Hitting a Nerve
On more than a few occasions, we have used this cliche when it was deemed appropriate. We do a lot of that at Monomakhos. It’s not always intentional but we are not shy from proclaiming the truth as we see it.
Taking this position will inevitably strike the proverbial nerve. As the Arabs say, “He who speaks the truth must have one foot in the stirrup.”
Anyway, we’ve done it again.
Rather than blame Your’s Truly it would be better to commend the commentariat as a whole for their vigorous response to Fr. Robert Arida’s shocking essay and Fr. Hans Jacobse’s courageous response to it. Speaking for myself and the rest of our editorial staff, it has been most edifying.
We are in fact elated with the commentary, which is overwhelmingly supportive of Jacobse’s critique. The level of erudition and clarity is most gratifying.
Stopping the Train
What Jacobse did was nothing less than stop the pro-gay acceptance train in the Orthodox Church in its tracks. Even better, the overwhelmingly positive response to his essay derailed it.
This is astonishing. The homosexual juggernaut has overtaken every other avenue of Western civilization: academia, entertainment, politics, the judiciary, even religion. It owns the commanding heights of culture in almost every aspect. Most mainline Protestant confessions have succumbed to it.
Even the Roman Catholic Church is unable to mount a clear response based on the present pope’s ambiguous pronouncements. That leaves only the Orthodox Church as the sole, remaining bulwark willing to uphold that which was always viewed as morally normative.
Before the publication of Jacobse’s polemic, the re-imagining of gay “marriage” has been proceeding apace in all the politically correct Orthodox circles. More than one bishop has in a public forum called for it. Another bishop has counseled those seeking a civil union that the Orthodox Church moves at a “glacial pace” in these matters. By all indications the major seminaries are aloof but sympathetic. Frankly, most Orthodox synods won’t even touch this topic with a ten foot pole. And we know why. We’ve always known why.
But since Jacobse’s essay, the reticence to speak the truth has been cast resolutely aside.
Although no bishop has chosen to respond in this venue (or any other we know of), the number of priests who spoke out is heartening. So far, one entire inter-Orthodox clerical conference has chosen to challenge Arida’s pro-secular and conformist stance. Their response is clear and tremendously encouraging. We hear that other clerical conferences are planning their own responses as well. The dam has burst and it is good that it has.
Being Conformed to the World
The world has changed. Arida’s apologetic represents the old order. It is now counter-cultural — even revolutionary — to uphold Tradition. Think of it, the Establishment view (especially on the East and West Coasts) is that homosexual “marriage” is normal and no different than marriage as traditionally defined. Even conservative luminaries and activists see no differences between the two.
In this sense, senior Orthodox bishops and clerics now share the commanding heights of culture with their secular counterparts. In their role as elder ecclesiastics, they vest gay “marriage” in theological garb. Why have controversy after all? Won’t we reach more people this way?
Make no mistake, the sexual revolution has won so much so fast that simple restraint is viewed as a mental disorder. Thanks to Freud and cultural Marxism in general, morality is treated with the same opprobrium as Nazism.
Arida for example, is merely mimicking the secularist intellectual culture and filtering it through Orthodox language. He writes in tones that echo the erudition of the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann and by this ruse obfuscates the sordid reality that makes ups the underside of homosexual culture to make it appear respectable.
Unfortunately, subterfuges like Arida’s often work. Most laymen, if not impressed with academic jargon are sufficiently intimidated by it not to raise a protest. When the apologia is uttered by high-placed clerics who have a reputation for preaching and pastoral outreach, the impact increases.
It is one thing for a lay blogger to condemn gay “marriage.” It is quite another for the Dean of a cathedral to commune homosexuals who have openly contracted a civil union. Devolution is the new norm, and it is sanctified.
This is a scandal. The Church honors the natural; it never contradicts it. That’s why marriage is a sacrament: It sanctifies the monogamous union of man and woman. The Church is not anti-natural, it is supernatural. It is not anti-material, it spiritualizes matter.
A homosexual civil union is not a natural marriage. It makes a mockery of the natural and the Church cannot sanctify it. Let me offer an analogy: Suppose a layman went into the altar and vested himself as a priest. He would look like a priest. He would chant like a priest. He would even swing the censor like a priest. But he is still not a priest.
If another priest was present and instead of throwing the false priest out of the altar decided to concelebrate with him, then the scandal would only be magnified. It’s the same with gay “marriage.” It’s a caricature of natural marriage and any acceptance of it in the Church whether theological or liturgical compounds the error and scandalizes the faithful.
Arida is in fact preaching another Gospel. Men don’t marry men. The Orthodox Church does not sanctify civil unions even if the State arrogantly but erroneously declares that such unions are morally valid. That he operates with the Bishop’s silence implies a consent from the hierachy as well. This is not good.
