Archpriest Victor Potapov: An Earthquake of Sorts is Taking Place in America

Maria Stroganova | 06 July 2015
Archpriest Victor Potapov, Rector of St. John the Baptist in Washington D. C., a cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, regarding the reaction to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.

Father Victor, please tell us how the Orthodox of America reacted to the decision of the US Supreme Court recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage throughout the country?

– To tell you the truth, we feel like we are in mourning. Of course, no one was surprised that it happened. We all understood that the majority of the Supreme Court would vote in favor of the decision to register same-sex marriages. It all started a long time ago, and over a year ago, the Supreme Court declared the Marriage Protection Act illegal  Now this is the result.

Of course, homosexuals claim that they are looking for equality in civil life and they want gay husbands and wives to have the right to visit each other in the hospital, inherit property, to have children, and the rights which are provided to traditional couples. I think, though, they actually are pursuing other goals. Just this morning, I read an interview with a rather famous Russian emigrant, Masha Gessen, who has long been an activist in the LGBT movement. She, of course is an anarchist, but they listen to her opinion in America, and she said: “Our goal is to destroy marriage as an institution, so that there is no longer the concept of marriage.” Her words need to be taken very seriously.

Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen

I am also very concerned about what will happen next. What group will now demand equality. Now someone might say: Why not, for example, legalize polygamy? This already occurred in American history among Mormons, and now people are talking about it again. Why can’t a man have several wives, — and a woman a few husbands? Moreover, isn’t it, in some sense, more natural than same-sex marriage? So who knows what awaits us — and what will they now teach our children and grandchildren in school? It is really disturbing for all of us, because now, homosexuality is considered the norm, it will be introduced into the school curriculum, children will grow up with it, and will get used to it. It is still being debated in the school boards of various regions of America. In some places they defend the traditional approach to teaching children about gender and others, who are more liberal, have simply told children, that a child may have two fathers, without a mother, and non-traditional families are presented as the norm.

We know what will then happen. Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in the country, it has just become a matter of time before propaganda will be promoted throughout the schools . Parents who are unhappy and have other views can homeschool children or send them to religious schools, but in ordinary schools, everything will be “under the law.”

Are the Orthodox of America united in having a negative opinion of the law?

– So far they are virtually united, but already in some Orthodox jurisdictions priests are beginning to take positions. For example, a priest of the Orthodox Church in America in Boston is talking about the possibility of accepting same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, over the last 15 years, homosexual propaganda has been being circulated and many have already been influenced. Even some Orthodox say: “Well, it is not that bad. Let them do what they want. It doesn’t concern us.” That earthquake of sorts that is occurring, though, is changing the order established by God. It is terrible that we are encroaching on the will of God.

Of course, to a certain extent, we Christians are to blame for what happened. I see that marriage is not revered in Russia or in America. Young people are fine to live together, and only after 5 or 6 years decide to have a church marriage, but prayer in the wedding rite is addressed to a chaste couple. Can you imagine, we, priests, marrying people who already have children. I am not talking about the older generation that did not know the Church, but about the current generation of young people. We do not honor marriage properly as a Divinely established institution.

That said, of course, Patriarch Iliya of Georgia and the Mid-American Diocese of ROCOR condemned the decision of the Supreme Court, also remembering that we have to despise the sin, but are required to love the sinner.

There is another danger, though. We recently learned that in the UK, a rich gay couple is suing the Church of England, wanting the opportunity to marry. So, an attack on the Church has already begun. In general, people are afraid to say anything bad about the homosexual lifestyle, because anyone who is against it is immediately accused of homophobia and misanthropy. Our freedom of speech has already been limited and I am afraid that in time, it will become worse and worse.

Have you had such a precedent, so that this sort of couple has come and asked to be married?

– No, there hasn’t been. There was, however, a so-called Orthodox Christian who leads this way of life and he asked if he could get married in our church. Of course, we told him that it is absolutely impossible. This, though, was the only instance — and of course, if such efforts are made in the future, we will flatly refuse.

Every person is a child of God, and everyone deserves to receive attention and pastoral care. After all, we help the infirm and mentally ill and don’t turn anyone away. We all need God’s help, but cannot allow sin.

Is such a development in America possible, that eventually pressure will be put on the Church and the Church will be required to accept gay marriage?

– Yes, it is possible. Nothing surprises me. Of course, I can’t predict this, but could we have expected 15 years ago that same-sex marriage would be legalized? It’s mind boggling, especially so quickly.

The other day I was listening to an interview with a representative of the gay movement, and the interviewer asked: “What’s next?” – “Next, we are going to set out to other countries. We are going to carry out our policy in other countries where it is prohibited.”

Last year, I was in Georgia and when gay parades were organized there, the Orthodox were outraged and resisted. Now, though, if they want to join the European Union, it will simply require them to hold gay parades legally and to give the country’s homosexuals full rights. Now it’s just a normal requirement.

So, dear Russia, hold on, for they will soon set out for you too.

Translated from the Russian


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