Culture Wars Threaten the Orthodox Church, Our Freedom, and Our Families

Culture Wars Threaten the Orthodox Church, Our Freedom, and Our Familiesby Fr. John Whiteford –
It would be nice if we could ignore the culture wars, but the culture wars are coming after us, our Church, and our families. You can choose what you are prepared to defend, but you cannot choose who will attack what you wish to defend.

There are those in the Orthodox Church who say that we should have nothing to do with the culture wars that have been raging in our culture since the 60’s. They accuse conservative converts of trying to bring those culture wars into the Orthodox Church. Ironically, those who talk like this are usually the very people who actually are bringing the culture wars into the Orthodox Church by their promotion of the acceptance of homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, women’s ordination, and various other liberal causes.

It is not as if the Orthodox Church was full of people who thought gay marriage was a great idea until converts started showing up. In fact, the Orthodox in traditionally Orthodox countries are very conservative, and though, for example, there are not lots of Protestant converts to Orthodoxy in Russia, the Russian Church has taken a very strong and vocal position on these issues. [Read more…]

Transformation of a Homosexual: What Change Looks Like Through Jesus Christ

Sin No Longer Master, Christ Helps Homosexuals Renounce Sinby David Kyle Foster –
In a recent conference on homosexuality put on by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Nashville, I was shocked and deeply saddened at the absence of those who could speak on the topic of “change” for the homosexual. Where were they? They were all sitting in the audience, ministry leaders who have been on the front lines of helping the homosexual for decades, uninvited to share about the power of Jesus Christ to heal the brokenness that causes homosexual confusion.

The message was loud and clear: “Dude, if you come to Christ, there’s no hope that you can change, so get ready for a life of celibacy, ’cause it’s your only option.”

Meanwhile, dozens of former homosexuals, many now married with children, sat in the audience unable to share the truth about the power of Christ to transform lives. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Baptist leaders were spending hours “dialoguing” with leaders of the so-called “gay Christian” movement. It broke my heart. [Read more…]

Our Salvation is in the Hands of God

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soulSt. Nikolai Velimirovich –
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but salvation is in the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

We are obligated to prepare ourselves but our success depends on God. All of our preparation is only a proposal to God but the proposal does not decide, but God decides. That is why people wisely say according to their experience: man proposes and God disposes. O Soldier of Christ, prepare your mind as a good horse, arm your heart with virtues, temper your will with mortifications, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Merchant of Christ, practice good trade every day, exchanging the material for the spiritual, the earthly for the heavenly and mortality for immortality, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soul, sow the good evangelical seed on it every day, weed out the field of your soul from weeds, watch over it, but know that “salvation is in the Lord.” [Read more…]

Putting on the Armor of God: Being a Warrior When It’s Popular to Be a Weaner

Putting on the Armor of GodFr. Thaddaeus Hardenbrook –
Being a warrior for Christ has no minimum age or athletic qualifications. All warriors for Christ, however, must want to “be men” or “be manly”. It means to be what a human is really meant to be: brave, courageous, and authentic in obedience to God.

Saint Nestor was only a teenager when he decided he’d had enough of the local Christians being slaughtered in forced combat against a giant named Lyaeus. The Emperor Maximian had set up a raised platform in the center of Thessaloniki where he forced Christians to fight for their lives against the seemingly unconquerable Vandal mercenary “who was a beast in both appearance and character.”

Nestor was thin and not very tall, but apparently that did not concern him. He visited Saint Demetrios in prison and took his blessing to challenge Lyaeus. The saint made the sign of the cross over his head and heart, prophesying, “You will both be victorious and suffer for Christ.” [Read more…]

Gay ‘Marriage’ and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist

Gay 'Marriage' and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexistby Napp Nazworth –

Gay marriage proponents will not allow for religious freedom of their political opponents because their belief system does not allow for the fact that dissenters can be reasonable people of goodwill, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, argued at the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture.

Most of those arguing in favor of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples do not understand, or even know, the arguments of those who oppose the redefinition of marriage, George claimed. They assume there are no reasonable arguments against gay marriage and those who oppose it are simply driven by hatred of gays.

