After yesterday’s essay concerning the Orthodox priests who were part of a mob attack on a homosexual demonstration in the country of Georgia, I was reminded of a photo I have in my archives. Instead of leading a violent attack, and being photographed bashing a trash can against the window of a bus that was trying to leave the area with the gay demonstrators aboard, this Greek Orthodox priest had placed himself between violent demonstrators and the police in an attempt to shield police officers from Molotov Cocktails.
Unlike the Georgian priests, this priest is attempting to stop violence. This same image could have played out if the priest or another citizen were to step in to prevent a woman from being assaulted on the street, or a child from being bullied on a playground, for violence has no place in the life of a Christian. We are called to be peacemakers by Christ. In Matthew 5:9 Jesus tells us, “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”.
The canonical injunction against a priest involving himself in any form of violence is so strong as to prevent him from hunting animals, or killing chickens for his dinner table. I remember an Orthodox clergyman who was suspended from serving Liturgy for six months, because he used physical violence to fend of two muggers.
Too often we pass right on by, ignoring assaults on others. I’m not suggesting we always place ourselves in danger, but if our intervention can deescalate a bad situation, it is our duty to step in. Christ did so when the crowd threatened to stone the woman caught in adultery, and we, as His disciples, are called to do the same.
How better it would have been if the world’s media had been able to publish photos of Georgian Orthodox clergy placing themselves between the angry mob and the gay demonstrators, for by doing so these priests would have been imitating the Lord’s protecting the woman who had been caught in adultery. Had these clergy placed their lives on the line for these homosexuals, the world would have been inspired, and would have seen the image of the Prince of Peace showing forth in His servants.
Love in Christ,