On July 14 we published “St. Paul on Marriage” in response to Father Joseph Gleason’s terrifying distortions of Christian marriage. Some ten hours later he posted an apparent rebuttal entitled “Unconditional Respect from Your Wife.” The irony is lost on no one that a website subtitled “Christian Renaissance” should host his ruminations.

We do not use the word terrifying lightly: an Orthodox Christian therapist working on his PhD in clinical psychology—and whose research examines the relationship between psychological attachment, religious fundamentalism, and authoritarianism—has stated to us that Father Gleason’s false “theology” sets the stage for men pathologically insecure in their masculinity to abuse their wives and children on any number of imbricated levels.   

Gleason frames his dangerous views as “notes to Protestants from an Orthodox priest,” and imagines that adding “Rostov the Great, Russia” after his signature lends him some sort of mythic authority as emanating from “Holy Mother Russia.” He concludes his two pieces on marriage with the following:

Are you a Protestant who disagrees with this article? …[I]f you are…willing to listen, then I will gladly have a conversation with you.

“Willing to listen”…he demands the same kind of unquestioning deference from his readers as he does from his wife. To whom does Father Gleason listen? Does he realize how much of an outlier he is among Orthodox who write on marriage?

We urge Orthodox hierarchs, pastors, and lay theologians to join us in protecting women and children by responding on the pages of Orthodoxy in Dialogue or elsewhere. 


Love is supposed to be unconditional. So is respect.

The Bible teaches clearly on this subject. Unfortunately, many Protestant teachers are liberal cucks and uppity battleaxes who chafe at God’s requirements for marriage. These folks claim there is no hierarchy between husbands and wives, and that a wife should only respect her husband if he deserves it. Sitting at Rachel Held Evans’ feet and clipping her feminazi toenails would be more preferable to some people than simple obedience to the Apostle Paul…. 

Thankfully, the ancient Christian faith—Orthodox Christianity—is a breath of fresh air. This ancient breeze blows away the noxious odors of feminist feet, making them a distant memory. For 2000 years, the Orthodox Church has consistently taught that wives owe respect to their husbands. Unconditionally. Read More



UCR Queer & Transgender Studies in Religion Conference

Call for Proposals

UCR Conference on Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion

February 22-24, 2019

University of California, Riverside

Proposals are invited for the inaugural UCR Conference on Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion. While this new and increasingly established subfield is rooted in the field of religious studies, it is inherently transdisciplinary and proposals are welcome from scholars in all fields, regardless of rank or institutional affiliation. In addition to paper proposals for approximately 20-minute presentations, we also welcome proposals for complete panels, workshops, artistic presentations, and other creative formats.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words (plus headers and any references), along with a bio of 150 words or less, to Melissa Wilcox, melissa.wilcox@ucr.edu, by August 31, 2018. For sessions involving more than one presentation, such as a panel proposal, please send an abstract of the session plus abstracts for each presentation (each abstract should be no more than 250 words). For sessions involving more than one presenter, please send a bio of 150 words or less for each presenter.

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The following brief remarks respond to “Notes to Protestants from an Orthodox Priest – Ditch the ‘Honey Do’ List,” which was published earlier today.


Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord…. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church…. Children, obey your parents in the Lord…. Slaves, be obedient to…your earthly masters…as to Christ…. Masters, do the same to [your slaves]…. (Eph 5:21-6:9)

Thus the Holy Apostle Paul lays out a blueprint for harmonious relations in the 1st-century Christian household. What immediately becomes clear is that he exhorts each family member either to behave like Christ or to treat the others as if they themselves were Christ. Each member approaches the others in a self-sacrificial mode of relationship characterized by reciprocal servanthood. When considered carefully, spiritually, prayerfully, this passage—part of which is read during the Orthodox rite of marriage—allows no self-aggrandizement of the husband, no infantilization of the wife. 

This becomes clearer if we retain the structure of the original Greek in the opening verse:

…being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ; wives, to your husbands, as to the Lord….

Paul addresses the exhortation to be subject, or to submit, to the husband and the wife equally, even as he articulates a vision for how this might work in actual practice to reflect and reveal the mutual love of Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church. Read More


wife2Orthodoxy in Dialogue has decided to publish the following as perhaps the most astonishing “teaching” on Christian marriage to emit from the keyboard of a 21st-century Orthodox priest. Our readers will remember Father Gleason from our article of March 20, “Convert Priest, Wife, 8 Kids Move to the Land of Orthodox Children’s Armies,” and from his interview published  on Today, Russian Insider, and Pravmir. In his interview he explains his reason for uprooting his family from their home in the United States and fleeing to Russia: 

…I didn’t want to live in a country without a future. When the Supreme Court legalized so-called “gay-marriage”, we were very frustrated. Every society is built on the foundation of the family. When the family is strong, society and the state are strong too. History has confirmed this many times. But without strong families, society crumbles. The homosexual lifestyle is a sin, and it destroys families.

Some of our readers have asked why we sometimes give a platform to voices such as Father Gleason’s. The fact is that the sort of false “traditionalism” which he “teaches” is gaining more widespread appeal in certain Orthodox circles in the West than we would perhaps like to admit. It serves no purpose to ignore it.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue is interested in hearing Father Gleason’s views on “Orthodox” wife-beating and the fundamental teaching (Eph 5:25ff) that the husband exercises his “headship” in the marriage not by putting his wife in her place and reminding her of her “subservient” role, but by dying for her.

