Tuesday, June 30, 2015

OF WHOM I AM FIRST


Okay I may tick some people off with what I’m about to say, but I’m having one of those “moments” so I’m going for it.  God does not hate gays any more than He hates adulterers, fornicators, hate mongers, gluttons or anyone else.  We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made and we ALL are in need of Christ. 

With the Supreme Court Ruling I have seen a lot of “ugly” displayed by Christians.   I have unfriended a few, not because I agree with the ruling or somehow want to support something that goes completely against my deeply held belief system, but because we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  We are called to love our neighbors.  The Bible doesn’t differentiate between neighbors who follow Holy Scriptures and those who don’t.  When we prepare to receive the Eucharist we say a prayer that includes the phrase, “I believe that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God Who didst come into the world to save sinners OF WHOM I AM FIRST.” If I am first among sinners how can I turn on my brother or sister and throw hatred at them.  No, as the first among sinners I should embrace them and encourage them in the struggle.  

What am I saying?  Am I saying that we should just stay silent about this issue?  Am I saying that as long as we love Jesus we can do whatever we want?  Of course not!  But what I am saying is that we should love others with the love of Christ.  We should give to those in need.  We should live the Gospel of Christ and when we need to speak, we need to speak the truth IN LOVE.  How can we expect anyone to listen if we are speaking out of anger or fear?  How many times do we reinforce the belief that “God hates…” rather than reinforcing that God calls all to repentance…all to Himself out of great love.  He was not afraid of the prostitute or the publican.  He touched the blind and the lepers, the clean and unclean.  His compassion was deep and His love limitless.

I am not a theologian.  I am not a scholar.  I’m not even all that smart.  I’m sure many will have strong arguments against what I’m saying.  I won’t fight.  The Church does not support the direction the world is going or lifestyles many are living LGBT and straight, but the Church does support 100% the love and mercy of Christ and that is the faith I embrace.

June 28, 2015

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dearly Beloved,

The recent ruling by the US Supreme Court on the legality of “same-sex marriages” has received much press coverage and has already caused some consternation about its implications and ramifications. But we Orthodox Christians must rest assured that the teaching of our Holy Church on the Mystery of Marriage remains the same as it has been for millennia.

Over the past few years, the Holy Synod of Bishops of our Orthodox Church in America has issued a number of statements outlining, detailing and clarifying the teaching of our Holy Faith on this matter in light of challenges from our American society.  These teachings remain in effect, in spite of the Supreme Court’s decision.  Links to these statements are provided below.

As we reflect on the Supreme Court’s ruling, we should thank Almighty God that we live in a country that allows us the First Amendment rights to worship freely, practice what we believe as Orthodox Christians, and live as examples of Christ our Savior and His love for others.

The ruling does not change the teaching of the Church, but it does remind us of the need to be Christ-like in our dealings with everyone. The state has the responsibility to enact laws that protect the rights of each individual.  The Church, while it does not bless “same-sex marriages” or view them as sacramental, does see the image of Christ in every individual, and his or her worth in the eyes of the Lord Who died upon the Cross for our salvation.

As the Orthodox Church in America, it is our responsibility to care for those who are in need, help those who are victims of prejudice, racism or persecution of any kind, and to provide for those who are sick, destitute, homeless or imprisoned.

The Church’s mission continues, and we have a great responsibility to be “all things to all people,” so that we all may be “one in Christ,” and hear on the last day, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

With love in the Lord,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you! You have put so nicely into words what I have not been able to!

    ReplyDelete