Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Eucharist Is Essential

To not have the Eucharist at the center of your worship is to displace the Cross and Resurrection from the heart of the community, for that is what the Eucharist is. To bar infants and small children from the Eucharist is to exclude them from Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Just on the Last Day, and the gathering of the Elect into the eternal Kingdom - for all these are summed up entirely in the Eucharist. Participation in the Eucharist is no more optional than Christ's self-offering for our salvation, for they are one and the same. The historical events are done to establish the Kingdom, while the Eucharist is given that this Kingdom may be established in our midst and rule in our bodies and souls, so that when the Kingdom comes for all to see we may be found in its midst with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the elect, and reign with Christ unto ages of ages.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Akathist to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

In honor of the feast of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco I am placing an akathist to him here on my blog. I found this akathist at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco.

Information about akathists in general is available at Orthodox Wiki, as well as information about and images of St. John himself.

to Our Father among the Saints
JOHN Archbishop of Shanghai & San Francisco, the Wonderworker

Kontakion 1
Chosen wonderworker and pleaser of Christ, who pourest forth inexhaustible streams of inspiration and a multitude of miracles upon the whole world, we praise thee with love and call out to thee:

Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Ikos 1
An angel in the flesh wast thou manifested in these latter times by the grace of God Who ever careth for men. Seeing the beauty of thy virtues, we cry out to thee:

  • Rejoice, thou who from earliest childhood wast adorned in piety.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst ever live in fear of God and do His holy will.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst manifest the grace of God through good deeds done secretly.
  • Rejoice, thou who dost hearken to the prayers of those in distress.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst hasten, full of love, to save thy neighbors.
  • Rejoice, joy to all who fall down before thee with faith.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 2
Beholding the abundance and variety of thy virtues, O holy Hierarch, we see in thee a living source of God's wonders in our time. Thou dost refresh with thy love and miracles all who cry in faith to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 2
Being filled with love and replete with theology, O divinely wise John, made wise by the knowledge of God and adorned with love for the suffering, teach us also to know the true God in love as we call out to thee in admiration:

  • Rejoice, unshakeable stronghold of Orthodox truth.
  • Rejoice, precious vessel of the Holy Spirit.
  • Rejoice, righteous denouncer of impiety and false doctrine.
  • Rejoice, zealous fulfiller of the commandments of God.
  • Rejoice, ascetic who didst not allow thyself to rest upon a bed.
  • Rejoice, beloved shepherd of the flock of Christ.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 3
By the power of the grace of God wast thou manifest as a father to orphans and instructor of the young, raising them in the fear of God and preparing them for the service of God. Wherefore all thy children look to thee with love in gratitude cry out to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 3
Thou shouldst truly be praised from the heavens, and not from earth, O father John, for our words are feeble beside thy deeds. Yet offering to God what we have, we cry out to thee thus:

  • Rejoice, thou who didst protect thy children by thine unceasing prayer!
  • Rejoice, thou who didst ever guard thy flock with the sign of the Cross.
  • Rejoice, thou whose love knew no bounds of country or race.
  • Rejoice, bright luminary beloved of all.
  • Rejoice, model of unceasing prayer and loving kindness.
  • Rejoice, bestower of spiritual consolation upon those in need.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 4
Overwhelmed by the tempest of perils, we know not how to praise thee worthily, O Hierarch John. Thou didst travel to the ends of the earth to save thy flock and proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel to those in darkness. Giving thanks to God for thine apostolic labors we cry out to Him: Alleluia!

Ikos 4
Those near and far have heard of the greatness of thy miracles, which are made manifest by the mercy of God even to our days. And so we also, marveling, cry out in awe:

  • Rejoice, enlightener of those in the darkness of unbelief.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst lead thy people from the Far East to the West.
  • Rejoice, fountain of miracles poured forth by God.
  • Rejoice, loving chastiser of those who have gone astray.
  • Rejoice, swift consoler of those who repent of their sins.
  • Rejoice, guide of those who walk the straight path.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 5
Thou wast manifest to be a divinely bestowed light to stop the destructive forces of fallen nature, O holy Hierarch, preserving thy flock on the island of Tubabao from the deadly wind and storm, by thy prayer and the sign of the Cross. Teach us who call upon thee for help, O holy woderworker, to cry out in wonder unto God: Alleluia!

