Orthodox America

Under Siege  

Hieromonk German Ciuba

In the very first pages of the Bible we are told two basic facts about man's existence: first, that he is a creature of God, meant to live in communion , with his Creator; and, second, that God created for him a companion, a fellow-creature who is his equal and with whom he is also to live in communion. The first communion is principally characterized by the Church, the second by the family. For centuries these divinely-ordained and mutually supportive institutions have served as the underpinnings of human society. Today they are under attack.

      The family unit was established even before the Fall, before there is any mention of marital relations or offspring. It is only after their fall that we read, And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain... (Gen. 4:1). Even without this carnal knowledge and its necessary consequence, the bearing of children, Adam and Eve formed a family; neither was alone. Their status as individuals, acting independently of each other, is mentioned only in connection with their fall into sin. Eve was apart from Adam when she was tempted by the devil and sinned; Adam, after his own sin, sought to isolate himself from blame by casting it upon Eve, separating himself as an individual from her. They both bore the burden of sin, however, and together they were cast out from Paradise. Outside the gate guarded by the cherubim of the fiery sword, the family unit continued to exist and prosper with the addition of children, as God provided, who in turn formed other families. The whole book of Genesis is a history of families.

      As time went on, these grouped into tribes and cities and nations. Rulers were appointed, judges and kings, to protect these communities. In God's economy, these nation-states were subject to His laws just as much as individuals, families and the Church. Very soon, however, the record of history shows earthly states and governments claiming an authority that belongs to God and His divinely-ordained institutions. In fact, the State is a part of the sinful, fallen world. It recognizes no values higher than the values of this world, no laws higher than the rule of a majority (or a well-placed minority which can move a mob). And it is this modem, thoroughly secularized state which today seeks to impose its "values" upon us, its citizens. We have reason to be defensive. 

     The danger comes especially from two powerful modem ideologies: individualism and collectivism. Individualism asserts the complete autonomy of every person to do just as he pleases, without regard for any fixed standards. Right and wrong are made relative; an action can be "right for me" and "wrong for you," not right or wrong in an absolute sense. I can claim a fight to whatever I may fancy. Obviously, that leads to conflict and anarchy, such as we see all around us. Collectivism sees men only as parts of society, having no absolute value in themselves. All interests must be subordinated to the good or the will of the collective. At first glance these ideologies may appear to be mutually opposed, but actually they are closely linked. If the individualist recognizes no higher law than his own desire, he turns to society in order to attain that which is not within his own power or to be protected from other competing and hostile individuals. He asserts "rights", such as the "right" to an education, the "right" to housing, the "right" to medical care, which can only be satisfied by the consent of the collective. The collective (the State, in the person of its government) responds by decreeing new rights for all individuals. If social consent is the source of rights, then society can take away rights as easily as it can confer them. The only difference between individualism and collectivism is that the latter substitutes the opinions and desires of many men for those of one particular man. Neither recognizes anyone higher than itself or anything as absolutely right or wrong. It's all a matter of opinion. We can see the operation of these insidious twin ideologies in a society that refuses to protect an infant's right to life, which is given by the Creator, white it expands the pretended rights of various special interest groups and bestows various benefits as rights, paid for out of the public purse. 

    There are certain fundamental rights we as Christians can and must claim: the right to life, the right to freedom of worship, to raise families according to the laws of God. We cannot willingly accept the secularization of our society. If today parents acquiesce in the secularization of education, tomorrow they may find society telling them that they must not impose a religion on their children. If today parents abdicate responsibility for raising their children and surrender it to the state, the next step is for the state to dictate who may have children, when and how many. We must, therefore, fight every incursion of secularism into our society and contest its claims upon our lives. We should consider every social and political question in the light of the law of God, and ask how it will affect the family and the Church. All the lip service paid to "diversity" and "multi-culturalism" belies the deliberate formation of a collective mindset, a new age homogeneity which is being impressed upon our society today. Our integrity as Orthodox Christians is being threatened.

      The most insidious attacks arc those that come from within the walls of our fortresses--our families and our churches. Do we allow the values of the enemy to prevail in our home and family over those of God? Do we let corrosively immoral television programs inside our walls? Do we allow secular schools, sports teams or activities to have a greater role in our children's lives than the Church? Do we instill in our children respect for the law of God above all else? Do we seek to keep our family together, to grow in mutual love and support, or does our house resemble a hotel, where people come and go as they please? Do we attach greater importance to the secular education of our children than to their religious education and spiritual formation? Do we rally around the Church for support and guidance? Do we listen to what the Church has to say--about anything at all?

     This is a formidable battle that we are in. There is no assurance that we shall win, but we shall certainly lose if we sit back and surrender to secularism. Defend your family! Defend your Church! Your eternal future depends on it. 

St. Xenia Parish, Nepean, Ontario