July 10, 2015
"What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder:"
Reflection on Same-Sex Ruling by United States Supreme Court
On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States
ruled same-sex marriage a constitutional right. The Diocesan Council
of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia discussed this ruling and issued a reflection at
its summer session on June 30, which was chaired by His Eminence
Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch
of the Russian Church
and attended by His Grace Nicholas, vicar Bishop of Manhattan, and
members of the Diocesan Council.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain
from fleshly lusts
which war against the soul, having your
conduct honorable among the Gentiles,
that when they speak
against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works
observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
- I Peter 2:11-12
the legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the
United States on June 26, 2015, the situation facing Christians
living in America grows more adverse. Our humanistic society makes
plain its continued alignment against Christ and His Church. We see
judicial decision a willingness by both the state and those who
support such rulings to deny even the basic principles of Christian
teaching, even to label these timeless precepts of our Faith "hate."
Sadly, we see among this number fellow Orthodox Christians.
St. John the Theologian wrote in apostolic times that "the whole
world lieth in evil" (I John 5:19). What, then, can we say about
The modern world beguiles many who call themselves Christian into
believing that "love" is the inspiration behind the support of
Supreme Court’s decision endorsing same-sex marriage. But in reality
the modern world aims at requiring us who follow Christ into
pretending that sin does not exist, and that we happily applaud our
brothers’ path to perdition.
We should not be fooled into calling this "love," but must see it
for what it is. Many will say that as Christians we must not judge,
but indeed our Lord tells us to "judge with righteous judgment"
(John 7:24), and we must not label sin a virtue.
Under the cover of this deceptive exterior, which leads so many into
delusion, there is taking place a powerful and now not-so-hidden
attack against Christianity. This assault is subtle and far more
dangerous than open persecution, for it threatens not physical
death, but a devastation of souls – spiritual death, fed by apathy
and comfort. This is achieved when built-up human pride, which leads
away from God,
boldly to reject the very existence of God. Seized with pride,
self-assurance, and reliance on his own powers, possibilities, and
capacities, man raised in the ideals of humanism and materialism no
longer sees any obligation to strive for the spiritual perfection
enjoined by the Gospel and, as a natural consequence, descends ever
deeper into moral corruption.
We must recognize this if we hope to understand what leads people to
accept such immoral acts and promote the legitimacy of same-sex
marriage. This is yet another form of temptation that we must face.
free society does not "liberate" the Church from what She has been
given and has faithfully taught for two millennia: that no
sinful lifestyle, including one freely engaging in
acts, is compatible with Christianity; that those who
such lifestyles cannot live a full sacramental life in the Church;
and that the Orthodox Church will never redefine the mystical,
matrimonial union of man and woman, as that union reflects the bond
between God and His chosen people, between Christ and His Church.
It is essential that we not forget that it is God Who created the
two sexes, and established marriage at the time of creation, as our
Lord Jesus Christ tells us: "…from
the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For
this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to
his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer
two but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not
man put asunder" (Mark 10:6-10; cf. Genesis 1:27; 2:24; 5:2). One of
the primary and divine purposes of marriage – one that many of our
country's leaders have forgotten – is the procreation of children: "be
fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28).
As we are reminded in special petitions of the Great Litany of the
Wedding Service, "that He (God) will grant unto them chastity and
the fruit of the womb as is expedient for them," "that He will make
them glad with the sight of sons and daughters," and "that He will
grant them the procreation of virtuous offspring." And further, in
the prayer that follows this litany, the priest prays that the
couple "increase and multiply," have a "peaceful life, length of
days, chastity, mutual love in the bond of peace, long-lived seed,"
and that they are vouchsafed to "behold their children’s children."
With regard to the duty of spouses to preserve mutual faithfulness,
Christ said: "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man
put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).
life enhances love and adorns marital harmony. Outside of marriage,
the manifestation of sexual instinct can easily become an
independent force that destroys the fullness of the personality.
This damage is especially dangerous because all of the high creative
impulses of man are closely tied to his sexual life. Sexual
restraint heightens spiritual powers, but sexual dissipation weakens
them. Thus, we are called upon to preserve our personal moral purity
because our bodies, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, are
members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:
We call upon our flock not to despair, but rather to strengthen your
prayers, first and foremost for those who – now more than ever – are
led astray: those afflicted with homosexuality themselves. As every
barrier to sin is removed, they are all the more at risk. They – our
brothers and sisters – are told from the rooftops to embrace this
corrosive passion, to take "pride" in it, and to revile the salvific
Gospel teaching as antiquated and hateful. Our hearts ache for these
children of God. Let us not forget that they are made in His image,
and that any word not spoken in love can fortify in their hearts the
grievous lie that the Church means only to condemn, rather than save
We likewise repeat the affirmation that the Church is a place for
healing spiritual sickness, not a tribunal; that any Orthodox
Christian engaging in public discourse must do so with love, must
avoid any extremism, and must, most importantly, refrain from
claiming to speak authoritatively on behalf of the Church; that
homosexual acts can be repented of, and in no way prevents one from
returning to the bosom of the Church. We call upon our clergy to
uphold the God-inspired teachings of Holy Scripture and the Fathers
regarding marriage and family life, and to do so with the love and
compassion that must set us apart as Christians, always showing the
path to reconciliation with Christ.
Let us pray that the Lord grant us all faith, wisdom, discernment,
and courage to follow Him to the end, remembering the words He spoke
before undertaking the ultimate sacrifice in His love for us: "In
the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome
the world (John 16:33)."
Statement by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia on Same-Sex "Marriage"
Response of Canonical Assembly of Bishops to Obergefell v. Hodges
Statement from the Diocesan Chancery of Chicago & the Midwest
(ROCOR) on the Contemporary Question of Homosexual Marriage to the
Clergy & Flock of the Diocese
Protocol from Metropolitan Isaiah (Greek Archdiocese) Regarding
Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriages
Metropolitan Joseph’s (Antiochian Archdiocese) Letter in Support of
March for Marriage
Statement from Bishop Thomas (Antiochian Archdiocese) Regarding
Statement from Metropolitan Tikhon (Orthodox Church in America)
concerning June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision
Bishop Paul (Orthodox Church in America) responds to U.S. Supreme
Media Office of the Eastern