“The whole [gay marriage] argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than ‘bigotry,’ reflecting animus against a certain group of people,” he said. “Therefore, no reasonable person of goodwill, we are told, can dissent from the liberal position on sex and marriage, any more than a reasonable person of goodwill could support racial segregation and subordination. You’ve heard the analogy drawn a thousand times. [Read more…]

The Bible and the Poor: Jesus Did Not Preach Communism

The Bible Jesus Christ and the Poorby Robert Klein Engler –

In light of the continuing misunderstanding of Pope Francis by the progressive media, it’s time to reconsider the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 14:7, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.”

This verse is echoed by verse 15:11 in Deuteronomy, “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”

What on earth does this mean? The poor you will always have with you. How can that fact stated by Jesus be, when the progressive ideology and the advocates of social justice argue that it’s government’s job to abolish poverty and further income equality?

Maybe Jesus was referring to the “poor in spirit?” They could always be with us and that would not argue against a government from taxing and redistributing wealth. We know income equality may not bring happiness. You could make as much on your job as your neighbor, and still be poor in spirit. [Read more…]

How Are the Passions Born and How We Fight Against Them?

How Are the Passions Bornby Andrei Gorbachev –

Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, reasoned one of the friends of Job the Much-Suffering (Job 5:6). Because for the Christian, woe and trouble is first of all sin and the passion that precedes it, it could be said that passion “does not come from the dust”, and sin “does not grow out of the ground”, but rather springs from the soil of the human heart. The Lord Himself warned us when He said, From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23). That is, according to the Gospel teaching, not only is sin what is committed in deed, but even the longing for sin—which we call passion—is not altogether innocent by itself and is also a sin.

Having achieved victory in the struggle with their passions, the holy fathers of the Church left us a detailed description of this struggle. Part of this was their scrupulous study of the stages of the passions’ formation in the human soul. [Read more…]

Pillars of Modern American Conservatism

Pillars of Modern American Conservatismby Alfred Regnery –
The basic foundations of American conservatism consist of liberty and freedom, tradition and order, rule of law, and belief in God.

Over the past half century, conservatism has become the dominant political philosophy in the United States. Newspaper and television political news stories more often than not will mention the word conservative. Almost every Republican running for office—whether for school board or U.S. senator—will try to establish his place on the political spectrum based on how conservative he is. Even Democrats sometimes distinguish among members of their own party in terms of conservatism.

Although conservatism as we know it today is a relatively new movement—it emerged after World War II and only became a political force in the 1960s—it is based on ideas that are as old as Western civilization itself. The intellectual foundations on which this movement has been built stretch back to antiquity, were further developed during the Middle Ages and in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, and were ultimately formulated into a coherent political philosophy at the time of the founding of the United States. In a real sense, conservatism is Western civilization. [Read more…]

Moral Earthquake is Taking Place in America

Archpriest Victor Potapovby Maria Stroganova –

Father Victor, please tell us how the Orthodox of America reacted to the decision of the US Supreme Court recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage throughout the country?

– To tell you the truth, we feel like we are in mourning. Of course, no one was surprised that it happened. We all understood that the majority of the Supreme Court would vote in favor of the decision to register same-sex marriages. It all started a long time ago, and over a year ago, the Supreme Court declared the Marriage Protection Act illegal Now this is the result.

Of course, homosexuals claim that they are looking for equality in civil life and they want gay husbands and wives to have the right to visit each other in the hospital, inherit property, to have children, and the rights which are provided to traditional couples. I think, though, they actually are pursuing other goals. Just this morning, I read an interview with a rather famous Russian emigrant, Masha Gessen, who has long been an activist in the LGBT movement. She, of course is an anarchist, but they listen to her opinion in America, and she said: “Our goal is to destroy marriage as an institution, so that there is no longer the concept of marriage.” Her words need to be taken very seriously.[Read more…]

Justice Kennedy: Define Your Own Truth

Same-sex marriage Judicial Tyranny Supreme Courtby William McGurn –

In the heady days since Anthony Kennedy unearthed a constitutional right for Americans “to define and express their identity,” the extravagance of the Supreme Court’s claim has taken some by surprise. It shouldn’t have. In finding for same-sex marriage the way he did, Justice Kennedy made official what he made inevitable a quarter-century back.

That was in 1992. The occasion was a Supreme Court decision on abortion into which Mr. Kennedy inserted a new definition of liberty. Where Thomas Jefferson had grounded human liberty in self-evident truth, Mr. Kennedy holds that the mere self suffices.

