The Reardon Option or the Chicago Veto?

Fr. Patrick Henry ReardonIn a previous posting on the atrocious Obergefell ruling of the Supreme Court, I closed with an outline of some possible options available to us.

The first was the Reardon Option, which I named in honor of Patrick Henry Reardon, a priest in the Antiochian jurisdiction. Fr Patrick informed us about a month ago that he had stopped acting as an agent for the State of Illinois by refusing to sign marriage licences. He would continue of course in his capacity as an Orthodox priest to preside over the mystery of Holy Matrimony but he would not be a party to the resulting confusion enacted by the State of Illinois, which has some problem distinguishing between the genitalia of the two sexes.

There are other issues involved however. Namely, why has there been no vociferous response from the Orthodox episcopate to this egregious ruling? Except for a few well-crafted encyclicals from Bishop Paul Gassios (OCA) of Chicago and Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver (GOA), the silence has been deafening.

To be sure, the Assembly of Bishops of the United States did come around to issuing a declaration. Unfortunately, like Metropolitan Tikhon’s (the Primate of the OCA) it was tepid at best. We can surmise that the reason His Beatitude’s statement was lukewarm was because in the precincts of Syosset, the recent ruling was welcomed. However, the Orthodox Church being the Orthodox Church, a grudging statement had to be released if only for propriety’s sake.

A similar reticence has likewise hobbled the Episcopal Assembly. According to its internal procedures, one-third of the bishops can exercise a veto over any proposal or action. This “minority veto” is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. However in this instance, in which moral clarity and unambiguous proclamation are called for, it is nothing less than a disaster of the first magnitude. For reasons which I will explain below, I call this the Chicago Veto.

One such reason can be gleaned from the article below (which I encourage you to read). In it, we find that not all within the greater Chicago area are as exercised about the SCOTUS decision as is Fr Patrick or Bishop Paul. This reticence is amplified in the Episcopal Assembly as well. Just guessing here, but I would say that about a third of the bishops were most reluctant to state anything at all, for reasons known only to them. As in the case of the horrific abortion regime which has been legalized since that dark day in 1972, the GOA has led from the rear, so to speak. That is to say, not at all.

My suspicion is that in this particular situation, there is a contingent of bishops which is Laodicaean in this matter. Like the Syosset Apparat however, they cannot completely ignore it, and so, must at least make some sort of statement. Like the Chancellor of the OCA and his brain-trust (which includes his brother-in-law, the Protodeacon Eric Wheeler), we can guess where their true sympathies lie.

And so it goes. I imagine that before too long we will have to choose to follow pastors who are like Fr Patrick, or continue to place ourselves under the omorphor of bishops who can exercise a Chicago veto.

Chicago priest protests same-sex marriage, won’t sign civil marriage licenses

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

The Rev. Patrick Henry Reardon of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago says the government can define and sanction marriage on its terms but that he’ll no longer act as an agent of the government by signing civil licenses. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune)

By Manya Brachear Pashman
Chicago Tribune

Source: The Chicago Tribune

The Rev. Patrick Henry Reardon is getting out of the civil marriage business.

The Orthodox Christian priest on Chicago’s North Side says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalizes same-sex matrimony reinforces his recent decision to no longer sign licenses that make marriages valid in the eyes of the state and now the nation.

That doesn’t mean Reardon won’t do weddings. On the contrary, he gladly will bless the union of a Christian man and woman and perform the sacrament of marriage. But those couples must go to a courthouse if they want to be legally bound. He says he can no longer in good conscience serve as an agent of the state.

“The strange situation in the United States is clergymen not only act in the name of the church, they also act in the name of the state,” said Reardon, the pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago’s Irving Park community. “The clergymen wear two hats. I’m making a political statement in this sense: I’m accusing the state of usurping the role of God. What I’m saying is, ‘I don’t agree with you and I’m going to change the way I do things. I will not act in your name. … I will not render unto Caesar that which belongs to God.'”

The unusual protest has inspired other Christian clergy — Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant — to consider following his lead, a shift Reardon hopes will lead the nation to a different model of marriage, one that no longer deputizes clergy to sign marriage licenses and, in his opinion, effectively uphold the state’s definition of marriage.

In Illinois, couples typically go to the county clerk to apply for a marriage license no more than 60 days before they wed. Whoever officiates at the ceremony signs the license as a witness. The county then records the marriage. The couple also has the option of exchanging vows in front of a judge. That’s the only option now for Reardon’s parishioners if they want to be married in the eyes of the law.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, Chicago’s Roman Catholic leader, said in a recent interview that the idea has not come up among America’s Catholic bishops or Chicago priests, but he pointed out that a “two-tiered type of marriage” already exists in some places, including Europe. Regardless of who signs the license, he added, there’s already a clear distinction between the two in the U.S.

“Civil marriage doesn’t make people promise and keep the promise of permanence because of the ease of divorce,” Cupich said. “We ask people to be married until death do you part and we really mean that. … It’s important to recognize we already have a difference between civil marriage and church marriage because of the promises.”

Indeed, the government’s view of marriage as a legally binding contract already contradicts the Orthodox Christian understanding of marriage as a sacrament — blessing a union that already existed because it was created by God. And therein lies the problem, Reardon said.

“Government has no authority whatsoever to alter that,” Reardon said. “Whence a judge, magistrate or a justice of the peace does the ceremony, that’s just a legal act. As a priest I will no longer step in and serve in that function.”

Reardon, who was raised Roman Catholic and converted to the Episcopal faith, embraced Orthodox Christianity in the 1980s when Episcopalians began to change their prayer book and ordain gay clergy. He chose the Antiochian Orthodox Church because it was particularly open to converts. In fact, three-fourths of the members of the church in North America are American born, as are nearly all of Reardon’s parishioners. That’s not necessarily the case in the roughly two dozen ethnic Orthodox churches where many parishioners have immigrated to the U.S. from countries with a particular Orthodox patriarch.

But the theology of marriage is the same in all branches, said the Rev. Johannes Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute. It’s considered to be much more than a partnership.

“We see the sacramental as the completion of the natural,” said Jacobse, also an Antiochian Orthodox priest. “We see marriage as a means of salvation, as a way one achieves salvation. It’s not just a contract or agreement. It certainly is that. But it’s more.”

Clergy on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate support Reardon’s boycott, though based on a slightly different rationale.

The Rev. Tony Jones, an evangelical author and proponent of same-sex marriage, has been advocating for a separation of religious and civil marriage since 2010.

“This social change happened a lot faster than anybody predicted,” said Jones, who teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “When I declared that I would no longer sign marriage licenses and encouraged other clergy to do the same, it was an attempt to actually buy the church some freedom to say we can sacralize a same-sex union and we don’t need the state to legalize it.

“The other reason I did it was on behalf of people like Father Reardon,” Jones added. “I thought it would buy conservatives some time and some latitude and they could say the government can do whatever the government wants to do regarding marriage and weddings. But in our church we’re going to have a different standard.”

He said most clergy members he has surveyed agree in principle that they should not serve as arms of the government, but signing that certificate has become so much a part of the American marriage ritual that it’s difficult for them to see an alternative.

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, said he doesn’t foresee such a boycott in Chicago. He even questions whether it’s legal.

“I can’t imagine any of our priests doing that,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate it happening to make a political statement,” he said.

Jacobse said Reardon is the first Orthodox priest to take such a strong a political stand. But the recent Supreme Court ruling has sparked a discussion among other brethren, he said.

“It was a bold move on Father Patrick’s part,” Jacobse said. “A lot of priests are wondering and asking the same thing. To remove all conflict between the church and the state is to go the path that Father Reardon has chosen to go on. I anticipate more priests are going to go that way.”

Reardon emphasizes that he does not discourage couples from seeking licenses and legitimacy in the eyes of the law. But having that certificate will no longer be a condition of getting married at All Saints.

“If you want the tax advantages of marriage recognized by the state, you’re going to have to do something else about it, like go down to a justice of the peace,” he said. “If you don’t want that, that’s perfectly OK. I’m not going to require that at this parish.”


  1. Daniel E Fall says

    Reardon is right to separate the role of church and state.

    I say further the state has no business blessing human relationships of any kind. The state only ought recognize contractual matters and legal matters like child marriage..polygamy… Of course my attitude allows gay relationships, but the church doesn’t need to recognize them because they aren’t then a protected institution.

    Marriage should not be a protected right.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Daniel says, “Marriage should not be a protected right.”

      I think it is.

      It is surely wrong—blasphemous, even—to alter the definition of marriage.

      This is the sin our bishops have correctly condemned.

      • gail sheppard says


        I support you 100%. I think the bylaws should be amended to include this practice. Have you spoken with Metropolitan Joseph? If so, how does he feel?

        To seek licenses and legitimacy in the eyes of the law, Orthodox couples will have to be “married” by the state, as there are restrictions on civil unions. Maybe the Church should support eliminating these restrictions. It would help separate marriage from civil rights and Orthodox couples would feel less conflicted about entering into civil unions.

        It would make my stomach turn to have to get married under the state, just as it turns your stomach to sign those marriage licenses.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Gail inquires, “Have you spoken with Metropolitan Joseph?”

          His Eminence has been working the Middle East lately, Gail.

          And, ” If so, how does he feel?”

          Well, I hope.

          • V. Rev. Fr Patrick B. O'Grady says

            another Fr Patrick here, Fr Patrick B. O’Grady, an archpriest in the AOC Diocese of LA & the West.
            We clergy here (convened in southern California for our annual Parish Life Conference) just met with His Eminence, Metr. Joseph, who came back from the middle east where he was very busy at the session of the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch.
            This very issue–the solemnization of marriages– was raised by several presbyters, including myself, at this session. Indeed, I do not mind going on record as having strong reservations about serving any longer as an agent for the state in solemnizing marriages. It’s high time we ended this last vestige of church-state symphonia. The Constantinian arrangement is now dead in this land.
            Given the state’s judiciary action in proclaiming a new definition of marriage, the Church ought not be complicit any longer in such joint action. So, I came to our clergy session with our Metropolitan ready to move this issue. Several others stated this proposal before me. We do have a couple of lawyer-priests (presbyters who are also members of the bar) who mentioned that this approach though attractive, ought to be examined against any “unintended consequences.” All this is good and right.
            As for Metr Joseph’s approach, it is the following: he listens carefully to all the good advice and counsel he can, before issuing any precise directive to his clergy. He is absolutely committed to upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage, and now he acts. In this light, he shall soon send out a written statement about this to be read in all the churches of the AOCA of NA. This written encyclical will also serve as a basis for all catechesis (pre-and post-baptism) and will ground our doctrine of marriage in relationship to all other churches as well.
            All this will no doubt be discussed in pleno when the entire clergy of the Archdiocese, along with laity, convene in Boston in the week of 20-26 July.
            Meanwhile, it seems important that priests not act in isolation… Though I am very sympathetic to Fr Patrick Reardon’s stance, I wonder if he secured any hierarchical blessing to proceed. In military, as well as ecclesiastical, strategy, it seems best to remain “in file” so as to present a solid bloc against the adversary.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              Father O’Grady inquires, “Though I am very sympathetic to Fr Patrick Reardon’s stance, I wonder if he secured any hierarchical blessing to proceed.”

              The Sacred Canons spell out the conditions and circumstances in which a priest must secure the blessing of his hierarch.

              The saintly Father Roman Braga (rest in peace) gave me, some years ago, what I have ever thought to be sound counsel:

              “if you are sure of your responsibility, don’t refer anything to the bishop unless the Canons say you must. The bishop has other things on his mind.”

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Father (Patrick Henry Reardon), I was asking how Metropolitan Joseph feels about the stance you’ve taken. But you knew that. Context is everything.

            Stupid me for thinking that this matter is MUCH BIGGER THAN YOU and might be best handled by a metropolitan who was chosen by God and has the muscle of a whole jurisdiction behind him.

            Thank you, Father Patrick B. O’Grady for answering my question.

            The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

            See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is doneake too much may be secure and valid.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              Well, Gail, how do I respond to your self-accusation of being “stupid”?

              I won’t comment on it.

              I will comment, however, on your arrogance and irresponsibility.

              You started by asking me, in public, the opinion of Metropolitan JOSEPH.

              Inasmuch as Metropolitan JOSEPH never authorized me to speak on his behalf, I declined to address your presumptuous and unreasonable inquiry.

              Then, on the basis of my refusal to answer your impertinent, presumptuous, and irresponsible question, you concluded—-incorrectly—-that I did not have the approval of my bishop for my recent public stand.

              Having reached that illogical and mistaken inference, you proceeded to cite at length a passage from St. Ignatius, a famous text I had read (in Greek) some decades before you were born.

              I did not violate either the letter or the spirit of what St. Ignatius wrote, and, in accusing me of doing so, you have only augmented the case for . . . .

              Well, I leave it at that.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Dearest Father Patrick Henry Reardon,

                Everyone on this list knows I love you. You know it, too. Your reaction to what I said is something you might want to pay attention to.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                There is NO WAY you could have read this passage “decades” before I was born,” unless you were a prodigy in the mid 1930s! Not likely, Father. You still photograph well. LOL

      • To me the confusion of the idea “protected right” lies in the fact that by law gay marriage is now a protected right. They can go to any church and demand a wedding ceremony. A heterosexual marriage has been an assumed right and probably still is. A priest, pastor, rabbi can turn down performing a heterosexual marriage for a variety of reasons. The homosexual couple can say, “This is my right and you as a government employee, though unpaid, cannot turn me down. Fr. Reardon has divested himself of the role of government employee. Now he is solely in the blessing, sanctifying business. And he has the right to pick and chose whose marriages he will bless.

        By the way, this is the system used in England and Germany that I know of, and probably in many other countries.

        • Virgil T. Morant says

          Regardless of to what extent we may consider a priest an agent of the state (we should all be able to agree, anyway, that his agency is extremely limited: in fact, as far as the marriage license is considered, limited to only one act), in our jurisprudence agent does not mean employee. I can think of no definition where someone granted a license to perform a task for the state, which gives no payment whatsoever and places the person under no supervision, is considered an employee. I note this all simply to say that the scenario you fear does not flow from any employer-employee relationship, because no such relationship exists in what we are talking about. Fr. Patrick has divested himself of something he finds objectionable and problematical, and he has likely divested himself of some very limited agency, but as a priest authorized to sign marriage licenses he was not an employee of the state and has therefore not divested himself of something he was not encumbered by in the first place.

          Also, a brief glance at Illinois law just now tells me it is consistent with Ohio law (with which I am more familiar) and the trend in general. It even contains redundant language explicitly saying that the law in Illinois may not be construed to compel an officiant to solemnize any marriage he or his church object to. We just had an “interracial” marriage turned down and make the news very recently here in Ohio. No one got in trouble, other than the bad press and hurt feelings. I know the times are changing, but I am not familiar with any direct threat to churches themselves in how they govern their marriages.

