I’m recording this on Friday afternoon, April 3. This is Good Friday for Western Christians, and I’m trying to formulate some thoughts about what’s happened to me in the last couple of days. If you’ve been on the internet, you’ve probably seen something that kind of blew up. A few days ago, I had posted to my Facebook page a rather sarcastic and clever article opposing the gay rights, the gay marriage movement. I got a lot of angry people attacking me as [an] anti-gay bigot and so forth. So somewhere in the midst there, among all the comments, I said, “Actually I’m not particularly opposed to legalizing gay marriage,” and somebody said, “Oh, why do you say that?” So the next day, I got up; I said, “Well, let me see if I can summarize really quickly why I’ve never actually become part of the traditional marriage movement.”
Before I get into trying to summarize that again, I just want to say how very sorry I am that this hurt a lot of people. They felt that I had betrayed them or even attacked them. I feel so bad about that, because Christians are already so misrepresented and lied about and attacked for being “anti-gay bigots” that the thought that I added any more weight to that is… it really makes me sorrowful. So I ask forgiveness of anyone who heard me as attacking or disrespecting or treating flippantly beliefs that are very, very serious and very important to you. And I think also that, just in trying to… I’m going to say this very briefly: I think that was a bad idea. As it went on through the day and the comments kept rolling up and I kept trying to reply or finesse to the comments… When it got up to over 50 comments, I just stopped reading them. I don’t even know what people were saying down there at this point.
I got up this morning, and I said: Okay. I’m going to say one more thing, which is that I have never been in favor of gay marriage. And you may think it weird, a very subtle middle place, where I felt that opposing gay marriage was not really going to do us any good; that it wasn’t going to solve the problems that we see in society, so I had not plunged into working with that movement, while at the same time believing that our ancient Orthodox, ancient Christian belief that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is damaging to the soul, is a very grave thing—I’ve never disagreed with that. It’s more like thinking in terms of politics and strategy, thinking people could put a lot of effort into this, and I just don’t think we’d win very much—if we won. The push for gay marriage is coming at the end of, well, 50 years of a sexual revolution that has just, like a bowling ball, it has rolled through; it has crushed and destroyed so much. It has broken so many hearts; it has caused so much damage. And the gay marriage thing, it’s like the very last little bit to add to that.
I think even if we won and we succeeded in not allowing gay marriage to be legal, what would we do, then, to try to restore marriage? What can we do? What can we be doing, even just within our congregations, to help people resist looking at porn on the internet? I mean, that is a marriage-destroyer. That destroys people; it destroys their minds. What are we going to do to protect our daughters and granddaughters from being pressured to have sex with boys they barely know, just because that’s the social expectation now? What about almost any mainstream entertainment that we look at? It’s going to have a lot of double entendres; it’s going to have a lot of even soft-porn kind of content. What are we going to do? Do we have even any other ideas for what we can do to try to restore respect for marriage and respect for healthy sexuality in our culture? Even if we were somehow successful in the political realm and managed to… forever and ever, gay marriage is never going to be legal—but we’d still have an awful lot of problems to solve.
So I had come down into this middle place where I felt like: even achieving this goal is not going to touch what we need to do. We really need to be looking elsewhere. But I was never in the position of saying: Everybody do whatever you feel like doing sexually; it doesn’t matter. That was never my view. And I would say, even more emphatically, that as churches come under attack and are pressured to betray the beliefs that they, that we, have held for 2,000 years, we have got to stand tall and defend ourselves, that we will never budge. We may recognize that the secular state is going to go places and do things that we just can’t affect. We can’t steer that; we can’t make it do what we wish it would do, what we wish would be spontaneous in the human heart.
Even though we can’t steer those political decisions, nevertheless we are going to practice our faith, and we’re going to go on offering within our churches a safe place, a welcoming place, where people who are struggling with same-sex attraction can get support as they try to live lives of chastity and holiness—as all of us are trying to lead lives of chastity and holiness. No matter what our marital status, whatever our role in life, we are all called to that. So [I am] absolutely defending the right of the Church to be the Church and to do what we believe in, no matter what happens with the legal status of gay marriage.
I got up last night to pray. You know, I get up to pray in the middle of the night. And I kept thinking about it, being Good Friday in the West, and that line from the letter to the Hebrews kept coming to me. This is Hebrews 13:12-14. It says:
Jesus also suffered outside the gate, in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.
It’s saying that Jesus was crucified beyond the city wall, that he was an outcast, that he was a stranger. Let us go join him; let us go be outcasts and bear the same abuse that he endured. I thought about how opposing gay marriage in our culture is just about the quickest and surest way to bear abuse. It has become a viewpoint that is no longer politically acceptable, and people who try to put forth that viewpoint in a reasonable way are lied about, mocked, and misrepresented.
What I was thinking was, even though I have all this time felt like opposing gay marriage is just not going to do what we’re trying to do, nevertheless the time has come for me to set that aside and to go forth outside the camp and to join my brothers and sisters in Christ who are already suffering for their beliefs. It doesn’t matter what quibbles I had about political strategy here, but we need to stand together. And so I do. And so I do, today, say that I am allying myself with the opponents of gay marriage, just because I think that’s the right thing to do.
Again, I do apologize for those that I hurt in my speaking off-the-cuff, off the top of my head, not speaking very precisely, and also for even attempting to do this on Facebook, which is just not the place ever to get into anything that’s complex or subtle.
Let us go forth to meet him. Let us go forth outside the camp and bear the abuse that our Lord endured. My best wishes for a prayerful Good Friday for our Western brothers and sisters who are observing that day today, and for all of my Orthodox brethren and sisters, here comes Holy Week. I pray that it is a beautiful, profound, and strengthening Holy Week for us, and that we will all come to a glorious Pascha, together.