Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Pro LGBTQP "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 2)

For Part 1, see The Pro-Abortion "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 1)

The fact that today we have people openly promoting the LGBTQP agenda in the Orthodox Church is something that was unthinkable less than a dozen years ago. But here we are. They are vocal minority to be sure, but like most leftists, they try to convince people that their opponents are the minority, and they are only motivated by hate.

The tactic that the Pro-LGBTQP "Orthodox" have generally taken to promote their agenda is to pretend that the only people concerned about what they are pushing are "fundamentalist" converts. The suggestion being that somehow prior to the time when Americans began to convert to Orthodoxy in large numbers, everyone in the Orthodox Church was fine with the idea that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle. Back then, they would have us believe, no one would have objected to embracing transgenderism, or any of the other limitless "sexual preferences" and "gender identities." This is of course complete nonsense. Not only was no one pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church prior to 2009, no one in the Orthodox Church was even contemplating the acceptance of transgenderism, and most had never even heard of it. 

Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973, when activists pushed the organization to change this designation. It was only in 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, which began in 1981, that the acceptance of homosexuality in the wider culture began to increase from something which previously had been close to non-existent.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann is not usually thought of as a fundamentalist convert, and yet one of his students told me that around 1981, he made the statement "I refuse to be the dean of a seminary of pot-smoking homosexuals." This was in the context of him having actually kicked a pot-smoking homosexual seminarian out of the seminary, and so these were not idle words.

If you look at the views of the Orthodox in traditional Orthodox countries even today, you don't find them embracing homosexuality or transgenderism either -- this is true of their populations as a whole, but it is all the more true when you consider those who actually go to Church.

I have been blogging since 2004, and the first article I have in which I felt a need to respond to the push for gay marriage was in 2009, and this was completely without reference to any dispute within the Church, because at that time, there was no such dispute. I suspect that this began in 2009 because prior to that, George W. Bush had successfully used the issue to win his second term, by ensuring that there were ballot measures in swing states that banned gay marriage. But after Obama was elected, apparently people on the left felt emboldened, and so the push began. And it was only in 2011 that I began to see Orthodox Christians who were pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality. Initially, this was mostly done anonymously, or in private discussion groups. 

2013 was the year that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and forced every state to allow for gay marriage. Many dismissed the significance of this at the time, but two things happened almost immediately as a result of it -- this strengthened the general push for the acceptance of homosexuality, and no sooner had gay marriage been forced on the country did the push for the acceptance of transgenderism begin in earnest. 

2014 was the first time to my knowledge that an Orthodox priest began to publicly push for the acceptance of homosexuality. In November of 2014, Fr. Robert Arida posted an essay to the official OCA website. After being overwhelmed with complaints, the OCA removed the essay, though you can still read it via the Internet Archive. Among the many statements which responded to this essay, the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas wrote a rebuttal, which was signed by almost of all the clergy in the Association (and was signed by all who were present at the meeting which discussed it). This rebuttal was reposted on the Greek Archdiocesan website at the time.

In 2015, the City of Houston tried to push through an ordinance which would have forced churches and businesses to allow men who identify as women to use women's restrooms. Again, the Orthodox Clergy Association issued a statement against it. The ordinance was overturned by a referendum, and it was mostly Black and Hispanic churches in Houston that led the fight against it. Houston is about 44% Hispanic, 24% White (Non-Hispanic), 22% black, and 7% Asian, and so it was not a bunch of racist White people who overturned this ordinance. The vote was not even close: 61% opposed to 39% in favor.

Onto the scene came George Demacopoulos and later, Public Orthodoxy. George wrote an essay attacking those he termed Orthodox Fundamentalists on January 29th, 2015. I wrote a reply, and we later had a sort of debate hosted by Kevin Allen on Ancient Faith Radio. Since then, George has made attacking anyone who is not ready to embrace homosexuality, transgenderism, modernism, and a whole host of other perversions a career through his website Public Orthodoxy, which is a part of the Fordham University Orthodox Christian Studies Center, which has been formally endorsed by the Greek Archdiocese.

If you look over the archives of Public Orthodoxy, you will see that it has produced a steady stream of articles that defy almost every aspect of Orthodox Christian morality, and as a matter of fact they regularly argue that while dogmatic issues (which they define as being limited to strictly theological matters) are beyond debate, moral issues are not dogmatic, and therefore up for revision. This is a completely novel approach, and one that is heretical and contrary to the clear Tradition of the Church.

Most recently, the former Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions gave a lecture for the Orthodox Theological Society in America, in which he bemoaned those Orthodox "fundamentalists" who are unwilling to dialogue on matters such as homosexuality and transgenderism. He argues that we cannot judge such matters "before the time," which will apparently only come when (so they hope) they finally wear everyone else down with their endless pressing of their agenda and we let them have their way. The problem is that these issues are not up for debate. Not only are the Scriptures clear on these issues, we have numerous canons from Ecumenical Councils, and the clear and unified testimony of the Fathers and Saints of the Church which leave no room for doubt as to what the Church has always taught on these subjects. In this lecture, you see the same kind of mealy-mouthed argumentation that we found in the essay by Fr. Robert Arida, but as time goes on, they are becoming more emboldened. One has to wonder how long their respective bishops will put up with this, but I think at this point, we have to conclude that at least some of the bishops in question allow this to go on because they agree with it.