        • Do you know how it works in Canada?

        • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Has any government in the US ever forced a priest or pastor to marry somebody? I doubt it, and I don’t see how this new ruling changes things in that regard. It’s only a right to legal marriage.

          Things could change. Governments could in time presume to tell churches whom to marry, but among the Orthodox the time to stop cooperating with the state is when the state tells you to do something wrong. Until then, refusing to have anything to do with the state is not the Orthodox way.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Pdn Brian inquires, “Has any government in the US ever forced a priest or pastor to marry somebody? I doubt it,”

            When I was interviewed this morning on a Chicago radio station, I learned that a town in Idaho has already crossed that line; the city council has passed a municipal ordinance requiring any minister of a marriage to perform that ceremony for any couple that requests it.

            I was asked what I would do if the city council of Chicago passed a similar ordinance.

            I’m not sure the interviewers were happy with my answer.

            Anyway, I doubt that a year will pass before the City of Chicago (or Cook County) enacts similar legislation. It is inevitable.

            • Nate Trost says

              Patrick Henry Reardon wrote:
              When I was interviewed this morning on a Chicago radio station, I learned that a town in Idaho has already crossed that line; the city council has passed a municipal ordinance requiring any minister of a marriage to perform that ceremony for any couple that requests it.

              The devil is, of course, in the details. It would behoove you to educate yourself as to the details to be able to respond in an educated and accurate fashion.

              At this point in time, you are speaking foolishness and damaging your credibility in such matters.

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                I related only what I was told by the radio interviewer, so I appreciate Nate’s timely correction.

                Earlier today Bill Tighe instructed me on the details of the case.

                Arguably better than Nate’s link, however, is


                • Joseph Lipp says

                  It appears that the core of the legal argument against the “hitching post” is because they are a “for profit” venture, and because they advertise they perform weddings of different faiths and civil unions, but apparently not gay marriages. Because they are “for profit” they are not protected as a religious institution.

                  I’ve never heard of an Orthodox Church advertising that they perform weddings of different faiths or civil unions. It would be simony and uncanonical if an Orthodox Church did weddings for profit.

                  Are we in danger of Jews, Muslims, and Jehovah Witnesses marching into their local Orthodox Church and demanding marriage? Well yes, it’s actually happened many times, and the Orthodox priest simply tells them “no”. It’s not what we advertise, and it’s not what we do. Have their been lawsuits that have amounted to anything? I don’t think so.

              • Joseph Lipp says

                Nate thanks for your link. The “hitching post” advertised that they would do weddings of different faiths and also civil unions. If they advertised as such, then I am shocked they wouldn’t also perform same sex weddings.

                Seriously, has any Orthodox priest ever been asked to perform a wedding of a different faith or a civil union? Has it ever been a problem for an Orthodox priest to say “no” to performing a wedding of a different faith or a civil union? Has an Orthodox priest ever been sued for saying “no” to performing a wedding of a different faith or a civil union?

            • Father, no one (except the deluded “moderate” supporters of gay marriage) doubts that attempts at coercion are coming. Pdn Mitchell, however, is absolutely correct that such coercion isn’t yet happening.

              And even if such attempts happen, priests will have strong legal ground to stand on in refusing to perform gay marriages even though they do perform real marriages for Orthodox Christians who meet normal canonical requirements for entering into marriage.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                It’s the 501(c)(3) status that will become the issue.

                • As I have said, there is no doubt that attempts at coercion will be coming. I have several times listed the obvious order in which those attempts will come — and yes, tax-exempt status will almost certainly be step one. Actually multiple steps will be pursued simultaneously, but that is the low-hanging fruit, so to speak…

          • Carl Kraeff says

            I agree. There is no need to push back until the issue is forced upon us. I continue to support the conclusion of the Manhattan Declaration:

            “Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

            • ReaderEmanuel says

              We need to push back BEFORE the issue is forced upon us, and it will be soon. I’m tired of the Casper Milquetoast approach to all this. How long do you want to wait? Where do you draw the line? No, we need to push back now while we still can. Otherwise all is lost. Your statement from the Manhattan Declaration proves my point–what good, really, has our stance against abortion done in lo, these 40-some-odd years? We protested after the fact then, doing little if any good at all, and we are protesting pretty much after the fact now. The only difference is that it appears that some of our clergy aren’t with the program.

              • I totally agree. The Church needs to stop being reactionary and be proactive instead!!

      • Daniel E Fall says

        Defending marriage is a mistake.

        Promoting motherhood and families is not.

        And they are not exclusive, of course, but energy is exclusive.

        Spend wisely.

        • George Michalopulos says

          The “mistake” Dan, is your assertion that “defending marriage” is not coterminous with “promoting motherhood and families.” At one time (i.e. throughout history) and in all places, one saw marriage and family as two sides of the same coin.

          Let’s be honest here, the only reason we can now divorce the two is because of an economic system that makes it possible for a woman to birth children without the protection of a man. And the only reason that is possible is because the economic system is reliant on the incessant accumulation of debt. To paraphrase Herb Stein, a wise old economist: “that which can’t go on forever, won’t.” In time, this bondage to ever-increasing debt will collapse, taking our society down with it. At that point, only those sub-sets of society which adhere to the God-ordained laws of nature will survive.

          • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

            There was also the Pill, plus a raft of laws forcing employers to hire women and pay them more than necessary, and another raft of laws forcing schools and colleges to educate women as workers instead of mothers. The system is rigged for feminism, against motherhood, against womanhood, against children, and against men.

            • Nicholas Chiazza says

              Against slavery?

              • Michael Bauman says

                NC it is actually slavery promoting. Debt is slavery. Being propagandized by a pseudo-educational system into secular statist ideology while at the same timed being yoked with debt promotes such slavery. Nietzche’s vision institutionalized.

          • Daniel E Fall says

            The reason for separating the promotion of motherhood and families versus defending marriage is the premise(s), if you will.

            Defending marriage does nothing and says nothing about abortion. Keep dreaming if you think otherwise.

            Defending marriage is a larger message against gay marriage. A portion of the people are glad, a portion of the people don’t give a hoot, and a few are against it. The Post said 61% are actually for gay marriage, and the younger people are 78% for gay marriage. I understand the church doesn’t bend to public opinion. I get that very well. But why fight so hard against something when the public absolutely is not in agreement with you? Can’t you market your ideas in a different fashion? If the Post asked if those 78% wanted a family, how many would say yes?

            Promoting motherhood speaks to the girls that are more concerned with work or partying than being a mom and having a family.

            Promoting family is a ditto, but also lands on the grooming subordinate male that might decide he wants a family, too. Sorry Nicholas, but as I see it. My opinion is promoting family might even help someone who is unsure about their sexuality. Now, not everyone wants a family, but it is the churches trumpet.


    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      The State does not “bless” human relationships. The State’s support of natural marriage correctly recognizes that heterosexual monogamous marriage rested in a law that precedes and supercedes the authority of the State and, again correctly, that natural marriage is necessary for the stability of society.

      One of the great confusions of the age is that natural marriage is a right given by the State. It isn’t. That confusion leads to the State arrogating unto itself the authority to decree other arrangements apart from natural marriage as morally licit. It also leads to short-sighted statements like “marriage should not be a protected right” as if marriage has no long term bearing on the health of society and institutions. Marriage is critical to the stability of society which is why abolishing natural marriage within the legal and cultural structures will prove the be the fool’s folly in the end.

    • I’m not sure why you feel that polygamy is an area in which the state ought to involve itself, since your position clearly leaves open the door for same-sex relationships to be recognized by the state, even if churches (rightly) refuse to recognize them also. The exact same principle applies in that situation as it does in the present one. Unless you are equating polygamy with the child marriage that you mentioned in the same breath, which is a grossly inaccurate generalization. To whatever extent the two overlap, it is precisely because it was made illegal, which forced the practice to be driven underground. Anytime the government tries to use force to stifle the actions of consenting adults, it leads to corruption, criminality, and abuse. See Prohibition and the War on Drugs for the two best historical American examples.

      • Daniel E Fall says

        Polygamy is vastly different than gay marriage. In a gay marriage, you have two consenting adults that want to get health care benefits, in many cases both work. In a polygamous relationship, you cannot cover 6 spouses on your employers healthcare. In a polygamous relationship, the state has a HUGE interest. Most of the polygamists can’t afford to support their massive families. The alpha male sexing up 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 women combined with their notions, in general, of birth control being sinful result in large numbers of children. It is well documented that most of those children and families end up on some sort of state subsidies, housing, food, healthcare. If not all. And even if the alpha male has the funds to support them all, there are still inherent problems with this social construct.

        Furthermore, child marriage and polygamy are common bedfellows, but not exclusive, and the idea that making these practices illegal is problematic is on the edge of bizarre. If you are a libertarian, you need to realize some of the polygamists children would die sans government, and if you are a huge libertarian, then you are just crazy and we’ll move on. If you are a conservative, you need to recognize the huge amount of taxes used to support polygamy. If you are a liberal, I’m not sure what liberal would find it okay for the state to support 20 children fathered by one alpha male-this one doesn’t, not to mention the obvious neglect that comes from polygamy, not to mention the obvious slant toward patriarchy. Monogamy is all any good liberal should hope for because it is the most equitable for all. If you want polygamy, move to Saudi Arabia.

        Women consenting to plurality are generally not wise. Government has a duty to protect idiots to a degree from harm. Government has a duty to allow those women to be available to other men. While that might see odd, it keeps social order. Polygamists often pimp out their multiple wives to work to support their seeds, leaving a large vacuum.

        If the state allows polygamy, the conservatives should go completely apeshit because it is like the state sanctioning unlimited child rearing by the state.

        • I agree that the modern welfare state (including in its corporate forms, with spousal benefits, etc.) throws a monkey wrench into the mix. I would maintain, however, that the state already has no problem with supporting functional polygamy. Men father children today with multiple women with no adverse consequences, and the state obediently foots the bill for the cost of their offspring. One could make the case that the real polygamist (i.e. the man who marries and lives with his multiple wives, providing some sort of social stability and emotional support) is being discriminated against, since he made the mistake of marrying and living with his multiple women, as opposed simply to copulating with them sporadically while they live alone elsewhere. The functional polygamist who does the latter gets full government support for his irresponsibility, since in the eyes of the government, the women are simply single mothers who need help.

          Remember, this whole gay marriage thing was driven by “equal rights.” Zero consideration was given to the economic impact of providing spousal benefits to same sex couples — and the economic impact for the government will be significant. Why should economic concerns be decisive against polygamy, but irrelevant when deciding on same sex marriage? Why should a particular conception of equal treatment be everything when it comes to same sex marriage, while a reasonable conception of equal treatment be dismissed out of hand when it comes to polygamy?

          I say all of this not to defend or promote polygamy. Our teaching is clear that polygamy has never been accepted by the Church. I will repeat what I have said many times before, however. Mankind has had extensive experience with polygamy, across many millennia, cultures, and religions. Placing same sex marriage on an equal footing with what has been considered to be marriage throughout human history, however, is a radical experiment of breathtaking proportions, and in my opinion such radical social change is an act of social recklessness, next to which the reintroduction of polygamy in the West would pale by comparison.

          • Daniel E Fall says

            Polygamy is also very much a vote against women. It will not be made legal. And its comparison to gay marriage is noise.

            • Estonian Slovak says

              How do you know polygamy won’t be made legal? Moslems can rightly say it’s part of their religion. But your post reminds me;you don’t hear much from either your gaylibbers or women’s rights groups about how militant Moslems treat their gays and women.Why is that?

              • ReaderEmanuel says

                Because they all have the same goal: The destruction of this country!

              • Daniel E Fall says

                Informal polygamy is legal. You just can’t legally have multiple legal marriages. But if you don’t get legally married, you can have three women you call wives and it is perfectly legal. And they can even act like your wives if that is the side bet.

                Polygamy is right wing fear tactic and nothing more. It ranks with bestiality and is just noise. It isn’t popular and won’t be…and sorry, but the court does move with PO.

                I’m not taking the bait on the Muslim/gay activist/NOW bit. It has nothing to do with polygamy legalization. If the SCOTUS decides to make polygamy legal for gay Muslim feminists, let’s pool our resources for a ship and sail away…I’m only a little sorry..nope…its downright funny.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Give it time, Daniel. The present polygynous economic regime (i.e. state-subsidized bastardy) can and probably will be overturned to accommodate genuine, religiously-sanctioned polygamy. Stranger things have happened, like SCOTUS stating that homoerotic unions can be actual “marriages.”

                  • Daniel E Fall says

                    Nope. Polygamy is too disastrous to women. The public good will outweigh any religious or other libertarian notions. It will be a time when (gulp) conservatives (some) and liberals (most) will agree. The concept of women wanting polygamous relationships is not strong.

                    It is not the same conversation and the court got that.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      That’s not true. If all the women of the world who are involved in polygamous cultures were to rise up, it would have been wiped out thousands of years ago. It depends what culture you’re talking about. In many primitive cultures polygamy favors poor women while it most definitely disfavors beta males.

            • Play the “women” card against the “equality” card? Identity poitics does trump equality today (the combination of identity politics with notions of equality is what made gay marriage so politically potent, and it is important for liberals to hold up their assurances that gay marriage won’t lead to polygamy). Will probably work for a while. Has to for the sake of appearances. But from a legal and logical standpoint it is hardly noise, and anyone who thinks about it knows so. And once Muslim identity politics kicks in with full force (which includes the extra element of racial politics) the gentrified liberals will fold, pronto.

              • Monk James says

                George Michalopulos (July 18, 2015 at 5:49 pm) says:

                That’s not true. If all the women of the world who are involved in polygamous cultures were to rise up, it would have been wiped out thousands of years ago. It depends what culture you’re talking about. In many primitive cultures polygamy favors poor women while it most definitely disfavors beta males.


                I don’t quite get all this — please forgive my stupidity.

                In general, there is a lot of polygyny in the world (men married to more than one wife at the same time) in non/prechristian cultures.

                While it’s more rare, there are also polyandrous cultures in which women are married to more than one husband at the same time. I have no idea what — if any — meaning ‘divorce’ has in these cultures.

                These are subsets of polygamy, and should be clearly identified if we’re to discuss them intelligently.

                May the Lord preserve us from the wrongful decisions of the SCOtUS.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  good points all. There are two types of polygamy: polygyny and polyandry. Polyandry is most unworkable and has only been tried in one or two cultures in Tibet or Nepal (I forget which). So for all practical purposes polygyny = polygamy.

                  The reason is because of mechanics: 1) who is the father of the baby? and 2) it’s easier for one man to service two or more women than the other way around.

                  So what’s in it for the female? From an evolutionary perspective, it’s obvious why this favors the man: he increases his genetic fortune. What about the a woman? Basically only this: a woman who dies in childbirth can be guaranteed that her child will live on because the father will give the baby to one of the other wives to nurse.