Ikos 5
All who have trusted in thy help in desperate circumstances and adversities have found deliverance, O bold intercessor, before the Throne of God. Wherefore, we trust in thine intercession before God, and cry out to thee:

  • Rejoice, thou who dost avert the dangers of the elements.
  • Rejoice, thou who by thy prayer deliverest from need.
  • Rejoice, inexhaustible giver of bread to the hungry.
  • Rejoice, abundant wealth for those who live in poverty.
  • Rejoice, consolation for those in sorrow.
  • Rejoice, quick uplifting for those who have fallen.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 6
Preaching salvation though slow of speech, thou wast shown to be like a new Moses, leading thy people out of the captivity of the godless, O all-blessed John. Deliver us also from bondage to sin and the invisible foe, that, rejoicing, we may cry out to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 6
Shining forth in thy righteousness, thou didst do the impossible and persuade the authorities of this world to have pity on thy flock, O good shepherd. Wherefore, with them we also cry out to thee in thanksgiving:

  • Rejoice, good shepherd who didst prepare for thy wandering flock a peaceful haven.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst show the greatest care for children and the sick.
  • Rejoice, helper of all who call thee with faith.
  • Rejoice, for in thy weak body wast the power of God made manifest with abundance.
  • Rejoice, thou who foilest the attacks of the unrighteous.
  • Rejoice, destroyer of lies and exalter of truth.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 7
Desiring to glorify as is meet the ancient saints of the West, of lands which had fallen away from the truth, thou didst revive their veneration in the Orthodox Church, O lover of the saints of the East and the West. With them pray thou today in heaven on behalf of us who chant on earth: Alleluia!

Ikos 7
We see thee as a new chosen one of God, who wast manifest in the latter times as one of the holy Hierarchs of Gaul, exhorting thy flock to preserve the same Orthodox faith that they confessed, and astonishing the peoples of the West by thy holy life. Preserve us, that we too may abide in this Faith, who cry out to thee:

  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Martin by thy miracles and ascetic feats.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Germanus by thy confession of the Orthodox faith.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Hilary by thy divine theology.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Gregory by thy love and glorification of God's saints.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Faustus by thy monastic fervor.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast a new Caesarius by thy steadfast love for the canons of the Church of God.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 8
A strange sight didst thou behold: in the New World thou didst encounter thy former flock in tribulation. Here wast thee called to suffer persecution and by thine patience, righteousness and instruction to guide the flock, and didst erect the church of the Mother of God, the Joy of All Who Sorrow. Now marveling at thy patience and longsuffering, we all cry out to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 8
Giving thyself wholly unto Christ, O laborer of Christ's vineyard, thou knewest no rest even at the end of thy much-suffering life; help us, the unworthy, in our labors as we strive to be faithful to Christ, crying out in praise to thee:

  • Rejoice, thou who didst endure unto the end and so didst attain salvation.
  • Rejoice, thou who wast deemed worthy to die before the Icon of the Mother of God.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst keep thy faith and courage in the midst of unjust persecution.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst labor to the end for thy flock and didst repose, seated, as a hierarch.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst comfort the flock by being buried among it.
  • Rejoice, thou who workest wonders for those who come to thy relics with faith and love.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 9
All the angelic hosts rejoiced at thy soul's ascent to • the mansions of heaven, marveling at the wonders thou didst perform on earth through the action of the Holy Spirit, to Whom we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 9
Orators find it impossible to describe thy life of sanctity with their many and eloquent words, O righteous father John, for thou didst become a living dwelling-place for the grace of the ineffable God. Yet, unable to be silent at the wonder revealed to our age of feeble faith, we glorify thee:

