I am perplexed by Aaron D. Wolf’s omission of any reference at all to the Eastern Orthodox Church in “Effeminate Gospel, Effeminate Christians” (Views, July), particularly since he is identified as a Church (capital C) historian. Coincidentally, the same issue contains Scott P. Richert’s article about the consecration of an Orthodox monastery in Montenegro, which was attended by several Chronicles editors and contributors (“A Timeless Moment,” The Rockford Files). The Chronicles contingent would have observed none but male leadership in the church in Montenegro, and I am happy to report that the situation in this country is the same.
The number of Orthodox Christians in the United States is increasing steadily, and the nonnegotiability of the Orthodox position on heterosexual male-only ordination is a huge reason, particularly among disaffected mainline adherents. Thirteen years ago, my husband and I, cradle Southern Baptists (not a mainline denomination but one just as prone to “feminized” worship), said farewell to that organization and to the typical church we attended. The good old hymns, including “In the Garden,” would have only improved the worship service there, dominated as it was by praise choruses and soft-rock solos by swooning women. The interminable altar call had become an extended opportunity for worshipers (usually women) to “hug the preacher’s neck” and tearfully request baptism for the second or even third time, just to “make sure.” My opinion is that the uncertainty of many Protestant evangelicals (women and children, in particular) about whether they are really saved is because of the absence of “manly” sacramental worship, which has been replaced by “girly” heart- and spirit-centered worship.
As for homosexual clergy, marriage, etc., many of us new Orthodox converts are still smiling about the story of what happened two years ago in Russia after a “gay wedding” in the Mother of God Chapel in Nizhny Novgorod. First, the bishops defrocked the priest. Then, the church was bulldozed. Finally, the rubble was burned. A news story commented at the time: “They call it the Orthodox Church for a reason.” Thank God that this ancient Church not only endures in the old countries but is growing in the new world as well.
—Mary Alice Cook
Eagle Ridge, AK