To all the people who believe that I have a secret agenda behind my writings on gay marriage, that my true intention is to push the Orthodox Church to become more Episcopalian (which is apparently an insult), to make our priests wear rainbow colored vestments and bless the marriages between two men and a horse, picture me blowing you a raspberry.
Honestly, I was tempted to make a ruder gesture, but that wouldn’t set a very good example now would it? Obergefell v. Hodges made gay civil marriage legal, which means that for me, as an issue, it has more or less dropped off my list of priorities.
Not long ago, Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse suggested that Fr. Robert Arida go become an Episcopalian. For those who don’t know, that’s the conservative Orthodox equivalent of, “Go f@#k yourself!” This sentiment was echoed by the always level-headed, never trollish, commenters of Monomakhos.com. The ostensible source of their outrage is an article that Fr. Arida had posted on Wonder, a blog forOCA youth. According to Fr. Jacobse, Fr. Arida attempts to “legitimize homosexual parings” in clear violation of “Orthodox self-understanding and practice.” That is a pretty bold accusation, one that demands a first-hand investigation. Unfortunately, the original article was censored taken down, but I found a PDF version. In it, Fr. Arida says the following about “homosexual pairings”…
Matthew Heimbach is a white nationalist and an Orthodox Christian (see photo). Many of you already know this story. For those who don’t, I’ll sum up the major points: People found out that this guy was recently received into the Orthodox Church and raised hell because he, and several other individuals, seemed to believe that Orthodoxy was consistent with their racist beliefs. Mr. Heimbach was recently excommunicated, pending repentance and renunciation of his beliefs. Since then, some of his compatriots have come out to insist that they are not racist at all, and the entire thing is a big misunderstanding pushed by anti-white communist leftists who are in the pockets of the Jews (read the comments).
I try not to write when my emotions are raw, and this whole thing has me reeling. It will take me days, or more, before I am able to work toward an intelligent response. Right now, I just cannot help but wonder what’s wrong with us. Seriously, Orthodoxy in America has a problem. What do I mean? You might think I am over-reacting. This is an isolated incident of a few white guys in a very racist city (Bloomington, IN) not understanding that Orthodoxy frowns upon using crosses as weapons to push a racist agenda. But I wonder what the chances are that somebody could not “get” the church’s teachings about this:
(Addendum: Some might say that there are no canons about using crosses as weapons. That is true. And in my home, there are no rules about not peeing on the television. Because there are some things you just should not have to make rules for.)
Pretending to be an ostrich is not an effective Christian social theory, but we Orthodox do just that when it comes to sex and gender-identity issues. For example, now that I have said those words, someone is sure to tell me that I am sowing confusion. “You see,” they will say, “the Orthodox Church has been clear and consistent in its position on ‘homosexuality’ for centuries.”
Except it hasn’t! The claim itself is offensive! Why? Well, obviously, those of us who keep talking about “homosexuality” are either ignorant of the clear teachings of the church or we are just stubborn, preferring intellectual gymnastics to intellectual humility necessary to accept what the truly spiritual Orthodox Christians know in their hearts what’s right.
I have been reading John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality over the past couple of weeks. Picking through it, mostly. According to my Kindle, I am 38% of the way through the book. So I thought it might be good to take a moment to offer a brief, initial reflection. Continue reading “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality”
This morning I came across six theses by Pantelis Kalaitzidis on the role the church should play in public life. They are in his book, Orthodoxy and Political Theology, which was recommended by my friend Brandon Gallaher. When the book arrived, I flipped it over and read the following question on the back cover, “Why has Eastern Orthodoxy not developed a full-throated political theological voice?” This is the same question that drove my dissertation and drives my book. (Once again, Brandon hits the nail on the head!) Continue reading “The Public Role of Church and Theology”