The title to this post, alas, is not mine.
Rather it’s the title of this Sunday’s Washington Post’s profile of his Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah (you can read it here). Over all it is a good article, it gives a balanced overview of the Orthodox Church in America and is well worth reading. Among other things the article looks at the tensions in the Orthodox Church in America in response to his Beatitude’s willingness to, as he said “step out in the public square” on such social issues as “abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning and euthanasia.”
Unfortunately, this witness doesn’t sit well with some in the Orthodox Church. I Rod Dreher is correct in his assessment. “The word in OCA circles is that Jonah has angered some of the old guard by his outspokenness on hot-button culture-war issues like abortion and gay marriage.” But Dreher is also correct that whether people are supportive or not of Metropolitan Jonah’s witness on these issues, his witness is the witness of the Church. “The teaching of the Orthodox Church on these points is crystal clear, and thank God, Jonah is making himself seen and heard.”
While I understand why they say it, I think those who are concerned that Metropolitan Jonah “has moved too fast and has made major miscalculations in trying to change” things in the OCA are simply wrong. The challenge facing the OCA now is whether or not we are willing to be ”a conscience for the culture” or are content (to quote Dreher again) limit our “Christian witness in the public square [to] showing up for kebabs and folk dancing.”
To borrow from the late Fr Richard John Neuhaus:
‘ll presume to call it Neuhaus’ Law, or at least one of his several laws: Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed. Some otherwise bright people have indicated their puzzlement with that axiom but it seems to me, well, axiomatic. Orthodoxy, no matter how politely expressed, suggests that there is a right and a wrong, a true and a false, about things. When orthodoxy is optional, it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false. It is therefore a conditional admission, depending upon orthodoxy’s good behavior. The orthodox may be permitted to believe this or that and to do this or that as a matter of sufferance, allowing them to indulge their inclination, preference, or personal taste. But it is an intolerable violation of the etiquette by which one is tolerated if one has the effrontery to propose that this or that is normative for others.
If were not careful, the OCA might find itself on the wrong side of Neuhaus’ Law,