                  Needless to say, to insure polygamy you need a patriarchal system on steroids. Hence Middle Eastern cultures and sub-Saharan cultures tend to treat females as chattel. They could get away with this because they were either pastoralist or light agricultural, which means that the physical strength of the man was not as necessary (no pushing a plow). In Europe however, farming was the only way to survive and it’s very labor-intensive. It was all a man could do to clothe and feed one wife. More on this later.

                  • Daniel E Fall says

                    In America, women can choose to carry a baby to term…nearly the polar opposite of the mother dying in childbirth and the infant given to a different wife. The polygamy argument by those against gay marriage was a bad one…really bad.

                    I’d suggest you save your energy and apply it if the liberals decide polygamy is okay in a SCOTUS case.

                    Polygamy in the US is against women and children. From the perspective of a child. Mommy , where is daddy? He is not here. When will he be here? When he wants to have sex with me.

              • Monk James says

                Edward says (July 17, 2015 at 1:17 am) :

                Play the “women” card against the “equality” card? Identity poitics does trump equality today (the combination of identity politics with notions of equality is what made gay marriage so politically potent, and it is important for liberals to hold up their assurances that gay marriage won’t lead to polygamy). Will probably work for a while. Has to for the sake of appearances. But from a legal and logical standpoint it is hardly noise, and anyone who thinks about it knows so. And once Muslim identity politics kicks in with full force (which includes the extra element of racial politics) the gentrified liberals will fold, pronto.


                This is an interesting sidelight to the present discussion. Just yesterday I was thinking about the ‘Equal Rights Amendment’ to the U.S. constitution so widely debated in the 1970s-80s.

                The putative ‘rights’ of women were ultimately disregarded, at least as they might have been appended to the constitution, but the even more tenuously putative ‘rights’ of homosexuals were recognized by the SCOTUS, effectively ‘legislating from the bench’.

                Although I don’t pretend to know much about politics, I remember some things from my civics lessons when I was a boy, and I don’t think that the recent behavior of the SCOTUS is quite what the american founders had in mind when they described ‘separation of powers’.

                There must be a better way of addressing grievances against The System, even grievances brought by homosexuals, without attempting to destroy the basic concepts underlying the very meaning of ‘marriage’.

                There is hope, I think. The SCOTUS was proved wrong about Dred Scott and some other issues. It will also be proved wrong about Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage. God haste the day!

        • Alan Beagley says

          Re: Polygamy
          It’s my understanding that in many FLDS communities, the supernumerary “wives,” who are unrecognized by the state, collect benefits as “single mothers.” Would they really want polygamy to be legal? It might refuce their income.

  2. Mark E. Fisus says

    I support Fr. Patrick’s action.

    However, Mr. Michalopulos, frankly you’re being paranoid by reading too much into what bishops have included or not included (I won’t say “omitted” because that implies deliberate exclusion and we don’t know that) in their various statements.

    To me, all the bishops’ statements say the same thing, and they would support each other’s statements.

    There are other corners of Internet Orthodoxy, liberal ones, that actually complain the Assembly’s tone was too harsh! All of us fundamentally agree with Church teaching opposing homosexual unions, so why are we picking nits about one another’s statements, and casting aspersions about which jurisdiction is closer to apostasy? All of this is unhelpful to the cause of unity, and therefore actually counterproductive to preserving the strength of the Church’s teaching. Notice that the Assembly’s statement by far has been the most assertive, and I’d like to think it is because the greater the number of Orthodox bishops who are gathered together, the stronger the Holy Spirit is with them.

    And of the jurisdictions that have been quieter — how do you know they weren’t silent because they were already anticipating speaking with one voice as part of the Assembly? I appreciate the vigor of the defense of traditional morality, but I think at times your attitude towards the hierarchs is uncharitable.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Of course you are right. In the pro-sodomy portion of the Orthoblogosphere, anything less than a liturgical rite of gay matrimony being put out yesterday will be met with groans of dismay. For the rest of us who are not caught within the grips of delusion, the silence continues to be deafening.

      Regarding your last paragraph, I pray you are right. Unfortunately, given the dearth of individual statements from a not-insignificant number of bishops, I am not holding my breath.

      Along these lines: I would ask my readers to name those bishops who have issued statements and to provide those statements to me for compilation.

      • June 28, 2015 Feast of Ss. Cyrus and John

        Beloved in Christ,

        May God bless you always.

        On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that effectively defines “marriage” as legal between any two consenting adults throughout our country, regardless of their biological sex, a decision that will no doubt have sweeping effects in our society, not just for these couples but for children, families, churches, other religious organizations and all people of faith.

        This action by the Court attempting to redefine marriage is deeply wrong, but it gives us an opportunity to reiterate for ourselves and also for our whole country the unchanging, timeless teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church regarding marriage and sexuality. With the creation of marriage by God for Adam and Eve, the first human bond was instituted. This bond preceded all the other social bonds of humanity, including not just governments but even the covenants that He Himself instituted. It is fundamental to human nature that marriage consists of one man and one woman in a lifelong, exclusive bond. Marriage is therefore not about private desire but about thecomplementary, conjugal bond of family, as created by God and blessed by Him.

        It is only within that blessed bond that sexuality finds its proper expression. All other sexual behavior— whether between a homosexual couple, an unmarried heterosexual couple, multiple people, a person by himself, or anything else—is sinful, meaning that it distorts our relationship with God, each other and ourselves. Yet such actions, including their sanction by entering into one of these new legal unions, which are not truly marriages, can always be repented of. No one is a lost cause. No one is our enemy.

        Repenting of our sins is what the Church is for. We are all sinners. Even if you do not have one temptation or one sin, you have others. So we do not condemn anyone for any reason. In love and faith, we hold out the hope of salvation through repentance for every human person.

        This is teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ. It has never changed and can never change, even if it costs us. We will continue to preach and to practice accordingly, and we expect that all of our pastors, teachers and parents will continue to do so. May God give you courage and love as you do so.

        Yours in Christ,

        Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
        Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        George requests, “I would ask my readers to name those bishops who have issued statements and to provide those statements to me for compilation.”

        There is Bishop Peter of Cleveland, ROCOR

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        Assembly of Orthodox Canonical Bishops

        Metropolitan TIKHON (OCA Primate, All America and Canada)

        Metropolitan ISAIAH (GOA Metropolis of Denver)

        Archbishop BENJAMIN (OCA Diocese of the West)

        Archbishop MARK (OCA Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania)

        Archbishop MELCHISEDEK (OCA Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania)

        Archbishop MICHAEL (OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey)

        Bishop THOMAS (AOCNA Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic)

        Bishop PAUL (OCA Diocese of the Midwest)

        Bishop DAVID (OCA Diocese of Alaska)

        ROCOR Chancery of Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest

        Notice a lot of these are OCA hierarchs, and with the exception of Archbishop NIKON, cover all the non-ethnic US members of the OCA Synod! That might be of interest to those who have voted OCA to the top of your ignominious poll.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Thank you so much for this list.

          The sheer number of these bishops is most encouraging.

          It appears that just about all the OCA bishops are on-board (with the Lord) except the one who comments regularly on this blog site.

          I just received a note from another Russian bishop, with a suggestion. To wit:

          “Dear Father, I admire your stand on marriage licenses. Unlike your Greek hierarchical neighbor, who doesn’t ‘get it,’ I do. It is my suggestion that States pass a law acknowledging Church marriages as legal. Upon the sending of a sealed copy of a marriage certificate, the State will register it. That will insure that our integrity will not be compromised. People need the protections of a legal ‘marriage’ (especially if it doesn’t work out and kids are involved) What do you think?”

          • Father, before you take a swipe at +Tikhon, which other retired bishops are in the list above (including the retired bishop who most gets discussed on this site)? To which flock should a retired bishop direct his encyclical? I can assure you that when he was a diocesan bishop, no-one ever accused Bp. Tikhon of being soft in his teaching on either faith or morals or of shying away from his responsibilty to teach. And surely you aren’t suggesting that ROCOR bishops are softer on this issue than the OCA bishops just because none of them signed their names to statememts?

            And only brief consideration is needed to know that the Russian bishop’s idea would never fly, because someone could form a church where polygamy and child marriage was part of the religion (Islam, anyone?). No state is going to rubberstamp all church weddings. If they approve only weddings done by religions whose standards don’t run afoul of government standards, then you are back to where you started — churches effectively acting as agents of the state as long as the state’s guidelines are followed.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              Edward inquires, “you take a swipe at +Tikhon . . . To which flock should a retired bishop direct his encyclical?”

              If the bishop in question agreed with the signers of those encyclicals, this blog site provided him with ample opportunity to say so.

              And, “And surely you aren’t suggesting that ROCOR bishops are softer on this issue than the OCA bishops are softer on this issue than the OCA bishops just because none of them signed their names to statements?”

              Shame on you for suggesting such a thing.

            • Texan Orthodox says

              “And only brief consideration is needed to know that the Russian bishop’s idea would never fly, because someone could form a church where polygamy and child marriage was part of the religion.”

              The governmental restrictions against recognizing polygamous/polyandrous marriages and incestuous marriages will certainly be contested in the courts in the near future. And given the SCOTUS’s logic/reasoning in their decision on “same-sex marriage,” there is really no logical reason to prohibit polygamous/polyandrous marriages, incestuous marriages, or whatever. Court cases will certainly contest these marriage prohibitions soon, if they are not in the process already.

              If marriage is merely a state-recognized relationship between “consenting adults who are in love,” then anything goes. Which is precisely the goal — marriage becomes anything we say it is, and marriage (and by extension, family) are meaningless, which is the desired end-state of the “same-sex marriage” activists anyway. They couldn’t give two hoots about Mark and Steve (names picked entirely at random…) who have lived together for 30 years and who want the state to recognize their marriage because it grants them “dignity.” Puh-leeze. God grants humans dignity — our dignity does not come from state recognition. Besides, in states where “same sex marriage” has been legal for years, less than 3% of gay people ever take advantage of it, and when they do, their “marriage” is often “open” with sexual partners added here and there for “variety,” thus it bears little resemblance to what constitutes most traditional marriages.

              Traditional marriage implies (1) fidelity, (2) permanence, and (3) an openness to children. “Same sex marriage” often doesn’t want #1, doesn’t care much about #2, and is ontologically inconsistent with #3. There are provisions for divorce in traditional marriage (infidelity, abuse, abandonment, etc.), but this should occur rarely and not be normative.

              The fact that heterosexuals have done a fantastic job of screwing up traditional marriage — which I totally acknowledge that they have — has no bearing on the validity of “SSM” or on whether it should be legal.

              I would love to hear from Orthodox bishops and/or priests who are in favor of the SCOTUS ruling (aside from Deacon Eric Wheeler — I’m tired of hearing from him, frankly). What is their reasoning for being in favor of it? For Christians who are engaged in daily struggle to follow Christ, why is this SSM ruling from the SCOTUS so wonderful? How can they be in favor of the SCOTUS ruling and remain faithful to the Orthodox Christian faith — and be leaders among us in our faith, no less? God, help us!

              • I didn’t, Father and you know it. I was simply pointing out that a signed public statement should not be the criteria on which one determines the Orthodoxy of belief of any given bishop. As to His Grace, I wish his contrary nature didn’t give him such an allergy to admitting the points where he agrees with the majority on this site. But I refuse to forget what he actually did as a diocesan bishop. He worked tirelessly to restore an entire diocese to pastoral order, which is more than most of his detractors will ever accomplish for Christ and his Church.

              • I don’t see anything in what you write that I disagree with in the least. Polygamy is indeed coming — and I am far less concerned about it than I was about same-sex marriage. There is at least a great deal of human experience with polygamy to draw on — across many millennia, religions, and cultures. There was no human experience with SSM, and as a result, there is no way to predict the consequences.

                My point was that that the idea of the Russian bishop who contacted Fr. Reardon is a complete non-starter, simply because the state will want to ensure that its prohibitions on who cannot get married are being observed, and will thus never rubberstamp all religious marriages.

          • Joseph Lipp says

            We should thank God that our government recognizes and protects the sacramental marriages of the Orthodox Church! Even if it also recognizes and protects marriages we don’t agree with, our government is not infringing on our religious freedom to have sacramental marriages as we see fit, and our government is even supportive and protective of them. Thank God, we are not being persecuted! Let’s not pretend like we are, because that’s just insulting to those who really are being persecuted.

        • Interesting. And you KNOW the Diocese of the South in the OCA would, under normal circumstances, have spoken out early on this issue.

  3. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    So the kindly shepherd tells his sheep,”Now I’ve married you and that’s that! If you want to be legally married, go see the town clerk or whoever. They’ll give you your legal proof of marriage, while I have demonstrated my utter disapproval of the government’s morality!”
    I must say. Fr Reardom’s Righteousness is, indde, a marvel to behold. It’s even better than a bishop exhorting his flock to march for marriage, while he himself tiptoes to the sidelines.
    punish the Faithful!!!! And count it as righteousness.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      How is it a punishment, Your Grace?

      You have to go down and get the license anyway. What’s the difference?

      Besides, the State doesn’t create marriage. It doesn’t have the ability. Regardless of the word used to describe the transaction, all the State does is create a legal contract or agreement. And if there is any entity that is punitive in this whole mess, it is certainly not Fr. Patrick. It is the State.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Yeah, Rhonda, but SOMEONE has to SIGN the License AFTER the wedding: not just the witnesses, but the the officiant. That is the bottom line. If however you get a huffy Priest who wants to use YOUR wedding for other purposes and does not sign, THEN, RHONDA, SOMEONE has to find someone ELSE legally able to sign that bottom line. Or else the wedding willnot be registered as having legally taken place!.
        Some, probably, convert, clergy don’t mind treating the matter as a POLITICAL opportunity to be heard (anf LOOKED UP TO?).
        I’d say there are plenty clergy and non-clergy everywhere who ENVY the homosexual community’s leaders for GETTING OUT IN FRONT on ANYTHING!

        Perhaps some CONVERTS aren’t really convinced of the absolute HOLINESS of the Church’s Mysteries outside of the two Sacraments that the knew before getting received into the Church. Hasty or almost non-existent catechesis is at fault.

        • Ronda Wintheiser says

          I am suggesting that having a civil ceremony with a justice of the peace officiating who signs the license, as well as a sacramental ceremony is a small price to pay for great gain.

          It seems to me that most notably it would provide a natural remedy for “hasty or non-existent catechesis” —

          Vigen Guroian tried to warn us about this years ago, and as recently as 2014, in First Things, he (prophetically) wrote:

          “…Orthodox Christians have a long historical experience under Muslim domination in the Middle East (and within some European nations). That experience can provide us guidance for life under secularist domination. Under Muslim domination, civil marriage and religious marriage were separate, the former the province of the state, the latter belonging solely to the Church. Under these arrangements, couples had to go through two distinct steps to be married: They received the sacrament of marriage in their church, and they obtained a state marriage license. Now, here in North America, under an increasingly intrusive secularist state, the churches themselves must initiate a similar two-tiered arrangement. Neither medieval nor Enlightenment models are useful or beneficial to the Church and sacred matrimony any longer.

