The Canary in the Orthodox Coal-mine?

I had no idea that such things were afoot until I was directed to this blog post in the Ochlophobist: “Homosexual activism in and around the Orthodox Church; updates, ephemera…”. It seems that there has been a growing movement in the Finnish Orthodox Church to approve homosexual intercourse, with even the Finish Orthodox Archbishop, Leo Makkonen, saying that:

“registered same-sex couple relationships aren’t a problem in regard with Orthodox laymen; neither do they prevent their full-scale participation in the sacramental life of the Church.”

Finland, of course, is one of those silly place that have brought in a law legally registering same-sex relationships (I don’t know if they call it “marriage” there).

As the Ochlophobists friend, Herman Middleton suggests:

“To my mind [the Finnish Church] seems to be the canary in the coal mine, which makes it particularly significant for us in the States. Today in Finland, tomorrow here…”

Well, to be honest, it would be a problem for the Orthodox Church throughout the world, wouldn’t it? Especially if one of these Autocephalous Churches starts ordaining active homosexuals? How will the Orthodox communion sort this one out? What will it mean for the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Orthodox Churches?

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “The Canary in the Orthodox Coal-mine?

  1. Ben

    How will the Orthodox communion sort this one out?

    Well – how did it sort out Arianism, or Nestorianism, or Iconoclasm? That’s how it’ll sort it out.

    • Answer to all three: Ecumenical Councils. How are today’s Orthodox going to sort that out without the instrument of an Ecumenical Council?

      • Ben

        …but that’s not the “Orthodox answer”, David. The great Councils formulated articulations of the Tradition – but these did not in themselves “resolve” the various crises; if anything they deepened or precipitated them. Resolution comes following the martyria – the witness – of the Church, vindicating this or that artuculation, this or that Synod, as authentic and universal. In the case of Nicaea II (as we’ll be reminded liturgically in two weeks) this took 100 years – a century of martyria up to and including the shedding of more blood than in the entire pre-Nicene era.

        Now, no-one in good faith needs an Ecumenical Synod (nor an infallible magisterium) to determine whether or not homosexual lust is consistent with Scripture or theosis in the Tradition of the Fathers. All that remains then is to witness to that – up to and including the shedding of our blood, regardless of how many bishops or priests apostasize (practically the whole hierarchy signed up to the “False Union” of Florence, for example – but it was dead in the water nevertheless).

        Mad, faithless bishops are nothing new, but they remain a rarity, thanks be to God. They get deposed by their peers and their flocks and that’s that.

        • I don’t share your opinion of Florence, which both got up and went down more for political reasons than for religious ones (more is the pity, we could have been a united church 600 years ago), but thanks for the emphasis on matyria. That is certainly true, and you are right to remind us of it.

  2. Perhaps in this context it might also be apropos to mention the well-known and well-regarded Orthodox theologians who have been openly promoting a discussion on the ordination of women. It’s not that long ago that I used to hear people say, “It will never happen among the Orthodox”, and perhaps it never will, but it goes to show that they are not immune to these movements that seek to de-construct traditional Christian positions.

    (The Finnish Lutheran Church, btw, has to date resisted the movement to approve same-sex unions or sexual relations.)

  3. William Tighe

    The Finnish Lutheran Church defeated proposals to “ordain women” six times between 1962 and 1984, before finally accepting it in 1986. This was because the measure had to achieve a majority of 75% in its Church Assembly before it could be approved. As I recall, by 1986 only 2 of its 10 bishops remained opposed to WO, and the last of these 2 retired in 2000 and was replaced by a proponent.

    I reckon, the world remaining as it is, that the matter of SS (= Sanctified Sodomy) will play out in much the same way among the Finnish Lutherans as did WO. But this first penetration of theological gangrene among the Orthodox bears careful watching.

    • William,
      Oh ye of little faith!
      Seriously, don’t write the Finns off yet; they are the most ‘conservative’ of the Scandinavian Lutheran churches, with signs of revival among both evangelical pietists and confessional high-church people. With the passing of the 1960s generation, the make-up of the hierarchy may change. The Latvians, if you remember, reversed womens’ ordination in the 1990s, so there is historical precedent for this in that part of the world. But I’ll admit, there’s a long way to go. Meanwhile, yes, how the Orthodox world handles this will be interesting to watch, to say the least.

  4. How astounding!

    It beggars belief that the Orthodox (who never cease priding themselves on their strictness and dogmatic purity) should tolerate for a moment proponents of WO, let alone of unnatural relations, let alone of purporting to bless the latter.

    I do hope that the other Orthodox hierarchs will excommunicate these heretics forthwith.

    • Can an autonomous church be disciplined in Orthodoxy? If it ever got to that, it would present an interesting challenge to Orthodox polity. I understand that preparations for an ‘Eighth Ecumenical Council’ have been underway for 30 years or more; there will be a lot on the agenda if and when Constantinople (or Moscow?) convenes it.

      • Son of Trypho

        Ecumenical Council of Istanbul I doesn’t really sound right…

      • What you call “preparations for an ‘Eighth Ecumenical Council’” is usually refered to as a preparations for a “Pan-Orthodox Council”. There is hope here, although the effect of any such gathering could be as momentous as that of the Second Vatican Council, so far as redrawing the map of Christendom. So who knows?

      • Kiran

        I would say that an autonomous Church can indeed be disciplined in orthodoxy, and it has happened several times in history, rightly or wrongly, particularly in the second half of the first millennium. Nor do I think it would necessarily represent a challenge to orthodox polity, for the same reason.

    • Ben

      There’s nothing wrong with wishing to discuss these things. That’s how the Church articulates the Tradition. It doesn’t make you a heretic. A heretic is someone who insists that an innovation is Orthodox and then divides the Church over it.

  5. Lucian

    Nothing extraordinarily earth-shattering will happen: we’ll simply wash our hands of them, just like we did with the French Orthodox Church, who had far smaller and far different problems.