My younger brother concelebrants, Fathers  Andrew Stephen, Lawrence, Johannes, John, and Josiah:

Christ is in our midst! 

Let me begin with a few words about myself: an American archpriest in a jurisdiction represented in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, born into a Russian Orthodox family which traces its lineage in the Faith to the baptism of Kiev 1,031 years ago,  and approaching retirement. My grandfather was a priest, and his father before him; and before that, who knows?

I’m older than any of you, have been a priest longer than any of you, and possess more pastoral experience and formal theological education than any of you. 

Some of you I have met in person.

My children were raised, and my grandchildren are being raised, in Orthodox homes where an unusually high level of theological fluency was, and is, imparted to them. Theology and spirituality are the stuff of conversation around our dinner tables. Perhaps they’re the stuff of any multi-generational Orthodox family that has been immersed in the Faith since time immemorial: we’re Orthodox in the marrow of our bones—in our very DNA, as it were.

Outdoor portrait of  grandfather with granddaughter.

One of Matushka’s and my grandchildren is a spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually advanced 13-year old girl. For the sake of this open letter we’ll call her “Tatiana.” She and I are exceptionally close. We see each other often because we have lived in the same city all her life. We often do things just the two of us. Her infectious exuberance for everything she touches—for life itself!—bursts like a sudden flash of sunshine into her aging Dyedushka’s soul every time we come into one another’s presence.

Recently over dinner à deux Tatiana came out to me as gay.

I almost typed “mustered the courage to come out to me” because it’s become conventional to talk that way about coming out. But she’s so completely confident in my love for her that she made the announcement rather happily, without any discernible hesitation, as if she were sharing with me any other new fact about herself.

I greeted the news with “Really?! How long have you known?! I’m so proud of the courage it must have taken to tell me! I love you so much!” I gave her $30 for this week’s allowance instead of the usual $20: “I’m giving you more this week because I’m so proud of you!” When we got up to put on our coats we hugged a little longer than usual. Tatiana beamed with joy for the extra closeness which bound us together in that luminescent, grace-filled moment. (And yes, I do mean divine grace.)

I’m the first adult and first member of the family she has told. She plans to tell her parents and her grandmother when she feels the time is right. 

At the end of the evening we parted company with Tatiana’s joy nearly bubbling over: her joy in God, in the divine gift of life, in the divine gift of her own self.

Father  Andrew Stephen! Father Lawrence! Father Johannes! Father John! Father Josiah! If you don’t stop your very public spiritual malfeasance online and in your travels, how many spiritual deaths will be accounted to you before you’re finished? How many physical deaths?

In how many young hearts will you murder God before you’re done?

Pray for me and my house, as I do for you and yours.

Your elder brother and concelebrant in Christ,

An unworthy archpriest

P.S. I’ve asked that this letter be published anonymously only to protect my granddaughter from being outed to the whole world. She will do that in her own time.

Addendum 2/9/19: See Father Patrick Reardon’s response in our Letters to the Editors and aspiring theologist Chris Banescu’s Teens under Attack by the Depravity in Our Culture & the Insanity of this Age!.
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