In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
You are wondering, I’m sure, why your priest is celebrating the liturgy in his black vestments that we wear in holy week and at a funeral. You’re wondering, probably, who died, and I haven’t told you yet. Much, much worse than that, brothers and sisters. I wish that, instead of the cause for wearing black vestments today, I had only the sorrow to tell you that one of our beloved passed away. I don’t. I wear black today in mourning of our nation which has been terribly shamed, and its leaders have stuck a knife into its heart. And so all the celebrants today are wearing appropriate vestments.
Before I speak in detail about this in detail to you, as your priest, I want to read a statement that I wrote, a short statement that I call A Statement of a Priest in Response to Obergefell v. Hodges. :
I lament the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry and imposes the responsibility upon states to license and recognize such marriages. The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by redefining marriage itself, just as the court did in Roe v. Wade in 1973. It has, again, attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. The court was wrong then, and the court is wrong today. In neither case will America’s Orthodox Christians be able to recognize the validity of these decisions.
The unique meaning of marriage as one man and one woman is rooted in our very nature as male and female and is affirmed as a universal religious principal. It is deeply immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a right for two members of the same sex to wed. Legislation that violates the law of nature and of natures God harms society and especially threatens children who, if possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.
As an Orthodox Christian priest, charged by our common master, Jesus Christ, and our Metropolitan Archbishop to shepherd this flock, I will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from the beginning, is the life long union of a man and a woman.
I call upon all Orthodox Christians in this parish to remain unmoved in their Orthodox faith and to renew their deep reverence of and commitment to marriage, itself.
I call upon our nations civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and to remember the coming day upon which we will all account for our actions before the supreme tribunal of the sovereign judge of all judges.
What has happened, brothers and sisters?
What has happened?
I’ve long spoken to you about the sexual revolution. I’ve asserted over years that it is the most violent and influential of all contemporary revolutions. Its tentacles continue to extend, and its false and dehumanizing presuppositions continue to spawn new societal developments, taking us ever further from God and from civilized humanity.
What happened was that on Friday, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on the subject of same-sex marriage. In this decision, five justices versus four, the will of tens of millions of Americans and thirty-two states, which had been expressed in legal and democratic processes in which marriage between a man and a woman was reaffirmed and protected in these states. This decision was overruled and nullified by the decision of five Supreme Court justices. And so-called same-sex marriage has been imposed on all fifty American states.
The majority justices have affirmed that defining marriage as it has been defined everywhere and by all throughout human history is contrary to reason and is an expression of bigotry. They have said that anyone who does not agree with that and adheres to what was until just fifteen years ago the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, anyone who does not agree with their new view stands against the United States Constitution.
That is what has happened. What does it mean? How big a change is this in our nation? The radicalism of this decision on Friday is evident by the fact that all four dissenting justices wrote their own dissent. And by what was said in these dissents, we find our what these judges known for restraint and conservative opinions think about the extremity of these decisions. Listen to the words of some of the dissenters. I’ll start with Chief Justice Roberts. He writes this:
The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the constitution or in this court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial caution and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insights.”
As a result, the court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half of the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millenia. For the Kalahari bushmen and the Han Chinese. The Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?
After castigating the hubris of Kennedy and his co-belligerence, he states that our founders would never recognize the right of judges to tyrannically enforce change such as this and would never have yielded a right to make such changes to unaccountable and unelected judges. These are his words:
The court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people.
He ends his dissent by saying that same sex marriage supporters might celebrate this day, but they ought not celebrate the constitution because “it has nothing to do with it.”
So much for justice Roberts. Let’s hear a few words from Justice Scalia. Justice Scalia’s dissent shares Roberts’ concern that the Court is way outside its jurisdiction. But his dissent reaches nothing short of revolutionary affirmations. He asserts that the five justices ended our society’s debate by issuing a ruling that lacks “even a thin veneer of law.”
It expresses a whole new reality of who rules America. We are no longer a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, but we are rather a people ruled by a new, what he calls “super legislative power,” the Supreme Court. The amendment, and the normal legislative processes that our nation uses to articulate previously undiscerned freedoms that we think are in the Constitution are completely wiped away and are replaced by judicial tyranny. These are his words:
A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.