          “…in states where same-sex marriage is law, our bishops should prohibit priests from participating in the standard process of delivering marriage contracts on the state’s behalf. …when clergy …continue to deliver civil marriage contracts, the Church is complicit in a radical redefinition of marriage contradictory to the fundamental teachings of the Orthodox faith.

          “(T)his change in Church practice could provide an opportunity to instruct Orthodox Christians about the meaning of marriage as sacrament. This is needed today. Many think of marriage merely as contract. The obstacles to this action are a combination of inertia and fear that adoption of a two-tiered marriage process might lead to fewer couples seeking the sacrament.

          “I do not think that the story ends here, however. Pressures will continue and only build, culminating in legal actions designed to require churches to marry same-sex couples. This dire future is sadly plausible because so many understand marriage in strictly consensual and contractual terms. The Orthodox Church has never taught that marriage is in the contract. Rather, marriage is in the blessing and God’s presence through it. Marriage is also profoundly related to baptism and the Eucharist. Yet, today, the Orthodox churches do not offer a nuptial Eucharist, or anything of that sort. It is common practice in the Armenian Church, however, for couples to take Communion together on the Sunday preceding their wedding. It would be theologically right and worldly wise for all of the Orthodox churches to bring the Eucharist into the marital rite, or at least in closer liturgical proximity to marital practice, as in the Armenian case. This would be demonstrative of the close relation of marriage to the Eucharist and strengthen appeals to the free-exercise clause that may be needed in a future when the state mandates or otherwise pressures churches through punitive sanctions to marry same-sex couples.”

          Isn’t it time we followed his advice, as Fr. Patrick already has?

        • With respect, you express attitudes that are unworthy of you.

        • Will Harrington says

          I recall watching a show by a Finnish actor touring Russia. In one episode he got himself invited to several weddings, some Russian, one Korean. It turns out that all people getting married went to the equivalent of the justice O’the Peace for a civil wedding and then some also had a wedding in a church. The civil and the religious wedding were two different things. This seems to be a system that works in much of the rest of the world and, if used here, would protect churches from the brand new anti-discrimination club SCOTUS has given to the government. Its a workable system to which I can come up with no rational objections. But this is America and we still cant figure out metrics so rationality will have no role in this.

        • When the Orthodox priest performs the rite of matrimony he can offer the married couple a “certificate” of Matrimony. Orthodox parents receive a “certificate” of Baptism from their priest performing the Baptism of their child and it is signed and it is official. So that is the same thing that should be done here, one Sacrament alike the other Sacrament. Ball now in the State’s court. They can accept a certified copy, stamp it with the State’s emblem and file it somewhere, probably same place where they keep their Birth Certificates. Or, they can say no, we like you to do our paperwork. And that could possibly become another court case, at any rate, even if a couple might decline to do the State’s “paperwork” their church certificate of matrimony should all the same carry some amount of legal weight one might imagine, particularly if from an established church denomination and so perhaps that may be the way to go, as long as though again it isn’t the State giving the Church the template of the certificate for the Church, priest, and bride and groom to fill in the blanks however a certificate originally issued by the Church where the matrimony takes place.

      • I was looking up info about JP weddings out of curiosity. One poster told the story of going to the courthouse to get a marriage license. Another couple was getting married and their names were called at the the same time — getting the license took only 10 minutes, yet the couple getting married were done first. A stripped down JP wedding would take no time at all. Priests who choose the Reardon option would do well to get acquainted with procedures at the local courthouse so they can help walk couples through the process and let them know what to expect. But don’t be mistaken — this will be an obstacle for some. I knew a pastor of a small church who on principle didn’t want to be involved in the legal part of marriage. The first couple he dealt with just couldn’t grasp the concept of separating church and civil weddings, and left, never to return, deciding it must not be a real church. Some will decide just to skip the church part altogether, and rather than have their wedding day be a time that begins reengagement with the church after a long absence will instead remember that day with memories only of the state…

      • There is a ceremony at a civil wedding. It can be very stripped down, but it is not just a matter of signing a legal contract in front of a notary. There has to be an officiant, legally authorized by the state, who performs the ceremony and signs off on the certificate that he performed the wedding.

        If a priest engages in an unholy act by signing the same papers that gays use, why isn’t an Orthodox couple engaging in an unholy act by having a civil wedding and using the same papers as gays use? I am all for taking strong stands on this issue, and I respect Fr. Reardon’s stand, but I think the Reardon option raises as many questions as it answers.

        All of that energy could be spent on the positive project of teaching what the Orthodox Christian Mystery of marriage is — as opposed to jumping through hoops saying what it isn’t (and confusing people in the process).

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Edward says, “I respect Fr. Reardon’s stand, but I think the Reardon option raises as many questions as it answers.”

          This is the most perceptive endorsement I have received.

    • gail sheppard says

      Your Grace, the government cannot give you legal proof of marriage, because marriage is no longer something between a man and a woman. The state can only give legal proof that an Orthodox marriage is exactly the same as an LGBT marriage, which is a violation of OUR civil rights, as it forces us to “marry,” as the state defines it, to keep the rights/benefits afforded to the “married” among the LGBT population.

      • Jim of Olym says

        Gail, perhaps the term ‘secular or state marriage’ could be parsed to read ‘cohabitation contract’ or some such. That would leave the ‘mystery or sacrament of marriage’ to the churches.
        Just my poor thoughts here.

        • Gail Sheppard says


          I with you. ANY language that separates the two would be preferable to this.

    • fr. philip says

      Dear Vladyko,

      Master, bless!

      Archimandrite Alexander, rector of the OCA podvorie in Moscow, tells me that in Russia, the legal marriage is the civil marriage alone; if a couple seek the sacramental marriage, they come to the Church, as for any other of the Mysteries. Fr. Alexander also says that the Church is at the very least content with this arrangement. And yes, in Russia this practice began in Soviet times; but it began in France some time after the revolution in 1789. So there is both civil and Orthodox Christian precedent for Fr. Patrick’s action.

      What troubles me is that to date I have seen no indication that a blessing was given by his Bishop for his action. And quite frankly, I’m extremely uncomfortable with even appearing to be using the Mysteries to make a political statement. Having said, that, however, there are more than a few of us clergy, Orthodox and heterodox alike, here in Canada who’ve been contemplating exactly this step for the last 4-5 years. That it would inconvenience the couple is, admittedly, a major affront to Canadian “niceness;” but the current situation seems a growing threat to Christian integrity.

      Fr. Philip

    • Gail Sheppard says


      I’m not laughing at anyone. It is just that you, Your Grace, never fail to amuse me!

      May God bless you for that wonderful mind and wit of yours, in this life and in the world to come. As you know, I will be praying that angels, “sing thee to thy rest.” Please pray for me, too.

  4. Virgil T. Morant says

    This act (or choice not to act) by Fr. Patrick is one whose merits I do not follow or cannot agree with. If an Orthodox priest is not compelled to officiate over un-Orthodox marriages, indeed if the weddings he is responsible for are in no way constrained by the state, what is accomplished other than a nominal protest (and a minor inconvenience to the bride and groom for having to find someone else to fulfill the secular marriage) by refusing to sign the certificate? Is being an agent of the state so wrong that one should remove oneself from that role as much as possible, and how well can anyone accomplish this? An attorney is an officer of the court, and our courts are far from beyond corruption. Can an Orthodox Christian lawyer not do his job, refusing any work or order that is contrary to Christian conscience, without trying to divorce himself from his relation to the state entirely? Should a real property owner feel uneasy about recording a deed or with having one properly prepared and executed in in the sale of the property? For that matter, should priests in the armed forces be worried that they are agents of the state in the work they do as chaplains, even if they are fortunate enough not actually ordered to violate the commandments in their military duties?

    As I said, maybe I just don’t get this. The mystery of marriage in the Orthodox Church and marriage in the eyes of the state are not the same thing. We all know that the two are understood very differently, as they should be. I do not understand what is really accomplished, though, by a priest refusing to acknowledge before the state that a wedding that the state too will then recognize has taken place. I surely don’t think this will solve any of the underlying problems we have with marriage and sexual relations in our society. I suppose too it may be harmless enough, if it eases one’s ill feelings about our government’s unfortunate new policies, but I don’t think it does much more than that.

    • George Michalopulos says

      We are not talking about mere irregularities in the various professions but sanctioning an abomination but calling it marriage.

      As for the military, chaplains have already been drummed out of the Service because they won’t counsel Lt Dan and Corporal Forrest when they have a “marital” spat.

      • Virgil T. Morant says

        But how does acknowledging a legitimate, Orthodox marriage before the state sanction any unrelated abomination? Then by your logic do the bride and groom sanction an abomination (or become complicit in someone else doing so) by seeking state recognition of their union?

      • Jim of Olym former LTJG USNR says

        George, as you probably know, there has been a long standing rule against officers (Lt) and enlisted Corp) having intimate relations, or even social in the narrow sense.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          I wonder if Jim of Olym realized that “Lt Dan and Corporal Forrest” was a metaphor drawn from a popular film.

  5. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Let’s not forget the important letter from Bishop THOMAS:

    June 28, 2015

    Feast of Ss. Cyrus and John

    Beloved in Christ,

    May God bless you always.

    On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that effectively defines
    “marriage” as legal between any two consenting adults throughout our country, regardless of their
    biological sex, a decision that will no doubt have sweeping effects in our society, not just for these
    couples but for children, families, churches, other religious organizations and all people of faith.

    This action by the Court attempting to redefine marriage is deeply wrong, but it gives us an opportunity to
    reiterate for ourselves and also for our whole country the unchanging, timeless teaching of the Holy
    Orthodox Church regarding marriage and sexuality.

    With the creation of marriage by God for Adam and Eve, the first human bond was instituted. This bond
    preceded all the other social bonds of humanity, including not just governments but even the covenants
    that He Himself instituted. It is fundamental to human nature that marriage consists of one man and one
    woman in a lifelong, exclusive bond. Marriage is therefore not about private desire but about the
    complementary, conjugal bond of family, as created by God and blessed by Him.

    It is only within that blessed bond that sexuality finds its proper expression. All other sexual behavior—
    whether between a homosexual couple, an unmarried heterosexual couple, multiple people, a person by
    himself, or anything else—is sinful, meaning that it distorts our relationship with God, each other and
    ourselves. Yet such actions, including their sanction by entering into one of these new legal unions,
    which are not truly marriages, can always be repented of. No one is a lost cause. No one is our enemy.
    Repenting of our sins is what the Church is for. We are all sinners. Even if you do not have one
    temptation or one sin, you have others. So we do not condemn anyone for any reason. In love and faith,
    we hold out the hope of salvation through repentance for every human person.

    This is teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ. It has never changed and can never change, even
    if it costs us. We will continue to preach and to practice accordingly, and we expect that all of our
    pastors, teachers and parents will continue to do so. May God give you courage and love as you do so.

  6. M. Stankovich says

    Bravo to the tremendous courage of the “non-signers,” gathering their 15-minutes of notoriety in the media, only to be forgotten tomorrow. “The teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ… Has never changed and can never change, even if it costs us.” It would seem to be your practice to arrive at the station after the train has departed. Have you known of any “landmark” decision of the SCOTUS to be overturned by gimmickry? Mark my words, lawyers are always better at this game when you choose to take it to their level. They’ll simply enact something to side-step the need for you altogether. On the other hand, our God is a just Judge and a jealous God, Who will not suffer the oppression of the righteous. Funny, you would not know that from anything you read here. You will not raise this Titanic, but take heart, more are on the way.

    • I personally am with those who, like Pdn Mitchell, find the logic behind the “non-signing” position unpersuasive. I find the argument in favor of making them rip that privilege from our priests’ hands to be a more compelling form of resistance.

      But as I have noted before, the lives of saints show us that there are many paths, and I respect Fr. Reardon’s chosen path of resistance, just as I hope he would respect the path chosen by those who are taking the latter strategy.

      And sometimes in retrospect, one path shows itself to be better for most than others. I know that when rearing our children, my wife and I thought that it was best to have our kids in public schools and just saturate the rest of their time with church and family time in which we taught them what was good and true. I thought home schoolers and their coops were overreacting, although I always respected their choice and never criticized it — and even did things to support their efforts.

      Today, although I am mostly cautiously optimistic about my kids, think, in retrospect, that the path we chose was too risky, and that others chose more wisely, and that their sacrifices were worth it. I certainly, if rearing a child in 2015, would choose a more radical option.

      And yet, as shown by the experience of those Russian Old Believers who literally headed for the back woods, some choices are, indeed, too extreme, and don’t end well. We are all making the best choices we can in a terrifyingly dangerous (and yet unspeakably beautiful) world, and we need to recognize who our brothers and sisters in Christ are — and be very gentle in criticizing the choices they are making to try to survive. And as we float on the waters in our little arks, we need to be constantly scanning the waters for those whose hands are outstretched, needing to be pulled in, especially if their boat just sank beneath them.

  7. ReaderEmanuel says

    I applaud Fr. Reardon for taking a stand that some are too gutless to take! And George Michalopulos, you certainly hit the nail right on the head! I still wonder why the statement from the Assembly did not contain the names of all the hierarchs who are a part of it. Perhaps they were afraid of listing the names because some of them were against it? I can’t help but think that. If that was the case, we can only guess as to who was not in favor. And I think we can make some pretty good guesses. I’m appalled at the whole situation and wonder if our hierarchs have been sticking their proverbial fingers in the wind to see which way it is blowing, instead of teaching the truth. I wonder if some of the non-canonical Old Calendarists have made any statements? At any rate, wishy-washy Laodicean statements like these will drive serious Orthodox Christians AWAY FROM the faith. Watch the numbers of our Old Calendarist friends grow as they proclaim the true faith and we don’t…

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      ReaderEmanuel wrote, “I applaud Fr. Reardon for taking a stand that some are too gutless to take! ”

      Please don’t say things like this!

      I have not a syllable of criticism against those Gospel-ministers who opt for a different path.

      My sole censure is for those who, like Bishop Tikhon and M. Stankovich, treat the Supreme Court’s decision as inconsequential.

    • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

      “The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.”

      The statement of the assembly is hardly a weak statement, calling out the Supreme Court in a day when the courts can now throw them in jail due to “hate speech.” The statement was immediately posted on the UOCofUSA website ( and all its social media websites immediately after the statement was issued. As near as I can tell, the same is true for all jurisdictional websites.