Now if people like Fr. John Jillions wanted to dialogue about how to deal pastorally with people who are struggling with these sins, in order to help them overcome their sins, that would be a dialogue worth having. But you can't have that dialogue with people who are unwilling to concede that we are talking about actual sins. That has to be the starting premise. And to be clear, this is the point that they refuse to concede. In fact, they will almost never provide a direct answer to a direct question on whether or not these things are inherently sinful -- and that is for the simple reason that to say what they actually believe would put them in an indefensible position, and would force their bishops to do something about it.

We are not opposed to the LGBTQP agenda because we hate those who have been sucked into going along with it. We are opposed to it because this agenda is destructive to these people. As St. Paul tells us, these things are contrary to God's created order, and as such, they can only lead to great misery and the destruction of souls. St. Paul tells us that homosexuals and the transgendered (i.e. effeminate) will not inherit the Kingdom of God:

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakoi], nor sodomites [i.e., homosexuals, arsenokoitai], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Not inheriting the Kingdom of God is pretty big deal, if you actually believe in God, and so if you love the people struggling with these issues, you would want to help them to repent and overcome them, rather than affirm them in a choice that will lead to their spiritual deaths. 

I hope I am wrong, but I believe we are witnessing the unfolding of a full-blown schism. It will not just be over abortion, or over the LGBTQP agenda, or over the other issues we will be looking at, but each of these are pieces to the larger puzzle. If a schism is to be averted, it will only be averted because bishops begin to find their backbones, put their collective foot down, and put a stop to the spreading of these false and destructive teachings.

Update:

Someone has put together a very useful video that provides an overview of what has been going on in terms of the push for the acceptance of LGBTQP ideology in the Orthodox Church, particularly in the English-speaking world:

The same channel has a 4-part video series that covers the same ground, but provides some additional footage that is very helpful.

For More, See: 

Sermon: A Mad Mad World (Which was in response to Fr. John Jillions lecture referenced above)

Moral Heresy?

Discernment or Scaffolding?

The Living Church 2.0

The Bible the Church and Homosexuality: Obscurantegesis vs the Truth

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Reader Services through Pentecost Sunday


This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar May, which on the civil Calendar runs from May 14th through June 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). During this period service variables for the Vigils are all found in one file.

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 15th n.s. / May 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 18th n.s. / May 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman / St. Nicholas (May 22nd n.s. / May 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha4_stnicholas.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (May 29th n.s. / May 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 1st n.s. / May 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha_apodosis.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 2nd n.s. / May 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 5th n.s. / May 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha6.doc 

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 12th n.s. / May 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_pentecost.doc 

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 15th n.s. / May 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 18th n.s. / May 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman / St. Nicholas (May 22nd n.s. / May 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha4_stnicholas.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (May 29th n.s. / May 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 1st n.s. / May 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_apodosisofpascha.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 2nd n.s. / May 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 5th n.s. / May 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha6.doc 

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 12th n.s. / May 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pentecost.doc 

Thursday, May 05, 2022

The Pro-Abortion "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 1)

who as the Icon shows, famously said 
There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.

In recent years, there are lines of division that not only show the signs of an emerging schism in the Orthodox Church -- it is becoming increasingly clear that we are witnessing the birth of a new religion, which will only retain some of the outward trappings of the Orthodox Christian Faith, but in fact is increasingly becoming unrecognizable as Christian. We see this when it comes to how the innovators see the sanctity of life, sexuality, human nature, the Church, and Tradition.

As we currently contemplate the prospect of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, it is important to remember that in January of this year, at the March for Life, Archbishop Elpidophoros used the occasion to affirm his support for abortion "rights." 

When I first saw the above meme, I thought a critic had put it together, only to find that this was the image from Greek Archdiocesan website -- and so evidently they were proud of what he said, and wanted these two quotes to be especially noted.

Here is the full text of his speech, taken from the official website of the Greek Archdiocese:

"Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today, we come together in solidarity with our Brother Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

We affirm the gift and sanctity of life – all life, born and unborn. As Christians we confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  Every life is worthy of our prayer and our protection, whether in the womb, or in the world. We are all responsible for the well-being of children. We are their “keepers,” and cannot shirk from our accountability for their welfare.

At the same time, we also affirm our respect for the autonomy of women.  It is they who bring forth life into the world.  By His incarnation, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ assumed human nature, through His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. She freely chose to bring Him into the world, and God respected her freedom. We can and must make the case for life, both born and unborn, by our own example of unconditional love.

We march not for coercion.

We march with compassion,

With empathy,

With love.

And with our arms extended to embrace all.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, You have granted us the opportunity to offer these common prayers in unison and have promised that when two or three gather in Your name, You are there also. Fulfill now, O Lord, who was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit, the petitions of Your servants. Remember, Lord, the people here present and those who are absent with good cause. Have mercy on them and on us according to the multitude of Your mercy. Remember, O God, all those whom we are not able to commemorate by forgetfulness or because of their multitude since You know the name and age of each, even from their mother's womb. For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick, the protector of the voiceless. Be all things to all, You who know all people, their requests, their households, and their needs. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with love and sanctity. May we come to the light of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

Clearly Archbishop Elpidophoros agrees with Roe vs. Wade. And so giving such a speech at the March for Life was an insult and a betrayal of all who have prayed and marched to overturn it for nearly a half century.

You find the most devote representatives of every Christian denomination at the March for Life, which has taken place every year since Roe vs. Wade made abortion on demand the law of the land. To have an Orthodox bishop participate in this March, be given a platform, and to have him endorse "a woman's right to choose" to kill her baby was an embarrassment. And make no mistake, everyone understood exactly what he was saying. The Washington Post cited it as an example of a "pro-choice" shift among many Christian and Jewish groups. George Demacopoulos, editor of "Public Orthodoxy," who champions the abandonment of Christian morality in the Orthodox Church, is cited in support of Archbishop Elpidophoros' coming out speech:

"George Demacopoulous [sic], a Fordham University theology professor and expert on Orthodox Christianity noted that abortion is legal in every major Orthodox country. While the faith views abortion as tragic and wrong, he said, it also respects the autonomy of women. Church and state are generally separate, he said, and abortion is more divorced from politics.

"In the United States, the debate is very much positioned as these two goods at war with one another; we’re being asked to pick. And he’s saying that’s theologically wrong," he said of Elpidophoros. "It’s a Christian truism that you can hold seemingly contradictory views. Christian moral teaching isn’t black and white"" (Washington Post: "The threat to Roe v. Wade is driving a religious movement for reproductive choice," by Michelle Boorstein, February 5, 2022, Emphasis added).

George Demacopoulos

This is part of a pattern on the part of the Fordhamites at "Public Orthodoxy," of downplaying Christian morality, and suggesting that it is fluid, something apart from dogma, and therefore open to debate and revision. Here they suggest that one can affirm the sanctity of life, while supporting the "right" to murder the innocent. Elsewhere, they suggest that perhaps homosexual sex might be allowable, and transgenderism is something we should embrace. Up until recently, while we have seen a shift on the part of modernists in the past decade towards defending sexual deviancy, they at least used to give lip service to being pro-life. Apparently, the slippery slope is a thing, and where it stops, nobody knows.

What does George Demacopoulos mean when he says that we believe abortion is "tragic and wrong"? The Church has unambiguously taught, from the beginning that abortion is not just a tragedy or a wrong choice, but that it is murder. If you believe it is murder, affirming someone's right to murder someone else is moral nonsense.

The earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament is the Didache (which is usually dated to be of first century origin), and it says:

"...thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born" (Didache 2:2).

Canon 91 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council states:

"As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take foetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers" ((D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons by Saints Nicodemus and Agapius (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 395).

Canon 2 of St. Basil (whose canons were specifically affirmed by the 4th and 6th Ecumenical Councils, states:

"A woman that aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess" (Ibid, 789).

There is absolutely no ambiguity at all on the question of whether or not abortion is murder. How you deal with someone who has engaged in this sin pastorally is another question -- and there certainly is forgiveness for those who confess and repent -- but that it is a sin which is absolutely prohibited by the Church, is as clear as it gets. There are not shades of gray here. You will not find a single Church Father or Saint of the Church that calls abortion anything less than murder.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear that God takes the shedding of innocent blood very seriously. We are told that God destroyed the kingdom of Judah because they engaged in child sacrifice:

"And he [Manasseh] made his son pass through the fire [a form of child sacrifice], and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger" (2 Kings 21:6).

"Surely at the commandment of the Lord this [the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians] came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon" (2 Kings 24:3-4).

So is it morally tenable to say that you believe abortion is murder, but affirm the "right" of others to engage in it? Let's see how this logic works when applied elsewhere:

Can a person really be opposed to rape, but not want to "impose their morality" on others? No.

Could a person oppose lynching, but not want to "impose their morality" on others? No.

And so clearly a person cannot be opposed abortion, and yet affirm the "right" of others to engage in it. 

Every law reflects someone's morality. There is no reason why Christians should not use their power to vote to influence the laws to protect innocent life. This after all is why the March for Life takes place, and if you want to affirm "abortion rights," you should not only show up at the counter protest, rather than style yourself pro-life -- you should also admit that you have departed from the Orthodox Christian Tradition, because as a matter of fact, you have.

Update: Metropolitan Nathaniel of the Greek Archdiocese felt the need to say something about abortion on Mother's Day Sunday, because as a bishop it is his duty to teach. But watch how he studiously avoids saying anything that might discourage a woman from killing her child in the womb, and ends up affirming that women who abort their babies are mothers too. Well, yes, they are mothers, because the babies they had killed in the womb were really babies, but it would have been good to have said that, and to have pointed out that the Church teaches that this is something that Orthodox Christians are not supposed to do, because it is murder:

Continued in The Pro LGBTQP "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 2)

See Also: Moral Heresy?

Sermon: Choose Life (Roe vs. Wade and the Orthodox View of Manhood and Womanhood).