Again, his words:
To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than “no taxation without representation.” No social transformation without representation.
Do you hear this language, brothers and sisters? We went to war as a nation over the principle of being taxed without representation in the English Parliament. This judge of our Supreme Court is saying this decision is more egregious than King George’s decision that precipitated the founding of America. That is radical language from a Supreme Court justice, and it tells us something about what he thinks is going on here.
He calls this a “judicial putsch.” That is the language we use to describe the Beer Hall Putsch of Hitler, brothers and sisters. The violent attempt to overthrow a government. That is what Justice Scalia is calling the decision that was made on Friday by our Supreme Court. He concludes his dissent by warning his fellow justices of what may be coming to them, and he does this so beautifully by quoting the proverbs: pride goes before the fall.
Justice Thomas added in his dissent a commentary on dignity since that’s all the heart of the justification of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion that if we don’t give to homosexuals marriage, we will hurt their dignity. Thomas points out in his commentary that dignity is not a matter of government, that according to even our own founding documents, dignity is something that God gives by creation to man in his image, not something that can be given or taken away by government. He notes that there is no “dignity clause” in the Constitution, and he sounds an alarm about the coming increased attack on religious liberty that he asserts is around the corner.
Justice Alito develops this concept of the threat of this decision on religious liberty by far the most of any of the dissenters. These are his words in his dissent: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs,” this would be you,
I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
You know, one of my revered friends who is a veteran priest who immigrated here from his home country 34 years ago told me, he said, “If I had known 34 years ago that this is what America would become, I would never have come.”
All I could say was, “forgive us. Forgive us.”
That is how big a change, brothers and sisters, the dissenting justices think that that decision is, and this is a commentary of judges . This is not my commentary. This is not the commentary of priests and bishops who aren’t concerned about judicial restraint in language. Priests have altogether something more serious to say.
Let us remove the cover of law. Let’s remember that the desire of this movement for marriage was invented out of thin air. Let’s remember that for four decades this movement has attacked and mocked the institution of marriage. Justice Kennedy says in his majority decision that the plaintiffs, the gay community, wants marriage because they revere it so much. Foolish nonsense!
Before we agree to some thought like that, let’s remember that they have criticized the institution of marriage for decades in their literature. They have mocked it as a patriarchal and religious imposition on free love and free sex. That a very small percentage of gay couples have actually gotten married in the states that they fought for legal marriage in. If they wanted it so bad, why didn’t they take it when they could? Because they’re not interested, brothers and sisters. And even that small percentage in those states that, previous to this tyrannical decision, had legalized same sex marriage, even a small percentage of those that got married actually have a marriage that we would recognize as anything like heterosexual marriage, ie, with a resolve to practice fidelity. The vast majority of that tiny percentage that actually took the option to marry practice open marriages with open love. They sleep with whoever they want whenever they want. That is marriage?
No. This movement discerned that they had a prime opportunity through the legal process to gut marriage and its traditional norms and to use the political process to legitimize their previously disdained way of life. That is what same-sex marriage is all about, beginning to end.
What is likely to happen next? What is likely to happen next? Well, before I tell you what I think is going to happen next, let me tell you what the four dissenting Supreme Court justices affirm will happen.
First, there will be further redefinitions of marriage. The dissenting judges universally point out that if you can make such an alteration of marriage that has never before been made in the history of the human race prior to the year 2000 when it started in Europe, if you can make that kind of change, then there’s no way legally all sorts of other minor changes. This means polygamy. This means polyamory. This means perhaps the overthrow of incest laws. This means perhaps the overthrow of age limits on marriage. How can you defend such reasonable, traditional strictures on what marriage is if you’ve already completely turned the institution upside down and redefined it?
And that is exactly what’s happened. When I was called on Friday, as I thankfully was by the local media and press, and they asked me, “Father, they told us I should call you&emdash;”
I said, “They told you right.”
“We should call you. What is your opinion about the marriage equality ruling?”
I said, “I have no opinion on that because there is no such ruling! This is not about marriage equality; this is about marriage redefinition, and I have an opinion about marriage redefinition, and I’ll give it to you.” And I did.
