All Gay People are Murderers?

June 16, 2013

Although I am an Orthodox Christian I follow the events in various other Christian Churches and non-Christian groups. In particular I am interested in how these groups spread the essential message of our common Creator as well as what they say about gay people. Because I was raised and served in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I have a particular interest in the events of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.[1]  The recently (2011) elected primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk[2] made headline news in church circles for his aggressive, hateful, dangerous and non-pastoral comments about homosexuals.

The 43 year old native of Ukraine, was educated in Rome, speaks several languages including English, and was elected to office in 2011. In a recent interview Patriarch Sviatoslav was asked about attempts by certain members of the government in Ukraine to grant equal rights, including civil marriage, to gays and lesbians. It had been rumored that perhaps the young bishop was “liberal” in his views on homosexuality. Instead of indicating his “traditional Catholic” views on the subject of gay marriage that the Roman Catholic Church expounds officially, which can usually be summed up as “love the sinner, hate the sin”, he voiced a complete lack of Christian charity and a pastoral view that is immoral and highly dangerous.

Patriarch Sviatoslav stated: [you may need to sit down for this!] “In accordance with the teaching of the Church, homosexual behavior is a grave sin, which calls to Heaven for vengeance. In terms of gravity, the sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder. Therefore, if we are talking today about the right to have a homosexual relationship, then we must also talk about the right to murder. I don’t want to judge those persons. I am not against any person… homosexuals deserve support and loving pastoral care… because the Church is against the sin, yet protects the person and his dignity.”[3]  

Perhaps someone might explain to me how is it not judgmental to call someone a murderer who has not committed murder? To summarize the bishops remarks: first we call upon God to punish you, and then we lie about you, insult you and call you a murderer, and finally claim that we love you and have protected your dignity.  In the meantime we call upon the government authorities, with the full power of our office, to remove any civil protections and equal opportunities and rights that the government might want to confer upon you. What kind of circular logic is this?

The word vengeance in both Biblical Hebrew and Greek, similar to the words revenge and avenge, have the idea of punishment as part of their fundamental meaning. The right to punishment in Sacred Scripture is reserved almost always for God to administer. Vengeance is almost exclusively reserved for God and His motives are pure. Vengeance, according to Scripture, is carried out when evil and wicked people reject Him and usurp His divine authority. Gay men and lesbians are not evil or wicked nor do we reject God or want to assume His divine authority. By living our lives as God created us, wanting to love and be loved, called to share a life with one other person of the same sex in a caring relationship, is not murder. There is no indication that God in His infinite wisdom and mercy will punish us for who we are or who we love. Instead there are numerous examples of our Loving Father blessing and rewarding us for our faithful response to His command to love.

The complete lack of love, care, and mercy that Patriarch Sviatoslav has shown is shocking and pastorally criminal. Imagine that you are a younger person who wants to remain a faithful member of the Church. At the same time you start to realize that you are gay or lesbian and that your sexual orientation is something that can’t be taken from you, no matter how much you plea with God to do so.  You desire to love one other person of the same sex and live with them for the rest of your life. Because of this the Church that you love is calling God’s vengeance upon you because you are committing a sin akin to murder. What choice do you have? You can either leave the Church, as so many younger people have done upon hearing the Church’s message of hatred and rejection, or, you can reject who God created you to be and follow the Church’s message of self-hatred and self-loathing. Patriarch Sviatoslav should review his words and theology, open the Gospel and look for Christ’s condemnation of gay people.  Because such a condemnation does not exist, maybe along the way he will find Christ’s message of “judge not!”



[1] Sometimes referred to as the Greek Catholic Church or Eastern Catholic Church – this family of Churches which includes Ruthenians, Melkites and other groups tends to follow Eastern liturgical and theological traditions but are in full communion with the Pope of Rome and the rest of the Roman Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church claims 4.2 million adherents worldwide.

[2] Although the official title of the head of this Church, used by Rome is Major Archbishop, there has been an ardent push by Ukrainian Catholics to elevate the status of this Church to a full patriarchate. Most Ukrainian Catholics refer to the head of their Church as Patriarch.

[3] The link to the interview is given here. Although the initial question is posed in Russian, Shevchuk responds in Ukrainian. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZQKh-GAkXQ

An accurate English transcript of the video interview can be found in article linked here http://risu.org.ua/en/index/monitoring/society_digest/52557/

 

 

  1. One of the West Said,

    I’d love to see the bishop’s condemnation of masturbation!
    “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm divine…”
    Monty Python, The Meaning of Life

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