  • Rejoice, divine palace from whence the counsel of the Good King is given.
  • Rejoice, for in thy humble activity thou hadst angels serving with thee.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst gain a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
  • Rejoice, infirmary wherein every ailment is divinely healed.
  • Rejoice, depository wherein thy holy labor of prayer was hidden.
  • Rejoice, blessed temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 10
Desiring to save the world, the Savior of all hath sent unto us a new saint and through him hath called us forth from the dark abyss of sin. Hearing this call to repentance, we, the unworthy ones, in turn cry out to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 10
THou art a wall sheltering us from adversity, O father John, for through thy heavenly intercessions are we delivered from the attacks of demonic passions and from afflictions which beset us on earth. Before thy firm support of prayer, we cry with faith:

  • Rejoice, sight to those who are blind.
  • Rejoice, thou who by the power of prayer givest life to those on their bed of death.
  • Rejoice, thou who with divine wisdom dost enlighten those in confusion and doubt.
  • Rejoice, refreshing water to those perishing in the heat of sorrow.
  • Rejoice, loving father to the orphaned and abandoned.
  • Rejoice, holy teacher of those who seek the Truth.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 11
In thought, word and deed thy life was a hymn to the Most Holy Trinity, O most blessed John. For with much wisdom didst thou explain the precepts of the true Faith, teaching us to sing with faith, hope and love to the one God in Trinity: Alleluia!

Ikos 11
We see thee as a radiant lamp of Orthodoxy for those in the darkness of ignorance, O good shepherd of the flock of Christ. Thus, even after thy repose, thou dost reveal the Truth to those ignorant thereof, illumining the souls of the faithful, who cry out to thee such things as these:

  • Rejoice, thou who with divine wisdom dost enlighten those who languish in unbelief.
  • Rejoice, rainbow of quiet joys for the meek.
  • Rejoice, thunder to those obstinate in sin.
  • Rejoice, lightning burning up heresies.
  • Rejoice, downpour of the dogmas of Orthodoxy.
  • Rejoice, dew of the thought of God.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 12
With reverence and thanksgiving do we receive the grace that hath been poured out upon thee by God, O most lauded father John. Glorifying the wonders of a holy hierarch who once walked among us, we cry out to God: Alleluia!

Ikos 12
Singing praise unto God, the heavenly choir of saints rejoiceth that He hath not forsaken the fallen and faithless world, but hath manifested His almighty power in thee, his meek and humble servant. O blessed John, with all the saints we greet thee and give honor to thee:

  • Rejoice, new star of righteousness which hath shone forth in heaven.
  • Rejoice, new prophet who wast sent before the final reign of evil.
  • Rejoice, thou who like Jonah dost warn all of the wages of sin.
  • Rejoice, thou who like the Baptist John calleth all to prayer and repentance.
  • Rejoice, thou who like Paul endured much for the sake of the Gospel and the preaching of the Faith.
  • Rejoice, new apostle whose miracles instill in us faith and awe.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 13
0 all-radiant and most wondrous God-pleaser, holy hierarch John, consolation for all who sorrow, accept this, our offering of prayer, that through thy prayers to our Lord we may be delivered from fiery Gehenna and by thy God-pleasing intercession we may chant forever unto God: Alleluia!

This Kontakion is recited thrice, whereupon Ikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are repeated.

Ikos 1
An angel in the flesh wast thou manifested in these latter times by the grace of God Who ever careth for men. Seeing the beauty of thy virtues, we cry out to thee:

  • Rejoice, thou who from earliest childhood wast adorned in piety.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst ever live in fear of God and do His holy will.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst manifest the grace of God through good deeds done secretly.
  • Rejoice, thou who dost hearken to the prayers of those in distress.
  • Rejoice, thou who didst hasten, full of love, to save thy neighbors.
  • Rejoice, joy to all who fall down before thee with faith.
  • Rejoice, O holy hierarch, father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Kontakion 1
Chosen wonderworker and pleaser of Christ, who pourest forth inexhaustible streams of inspiration and a multitude of miracles upon the whole world, we praise thee with love and call out to thee: Rejoice, O holy hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Be Reconciled

