What is the Cost of Lives?

July 8, 2020

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, Lazarus Saturday was observed in the Orthodox Church. The commemoration of the raising of Lazarus (John 11) is celebrated on the day before Palm Sunday, viewed theologically as a prequel to the resurrection of Christ, eight days later. On that same day, in Ukraine, instead of celebration, there was disaster, as a nuclear reactor exploded in Chornobyl (in Russian, Chernobyl). The catastrophe is viewed as the worst nuclear disaster in human history, with an unknown number of deaths, physical tragedy, and life-long consequences.

 In a moving 2019 television miniseries from HBO, Chernobyl, the following words are spoken as the opening and closing lines by Valery Legasov, a chemist and USSR’s chief investigator of the explosion of reactor number 4 at the nuclear power plant.  

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories?[1]

What is the cost of lies? Humans hear lies, tell lies, and spread them. Sometimes we even rationalize that we are telling “white lies”, small lies not meant to hurt anyone. At times we can even lead ourselves to believe that we are helping another person by telling a lie. The lies that cost the most, are the lies that hurt, are the ones where relationships suffer, cause truth to suffer, and even cause people to abandon hope.

Perhaps one of the most disastrous and hurtful lies told to me and countless other gay and lesbian Christians is that God does not love us as He made us. Countless hierarchical epistles, priestly sermons, ecclesiastical directives, church newspaper articles, parish websites[2], and bulletin inserts have been written telling the lie that God did not make us as gay or lesbian. The lies continue with the falsehood that in order to be loved by God, and received by His Church, we must reject our sexuality, the very sexuality that God created us with. My own husband was told by an Orthodox priest, that homosexuality is such an evil, that even the devil does not want it. Imagine that a person has heard from a cleric that he or she is worse than the devil. What a lie! What damage has been afflicted upon that person’s soul? What type of relationship does that person build with the Orthodox Church?

What is the cost of these told, written, preached, and published lies? The first casualty is the truth –that God loves all of His creation, including gay people. The immeasurable cost of that lie is that many LGBT individuals abandon the Church. And when the faithful are instructed by a Patriarch to shun gay people, claiming that we are responsible for the destruction of morality, society, and are to be compared to Nazis, (responsible for the killing millions of innocent lives)  the cost of this lie is untold destroyed individuals and families.[3] I would proffer that the words of “His Holiness” Patriarch Kirill of Russia are not the truth, they are stories told to confuse the faithful, sow hatred, and divide society.

Perhaps the greatest lie told us is that gay people have willingly separated ourselves from God, by choosing to be gay. It is a lie that being gay is a choice. It is a lie that by accepting God’s fullness of creation for us we have separated ourselves from the love of God – for indeed “nothing can separate us from the love of God”. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Orthodox Church has at times gone out of its way to preach that we are separated from the love of God.

To my brothers and sisters, who were created as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual, I tell you that God loves you!

Do not believe the lies that damage, hurt, cause pain, separate you from God, cause physical destruction, and the abandonment of hope.

Embrace the truth – that God loves you as He has made you.

 

 

                                                            

 

 

[1] For the words from the script see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8162428/characters/nm0364813

It is also interesting to note that the word “story” in Ukrainian and Russian has an air of “fairytale”.

 

[2] Only one example out of many: the closest Orthodox parish to me, has highlighted on its website, a sermon recorded in 2015! condemning the US Supreme Court ruling on Same-Sex Marriage.

[3] https://www.rt.com/news/367599-patriarch-kirill-rt-interview/

 

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2017/05/29/head-of-orthodox-church-compares-homosexual-marriage-to-nazism-a58108

The publications are both supported by the Russian government; thus they are not Western interpretations of the words of the Patriarch.

 

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