Is this what it means to “love the sinner, hate the sin”?
In Georgia (the country), Christian priests in black cassocks fired up a crowd of thousands to attack about four dozen pro-gay-rights demonstrators. And by attack, I don’t mean they hurled angry words. Their weapons of choice were rocks, trash cans, and anything else the Godly Defenders of the Faith could get their hands on. Fists, too.
A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay-rights demonstrators.
Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay-rights demonstrators.
“Mostly young men.” How bleak to think that this atavistic hatred doesn’t appear to be going out of style as the older generations die off, which is the pattern in the West.
The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.
At least 12 people were reported hospitalized, including three police officers and eight or nine of the gay-rights marchers.
Conservative-minded Georgians traveled from other cities to condemn the gay-rights demonstrators, and one told a television station that she had come to “treat their illness.”
“We are trying to protect our orthodoxy, not to let anyone wipe their feet on our faith,” said Manana Okhanashvili, in a head scarf and long skirt. “We must not allow them to have a gay demonstration here.”
There is no doubt about the occupation of those who initiated and led the worst violence.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.
“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.
I learned the other day that Georgia’s first lady is a progressive Dutch linguist, Sandra Roelofs. The Netherlands is famously tolerant of gay people and has allowed same-sex marriage for many years. Forgive me for being naive, but I hope she’ll speak up to try to talk some sense into the haters on the sideline. All good people in Georgia should raise their voices against this madness.
As for the violent priests and their gay-bashing troops, I suspect arrests and jail terms are too much to hope for, but a man can dream.
[image via the New York Times. Thanks to Nicolas Eyle for the tip.]
Good commentary on this story here:
He Who is Without Sin?
“We have all sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).” We Orthodox often miss the mark in understanding and ministering to this world. We fail the words of Christ, “to love one another as God has loved us”, and forget we are charged by Our Lord to bring healing and wholeness to those struggling in this fallen world. In our righteous indignation, we show contempt to the ways of the world, forgetting that we were ourselves called out of this world by Christ. We forget, in our contempt for the sins of others, that it was this very Christ Who asked those in the crowd who were without sin to cast the first stone.
The recent attack on a homosexual rights demonstration in the country of Georgia, is an example, to my mind, of the ultimate failure in reaching out with the saving message of the Gospel. Orthodox priests led a mob attack on the demonstrators for gay civil rights, which ultimately led to physical violence, and the breaking of the windows of buses that had delivered the demonstrators to the city center. How Orthodox clergy, representing the Church founded by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, would stoop to such violent attack, is beyond my comprehension.
All of us have failed to fulfill the Commandments of God, and we are all deserving of being squashed like worms. But Jeremiah says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion’s fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your FAITHFULNESS” (Lam 3:22,23).
God never washes His hands of us. We may disappoint Him every day, but His mercy is great, and He responses with His saving Grace and Mercy. The Church, as the hospital of the soul, is the very institution founded by Our Lord that brings wholeness and healing to everyone. It is the lie of Satan that some, such as these homosexuals, are deserving of nothing but our contempt and violence. But it is Christ Who has called us to compassion for those who are stuck in sin, and Who offers, through the Church, the saving, transformational healing that can turn hearts around, and turn sinners into saints.
When priests of Christ’s Holy Church turn from the Gospel of wholeness and healing, the Gospel of love and forgiveness, and act in such contemptuousness to the Gospel message of love and forgiveness, those who are caught up in a sinful life will feel nothing but hopelessness, and the message of the Church will have been hidden from them.
Love in Christ,
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