In Lutheran dogmatics a sharp distinction is made between justification and sanctification. Justification is to be declared righteous. Sanctification is to be made holy (or declared and made holy). Justification is a forensic act. A careful consideration of the Formula of Concord Article III (Righteousness of Faith Before God) makes this clear. Justification is carefully hedged in juridical terms, and set against the idea that one is actually made righteous by the Holy Spirit as a matter of renewal. Specifically we can cite the following from the Epitome [selections from par. 12-23]:

Therefore we reject and condemn all the following errors:

3. That in the sayings of the prophets and apostles where the righteousness of faith is spoken of the words justify and to be justified are not to signify declaring or being declared free from sins, and obtaining the forgiveness of sins, but actually being made righteous before God, because of love infused by the Holy Ghost, virtues, and the works following them.

7. That faith saves on this account, because by faith the renewal, which consists in love to God and one's neighbor, is begun in us.

8. That faith has the first place in justification, nevertheless also renewal and love belong to our righteousness before God in such a manner that they [renewal and love] are indeed not the chief cause of our righteousness, but that nevertheless our righteousness before God is not entire or perfect without this love and renewal.

9. That believers are justified before God and saved jointly by the imputed righteousness of Christ and by the new obedience begun in them, or in part by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, but in part also by the new obedience begun in them.

10. That the promise of grace is made our own by faith in the heart, and by the confession which is made with the mouth, and by other virtues.

11. That faith does not justify without good works; so that good works are necessarily required for righteousness, and without their presence man cannot be justified.

Why the care? Why go so far as to restrict the concept of justification to a forensic declaration? Surely the Scriptures speak at times of being imputed or reckoned righteous, but at other times do they not speak of being made morally righteous as an interior, spiritual renewal similar to the Lutheran concept of Sanctification?

What makes Lutheran justification a matter of faith alone is its target, or better put, the aim of Christ's atonement. In the Book of Concord the target of the atonement is God's wrath. Consider paragraph 9 in this very article (emphasis mine):
9] 6. We believe, teach, and confess also that notwithstanding the fact that many weaknesses and defects cling to the true believers and truly regenerate, even to the grave, still they must not on that account doubt either their righteousness which has been imputed to them by faith, or the salvation of their souls, but must regard it as certain that for Christ's sake, according to the promise and [immovable] Word of the holy Gospel, they have a gracious God.

Also the Augsburg Confession itself, Article III (emphasis mine):
1] Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in 2] the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and 3] buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

4] He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify 5] them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin.

6] The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed.

Regarding par. 3, the confessors state their belief that Christ's work of redemption was to reconcile the Father to us, though St. Paul indicates the opposite in 2Co 5:18 and Eph 2:16 - that the Father has reconciled us to Himself and one another through the cross.

The work of redemption in the Lutheran Confessions is primarily to affect something in God (viz. His justice/righteousness), and secondarily or consequently to affect a change in us. Justification is identified with the former, and Sanctification with the latter. The work of atonement - meaning the birth, life, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ - merits or earns Justification by providing to God both the righteousness that He requires from human beings and suffering the penalty for disobedience that we have incurred. Since this work is complete, meaning all legal accounts have been settled with God, nothing can be added to this redemption. Faith alone remains, that is, one only has to embrace this forensic acquittal and imputation in order to apply it to oneself. God is appeased, so now if we will believe - and keep on believing this - we never have to worry about the wrath of God unto hell again. It all depends on satisfying the justice and wrath of God, as if that is the problem that must be solved before we can reunite with God.

But what if that was not the problem? Yes, we lack righteousness, and Christ supplies righteousness to us. The Epitome III says well:
3] 1. Against both the errors just recounted, we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that Christ is our Righteousness neither according to the divine nature alone nor according to the human nature alone, but that it is the entire Christ according to both natures, in His obedience alone, which as God and man He rendered to the Father even unto death, and thereby merited for us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, as it is written: As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous, Rom. 5:19.