While most modern church denominations pay lipservice to the idea of “equality”, there is nothing equal about it. The “Honey-Do List” is a one-way street. It is one of the ways in which modern women wear the pants, run the house, and control their husbands.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Brad Upton is one of the funniest men alive, and his comedy routines put me in stitches, so the laughing is easy.

The sad part, at times, is the subject matter. In particular, I am thinking about the dreaded “honey-do list” that modern wives often give to their husbands. [See video of Upton’s stand-up routine.]  Read More


In Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s A Conversation on Theology, Church, and Life by Father Andrew Louth, and again in his Editorial in the current issue of The Wheel, he cautions that fear never makes a legitimate starting point from which to do theology. In the same vein, Archbishop Lazar notes that fear incapacitates us as Church to encounter the world “with confidence and grace.”

deaconThere is certainly a major shift in society, and it is very frightening to some people. Such shifts have gone on before in history, and they have always been frightening to a segment of the population.

For some years now we have watched the erosion of the kind of democracy that has developed in the West, based on the British system of parliamentary democracy. At the same time, we have watched the slow atrophy of religion in the West. There has also been a rise in right-wing authoritarianism, both political and religious.

We have seen this type of reactionism at other times in history, and we have learned little from it. Reactionism has never worked, and it has always compounded the social transformation that it was fighting against.

We should be able to encounter these shifts and changes in society with confidence and grace. Certainly, the Orthodox faith has the capacity to engage social transformations with dignity and peacefully. We must, however, be willing to accept that the past does not have all the answers. The past may be a foundation, but it is not a destination.

Fear incapacitates us and leaves us unable to encounter the realities of social change in any positive manner. Fear can drive us into a cold, unreasoning fundamentalism which does not allow us to draw from the real strength of the Orthodox faith to minister to society in a creative way which fully upholds the Gospel—the Gospel, not a religious ideology. Read More


The following article, written by a Russian scholar in sociology, makes no references to Orthodoxy in general or to the Russian Church in particular. Its relevance for Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers lies in the vaunted revival of “Byzantine symphonia” between church and state in post-Soviet, 21st-century Russia: arguably this “symphonia” makes the Moscow Patriarchate complicit—whether overtly or covertly—in the multiple levels of violence perpetrated against Russia’s sexual minorities.

This article analyzes conditions in which contagious populations have found themselves in Russia and reviews theories of queer/crip kinship from two perspectives: the theories developed in academic literature, and the conceptualization of queer/crip kinship that may be derived from everyday accounts of people. The latter position is shaped through an analysis of life history interviews with disabled people who identify on the LGBTIQ spectrum in Russia. The Russian context is different from many other geographical locations, but also relates to the more common condition of precarity shared under contemporary neoliberal capitalism. Crip kinship is understood as a prominent political strategy that brings new perspectives on our futurities outside of assemblages of oppression and exploitation that able-bodiedness, heterosexism, and misogyny provoke, sustain, and enforce.

putinshirtlessIn 2013, the Russian state passed an Administrative Code statute declaring “non-traditional sexual relations” such as “male homosexual relations, bisexuality, and transgenderism” as contagious and prohibited any form of “dissemination” or “propaganda” about such “non-traditional relations.” The law implies that sexual relations of this sort can be transmitted from one body to another and are dangerous for children because they can plant “non-traditional sexual attitudes” in their psyche, “provoke interest into such relationship,” and make children queer, enlarging the “diseased” population of the Russian Federation (Federal Law 2013). Within this contagious framing, the law seeks to prevent Russian children from becoming queer, and, in doing so, positions queer life as disposable (Evans and Giroux 2015). 

Recent episodes of NBC’s Saturday Night Live (2017) depict Russian President Vladimir Putin as shirtless (played by Beck Bennett), congratulating US citizens on electing Donald Trump. The image of a shirtless Putin suggests that “compulsory able-bodiedness” (McRuer 2006, 2) is an integral part of the exclusionary ideology promoted by the current Russian government and—as suggested in the show—transmitted to the United States as a kind of infection. The president’s body is imagined as a normative reminder of how a real man is supposed to look, enabling an assemblage of oppressive ideologies (Puar 2007) such as heterosexism, ableism, and misogyny. In referencing Putin’s exposure of his body to the public in myriad scenes of fishing, riding a horse, and swimming—all assumed to confirm his masculinity and potency—the media reassures his authority and reinforces traditional power relations by reproducing those images in various contexts, including in humor (Sperling 2015Novitskaya 2017). Though Saturday Night Live establishes that Putin is openly broadcasting oppressive ideologies through the exposure of his own body, the point is to look at not the form, but the content of these utterances. All societies are informed by heterosexism, ableism, and misogyny. Thus, I offer to regard the Shirtless Putin as a metaphor marking conditions of oppression beyond national borders of Russia. Read More


Версия 2

St. Irene. Three icons from the same cast. By Irina Gannota.

In this article I would like to talk about the process of making porcelain icons, lithophanes. Strictly and loftily speaking, the most essential processes of creating a holy image take place inside the artist’s head. They are therefore inexplicable, and the result is always just a pale shadow of what might have been if we were closer to God. However, being infinitely grateful for what has been possible to achieve, I will try to introduce the reader to those visible traces of the human, God, saints, angels, and great artists from the past, all working together.

When it comes to making icons using whatever technique, there is a distinct possibility of seeing yourself as just a pupil for the rest of your life. Whether or not an icon-maker has a teacher, it is always necessary to look through the examples from the past before starting a new piece. For some, the purpose of ths is to make the new image “canonical’.” For me, to make it decent. Read More