome and their desire would not be entertained. You may not like his style, but, IMO, in this case he was fulfilling his episcopal duty of “rightly dividing the word of truth”

  11. cyntha curran says

    Well, the right is not perfect and while it thinks that you have to agree with the right on all issues not just morality doesn’t mean that some legal things can not be done. Look at Justinian and Theodora which had a lot of issues in their lives but Justinian with the influnece of Theodora worte laws against pimping girls in brothels. In fact most people would agree today about his laws against piping than his law that could punished homosexuality with castration.

  12. cyntha curran says

    Well, the right is not perfect and while it thinks that you have to agree with the right on all issues not just morality doesn’t mean that some legal things can not be done. Look at Justinian and Theodora which had a lot of issues in their lives but Justinian with the influnece of Theodora worte laws against pimping girls in brothels. In fact most people would agree today about his laws against piping than his law that could punished homosexuality with castration.


  1. […] St. Vladimir’s deserves credit for hosting the conference given that a preponderance of Orthodox thinking on political and economic issues tends to drift leftward. This is one reason why the Orthodox contribution to contemporary culture has been relatively meager. Orthodox voices seldom rise above the amen chorus for the cultural left as we see with Orthodox involvement in the (dying) National Council of Churches for example. (See John Lomperis’ article: Why Do Eastern Orthodox Churches Continue Enabling Opposition to Orthodox Values on Abortion, Sexual…). […]

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