This is hardly about marriage equality. This is about redefining marriage, and there’s a lot more redefining that’s going to come, brothers and sisters, very, very soon.
Next, there will be a major increase of legal attacks on religious non-profits. There are over 1700 Christian colleges and universities in this nation. Those Christian colleges were started by people of faith to promote the Christian faith. They have faith and moral standards such as, “we do not practice sodomy.” These colleges and universities are going to be legally attacked so that their non-profit status will be revoked. They know this is coming. Our own California Baptist university already changed its housing policy to eliminate all married housing because they know this is coming. This movement is going to sue the Christian universities and colleges for discrimination in their housing policies because they will not rent houses and apartments to same-sex couples because it’s against their faith.
This is coming. In fact, the leadership of these colleges and universities submitted a request three weeks ago to the U.S. Congress asking the Congress to pass legislation to explicitly protect colleges and universities. They also said that if, in fact, they lose financial aid, both federal grants and state grants, which they most certainly will, that if they lose that, their lose and estimated fifty percent of their population and that the secular universities of America cannot handle that number of infused students into their system. This is number two.
Number three. It is probable that there will be a direct attack on the Church. And I don’t just mean on our ministries. I put that under the last point. It’s not just colleges and universities. It’s also our adoption agencies, our medical hospitals. They are going to be required, as it’s clear the LGBT community and elites who are in league with this movement and we can’t even number them anymore. I just found out this week that the number one corporation in support of this movement now is Walmart. They have wrapped their agenda around the legs of most of the unprincipled politicians of our land. And this movement would rather have orphans without parents; they would rather shut down Christian adoption agencies then allow those adoption agencies to adopt according to their religious faith. They’ve already done it in England. They’ve already done it in three states in the United States. It’s coming across the country. No more Christians involved in adoption services because we refuse to adopt kids to same-sex parents.
A probable attack on the church, how? Well here’s some things that have already been tried, but they have much more legal standing now to work. First is an attack to remove the clergy housing allowance. This already started about ten years ago. It massively failed because Congress universally opposed it, but it’s going to show its head again. The idea that clergy will be preferred in the tax structure is an ancient practice that precedes America and goes across all of the great Christian empires in history. It’s a way that the state expresses its need for and its dependence upon the clergy. Expect that to go away. And the consequences for our parish and for every parish, and especially for smaller parishes. You know the average size size of a church in America is 70 people. Most of those churches can only pay their priests because of this tax protection. This is going to be a massive alteration and reduction in the ability to have numbers of churches in this country.
Expect an approach to remove tax exemptions. You know that, as a church, we have a property tax exemption on our land here. We do not pay property tax. Expect that to be thrown into the question mark area.
And then we can fully expect, contrary to all the lies we have heard, that there will be lawsuits against the church directly to force me and priests and bishops to perform same-sex marriages. In all of the opposition that the Supremes faced, in the majority decision, Kennedy gives two little sentences, a little half paragraph, to the issue of religious liberty and the potential threat. And he simply says, “We have a first amendment.” Well firstly, you could have fooled me. But he said, “we he have a first amendment, and religious people who find this very important to the fulfillment to believe this will still be allowed to believe and teach this.”
Brothers and sisters, the first amendment says nothing about believing and teaching things! The first amendment is the right to exercise your religion. Not believe it, not think it, not say it in your church and in your home, to exercise it, to live it out in society without molestation. And these tyrants are coming for it. It’s not a coincidence, I don’t think, that on Friday, the day the Supreme Court issued their decision, it was announced in England that a very famous millionaire gay couple, who happen to belong to the Church of England, have filed a formal lawsuit against the Church of England demanding that their priest marry them. It’s not a coincidence that after the EU supported same-sex marriage and promised the clergy in many of their countries that they would be protected that Denmark has now passed a law requiring clergy to perform same-sex marriages.
It’s coming. And further disenfranchisement and shunning of dissenters. And, brothers and sisters, the stuff I’m telling you right now? That’s what’s coming soon. That’s what’s coming soon!
