When Orthodoxy in Dialogue went to press in August we made a conscious decision to limit the number and frequency of articles on sexuality and gender. We never intended for these to be the main focus of this blog.
Yet, as things have turned out over our ten short weeks of publication, 12 (counting our two articles on abortion) of 48 articles and editorials—a full 25%—have touched on some aspect of sexuality and gender. These account for an overwhelmingly disproportionate 50% of total visits by our readers. Our top four articles by far have to do with sexuality and gender.
Hardly a week has gone by that many of our readers—whether publicly on Facebook, or in private emails and messages—have not reached out to express their appreciation not only for the content of these articles, but for their frequency. At least one supporter has noted approvingly the persistence with which we have called attention to the lived human realities of sexual desire, transgender identities and gender dysphoria, the wide range of intersex conditions, and the tragic conditions of fallen life that make the provision of legal, accessible, clinical abortion a pastoral necessity.
These words of encouragement have come from bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, readers, male and female theologians with name recognition, wives of theologians, wives of priests, church school teachers, and “ordinary” Orthodox believers whose names are destined to remain unknown, except to God, beyond the confines of their immediate parish. These are not people who hover on the fringes of church life, who show up once a year to have their baskets blessed. These are faithful believers, deeply immersed in the life of the Orthodox Church, and also people outside the Church who look to our Church as to a light shining in the darkness.
We have heard that, in one parish recently, all the women in the kitchen had read and were discussing our “Abortion, Contraception, and Christian Faith” with approval as they cleaned up after the Sunday lunch. In another parish, our articles on sexuality and gender will be introduced to the high school age Sunday school class as discussion starters.
It therefore seems expedient to shift our editorial policy to reflect what has quickly become our actual editorial practice: to publish on sexuality and gender without imposing on ourselves any arbitrary constraints on frequency. Wherever an individual Orthodox Christian stands on these kinds of questions, we can hardly dispute that they constitute one of the greatest theological and pastoral challenges of our era, if not the single greatest challenge.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue promotes true dialogue, not an echo chamber. Dialogue presupposes that the voice of the Church and the mind of Christ can be truly discerned over time only when many voices have the freedom to express themselves without fear. Endless charges and counter-charges of heresy, apostasy, “liberalism,” “conservatism,” and equally endless calls for the excommunication of anyone and everyone who disagrees with us on any topic whatever—these serve no purpose but to tear to shreds the seamless garment of love that characterizes Christ’s true disciples, His Church and Body and Bride.
Thus we welcome articles that take positions opposite from the ones that we have already published. We have proactively solicited submissions from authors who we know disagree with our articles. Yet only one has graciously responded to our overtures; with him we are in the process of working on a joint project to be published in November or December. We invite others to follow suit.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue remains committed to providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas on all topics relevant to the Orthodox Church, her theology and spirituality, her life and praxis, her mission in and to the world in which God has placed her.