“At the heart of liberty,” he wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”[Read more…]

Authority and Moral Life: An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Jesus Christ Moral Authority and Truthby Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou –

I am making the following brief statement as a committed Orthodox Christian and as a priest of the Church. I share with you my personal reflections on the authority for a moral life in accordance with my faith experience.

The teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles as well as those of the Fathers of the Church are directly or indirectly related to moral issues and the way a Christian ought to live his or her life. From the Orthodox perspective, Christ is the final or absolute authority of morality in a Christian society. Even though tolerance and respect of other faiths are a necessity within a pluralistic society, Christ is the supreme authority for the particular Christian community.

The expression of Christ’s authority within the world is that of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as is manifested in the Church. According to Orthodoxy, the Law of God as applied to the authority for a moral life is manifested in three ways. First, as natural law (the inner conscience), second as the written law (the Old Testament), and third as spiritual, evangelical law (the Gospel of Christ). These three laws are not in conflict with each other, but rather have similar authority because all three have the same source, God, and the same goal, which is to guide man to attain moral perfection. [Read more…]

Normality is Not Hatred – Natural Family is Foundation of Civilization

Normality is Not Hatred - Natural Family is Foundation of Civilizationby James Kalb –
the loss of an understanding of human nature means a loss of understanding what marriage is: the physical, social, and spiritual union of a man and a woman.

Very recently the view that homosexuality is entirely normal has become not only widespread but compulsory in secular public discussion.

Leaders of thought tell us the change has been part of a general deepening of moral insight and improvement in the art of living. The older outlook oppressed millions out of fear, bigotry, and ignorance. We have learned better now, except for a few haters and dimbulbs who need to be re-educated or else shamed and shut up until death frees the world from their presence.[Read more…]

Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriage

Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriageby Fr. Vladimir Anderson –

Life is an uphill struggle; the path is narrow and difficult. There are many obstacles, precipices and steep cliff faces along the way. Progress is often slow and seemingly unnoticeable. Like a thick mist, the spirit of the world envelopes the climbers who, losing sight of their goal, turn their thoughts to the easy life in the valley below. Is there any point in all this exertion, they wonder. It is especially difficult for those who climb alone not to become sidetracked or utterly discouraged. For this reason the One Who calls us to the top of the mountain has given to most of us a companion, a fellow-climber, that together we might more easily ascend God’s holy mountain.

This after all, is the primary purpose of a Christian marriage. At the very outset of their journey together, husband and wife must agree mutually to help one another and their children to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. While it is easy to acknowledge this as the goal, in actual practice it is a very difficult and never ending labor. [Read more…]

Given an Omnipotent, Fully Good and Loving God, Why do Good People Suffer?

Story of Job Bible sufferingby Mackenzie Mulligan –
That is the question for the ages. The suffering of bad people, of evil people, is (for some) an easier question. There is a notion of cosmic reparation, whether of impersonal karma or personal Justice, that provides an explanation on that front. But what of good people?

That, at least, is a question asked repeatedly by characters in G. K. Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday, and the answers Chesterton hints at are some of the most incredible I have ever read.

But first, we must eliminate the greatest of the false trails apologists often stray down: that human goodness is never good enough in comparison to Christ’s perfection. This relativity, while actual, is nonetheless irrelevant. The goodness and righteousness even of fallen humanity is real enough and meaningful enough to be attested to even from the throne of Jehovah himself. I trust ye have heard of the patience of Job? [Read more…]

Why the Silencing and Persecution of Christians will Continue

Silencing and Persecution of Christians will Continue by Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. –

The number of subjects we cannot talk about in public discourse are rapidly multiplying. The older notion of “free speech” as a search for the truth through reasonable argument is being replaced. We no longer want to hear speech if it “offends” someone’s feelings or self-defined identity. We would rather “just get along” than to have to decide about the truth of any issue or confront the consequences of its violation.

We thus have become infinitely “tolerant” of anything but truth itself. Speech is not directed to truth or falsity of an issue but to the “sensitivity” and “compassion” of those who hear it. “Objective” standards are subject to the listener’s “right” to hear only what he wants to hear. Thus, whatever is “permitted” in positive or civil law becomes a “right” for those who follow it. [Read more…]