Cover photo on Father Samuel Davis‘ Twitter profile
My Orthodoxy, Sissies, and the Performance of Masculinity of March 3, 2018 ranks number ten among Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s 670 articles published since we launched in August 2017, and number three among those with my name in the byline.
Our readers will therefore be interested to learn that the newly ordained Father Samuel Davis of the Orthodox Church in America and recent graduate of St. Tikhon’s Seminary — where it is apparently acceptable to call for my drowning and being fed to sharks (see here and here) — has taken up Father John Guy Winfrey’s clarion call that only “real men” need apply for membership in the Orthodox Church. Yesterday Father Davis tweeted on his Twitter account:
While Contemporary Christianity has become feminized. Men are still men in the Orthodox Church and that is what is enticing/attractive to men.
Orthodoxy is not for the fainthearted.
Even Father Andrew Damick — who has created and manages his own fan club, and has gone on record declaring, “I don’t think that [Orthodoxy in Dialogue] is generally worth responding to or even reading” — published Is Orthodoxy “Christianity, Only Tougher”? in February 2015, in which he anticipates the problems in Father Davis’ characterization of Orthodoxy as “tougher” and, by extension, more “masculine” and less “feminine,” than other Christianities.
Father Davis’ Twitter messaging often consists of one-liner potshots of his own composition at other Christian traditions, which are neither terribly effective nor mature. Yet none have troubled me as much as the one quoted above, all the more within the context of his cover photo. His infelicitous tweet raises the following questions for me:
What is Father Davis’ measure of “men who are men?” At what point does a boy or man cross the line and fail to be an adequate boy or man?
What is Father Davis saying to the women and girls in his parish, or who might explore joining his parish, if “feminization” is a bad thing?
What is Father Davis saying to those whose sense of personal identity falls somewhere along the LGBTQI spectrum?
More specifically, what is Father Davis saying to those who — unbeknownst to him — were born with an intersex body, or suffer from the emotional trauma of micropenis?
In the fallen conditions of personal and social life, where toxic masculinity has come to be recognized more and more for the real danger that it presents to women, girls, boys, other men, racial and sexual minorities, etc., how might random men interpret Father Davis’ efforts to “entice/attract” them to Orthodoxy with the promise that they can “still be men?”
Is the Church, for Father Davis, a hospital for the weak or a gym for the strong?
Does Father Davis realize that he has, in effect, drawn a line between those who are welcome (the manly) and those who aren’t (the unmanly)?
Dear Father, please preach the Gospel and lead your Christ-entrusted flock to salvation. Leave your fragile masculinity out of it.
See the extensive Sexuality and Gender section in our Archives.
Giacomo Sanfilippo is a PhD student in Theological Studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, founding editor of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, father of five, and grandfather of two. He holds a BA in Sexuality Studies (2013) from York University and an MA in Theology (2015) from Regis College/St. Michael’s College, is an alumnus (2014) of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, and completed the course requirements for the MDiv earlier in life (1986-89) at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He was a priest from 1988 to 2002. He writes occasional religious commentary for the Kyiv Post and tweets @GiacoSanfilippo.