      I respect Fr. Patrick’s decision. However, I do not share it as my own personal approach at this time. When I sign a marriage certificate I am signing it as a recognition of a legitimate marriage and demanding that the government put it on the public record. THAT is what I think we should be doing, although, I do appreciate other courses of action that also in other ways seek to uphold the sanctity of marriage.

      But when I weigh the options, they are this:

      1. Government should not be in the marriage business in the first place (I am ok with that). However, the reality is that government will not keep its mitts off–it makes too much money from them… which leaves us with only a few other options, namely…
      2. Marry the couple but send them to the wolves to make it publically official
      3. Marry the couple and sign the certificate, at least keeping for the Church the rights that it has and showing the couple, the church, and by a publically signed document the government, what a real marriage is.

      I choose #3.

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        Here’s how it could have read:

        The United States Supreme Court in a stunning display of judicial overreach ruled recently that same-sex couples are to be included in the legal definition of marriage. This ruling violates the moral tradition, natural law, and the US Constitution.

        Marriage has always been between male and female. Never in the history of mankind has natural marriage ever applied to same-sex couples. The Orthodox Church categorically rejects the ruling as morally binding.

        The design for marriage is between one man and one woman. It takes one man and one woman to create a family. This is written in nature and has been recognized as such by civilizations long before ours. Children need a mother and father.

        A family is a small society. The rupture of this first and primary society is always a tragedy no matter what the cause. The recent ruling created a primary society without a natural father or mother out of thin air, declared it has the same legal and moral validity as a natural family, and posits it as a social good.

        The consequences bode ill for society because the strength of a society is dependent on the strength of its natural families.

        + + + + + +

        BTW, in the statement that was released, “legislative fiat” should have read “judicial fiat.”

        Further, the term “right” should not have been put in scare quotes. If they wanted to use the term, they should have defined its meaning instead of leaving it up to the reader (one function of scare quotes). The more I read the statement, the more I conclude that whoever wrote it did not have a clear understanding of the issue, the ruling or its ramifications.

        • The more I read the statement, the more I conclude that whoever wrote it did not have a clear understanding of the issue, the ruling or its ramifications.

          People have simultaneously been crying out for immediate words from the hierarchs and then dissecting the quality of those statements. I personally think that it was important for bishops to make immediate statements — in today’s Instagram/Twitter society, it isn’t a good idea not to give a response within 24-48 hours. But by the same token, we Orthodox should go easy on the hierarchs whose statements we might find lacking in some way or another. We cannot expect something written quickly to be akin to documents that sometimes are years in drafting. That is why I think it was a good idea, and not a cop-out, for hierarchs to refer to their past statements, as well as making contemporary “real time” affirmations of Orthodox teaching. But those real-time affirmations are bound to have some inadequacies.

          What I think we will be discovering is that some very deep thinking and hard pastoral work is ahead — and it will involve a hard and sometimes unpleasant look at the inadequacies of how the modern Orthodox Church deals with sex and marriage in general.

          • The hierarchs had plenty of time to prepare for this. This was not a surprise decision.

            • The hierarchs had plenty of time to prepare for this. This was not a surprise decision.

              Oh I don’t at all disagree about that at all. They could have had drafts hammered out long ago. But as the saying goes, “I don’t belong to any organized religion — I’m Orthodox…”

              No matter how things should have been done, the reality is that those statements were typed up on the fly. What happens next is far more important than who signed what.

              • I think it’s shameful that the Church is so disorganized on these matters, and if this situation is not received as a kick in the cassock to do better, I dread to think how situations of real persecution would be handled.

                We should be ashamed that the phrases “I don’t believe in organized religion” and “the best kept secret” can be applied to Orthodoxy. Christ does not call us to either.

                Do none of our hierarchs follow secular politics or understand our system? Surely the basic points raised by Fr. Hans should not have been an issue.

          • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

            I don’t want my hierarchs to be on the internet every day (nor do I want me or my laity to be on that often), so I wholeheartedly disagree that a response should have been made so quickly on the internet.

            • Trey the Virginian says

              Father Harry,

              Would not it have been better if this Supreme Court decision was prevented?

              The march to the decision was years in the making. Individual judges have been overturning marriage laws for years. Yet nothing was done then.

              The redefinition of the proper relationship between men and women has been ongoing for decades, by means of the instruments of propaganda in film, television and newscasts, including the redefinition of our bodies. Yet nothing was done to provide a counter.

              The problem is that even among us Orthodox, hierarchy and laity, our minds have been secularized as to the purpose and limitations of the Church.

              In the same way that Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote “Decolonizing the Mind,” we need a “desecularizing” of our minds.

              We need to “de-modernize” our thinking.

              The Apostolic tradition is much more than than the beautiful and Holy services, it is carrying forward the mind of the Apostles, in the Spirit of the Apostles, striving to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” as they were. Indeed to obtain the “mind of Christ” himself, which the Holy Apostles command us to obtain.

              Yet we cannot be bothered to learn the Holy Scriptures so that the filling may happen to us.

              That a majority of professing Orthodox Christians support and celebrate the Supreme Court decision in polling mentioned on this site is a scandal.

              That the bishops are not trembling and embarassed at the extent of this apostasy under their noses and are not flying to rectify it is a scandal in itself.

              We have to stop thinking in a secular way and learn to unite and act together.

              Even at this late date there is much we can do. We the Americans, with all our talk of liberty and freedom from tyranny, have much to learn even in our own time from the Egyptians.

              As it stands now we are completely divided from each other, to the lowest individual level, abiding in our own opinions, and spending our energies blogging our opinions rather than learning from others, discovering effective actions, and learning from the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers how we are supposed to behave as the Church when faced with such difficulties.

              Those who have brought these disasters upon us are organized and effective. Yet we dismiss that as unimportant.

              One thing I have observed is that conservative-oriented people, that is those that value the wisdom of the past and of the Natural Order, like to opine and gossip. But those who despise the wisdom of the past and want to overturn the Natural Order, are energized to organize and act.

              We are in a worse position than the Jews during the rise of Nazism. At least they had strong organization, and nearly rose to stop Hitler at the beginning, when we have no organizing powers.

            • Father, the Internet is the center of communications in today’s world. Right or wrong, the Church needs to learn how to communicate in the modern world. I’m not saying our worship needs to change, but our catechesis surely does.

              St. Paul was versed in the rhetoric of his day, and our clergy had better obtain those same skills. Or at least employ people who can disseminate the church’s teachings effectively. And that means reacting to major political issues that may confuse the faithful within a reasonable amount of time. For this decision, there is no excuse for having no statement ready within 48 hours, I’m sorry.

              Orthodoxy could use a modern Fulton Sheen, or at least a Robert Barron. Surely the AOB could have a press secretary whose job it is to watch these things?

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                Ages says, “Surely the AOB could have a press secretary whose job it is to watch these things.”

                Maybe, brother, but he would have to be an exceptional spokesman, and nobody comes to mind right off hand.

                Appointments like this tend to be lackluster or worse.

                Notice how, when they announce a diocesan blood drive, they usually put Father Dracula in charge.

        • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

          BTW, in the statement that was released, “legislative fiat” should have read “judicial fiat.”

          Yes, Fr. Hans, it should have read that way if the only purpose was to present verbal propriety. However, as stated the Assembly of Bishops is accusing the Supreme Court of overstepping its bounds on more than one level. While the Supreme Court should have issued a statement of judicial verdict, instead they issued a decision of legislative fiat, usurping a power that was not theirs to exercise. In other words, the wording was not misstated, but courageous, the Bishops putting their neck on the chopping block by accusing an entire branch of government of impropriety.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Fr. Harry, respectfully…

            “Verbal propriety” (correct grammar and word choice) is a minimum standard, not a maximum one.

            Secondly, no real courage was required. The critique of the judiciary in the statement is self-evidently true. The four dissenting judges made exactly the same critique and thousands more concur. No courage is necessary when no penalty is imposed.

            Expecting the Bishops to comment is nothing more than a reasonable expectation and many of them met it.

            • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Respectfully, verbal propriety is not the issue; the issue is what the statement is meant to communicate. Are we to understand the sentence as saying that the Court has attempted to settle a polarizing issue by court order (judicial fiat)? Or are we to understand the sentence as saying that the Court has overstepped its constitutional limits by making a law to settle a polarizing issue (legislative fiat)?

              Because the sentence immediately follows the charge in the first sentence that the Court has “overstepped its purview” (not the best wording), I’m inclined to think that “legislative fiat” says just what was meant, since every educated American knows that it’s wrong for the Court to issue legislative fiats.

              I thought the statement outstanding, considering how weak it could have been.

          • TreytheVirginian says

            Father Harry,

            Then, the Bishops should accuse the justices to their faces.

            Are the five Supreme Court justices aware that they are being accused?

            Julian the Apostate sure knew that he was accused. Arius sure knew that he was accused, and so on down the line.

            In the past, unjust rulers were always accused or appealed to directly by the Church, that is when there were Church leaders who were holy, fearless and not corrupted.

            • I agree, but that should be left to the Latins, who have 6 members of the Court in their communion. What the Orthodox Church thinks would mean little to them, nor can we enforce anything we say.

        • Trey the Virginian says

          Father Hans,

          Your rewrite indeed brings the full scope of the miscarriage of justice into clear focus.

          But it remains that no matter how well the Bishops’ statement is written such a statement will not see public light, nor even light within the parishes, unless the Bishops are willing to get into the public light themselves. Electronic statements are obscure internet artifacts of interest only to those who take pains to seek them out.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Trey writes, “But it remains that no matter how well the Bishops’ statement is written such a statement will not see public light”

            Alas, Trey is correct.

            If face-book traffic, phone calls, e-mails, regular letters, and other communications are proper evidence, my interview with the Chicago Tribune and a Chicago radio station reached a hundred times more people than all the Orthodox bishops’ messages put together.

            First among the reasons I don’t take the negative comments on this site seriously are the numerous messages I have received from Christian people, in both this country and Europe, thanking me for supporting and confirming them in the faith.

          • The first hierarch of every jurisdiction should have commanded the statement be read and published in every parish on the Sunday after the decision.

  8. M. Stankovich says


    So, as near as I can tell, the one thing to be depended upon here is that anyone whoever made an official statement regarding Christian Marriage in the Orthodox Church – from the Holy Fathers to the “real bishops” of several decades past – has been paraded out in the past five years for their reinforcement of the fact that the Tradition of the Church is united and unchanging. Now we are obsessed with which bishop signed what when along with whom, falling to our knees to examine the deer droppings looking for a “sign” as to what it all might “portend.” “The faithful demand to know!” I strongly suspect that if you were to quiz, the top responses would be “Signed what?” and “Remind me again, who is my bishop?” Would these be the same bishops that decried gossip and anonymously attacking the hierarchs and one’s brothers over the internet? Apparently there was no truth to be gleaned from these “wishy-washy Laodicean statements” as well?

    Personally, I would settle – with thanksgiving – for a bishop who simply re-stated what he stated at his Profession of Faith, the evening before his consecration:

    I promise also to do nothing through constraint,
    whether coerced by powerful persons, or by a multitude of the people,
    even though they should command me, under pain of death, to do some-
    thing contrary to divine and holy laws : nor to celebrate the Divine
    Liturgy in another diocese than my own, nor to exercise any other
    priestly function without the permission of the Bishop of that diocese ;
    and that i will not ordain either a Priest, or a Deacon, or any other
    ecclesiastic in another’s diocese, nor receive these into my diocese without
    letters of dismissal from their own Bishops.

    I will deal with the opponents of the Holy Church with reasonableness,
    uprightness and gentleness, according to the Apostle Paul ; And
    the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men,
    apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness instructing those who oppose
    themselves ; if God, by chance, will give them repentance to the
    acknowledging of the truth.

    Refreshing, no? You’re a reader. Go read something.

    • Gregory Manning says

      Superb. Reminds me of More’s line in “A Man for All Seasons”: “I am his Majesty’s good servant, but God’s first.”

      • Nicholas Chiazza says

        That’s what he thought, but he died for politics, not Christianity. He said Henry VIII could not be styled “Supreme Head of the Church in England” because Christ gave it only to the bishops of Rome. Doesn’t sound very Orthodox, does it.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Concerning Saint Thomas More, Nicholas Chiazza writes, “he thought, but he died for politics, not Christianity.”

          No, he thought he died for Christ.

          Henry VIII is the one who killed More for political reasons.

          Fortunately, it is the intention of the martyr that makes him a martyr, not the intention of the one who kills the martyr.

          Ignatius of Antioch thought he was dying for Christ. It was the Roman Empire that killed him for political reasons.

    • ReaderEmanuel says

      M. Stankovich: My sincere hope and prayer is that we have more bishops re-state what they confessed before they were consecrated, or at least think about it.

      Christianity as a whole, and Orthodoxy in particular, is being attacked by the Evil One, both from without and from within. To anyone with a brain, this should be obvious. I for one will not stand for that. I’m firmly convinced that as a church and as a nation we are in the same situation that Cicero warned about when he spoke about treason:

      “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

      We’ve suffered through many, many kinds of heresies, false teachings, divisions, schisms, and so forth. In every case, there was one man or a group of men who stood up for the truth and declared it openly without reservation, fear of martyrdom or exile, or retribution of any kind. I see few men like Athanasius the Great or Mark of Ephesus (for example) today who are willing to defend the Faith against the onslaught of this Satanic culture. But I see many who are trying to undermine it, whether they realize it or not. And that, sir, is what we are up against and what we should be fighting for, because if we don’t, we will be like the wicked, slothful servant who hid his master’s money in the ground…remember, the talent was given to the servant who had the ten talents. That is what will happen to us.

      And BTW, I DO read–and have since the age of three.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I love that quote from Cicero.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I’d leave Cicero out of it, though. I don’t know the context of the quote, but Cicero was a very accomplished polemicist, professional advocate, and politician. One day it would be “traitor”, another day it would be “savior of the liberties of Rome.”

        He was a great man, including in the ways he could deftly sense how the wind was blowing.

      • M. Stankovich says


        I appreciate the lesson in Church History, but ultimately, our strength and assurance is on the lips of the Savior, who promised to complete all things by sending the Comforter, not Cisero:

        And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you will see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (Jn. 16:8-11)

        What is unimaginable is that, in this frenzy of feeding on our own guts, has Orthodox America forgotten its “vocation” of witness and martyrdom?

        You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. (Jn. 15:16)

        You apparently would have me believe that “faith as a grain of mustard seed, [where] you shall say unto this mountain, move from here to there; and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20) is so absent, and we are so impotent, helpless, and held hostage by what is at best a minority of less than 6% of our entire population? That after withstanding heresies that threatened to “tear the seamless garment of the Master” to the point the Fathers feared the Church was lost, we shall be vanquished by the LGBT community? I believe there is a lesson to be learned from the fact that St. Seraphim of Sarov is said to have sung the Pascha Canon to himself every day of the year. And I believe it had to do with the fact that the victory has already been won.

