The Birth of a New Religion, Part 2
The fact that today we have people openly promoting the LGBTQP agenda in the Orthodox Church is something that was unthinkable less than a dozen years ago. But here we are. They are a vocal minority to be sure, but like most leftists, they try to convince people that their opponents are the minority, and they are only motivated by hate.
The tactic that the Pro-LGBTQP “Orthodox” have generally taken to promote their agenda is to pretend that the only people concerned about what they are pushing are “fundamentalist” converts. The suggestion being that somehow prior to the time when Americans began to convert to Orthodoxy in large numbers, everyone in the Orthodox Church was fine with the idea that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle. Back then, they would have us believe, no one would have objected to embracing transgenderism, or any of the other limitless “sexual preferences” and “gender identities.” This is of course complete nonsense. Not only was no one pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church prior to 2009, no one in the Orthodox Church was even contemplating the acceptance of transgenderism, and most had never even heard of it.
Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973, when activists pushed the organization to change this designation. It was only in 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, which began in 1981, that the acceptance of homosexuality in the wider culture began to increase from something which previously had been close to non-existent.
Fr. Alexander Schmemann is not usually thought of as a fundamentalist convert, and yet one of his students told me that around 1981, he made the statement “I refuse to be the dean of a seminary of pot-smoking homosexuals.” This was in the context of him having actually kicked a pot-smoking homosexual seminarian out of the seminary, and so these were not idle words.
If you look at the views of the Orthodox in traditional Orthodox countries even today, you don’t find them embracing homosexuality or transgenderism either — this is true of their populations as a whole, but it is all the more true when you consider those who actually go to Church.
I have been blogging since 2004, and the first article I have in which I felt a need to respond to the push for gay marriage was in 2009, and this was completely without reference to any dispute within the Church, because at that time, there was no such dispute. I suspect that this began in 2009 because prior to that, George W. Bush had successfully used the issue to win his second term, by ensuring that there were ballot measures in swing states that banned gay marriage. But after Obama was elected, apparently people on the left felt emboldened, and so the push began. And it was only in 2011 that I began to see Orthodox Christians who were pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality. Initially, this was mostly done anonymously, or in private discussion groups.
2013 was the year that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and forced every state to allow for gay marriage. Many dismissed the significance of this at the time, but two things happened almost immediately as a result of it — this strengthened the general push for the acceptance of homosexuality, and no sooner had gay marriage been forced on the country did the push for the acceptance of transgenderism begin in earnest.
2014 was the first time to my knowledge that an Orthodox priest began to publicly push for the acceptance of homosexuality. In November of 2014, Fr. Robert Arida posted an essay to the official OCA website. After being overwhelmed with complaints, the OCA removed the essay, though you can still read it via the Internet Archive. Among the many statements which responded to this essay, the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas wrote a rebuttal, which was signed by almost of all the clergy in the Association (and was signed by all who were present at the meeting which discussed it). This rebuttal was reposted on the Greek Archdiocesan website at the time.
In 2015, the City of Houston tried to push through an ordinance which would have forced churches and businesses to allow men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms. Again, the Orthodox Clergy Association issued a statement against it. The ordinance was overturned by a referendum, and it was mostly Black and Hispanic churches in Houston that led the fight against it. Houston is about 44% Hispanic, 24% White (Non-Hispanic), 22% black, and 7% Asian, and so it was not a bunch of racist White people who overturned this ordinance. The vote was not even close: 61% opposed to 39% in favor.
Onto the scene came George Demacopoulos and later, Public Orthodoxy. George wrote an essay attacking those he termed Orthodox Fundamentalists on January 29th, 2015. I wrote a reply, and we later had a sort of debate hosted by Kevin Allen on Ancient Faith Radio. Since then, George has made attacking anyone who is not ready to embrace homosexuality, transgenderism, modernism, and a whole host of other perversions a career through his website Public Orthodoxy, which is a part of the Fordham University Orthodox Christian Studies Center, which has been formally endorsed by the Greek Archdiocese.
If you look over the archives of Public Orthodoxy, you will see that it has produced a steady stream of articles that defy almost every aspect of Orthodox Christian morality, and as a matter of fact they regularly argue that while dogmatic issues (which they define as being limited to strictly theological matters) are beyond debate, moral issues are not dogmatic, and therefore up for revision. This is a completely novel approach, and one that is heretical and contrary to the clear Tradition of the Church.
Most recently, the former Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions gave a lecture for the Orthodox Theological Society in America, in which he bemoaned those Orthodox “fundamentalists” who are unwilling to dialogue on matters such as homosexuality and transgenderism. He argues that we cannot judge such matters “before the time,” which will apparently only come when (so they hope) they finally wear everyone else down with their endless pressing of their agenda and we let them have their way. The problem is that these issues are not up for debate. Not only are the Scriptures clear on these issues, we have numerous canons from Ecumenical Councils, and the clear and unified testimony of the Fathers and Saints of the Church which leave no room for doubt as to what the Church has always taught on these subjects. In this lecture, you see the same kind of mealy-mouthed argumentation that we found in the essay by Fr. Robert Arida, but as time goes on, they are becoming more emboldened. One has to wonder how long their respective bishops will put up with this, but I think at this point, we have to conclude that at least some of the bishops in question allow this to go on because they agree with it.
Now if people like Fr. John Jillions wanted to dialogue about how to deal pastorally with people who are struggling with these sins, in order to help them overcome their sins, that would be a dialogue worth having. But you can’t have that dialogue with people who are unwilling to concede that we are talking about actual sins. That has to be the starting premise. And to be clear, this is the point that they refuse to concede. In fact, they will almost never provide a direct answer to a direct question on whether or not these things are inherently sinful — and that is for the simple reason that to say what they actually believe would put them in an indefensible position, and would force their bishops to do something about it.
We are not opposed to the LGBTQP agenda because we hate those who have been sucked into going along with it. We are opposed to it because this agenda is destructive to these people. As St. Paul tells us, these things are contrary to God’s created order, and as such, they can only lead to great misery and the destruction of souls. St. Paul tells us that homosexuals and the transgendered (i.e. effeminate) will not inherit the Kingdom of God:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakoi], nor sodomites [i.e., homosexuals, arsenokoitai], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Not inheriting the Kingdom of God is a pretty big deal, if you actually believe in God, and so if you love the people struggling with these issues, you would want to help them to repent and overcome them, rather than affirm them in a choice that will lead to their spiritual deaths.
I hope I am wrong, but I believe we are witnessing the unfolding of a full-blown schism. It will not just be over abortion, or over the LGBTQP agenda, or over the other issues we will be looking at, but each of these are pieces to the larger puzzle. If a schism is to be averted, it will only be averted because bishops begin to find their backbones, put their collective foot down, and put a stop to the spreading of these false and destructive teachings.
This is the second part of an ongoing series by Fr. John Whiteford, reposted with his permission.
Someone has put together a very useful video that provides an overview of what has been going on in terms of the push for the acceptance of LGBTQP ideology in the Orthodox Church, particularly in the English-speaking world:
The same channel has a 4-part video series that covers the same ground, but provides some additional footage that is very helpful.
Update 2: This is a film that focuses on who is funding the groups promoting the LGBTQP Agenda in the Orthodox Church: The Secret Subversion of American Orthodoxy
Fr. John Whiteford is the pastor of St. Jonah Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Spring, Texas. He is the author of Sola Scriptura: An Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, published by Conciliar Press, and the general editor of the St. Innocent Liturgical Calendar.