RIOCF: Statement on Same-Sex Marriage

Rhode Island Orthodox Clergy Fellowship
Statement on Same-Sex Marriage 

We, the clergy of the Orthodox Churches of Rhode Island, express our disappointment over recent developments concerning the status of marriage in our country and in our state.  Specifically, we disapprove our state legislature’s vote in favor of and signing into law the practice of same-sex marriage. As the state proceeds to make same-sex marriage legal, and with the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), we feel it necessary to state our position on this matter.  We continue to hold, teach, and affirm the traditional view of marriage— that is, a conjugal union between one man and one woman.  The Orthodox Church can in no way condone same-sex marriage. 

We call upon the Orthodox Christian faithful to remember that popular opinion and the tides of societal norms may come and go; as followers of the Orthodox faith, however, we hold to the teachings handed down to us by the Apostles, through the Church— even when those beliefs may prove unpopular.  We hold to these truths because we firmly believe that they are true and lead to the salvation of our souls.  The Apostle Paul calls upon us not to be “conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).  Our first duty as followers of Christ is to show love, mercy and compassion.  We must, as Orthodox Christians, be hospitable, while also acknowledging that the Church cannot and will not bless same-sex marriage or accord it the same sacramental role as traditional marriage.  This is not primarily an issue of human or civil rights, but one of spiritual health.  This is clearly a moral and an ontological matter concerning creation.  The recent developments impinge upon the very understanding of marriage as the conjugal union between man and woman, a union that is blessed by the Church.  

As we said in our earlier statement, persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity.  The Christian Scriptures expect this of us (e.g. John 3:17 and Mark 12:30-31).  Moreover, we stress that the Church is a spiritual hospital, where we find the healing of our fallen humanity through Jesus Christ, who took upon our human nature in order to raise it up and restore it. We are reconciled with God and attain union with Him through our life lived according to the Gospels, the teachings of the Church, and participation in the Holy Mysteries. All of us struggle with our various passions, and it is only within the Church that we find the means of overcoming these passions with the assistance of God’s grace.  Acting upon any sexual attraction outside of sacramental marriage, whether the attraction is heterosexual or homosexual, is a passion that separates us from God.  The Orthodox Church does not deem certain actions and ways of life unacceptable simply to cast out those who follow these ways of life; rather, the Church offers this guidance as a way to show us how to live a life in accord with God’s grace.  These boundaries are established so that we might recognize where we go astray, and so that we can then return to God’s love.

 As always, we exhort the faithful to continue to pray for our state, our country and its inhabitants, so that we— as a country, and each one of us individually— may return to and continue to follow a way of life pleasing to God.

Here is a similar statement from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.