Congratulations on the great work you are doing. I agree with you that the whole lavender mafia issue is central to this crisis threatening to destroy the OCA. I have been talking with my friends about this, and they think I’m an alarmist on the subject. You’ve got to be crazy to think that the bishops want gay marriage, they say. Not even Stokoe is pushing for that. I keep telling them that it’s not about pushing openly for gay marriage and social liberalization. It’s about changing the culture of the church to allow that sort of thing to creep in.
I don’t know which of our bishops is gay, though I’ve heard the same rumors that you have, I bet. I look at the example of the Episcopal Church, which is in ruin today, and I am keen to learn from it. If you had said to an Episcopalian in 1970 that the church would one day have openly gay bishops and priests, living in partnerships, nobody would have believed you. How did the door open to it? Not by a full-frontal assault on tradition, but instead by people saying they only wanted “dialogue.” The push for more democracy in the church had something to do with it. Why not? Let congregations take the lead. I do believe that giving the laity more power can be a strength among us Orthodox, but it can be a terrible weakness when activists within the church get the levers of power, and use it to lead the church away from truth and tradition.
Judging by the Episcopal example, it starts by asking for tolerance and dialogue. It includes agreeing to put controversial issues, like homosexuality and gay marriage, off the table as “divisive” — except when we are supposed to “dialogue” about them. The modernizers and lavenders will use whatever strategy works to get what they want. If they get an activist bishop who carries water for them, that’ll do. If they get bishops who don’t agree with them but who are so afraid of controversy or rocking the boat, that’ll do too. The radical organizer Saul Alinsky wrote that political realists (and these people are nothing if not political realists) “see the world as it is: an arena of power politics… .” He said in his “Rules for Radicals” that “all effective actions require the passport of morality.” This is what we see Stokoe up to today: he is using the good name of moral reform in the Church to get rid of the main obstacle (Metropolitan Jonah) to what he and his merry band of brothers really want: the Episcopalianization of the Orthodox Church.
So, when they complain that Met. Jonah was out of line for signing the Manhattan Declaration, they’re not going to say they oppose his beliefs on marriage, because to do that is to oppose the teaching of the Holy Faith. They are going to say — they did say — instead that they are upset that he violated conciliarity. As if the other bishops need to be consulted before an Orthodox primate publicly affirms the teaching of the Orthodox Church on same-sex marriage! You see how this works? They are using the “passport of morality” as a cover to take the OCA in a direction that has meant a slow, painful death for the Episcopal Church.
I am grateful that you are sounding the alarm, George. I was talking to a Catholic friend today, a veteran of similar battles in her own church, and I tried to explain to her what was going on with us. She said, “Oh, boy. You start with congregationalism and conciliarity and dialog, and you end with felt banners replacing icons and elderly women insisting on everything from liturgical dance to a female priesthood.” This lady knows what she’s talking about. Orthodox believers who just want to keep their heads down and keep praying and trust that everything is going to work out for the best cannot afford to be so naive, or they’ll wake up one day and find that Stokoe and his stooges have stolen the Church.