        • ReaderEmanuel says

          Yes, I am saying that we have forgotten our witness. Jesus Himself wondered, “But, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” … (Luke 16:8). And yes, we are letting ourselves be held hostage by this small percentage (I think it is more like around 10% from what I have personally seen). The government and the media certainly have been held hostage! Many, many Saints were extremely vociferous in their denouncement of society, paganism, the occult, etc. etc. sometimes even to the point of book burning. St. Paul himself laid it out in no uncertain terms in Romans chapter 1, when he was talking about homosexuality directly, when he said that now that Christ has come, they have no excuse. Some of us think that all the canonized saints were pacifists, but many were not when it came to defending their faith…St. Nicholas gave Arius a hard smack in the face. St. Polycarp (whom I admire a great deal) explicity told the ruler who was about to have him burned at the stake, to go ahead because the fire would be only temporary, but the fire in Hades that awaited the ruler would be everlasting. St. Paraskevi splashed some of the boiling oil from the vat she was lowered into, into the ruler’s face because he thought the oil wasn’t hot enough, blinding him. St. John the Theologian toppled the statue of Artemis in the city of Ephesus by his preaching. I can think of many other examples. I put it to you and to this group that we are in the same situation and that we had better start being more vocal and more insistent about what the True Faith teaches or else we risk losing it. Even if that means becoming enemies of the state, or having gays and their supporters protesting outside our churches! You don’t fight evil by pacifism or compromise or inaction. You fight it by confronting it strongly and directly. Christ Himself did the same, when he was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, and when he drove the Legion into the herd of swine, and when he overturned the moneychangers in the temple. In the end, we have to decide: Either we stand with Christ and His Church, or we don’t.

          • TreytheVirginian says

            Reader Emanuel,

            The day when I get into a fight, for the Holy Faith, I want you by my side!

            Along with St. Ephraim the Syrian, and St. Athanasius, and Goldenmouth, and the Holy Apostles, and on and on…we are truly surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses!

  9. I personally do not applaud Fr. Reardon’s actions. I think he is acting in a ridiculous manner and his point is grossly misguided. When a priest or minister signs a marriage certificate, it clearly states that they are affirming that they performed a “marriage.” Honestly, what is the big deal? If he didn’t perform a “gay marriage” he obviously wouldn’t sign the stupid form. Fr. Reardon, you are not Thomas Paine, please spare us the theatrics.

    As to why other hierarchs have not immediately come out to condemn this recent action by the supreme court, how about they might have some more pressing things to worry about? I was just at the Parish Life Conference in Los Angeles with Metropolitan Joseph and he spoke quite eloquently to his clergy and the faithful. He condemned the supreme court’s decision but also strongly emphasized that clergy and laity need to educate themselves and their communities about human anthropology and what marriage is in an Orthodox Christian context. If you will go to his archdiocesan and diocesan websites, you will see that he has set forth his opinion quite clearly.

    The discussion of signing on marriage certificates by the state was discussed at his clergy meeting this past week, and to the metropolitan’s credit, he did not direct his clergy to start telling his faithful to get married in a civil ceremony and come back to church when you are ready for your church wedding.

    Quite frankly, this type of fear mongering is really getting tired. Yes, Virginia, the world is a different place than it was even 50 years ago, but this isn’t the end of history and the world has suffered far worse things than “gay marriage. If John and Steve want to call their union a “marriage” and the federal government wants to say it’s a marriage, I don’t care. As long as my priest or bishop adheres to the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church, what goes on in my neighbor’s house, isn’t really any of my business.

    • Fear mongering? Oregon court ruled against the Christian family bakery which did not wish to bake the wedding cake for the gay wedding. 135k settlement against them in favor of the lesbian couple for ’emotional’ damages. Now they also have a ‘cease and desist’ order against them filed by some magistrate. Then there were the caterers in Ohio I believe it was that did not want to cater the gay wedding, also suit for ‘discrimination.’ Religious freedoms and liberties are taking the back seat in the courts, people are being forced with a ‘gun to their head’ to participate in a religious capacity against their conscience or, for at least now, face persecution of their livelihood. Baking a cake which maybe may have little ‘statuettes’ of ‘grooms’ or ‘brides’ and rainbow colors and venus with venus, mars-mars symbols interlocking and so forth, that is some form of participation in the ceremony, and courts are saying “you must” or face fines and possibly go out of business altogether.
      Interesting what the new marriage licenses/certificates may look like, will they have boxes you check off indicating either or “groom groom, groom bride, bride bride” or whatever other wording they may have to accommodate the different possibilities and I’m sure they will find language otherwise indicating what the new nature of the certificate/license is to be.

      • George Michalopulos says

        re that Christian couple in Oregon: isn’t diversity wonderful? I wonder why gays and lesbians don’t go to Moslem-owned bakeries in Dearborn and try to get their business? Hmmmmm? Just curious.

      • To all Christian cake bakers and the like. It may not work, but I’d suggest offering only bride and groom, male female cake toppers, etc. “Oh, I’m so sorry, but that is all we carry.” Can a business be sued for not supplying what they do not sell? I wonder.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Because Brian, fascists don’t believe in diversity.

          • Obviously, George.

            But the question of law remains as a practical matter for those in business who hope to live in some semblance of peace under the new reality.

            Can my sister accuse Home Depot of discriminating against women for not carrying feminine hygiene products (or even consider bringing suit an option)? Can a black person accuse his local garden store of discrimination because he wants Scotts Turf-Builder and they carry only Fertilome? Those in business may not be able to discriminate as to whom they will sell their products, but what products they choose to offer for sale is their choice under the law; is it not? It wouldn’t work for all businesses, but it may work for some.

            I know we have several attorney correspondents here. I’d love to hear their thoughts on this.

        • ReaderEmanuel says

          I’ve got a better idea. Bake the cake. Put a whole bunch or good old Ex-Lax in it.

          • Nicholas Chiazza says

            An extremely stupid idea. All it would take is a few tests to determine the cake was laced with Ex-lax and then there would be grounds for a suit. Your advice is not only stupid, but hateful–hateful to people you know nothing about.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Nick says, “If John and Steve want to call their union a “marriage” and the federal government wants to say it’s a marriage, I don’t care.”

      This is the problem: Nick does not give a damn about truth.

      • Actually Patrick Henry Reardon, I do care about the “damn truth,” I just think that the way you are going about it is wrong. As someone else posted, I think it would show much more courage if you continued to try to teach your flock about what is and is not a Christian marriage. Should the day ever come that someone wishes to arrest you or sue you for not performing a “gay marriage” I will be happy to help you out financially. But as it stands now, there have been absolutely no mandates from state or federal authorities requiring you to perform such a “marriage.” So respectfully, your preemptive strike is not appropriate. It strikes me as fear mongering and grand standing.

        If you would like to point out any instances right now where your state or the federal government has required an ordained minister to perform a “gay marriage,” I am all ears and eyes. Until such time, how about we focus on the gospel and teach a little Christian anthropology.

        • I think you need many approaches to teach and direct the faithful. While I agree with what you say and I’m pretty sure Fr. P. has done as you suggest, it is by no means wrong to make a stronger statement.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Colette says, “I’m pretty sure Fr. P. has done as you suggest.”

            Don’t be too hard on Nick, dear. Attending the local parish life conference, he recently became familiar with new and unfamiliar terms, like “Christian anthropology.”

            Emboldened by this new familiarity, Nick suggests to the rest of us that “we focus on the gospel and teach a little Christian anthropology.”

            Going further, he exhorts me, “I think it would show much more courage if you continued to try to teach your flock about what is and is not a Christian marriage.”

            Apparently I am supposed to be grateful for his pastoral counsel.

        • ReaderEmanuel says

          You’re wrong, Nick. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is forcing clergy to perform gay marriage.

          • G Farsalas says

            Not so fast…
            Nevertheless, I appreciate the opportunity Fr. Patrick is providing the faithful to fully participate in the life of the Church without involving the state.

          • Wow- that took no time at all.

          • Monk James says

            As this article clearly reports, Mrs and Mrs Knapp, both ordained clergy of some sort or other, run a wedding chapel, a business they call ‘The Hitching Post’ in Coeur d’Alene.

            ‘The Hitching Post’ is not a church, it’s a business, and as such may legally be compelled to serve all customers. This is a principle of law which transcends our present discomfort with the SCOTUS’s very wrong decision to impose same-sex marriage on the entire nation. That foolishness may yet be undone — it was decided by the narrowest possible majority and will certainly be challenged. The SCOTUS is occasionall –, even immorally — wrong. Among other errors on their part, doesn’t anyone remember Dred Scott and what happened to him because of their lapses in judgement? (Yes, dear smarmies, there’s an E after the G. Try pronouncing ‘judg’.)

            While it’s true that some renegade orthodox priests are playing fast and loose with Tradition, it remains true that no faithful priest of any canonically legitimate orthodox christian parish will ever be compelled to marry people who do not satisfy our criteria. Has anyone ever heard of an orthodox Christian and a Jew marrying in one of our churches? Or a Muslim? Or a Hindu?

            Personally, I have deep reservations about marrying our people to heterodox Christians: If they can’t be given Holy Communion, what on Earth makes people think that they can be given a wedding crown?! Do we share the Mysteries of Christ with people outside the faith, or not? This confused and confusing practice is in serious need of being rethought and properly standardized throughout The Church.

          • Not so fast Reader,

            Check this out. I think you jumped the gun on the case you cited.


            Nice try though!

        • Why wait? Why must the church sit by and react, rather than lead with bold actions?

    • So Nick, How are you going to help your priest when he gets sued because he refused to marry John and Steve?

      • George Michalopulos says

        It’s even more insidious than that Lina. The Federal govt will not force a pastor to perform a sodomist/sodomite nuptial at first. They will instead–through the magic of Obergefell and the Fourteenth Amendment–come to the aid of a homosexual couple who wants to use the parish’s hall for rental and/or a modest ritual.

        That’s the danger in the near term. Think of it, do you know of an ethnic Orthodox church that ends every year with a healthy surplus? That there is such an ethnic parish that doesn’t struggle to make ends meet? That the priest and parish council don’t move heaven and earth to keep the lights on? I don’t. I’m sure that there are a few out there but I don’t know of any. My experience is that parish life in America (regardless of denomination) is one of heroic book-juggling and putting off bills from one day to the next, all the while the priest is making barely enough to stay off of food stamps while his wife shops at the thrift store in order to clothe her family.

        Do we think that a priest in these straights is going to kick up a ruckus and go all Reardon on two homosexuals who want to make a point? Let’s take the largest and richest jurisdiction: do you think that 79th St will create a legal defense fund for that priest/parish? We know that the homosexuals in question will have all sorts of money thrown at them by Soros-front organizations. They’re ready, willing and able to take St Onuphrios Greek Orthodox Church to the cleaners just to prove a point. They don’t care if their particular case is going to take 4-5 years to wend its way through the court system. (It’s not like they can’t have sex in the meantime –remember: this is all a joke to them anyway.)

        Yup. I see certain parishes folding like a cheap card table in no time flat.

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          You make a good point George about hall rentals and such which is why the dismissal of tax-exempt status has to be thought through very carefully.

          The Church, according to American law, is a corporate entity. If the tax-exempt status is removed or given up (some churchmen advocate giving it up), it still remains a corporation but a for-profit corporation instead of a tax-exempt one.

          Tax-exemption is not a favor bestowed by the government. It is actually a restriction of government authority. If you give the government increased powers of taxation, then you also give government greater authority over the corporate entity since taxation policy influences corporate policy.

          The power of taxation of the business affairs of the Church will reduce each parish to its worship space. Most other activity, especially commercial activity (festivals, bake sales, rentals, salaried employees, collections, etc.) will be subject to regulation on Federal, State, and local levels.

          I think forcing Fr. Spiro to marry Adam and Steve is largely a red-herring at this stage. The blow-back will be too great. Instead expect Adam and Steve or Eve and Laverne to demand that the hall be rented for their marriage pride dinner or some such thing. If Fr. Spiro refuses, his parish will face sanctions because renting the hall is commercial, not religious, activity. If the magistrate goes full-Oregon, then Fr. Spiro may even be placed under a gag order to block all manner of public protest.

          I expect the rights to be chipped away — a reducing of the First Amendment to mean freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion (conscience). Hillary Clinton has already floated this definition. Giving up (or the removal) of the tax-exemption increases the power of the government over the Church where the strategy becomes easier to implement.

          If and when that occurs, we may have to dissolve the corporate structures altogether and go underground much like the early Church.

          • Nicholas Chiazza says

            I see Father Jacobse, that you’re still in love with “Adam and Steve.” Don’t you know that cliches are like toilet paper–they should only be used once. A true Orthodox Christian does not mock his enemies or whom he thinks are his enemies. He looks at his own sins and prays for all. If you’ve misplaced your prayer book, let me know so I can send one to you. It should help you–from where I stand, it seems your postings are peppered with the Fundamentalist cant of the Evangelicals. I know you’re probably thinking you are defending the Church, but what comes across is snide condescension that is unworthy of someone in orders. Take the hint.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              This you call a “hint”?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Apparently anything Christian is “fundamentalist” and to be eschewed by the truly modern man as beneath respect. Ancient superstition.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I strongly recommend this reflection, A Black Day: Supreme Folly from the Supremes, from Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D., Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (Diocese of Los Angeles and the West).


              • Nicholas Chiazza says

                For your information, Michael, I firmly believe fundamentalism or its cant has no place in the Orthodox Church. It the foulest of Protestant heresies and I know it whenever I smell it. Any Orthodox clergy who stoops to it is questionable. I do not consider modernity to be a threat to the Orthodox Church. I have engaged those who misuse Holy Scripture. I have been called an “idolater for venerating icons, a “pagan” for honoring the Theotokos and the saints and have been sneered at for saying grace at meals in mixed company. I am not ashamed to be Orthodox. I was once accused of being superstitious for venerating the icon of the Trinity by a visitor to our church who told me that at HIS church they didn’t have icons. My reply? “It shows.”

                I will not give up on the modern person. Let them come and see and taste how good the Lord is.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  To my knowledge there is no such heresy as fundamentalism. Calvinist is the only officially proclaimed heresy and the condemnations were quite specific. Fundamentalism can mean anything one wants it to mean.

                  I don’t think “gay people” whoever they are will attack the Church. I think the state using virulent secular ideology will. That is the essence of modernity: secular egalitarianism that denies what is human and what is sacred.

                  We may be ignored for along time as irrelevant but that will only last for a time.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  As an Orthodox believer, you must admit that Orthodox Christianity is based on some basic and unchangeable beliefs: Holy Tradition, Holy Bible, the Creed, our worship… are fundamental and those who uphold them with boldness are sometimes condemned as fundamentalists. So, count me confused with your declaration that fundamentalism has no place in the Church. Would you please explain what you are talking about?

