The sin of the sodomites is affecting the whole world. According to a recent article from Rod Dreher, and American Orthodox convert, he has said that currently there is a disturbing trend of the popularization of sodomite behavior in American orthodox circles.
But sometimes it finds me, in some form. A reader sent me the Warwick piece to ask what I thought about it. It’s a perfectly fair question. It’s a public statement by an Orthodox priest on a controversial theological matter. Attention must be paid. My answer would be pretty predictable, but rather than lay out an argument that is familiar to regular readers, I asked an Orthodox priest I know (not my parish priest; I never ask him to give me material for my blog) to comment on Father Warwick’s essay. One thing I’m concerned about, so I told the priest, is whether or not sexual liberalism is gaining a foothold in the Orthodox clergy outside of the Fordham Orthodox circles, and some on seminary faculties. That priest agreed to respond if I didn’t use his name, a condition to which I agreed:
There simply is no parity between the way in which Christ and His apostles handle remarriage and the way in which they proscribe sexual immorality, including homosexual immorality.
So, all that said, it is really a shocking ignorance of both the Scriptures and Church history and practice to suggest that homosexuals fornicating only with one other person is at all equivalent to those who have sinned via divorce (and been penanced) and who are allowed to remarry for the sake of their salvation. Contrary to what Fr. Aaron says, limiting fornication to just one person does not make it not a sin. How would his wife feel if he decided to have an ongoing affair but promised that it would be only one other woman and not ten? And what about a pedophile who promises to limit himself to just one child?
UPDATE: Reader Eric LeFevre comments, quoting me to start:
“One thing I’m concerned about, so I told the priest, is whether or not sexual liberalism is gaining a foothold in the Orthodox clergy outside of the Fordham Orthodox circles, and some on seminary faculties.”
Rod: If this is the case, that Orthodox seminary faculties are promoting this, then the situation in the Orthodox Church is way more serious than you can imagine. (source)
This situation is going exactly as I expected and feared it would in the US.
As I have noted repeatedly, the issues in the Catholic Church are public, for the entire world to see, but this is a tremendous blessing because the knowledge of scandal, while bad, gives also an opportunity to repair it. It is true that there are many sins, but they cannot be hidden, and when they are hidden, inevitably they are exposed again and this is by the grace of God. It is one facet that is necessary to fulfill the promise given by Christ that the Church which He established on the rock of St. Peter is the one against which the gates of the netherworld will not prevail.
It doesn’t meant that the gates of the netherworld will not severely beat up, beat down, toss, and damage the Church. What it means is that she will not lose. It’s like watching Rocky get beat up in Rocky IV to Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), where he still wins even though it is the most savage beating he takes yet.
This same promise was not given to the other Churches, be they the schismatics of the Assyrian Church of the East, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox, or the heresies of the Protestants.
One of the criticisms that I have seen of the Catholic Church coming at her from people in the Eastern Orthodox side, almost exclusively of American Protestant convert backgrounds, concerns the proliferation of sodomy in her ranks. However, what is not discussed from these same persons is how more than a few clergymen from the Orthodox Churches- especially those in the eastern world where they are traditionally found to be -have said there is a sodomite problem. I have written about this extensively in the Shoebat archives.
What I find interesting here is that now what happened in the Catholic Church is happening in the Orthodox. This means that it just did not start, but has been going on for a while, just less visible.
The sodomite issue is highly polarizing in the Catholic Church, but it needs not be because the answer is already given by the Church, and no matter how many priests try to justify it, there is a clear “yes” and “no” position on what is tolerated or what is not by way of the Magesterium. The Catholic tradition has a settled and well-defined body of doctrine in faith and morals that can be found in a single book for all the world to see and by which even popes can be judged. Moreover, the Church is also able to meet the rational challenge of modernity with right reason. By contrast, there is simply no unifying magisterium and no single definitive universal body of teaching in Orthodoxy, apart from the first seven ecumenical councils, which were not sufficient of themselves to stem the plethora of heresies and liturgical changes periodically endorsed by caesaropapist emperors, up to and beyond Peter the Great.
There will be Orthodox who will stand up to the sodomite agenda, and their reasoning is right and good, but lacking a unifying magesterium and clear standard of judgement will result in a proliferation of arguments that will be put forth to deny as well as support sodomite behavior. At least in the Catholic context they can be clearly judged, but lacking such clear divisions in the Orthodox, it could devolve into a situation where some Churches and even Patriarchs support sodom while others deny it, and as there is no clear standard, it becomes one man’s word against another man’s word.
There are already major orthodox figures, such as Kallistos Ware, who have come out in support of homosexuality.
The sodomite issue is the major issue of our times, as it is one of grave moral concern as well as separates people and tends to sort those who truly care from other who do not. Judgment begins with the house of God, and now seems to be spreading to the other Churches.
Certainly the spread of this evil, no matter where it goes, is a horrible thing and it must be opposed. But it is going to be interesting to see the response of the Orthodox Churches to this and what this may mean for future political as well as social movements.