You know, because I love you, I force myself to read a lot of things I hate. One of those things that I read studiously is the leading progressive journal in America called The New Republic. Occasionally there’s an interesting article that doesn’t make me want to vomit. But this weeks issue features two articles by man named Alexander Chee who is a gay activist. Two articles about what the gay movement will look like in 20 years. Where will we be in 20 years? Okay, so all the things I’m telling you, I’m talking in the next year or two or three. This is the vision of the movement. And don’t think The New Republic is some sort of rag. It’s not. The New Republic was the first journal to make the case for gay marriage on its front page in 1989 when Andrew Sullivan wrote “The Case for Gay Marriage,” and they ran it as the main article of their journal in 1989.
Now the same journal is telling us, “what is it going to look like in the future?” Well let me share with you the authors words: “I could imagine in choosing a childless, single queerness, and that it would be depicted as the green choice.” So here is this man suggesting that if you are really a faithful environmentalist, you’ll stop having children. “The rearing of children could be something that is done only rarely, especially given its increasing costs. More and more, having children is something that only the wealthy can afford in the United States.” So in 2035, it would be science fiction to imagine an intrenched oligarchy as the only class legally allowed to have children. In a political twist, China’s one child policy could be seen retroactively as both visionary and not having gone far enough.
Do you understand what I’m saying? This man is arguing that he would like to see in twenty years the government to regulate all reproduction. That the government would decide what citizens are allowed to have children. Only a select number. You have children when they say. This is right out of Huxley. This is Orwellian to the bone. But it’s in the journal this week. If you’re wondering what this movement wants, read it.
“In the future, we might have no single sexual identification. We might practice omnisexuality. My hope is that marriage equality,” now get this, and think about what Justice Kennedy said in his position, “My hope is that marriage equality queers marriage rather than straitening queers.” They want marriage? No, they want to queer marriage. They want to gut marriage. Redefine it. Last thing they want to do is have queers made straight by marriage, according to this man. That we reinvent it, and keep reinventing it and sexuality is finally acknowledged as having no inherent moral value except when it is ignored. That’s the future. How do you like that?
What is going to come within the Orthodox Christian community, itself? What should we expect right now in our church? First, brothers and sisters, you better get ready to lose a lot of parishioners. Maybe not in this church because you’ve been hearing your priest for two decades almost teach you about this. But there are plenty of places across the country where people are Orthodox because they were born Orthodox. They are no more Orthodox by conviction than Justice Kennedy. If you look out there, on the social media sites. I was so saddened to see my children showing me on their social media sites, on their Instagrams and their Face…things and all of that, how many Orthodox kids were celebrating this passage. The millenials. They’re catechized by the devil, and we’ve allowed it to happen, brothers and sisters. We put our kids into those scenes. We let them watch those movies. We let hear that garbage music over and over and over again, and now they’re not ours anymore. They don’t recognize the faith they were born into. So expect it.
Many shallow Orthodox Christians who are more formed by secular society than by the church will fall away. And, by the way, this will include bishops and priests, mark my words. Mark my words! There has never been a time where the dragon has breathed this aggressively down the Church’s throat when we don’t have collapse at the top. He always goes for the top. If he can strike the shepherd, then he scatters the sheep. I often say when I’m working with the secretariat at the assembly of bishops (we have 56 bishops). when have 56 bishops ever, in this history of the world, been together and there isn’t at least one heretic? When? Never! Every single ecumenical council threw out scads of heretics amongst their own. I think it’s highly likely, well I already know. We already have priests, a number of them are respected, senior priests, deans of cathedrals, on the east coast, who have written in support of same-sex marriage. I don’t think they have much of a future. I think the people are being pretty faithful to smack them down. But it exists, and I will not be surprised if a bishop here or there comes out in favor. The phonies will show themselves. And also the stalwarts will show themselves. The real leaders of our bishops will show themselves because of this.
And also, many Americans are going to become Orthodox Christians. Many, many Americans whose churches are going the way of society are going to be coming into our church. This is one of our great ministries now, is to keep those doors open and to receive them into the faith which isn’t interested being accommodating to this.
