In my past President's messages I have emphasized the importance of responding to Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev's calls for the Apostolic Churches of Christ: the Roman Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Orthodox Churches to form a moral alliance to fend off the marginalization of God and the values of Christ in our society.(Alfeyev, 2005; Morelli, 2010) More and more I am faced with the subtly of the media in our secular society that endorses lifestyles and practices that are un-Godly. For example, recently I saw a primetime television program that portrayed a same-sex couple who according to secular law were 'married.' Their lifestyle was considered normative and reflective of the modern society and perfectly acceptable. Of course, for those committed to Christ, such a lifestyle is unacceptable.
While standing fast to following the teachings of Christ and upholding His moral teachings, I want to remind all that any interaction we have with others, especially those who may differ with us should be based on the utmost charity that Christ showed Himself. Arrogance, harshness and anger incite adverse consequences in others. We as Christians lose all credibility and are subject to being accused of being hypocrites. Observing Christian figures displaying aggressive words and deeds literally destroys Christ's message.
A personal suggestion: I have found a simple statement of one's commitment to Christ is a good initial first step. If someone wants to follow-up on a discussion on some moral issue, I usually ask: What is your value system? If their answer conforms to secularist morality, then I usually simply respond, in charity: "Well, you are being true to your values." Many times such an answer, however, sparks some interest and the discussion goes further. At some point the question comes up as to what the "Mind of Christ and His Church” is. Then, without further ado, I simply state if one wants to follow Christ then this is what one has to do. [Basing my particular answer on what the person has specifically stated is their moral belief]. My response is based on Jesus’ own almost downplayed reply to the Rich Young Man who asked Him what he had to do to be perfect. Respecting the young man's free will, Jesus said: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mt 19: 21). In emulation of Jesus Himself: we witness, but do not coerce.
Alfeyev, H. (2005, April 24). Toward a Catholic-Orthodox Alliance. http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/7_2
Morelli, G. (2006, March 10). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry or Gentle God? http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/MorelliHumility.php.
Morelli, G. (2010, April 30). Toward healing Church schism: Overview and psycho-theological reflection. www.orthodoxytoday.org/OT/view/toward-healing-church-schism-overview-and-psycho-theological-reflection.
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V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.
He is the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Religion Coordinator (and Antiochian Archdiocesan Liaison) of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Fr. Morelli is also Assistant Pastor of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California.
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