- His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was among nine hierarchs representing jurisdictions belonging to the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA] to sign a statement on the moral crisis in the US.
The statement, issued August 27, 2003, opens with an expression of concern “about recent developments regarding ‘same sex unions’” and affirms that “the Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of Church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.”
Quoting Genesis 1:27-31, which attests that “God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness, that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation,” the statement acknowledges that “while not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of ‘one flesh.’ This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. ‘God made them male and female…. So they are no longer two but one flesh’ [Mark 10:6-8].”
Recalling that the “union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church,” as seen in Ephesians 5:21-33, the hierarchs note that “marriage is necessarily monogamous and heterosexual.”
“Within this union, sexual relations between a husband and wife are to be cherished and protected as a sacred expression of their love that has been blessed by God,” the statement continues. “Such was God’s plan for His human creatures from the very beginning. Today, however, this divine purpose is increasingly questioned, challenged or denied, even within some faith communities, as social and political pressures work to normalize, legalize and even sanctify same-sex unions.”
While noting that “the Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions,” the hierarchs categorically state that while “marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture [Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10]. This being said, however, we must stress that 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. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.”
“As heads of the Orthodox Churches in America and members of SCOBA, we speak with one voice in expressing our deep concern over recent developments,” the statement concludes. “And we pray fervently that the traditional form of marriage, as an enduring and committed union only between a man and a woman, will be honored.”
In addition to Metropolitan Herman, other SCOBA hierarchs signing the statement include His Eminence, Archbishop Dimitrios, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, SCOBA Chairman; His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, SCOBA Vice-Chairman; His Eminence, Metropolitan Christopher, Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada, SCOBA Secretary; and His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA, SCOBA Treasurer; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicholae, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada; His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church; His Eminence, Metropolitan Constantine, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA; and His Grace, Bishop Ilia of Philomelion, Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America.
Click here for the complete text of the SCOBA Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation.