There is no doubt, that from an Orthodox Christian perspective, our nation is in the midst of a moral crisis. All one needs to do is look around at the way women degrade themselves, internet pornography takes in more money a year than all of professional sports combined and that is just to name a few. Orthodox Christianity, if practiced in a loving spiritual way as it was intended, can being a light into the darkness of this fallen world we live in. But Orthodox Christians have to be prepared for this.
In a recent talk, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston took Orthodox Christians to task for being Luke Warm.
“People today fashion their personal beliefs by integrating Orthodox and non-Orthodox elements. Without realizing it, they become ‘cafeteria Christians.’ Just as they do not partake of every food item in a cafeteria line — but only those foods which they like — in the same way they feel they can pick and choose from what Orthodoxy teaches. … Let me be clear: Core teachings of our faith are not subject to popularity polls or political correctness.”
It is not easy to be an Orthodox Christian. Our faith requires a lifestyle change and requires one to recommit their lives to this change each and every day. Orthodoxy, by its very nature, is counter cultural. Orthodoxy requires us to be somewhat removed from the culture around us. We try and influence the culture but we cannot allow the culture to influence us. Just because something is fashionable does not make it right.
The big problem with all of this is that there is a lack of basic understanding of what Orthodoxy teaches. Metropolitan Methodios continues, “The truth is that many brethren sitting in the pews of our parishes are not knowledgeable of even the basic teachings of Orthodoxy.” This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Before we can evangelize the world we need to evangelize the Church! Before we can gain coverts to Orthodoxy we need to convert the Orthodox!
There seems to be certain topics that we have to stay away from for fear of upsetting people and turning them away from the Church. Well, not everyone that Jesus spoke to believed what He had to say and more people were turned off by His words than turned on by them. We cannot be concerned about numbers that is what the Protestants do; we need to be concerned about the lack of education in the average American Orthodox Church. We should not set out to enrage people but to engage them. There are certain truths about Orthodoxy that fly in the face of our modern culture and we should not be afraid to talk about them. When Orthodox Christians stray from the pack, we need to bring them back with understanding and love just as Jesus did.
A consequence of this is that we look to the government to do what we have been unable to do. Because we refuse to talk about the Churches position on Abortion, same sex marriage, and a host of other issues, we ask the government to pass laws to make these practices illegal. If we spent more time looking after our own spiritual wellbeing and less time worrying about what others are doing, I believe, the world would be a much better place.
It is refreshing to hear an Orthodox Bishop say what was said in the talk. He is calling us to Re Evangelize the Church and to Re Catechize the Church! Orthodoxy has so much to give to this fallen world we live in but if our own do not understand, and believe, what the Church teaches then we simply become just another Church, and we are anything but just another Church.
The time has come for us as a Church, to take a long hard look at what we do and how we do it. What message are we sending to the world when we condemn others but, so called Orthodox politicians are not called out for their public beliefs and votes, but are honored by Orthodox agencies and given awards for their work! When we do this we become hypocrites and it injures the message of the Gospel. Sure we can justify it by saying they do so much good, but if they are not living the Gospel, as presented by the Orthodox Church they claim to belong to, then their works are dead and should not be exulted in any forum.
This is not done from a position of hatred but it has to come from a position of love. We love and care for all and when they are harming themselves in a physical or a spiritual sense, then this love draws us to action. Follow the Scripture and correct in private and if that does not work then they need to be corrected publically. Orthodox leaders, at all levels, need to set the example for the Orthodox or they will be confused and open to the advances of the evil one.
We need to let the Paschal light shine bring inside ourselves. Orthodox need to return to the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis, Orthodox clergy need to preach what the Church teaches and why the Church teaches it, not for condemnation, but for illumination of the faithful. We need to spend more time in the confessional and pulpit and less time walking the halls of power in Washington or our state capitols. Conversion happens one person at a time and we cannot legislate morals any more than we can legislate charity.
The bottom line is it is time for the Orthodox to be Orthodox, not some watered down lukewarm version of modern American Orthodoxy. We need an Orthodoxy in America that is on fire and willing to set themselves apart from the rest of society and be the witness that our world so desperately needs.
“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:16