Nihilism: The End-Game
The blow-back to this other gospel has been overwhelming. This should not surprise us. The informed know, and the less-informed intuitively understand, that there is no core — no ontological rationale — to homoerotic unions. They are biologically sterile, but the biological sterility points a deeper hollowness, a nihilism where the central Christian precept that one finds himself in the other is inverted. Instead of man finding himself in communion with a woman, he turns in on himself by sharing communion with someone in the image of himself.
It is time to reread Romans 1. The Apostle Paul declares that homosexuality leads to the worship of the created, not the Creator. In this sense alone, the homosexual enterprise is futile. Nothing endures; nothing remains. In the end there is only death.
There is no homosexual “culture.” There is no feminist “civilization.” There is only culture, there is only civilization. The millions of fallen men and women that are scattered throughout the world constitute civilization and create culture despite their brokenness. And only one man and one woman create new life and propagate civilization.
The ferocity of the response to the other gospel has been alarming to Arida, his partisans and fellow-travelers. It’s comical in some ways. Stung by the erudition, logic and plain-spoken responses on this blog, their only retreat is a kind of scolding pietism. We hear, “You don’t know what Fr. Bob has said to those who are under his care,” or “how do you know that this gay couple isn’t repentant,” or some variation thereof over and over again.
They are balancing on the edge of a cliff but don’t know it. Their scoldings presuppose that Arida is leading these people to repentance. But when you listen to activists in homosexualist circles (pace Killian Sprecher), they tell us that the sin of same-sex behavior is normal and needs no repentance.
This is illogical. So what is really going on? The supporters say one thing and their leaders do another.
But take it a step further. Ask yourself: Why was Arida’s essay posted on the Wonder Blog? If same-sex attraction is normal and same-sex behavior is not sinful, then what was the purpose for posting it? Was it to propagandize our youth? Can anyone name any other reason?
The tables have turned. The “Orthodox Episcopalians” (as Jacobse puts it) have to answer in terms of the moral tradition. This makes the contradictions clear. In stating that Arida is merely “counselling” gay-married couples or leading active homosexuals into “repentance,” his defenders are tacitly accepting the fact that there is something wrong with homosexuality. Yet they argue that homosexuality is not a sin in their next sentence. Which is it?
Make no mistake. Neither Arida or his partisans believe homosexual behavior is a sin. If they did they would dissolve the illicit and illogical unions and approach the Chalice with fear and trembling. There is no record that they have. In fact, the opposite is true.
Moreover, from the writings of Fr. John Jillions, the Chancellor of the OCA, there is every indication that the celebration and propagation of homosexual ideology reaches far beyond the walls of Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Syosset Under Siege
Arida’s essay has created another impasse. The cause of same-sex “marriage” is accepted overwhelmingly by the cultural elite and thus has become uncontroversial in leading OCA circles. Fr. Arida was not speaking out of turn in this respect and neither are we. We saw it with the Facebook “attaboys” that were showered on Killian Sprecher when he contracted a civil union. In the OCA homosexuality, at least in the national leadership, is normative.
The blow-back they received mirrors the case of Ward Churchill. Churchill was an academic who said horrible things about America, especially toward the people who died in the World Trade Center attack. He didn’t expect the obloquy that was poured upon his head. Why? Because his opinions were normative in many academic circles. Arida, like Churchill, lives in an echo chamber, a constrained box that has nothing to do with the people who make up the larger Church. This cleavage between elite and hoi polloi is growing wider by the day.
The isolation around Arida’s Boston Cathedral extends to Syosset as well. Syosset does not comprehend this which is why they keep making such damaging mistakes. Even though they are told, they just don’t hear it. We should expect the self-inflicted woundings to continue.
Here, too, we see why Syosset and the Synod went after Metropolitan Jonah. Jonah was simply incompatible with their triumphalist liberal world-view. His defenestration was inevitable.
+Jonah was a man of a different stock, temperament, and experience. At his monastery he learned of the damage that icentiousness ideology caused in young men. At Syosset he would have none of it but he could not overturn an institution that had grown arrogant and moribund. This latest controversy gives us an even clearer picture of the slog that animates the Syosset regime and confirms what many have long believed: +Jonah was expelled because he challenged the prevailing elite and their ideas.
In the end Syosset won but as Talleyrand said of the Bourbons of France, “they forgot nothing and learned nothing.” Yet the falls and scandals that have attended the OCA since Jonah’s ouster keep on coming. Arida’s latest missive has only intensified the crisis.
But why hunker down? Why do they always play the hedgehog? Why don’t they respond?
Maybe the answer is that the “new and alien spirit” that so troubled Arida may in fact be inhabiting Syosset. Maybe +Jonah represented the corrective, the traditionalist antidote who could restore the new normal back to the old normal. Maybe he exposed what new leaders, who love to quote the old leaders, really believe.
Time will tell. The truth will prevail as this story continues to unfold.