By Revd Dave Doveton
During a Sunday service some months ago in Kazan Cathedral on Red Square, Metropolitan Kirill the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a grave warning regarding the growing phenomena in the west of legalizing same sex unions and same sex ‘marriages’[i].
He warned against the formalization of sin by codifying it in the laws of a country; “This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction,” Kirill stated. The Russian Patriarch’s comments came as the coalition government in the United Kingdom was in the process of approving legislation which would formally recognize same sex ‘marriage’. Britain would be following other western countries like Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, France, South Africa and several others who had already passed the legislation at a national level. Echoing his sentiments at a special prayer service more recently a Roman Catholic Bishop described the signing into law the redefinition of civil marriage by the governor of Illinois as “institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality”[ii]. Nor have these cultural processes remained confined to the developed nations of the West. Eastern European and African nations continue to experience concerted and sustained attempts by powerful cultural elites to subvert their legal codes. Nigerian Catholic bishops at the 2009 African Synod in Rome expressed anger that “lethal ideologies” were being pushed onto many African countries by the West[iii]. This concern has also been voiced by Anglican Archbishops in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. They emphasized that God loves people who experience same-sex attractions; however this fact should not cloud the issue that to enshrine same-sex behaviour in law would undermine marriage and family life.
Universally, the Christian church does not approve of or bless same sex relationships, except for a radical fringe within liberal Protestantism, but marginal groups having increasing influence within western Christendom insist that same sex erotic relationships are merely a secondary ethical issue, a matter of personal conscience and thus not something which should divide the church. For example, the bishops of the Church of England in their recent statement on the Pilling report admitted they held divergent views on same-sex relationships, but they aimed at achieving ‘good disagreement’ within the church on the subject. Are they right? Can the Church continue to drift along, confused but happy? Or, is this a matter which is of such significance it indicates the destiny of a whole nation and the alarming spiritual state of the church in that nation ?