But what if Christ did not satisfy any punishment? Yes, Christ suffered for our sins, but what if that did not mean that the stripes He suffered were a replacement for the punishments coming to us in hell? Or (as Luther puts it) that Christ did not suffer the full fury of God's hell and punishment spiritually on the cross, but just suffered the cross and the human experience of abandonment and death that comes with it? What if all that Christ suffered was simply a matter of obedience - that He suffered out of obedience to God, and this obedience alone unto death atones for ours sins? And that where obedience is supplied for all, punishment is taken away for all? Is justification still by faith alone?

Perhaps, because then it still remains a legal matter. All that has happened in what I've described is that the legal condition that punishments be suffered as a condition for forgiveness is removed. Forensic righteousness must still be supplied.

Yes, except the concept of punishments is not all that is removed. With the canceling of any need to satisfy punishment also goes the primary difficulty of the wrath of God.

Wait, are you sure? There will be a Day of wrath, according to St. Paul's gospel. (Romans 2) Yes, this is true. What I mean is that the wrath of God is no longer the target of the atonement. God loves us and wants us to be righteous. He is not interested in having someone punished before He is willing to forgive, so there is nothing in God that needs to be changed. The target is actually all of us - those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So two things need to be considered regarding Formula of Concord III:
  1. That the aim of the atonement was not that we should gain a gracious God or have Him become reconciled to us - as if He were angry and we wanting reconciliation - because God has always been gracious towards us, and we as a race have gone astray in our hearts and acted as enemies of God (i.e. the other way around). The aim was not that God should be made to change and reconcile, but that we should be made to change and reconcile.
  2. There is no need to satisfy a legal requirement for punishment when sin has been replaced with righteousness. If wrath awaits us on the Last Day, it is due to a lack of righteousness. The idea that God's justice must be satisfied by suffering punishments comes from Anselm and medieval scholasticism. Anselm posited that God's honor is offended by man's sins, and in the fashion of typical Normal chivalry he believed that any slight against honor had to be satisfied. Thomas Aquinas took exception to the idea that the atonement was to restore something in God, since God does not need sacrifice. We need sacrifice, so Christ's work was interpreted as supplying merit and suffering penance - a system the Lutheran confessors try to reject. Their success was limited, in that they still held fiercely to the notion that Christ needed to satisfy a divine justice that could only be appeased by meting out suffering and not by innocence alone.

Given that justice is not satisfied by suffering but only by obedience (which in this world is often in the face of suffering), and that Christ's sacrifice is offered to God because we need it so that something in us may change, justification is not a purely forensic act. In order to be effective it must be a transformative act. At this point some of my readers may be going back over what I just said and saying, "Yeah, but it could still be a purely forensic act." Really? Why? If you tell someone, "Faith alone saves," then from what is faith saving? Not an unreconciled God, because God's attitude is always one of reconciliation. We need to reconcile. From wrath? But Christ died not to change God's wrath but to change you. Wrath is still coming. Christ's death didn't take away wrath, or the God who is wrathful over sin. Christ died to give you righteousness - His righteousness. Faith is the core, but faith leads into Baptism, Confirmation/Chrismation, and the Eucharist. Faith is the beginning of your change. And by faith through Baptism you die and rise again in Christ. You change.

So when the Scriptures use the word that means Justification it speaks morally. It is not speaking about a change in God, it is speaking about a change in you. It is speaking about Christ in you through the Holy Spirit, sharing and imparting to you His pure and incarnate self that is righteousness itself. And when the Scriptures speak of Sanctification, it is to be taken in the same fashion except in terms of holiness.

From the change in you through union with Christ comes the forensic acquittal. Abraham was accounted righteous because his heart turned toward God (faith). This is the seat of actual righteousness. In Christ the same applies to you, but even more in that Christ supplies to the willing heart all that He offered to the Father in love for your salvation. Christ supplies the Grace necessary for that inward renewal that we need for our salvation.

