Note: This was originally written in a response on social media. Many thanks to the person who provoked this piece because it needed to be written.
Many critics have often disagreed, vehemently so, with my reliance on Orthodox Christianity as the basis point for my opinions about earthly politics and geopolitical moves around the world. There are some very good newswriters that are included in this mix of critics, people who are far, far more intellectual than I and much more aware of the deep intricacies of geopolitics that astound, inform, and amuse many of our readers. I, on the other hand, am a simple layperson, a reader in the Russian Orthodox Church, and though I have my Masters Degree and Bachelors degree and can call myself “educated”, I do not try to pull any feats of mental largesse in my writing. It is always very simple: We are either doing the will of God or we are not and what happens as the result is what has always happened and what will always happen under such conditions.
But the criticism is “why bring the Church into political news? You are trying to show that the Church is on party X’s side. That is wrong!”
And this is correct. But that is not what I do at all. In fact, what I do is the opposite. Read on and learn if you wish.
It does diminish the Church to ally it to local partisan conflicts. You are thinking! And this is very good, and I am grateful that you are thinking. This is the most important thing.
The Orthodox Christian Church cannot and should not ally herself with ANY earthly politics or political structure. That is because the Church is the embassy and representation of the Kingdom of God, and that Kingdom has no analogue on earth. Would it not be more accurate to say that the Church is the representation and our entry point into the only Kingdom that truly matters? I believe she is.
However, if you read through the Scriptures there is shown to be a very clear correlation between the politics of any earthly kingdom or dominion and the blessings that kingdom receives from God, or the calamities that proceed from the Enemy when a nation forsakes God.
That is what I, however clumsily, always try to point to. The United States presently has strayed from her Christian roots. The US was never an “Orthodox Christian nation” as other nations like Russia or Greece have been, but in times past if we were to analyze American religious beliefs and praxis and compare it to Orthodox groups in their lands we would find a great deal of agreement on several basic points: God is King, we need to obey His laws, and we depend on Him for everything, and Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our only Saviour.
Now even this very basic agreement is gone. The idea of even basic obedience to God has been discarded in the United States and in the West, and even in parts of the Orthodox world this is disintegrating. We are turning away from the Kingdom of God.
The results are manifest.
However, we can turn back to God. Russia did, as did most of the former Soviet republics. They are now some of the most deeply Christian nations on earth, and that is also manifest. Russia is generally peaceful, we have a relatively low fatality rate from the virus, (though nothing like Georgia), the people are stable and sane and not given to destroying one another like we see in the US on the news every day.
Evil begets evil. And obedience to God begets blessings from God, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
(Do we see all of these in the Democrats these days? These images below do not look like any of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned above, do they?)
In this it is absolutely imperative to understand that Orthodox Christianity and the Church do not stand apart from the world. That would render the Church irrelevant to the world. When some people say that the Church ought not involve herself in earthly politics, this is to say that the Church and Christ himself have nothing to do with reality. That makes Christianity just a philosophy and a very irrelevant one to the business of the “real world.”
That viewpoint is anti-Christian. It is secularism. It is exactly how President Obama stated it, “Go to Church, sure, but keep your religion in your Church.”
That is not what Christians do. They live the faith everywhere. The Church is just a gathering point – the “Charge point” one might say. Our home base where we refuel and recharge for our continued efforts in this world.
In our modern times it seems utterly strange to talk about any earthly matters in terms of our sacred relationship with the Lord; people call us “strange” or “a religious fanatic” or other things like this.
But what has changed? We have the Old Testament that details the histories of the Divided Kingdom, and shows how Israel turned away from God over and over and got invaded, decimated, captured and her cities destroyed. Judah, the neighboring kingdom was generally obedient to God and prospered. There is a connection. If we were to say that following the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law at that time was something that ought not be mixed with the politics of the kings at that time, what would have happened to Judah? The same as what happened in Israel.
Christianity stands as the conscience to all of us, including kings and nations. The Orthodox Christian Church is our embassy to the Heavenly Authority, whose laws never change, whose protection is always given to those who keep close to her, and Her kingdom is the only one that will last forever.
(This is not to slight true Christians in other confessions. Anybody that wants seriously to be on God’s side will find their way to Him. But other confessions do not maintain the original teachings that Christ gave and the Orthodox Church has done so without change from the very beginning.)
If we look ahead to the Book of Revelation, at the very end it notes that the City of God comes down from the heavens, but it also notes that all the nations send people to that city and have contact with it. You can check the language and correct any mistakes I am saying, but the point is that there are other nations STILL to be present, but that those who reject the Kingdom of God are cast into the outer darkness.
The Kingdom of God is central, but the kingdoms of the earth have to be related to it in some way, either in their obedience and love to the Kingdom of God and to the Lord himself, or to be set against him.
I write and post political pieces the way I do because the issue at hand is whether or not the political direction is towards God or away from Him. I think if you read my own pieces carefully I never say anything about the Church blessing any politician or political platform point. Rather, I always talk about that person’s or group’s actions in the light of whether or not THAT PERSON OR GROUP is being obedient to the Law of God.
The Kingdom of God must come first. We manifest this priority by how we live our personal lives, but kingdoms and nations manifest this priority by how they run themselves – in obedience to the Law of God or not.
No one presently is perfect on this score. Maybe this has always been the case, but I know it is certainly the case now. We are living in very weakened and dark times. Our reliance on technology has deceived many of us into thinking that religious belief is unneccesary and even backwards. This belief is common even among millions of churchgoers. “This is my life in Church, and that is my life in the real world.” It ought to be “All my life is life as a Christian; in Church and in my home, my work, my leadership position, or anything else.”
Politics are often dirty as sin; that is because we are all sinners. But if we were to align our lives with God on all levels, our politics would be also transfigured and healed. This has happened many times in history, and it is happening in Russia and FSU nations now. So, it can happen in our own homelands as well. It starts with knowing that everything we believe as Orthodox Christians is true and cosmologically so. What we do affects the whole balance of creation in every possible way: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, both within each of us and in the physical world around us.
It is for good reason that the Church notes repeatedly how the Angels watch us in wonder. As the most beloved and highest creations of our Lord, what we do matters. Greatly.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.