What should we do ourselves? What should we do ourselves in this parish? One, remain as you are. Remain God-loving, devout Orthodox Christians, and don’t let this attack on our faith and on our livelihood turn us into something we’re not. We love God, and we love people, and that’s why we’re opposed to this. We’re opposed to it because we don’t like God and his name and his laws being attacked. This is why we’re up in arms. And we also oppose this because this is the celebration and the victory not of love, that little ridiculous tag-line “love wins;” it’s hate that has won.
Two. This is going to cause tremendous numbers of people to engage and experiment in a life that is positively dangerous. A life that has high rates in this world of HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis, all sorts of venereal diseases, high rates, way higher than normal, of psychological disorders, depression and suicide. And we’re going to encourage people down this road? That’s love? That’s hatred. We’re opposed to this because we love people. We want them to be healed. We don’t want to take their disorders and put them in cement and say, “God did it.”
We also have to be very careful not to hate. Even though we’re hated, even though we’re mocked. You should see what that man, who wrote the future article, what he says about us. He basically says all Christians are white supremacist bigots. Like, come to our church and open your eyeballs. We cannot return that kind of hate, brothers and sisters. We can’t allow anger to dominate us or we are worse. Right? We have to keep our peace. Instead, we have to love more, and we have to support even our own parishioners, those who have same-sex attraction and those who are laboring to be Christians here and to be pious Orthodox. We need to support them more than we ever have.
And we need to recognize where we are. This is the new normal. Get used to it. This is post Christian times. Learn what it means to be an exile and a minority from the prophet Daniel. He saw exile, and he remained faithful, and he did not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar or his images, and he also lived to see the fall of Babylon. The Church has outlived every empire, she’s coursed with empires through their victories and through their falls. We know that the war that is going on of which this is just a small piece is a war between the dragon and our savior, and we know that the dragon has been cast out of heaven. The dragon is roaring. We smell his breath. The beast and the false prophet are well known to us. They’re advancing the dragon’s agenda. Of course we’re sad to see our beloved nation, for so long a city on a hill, stamping the mark of the beast upon its citizens and putting it under boycott. And that is exactly what this is.
The attack that has come already on Christian business owners, on Christian medical professionals, the attack that’s coming on our schools and universities. This is the stamp, or the mark of the beast. Right out of the Apocalypse, which says that unless you bow down to the policy of the beast, you will be economically boycotted. You will not be able to buy nor sell. It appears in every generation some place, and it’s raising its head now. And we know what to do: refuse it! Because you all have been sealed with God’s sign, the Cross. God’s put his stamp of ownership on you. You can’t take the mark of the beast too, brothers and sisters.
We’re sad, but we’re not surprised. Babylonian culture falls everywhere that it asserts itself. Its future is bleak. No one and no culture that opposes God and his law and persecutes the faithful has any future at all. Stay yourself. Recognize where you are. Judge the time correctly. And fight like hell. Do you hear me? Fight! Let your love compel you. Respect his words, God’s words. Remember the Maccabees? When the Greeks came and tried to impose Greek, pagan religion on them, tried to ban circumcision, defile the temple, the Maccabees went into the hills. They had a password between each other: God’s help. God’s help! And they fought. We have to do the same.
Build up your own marriages. You think this came out of nowhere? You know what proceeded this ruling? Skyrocketing divorce. The rejection of children in marriage. Adultery out the wazoo. We can’t look at this and say to ourselves, “Oh, those gays.” No no no no no. No no no. We should look at that and say, “God, forgive us.” This is our problem. This is our mess. We bought the whole hook line and sinker of the sexual revolution and now we’re wondering that this is actually happening? We can live for pleasure alone and reject responsibility in marriage? Father kids and not be there as dads? Leave our wives and just get new ones all the time? We can do that and this isn’t going to happen?
No. No, we have to nourish our marriages. Build up our catechesis. Teach our kids. Make our families strong and keep the faith. What a sad day. What a sad day. Our beloved nation. Maybe God will be merciful if we repent. The future is not written. No, we can repent, Nineveh was going to be crushed. Jonah showed up, and even the king repented and God changed his mind. Maybe we can repent too, brothers and sisters. Maybe we can be the catalyst in our land, we Orthodox. A catalyst in our land for humility once again for repenting in our brokenness once again. And maybe we can love God and his words, and he’ll give us another chance. I hope so. Amen.