Andrew Estocin is a lifelong Orthodox Christian and alumni of OCF. He received his theological degree from Fordham University and is a parishioner at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Albuquerque, NM.
Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself. (St.Irenaeus of Lyons)
The Orthodox Church has been the greatest agent of human development in history. The story of the Church is the story of the world. However, not all chapters of this story are full of joy and celebration. There is often pain and suffering. After all, there is no resurrection without the cross, and the defeat of death and the descent in Hades go hand in hand.
History shows that Orthodox Christians have both witnessed and been the victims of some of the world’s greatest evils. There are many examples, from the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod to the Ukrainian Holodomor followed today by the genocide of Christians in the Middle East. Throughout its long history, Orthodox Christianity has often been on intimate terms with the evils of this world. The Church celebrates great triumphs but always asks us to remember great tragedies.
For those of us who live in the United States, it is very easy to forget about evil. After all, evil is a word American Orthodox Christians do not like to discuss much these days. Instead of reflecting on good and evil and truth and falsehood, we are much more comfortable talking about feelings of self-esteem and ideas like shame and acceptance.
Those comfortable days are over.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter would be proud of current events in the United States. The recent online video release from the Center for Medical Progress that documents a conversation with Doctor Deborah Nucatola from Planned Parenthood USA should jolt the conscience of every person of good will. What was the topic of this discussion that was held over a luxurious dinner? The deliberate abuse of women through abortion and the dismemberment of children so that their organs and body parts may be harvested and sold for profit.
Orthodox Christians need to take a long, prayerful view of the Planned Parenthood video and take stock of their faith and relationship to the Church. This is the state of our culture. The time when one could live as a casual Orthodox Christian in the United States is over. The cost of Orthodox Christian discipleship has skyrocketed, and the price will no doubt go even higher in the years to come.
Many Orthodox Christians do not like to talk about the abortion culture as it exists today. Nonetheless, it is alive, well and flourishing. One million children are taken every year in America, 200,000 children yearly in Greece, and over 150,000 young souls every twelve months in Ukraine. While there are many brave Orthodox men and women who stand up to the human catastrophe of abortion every day, there are also many Orthodox Christians who are ambivalent and more than a few who believe that being an Orthodox Christian and supporting abortion (being pro-choice) are compatible.
If the Planned Parenthood video teaches us anything, it is that Orthodox Christians need to make it clear to one another and the world that the present-day abortion culture and its pro-choice philosophy are incompatible with the truth of the human person as the image and likeness God. The pro-choice worldview is a form of iconoclasm that leads to death and despair. It is also unequivocally evil. The notion that Orthodox Christians can have a healthy relationship with the Church while remaining pro-choice is a falsehood that must be confronted and corrected at all times. To do anything less would be to fail in loving our neighbor. It would also be to fail in helping heal the many men, women, and children who are victims of our pro-choice culture.
The Tradition of the Orthodox Church has been resisting abortion and offering a healthy alternative to the pro-choice worldview for over two thousand years. Documents like the Didache and the Letter to Diognetus makes this clear. Frederica Matthewes-Green reminds us that “Our Orthodox Christian heritage is absolutely opposed to abortion and child-killing from its very beginnings. This stand against abortion and exposure of infants is, in fact, one of the things that attracted people to the Christian faith.”
In order to be the healing presence Christ calls us all to be, Orthodox Christians cannot negotiate a truce with the modern abortion culture, nor can we be indifferent to the human rights violations that are happening before our very eyes. No healthy form of love and compassion can exist when such evils go uncorrected. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said it best:
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
The Planned Parenthood Video shows us all that no matter what our feelings are, there is good and evil in the world and that our free choices matter when it comes to protecting the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
Every Orthodox Christian has a part to contribute to the future of the Church as the story of the world. No matter what our calling, there is no doubt that our lives going forward will require the courage of the early Christians. It will also require great sacrifice and our ability to be both heroes and healers. The first step is to leave our indifference behind and begin to row upstream against the currents of the world. Diertrich Bonhoeffer said it best: “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+