Comments Posted By Ivan Vasliliev
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Well done, again, George!
(And, yes, I’ve been known to make the Who’s/Whose mistake, too. Never trust spell check on this one!)
A family member has struggled with homosexual desires for decades. As a rather traditional extended Russian family, we don’t talk about it publicly, but I’ve talked a lot with him privately. He’s one of my favorite cousins. He is still a faithful member of the church, too. He’s quite certain about two things: He didn’t “choose” to be gay (He says he can’t imagine anyone who would) and he doesn’t think that makes it “okay”, either ( in the sense of practicing or “celebrating” a gay lifestyle). Basically he looks at it like he has diabetes or some other illness in this broken world. His personhood is not defined by his illness, it is part of the cross he, like everyone else, has to bear. We are about the same age and in his conversations he’s indicated that there have been ‘slips’. He tells me that in those times he feels all sorts of emotions–defiance, anger (at himself and at God), but never that he has been rejected by God or the Church. In the end, all that’s left to do is seek forgiveness and try again. To me this pretty much sounds like Christian life. Whatever the struggle we have, doesn’t it follow this same pattern?
The writer of the article affirms that no one may be denied basic human rights because we are all in the image and likeness of God. I will assume that that includes the right (in the purely civil law sense of the term) for the gay men who live down the street from me to pursue their quiet and non-intrusive lives like the rest of us. I would hate to live in a society that started hunting “non-desirables” down. At the same time, I find it uncomfortable to live in a society that insists on “celebrating” the life-style these men have chosen. As an Orthodox believer, I pray that they find the better way, even while affirming their civil right to live among us without interference. After all, there are millions of non-gay people within and without the church who live lives that are equally objectionable from an Orthodox Christian standpoint. Most of us fall within that category at one time or another. The chief difference is that most of us (believers) would be horrified if we were asked to ‘celebrate’ our sins publicly!
These are hard times for Orthodox believers in the West. We are put in the position of reacting against a false dichotomy of defending the “right” to practice things that lead to greater spiritual sickness or being seen as “haters”. This is because we have let the discourse be taken over by others. In truth the dichotomy is health and salvation vs sickness and sin and that battle is fought out within each person. We cannot draw a line between the “saved” and the “damned” because the line is WITHIN each one of us! Orthodox KNOW this on a gut level, but the West, dominated by twisted versions of the teaching of St. Augustine (not his own teachings but perversions of it) is always trying to divide the world into two camps. In the old days it was done by religious believers, nowadays it is done by their secular descendents.
The reason why we can’t have a sane dialogue with our opponents is that they are fundamentalist Gnostics (whether religious or secular); they can’t conceive of a world in which the wheat and the tares coexist until the Day of Judgment and they certainly can’t conceive of a world in which the battle lines aren’t between groups but within each person. So they will always end up us horrific ideologies in which someone–some group–MUST be persecuted and ultimately annihilated be they gays, or Jews, or “class enemies”, or Christians. Our task as Orthodox is to change the rules of the debate, not in the expectation that the ideologues will hear us, but for the longer term record.
» Posted By Ivan Vasliliev On June 11, 2012 @ 7:50 am
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I am a bit perplexed by this remark. It seems to me that heterodox missionaries divert resources that the ROC could be using for charitable works, education, health care (in a country that is rather desperate for good health care for the poor), the establishment of monasteries and other spiritual centers, etc. The ROC has hardly been in a cocoon since the end of the godless anti-Christ regime; it has been extremely active in all the areas I have mentioned. Though I have high esteem for some of the results of competitive market capitalism, I’m not at all convinced that it is the model for the Church’s evangelical mission. The heterodox, by definition, teach things “other” than the true faith. Their presence is manifestly not needed in Russia. I am not at all suggesting that they be overtly suppressed or oppressed, but I can’t imagine encouraging them.
» Posted By Ivan Vasliliev On December 11, 2011 @ 4:38 pm