            • lexcaritas says

              Nicholas, your criticize Fr. Hans, but doesn’t your own post drip with mocking and condescension?


              • Nicholas Chiazza says

                On the contrary, I have the highest respect for the good Father. I most certainly won’t call him a “windbag” as others do. As far as “mocking and condescension” he has the patent on it. From where I stand, he thinks gay people or “same-sex” marriage is going to destroy the Orthodox Church. Where is the proof? The Church has withstood the persecution of Ancient Rome. It has endured the onslaught of the Turks. And most recently, it has survived over 70 years of a vicious atheistic government. It has survived and this alone is proof that the Orthodox Church is the true Church. Therefore, getting all worked up about gay marriage should be nothing by comparison. We are not being thrown to the lions, hacked to death by the infidel or herded into concentration camps. The way some people have been posting you’d think that gay people are going to put on jackboots and storm the churches for the purpose of forcing clergy to marry them at gunpoint. Demonizing people is slander. There is no proof that gay people are going to attack the Orthodox Church. The Church doesn’t want to marry gay people? It’s against what they believe? Fine. They will respect it as they respect that the only communion we accept is the communion of the faithful. Time will tell if Fr.Jacobse is brewing a tempest in a teapot. I say, let him brew to his heart’s content.

            • And a true Orthodox doesn’t mock a priest.

          • ReaderEmanuel says

            “I expect the rights to be chipped away — a reducing of the First Amendment to mean freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion (conscience). Hillary Clinton has already floated this definition. Giving up (or the removal) of the tax-exemption increases the power of the government over the Church where the strategy becomes easier to implement.”

            I’m not sure if you are aware of this, Fr. Hans, but this is EXACTLY what happened in Soviet Russia at first.

  10. Fr. Patrick’s suggestion makes perfect sense here. The best option is a counter movement, where Christians define civil marriage as essentially just an application for government benefits. In reality, it exists in no other context. Churches have no business deciding who gets government benefits. Indeed, it could be optional for Christians too – by disconnecting the two it gives the option for Christians to opt out too.

    For most of Christian history, there was no such thing as civil marriage, such a thing is only needed for modern states to decide who complies for benefits. In the past, all marriage records were kept by local Churches – which is why if you want to research your family history in Europe, for example, you have to contact them. We forget that such oppressive bureaucracies like ours that maintain detailed records on all citizens never existed before last century!

    By formally defining civil marriage on OUR terms we can stand for the truth. It’s a stand we have to make for our future and our children.

  11. This whole fight was lost a long time ago:

    “Long before anyone dreamed of normalizing sodomy, heterosexual ideology contended that sex should be first and foremost recreation. The only problem with this contention is that sex is naturally creative. But as heterosexual ideology evolved, so did technology: with latex, the right surgical procedures and chemicals, it became possible to believe that sex is firstly recreation—a belief greatly accelerated by pornography. A simulacrum of the real thing, like sodomy, pornography shrewdly crops fertility from the scene. Sex is not about future flourishing but about immediate fun.

    Heterosexual ideology raises a question: if marriage is not primarily a comprehensive conjugal union, if it’s an emotional bond with your Number One Person, why should it be permanent? And so we come face-to-face with the brainchild of the 1970s, no-fault divorce. If your spouse has gained weight, if his sneeze is embarrassing, if the sex is tepid, if your self-actualization or your happiness is on the line, you can drop him faster than you can say girls just wanna have fun. No-fault divorce gives full ventilation to heterosexual values.

    The slow evolution of the heterosexual is in fact the emergence of the homosexual. With the flattering image reflected in the beloved’s eyes, homosexuality is just another version of Courtly Love. The cultural acceptance of sodomy, so obviously sterile and unfruitful, only legitimizes the belief that sex is recreation. Same-sex “marriage” reinforces the value system of no-fault divorce by affirming the belief that marriage is not primarily about commitment and children but about happiness; it simply joins the long heterosexual tradition of seeing marriage as a vehicle for rebellion.

    To claim that homosexual behavior is wrong would be to hold others to a moral standard to which one’s own heterosexual behavior does not conform. Whether bi-, homo-, hetero-, all forms of hyphenated sexuality want the same thing: sex without moral or generative limits, relationships without cultural or familial constraints. We are in flight from sexuality and we are using sex as the vehicle for that flight.

    Who is the protohomosexual? He is you and me.”

    • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Heterosexuality is not an “ideology.” That’s a gay idea.

      • Deacon, you missed the point. When the term “heterosexual” appeared in the 1800s, it indicated deviance, as in a person with various (hetero) sexual attractions. It was differentiated from traditional Christian concepts and norms of sexuality, which held that sexuality was to be restricted within the sacrament of marriage, *even though* both Christianity and heterosexuality implied attraction to the opposite sex.

        And if you don’t think heterosexuality is an ideology, I suggest you go to a frat party, look into the dominance of hook-up culture on college campuses, or examine a sex ed course to see just how far that ideology has reached into the minds of the young.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Two terms we have good reason never to use:

          “Traditional marriage” and “heterosexual.”

          Both terms give away too much ground.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Agreed. That’s why I started using square quotes around the words gay marriage long ago. When that phrase came into use, then the nihilistic victory became inevitable.

          • TreytheVirginian says

            Yes Father Patrick,

            Misuse of terms is the primary mechanism of modern propaganda and brain-washing methods.

            Evidence the “double-think” involved in “You are on the wrong side of history!”

            In retort, “What is the time frame of history? The past. Therefore, YOU are on the wrong side of history as no human society ever made law the opposition to the male-female principle of life!”

            “Natural Marriage” is much more powerful than traditional marriage. Marriage according to the Natural Order, according to the Created Order.

            It also fits the mindset and vocabulary of the Declaration of Independence.

            It is no accident that St. John of Damascus defined repentance as:
            “A return, through discipline and toil, from that which is opposed to Nature to that which is in harmony with Nature, from the devil to God.”

        • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says


          I’m afraid you (and Blanski and Hannon) have been deceived. The origin of the term is not nearly so simple.

          When the term heterosexuality was first used, in a private letter in German in 1868, it referred merely to nonprocreative sex between a man and woman, as opposed to normalsexuality, which referred merely to procreative sex between a man and woman, but both of these were associated with perversion because the author, Karl-Maria Kertbeny, was the Alfred Kinsey of his day, a sexually deviant activist intent on destroying Christian morality by maligning those who believed in it.

          The next person to use the term heterosexual publicly was Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his 1886 book Psychopathia Sexualis, and it is through Krafft-Ebing that the word entered scholarly use. But Krafft-Ebing used heterosexual for both procreative and nonprocreative sex between a man and a woman. There is considerable confusion about this. Some mistakenly say Krafft-Ebing defined heterosexuality as male-female eroticism with no procreative intent. But Susan Ferguson, in her book Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Class, writes:

          “In Krafft-Ebing’s book, ‘hetero-sexual’ was used unambiguously in the modern sense to refer to an erotic feeling for a different sex.”

          Likewise, Jonathan Ned Katz writes in his book, The Invention of Heterosexuality:

          “Krafft-Ebing’s term hetero-sexual makes no explicit reference to reproduction, though it always implicitly includes reproductive desire. Always, therefore, his hetero-sexual implicitly signifies erotic normality. His twin term, homo-sexual, always signifies a same-sex desire, pathological because non-reproductive. ”

          Katz then explains that Krafft-Ebing was misread by James G. Kiernan, the first American psychologist to use heterosexual in print. He writes:

          “Contrary to Kiernan’s earlier attribution [before the English translation of Krafft-Ebing’s book appeared in1892], Krafft-Ebing consistently uses hetero-sexual to mean normal sex. In contrast, for Kiernan, and some other late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century sexologists, a simple reproductive standard was absolute: The hetero-sexuals of Krafft-Ebing’s text appeared guilty of procreative ambiguity, thus of perversion.”

          It hardly mattered because soon Krafft-Ebing’s simple definition won the day, partly with the help of Sigmund Freud and partly because people just needed a single word for normal sexuality to distinguish it from homosexuality.

          That said, it also hardly matters what the word originally meant; what matters in how people understand it now. Heterosexuality is universally understood to mean normal male-female sexuality. Why would we want to change that? Why try to redefine heterosexuality to mean “male-female fornication”?

          There are times when words represent concepts we want to avoid, so we avoid using such words. But there’s nothing wrong with the concept of heterosexuality as commonly understood. Gays trash heterosexuality as no better than homosexuality. Some even say it’s worse. But what have we to gain by joining them in trashing heterosexuality? People will not get our point (whatever that is), and we will only end up strengthening their hatred of normality.

    • Gregory Manning says

      Your comments reminded me of the following extract from an article Dreher wrote wherein he cites a comment made by a young Muslim man who, in the face of taunting and teasing by his non-Muslim peers, is attempting to maintain his virginity until marriage.

      “I return back to Douglas Murray’s remarks, and his point about how young people who look around the chaos and degradation of our time and ask, “Is this all there is?”, and find that the mainstream culture itself has no answer (or mocks the question), and the Christian churches are too weak to answer affirmatively — so young people turn to Islam. The other day, this blog’s reader “Jones,” who is a Muslim, wrote on a gay marriage thread:

      “At the outset I wasn’t against, so much as befuddled by why this was thought to be so important, when gay people themselves—hell, leftists in general—ridiculed marriage as an outdated, patriarchal institution. In any case, why the extraordinary fondness for, why the lionization of, the homosexual? On what theory is this the vanguard of human progress?

      Any assault on “sexual liberty” is conceived as more important, more invasive, more far-reaching than invasions of traditional liberties because their sexual pleasure is all these people have left. That’s a more negative way of putting it than they would, because they are unaware of the other kinds and sources. They see themselves as merely “liberated” from all sources of meaning that might interfere with the pursuit of hedonic gratification. (I mean, sexual pleasure is not the only kind but it is the most important and powerful form of pleasure, which makes it special.)

      Therefore, in this society, to take away someone’s right to sexually gratify themselves (without judgment) really is to take everything away from them. It is unspeakably mean.

      By the same token, my culture, where people regularly, habitually deny themselves of such pleasures for the sake of upholding their religious way of life, is beyond comprehension.

      I remember being in high school and telling a friend of mine that I was planning to abstain from sex before marriage. He asked if that meant everything, and I said yes. “No blow jobs?” Yes, I said. “You mean you’re not going to experience a blow job – a single blow job – until you get married?” Yes, I told him. He burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it. I think he just thought it wasn’t possible. I think most people can literally no longer imagine a society without premarital sex.

      Having finally read Bowers v. Hardwick, I understand the gay rights movement better. I think it is much more sound in its own claims than I realized. Bowers is sort of the turning point where society says: we’ve all accepted the ubiquity of heterosexual sodomy, but homosexual sodomy is where we draw the line.

      That is, indeed, a basically irrational line. It’s not entirely irrational, but it’s very close. And there’s no way in hell a society in which heterosexual sodomy is ubiquitous is going to be able to embrace the faint glimmer of rationality in the line, because it is only explicable on the same theories that make heterosexual sodomy a more prevalent, perhaps more grave violation.

      Conservatives shrink from the stark reality of this, because it is virtually impossible to imagine getting the horses back in barn. And I think they’re right about that; but they need to start prioritizing internal consistency and fidelity over trying to win back the culture.

      Cultures don’t get fixed. They get replaced by other ones.”

      “On what theory is this the vanguard of human progress?” What a great question!

    • Gregory Manning says

      I only just finished reading Tyler Blanski’s article you linked to at As someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about this issue from a repentant gay man’s perspective I was thoroughly impressed by his insights. He gave me yet another perspective from which to view what I now see is a much broader issue than my preoccupation with SSA as an issue in and of itself. I look forward to reading his other articles with anticipation.
      Thanks very much for the link!!

      • Gregory, I agree. I, too, thought Blanski’s article was very good. No one’s formulation of the questions, issues, and root causes of this mess will be definitive or comprehensive. We are entering a period of (I can’t believe I’m using this tired word so loved by liberals) “dialogue” in which we all are going to have a lot to learn.

        • Gregory Manning says

          I agree Edward. This crisis (these crises?) are having a salutary effect in that so many of us are having to clarify in our own minds our understanding of what it means to be human from an Orthodox perspective as well as what it means to be Orthodox. Speaking for myself it’s been a lot of work but well worth it. If I were not in the Orthodox Church I don’t know where I’d be.

          The Muslim James, cited above in Dreher’s article made a good point when he wrote about “the need to start prioritizing internal consistency and fidelity over trying to win back the culture”.

      • Great article. Everyone should read it.

  12. Jeff Mayhugh says

    Father Reardon’s ideas are correct but he should not be acting without the direction of the bishop he is in obedience to.

    The Orthodox are always slow in responding. The joke about it taking them 13 days to hear what is being said is very true.

    What should happen, is that the Orthodox should work with the Catholics and Evangelicals for a common response. Unity in numbers speaks much louder than a single priest. So long as his bishop is silent on the issue, Father Reardon will be labeled an oddball.

    Yes, I know it’s nice to call for a unified response. That’s going to be difficult. The new archbishop of Chicago’s response to the SCOTUS redefinition on marriage was almost an endorsement of it. He certainly did not reject it. There is much work for the Body of Christ to do to get our bishops to act like bishops.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Jeff says, “Father Reardon’s ideas are correct but he should not be acting without the direction of the bishop he is in obedience to.”

      And this procedure is required by . . . ?

      Not by the Sacred Canons.

      Not by my bishop.

  13. M. Stankovich says

    I will not presume to speak for Vladyka Tikhon, but you would suggest that I “treat the Supreme Court’s decision as inconsequential?” Seriously? Perhaps you need to revisit my outrage at the depth of stupidity and ignorance regarding homosexuality and the fundamental lack of moral direction in American Orthodoxy, other than to say, “You are an abomination, and your sin is categorically worse than other sins, therefore you are categorically worse than other sinners.” Nothing of the merciful Physician “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) When that Greek man came here, complaining that his priest said he would refuse him the Eucharist, and wrote an editorial to the Washington Post, I was the only person who identified as an Orthodox Christian who defended the Holy Tradition of the Church; every other person stated the Church “had to change.” And your comment, Fr. Patrick? “My number is in the phone book.” And that epitomizes the absence of moral leadership from the clergy of American Orthodoxy.

    So I ask you, why did you not stop signing those forms after 5, or after 10, or even 26 states approved same-sex marriage? Why did you not stop signing those forms when the DOMA and California Prop 8 were overturned – at the same time so many of the Orthodox hierarchs were in Rome celebrating the new pope? Why did you not stop signing those forms in support of people like me who cannot speak to anyone under the age of 18, confused about their sexual orientation, because I could be criminally prosecuted and stripped of my professional license and my livelihood? Dn. Mitchell keeps asking what priest is being forced by the government to do anything, and it is people like me who will experience the direct consequences of the current social climate long before any priest. Yours is a disingenuous, empty accusation. I warned that this was coming for years. I will accept “resigned to the fact,” but to suggest I believe it was inconsequential is outrageous. I made an effort, and you are gloating in “post-game” attention you do not deserve.

