Being raised in a family with liberal Christian traditions, I can say that I am not a religious person at all – to an extent, the days that I had gone to churches are numbered.
But this Good Friday, I made it a point to visit an Ethiopian Orthodox church in this fair city I have moved to quite recently. I had to Google the address for one of the Orthodox churches in the vicinity.
On my way I found out that, to my utter surprise, I had the wrong address belonging to a restaurant/bar that goes by the name “Church”.
Yes, even Google thought I was bluffing when I searched for a church; and apparently, by its own discretion it decided to take me to a place where a good food and beer is served. Can you imagine?!(Sigh)
“Wait!” I said to myself there and then, and began to wonder what if this could be a test – a sneaky temptation laid in front of me in that day of penance? Anyway, it made me more determined than ever 😀
I made a phone call to friends & asked them to help me out, which they did. Yet, they too were awestruck by my interest to visit a church.
Well, could it be because I had found the church more welcoming, seeing its latest decision to cancel the anti-gay rally? Perhaps.
We were all taken-aback with what has transpired to the planned anti-gay rally last week, aren’t we? But what piqued my interest most of all is to learn that the cancellation came from none other than the grand old, Orthodox Church. The political blogger at HornAffairs.com, Daniel Berhane, was right in stating that “this is probably a story thread to follow.”
Now, some of you would say that I’m extrapolating things from an obscure incident, as it’s reported that the church indeed cancelled the rally due to internal fallout with the rally organizers, and not because it has turned gay-friendly.
Not only that, it didn’t take long before the Patriarch came out condemning homosexuals on the speech His Holiness gave for Easter, just days later the news of the cancelled rally took the media by storm.
Still, we must take note that the church not only opts out of the anti-gay rally but also asked the government to cancel it altogether. Clearly, the church found it sensible – for whatever reason – not to hold such a rally more so than carrying on with it. This simply shows the church’s flexible and receptive sides – not just specifically to the homosexual issue but in general. Yes, when it sees fit, the church is open enough to go against even on issues it would normally be fanatic about.
Actually, this action whispers one fact and that is, fanatics do not always drive the church. After all, like any other conventional bodies, the Ethiopian Orthodox church must have its very own moderates.
I’m not saying we’re witnessing an emerging pro-LGBT faction within the church – come on, I’m not that delusional! I’m just saying that whether by design or not, we are seeing the presence of moderates in a seemingly very conservative establishment. And that’s very promising.
Oh and why is this important? I sensed that if a minor turn of events makes a not-so religious guy like me to feel welcomed to a church, imagine how meaningful and relieving it would be to religious gay people who constantly find themselves insecure about their sexuality because of the teachings of these churches? I’m sure this would mean a lot.
And who knows, some years from now, we might see gay-friendly Ethiopian Orthodox churches in much the same way like the Evangelical and Anglican churches in the West.