So the Lutheran Confessions are not correct on this point. They tried, but were unable to get outside the box of medieval scholasticism. There are many Lutherans that know there is more to Justification than the legal aspect, but as Lutherans they are committed to this article and others that drop anchor in a place irreconcilable with catholic and orthodox interpretation, thus pitting Lutherans against 1500+ years of the Church. This is not a comfortable place to be.

The Roman Church, though limited by medieval scholasticism, has generally not bought into Anselm's idea that something in God must be appeased as much as in the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, which includes the concept that all actual sins must be temporally expiated (though Christ expiates the eternal guilt), either here or in Purgatory. Even though Rome has applied effort in combating the Angry God perspective, they still suffer from Papal Supremacy - which has become Papal Infallibility. :-(

The Orthodox Church, though, does not depend on this medieval trap. Lutherans should consider, as a matter of consistency, a move to communion with the bishops and churches of the East. Consistency? Yes, consistency. Reformation of the western church was not entirely successful through the efforts of the 16th century reformers. The reformers were not able to find the necessary correctives to the problems posed by Rome. The Orthodox Church retains that necessary corrective. Lutherans in this country ought to consider achieving reunification of the west with the east through themselves and their own congregations. It is something to think about.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why the Marriage Debate Cannot Be Won

If the debate is about homosexuals being granted the same civil marriage rights as heterosexuals, I have to say there is nothing in our current form of polity that can stop it. We've adopted a form of government that permits almost anything, so long as enough people mobilize to demand it. Our society values freedom above all else, and in the homosexual marriage debate we are seeing what human beings ultimately do with unrestrained freedom. This is all a moot point from the perspective what is legally possible, for in America anything is legally possible if people mobilize to demand it.

That does not mean there is no philosophical or religious angle to this issue. There are a lot of religions in America, and religion involves beliefs about what reality is all about. Science that investigates human origin is usually heavily biased by evolutionary philosophy, which undergirds some of the pro-marriage thinking in the debate. However there are still other philosophies. All systems - religious and philosophical - use a combination of evidence, experience, thought, and faith (conviction) to arrive at the conclusions they hold. There will never be an end to the religious and philosophical debate, since in such situations few people are able to listen to opposing view points without seeing their own biases or getting emotional. There can be no meaningful debate if the debaters argue from emotion instead of logic.

But frankly the issue of homosexual marriage confronting and dividing our country is not an issue of religion and philosophy so much as it is an issue of government. Within the current governmental structure the only way to stop homosexual unions from being legalized is to convince those with deciding power that 1) a different philosophical/religious perspective on this issue needs to be adopted, or 2) that homosexual unions are demonstrably harmful to those involved, families, communities, or society in general - no matter peoples religious and philosophical views.

We have this issue before us because of the form of government we have chosen for ourselves. Period. Human nature is what it is; it seeks what it wants. As an Orthodox Christian I can say with a high level of confidence that those who desire to inherit the kingdom of heaven will not live as practitioners of homosexuality, no matter how much they may be tempted to do so in body, mind, or spirit - just as it is with those tempted with adultery, sex outside of marriage, and other sexual practices found among men but forbidden by Christ through His Apostles and His Church. Those outside of Christ will not necessarily struggle against these practices, and so will do whatever they find in themselves, whatever that may be.

If Christians are unhappy with the choices the people in our society are making, we ourselves have at least two choices:
  1. Leave for another society whose government and/or people hold allegiance to Christianity;
  2. Do a much better job articulating our position against opposing philosophies.

I do not include the third idea of establishing a different government, because Christians should not engage in revolutions. The Christians is Syria are being persecuted terribly for not rising up against Asad. It's evil that they are treated this way. The weapons of Christians are not revolution and war, but prayer and love and fidelity to Christ.

We are making our city on the plains of Shinar, with its tower reaching up to the heavens. The ultimate solution to this problem will come from God. We may find ourselves conquered by Islam or torn apart in war for our crimes, so that by one means or another we may return to sanity. I'm personally hoping for the Parousia.