  14. Interesting how some Christian clergy have suddenly developed scruples about government/church interaction and the separation of church and state. Strange how these clergy have no such scruples when government doles out bucks in faith-based grants or when they try to get government to embed Christian theology in secular civil law or when they demand protection for their special tax exemptions. Christian scruples are such useful, malleable, modifiable things. You can put them on and take them off just like other cosmetics.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Jim, for what it’s worth, precious few (if any) Orthodox churches have ever received monies from the government. As for those who do, the bulk of those receipts come from in-kind grants of food from the USDA and then only if they have soup kitchens.

      BTW, receiving foodstuffs and commodities from the USDA is not a sin as it prevents spoilage. It’s a win-win. (Of course the whole concept of price supports is another matter entirely.)

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Marriage is no different. Heterosexuals get all sorts of privilege through marriage and then the right got upset when gays cried unfair.

      As for the editor’s concern over hall rentals, etc. It is simple. The Synod must declare no church facilities can be used for homosexual weddings, or even for weddings from other churches. This is where the lawyers get paid..

      And if the Orthodox were one church, the rule could be standardized.

      Of course that will be a financial blow for some.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I agree with you. Having said that, it’s easy for you and me to say that. The problem is that the vast majority of parishes in the US don’t have the financial cushion to be picky and choosy. When you couple this with the fact that in many parishes there is a tiny but vocal minority of never-married people and that often these same people are stalwarts of that parish, then things can get even dicier.

        About two years ago I wrote on this blog about an altercation that Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver had with some harridan who loudly and publicly castigated him for his position upholding the Church’s doctrine. Think of it! Not in a million years would I dream of publicly confronting a bishop over some disagreement I had over doctrine. As a Greek-American I was taught to always be circumspect in a bishop’s presence. As far as I know, every other Greek has this same reticence. I imagine it’s no different for Serbs, Bulgars, Lebanese, whatever.

        A few more encounters like this and it will be harder for priests to stand up the well-heeled in his parish, especially if one of them has a son or niece who is homosexual. It’s like Chinese water-torture in a way. A slow, drip, drip, drip is all it takes to erode even the hardest of rocks.

  15. As a latecomer I have to say that I support Fr. Patrick’s actions. I call the State of Illinois my home, although I haven’t lived there for a few years, and I know the political climate, and how radical things can get whenever Chicago has it’s way. As well, I was living in Iowa when the Supreme Court of that State struck down Iowa’s defense of marriage law. I helped vote those judges out, and what good has it done? As an American who was privileged with very good Government and History teachers, I believe that the Supreme Court, and the Judicial Branch in general, has very slowly been overstepping it’s bounds for a long time. Where is the check or balance where the courts are concerned? Absent, it seems.
    I was raised Orthodox but am not ethnic, and although I attended public school and lived in a small Midwestern town with no other Orthodox besides my family, I have never questioned the Orthodox Church’s claim to be the true Church for one reason, and it had nothing to do with doctrine. I wasn’t, and am still not, a very philosophical or doctrinal person, to my discredit. I never questioned the Church because, placed against the other Christian denominations I knew, it was obvious to me that the Orthodox Church was much more intense. From the long nighttime services, to the fasts, and everything else, the Orthodox Church generally strikes me as a thing that is hard, unshakeable, and disciplined. Fasting and church service attendance were for me bulwarks of sanity, reality, and self-possession when I was younger, and they still are. Where I had no spiritual insights, and no blinding revelations of Truth, there was the fact that Orthodoxy demanded real things of me, real actions and abstentions. Everything else in life worth having requires sacrifice and real effort, not just a warm feeling and lip service. Why should God be different? Why shouldn’t the Church, or whatever you believe to be the place where truth resides, demand MORE than a sports team, job, or military service?
    If I can say so, these times may be a blessing for us. No one runs faster by sitting, or gets stronger by watching TV, or mentally hardens themselves by being soft. Maybe these coming times will require us to be stronger in our faith and depend more on God, the God of martyrs and confessors. I have argued with conservative friends of mine about why Western kids convert to Islam, and even radical Islam, and I believe it’s because the depth, sanity, and toughness of Orthodoxy are lacking in the modern West. Maybe things like this will make it more obvious, and call others, Catholics and Protestants alike, to the same flag. Sheep do not need shepherds in a petting zoo, but where there are wolves, and Fr. Patrick Reardon, as well as other priests I know, are good shepherds.

  16. The structure of the Orthodox Church seems to allow too much independence to individual priests and bishops. The church as a whole ought to feel compelled to take a stand on this issue from Istanbul and have a directive sent out to all clergy everywhere, who would be expected to comply. Instead, we see ambiguity and confusion where there ought to be perfect clarity. Nevertheless, this priest is taking the right approach, one which all clergy in every church will eventually be forced to take.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well, if that’s your standard, then we’re in good stead. His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew addressed this topic in Nov of 2013 while in Estonia and then his Enclyclical for the Nativity was even more bold. My question is: why then is the GOA so silent on this? Was HH engaging in kabuki theater or was he sincere? I prefer to believe the latter. Where then the GOA in light of Obergefell?

      Regardless, the plain text of Bartholomew’s preaching on the subject should suffice and all Orthodox Christians should use these words as their battle-plan.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        George asks, “My question is: why then is the GOA so silent on this?”

        I think many of us know why.

        To gain a clue, let me suggest a bit of study on the relationship of Michael Huffington to GOA organizations.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Indeed, Fr. From what I hear from my sources, it appears that Michael Huffington is the greatest single benefactor (dollar-wise) to the GOA.

          • Gregory Manning says
            • Trey the Virginian says

              Nude men and women in the thousands to protest Obama’s visit to Kenya, in order to show the President “the difference between a man and a woman.”

              It is good to see that in the country where I served in the Peace Corps, they have a distaste for tyranny by means of the American dollar, that we Christians give to our government to use against us and the rest of the world, and that they have the moral clarity that we have lost.

              As noted elsewhere our sexual revolution is also being resisted in the UN.

              Unlike the Kenyans, and these are Christians who found the need to go nude in public, and many other citizens in the rest of the world, we have grown to accept 2nd class citizenship since the 1963 Supreme Court decision that separated Christianity and Christians from our government.

              This artificial separation does not exist in Kenya.

              At this point we are so docile and “comfortably numb,” unable and unwilling to take any action, and so secularized in our mindset that we will never be able to resist any kind of evil in our nation, nor the corruptions in our Church governance coming from the big Huffington money and the laziness there, until our mindset is re-Christianized, including those on this blog!


            • Thomas Barker says

              Mr. Manning,

              Thank you for sharing the article that outlines the Huffington/Greek Archdiocese connection.

  17. ReaderEmanuel says

    It’s started, people. This pastor in Vermont just got sentenced to a YEAR IN PRISON for refusing to marry a gay couple.

    • This is a hoax. I have little doubt it could happen one day, but Paul Horner is a notorious satirist who inserts himself into fake stories.

    • Virgil T. Morant says

      That is a fake news Web site and it is in no way affiliated with NBC or actual journalism. Have a look around at its other articles. Or look at its Contact page, which states under Contact Information: “Applicake toffee lollipop cupcake chocolate cake toffee. Pudding bonbon macaroon soufflé applicake powder. Cotton candy jelly-o carrot cake cotton candy apple pie chocolate cake cookie croissant. Chocolate halvah pudding macaroon liquorice ice cream chocolate cake dessert sugar plum.”

      No one in Vermont has been imprisoned for refusing to marry anyone.

      • ReaderEmanuel says

        I THOUGHT I had deleted the post when I realized it was fake! I don’t know why it still showed up! George, why would that be?

  18. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Chicken Little got it right.

    Revelation 13:16-17 is already the order of the day.

    Our bishops seem mainly interested in how the Church might be hurt. They should be concerned how Christians are going to be hurt.

    Should an Orthodox priest have more protection than an Orthodox magistrate or an Orthodox justice-of-the-peace?

    Here is what is happening in my native Kentucky, where a clergyman must be bonded by the state in order to perform a marriage.

    Kentucky Governor to Christian clerks: Perform gay ‘marriages’ or lose your jobs

    FRANKFORT, KY, July 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews ) — The governor of Kentucky has a stark message for county clerks across the state: Either issue homosexual “marriage” licenses or lose your job.

    Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, refuses to make any consessions for religious freedom, or to protect the consciences of those who believe in natural marriage.

    Beshear issued a statement saying that government employees “must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place.”
    Casey Davis is a clerk whose religion teaches that it is unloving to facilitate homosexual sodomy or lesbian sexual activity.  He is among the Kentucky clerks who are not issuing licenses to homosexuals for religious reasons.

    Gov. Beshear ordered Davis to issue homosexual licenses, or else he must quit.  “‘Issue marriage licenses or resign’ — those were the words,” Davis told reporters after meeting with Beshear. “I can’t quit…I have a mortgage to pay.”  

    Davis had hoped to convince the governor to call a special legislative session to address the religious liberty concerns of Christians and all Kentucky citizens who believe in traditional marriage.  Gov. Beshear turned down Davis’ special legislative session proposal as too expensive.

    Instead, the governor gave him an ultimatum:  validate gay marriage, or quit.

    There have been 50 special legislative sessions in Kentucky since 1940;  nine in the last 10 years alone.  The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission estimates that a one-day special session would cost Kentucky taxpayers $63,000.

    The governor and the clerk are at a stalemate, as Davis said he would neither issue homosexual licenses, nor resign.  “Nature’s law will supersede any law that man puts on a piece of paper,” Davis told NBC local affiliate WAVE.  “My job cannot go beyond what my conscience allows.”

    At a supportive rally before meeting with the governor, Davis proclaimed, “I am not for sale.”  He said he was elected by the people of his county “to do the job that I swore to the best of my ability that I would do, so help me God,” he said.  “And I intend to do that.”

    Davis continues to propose a compromise, that marriage licenses be issued online, so clerks with religious objections do not have to be involved.  “We bank online. We buy groceries online…We buy hunting and fishing licenses online. I think that we can buy marriage licenses online,” he explained.  “And that relieves the 120 county clerks of this state.”

    Davis’ principled stand was seen as an embarrassment to Beshear when a YouTube video of two men being denied a license by another Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, went viral and has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.  She is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is seeking punitive damages, including taking Kim Davis’ own personal property.

    The Family Foundation of Kentucky has established a fund “for the legal defense of those who are targeted to have their religious liberty curtailed.”  Martin Cothran, Senior Policy Analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky commented, “Governor Beshear’s refusal to act to protect the religious freedom of county clerks effectively leaves them at the mercy of the ACLU wolves.”

    Several county clerks also met with Gov. Beshear, requesting a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly.  The governor was given letters from 57 county clerks –almost half of the state’s 120 clerks, all requesting that he take action.

    “County clerks did not sign up for this,” Cothran said.  “These are people who swore an oath to Kentucky’s Constitution which defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.  Now they are being asked to violate that oath. This is neither fair nor Constitutional.”

    Cothran then brought up inconsistencies in the governor’s treatment of employees, threatening supporters of natural marriage while giving supporters of homosexuality a pass.  He cited as an example Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who refused to do his job and defend the Kentucky Marriage Protection Amendment, which as Kentucky law was his duty to defend.

    Gov. Beshear did not threaten Conway with losing his job, but allowed his Attorney General to ignore the law.  Conway was emboldened by the example of Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2011 also refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress under the Clinton administration in 1996.

    Cothran noted, “The governor never wrote to Conway demanding that he perform his job duty, as he has done with the county clerks.  Why the double standard?”

    Meanwhile, Casey Davis said he was willing to go to jail to defend his right to religious liberty.  “If that’s what it takes for me to express the freedom of religion that I believe I was born with, I’m willing to do that.”  

    In Nebraska, a state ethics committee ruled that judges and court officials can refuse to perform same-sex marriages, but then they cannot perform any marriages at all.  A Toledo, Ohio, judge is seeking an exemption from performing same-sex marriages, and is awaiting a decision by an Ohio conduct and ethics board.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Father Tom Galloway tells me that the State of Kentucky no longer requires clergymen to be bonded in order to perform weddings.

    • cynthia curran says

      The messed was created because some conservative states allow gays to be denied access to renting or have a job. Conservatives like Phil of Duck dynasty used butt f******. If conservatives were just against gays getting married but a common law sort of marriage for property rights this would have less likely happen. Some conservatives have actually hated gays for years. In fact in some evangelical circles jailing gays or stoning them is exceptable.

      • ReaderEmanuel says

        How dare you blame conservatives for this?…That’s something I will not stand for. It’s society and in particular the media that have touted the gay lifestyle as being “normal” and browbeating it into people’s heads!

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Cynthia declares, “In fact in some evangelical circles jailing gays or stoning them is exceptable.”

        On the reasonable assumption that she meant “acceptable” instead of “exceptable,” one would hope that Cynthia would provide some shred of evidence for what she describes as a “fact.”

  19. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says

    Fr. Reardon’s action in response to the overt interference of the powers of Church and State by this single issue godless gay agenda seems to me to be the only acceptable option. The state appears to wish to have validation of marriage for legal reasons, of course. The state cannot force anyone to be willing to perform legal marriages, if the individual refuses to be an agent of the state. Safely legal in his refusal, he can perform Holy Marriages, and, as the Christ stated, lest we offend them, when asked if He paid the tax of the Romans. Orthodox people can then get the legal license from the secular state. This priest, is someone I can genuinely highly esteem, he does the heart good. The gays have no answer to the truthful claim, I cannot perform legal marriages, so go elsewhere.

  20. cynthia curran says

    The problem with George is he thinks of moral issues as liberal versus Conservatives. Conservatives supported fracking which lead to prostitution increasing in Texas and North Dakota. I would not ban fracking but a job with a lot of young unmarried males will lead to prostitution. In fact sates like Georgia have high VD stats and Texas is number 3 in HIV. Both run by conservatives.

    • Nicholas Chiazza says

      Yes Cynthia, I see a lot of that going around. Your posting reminds me of when a few misguided souls thought that outlawing booze would make us a more moral nation. Both sides of the house voted into law. In reality, we had a jump in organized crime. Sad, but true.

  21. ReaderEmanuel says

    For churches who won’t perform SSM and subsequently get sued, it looks like their liability coverage will be iffy. One more nail in the coffin. This will pretty much force churches, especially smaller ones, to perform SSMs out of fear of financial ruin.

    • Only “all are welcome” types of churches. Orthodoxy is clear that only members in good standing are entitled to the sacraments. A homosexual seeking gay marriage is not in good standing by definition.